The Neo-Romantic school of language planning asserts that the main tool of civilization is language. The most widespread civilization of our era is Western civilization. This civilization is linked to race: "This culture," an important representative of Neo- Romanticism claims, "is felt to be a typical expression of the culture of the white races." According to the same author, this civilization, becoming ever more uniform, is ever more in need of a common language, one that must be suitable to its nature. "Today," he asserts, "because our culture is based on the historical foundations of Rome, it is clear that the bases of the (international) language must be the same Latin foundations." (1) This is why, according to the representatives of the Neo-Romance school, "modern interlinguistics is an applied science [which] works out elements which cannot be changed at pleasure, because they have been utilized for centuries; this means that this science must use the words of the international cultural vocabulary, common to all languages of culture." (2) The well-known statement by the famous Danish linguist Otto Jespersen, according to whom "the best international languages is the easiest language for the greatest number of people," must be interpreted according to what its author himself claims, that "it concerns only Europeans or the inhabitants of other parts of the globe who are either of European origin or possess a civilization based on European civilization itself." (3)
For this reason, the structure of a planned language must be based on the structure of the Western European languages, and may contain nothing invented.
"The less arbitrary and more rational the elements (of the International Language) are, the more stable it will be." Quote from: Jespersen, Eine Internationale Sprache, p. 64.
It is clear that such a language must then be comprehensible to every educated European without previous study, and that it will have a "natural" appearance, as though it were a Romance language. (4) In this naturalness itself the cultural, scientific, pedagogical and communicative values of such a project might be found, at least according to the claims of Interlingua's adherents.
We must point out here that there have never occurred studies about the problem of immediate comprehensibility of the neo-Romance languages. An interesting but inconclusive experiment was recently organized by the U.S. doctor E. James Lieberman (in the article: "Esperanto, Interlingua and [the] Emperor's New Clothes", which appeared in The International Language Reporter [translator's note: Review] #29/1962. According to this author, 24 English- speaking U.S. doctors experimentally translated into English medical article summaries written in Interlingua. Several translated well, but more than half of them misunderstood particles or verbs, in this way often misunderstanding the meaning of the whole passage. And nevertheless we are here speaking of a relatively easy task: the subject was specialized, and every doctor tested had learned, in school, some Spanish, or French, or Latin.
This article was answered by an Interlingua- ist, psychologist Stanley A. Mulaik ("Interlanguages Need Rigorous Testing", in The International Language Reporter [t.n.: see previous t.n.] #30/1962). He asserted (quite correctly) that Dr. Lieberman's experiment was too limited to be accepted without question. In fact, he said, an experiment on a more widespread level would be necessary. He nevertheless showed surprise [t.n.: miris] at the general failure, and offered an interesting explanation: the direct reading (and understanding) of Interlingua is more probably a function of the individual's linguistic capabilities than of the characteristics of Interlingua itself. In this way, nevertheless, he nullifies the entire theoretical construction of his colleagues.
In my limited experience, I tend to think that Mulaik is right, but I want to point out one curious observation: People who cannot read Interlingua at first sight, despite a knowledge of one or two Romance languages, suddenly become capable of doing so after learning Esperanto!
Esperanto au^ Interlingua?
Kultura Centro Esperantista, 1977
There are two ways to construct such a planned language: according to the first, the inflectional, lexical and phraseological elements which are still found in the Romance languages and which are, therefore, still "living," must be sought in Latin. An entire language can be constructed of these. This school might be called "prototypist," because its basic language (prototypical language) is Latin. Interlingua was created by a scientist who belonged to this school.
The other way takes off from an analysis of the modern Western European languages. We take all common elements on the lexical, grammatical and syntactical levels from them, and use them to plan a language. This school might be named, by agreement, "modern-linguistic," because it has no special prototypical language, and it draws its material from the modern languages of Western Europe. Both schools are of the same age: the first projects of the second school date from the end of the last century (e.g. Eugen Lauda's Kosmo, 1888; Julius Lott's Mundolingue, 1890; Idiom Neutral, 1902). And the prototypist school is almost simultaneous, with Liptay's Langue catholique (1890), and Giuseppe Peano's Latino sine Flexione, 1902. (5)
These facts contradict Pierre Burney's never-proven claim in Les languages internationales, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1962, according to which there exists "a tendency, ever stronger, which drives the artificial languages toward naturalness" (p. 96).
Now we can begin to understand the manner of thought of the adherents of Interlingua. For them there is a Western-European linguistic unity, which might be rediscovered and reconstructed, and later forced on all other peoples because of the superiority of Western civilization. We therefore first take note of a political choice, which is concretized in a Eurocentric perception of the world, and realized in the elaboration of a methodology suitable for construction a "Western" language.
While modern linguistics, ethnology, psychology, psychiatry, etc., are becoming ever more interested in those facts called "transcultural," the Neo-Romanticists are becoming ever more enclosed in their ivory tower in Western Europe.
It is, then, clear why the language planning methodology of this school owes nothing to modern linguistic methods. It much more closely resembles the sometime classical philological methods elaborated in the 19th century.
There are two dangers: on the one hand, that we will be limited in our search for a neo-Latin ursprache, and subordinate everything to that search. This happened to Interlingua's author, Alexander Gode. On the other hand, we take note of the danger of falling into linguistic and cultural imperialism, which puts the values of the "others" in the shade, and ends its career in racism, which in the facts negates the intrinsic values of a planned international language.
