In the history of the International Auxiliary Language Association — and of the auxiliary-language movement as a whole — the publication of the Interlingua-English Dictionary marks an important step ahead. We do not present it to the world as an inspired new departure, a cure-all, if it were generally accepted, for every ill resulting from the confusion of tongues. We merely claim to have "summarized the past" by producing for the first time a dictionary of the international language, based on a rigorously consistent and scientifically exact application of the one fundamental idea adhered to by most interlinguists of the past three quarters of a century. We share with our predecessors the view that the world need not wait for the creator of an ideal universal tongue because it is a fact that the international language exists potentially in the common elements of the speech forms of huge segments of civilized mankind. On this fact we have based the principles and rules and the devices which have governed the making of the Interlingua-English Dictionary.
Our efforts are so clearly connected with those of our predecessors that it is both impossible and superfluous to acknowledge in detail our indebtedness to them. We do not present a new work detached and distinguished from theirs but rather the common answer to our quest and theirs for a standard presentation of the international vocabulary. If we have been successful in this, the lasting significance of our work is assured. The practical interlinguist will be struck by the fact that this volume contains no proposal for a grammatical system to operate the international vocabulary nor a section which supplements the Interlingua-English Dictionary by leading into the international vocabulary from English. The demand for these and similar additional tool publications is legitimate, but it can only be fulfilled on the basis of a systematic recording of the international vocabulary. To furnish such a basis, to represent such a systematic recording, is the purpose and aim of this Dictionary. In it the international vocabulary, which numerous interlinguistic systems have used, are using, and will use in various ways and to various degrees of consistency, appears now at last in a methodical assembly ready to serve interlinguists of all schools in their various needs and likewise to form the standard and norm of future complementary and specialized publications—grammars, dictionaries, and handbooks in various languages concerned with various forms of the interlingua.
As a summary account of the whence and wherefore of the Dictionary, the following material is organized under several heads. The first section, "Theory and Principles," discusses the objective data which have determined our approach. It is a restatement of the considerations and conclusions which have guided most interlinguists since the time of Dr. Zamenhof's original conception of Esperanto.
The second section, "Method and Techniques," constitutes a practical laboratory manual and offers a description of the procedure followed in gathering and arranging the material included in the Dictionary.
The international vocabulary is as much subject to further growth as are the vocabularies of all national languages, but its future problems must not be left to depend on subjective decisions. Their solution must result from the application of a specific technique to whatever the international linguistic facts may be. Thus the methodological section is to serve simultaneously the normative functions which in similar cases under different conditions are vested in linguistic academies.
The concluding sections represent a user's guide and show the machinery of the Dictionary in operation.
<a name="theory">THEORY AND PRINCIPLES</a>
<a name="languages">International Languages.</a> — In modern times protagonists of the idea of a neutral auxiliary language have come to rely less and less on arbitrary devices. They have been restricting their endeavors more and more consciously to the arrangement and processing of words and rules of grammar which they have culled from existing natural languages. These words and rules — so the argument seems to run — need not be introduced from scratch; they are and have been in practical use. No one can doubt their qualifications to serve efficiently and well.
This trend no doubt has played into the hands of those who advocate the adoption of one of the major existing languages as the most promising choice for a universal auxiliary language. To a certain extent their proposals might seem to agree with the lessons of the history of interlinguistics and auxiliary languages in general. However, that history tells us also that no national language has ever been used for auxiliary purposes unless its native speakers had established themselves as a people in a position of political or cultural hegemony. A national language used as a secondary world language implies on the part of its speakers a claim to universal superiority, and no people is in a position to make such a claim and force all parties concerned to agree.
Secondary or auxiliary languages are a very old and very common phenomenon. Late Greek served as one. As such it was particularly important since the New Testament was written and propagated in it. The case of medieval Latin is very similar and so, albeit in different fields and on different levels, are the examples of contemporary Pidgin English, of Swahili or Kiswahili in East Africa, of Hindustani, Mandarin Chinese, and of literally dozens of other so-called lingua francas. None of these, however, was a man-made auxiliary language, and no man-made auxiliary language has ever equaled the least of them in practical everyday importance.
Extranational languages have never attained their range as the result of man's desire to understand his neighbors across the border and to avoid or overcome friction, war, and hatred, which are often regarded as unavoidable results of our numerous language borders. Actually languages of more than nationally restricted use have always been established in their role as secondary or auxiliary languages in foreign parts by potent needs either of a purely utilitarian or of a generally cultural kind.
In one way or another these languages were connected or actually identified with an "expansive movement" which promoted them as in turn they served and promoted it.
Medieval Latin, to mention but one example, owed its wide range to the missionary "dynamism" of the Church, while the Church, in turn, could not have accomplished its task without the universality of its language.
These data may justify the generalization that no secondary auxiliary language of major or minor scope has ever been accepted and used if in back of it there was not a specific force which promoted it because it needed it as a practical tool.
