As an instance of how little as yet the true bearings of the problem have percolated into the traditional, scholarly mind, I give the following excerpt from the 'Preliminary Report of the Committee on International Auxiliary Language of the American Philological Association.' The Report was dated December 7, 1922, and signed by six professors. There was one dissenting member, Professor Carl D. Buck, (may his name be honored!) who was of the opinion that the I. L. need not necessarily be Latin:
"The Committee entertains grave doubt of the practicability of finding any language, either Latin or an artificial speech, which will commend itself alike to scholars, men of letters and of affairs, and to the common run of mankind. For the last named, Latin, even in a somewhat enlarged and simplified form, will probably prove too difficult, for the others an artificial language will be repellent because of its uncouthness and inflexibility, while the introduction of idiomatic and varied expression would deprive it of its one serious claim to consideration, that it, simplicity and perspicuity.
Furthermore the Committee is not convinced of the need for direct communication between uneducated and imperfectly educated individuals in different countries. That direct communication between classes or groups of such persons who have common interests is desirable, may not be gainsaid, but such contact will inevitably have to be made through leaders and representatives, and these can readily employ a medium of communication which the rank and file would never have either the patience or the leisure to master thoroughly. In the opinion of the Committee, therefore, the real desideratum is a language which will satisfy the intellectual and aesthetic demands of educated people of every land, and that language can hardly be any but Latin.
It may not be amiss in this connection to quote an eloquent sentence from Bishop Christopher Wordsworth: "When men of learning have ceased to possess a common language, they will soon forget that they have a common Country; they will no longer regard themselves as intellectual compatriots; they will be Englishmen, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, but not Scholars. (The correspondence of Richard Bently, London, 1842, pa., XV.)
The form of Latin to be adopted should be essentially, in vocabulary, syntax and word order, what is known as "classical" with some slight simplifications, perhaps, such as the rejection of a by-form materies (!), and the free inclusion of many words, which, though appearing only in Late Latin or in the Middle Ages, have demonstrated their usefulness by being incorporated into modern languages, and for which classical Latin must employ pariphrases, no matter how eloquently these may at times be conceived.
The vocabulary must be further enriched by the arbitrary creation of Latin or Latin-like words for the objects or ideas which have come into use only in modern times, like "telephone," "soviet," or "deflation of currency."
In matters of style, each competent scholar must, of course, remain a law unto himself, but in general the Committee would deprecate the employment of intricate and highly ingenious locutions and constructions, and recommend, as far as the subject matter will allow, a somewhat Stoic simplicity and directness of expression."
The ordinarily intelligent person, college bred or otherwise, who has no facile use of Latin will please consider themselves out of the running. The thousands of people of only a medium degree of education who have used Ido and Esperanto (one might add: Volapuk) for the most varied uses in all departments of life will have to consider that part of their experience as non-existent. The facility, flexibility and beauty of the Latin diction of those who have trodden the classic quads is so well known that I see no reason why this loquaciousness should be weakened by barbarisms through simplifications of "by-forms" or mediaeval words of Latin origin. Why thus mar the fair fabric of the classical Latin! Why pollute the crystal cup by even semi-modern innovations and simplifications when such a language is unsuited to persons of the baser sort!
This report is chiefly useful in showing what we might expect were the job of creating an I. L. turned over to the classicists. With a "somewhat Stoic simplicity and directness of expression," I will say that while this committee must be recognized as composed of well-intentioned and highly learned men in their own specialty, the report shows a truly astounding lack of comprehension of what has been done toward the building up of an efficient I. L. suitable for the understanding and use of any ordinarily intelligent man, whether he has studied Latin or not. The ordinary man is not squashed so easily, at least now-a-days.
In the same year, I believe, in which the Wright brothers actually flew in their machines, I remember of reading an article by one of our most prominent mathematicians, Professor Simon Newcomb, which "demonstrated" mathematically the impossibility of flight with heavier than air machines.
The sole objection of worth herein raised against a properly constructed artificial I. L. is in regard to the danger of the introduction of idiomatic expressions which would lessen the intelligibility. The same objection might well be raised, with even a higher degree of force, against any wide endeavor to use any form of Latin. An artificial I. L. is from its very nature subject to international control and correction. Its very character, being strange to all, forces the user to clothe his thoughts in logical expression. Actual experience (not theory about it) shows that the average person in writing it, well educated or not, does employ it in a clear intelligible way. Difficulties of understanding sometimes, though rarely, arise from the attempt of the translator to follow in a mere word for word fashion some literary matter where the thought to be expressed is apt to be unclear even in the original, where words have been used for stylistic purposes rather than to express thought simply and accurately. It may be granted that to translate difficult, involved matter so it will be easily understood by all peoples needs study and practice, though nothing in comparison with the labor and practice needed for a like use of Latin or any modern language. Purely idiomatic expressions arise chiefly through attempts after short cuts or striking expressions in the spoken tongues. The I. L. is a secondary language to be employed only occasionally and that mainly in a written form where care can and must be exercised. The man who cannot distinguish between the idiomatic phrases he uses and the ideas he wishes to convey has no place in any sort of I. L. No sensible person, well grounded in the language will attempt purely idiomatic, illogical ways of expression, and if he did he would soon find himself corrected by people from other linguistic groups. As I have said, actual experience shows that this objection is not well founded. I have read thousands of pages of Ido written by hundreds of different people and I have failed to note any tendency toward the introduction of any amount of purely idiomatic expressions that seriously harm the intelligibility of the texts. Long before the I. L. attains a semi-universal use, it will have received official recognition and thus come under international control and fixed canons of style.
Professor G. Peano, of the University of Torino, Italy, is the author, or rather responsible editor, of what is known as the "Vocabulario Commune ad Latino-Italiano-Français-English-Deutsch pro usu de interlinguistas", a work that lists separately about 14, 000 Latin words, or rather neo-Latin words which have survived in modern languages. It is a work of erudition and valuable for the general study of the problem.