Gode's perspective, we said, was centered on the problem of discovering the ur-language, as a symbol of the unity of the Romance world: "In every individual example, the language-variants (i.e. the etymologically related words in the different Romance languages) have become for me a sort of symbol of the cultural variants within the Western world; the final international term was the symbol of the homogeneity of the Latin world -- or, if we prefer -- of the Romanian-Germanic world." (6) (7)
This is certainly very poetic, but takes the risk of being suitable for catastrophic banalizations. For example, for some friends of Interlingua, "Our Western civilization is a doubly millenial heritage of Greco-Roman antiquity. Esperanto is a mere masquerade of this heritage, while Interlingua offers us everything that deserves being saved from this heritage." (8)
For this author, then, the values of civilization are automatically linguistic, and, eo ipso, linked with a well-defined orthography! If that were true, we might also claim that Italian "betrays" the Greco-Latin heritage because of its simplified writing system, or that French "betrays" it because agression (aggression) is written instead of the orthographically more correct *aggression, poids (weight) instead of *pois, rythme (rhythm) instead of *rhythme, caractère (character) instead of *charactère, which would all be correct from the etymological and orthographic viewpoints.
This is, at first sight, already absurd: the values of the Greco-Latin world are socially based: they can in no way be identified with one of the functions (i.e. language) of those who bear that society. And if we really want to speak of linguistic values, then let us speak about a dense and often complicated style, rich in parallels, examples from mythology, callings on the conscience of the listeners. And, naturally, let us speak of the elitism of those values, an elitism inevitable in a society whoe economy functioned on the basis of slavery. Elite values, then, for a cultural and economic elite. In any case, for us the "linguistic values" of Greco-Latin civilization can never be the words themselves, their external form, even their orthography. Pure forms can never rise to the level of values: this wouldbe to accept linguistic reification. Certainly, in our society, where reification is a normal way of knowing social relationships, we don't doubt that "Interlingua ... is much more likeable that Esperanto mainly to the learned elite". (9) I would like to add: Interlingua is pleasing mainly to that elite which thinks itself learned, to that elite which, in fact, does not know how to look beyond forms.
The term "Greco-Latin Civilization" itself, furthermore, is not very suitable. In fact, we are generally used to speaking of a "Judaeo-Greco-Latin Civilization." Where are the Jews in the perspective of our friends of Interlingua? Certainly, when you see nothing other than forms, you forget the important things, namely the content.
But, finally, what is this "Western" civilization? According to our Interlingua friends, we are speaking of a cultural unit (with a few small local deviations), to which corresponds an at least potential linguistic unit.
But this is wrong: "Western civilization" contains, yes, the Italians, the French, the English, and even the Germans and the Russians (despite the fact that they do not speak a Romance language, but "merely" an Indo-European idiom), but also the Maltese, the Finns and the Hungarians, and the Basques, who speak non-Indo-European languages. Vice versa, Iranian, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali belong to the Indo-European language group, but the peoples who speak them certainly do not belong to the so-called "Western" civilization.
We recognize the same phenomenon in the Sino-Korean-Japanese civilization, which can be considered as a whole (at least from a historical perspective), but whose three languages (to which, i.a., Vietnamese should be added) are completely different.
So it is obvious that a hypostasis between civilization and language (or language family) is merely a crude banalization of something else, i.e. of the fact that within a civilization there exist (socially determined) common concepts. Concepts, then, content, and not words, i.e. pure forms!
According to Alphonse Matejka, as quoted by Alessandro Bausani, (10) the international auxiliary language should be a phenomenon and ideal of "higher civilizations," which the author opposes to the lower ones. Western civilization, then, would be "higher." Here we too often forget that there are no parameters for judging civilizations according to levels of "superiority." Because there is no linguistic superiority, there is no cultural superiority. Ethnocentrism is a dangerous (and naive) error.
The implied imperialist factor is clearer in, for example, the following quotation from an article by Dr. Stefano Bakonyi, who was also an enthusiastic member of Moral Rearmament: "The new interlanguage will be the determining factor in not only the cultural but also the economic and political integration of the peoples who belong to what we today call Western civilization, which we consider the most dynamic." (11)
Even clearer, and certainly more brutal, is the pioneer of Occidental, A. Z. Ramstedt. (12) He writes: "An international auxiliary language for the cultured nations of the West cannot be anything other than a language which reflects their culture ... The needs and the customs of the Western nations will be the determining factors: of these, then, and not those of the other civilizations, ancient or eastern, Negro or Papuan ..." He continues his treatment as follows: "The East is daily becoming more Westernized. If nationalists in Nagasaki protest against this evolution, that's no more important than a bird's chirp in a storm. Today it is Western civilization that is global ... The eastern peoples have neither their own science nor their own technology. These are Western, and a language which aims at being useful to them can only be Western."
The political opinion-choice which is at the basis of some adherents of Neo-Romanticism is most clearly shown in the following quotation from E. von Wahl, from a work that appeared in 1922, so at a time when the USSR was still the mythical hope for the entire world's miserable and proletarian people. He wrote: "For me, it is clear: either Bolshevism will conquer, and with it the new culture of Esperanto will be victorious; or Bolshevism will not conquer, and then the complicated Neo-Romance languages, which conserve the elements of the two-thousand-year-old European culture, will triumph." (13)
Alexander Gode was a personality half pragmatic, half poetic. As a philologist at IALA, he was the main author of Interlingua (although several Interlingua-ists do not acknolwedge this): he was simultaneously its chief ideologue. His personality was very complex, but in essence he was likeable and sincere: his ideas cannot fail to interest a person with interests in planned languages.
As Mario Andrew Pei points out, "Interlingua can be defined as a pan-Romance language ... It is generally not considered as a universal spoken language, but a language especially for written use at international scientific meetings." (14) The fact that an American linguist supports such a thesis depends on the fact that Gode himself treated, from theoretical and practical viewpoints, the problem of an international auxiliary language in a manner quite different from that of his followers in Europe, and that this manner justifies the viewpoint of linguists such as Pei.