Applied to the problem of a modern auxiliary world language, this means that either the modern world can claim to have initiated an expansive movement of the kind alluded to in which case the modern world must already have a language of its own that cannot and need not be superseded by a product of man's making — or there is no such movement — in which case all our efforts to establish a universal auxiliary language are a clear waste of time and energy because none can exist.
The first of these alternatives is right. The modern world is pervaded in all its parts and phases by a powerful influence which has reduced the vastness of the globe to a matter of hours and has diffused things and ideas and problems to every corner of every continent. If one simple label is wanted to designate the force responsible for all the good and all the evil that distinguishes our contemporary world from that of centuries past, we may call it the power of science and technology. But if we go on to ask, has not this world-wide sweep of science and technology carried with it to all corners of the world a language of its own, somewhat in the manner of the medieval Church of Rome which took its Latin language with it wherever it brought its expansive influence to bear, the answer is a peculiarly hesitant one. Yes, in a way there is such a language. We often speak of the language of science and technology. But if this is to lead to the conclusion that that language should then be regarded as the one and only possible auxiliary world language of modern times, we suddenly realize that the language of science and technology is no language in the full sense of the word but at best a vast body of international terms and phrases which appear in our various languages under a corresponding number of slightly varying forms.
Unfortunately we must not analyze further the fascinating suggestion that it is perhaps quite natural that science and technology should be incapable of going beyond the world-wide diffusion of a vast number of specifically technical terms and of evolving from them a full-fledged language, because this inability may very well be correlated with the fact that the world of science and technology is one of discrete ideas which do not fall into a complete and coherent pattern, or in other words, that the "language" of science and technology is not really a language because the thought of science and technology is not really a philosophy.
In interlinguistic terms all this means that even though the "language" of science and technology is not a full-fledged language, even though it can supply us only with a vast number of words and phrases of international validity in various peculiarly national but easily recognizable forms, it does represent a nucleus of a complete language. It does represent fragments of the only international language we have. And the task of the practical interlinguist turns out to be the selection and arrangement of international words and subsequently their expansion into a fully developed language - a language, of course, which, though it may have its base and its raison d'être in the vast domain of technological data, will draw on and cover the arts and all other human endeavors down to the most humble concerns of our daily lives.
<a name="words">International Words.</a> — In the widest sense, an international word is a word which occurs in more than one national language. The German words Haus and Automobil, for example, are identical with the English words house and automobile despite slight differences in spelling and pronunciation. Their meanings are of course essential parts of them. If they were semantically distinct, as are English also and German also for example, they could not be viewed as identical words.
There are two types of international words. German and English Haus and house represent a type which owes its international range to the common descent of two or more languages; words of this type are international by cognateship in the restricted sense of the term. On the other hand, the internationalism of German and English Automobil and automobile is due to the transition of words from one language to another; words of this type, though sometimes loosely called cognates, should be distinguished as international by loan and diffusion.
In its most comprehensive sense, the term "international word" would take in a huge number of words which occur in but a very few languages of minor significance. International words differ strikingly in their range. From a practical point of view only those international words need be considered which have a fairly wide range of occurrence throughout the regions of the world inhabited by peoples who participate in international intercourse and are consequently apt to take an interest in its simplification.
If international words differ as to their range, they may likewise be grouped as to their language of origin or "center of radiation." There are important and unimportant centers of radiation, and words of wide international range spring from either.
The word igloo for instance has a very respectable range. It occurs in Eskimo, English, French, Russian, and in many other languages. But Eskimo, from which the word stems, is not therefore a significant center of radiation.
Such minor "centers of radiation" can be disregarded without a resulting loss of important items in the international vocabulary provided it be ascertained that the possible contributions of every disregarded center come into consideration elsewhere. Neglecting the Eskimo center of radiation will not imply the loss of the international word igloo, if English, Russian, French, or any of the other languages which know the word, are kept under observation.
The restriction of the number of languages examined with regard to their stock of international words does not imply the exclusion of international words of all sorts of remote origins from the resulting list.
For practical reasons the sphere in which "international words" are to be collected must be restricted, but the purpose of getting together the most generally international vocabulary possible can best be served if the restricted sphere fulfills two requirements: first, it must be a powerful center of radiation of international words, one that has contributed largely to the stock of international words throughout the rest of the world; secondly, it must have a high degree of receptivity with regard to the material radiating from other languages.
As for the second of these requirements, English represents a well-nigh ideal fulfillment of it. Hardly another language can compete with English in its "receptive power." Indeed, a list of words of wide international range outside the orbit of English would include few important groups with the possible exception of a fairly substantial vocabulary "radiated" from the Islamic world to Spain, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia but not to the English-speaking world.
The first requirement, concerned with the power of radiation of international words, is a more complex matter. There is no one language that stands as far above all others in regard to the bulk of its contributions to the international vocabulary as does English in regard to its ability to assimilate foreign words.