As a scholarly storehouse of material there need nothing be said. As demonstrating a workable form of I. L. there is much to be said. Professor Peano and a half-dozen or so of his friends of the Latinist persuasion have used this vocabulary for the translation of the relatively simple words needed for the discussion of his and their linguistic theories regarding the I. L. and for the translation of a number of mathematical articles. The professor is primarily a mathematician. Mathematics has to do with the relatively clear relations which exist between quantities, magnitudes. For such ideas a small vocabulary fairly suffices (it can almost be done by the use of mathematical symbols alone). This leads him to suppose, at least so I imagine, that his vocabulary is fairly sufficient to express all the necessary translation of thought. As a matter of fact, the concepts of shape, magnitude are relatively very simple as compared with the multitudinous concepts where the will, the sentiments are involved, and for which a relatively simple vocabulary does not suffice for exact expression. He has created a vocabulary, not a language. Attempt the translation of any difficult, literary matter and it is soon found that this vocabulary is lacking. However, the mere poverty of words in any vocabulary can easily be remedied by further research, though he might find it difficult if he continues to insist on only those words which have the sanctity of a Latin root word behind them. In fact as it is, a very large proportion of his vocabulary is not properly Latin at all, that is, classical Latin. It is rather a list of mediaeval Latin words which have survived in the Romance languages with a strong bias toward the forms found in the Italian. The Latinists are constantly stressing the relations which exist between the English language and the Latin and the "immediate intelligibility" which such a language has for peoples of all Romance groups and the English. As a matter of fact, the text put out by Peano and his friends have "immediate intelligibility" at the most only for those who know Latin, though like Ido it is fairly easy for all to learn to understand. French, for instance, is Latin in origin but not in form. English, so largely derived from the French has still further departed from the Latin and has a large admixture of Anglo-Saxon roots. There is no "immediately intelligibility" of Peano's dialect by the French and English. In fact, it is probable that a larger body of more closely allied words could be extracted from the words common to the English and French than is given in the book of Professor Peano, such form of vocabulary would not, however, be entirely scientific in all cases because it would disregard the form of the same root-words as they exist in other languages.
It should not be considered, however, that in the fundamental choice of root-words, Professor Peano's differs much from what is found in Ido. The interrelations of words in the different languages being what they are, it is impossible to depart widely from a common body of words as the basis of an I. L. vocabulary. It is doubtful that if more than 10 % of the roots would differ. It is probably less than that. To demonstrate how closely the languages correspond, I have just made a rather hasty inspection of the first 170 words of the Vocabulario Commune (omitting therefrom all forms which are there listed as proper derivatives). Of the 170 words, 145 of them are common as regards root material with those found in Ido; only 25 (14 %) were not found in the Ido vocabulary. In fact, if we except from these 25 such words as abes, abnorme, achate, acino, acotyledone the ratio is still further reduced. I list the following differences in these vocabularies with the Ido words given in parentheses (this is, of course, disregarding the double letters and other "natural" spellings of the Voc. Com.). ab (de, for); abecedario (espel-libro); abes (esar absenta); abhorre (abominar, hororar -note the presence of two "r"s: abhorre); abnome (anomala); abrasions (exkorio, skrap-o, -uro; the verbal root of abrasione is according to the V. C.: rader!) abscinde (de-tranchar); absconde (celar; not the equivalent of the E. abscond), abusu (mis-uzo, male traktar, tro-uzar); abute (mis-uzo, etc.; note the form abusu for the verb and abute for the noun); accede (asentar, konsentar; accede is pronounced: akkede); aceto (vinagro); achate (agato); aciario (bordo); acino (in E.:? grape stone; ? berry); acotyledone (sen-kotiledon-a, -o) acquiesce (asentar, konsentar); acu (agulo); aculeo (piko, dardo); acumine (sagac-eso, akut-eso); adamanto (diamanto); adipe (graso); adit (aceso); adminiculo (helpo).
One can easily understand from this comparison how chimerical is the idea that some body of scholars will some time in the future find some new body of roots on which to form an I. L. which differs much from those we now have. The real conflict between Ido and Interlingua lies not so much in the root material used but in the way this root material is handled.
In an endeavor to appear "natural", the Latin dialects generally permit the introduction of unphonetic spellings, especially the use of double letters. When this opportunity is afforded of constructing a really scientific language, why, in the name of common reason, I ask, should we retain in that language unphonetic spellings which are simply pious mementoes of a bygone Latin spelling which survive in part in most of our modern languages to plague the student and embarrass almost every writer? There exists no "natural" use of these spellings which is entirely international. Contrast, for example, the Italian, which absolutely swarms with double consonants, to the Spanish, which is spelled phonetically and in which practically no double letters appear. An inventor which would insist in retaining in his new machine some useless part which simply had historical associations would be regarded as somewhat of an ass. In another endeavor to follow the Latin and appear "natural", the letter c is used in place of the k and is pronounced as c in cat, can, even in such words as commerca, concede, concentra, concesso, publicitate, asecenso, accentu etc., etc, (pronounced: komerka, konkede, konkentra, konkesso, etc.). In Ido, if you know how to pronounce a word, you know how to spell it and vice versa. To the intelligent, practical man, unburdened with a vast weight of tradition, the Ido method is the only sensible method.