Gode's attitude was the one that all Neo-Romantic planned language developers generally acknowledge as correct. We are presented with a very good summary by the pioneer of Neo-Romanticism, the Belgian philologist J. Meysmans, in a text that is somewhat old (1931) but still current: "We begin with the recognition," he writes, "that the educated people of all nations know at least one of the great cultural languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian). Even in China and Japan the knowledge of European languages is spreading ever more widely among the cultured classes ... For a very long time [the international language] will be practiced by [that] elite, mainly in scientific work and in business correspondence." (15)
This opinion is a very good summary of A. Gode's opinion, as well, which claims that the characteristic trait of Interlingua is that it is generally and in every detail "a language for people who know French, Spanish, Italian, English or Latin (or the scientific vocabulary) -- besides having some level of technical knowledge." (16)
But Gode expresses himself best in the speech that he read on the occasion of the third international conference of Interlingua in Tours (France: August 1-6, 1959), and which appeared in Novas de Interlingua. This text, whose title is Manifesto de Interlingua, is his interlinguistic testament. (17)
In this Manifesto Alexander Gode pomises a simple discussion about the bases and role of Interlingua. That is necessary, he writes, because "I note, often with great alarm, that the greatest part of the critics of Interlingua (and often even its friends and adherents) judge it on the basis of elements which in fact do not in any way concern it." According to Gode, he is speaking mainly of the Esperantists, who "criticize and judge Interlingua on the basis of a premise -- quite undoubtable, according to them (but in spite of that completely wrong) -- that Interlingua's claim is to be used for precisely the same functions in which Esperanto is taking steps to become used, i.e. that Interlingua's goal is to compete with Esperanto, thanks to the force of its super-Esperantist qualities. From these premises it is obviously easy to prove the absurd megalomania of Interlingua, because in fact few characteristics of Interlingua are superior to those of Esperanto, if the definition of 'superiority' is 'more like Esperanto than Esperanto itself'."
This is true and quite rational. Alexander Gode is right, and I have written this essay while trying to avoid the trap to which he alluded. It is just that Gode's European disciples have forgotten this. "I cannot explain and defend Interlingua's structure on the basis of premises that are no part of Interlingua's foundation," Gode writes. Contrariwise, his European disciples tranquilly compare Esperanto and Interlingua, as though Gode himself had said nothing.
"I have several times tried to characterize Interlingua in a differentiating manner, naming it 'modern Latin' or 'an average linguistic norm of Europe'.
"The reason for this definition lies in the fact that a world language according to Zamenhof's understanding is nothing other than an impossible dream." Gode, very pragmatic, foresees the role of Interlingua very modestly and very humbly. He writes: "According to Interlingua's basic philosophy, it is impossible to construct a language for the preordained purpose of simplifying international communication, but it is, to the contrary, possible to work for the utilization of an international means of communication on the basis of the observation that such a tool already exists, although only latently ... When Zamenhof constructed his language, he was aiming for a simple system, logical, schematic [=autonomous] and universal. In the case of Interlingua, no principle of choice was in fact possible, because the purpose was not construction but ellaboration of a language. The degree of simplicity and of schematicization depended on its essential nature, and not on demanded (and exterior) principles ... This degree is nothing other than a characterization of the spirit of the language itself."
Gode understands very well the different conditions in the lives of Interlingua and Esperanto: Esperanto was first a project, and its history reflects the necessity of equipping it for a collective that speaks it. Contrariwise, according to Gode, the collective that speaks, or at least is latently capable of speaking, a planned language must exist before the language itself. Practical utilization, finally, comes only in third place.
Interlingua's ambition is, then, to function as a common language of the Western collective, but this too from a special perspective.
"The most effective way of formulating this concept has been, up to now, the attempt to identify Interlingua with what the American philologist Benjamin Lee Whorf named Standard Average European (SAE) ... Interlingua is introduced as the product of a process of distilling from the different [European] dialects the norm implied in all of them, and to realize this distillation without any addition or subjective violence ... With respect to this, there exists a parallelism with the mannor in which Goethe saw in the multitude of growths that which he named Urpflanze [= ur-Growth]. Interlingua, then, would be the Ursprache of Europe ... I will insist, and always have insisted, that Interlingua is a historical reality, tangible and viewable as Goethe's Urpflanze."
The existence of a common substratum of all Romance languages is a scientific fact. And, because it exists, it can be extracted. But that this extraction should lead to an international language, and that it should occur in such a way that it should more resemble a "rediscovery," and that because of this there can be no right to add anything -- or remove anything -- reminds me of mythical attitude about linguistic realities: as though such an extraction had some relationship to the Platonic myths. In the obscure Platonic cavern we take steps to extract from the individual forms of the Romance languages the eternal essentials, which in fact exist timelessly in the world of essentials. In such a way, truly, the elaboration of Interlingua can resemble a philosophical enterprise, and not a scientific problem of methodology: we do not apply techniques, we simple "rediscover" the essence of the language, and learning Interlingua is no longer "getting something new" but remembering an already known essential, as a result of the Platonic cognitive theory.
This is certainly very philosophical, somewhat poetic -- the importance of Platonic philosophy in Goethe's works is very well known -- but in no way scientific.
There is no reason that forces us to stop our scientific practice just when it passes the boundaries ordained by Plato.
The only boundaries of our scientific practice are related to morality and cognition. Other limitations are arbitrary and crippling. Planned linguistics as inspired be Plato would be very poor, just as, furthermore, Platonic medicine or Platonic electronics.
Esperantists believe that the boundaries in planned linguistics are either sociological or technical, but never Plato-dictated. This means that, according to them, when we have rediscovered the Ursprache, we can very easily amputate anything useless from it -- or we can add elements to it -- on condition that this scientific addition or crippling has to be justifiable on the basis of the generally human purpose of a planned language, and that it has to be realizable on the basis of the adopted basic language structure.
