I have been thinking of Lojban since I started this blog. Randall knows about Lojban, and might speak it (http://xkcd.com/191/, the title-text is “zo’o ta jitfa .i .e’o xu do pendo mi”, loosely translated as “that’s not true (wink); will you be my friend?”).
He described Beanish as both “very different from English” and “plausible future language”. Now, Lojban is by all accounts different from English, but I want to focus in the fact that its vocabulary, computationally built to be close to Mandarin, English, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and Arabic, could be what he means with “plausible”: a future language derived from the most common languages today, a world-wide creole.
Randall could have developed Beanish from Lojban if he wanted people to focus in the last one: Beanish would eventually be cracked, and Lojban would be in the news. Not only that, but in his blag post he thanks a certain “Dan”, which I believe is the linguist that helped him developing Beanish. The Wikipedia article on Lojban has a quote from a certain Dan Parmenter, apparently a linguist interested in Lojban. This is, of course, pure speculation.
Now, the hard part. I don’t know Lojban (I studied it for a whole afternoon about ten years ago), but many features of Beanish don’t strike me as clearly Lojban-based (the only real exception is the dot which could be come from the Lojban stop, but it is a pet peeve of mine that, if Lojban would be used in a daily basis, its stop would be the first feature to change). Even more important, the vocabulary does not match Lojban words: using “The Logical Language Group Online Dictionary Query”, a multilingual Lojban dictionary at http://jbovlaste.lojban.org ), I get that “water” is “djacu”, “drink” is “pinxe”, “sea” is “xamsi”, “hello” is “coi” (but greetings work in a very different way in Lojban). In short, there isn’t a clear link between the script and current Lojban words. I said “current” only to stress tjat the Lojban of the future spoken by the Beanies would have been subject to changes.
Still, another theory to investigate.