Take the question of terminal letters, suffixes which in Ido are uniform in use and meaning. The ability to add a determinate meaning to a root by a regular use of certain forms is the most valuable characteristic of Ido and Esperanto. This lack of uniformity in the terminal letters, so-called "suffixes", and the significations such chaotic terminations are intended to convey is the greatest defect of all Latinist projects. Professor Peano lists about 130 of the so-called "suffixes" followed by examples of words in which they are used, for example: -ile as in aed-ile (noun), infant-ile, ag-ile (adjectives). When terminations can be used almost indiscriminately without fixed significations, they might just as well be omitted altogether and the writer left to end his words in any manner which seems natural to him. In Interlingua one is constantly in doubt whether one is dealing with a verb, noun, or what not, as from the point of view of the vast majority of Europeans, the terminations are merely arbitrary and have to be learned separately for each form of word. Take verbal terminations: we find ama, abdica, educa; lege, crede, perde, audi, dormi, fini. Take the collection of grammatical forms which cluster around the English word progress. Peano gives the verb the form of progredi, noun forms appear as progressu, progressione and progress-u; two other forms of this root appear of which I do not know whether they are to be understood as nouns or adjectives or both: progress-ista (progressist!) progress-ivo. The author asserts that he has done away with all grammar. It may also be asserted that he has done away with sense. To be sure, in English we very often employ the same form of word for the different parts of speech (we "ship the man" and "man the ship") but that does not add to the gaiety of the poor foreigner who is attempting to understand our language. In short, in the Latinist projects there are many suffixes for one idea and many ideas for one suffix. It is a case of striving after "naturalness" (especially for Latinists) at the expense of regularity, facility and accuracy of writing and speaking. The multitude of terminal forms may lend a superficial air of naturalness to the aspect of the text for reading purposes, though such texts are in fact very often hard to understand because the parts of speech are not clearly indicated, but the lack of a uniform coherent system of derivation makes it extremely hard to write. Even if it could be read with facility, it would be but half a language.
In order that the reader may not think that I have exaggerated this lack of proper derivation in Interlingua, I give the following examples which are, I think, characteristic of the whole:
From abdica (verb) is derived abdicatione; from abbrevia, abbrevia-tione; but from abole, aboli-tione (why not -etione?); from abstrahe, abstractione and abstracto as nouns; from accede, accessione; from adhaere, adhaesione; from admitte, admissione; from adopta, adoptione (why not adopt-atione as in abdicatione?); from allude, allusione, from annecte, annexione; from assenti, assensu; abusu (verb), abute (noun): abscinde, abscisso; absorbe, absorptione and absorpto; accende, accensione (meaning: to light; Ido. acendar, -o), acre (eager; sharp) gives acritate (acrity) and acritudina (acritude); age (to act); actione (act, noun; also share of a public company); actionista (shareholder); acto (act); actu (act); actua (to actuate); actuale (actual); actuario (actuary); acu (needle); acue (to sharpen); from affige (to affix) we get affixo and afficione; the word for abbot is given as abbate; how we are to translate abbess we are not instructed; perhaps the old Latin abbatissa would do just as Peano derives actrice from actore or asinino from asino; we find ave (to be avid); avaro (avaricious); avido (avid) and aviditate (avidity) not to speak of avi (bird), avo (grandfather) and aviatione (aviation); exsule (to banish, exile) and exsilio (an exile or bandit); we find ambi (to have ambition, to aspire to) and ambente (ambient) and ambitione (ambition), etc., etc, There are no fixed rules to go by, no uniformity. We must learn each separate word, as in the Latin.
Said Professor Couturat: "The profound error and illusion of the Latinists (literally, "dog-Latinists") is that they understand Latin and they believe that the Latin vocabulary is easily and directly understandable by everybody. They adopt as a whole (though not cleverly) the Latin words, or preferably the Italian, for, in fact, in their texts they write in a scarcely deformed Italian. That sort of thing can only deceive Italians whose nationalistic amour propre it flatters, presenting as a form of I. L. only a barbarized form of Italian."
Interlingua is an example of the type of language we might expect if the task of constructing an I. L. be turned over to scholars of the traditional type. Professor Couturat remarked in his History of the I. L. that the ordinary linguistic professor tends to construct a form of I. L. too difficult for the facile use of the ordinary intelligent man. Shut up as the professor is in his study and class room, with a lifetime devoted to the zealous study of bygone grammatical forms and civilizations, he loses touch with present realities and needs. The things that are interesting and dear to him, he tries to impose on others. Any type of I. L. which does not sufficiently take into account the necessities and point of view of the ordinarily educated and intelligent man is doomed to failure, even though it may receive the approbation of the governments. The plea of "naturalness" and "easy intelligibility" is in reality valid only for those who are conversant with Latin. And even the Latinist would find his task greatly simplified and bettered if a systematic form of derivation replaced the superficially natural forms which now appeal to him, it is not enough that a language be easy to read, it must be easy to write and speak, and more exact in the expression of thought than any language living or dead.
The college graduate part of the population amounts, I believe, in the United States, to less than one per cent. A goodly proportion of even this one per cent lack any real knowledge and appreciation of Latin. It is hardly wise to cater to the particular prejudices (or opinions) of that small part of the population to the practical detriment of the remaining 99 per cent. Intelligence, fortunately, is not the unique characteristic of those who have trodden the classic quads. We are trying to construct a machine for general use which will do the work as efficiently as possible. We should reject nothing, because of traditional likes and dislikes, which helps us to attain that end.
The most important task of the future, as I see it, is not so much the selection of a vocabulary, because it is now clear that the main body of such vocabulary is imposed by international roots and the fringe of ideas for which international roots are lacking can be selected in a spirit of scientific compromise as has been done in Ido, but lies rather in giving precision to the ideas carried by these root ideas and their derivative forms and the cultivation of a clear international style.
Among the systems considered by the Delegation were several, Idiom-Neutral, Novolatin (of Dr. Beeman), and Universal (of Molenaar) which indicated the sexes through the finals -o, -a, instead of as in Ido: -ulo, -ino. This proposal was again revived after the decision of the Delegation by Michaux in a system known as Romanal. As both Ido and Romanal were mentioned in the late book of Professor Guérard as good solutions of the I. L., and as such indication of the sexes appeals strongly to certain peoples of the Romance group, it may be worth while to give some of the reasons why the Delegation refused to adopt such method. It must certainly be granted that any uniform use of final vowels, whether indicative of the grammatical class of the word or to indicate gender is a step in advice over the ugly and hardly pronounceable words found in Universal and Idiom-Neutral which terminate in two or more consonants, such as, patr, votr, regn, and over such systems as that of Interlingua wherein the final vowels are used chiefly for phonetic reasons and carry with them no fixed significations. In using Romanal as a late example of such projects, it should be understood that Romanal is not a developed language like Ido and Esperanto. It was merely put out, like a majority of proposals, in the shape of a three or four pages pamphlet containing a new grammatical outline. In Romanal, -o stands as a sign for the masculine, as patr-o: father; -a indicates the feminine, as patr-a: mother; -u, both sexes, as patr-u parent, -e for the undefined or inanimate, as acid-e: acid; -i indicates an adjective, gener-i (or perhaps, general-i) general; -im for adverbs, as separat-im: separately. For the vocabulary, one is simply referred to neo-Latin words. The system has no body of followers.