But, in the end, what would that collective be from which the Platonic planned language is to be extracted? "A tentative answer," Gode himself writes, "is the following: 'The linguistic collective existing in the territory named by some philologists Romania ... Interlinga is [then] the common language of Romania."
And inside this Romania Gode offers a preferential kingdom for Interlingua, the field of science, because here, thanks to a homogeneous vocabulary, the planned language is most clearly shown.
In this chapter we intend to examine in detail the philosophical basis of Interlingua, so that it may be clear that an exact concept of planning technique springs from it. I believe that after reading the few quotations from Gode's Manifesto, we can understand more clearly the reason for the techniques which we shall treat in the following chapters.
Because the autonomous-language and the neo-Romantic schools differ just here, I will sum up on the following table the points of disagreement:
A. Gode's theses
Theses of others (and of several disciples of Gode)
|We need a language that should, as much as possible, be structurally neutral among the different cultures.||Western culture is the mother of science. An International Language must therefore be Western-appearing.||Western culture is superior. Whites are found everywhere.|
Language and culture
|There is no strict link between language and culture.||There is a very strict link between culture and language: language structure determines "world-perception". The disciples believe that the cultural heritage consists of words!|
|Possible in principle -- with an international structure.||Impossible.||Possible in principle, but only with a Romance structure ("because science is Western").|
|Rational systemization.||Platonic "prototyping method."||Somewhat analogous to the prototyping method, but much less strict.|
It is appropriate to point out here that the word "disciples" indicates both Gode's disciples, mainly in Europe, and other disciples of older neo-Romantic schools. In Europe, Gode had few real disciples. The first schools were formed in 1902 around Idiom Neutral. Another schoo, partly derived from that of Idiom Neutral, formed later, in 1909, around Giuseppe Peano, author of Interlingua (also called Latino sine Flexione, not to be confused with Interlingua-IALA, to which this text is dedicated). Another school, very important, is that of Occidental, founded by Edgar von Wahl, which many Idists also joined. A portion of the partisans of those different schools joined the IALA-offspring Interlingua between 1951 and 1958, but only a tiny group correctly understood Gode's theses: the majority still agree with the basic theses of the one-time schools (which we present in the third column on the right), of which they are actually "disciples." Another tiny group apparently very much misunderstood the master: they sincerely believe they represent Gode's pure thought, but have in fact twisted and crippled it.
One of the greatest American lingusts, Edward Sapir, after Franz Boas, was one of the first who pointed out to his contemporaries (and countrymen) the existing relations between language and culture. (18) One of his disciples, the linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf, on the basis of his studies of American Indian languages, believed that he had succeeded in demonstrating that all cultures quite strictly depend on the structures of the languages they speak. This means that cognitive and perceptual capabilities strictly depend on linguistic structures. For this reason he denied the existence of universal notions: according to him, every sort of notion depends, in the last analysis, on linguistic structure. According to him, even science and technology cannot be exceptions! This thesis was named "the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativism," and prophetic auguries of it were rediscovered in the works of the German linguist von Humboldt.
Obviously, if we agree with this hypothesis, an international language is a factual and theoretical impossibility. No person, in fact, could exit from his own "linguistic optics." A language of average facility for a Chinese, a Japanese and a European does not exist and cannot exist, because the manner of thought of these different people (manners of thought depending on linguistic difference) do not coincide. All concepts, then, would be relative, and their meaning or use (their value) would be a function of language structures.
The maximum that can be done, according to Whorf, is the planning of a type of average normalized European language (Standard Average European: SAE). (19)
Today Whorf's hypothesis, in all its extremism, is accepted only be a few language planners. Even its linguistic defenders have had to abandon it after up-to-date studies. I.a. we find very interesting material about redimensionalization of this thesis in a work by Worf's disciple and specialist on American Indian linguistics, the German Helmut Gipper. (20)
On the other hand, it is convenient to observe that neither von Humboldt nor Sapir have anything in common with this linguistic extremism. We know that von Humboldt very much appreciated an artificial language of the 19th century, Solresol, which was completely a priori. (21) Sapir was also a friend of the international language, and of Esperanto in a special way. In an article which appeared in 1931 ("The Function of an International Auxiliary Language"), (22) Sapir implicitly condemns the neo-Romantic language projects: "The modern spirit will not be satisfied with an international language which merely extends the imperfections and idioms of a single language, against the customs of all the others." What the world needs "is a language which shall be the simplest, the most regular, the most logical, the richest and the most creative of all possible languages." He adds that "the foundations of a truly suitable form for an international language have already been established in Esperanto and other international auxiliary languages," although he doubts whether these languages are truly perfect enough. According to Sapir, the triumph of an international planned language will be owed in large part to the needs of China and India, which are not interested in European languages as such.
So it is wrong to speak of the "Sapir-Whorf hypothesis," the more so since Sapir himself believes in the theoretical and practical possibility of an international planned language, because "there is a growing equippage of common experiences and feelings which will have to find a means of expression in an international language." He is, in fact, at antipodes from Whorf!
Gode was seduced by Whorf's hypothesis: according to him the theses of the Esperantists, then, are wrong, because they reflect a belief in the existence of universal logical notions. (23) And on the basis of Whorf's hypothesis, such universals do not exist.
