Nor is a similar inability unknown among statesmen. It is said that it was injurious to Denmark in her difficult political situation in the middle of the last century, that Madvig (the great Latin scholar) and other ministers spoke French with difficulty and felt shy of talking bad French to the foreign ambassadors. Similar things are reported from the World War. Sir Edward Grey could not speak French, and the French ambassador, Cambon, spoke bad English. None of the French or English generals, with the exception of Lord Kitchener, spoke the other nations's language at all well, and at the Peace Conference Clemenceau gained an undue ascendancy because he was practically the only one who had complete command of both languages. It requires no unusual amount of wisdom to understand that confidential talks between mighty statesmen of different nationalities on topics of world-wide importance lose a great deal if they have to be carried on by means of interpreters: how much better if the mighty of this earth were able to meet on an equal footing linguistically speaking - but that could only be possible by means of a perfectly neutral language.
It is true that we have translators and interpreters, but good and efficient translators are neither plentiful nor very cheap. I take from Miss Pankhurst's book the bit of information that during 1926 the Geneva staff of the League of Nations included 29 translators and interpreters at salaries amounting to £19,800 - besides shorthand writers and typists. And then, the League is only a modest beginning of that vast political organization of the whole world which has to come in a not too distant future!
In these days of cheap travel, of commercial interchange between all parts of the world, of airplanes and broadcasting, of international science and of world-politics, it seems an urgent need for merchants, technical men, scientists, literary men, politicians, in fact for everybody, to have an easy means of getting into touch with foreigners and of learning more from them than is possible by visiting other countries as tongue-tied tourists. The word "international" was only invented by Jeremy Bentham in 1780 - nowadays we have come to the point of needing an international language.
Let me mention here also the recent invention of the speaking film, which is now being brought to a rare technical perfection. When Axel Petersen and Arnold Poulsen's "phono-film" was shown to a small audience in Copenhagen, my thought leapt out to the time when by this means it would be possible to have plays and speeches made visible and audible and comprehensible all over the world - the advantages of cinema and radio combined and made still more useful by means of an Interlanguage!
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