In this connection it may be stated that Professor Guérard in his book gives the reader the impression that such proposals as that of Idiom-Neutral, were not thoroughly considered by the Delegation. Such was decidedly not the case. The reports of the work of the Delegation and the numerous references in the pages of PROGRESO are sufficient evidence to the contrary. As Professor Couturat stated, some of the members of the Delegation had a previous inclination toward such adoption and rejected these views only after the matter was thoroughly thrashed out. If the student desires a thorough explanation and examination of the merits of such systems as Idiom-Neutral, let him turn to the pages of PROGRESO, I refer him particularly to vol. II-274; vol, V-351, 432.
To return to the question of using the finals -o, -a for the sexes: There is, of course, nothing in logic or general linguistic practice which demands that the -o and -a be used as in Ido and Espo simply to denote a part of speech. They are simply arbitrarily selected vowels used as perhaps best suited for the purpose intended, just as -ulo, -ino are suffixes chosen for the masculine and feminine. One may shuffle around these terminal forms indefinitely and come to no solution which will please the phonetic taste of all. In favor of the use of -ulo and -ino for indicating the different sexes, it should be noted that when the suffixes are used the accent falls upon the -ul and -in thus giving special distinctiveness to the sounds. In the Romanal practice, we do not find distinctive syllables and the accent does not even fall upon the finals -o, -a, etc. As far then as clearness of hearing goes, the Espo-Idist system is the better.
The main argument for the use of -o and -a as sex suffixes comes from a like usage in certain Romance languages where it appears to be "natural" and consonant with linguistic sentiment, especially if the vowel of the definite article is also changed to correspond with the noun. However, even for these languages, there being no neuter terminations, the feminine and masculine gender forms apply as well to inanimate objects.
The following are some of the reasons which led the Delegation to reject the use of terminal vowels for gender designation. In the first place, if one admits the finals -o and -a for the masculine and feminine respectively, one must of necessity admit another vowel for the neuter and, in all probability, still another vowel for use where the sex is undetermined. We have as terminal vowels: a, e, i, o, u. By using a, e, o, u, as Romanal has done to indicate gender alone, we find all vowels exhausted, except the i which may be used to indicate adjectives, and consequently have no vowel left to indicate adverbs and are thus driven to the use of -im or -ment for that purpose. It is therefore apparent that the use of vowels as useful distinctions for the parts of speech is very much weakened. Again, such usage harms the language from a phonetic standpoint. "There is," to quote Guérard, " an overwhelming predominance, among nouns, of the ending -e, which is the least sonorous of the three. The sound of Esperanto-Ido is more pleasing than that of Romanal,"
Another result of this attempt to distinguish genders in nouns by vowels is that such distinction must be further applied to the numerous pronominal forms which in turn must have three or four gender forms. In Espo, for example, there is found tio and tiu which apply, quite logically, to all three genders; Ido has likewise ito and ita (ilta, elta, olta), quo along with qua, etc. The use of -a merely to indicate the feminine sex would of necessity do away with the use of -al(a) as a natural and useful adjective form. It would also demand changes in the participle forms -inta, -into; -ita, -ito. In Ido, the final -o and -a indicate nouns and adjectives consistently throughout all grammatical combinations or forms. If we restrict the use of these two letters to merely masculine and feminine significations, we break up this harmony. Another result of this change would come in the plural. As the sign of the plural in Romanal must be added to the vowel, it is naturally -s. In Ido, we do not add a letter to indicate the plural, we change the final -o to -i, which is consistent at least with the usage of Russian and Italian and familiar to all in such words as bolsheviki and dilettanti. Furthermore, the Ido usage enables us to have the important advantage of forming a pronounceable accusative ending by the addition of -n to the -i which could not be done if we used -s for the plural.
Still another important consequence would be the necessity of changing the present Espo-Ido verbal finals: -as, -is, -os, -us, because the s in these forms would collide with the sign of the plural. I hold no brief for the Espo-Ido verbal finals, but they are at least regular, uniform and fit in easily with the numerous combinations of the verb es-ar (to be) needed especially in passive synthetic constructions. M. Michaux conjugation is thus changed from a synthetic form such as we find in Espo-Ido (esas, amata, am-ab-esis) to a combination of analytic and synthetic construction, as haba aman or am-ab-an. Now I do not venture to say whether a partial or optional form of analytic conjugation, where some auxiliaries are used in the manner of the English have and had, is, or is not preferable to what we now have in Ido. But I can assert, from long practical experience, that the synthetic forms of Ido and Espo present no practical difficulties, in spite of our being accustomed to a use of auxiliary forms. Doubtless, linguists could argue this point for years without agreement.
We thus see that this apparently simple attempt to distinguish sexes by the use of -o and -a, to accommodate the language to certain linguistic tastes, introduces profound changes throughout the grammar and does away with clear grammatical distinctions of the parts of speech. If such a system had been adopted, Ido would have no right to be considered as a "scientific Esperanto", for the characteristic feature of Espo (aside from its special alphabet) would have been changed. Ido would be a species of Idiom-Neutral reformed. At least it may be said for the system Espo-Ido that it works easily and well and that we cannot see how any pronounced advantage could be gained by change.
Since the main body of this work was written, there has appeared, "A Short History of the I. L. Movement" by Professor A. L., Guérard. The professor is a Frenchman domiciled in the United States and is at present a professor of French in the Rice Institute, at Houston, Texas. His book, intended to interest the general public, is historical and informative, rather than argumentative. As the only book of importance that has appeared for many years on the subject, it is bound to have influence, and is therefore worthy of comment.