It has unfortunately been shown that Whorf's "proofs" are insufficient, and that his extremism led him into a scientific cul de sac (i.a.denying the possibility of translation, instead of explaining it). So it has been shown to be an error to adopt Whorf's hypothesis as a justification for Interlingua -- and as a justification for denying the internationality of Esperanto. In this respect, I shall cite only two important works. In 1969 the Australian linguist A. Capell demonstrated in an article that there is no impossibility of moving from one linguistic code to another with respect to differences of tone, phonology, grammatical structures, cognitive structures of the different languages. (24) The problem is simply a technical one. In an article in the same year, the Dutch linguist W. A. Verloren van Themaat demonstrated that science has no special link with the basic grammar and vocabulary of the European languages. (25)
It is a fact that the last "to-the-bone" Whorfists are the Interlingua-ists: by means of this obsolete hypothesis, which must be reinterpreted, they "justify" the non-existability of Esperanto, and "prove" that the only possible language for science is Interlingua. But while a few adherents of Interlingua have well understood and well utilized this hypothesis for their own purposes (i.a. A. Gode, Stanley A. Mulaik, Adolf M. Fritzsche, et al), (26) others have misunderstandingly banalized it. For example, Stefano Bakonyi (27) believed that by means of Interlingua it was possible to extract not only the language forms of SAE, but also its "cultural cargo," which he believed linked to the words themselves: (28) this is obviously a quite typical lexical fetishism.
It is indubitable that the entire problem of the relationships between culture, thought and language have been irrationally relativized. Whorf's hypothesis is already wrong in principle, becuase it does not agree with the scientific fact that all people have the same biological structure, and in consequence the same cognitive and linguistic resources, as we have already noted.
In this chapter, we shall examine A. Gode's prototyping rules. If we accept the sociopolitical these of the neo-Romanticists, if we agree with their concept of Whorf's SAE, and if we accept Gode's Platonic concept of language (i.e., that nothing may be added to or removed from the planned language), Gode's etymological technique is a logical consequence.
Concerning the West and language, our Interlingua friends see the situation as follows: (29)
The tradition of SAE is the Greco-Latin tradition: but, because Greece today has disappeared from the list of culture-bearing nations (?), this tradition in our era has been incarnated, from a linguistic viewpoint, in the Anglo-Romance language group, with possible contributions coming from the Slavic and Germanic languages.
I suppose that English is included only because of its Romance vocabulary: its structure, and its "living" and popular vocabulary, are in fact typically Germanic.
So we quickly discover a typical characteristic of the neo-Romanticist philosophy: it is very schematic, very abstract, a priori, and almost extrahistorical: it is, then, mechanical and, in the last analysis, ideological (in contrast to the "scientific" pretensions of its adherents).
But our Interlingua friends belive in it almost religiously. And this deep belief pushed Gode to the declaration that if changes are ever made to Interlingua, they can take place only on the basis of a new treatment of the linguistic facts of "Romania." (30)
But how does he define (a linguistic) "Romania"?
According to him, Romania consists of French, Italian, English (!) and Spanish-Portuguese (which he arbitrarily considers as a unit). Latin remains outside (because it is the parent tongue). Other Romance languages also remain outside: Romanian, Rhaeto-Romanche, Ladino, Sardian, Provençal, Occitanian and Catalán.
It is not understood why English is included: this language has a structure (spirit) that is typically Germanic: only a few popular words come from the old Norman dialect (or from Latin, by "intellectual borrowing"). If English is included, Maltese, too, should be included; it is a typically Arabic language, but one that has so many Italian words that anybody who knows Italian can read and without study understand a Maltese newspaper.
I am not being pedantic just to be contrary: note that it is a priori to limit Romania to several linguistic regions. And the others? Secondly, note that the results of the language planning (the Platonic Ursprache) change according to the definition of the language-regions that makde up Romania itself. If, for example, we have a narrow definition (according to Gode's definition), the personal pronoun I so normalized is io, but if we consider the entire, factual Romania, as it is in reality, then the normalized form must be eu!
Finally, a narrowly defined Romania does not allow easy extraction of the Ursprache. This common base, according to Gode himself, does not allow the construction of a true language: "In the last analysis," he writes, "the international words are not a real language, but an important group of words (generally having to do with science) that make up the core of Interlingua." (31) Because of this, as we shall see further on, he has had to equip Interlingua with etymological rules to be utilized in the case when Romania has no common extractable forms.
And the result of this Platonic extraction? "We are speaking of a language whose artificial characteristics are nothing more than the more or less deep simplification and regulation of the grammar." (32) This is true: the grammar was not normalized to extract from it the Urgrammatik. Why? A mystery. Gode in this respect maintained arbitrariness, and so artificiality.
Let us now examine the rules of etymology that Gode utilized to construct Interlingua's vocabulary. We shall follow T. Carlevaro's treatment. (33)
We have seen that the authors of the neo-Romance language projects of the "modern language" school have extracted their vocabulary from the modern languages, taking the roots either in a more-or-less integral manner (e.g. manuscript, and even lingu), or with a neutral vowel ending (e.g. lingue). Sometimes different vowels are used at the end of a root to distinguish several meanings of the same root. In Occidental, for example, we distinguish porta- (prefix: "bearer"), porta (carries), porte (franking), portu (port), porta (door). Contrariwise, the projects coming from the prototypistic school draw their vocabulary directly from Latin, and generally make no changes in the final vowels of the Latin prototype.
