An International Language
By A. LAVAGNINI
The greatest world need of today- the one great need to banish forever war and its accompanying hate, so that a true and permanent peace and right human relations may be established over our planet- is, perhaps, a greater degree of mutual Understanding.
These two world wars, so shortly following one after the other within the span of a generation, have tragically stressed its importance. And the heavy toll they have imposed on both human life and the economy of production …makes it very clear that it is a folly not to prevent and avert them through some World Order, based on a new spirit of understanding and cooperation …for only that will root out this great scourge of mankind.
The first thing, the very Alpha and Omega of the Golden Way to World Peace is, therefore, understanding …both in its inner, or spiritual, and in its outer, or material, aspects. Only through understanding …can good will and constructive, effective cooperation come to the foreground, and thus find such all-satisfying solutions to world problems, just as they arise, that nobody will ever think to resort to increased armament and war in a more or less fortunate …or sometimes a vain-attempt to make heard his voice and find a solution too often unilateral, for such problems.
This understanding must have its root in the acknowledgment of the fundamental oneness of mankind, i.e., of the truth that "One is your Father and all ye are brethren." This is, indeed, the teaching of all world religions, and also the cornerstone of any humanistic philosophy. Anthropology can never disprove it, but rather will help to find new proofs of this truth, if needed. In any case, it will never be Science, but emotional bias, which upholds a contrary belief.
The differences which we are too prone to stress, such as those of color and race, language and nationality, religion and culture, are always, indeed, much more apparent than real ones, as they relate to the surface and mutable, more than to the essential, permanent and true nature of man. Accordingly, they appear to us much greater in proportion as our knowledge and understanding are limited, but they fade into insignificance as that understanding grows wider and deeper.
Ultimately we shall come to see that, apart from culture and language, the difference among people of distinct nationalities is not greater than that which exists among the various groups and individuals of the same nationality. The chief difference, in any case, is the one so well expressed figuratively in the biblical story of Babel, that they are speaking, first by their words, and second by their ideas, a different language.
Isolationism Is Passe
If we now pass to another phase of the subject, envisaging the scientific progress, the technical knowledge and the resulting material advancement of our civilization, it is easy to see that these have become so highly developed that nothing short of a true world community and world commonwealth can help to solve permanently the many problems arising from them. As an example, the conquest of distance through the means already in use and continually improving, and through those which may still in a short time be devised by human ingenuity, has already made and will make even more of our earth a great neighborhood in which no permanent isolation is either desirable or possible.
Through the mere stress of things and events we are all thus daily coming to realize that a Union of all Nations and the Brotherhood of Mankind as a whole, are no longer only a Utopian dream, a still remote ideal or a commendable aspiration. They are, indeed, today an absolute necessity, the only way of escape from the chaos of conflicting interests, the only alternative to always renewed struggles for power and world dominion, ending in mutual destruction. There is no other way to make this world permanently a truly livable place, where all men and women may find and enjoy the greatest opportunities and the greatest degree of safety and happiness.
The Great Obstacle
The only great obstacle to such wider understanding, so vitally needed for a greater and more intimate cooperation of all mankind-which will make it possible to establish a permanent World Order and World Organization is the lack of a common language, a language through which all may freely communicate with equal ease and on equal terms. For those who speak the same language always come more easily to an agreement, even when their interests are deeply in conflict; while a mere difference of language may prevent them from gaining a less unilateral and more complete and common viewpoint of the issues in which they are both involved.
To learn another's tongue is not the same. Apart from being a most laborious process, it never provides a wholly satisfactory solution. Its disadvantages are clearly seen when any considerable number of people of different languages undertake to come to some mutual understanding and agreement.
Moreover, to be compelled to speak another's tongue means to be at both physical and moral disadvantage, in comparison to the one who is speaking his or her own language. It is a humiliation which no one undergoes willingly. Even having thoroughly studied a foreign language, and fully understanding it, one is never so fully at ease, when trying to express himself, as the one who is using his mother tongue. And the need of mastering several foreign languages in order to gain any degree of international understanding, makes this solution too heavy a price to be paid for any effort to reduce the effect of the curse of Babel upon mankind.
In a well ordered world nobody should be obliged to speak another's tongue for the sake of mutual understanding, even when travelling in a foreign country. Nor should the bastardization of one's own language be encouraged, through obliging others to employ it.
Some Proposed Solutions
The only satisfactory means of overcoming the inconveniences resulting from the differences of language is the adoption of an entirely neutral means of communication-an international language. This is the conclusion arrived at by an always growing number of people of every social standing and nationality, interested in international communication.