In its popular aspect, the book seems to be a boost for Espo. It is unfair to Ido because it tends to disparage the importance of the Delegation and does not expose in detail the fundamental defects of Espo. The Professor has a practical knowledge of Espo and because that form of I. L. has the widest diffusion, he has thought it wise, "as a matter of tactics", to recommend the learning of Espo to the general public who have little interest in linguistic discussions. The professor's knowledge of Ido is evidently not great. It appears to be derived from a mere reading of the back pages of PROGRESO, rather than from a practical study of the language. However, he recognizes the necessity for a system of logical derivation and gives as his own personal conclusion that the official I. L. of the future is likely to be Ido or some type of I. L. akin to it, though his desire is that it should have a purely neo-Latin vocabulary with its "natural" spellings (double letters, etc.). His hope is that some time in the future a committee of scholars will make an exhaustive study of the subject and render an authoritative decision.
The motives for recommending to the ordinary student the learning of Espo rather than Ido appear to have been: (1) It is easier to interest the student in the more widely known type of I. L. than in Ido which is at present not so widely known and for which dictionaries are lacking in many languages. Tactics, rather than excellence. (2) Ido in its present state has a vocabulary founded on modern international roots. The type of vocabulary which appeals to Guérard as a scholar is one founded entirely on neo-Latin etymological roots, plus a few words which are purely modern and international like soviet, geisha. (3) Ido, if it became very popular in its present form, might make it too difficult for the Latinists to change, therefore, as a matter of tactics, it is better to relegate it to the same level as mere projects of languages which now have no body of followers. "The Idists and the Peanists may legitimately consider themselves as special committees of the I. L. movement." In other words, the Idists will please "go way back and sit down" until some Great Minds get together and give authoritative decision on some type of neo-Latin I. L. which they may regard as suitable for common people. I want to say that Ido is practically a complete language not a mere sketch of a language like the other projects. That it has a very considerable body of adherents and is a living movement growing stronger every day. The Idists prefered to perfect their language through the years rather than to make bids for popularity by an imperfect and unchanged vocabulary. When funds can be found to publish its costly dictionaries, Ido can well look after itself, I may also say that any I. L. needs something more than theoretical views to perfect it. It needs practical use by people of ordinary learning, experimental use with difficult translation matter. Such cannot be gained if a type of I. L. is relegated to the studies of scholars. Whether Professor Guérard likes it or not, Ido in its present form cannot be subdued and placed on a subordinate plane until it is reshaped to desires of Latinists. The alleged 'improvements' thus far offered for inspection by Latinists are not of a kind likely to commend themselves to Idists. No future official body of scholars will have as its data for consideration any new body of fact not already considered by the Delegation and now open to the inspection of those who desire to inform themselves. Nor is it likely that any new committee would succeed in discovering any more effective ways of using linguistic material than have already been presented. Certainly Idists do not look upon their language as perfect, but as perfectible on its sound basis.
In the author's zeal for a purely Latin based language, his attitude toward the Delegation, Professor Couturat and the Idist movement in general has not been entirely fair and scientific. He makes much of the fact that five of the prominent men who had been invited to participate in the deliberations failed to appear and that some others were only present through authorized representatives. It would certainly have given more weight to the decisions if a greater number had participated, but the real interest in the subject on the part of prominent men was not great, and the fact that some by reason of distance or other personal considerations failed to assist should not be allowed to detract from the worth of the deliberations. He has no right to minimize the work of that truly remarkable man, Professor Couturat, and the work of the only competent body of scholars who have attempted to pass on and build up the I. L.. Professor Couturat was a scholar who stood and stands, in his real greatness of intellect and knowledge of the subject, head and shoulders over any other scholar past or present in his competency for the task. Couturat was not perfect. His very energy and earnestness, plus his Gallic temperament and training, led him to oppose fiercely those whom he considered to be treating him and his work unfairly. I quite agree also that Professor Couturat sometimes attempted to give too much weight to the authority and importance of the Delegation. The Delegation as finally composed (through no fault of Professors Couturat and Leau) chiefly has the authority which goes with demonstration of facts. The fact that the delegates were prominent scholars certainly added weight to their decisions, but their prominence was not the fundamental thing, the convincing thing in the mind of the public. No decision of any committee, however prominent its personnel, will long be followed by the general public if the findings of such committee do not work well in practice. The value of the judgment, for example, of the learned scholars from the American Classical Association, who decided that no form of I. L. could be constructed suitable for the common run of people, is immediately discounted by those who know the facts through experience. If Espo were gotten up by the Pope and Ido by the Bolshevists that could not and would not prevent adherence, in the long run, to the more efficient of the two. The Delegation has the same sort of authority that a competent body of electricians would have in passing judgment on some new electrical contrivance, nothing more, nothing less. Couturat undoubtedly "steered" the Delegation and the subsequent Idist movement, but Couturat had only one vote in the findings of the Delegation and in the subsequent Idist Academy, and his influence resulted simply from the greatness of his ability. To get anything done, to get practical results in any form of I. L. there must be some discipline, some pooling of somewhat divergent views, otherwise the individualistic type of scholars who take a part in that sort of language construction will break up the movement through insistence upon their own particular pet views. It is a fact well attested in the experience of Idists that there exist a very large number of scholars, or people of scholarly pretence, who after a few days, or even a few hours study of Ido feel perfectly certain that the language would be all right if it be changed in some particular to correspond with his own preference. Unfortunately, to understand and appreciate Ido demands considerable study, not a more reading. Wisely, so I think, the Delegation was unwilling to break with Espo more than was necessary. They recognized the fact that Espo possessed great excellencies and a body of followers. It did not see wise to change anything for the sake of mere change.