The prototypistic technizues were worked out in detail by IALA philologists. (34) According to the well-known interlinguist Stanley A. Mulaik, (35) the prototyping technique is utilized to "construct a normalized vocabulary from the variants of the modern languages. This technique demands the existence of at least three modern-language variants in the languages selected as 'control languages' (English, French, Italian, Spanish-Portuguese), so that we can determine the form of the prototype, or the structure of the form that etymologically preceded those variants." In the (not unusual) case in which fewer than three variants can be found, auxiliary techniques must be utilized:
a) The Latin form is taken (a derivative form must exist in at least one control language). E.g., the verb occider (to kill) is taken from the Latin occidere, despite French tuer and Spanish matar, because of Italian uccidere.
b) The Latin form is taken if a derived form is found in German or Russian. E.g. cellario (cellar) is taken, because of French cellier, German Keller and English cellar. But in each case these words must be re-Latinized, as e.g. haringo (why not haringa, parallel to the Italian aringa?).
c) Portmanteau words (e.g. conjoined words) can be introduced, on the condition that a parallel form is utilized in at least one of the control languages. E.g. flamm-ifero (match) is taken, from flamma (flame) and -ifero (bearer), a construction which also exists in Italian fiammifero.
d) If all of these techniques fail, the Latin form must be selected, as in the case of ab (from), ad (to), aut (or), etiam (also), nam (because), nimis (too much), domo (house), emer (to buy), etc. According to Mulaik, this criterion was shown the most unsuitable, In fact, it has been shown that in Interlingua the tendency to use anque (instead of etiam), troppo (instead of nimis), casa (instead of domo), comprar (instead of emer), etc., has been growing every stronger. This means that a new criterion is being formed, according to which, if the above described rules fail, the etymological prototype from South Romania (Italian and Spanish-Portuguese languages) can be chosen.
It should be noted here that only the prototypical and supplementary techniques can be considered in the Interlingua school. A language planned in this way can, then, be nothing other than the objective normalization of the Romance languages. And the techniques themselves, as we have noted, are etymologically objective; i.a. practical considerations play no role in them. For this reason such a project can adopt (or refuse) no root, affix, ending or syntactic or morphological rule on the basis of considerations having to do with "facility," "regularity," "harmony," "clarity," "aesthetics," etc. ... "The authority of deciding about correctness of use belongs neither to a person nor to a group, It belongs exclusively to the facts of the European languages, as they have been worked out by the etymological sciences, and as they have been normalized on the basis of the just-introduced rules." (36)
Obviously, this does not mean that old Romance must be reconstructed to normalize the international vocabulary into an "international" (in fact: pan-south-Romance) language. In fact, it is enough to use basic data about the history of the languages, data concerning the relationships between European language forms that were, at some moment, splitting apart, in order to construct, in this way, an objective technique suitable for producing normalized forms. (37)
We note now that these techniques allow us to normalize not a "better" language but only a language which is the exact catalogue of the common normalized forms of our linguistic and cultural heritage. (37) And the conjunction of these forms as though they were a language produces a normalized idiom containing all the structures common to the West European languages (or, as the Esperantists claim in other words but with the same meaning, containing all the structures common to the south Romance languages).
The neo-Romance schools, then, start with the postulate that an international language must, for many reasons, be in fact a Romance language. The Esperantists reply that such a language must be, ahead of everything else, easy, so that it may be used as an effective international language. Of this basic disagreement the Dutch philologist W. J. A. Manders (38) writes that "the [neo-Romantic] school demands ... that the international language must have the greatest resemblance that can be attained to the main European languages ... but also in publications aimed at initiating the public into the auxiliary language problem, Jespersen and De Wahl do not explain with sufficient clarity why only the sort of language that most resembles the 'natural' languages can succeed. It may be that Jespersen is right when he claims: 'Auxiliary language projects especially evoke criticism of details when these are unnatural, i.e. when they deviate more than necessary from what is found in the existing languages or is already international,' but it is obvious that only a very few persons can judge whether an element is not to be found in national languages. In addition -- and Jesperson, too, had to know this! -- the question is not whether something is criticized, but whether it is rightly criticized. To condemn Esperanto ... only because it contains elements which shock some linguists because they are absent from national languages -- this is an attitude which is not decent for a scientist such as Jespersen was ... They demanded a priori that all elements of the language had to be 'natural' ... Zamenhof followed a very different principle ... the maximum of learnability not only for linguistically educated people, but also for those who had never learned a foreign language. But if Esperanto is not perfect, this is certainly not caused by the fact that it is 'unnatural.' The auxiliary language is best which most conforms to its goal. The goal is the making possible of international relationships. The easier an auxiliary language is, the better it will reach that goal."
Why force the chains of the Romance languages on human thought? This is the question of the French linguist P. Janton: (39) "The criteria of [neo-Romanticism] were never firmly defined. This is why we may ask ourselves whether it is truly anti-natural for a thinking being to want to speak a language that is clear and logical." In fact, he adds, (40) "the 'naturalistic' morphology reintroduces irregularity into categories, which are then recognizable only according to meaning, and no longer according to form."
We have seen that the adherents of the Neo-Romantic school call this school itself "naturalistic." The Italian linguist Alessandro Bausani criticizes the use of the term "nature," "naturalism" in this contect: (41) "... But: naturalness for whom? Obviously for the Europeans, forgetting completely the possible demands of Africans or Asians who want to learn an international auxiliary language. We are found [in this way] in a complete colonial era, while Zamenhof's sagacity, with his system of a language that is invariably and regularly agglutinative, was able to avoid the danger of Eurocentrism."
Irregularity, for the Esperantists, is an element at best non-useful in an auxiliary language aimed at international use. The Neo-Romantic school, to the contrary, accepts it as an inevitable element of a Neo-Romance planned language. In this sense, as we have already seen, Antoine Meillet, too, expressed himself. According to him, Esperanto's regularity is exaggerated, and on this account "anti-poetic." A Swedish linguist, Valter Tauli, is of the opinion that such an argument is difficult to demonstrate: (42) "If [this thesis] were correct, there could not exist a single English-language author, because English is unusable without utilizing the nouns, which are for the most part quite regular, aside from a quantité négligeable... If Meillet's claim were true, it would mean that the words used every day, such as the verbs to have, to go, to do, etc., and the personal pronouns, which are all irregular, as the most poetic words [in the English language]."
Tauli, a well-known specialist in planned languages (who is mainly interested in language planning in national languages), is not mild in his judgement of the languages of the Neo-Romantic school.