The most important group of international words is doubtless the body of technical terms in science and technology. In the large majority of cases the international technical
terminology is built up of Latin and Greek or Greco-Latin elements. It is not on the whole the contribution of any one language, not even of Greek and Latin taken together, for it includes a considerable number of terms which, though consisting of classical elements, were completely unknown to the native speakers of both the classical languages. Socrates spoke Greek all through his life but he never used the telephone and did not know that the word for it comes from his mother tongue.
Words of this type may be grouped under the head of their common origin in a kind of theoretical Neo-Latin which is not spoken anywhere but appears unfolded in the several contemporary Romance languages. Taken as a group and viewed as joint executors of the Latin heritage and hence as representing most fully the Neo-Latin source of most of the international technical vocabulary, the Romance languages are the most potent center of radiation of international words.
<a name="variants">Variants and Their Prototypes.</a> — The determination of what words are to be regarded as part of the international vocabulary is one thing; the determination of the forms under which they are to be listed is another. The language of origin of a given international word cannot help solve this problem. For instance, the German word Statistik and the English word penicillin (they are German and English in origin) would, if spelled Statistik and penicillin as items in a list of words of wide international range, still be German and English and not "international." Their forms must be "internationalized," that is, be normalized or standardized on the basis of the variants under which they occur in the national languages. The resulting prototypes are neither English nor German, not Latin or Greek, neither this language nor that, but in them the variants occurring in this language as well as in that can immediately be recognized. Neither German Statistik nor of course English statistics or French statistique can qualify as an international form. In the international vocabulary the word must be represented by a form of which Statistik and statistics as well as statistique are variants determined by idiosyncratic peculiarities characteristic of German, English, and French respectively.
The process of viewing together the variant forms of international words in order to arrive at normalized, or standardized, prototypes cannot comply with a verifiable methodology applicable to ever new cases, unless the variants themselves, and hence the languages to which they belong, have a common basis in which the principles of normalization or standardization may be rooted.
The Romance languages do have such a common basis in Latin. They represent furthermore the most potent center of radiation of international words and are thus on two important counts a research sphere in which the garnering of international words appears to be most promising.
<a name="source">Source or Control Languages.</a> — English answers most fully the requirement of receptive power in regard to international words of foreign origin. The Romance languages comply best with the requirement of productive radiation of international words. The best restricted sphere of languages in which to carry out a systematic collection of international words is consequently a combination of English and the Romance languages. We refer to these languages variously as source or control languages.
The inclusion of English does not interfere with the desideratum that the languages to be scrutinized for the compilation of the international vocabulary should be possessed of a common basis. English does share the basis which holds the Romance languages together. Its vocabulary is so strongly romanic that in this respect - whatever the situation may be in other respects - it is a Romance language.
The Anglo-Romance group of languages can boast an aggregate of close to half a billion speakers. This quarter of mankind includes no considerable ethnic group uninvolved or uninterested in international concerns. Nor, to be sure, does it include all the populations of the globe that are involved and interested in international concerns but certainly most of them.
A few examples may serve to show that the Anglo-Romance group of languages does constitute a sphere of source languages in which international words of the most varied origins can be gathered. The Hebrew word for "hell," G Hinnm, is widely international, but to get it into the international vocabulary, Hebrew need not be investigated for the word appears in English as Gehenna, in Spanish as gehena, in Italian as geenna. The Arabic word which appears in English as alcove can likewise be garnered in the restricted sphere, for it appears in Italian and Portuguese as alcova, in Spanish as alcoba, and in French as alcove. An example of an international word of Russian origin is that appearing in English as mammoth, in French as mammouth, in Spanish as mamat, and in Italian as mammut. A German example is English feldspar, French feldspath, Italian feldispato, Spanish feldespato.
The reasoning in favor of a restricted sphere of assemblage of international words does not preclude the possibility of shifting its boundaries in the interest of a richer haul. In lieu of one or two of the languages of the Anglo-Romance group one or two other languages of at least equal significance in the international field may be included, provided, of course, that the items examined are still held together by a common basis, which means, that their center of gravity remains in the Anglo-Romance sphere. In the compilation of this Dictionary the sphere of research has been permitted to shift only so as to include German or Russian or both. The decision not to use the same procedure for other languages was reached after ample tests had demonstrated that the consequent complication of our methodology would not have affected the results in any appreciable way.
<a name="summary">Summary.</a> — Of all languages that ever attained more than national usefulness it can be said that they were carried beyond their original confines by an expansive cultural or utilitarian dynamism. They functioned as indispensable cultural or utilitarian tools. Modern internationalism is largely conditioned by science and technology in the most comprehensive sense. The language of science and technology is the modern international language or interlingua. It is not, strictly speaking, a complete language but is rather a very comprehensive body of international terms which constitute the nucleus of an interlingua. The international vocabulary has absorbed materials of the most varied origins but its center of gravity lies in the sphere of the Greco-Latin tradition. It can be collected within the confines of a homogeneous group of source or control languages which not only represent the Greco-Latin tradition in our time but have likewise absorbed all significant international words radiated from other centers. This group is the Anglo-Romance group of languages with German and Russian as potential contributors.