In the opinion of Professor Guérard, the only proper basis for the I. L. is the Latin etymological root. One might suppose from his numerous references to "etymological roots" that he means by this only the classic Latin forms. From his letters, I judge that this is not the case, that what he has reference to is the mediaeval Latin words which are yet "alive" in some form or other in our modern languages. Doubtless his idea is that the spellings and perhaps the significations should follow the original Latin as far as it is possible so to do without too much distorting the modern equivalents. In cases where significations in modern languages have no Latin equivalents, or have survived only in obscure forms (the prepositions for example), he would, like Professor Peano, return to the classical Latin. Now as I have stated elsewhere, the root material on which any efficient type of I. L, must be composed is much the same. Probably nine-tenths of the roots proper found in Peano's vocabulary are likewise to be found in the Ido vocabulary. Of course, Ido has adopted the root material in the modern form, irrespective of its Latin forms, and furthermore has added many roots which are to be found only in modern languages. The essential difference however between the Latinist camp and the Idist is in the way the same root material is handled. In Ido a common form of root is selected which nearest agrees with modern international usage to which is appended uniform affixes to form a consistent method of derivation. The Latinists endeavor to follow as far as practicable not only the original Latin spellings for the roots, with all their unphonetic forms, but the multiform ways of spelling affixes, losing thereby any coherent derivative forms. How Professor Guérard, acknowledging as he does the need for a regular system of derivation, expects to unite a logical system of derivative forms with the unphonetic root spellings of the Latin, I do not know, and I very much doubt if he does. The Espo-Ido method seems to the Latinists to be artificial, to "distort" the spelling of the roots and their derivatives. My judgment is, and it is based on prolonged lexicographical work, that any future body of scholars who approach the problem with a prejudice in favor of a pedantic use of etymological roots will soon find themselves under the imperative necessity of (1) so "distorting" very many of these etymological roots as to cause them to lose the "natural" spellings, (2) of inserting, for reasons of proper expression of thought, such a large amount of modern root material, not belonging to the Latin, as to make their resulting form of language to very closely approximate Ido as it now stands. In other words, if the Latinists would sit down and attempt the practical working out of a language, not merely words in the vocabulary which have Latin roots, they would find, I believe, that some of their theories about I. L. language construction do not fit in efficiently with modern linguistic facts. Doubtless, as Guérard asserts the strict following of the Latin roots and their spellings would be of aid to students who are studying or expecting to study Latin, but what about the aid afforded by such a language as Ido in learning modern Romance languages? The knowledge gained and the feeling of relationship and kinship thus aroused is quite if not far more important than that which would come from a like recognition as regards the ancient Romans.
The presupposition in favor of a purely Latin type of I. L. is so strong in the mind of the average linguistic professor that he would deny entrance to the linguistic heaven to any one not familiar with the classic tongue. Only prolonged practical tests can rid him of it. I think I echo the sentiments of all leading Idists when I assert that they would be glad to see every root and form in Ido put to the test of a fair examination by a representative body of scholars. If there be imperfections, points that can be bettered, we wish to know it. The Idists, however are not eager to see their language judged, only by scholars who represent the traditional, pedantic point of view, For fair decision, it is absolutely essential that a future official committee should be big enough to represent all points of view and must include scientists, publicists, and the like who will have to use the language practically for all departments of life.
Because of his reverence for the etymological roots, Professor Guérard is led to utterly reject Jespersen's formula: "That international language is best which offers the greatest facility to the greatest number. The internationality of a root is therefore measured by the number of persons of European culture who are able to recognize and understand it, without knowing any other language than their native tongue." This formula Guérard considers "pseudoscientific" or "absolute nonsense", as he expressed himself in a letter. He says: "Granted that the method, properly applied, would make each separate word easiest for the greatest number of men, this would not be true of the language as a whole." I must confess myself quite unable to follow the logic (7) of the above quoted sentence, I should suppose that the best nation, from a moral and intellectual standpoint, is that which contains the greatest number of the best individuals. Why this does not apply in the linguistic field, I do not know. You may differ from it certainly. You may consider, as does the professor, that an I. L. with a purely Latin base is better than one founded on modern internationality, but to call the formula "nonsense" is simply to display prejudice. It is a dictum of common sense that the more people a certain form of word is intelligible to the better it is. Latin roots would find no appreciation were they not, in a majority of cases, the most international in their fundamental form. It is the very basis of their selection for any form of I. L..
The grounds of his opposition to the formula probably are: (1) Scholarly preconceptions which makes him see nothing but the Latin. (2) His imagining that the Idists have constructed their vocabulary by slavishly counting heads without taking other considerations into account. This is simply not the case, as I can testify who have watched the building up of the vocabulary during many years. If mere populations was the sole basis of selection for the vocabulary of an I. L. the purely English type of word would have to be, in many cases, selected, But any simple, workable system of phonetics forbids the selection of most English words as they stand because of their spelling or pronunciation. In spite of being used by the "largest number of people", they often do not fit into the phonetics. Yet if the Idists had slavishly followed the Jespersen formula, they would have had oftentimes to have been adopted in their purity. In fact, in my judgment, in a number of roots it would have been better for Ido if the formula had been followed more closely. (3) Guérard has been unable to see the fallacy involved in the assertion of the Espist author, Kotzin, that if we follow Jespersen's formula, "we should have to accept the English because that language is spoken by the greatest number of people." I have already exploded, I think, that sophistry by a note on page 107. Therefore, I will simply say here: (a) That the fact that the English is a very difficult language for any foreigner to learn absolutely debars it as a language which offers the "greatest facility to the greatest number." (b) That the English is not an independent language unrelated to other European tongues. As the vast majority of our words come from and are related to words in other languages, it matters greatly to other linguistic groups what roots, or form of root, is selected. The words "high", "tall", "lofty", for example, are purely English words, now unrelated, I suppose, to any like words for this idea in any living language. If they were selected they would impose upon all Europeans the learning of arbitrary words unrelated to their own languages. However, because the Idists selected the root alt- (found in such English words as altitude) to express this idea it is easy of recognition and comprehension not alone to the English but to the French, Italian and Spanish peoples. This shows that Kotzin's assertion is untenable. The English language mainly counts as a factor only when its words find a counterpart in other languages. (4) The Latin predilections of the professor are so strong that he wishes to ignore the common word forms of the English and Germanic races which have in some instances been inserted in Ido. We have, for example, send- and dank- in place of the Latin mitte and gratia. To the unprejudiced observer, the common linguistic heritage of the Germanic and English races, outnumbering as they do all Romances peoples, might seem at least worthy of consideration. If an I. L. is to be constructed on grounds of efficiency rather than sentimental and racial sentiment, it seems unwise to leave out of consideration this common body of root material even though it be unsanctified by a Latin origin. Mitte, for instance, has to be spelled with two "t"s and is therefore objectionable in a phonetically spelled languages, besides having only a remote connection in sense with the English words in which the root has survived: transmit, permit, etc. In their zeal to preserve the antique spellings, the Latinists too often forget the changes in meanings that words have undergone. It excites the ridicule of Guérard that the Idists (and Espists) have selected the Russian root word dejur(ar) to express the military idea of, to be on duty; dejur-oficiro, officer-of-the-day. It may be that there may be found some other simple word from a Latin source that better expresses this common but somewhat complex idea but the professor does not give us the benefit of it. Guérard in his appendix pp. 243-4 attempts a detailed refutation of the Jespersen formula; to quote:
"Mere numbers do not provide an adequate criterion of the relative importance of languages. This basic fact (How can a formula be "basic" and at the same time "Pseudo-scientific?") ought to be modified: (a) by a coefficient of culture based on literary, or literary and scientific, production; (b) by the fact of geographical diffusion, or better dispersion the superiority of English over Russian, for instance, is much greater than mere numbers would indicate; and the fact that Spanish is spoken by twenty different nations, scattered over three continents, is an indication that cannot be neglected; (c) tradition, the degree of internationality already achieved by a language, the number of people who have learnt it next to their mother tongue; (d) possibly the intrinsic beauty and facility of a language, although that is is point upon which it is even more difficult to agree than upon the other three."