"The Neo-Romance planned languages," he writes,
"have two main defects:
(1) they are more redundant than necessary because of their overlong Greco-Latin words;
(2) they are unsystematic and irregular in word-construction.
"A third defect may be added to these two -- the inconsistent and non-phonetic orthography. The [Neo-Romanticists] base their theory on the fact that the international words are known everywhere, and that on this account they do not demand additional strain to learn them in a naturalistic planned language. But these words are [in fact] known only to a small percentage of people in all countries where an international language is necessary, mainly to those who already speak a Romance language. The naturalistic planned languages are relatively easy to read for those who are used to the great European languages. But writing such a language is quite another problem.
"Even people who know European languages cannot easily and by simple rules determine the form of a word that is to be utilized in a naturalistic planned language. And let's not speak of people who do not know the great European languages. Basing the use of an international planned language on a knowledge of the great European languages is irrational, because the goal of an international planned language is to free us from the task of learning the complicated national languages. It is, then, clear that an ideally regular planned languages must, yes, use the roots of the international words for its vocabulary whenever this is possible, and this will certainly increase its power of expression and facilitate its learning, but it must absolutely not copy the derivational irregularities of the international words. On the other hand, we must not fear free constructions, as seems to be the case with several modern interlinguists. When the international or national language elements are insufficient, unsuitable or absent, we can use free constructions. We can certainly do that in a national language, and we do not see why this would not be possible in an international planned language."
The Soviet linguist E. A. Bokarev, too, does not approve of the linguistic foundations of Neo-Romanticism in planned linguistics. (44)
He believes that the arguments of the Neo-Romanticists are not scientific: "The naturalists, interested in the first place in similarity of the international language to the national languages, resemble people who judge an aircraft system not on its technical and structural qualities, but on its degree of resemblance to the 'natural' birds."
According to Bokarev, the Neo-Romanticists often forget the basic purpose of an international planned language, i.e. bringing the language into practical use in interethnic communcation. "It often seems that adherents of some language projects, discussing various topics in language theory, completely forget for what their languages were created: were they to be desktop etymological systems, or practical means of international understanding?" He believes that the Neo-Romance languages present, yes, interesting material, but the independent or autonomous planned languages are more convenient: mainly thanks to the integral coherence of their elements and to the regularity and analogy of their morphosyntactical operation. This shows up in practice in productive word formation, in syntactic transparency, in relatively free word order, and in a phonological orthography.
All this is absent in the Neo-Romance language projects.
Acording to Bokarev, in Interlingua "a practical system of deriving words does not in fact exist, because its repertoire of affixes is only an etymological system of elements for deriving words in the national languages, not regularly and not productively used in Interlingua."
The German planned linguist Detlev Vlanke also expresses doubts about the term "naturalism." (45) Quoting from von Wahl (1935), according to whom "[the language] must be based on the international forms common to our European languages in phonetics, writing, means of expression ... and so must have the appearance of an almost natural language," he comments: "'Almost natural' means, in the naturalism-oriented language projects, 'Latinate,' which obviously cannot serve as a valid criterion from a linguistic viewpoint."
A valid criterion, or not? But Bokarev believes that the problem is clear: "For the many naturalistic projects ... [which] in the first degree focus on the etymological side of the problem, system and structure of an international language have remained a matter of second-degree, and sometimes even no, importance." (46) This is acknowledged by the creators of Interlingua, Gode and Blair: (47) they claim that in Interlingua word structure is more important than morphosyntactic considerations ... which is somewhat paradoxical for us, as both authors also note, because in modern linguistics it is just morphosyntactic considerations that are considered the main element of a language.
Finally, the authors of Interlingua, quite consciously, have returned to the pre-Saussure concept of language. We have always brought attention to the fact that our Interlingua friends are far in arrears with respect to linguistic theories!
This, then, is the school that gave birth to Interlingua: it lags in linguistic problems, it is anchored to a disintegrating Eurocentrism, it suffers from a dangerous disease: word-fetishism ... We do not wonder that Bausani claims: "The projects out of the group Interlingua/Interlingue ... have in fact given up on genuine universalism, being satisfied, even if not too explicitly, to become a zonal international auxiliary language for Western culture." (48)
Interlingua is in no way an ugly language. In prose it can be majestic: in poetry, despite some lack of conciseness and of stylistic tradition, it can be used with satisfaction. But the problem is that not many poets have utilized it up to now: the few poems which have appeared to date are either in free verse (and so without rhyme), or, if written in classical meters, stuffed with adasismoj (49) and wedge-words. Unfortunately Interlingua's authors know nothing of Esperanto literature: a bit of knowledge would help them avoid the same errors that the poets in the first period of Esperanto literature made.
No poet of a truly high level has written in Interlingua: only Carolo Salicto has published a few acceptable poems. For this reason I present blow a text from Shakespeare (The Tragedy of Hamlet), in the English original, in Sven Collberg's Interlingua translation (1974), and in the two existing Esperanto translations: that of Zamenhof (from the 1964 edition) and that of L. N. M. Newell (1964).
English original (3rd act, scene 1)
To be or not to be: that is the question:
whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
no more; and by a sleep to say we end
the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
that flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
to sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
for in that sleep of death what dreams may come
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
must give us pause; there's the respect
that makes calamity of so long life; ...
Interlingua translation (Sven Collberg, Lund, 1974)
Ser o non ser -- la es le question,
-- an es plus nobile suffrer al mente
le flechas aere de un fato dur o
armar se a un mar de affligeres,
que -- opponente se -- on va finir.
Morir, dormir, non plus, assi finir le
dolor del corde, le tormentos mille,
que es le patrimonio del carne:
un consummation, devotemente
il es a desirar. Morir, dormir.
Dormir, forse soniar; si, ibi es
nodo, nam in le dormir del morte
qual sonios va parer, post que nos ha
jactate iste pulvere mortal,
un pausa deve dar. La le respecto
rendente misere un vita longe.