The first proposed solutions for this problem of an international language have been to select an already existing one, either an ancient or a living language. But these solutions-which may appear reasonable and convenient at first sight - must afterwards be discarded, either because of the difficulty of mastering them (in the case of a classical language, such as Latin, Greek or Sanskrit), or of coming to an agreement (in the case of a modern living one).
With some years of earnest, if not painful, application, we may gain a workable knowledge of a
classical language, so as to be able to appreciate its literature. But, apart from their having been coined for a different way of thinking and living, thus making them inadequate to rightly express the terms of our modern life and thought (to which they should have to be adapted with an exorbitant number of neologisms), how many would now undertake to write and speak correctly the language of Plato or Cicero, or that of the Rishis? The long training necessary makes its price prohibitive for all but a few very interested scholars.
Arabic should have some claims as a neutral international language. It is beautiful, very rich and expressive, and not more difficult than other natural languages. It has produced a very remarkable literature and has greatly spread, so that not so long ago it was spoken and understood from Spain throughout the whole Mediterranean, to India and the China Sea. But how could the Christian nations be induced to speak the language of Islam? or the Aryans a Semitic one?
We must equally lay aside the respective claims of English, French and German, the three modern languages most widely understood. Whenever one of them advances its claim, the other two (and still others back of them) arise in opposition and want to be given prior consideration, or at least an equal treatment. Nor could many people - not even the peoples speaking them-agree to a condominium of these three languages, or of two of them.
Could, then, either Italian or Spanish, the two most direct and legitimate descendants of Latin, be universally agreed upon as the one international language? Would proponents of English, French or German give up their claims in favor of one of them, although acknowledging their beauty? Nor could one, for the same reason, think to resort, as to a more acceptable solution, either to Russian or Modern Greek, Albanian or Lithuanian, Persian or Malay.
For reasons both of justice and of legitimate national pride, no living language should be given an undue preeminence; nor should any, on the same ground, be lowered to the place of a secondary or subordinate one.
But while neither Greek nor Latin, with all the intricacies of their grammar, their antiquated phraseology and obsolete meanings, would aptly serve the purpose of a modern interlanguage, the fact remains that the majority of the vocables of the last, and many of those of the first, are still living and largely used-although with some difference of meaning-in the vocabularies of not only the Romantic languages, but also, in a greater or lesser degree, in those of English and other European tongues, largely known in the whole world.
Creating An Interlanguage
And if no one of the leading living languages can be accepted as the universal language, they may all contribute something of their vocables and grammatical features for the building of a synthetical neutral language, on a wholly natural ground. Such a language', based on existing international words and grammatical forms, interposed as a New Latin among the chief world languages of today, which may easily assimilate words of any stock just as they acquire any degree of internationality, is therefore the one ideal solution of the problem we are considering.
Such a natural international basis, together with the simplicity and regularity of its grammar, would make it equally easy for all people to understand and master. Many people could, indeed, understand it almost without any previous study, and everybody could learn it with a very little effort and in a very short time, as compared with the time and toil required to master any classical or foreign language. Thus practically the whole of mankind, even those who could never afford the study of one or more foreign languages, would have in this easily learned language the needed means for international understanding.
It is easy to see how this understanding would work effectively to destroy those national hatreds and prejudices which are still dividing the peoples of the earth and breeding war, until they make it inevitable; and how it would more easily lead to international cooperation and the building of a truly universal civilization.
That such a language could easily come into effective use has been already demonstrated by Esperanto and Volapuk which, in spite of their comparative crudeness (due to the fact that they have been the first ones to open the way), have been learned and spoken by a considerable number of persons. While the many other projects, which have followed or accompanied them in the last half a century, have given another proof of the vitality of the idea of an international language, at the same time demonstrating that those first attempts were not wholly satisfactory and universally acceptable.
Mondi Linguo-An Interlanguage
Mondi Linguo, which has appeared exactly fifty years after Esperanto, is an evolution of all former projects, the outcome of an effort to synthesize and unify in a most harmonious whole the best features which have been developed through them, such as a rational and, at the same time, natural use of the final vowels, and the most expressive, natural and international grammatical forms. No feature or word of Mondi Linguo has been chosen or adopted arbitrarily, but each is the result of years of study and experiment.
It is, therefore, a potentially living language entirely constructed upon natural and naturally selected words and forms. As such it comes now before the world, as an embodiment of the spirit of Peace, Good Will ' Understanding and Cooperation, demanding to be given the opportunity to be tried, in the assurance that it shall not be found wanting.
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