I answer: Jespersen's formula simply means that the easier a word or a root is for the greatest number of people, the better it is. This is but sheer common sense. It is a mere general statement rule, meant to be modifed by other factors. Guérard's exceptions are not a refutation of this general rule but additions or modifications of this rule which must be taken and have been taken into consideration. (a) It is admitted elsewhere in his book that a coefficient of culture is practically impossible; it does not lend itself to mathematical or exact statement. Yet Idists have consciously or unconsciously had this necessity in mind. No one of common sense, other factors being equal, would give the same weight to, say, a Portuguese form of word that he would give to a corresponding word from the French, Some have objected that the Idists have given too much weight to the French as a "cultural coefficient." (b) I quite agree. The Idists have not slavishly followed a mere numerical formula. For example, the easy phonetics and wide dispersion of the Spanish have undoubtedly entered into the selection of roots. (c) Tradition. This is, I suppose, a rather round about way of insisting upon Latin etymological roots. The Latinity should exist in the I. L. only in the degree that neo-Latin roots are most widely and 'efficiently' international. You should not be allowed to diminish the efficiency of the language by the forced introduction of Latin words or Latin spellings when other forms are more international and "easiest for the greatest number." We should not bend linguistic facts to fit a Latin formula. (d) Beauty. The phonetics of Ido founded on that found in Spanish and Italian, necessitate and show an agreeable phonetic system. On the next page to the above quoted, Professor Guérard states: "Ido has other qualities - the harmonious and lucid vocalic endings inherited from Esperanto, a more logical system of derivation than that of the parent language, and especially that of Neutral and Interlingua."
In short, Professor Guérard has made certain disparaging statements in regard to the root selection of the Idist vocabulary which are quite evidently founded upon supposition and prejudice in favor of a more pedantic selection, not on exact knowledge. It is easy to make wide assertions; it is quite another thing to prove them in detail.
However, in a few instances the professor does condescend to show what he considers evidently a bad selection of roots on the part of the Idists. This is just what we need and welcome, not general assertion. He objects to the composite word: kun-laborar (the proposition kun added to labor-ar: to work with (somebody), to collaborate), and states that "collaboratione is both easier and more helpful" (to whom?). Now although the composite word indicates the true sense of the word very well, there is no reason why the Idists should not adopt both forms; we have done the like in a number of cases. But we certainly should not attempt to pedantically follow the etymological root as spelled in Latin and use a c as the sole representative of not only the k sound proper but the numerous sounds of c as they exist. Guérard sees "no difficulty" in the Peanist spellings: concede, concentra, acceptu, as pronounced konkede, konkentra, akkentu! Nor should we insert two "l"s because double letters seem "natural" to the Latinists. The Spanish spell the word with one l. It is wise to burden the Spanish writer with such exceptions to phonetic spelling, to say nothing of other nations? Again, what about collaboratione being "both easier and more helpful" to the Germans, Russians, etc. who do not have such a word, but who can express the idea very easily by putting together the two common roots: kun: with; labor-ar: to work?
The professor regards dubitare as preferable from a scholarly standpoint to the Idist (and Espist) form of dub-ar. What about the adjectival forms upon which the Idist root is based: E.: dubious, F.: douteux; S.: dudoso? The short form of the root: dub- is about all we can easily build upon if we adopt a regular system of derivation. The minute you adopt a logical system of derivative forms (which necessity Guérard admits, though he seems to forget it at times), you find "naturalness" in terminal forms and even in the unphonetic spelling of the roots all shot to pieces. The best we can do is to follow the "naturalness" and internationality of the roots, so far as they are easily pronounceable. If we take dubitar(e) as the root form, we should have in Ido a verb: dubitar-ar, and the adjective forms: dubitar-a, -ala, -oza, -inda, -ema all of which may seem "unnatural" as the forms: dub-ar, -oza, etc. *
He cites the English and German root: vund-ar: to wound; vund-ebla: woundable, vulnerable, found in both Espo and Ido, and prefers for this conception forms based on the Latin root: vuln- If the adjective form were the primary conception, possibly vuln- might be the better. The primary conception, under a system of derivation, is the verbal root: to wound: vund-ar, which form of root has immediate intelligibility to 270 millions of English and Germanic speakers, the adjectival idea of vulnerable, woundable, is simply a derivable form. However, I do not wish to be understood, in this case or in the other words here criticized, that I regard the Ido selection as absolutely unattackable, I am simply engaged in showing that there is no prima facie case against them. I am quite willing to admit the possibility that some future linguistic committee with different linguistic taste might here as elsewhere substitute a few other roots other than what we now have. In very many cases, the result must be a compromise, liked by some, disliked by others. In my judgment, there is little to be said, from the standpoint of first sight intelligibility against the Espo-Ido root vund-.
