III. Occidental (1922) by Edgar de Wahl

1. History

EDGAR DE WAHL WAS born on 11th August 1867 in Olwiopol (Ukraine). He studied Volapük in 1887 and took up Esperanto a year later only to give it up again and to begin his independent studies in 1894. He turned his interest to a naturalistic solution of the problem and collaborated in 1906-7 with Rosenberger, the then president of the Kadem bevünetik volapüka, later the Akademi Internasional de lingu universal. In 1907 he submitted to the Délégation pour l'adoption d'une langue auxiliaire internationale a memorandum on the construction of an auxiliary language without submitting a complete language. The principal ideas in his memorandum were, (1) that none of the existing systems is satisfactory; (2) that the international language to be constructed , be founded on the international linguistic material; (3) that such a project should have its own system of word formation, i.e., really international words should be obtained through a number of rules formulated for that purpose; (4) that it should possess a grammar which produces no unnatural forms, i.e., forms deviating from the ethnic languages; and (5) that it should possess an international orthography.

By `natural' or `international' de Wahl meant to describe those forms which are already known through various European languages. These ideas were not accepted by the Délégation to which they were submitted and de Wahl proceeded to elaborate his own system until, in 1922, he published them as his own language Occidental, in his paper Kosmoglott, later to be named Cosmoglotta. He restated his principles in a conversation with Jespersen in 1935 (Novialiste, No. 6) and required of an international language that each artificial language should respect the common laws of ethnic languages, i.e.: (1) It should be an organic, autonomous entity, living and growing according to its own laws, harmonizing and assimilating new elements, and not to be a conglomeration of different words put together at random. (2) For our special purpose it should be based on the international forms common to the European languages in phonetics, spelling, and modes of expression.

To further its introduction it should also have the following qualities, (1) it should be comprehensible at first sight and without previous instruction to all civilized Europeans, (2) it should not shock the public through incomprehensible forms but should have the aspect of an almost natural language, and (3) to secure adoption and use it should not only be easy to read, but also easy for practical use, and easy in its grammatical structure.

Since 1922 the theories of de Wahl have attracted serious minds and have influenced Jespersen and his Novial to some extent. IALA (The International Auxiliary Language Association) has classified it as one of the systems of demonstrated usefulness.

Back to Contents Page

This page is hosted by Geocities.
James Chandler 1997.