Zamenhof's translation (1894, from the 1964 edition)
Ĉu esti aŭ ne esti, -- tiel staras
nun la demando: ĉu pli noble estas
elporti ĉiujn batojn, ĉiujn sagojn
de la kolera sorto, aŭ sin armi
kontraŭ la tuta maro da mizeroj
kaj per la kontraŭstaro ilin fini?
Formorti -- dormi, kaj nenio plu!
Kaj scii, ke la dormo tute finis
doloron de la koro, la mil batojn,
heredon de la korpo, -- tio estas
tre dezirinda celo. Morti -- dormi --
trankvile dormi! Jes sed ankaŭ sonĝi!
Jen estas la barilo! Kiaj sonĝoj
viziti povas nian mortan dormon
post la forĵeto de la teraj zorgoj, --
jen tio nin haltigas; tio faras,
ke la mizeroj teraj longe daŭras: ...
L. N. M. Newell's translation (1964)
Ĉu esti, aŭ ne esti: jen demando
kiu plej gravas: ĉu pli noble estas
suferi en l' anim' la kuglojn, sagojn
de l' violenta sorto, aŭ preninte
armilojn kontraŭ maro da mizero,
rezisti por ĝin fini? Morti: dormi:
jen ĉio; kredi, ke per dorm' ni finas
la kor-doloron kaj la mil afliktojn,
heredon de la karn': jen sort-plenum'
eĉ pie dezirinda. Morti, dormi;
dormi: sed eble sonĝi: aĥ, jen baro:
ĉar kiaj sonĝoj ĝenos mortodormon
post liberiĝ' el ĉi tumulta korpo --
tiu dubas nin. Jen penso, kiu
nin igas longe vivi sub aflikto.
Un nocte in America
Un vespere, io me esseva disviate in un foresta, a pauc distantia del laco de Niagara. Bentosto io videva le die extinguer se circum me, e io gustava, in tote su solitude, le belle vision de un nocte in le deserto del Nove Mundo. Un hora post le cubamento del sol, le luna se monstra supre le arbores, al horizonte opposite. Iste astro solitari montava pauco a pauco in le celo; ora illo sequeva pacibilmente su cursa in le azur, ora illo reposava super gruppos de nubes similante al alte montanias coronate de nives. Iste nubes, plicante e displicante lor velas, se disrollava in zonas diaphane de satin blanc, se dispersava in legier flocones de scuma, o formava in le celo bancos de watta spendide, si dolce al oculos, que on haberea credite sentir lor mollesse e lor elasticitate...
Le grandor, le stupente melancholia de iste tableau, non poterea exprimer se in le linguage human; le plus belle nocte in Europa non pote dar un idea de lo. In van, in nostre campos cultivate, le imagination cerca a extender se. Illo incontra de tote partes le demoras del homines; sed in iste regiones salvage, le anima se place a figer se in un oceano de forestas, a planar super le gurgites del cataractas, a meditar al bordo del lacos e del fluvios, e pro si dicer, a se trovar sol ante Deo.
Nokto en Ameriko
Iun vesperon, mi misvojiĝis en arbaro, ne fore el la Niagara lago. Baldaŭ mi vidis estingiĝi la tagon ĉirkaŭ mi, kaj mi gustumis, en kompleta solo, la belan vidon de nokto en la dezerto de la Nova Mondo. Unu horon post la sunsubiro, la luno montriĝis super la arboj, je la kontraŭa horizonto. Tiu soleca astro superiris iom post iom la ĉielon; jen ĝi sekvis pace sian kuron en la lazuro, jen ĝi ripozis super nubogrupoj similantaj al altaj montoj kronataj de neĝo. Tiuj nuboj, volvante kaj malvolvante siajn vualojn, malplektiĝis al diafanaj regionoj el blanka sateno, disperdiĝis en leĝeraj neĝeroj el ŝaŭmo, aŭ formis en la ĉielo amasojn el brileganta vato, tiel milda al la okuloj, ke oni kredintus senti ties molon kaj elastecon...
La grando, la miriganta melankolio de tiu bildo ne povus esprimiĝi en homa lingvo; la plej belaj eŭropaj noktoj ne povas doni al ni imagon pri tio. Senrezulte en niaj kulturitaj kampoj la imagpovo klopodas etendiĝi; ĝi renkontas nur la homajn loĝejojn ĉiuloke. Sed en tiuj sovaĝaj regionoj, la animo ĝuas enprofundiĝi en arbarajn oceanojn, ŝvebi super la gorĝojn de akvofalegoj, mediti je la bordo de lagoj kaj de riveroj, kaj, por tiel diri, troviĝi sola antaŭ Dio.
A night in America
One evening I took a wrong road in a forest not far from Lake Niagara. I soon saw the day go out around me, and I tasted, in complete solitude, the beautiful sight of night in the desert of the New World. One hour after sunset, the moon came up over the trees, on the opposite horizon. This solitary heavenly body climbed up the sky, little by little; sometimes it peacefully followed its race in the blue, sometimes it rested above cloud formations resembling high mountains crowned with snow. These clouds, wrapping and unwrapping their veils, unbraided to translucent regions of white satin, dispersed in light snowflakes of foam, or formed masses of shining cotton in the sky, cotton so soft on the eyes that you might have believed that you could field their softness and elasticity...
The grandeur, the astonishing melancholy of this picture might not be expressed in human language; the most beautiful European nights cannot give us an image of it. In vain, in our cultivated fields, does our power of imagination strive to reach out; it meets only human habitations in every place. But in these wild regions, the soul enjoys going deep into the forest oceans, floating above the gorges of waterfalls, meditating on the shores of lakes and vierse, and, so to speak, finding itself alone before God.