He also objects to the English and Germanic root, vorto: word, preferring vocabulo, as found in the English word vocabulary. From the "mere counting of heads", which Guérard so much objects to, he is quite right in preferring the more international form. If the Idists have slavishly obeyed the principle of "maximum internationality", here is a case where they seemed to have failed to apply the rule. It is a seriously debatable question in an official I. L. whether we should not give place to as many English and Germanic roots as possible where there is close correspondence, even though there may be some slight loss in etymological internationality. They are not many in number, yet they are helpful to the English and Germans to the degree inserted, and moreover give at least the appearance of fairness in the method of selection. The mere fact that vocabul is from the Latin and the other is not, should not have decisive weight. Personally, I incline toward the retention of the shorter (and perhaps uglier) word.
The Idist word ucelo for bird is another word to which objection is made and the preference given to ave (what becomes of Ave Maria?). Here is one of those common words which are differently expressed in all languages: E.: bird; D.: Vogel; I.: uccello; F.: oiseau; S. and
Port.: ave, Ave, derived from the Latin avis, has first sight intelligibility only to the Spanish and Portuguese, though it is found in the form of avi in such English words as aviary, aviculture. Bird is the form most widely used from the standpoint of population of any of the direct equivalents and is adopted in Espo in the form of birdo. It is pronounced as if spelled beardo and has double consonants at the end which are probably unpleasing to Romance peoples. The ucelo of the Idists, taken from the Italian, was probably substituted for the Espist word birdo because of its euphony and ease with which derivative forms may be constructed (Guérard in his criticism gives the impression the euphony and beauty has not been regarded!). From the sheer standpoint of internationality, the form ornit-, as found in ornithology, is probably the best selection that can be made, though such word has not the euphonic distinction of ucelo. This is another example of how difficult it is to suit every one. Whatever is adopted, some persons will prefer another form as best suited to their linguistic taste.**
Of course, what Guérard is aiming at in this criticism is to eliminate all roots of non-Latin origin. If the professor would actually undertake some of this language construction in detail, instead of merely giving ex cathedra criticisms of the work of others, he would better realize what difficulties arise in attempting to compose the vocabulary of the I. L. from purely Latin sources. As an example of the practical difficulties which arise in actual linguistic work (not criticism), I give the following example: Some weeks ago, I was looking for a word to translate the word statesman. At present we have in Ido no separate word for this common and distinctive idea. The best we can do is to use the composed word: politik-estro, a leader of politics. The Espists use stat-isto which logically termed a stat-isto. Now the equivalents in the various languages are: D.: Staatsmann; F.: homme d'État; I.: uomo di stato; S.: estadista; Port.: homem d'estado, estadista. From the point of view of widest internationality there is no question but a form like statsman-o is the best solution. But such a form agrees only with the English and German has no Latin sanctity! Must we then reject such a solution?
I have no wish to seem to disparage Professor Guérard's work. It is informative to all. His recognition of the possibilities and nature of the I. L. marks a refreshing advance over the obscurantism of the vast majority of his colleagues. Guérard's treatment is broad and his conclusions somewhat hazy. This haziness is probably due to the fact that the professor has not as yet come to entirely definite conclusions and wishes to leave all matters open to future discussion. All interested in the I. L. no matter what 'denomination' he may belong to, will find something to support his faith. The Espist can read with satisfaction the almost fulsome praise of his language and, as he beholds the multitude of changes suggested, find his conservative tendencies strengthened against admitting even the least reform. The Idist, though he will probably consider that the treatment of his language has not been in all respects fair, may yet console himself with the apparent conclusion of the professor that Ido is the most promising of all. An examination of the goods offered for the improvement of Ido by Guérard is not likely to shake his confidence in his language as it stands, or make him desire to throw his linguistic contributions into the melting pot to be cooked over again by the Latinists. The Latinist will view with complacency the professor's desire to force the general adoption of Latin roots and look with amused tolerance on Guérard's belief that a coherent derivative system is desirable when he gazes at the magnificent array of his own "natural" terminations.
The professor has an apocalyptic vision of a newer, better linguistic world wherein shall resign a type of I. L. known as Cosmoglotta*** (the product of Great Minds). It may be the vision of a true seer. It may be but another exhibition of personal preference which, like so many Latinist projects in the past get the I. L. movement nowhere and will meet with no wide approbation.
* note that even Peano endeavors to put this root into some derivable form. He gives dubio, doubt, as a noun, also another noun form: dubio-tione, dubitation? (his follower, Canesi, also shows dubita-tione); dubio-ioso for dubious and dubita for the verb, to doubt. All of which he doubtless regards as more "natural" and easy than the systematic derivative forms from one root found in Ido and Espo.
** Peano's vocabulary gives avi, which seems preferable from an etymological standpoint to Guérard's ave. His use of avi, though, makes liable possible misunderstanding with other of his words. He has ave, to be avaricious; ave: es sano, vale, have (what these definitions mean is not clear); ave= avi: bird?; avi: bird; aviario: aviary; aviatione: aviation; aviatore: avitator; avido: avid (derived from ave, to be avid?); avo, grandfather (How grandmother is to be translated is not stated. A language which lacks a word or an equivalent for grandmother can hardly be regarded as quite complete).
*** Cosmoglotta: from two Greek words which literally signify
the tongue (anatomical) of the universe; with a c in place of a
k to give it a Latin flavor, and two "t"s to lend it "naturaless."
Pages 1 to 24
Pages 24 to 54
54 to 74
Pages 74 to 85
Pages 86 to 101
Pages 101 to 124
Pages 121 to 139
Pages 140 to the end
The International Language
IDO - Reformed Esperanto