This brief expression of Otto Jespersen's work for a constructed auxiliary language should contain the expression of his belief which may be called the outcome of a life-long study of language and linguistic behaviour, namely, the conviction that language is moving towards ever greater simplicity and perfection.
"We are drawn to the conclusion that primitive language had a superabundance of
irregularities and anomalies, in syntax and word-formation no less than in
accidence. It was capricious and fanciful, and displayed a luxuriant growth
of forms, entangled one with another like trees in a primeval forest ...
Human minds in the early times disported themselves in long and intricate
words as in the wildest and most wanton play ... primitive speech cannot have
been distinguished for logical consistency; nor, so far as we can judge, was it
simple and facile; it is much more likely to have been extremely clumsy and
unwieldy. Renan rightly reminds of Turgot's wise saying: `Des Hommes grossiers
ne font rien de simple. Il faut des hommes prefectionnés pour y
The possibilities of development are so manifold, and there are such innumerable ways of arriving at more or less adequate expressions for human thought, that it is next to impossible to compare languages of different families .... But we may perhaps give the following formula of what is the total impression of the whole preceding inquiry:
"THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE SHOWS A PROGRESSIVE TENDENCY FROM INSEPARABLE IRREGULAR CONGLOMERATIONS TO FREELY AND REGULARLY COMBINABLE SHORT ELEMENTS." (Language, XXI, 9).
Interlinguists are trying to bring about a real auxiliary language for international communication, a language which is based on this recognition of progress towards regular forms and invariable elements. A neutral, regular, logical language, easy to learn and use will be an important factor in the scientific, cultural, and economic life of the nations. Otto Jespersen has largely contributed to such a solution through his great knowledge and experience. His name will be remembered as one of the first linguists to visualize the benefits which a constructed auxiliary language will bring to humanity.
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