Le Vocabulario International
<a THE INTERNATIONAL VOCABULARY
This Dictionary comprises some 27,000 entries. It is not a complete compilation of the international vocabulary and could not be intended to be complete.
A bold guess as to the number of international words which the methods outlined above would yield if exploited to the last might run into several hundred thousands. The large majority of the items included in such a "complete" body of international words would be highly specialized terms. Being predominantly technological and scientific or generally learned, their weight contributes greatly to the argument that the international language exists potentially in the ethnic languages and merely waits to be extracted from them. However, many terms in this category are so completely international that after we have found them in one language we feel justified in using them in any other, including the international language, without first consulting the corresponding dictionaries.
If we find the English word cyclonoscope, we need hardly know what it means, let alone consult a dictionary, to conclude that the German equivalent is Zyklonoskop, the French form cyclonoscope, the variant in Italian ciclonoscopio, etc. For the fact of the matter is precisely that words of this kind are not just English, French, German, etc. but international. The international version of cyclonoscope is cyclonoscopio.
But we may go farther. Not only are there innumerable technical terms in international use, but an additional infinite number which are not to be found anywhere exist potentially in all the languages within the orbit of the international vocabulary and hence in the international language itself. When, for example, the philosopher Lovejoy, for his own purposes, introduced the term retrotensive in one of his works, his readers were of course given an explanation of what the new coinage was meant to express, yet translators could consult no dictionary on how to render the term in any other language. Still, they had no difficulty in determining that the Spanish, Italian, Portuguese forms must be retrotensivo, the German form retrotensif, the French form rétrotensif etc. Or another example: If an inventor came along with a new gadget designed to expel cigarette butts from the holder the moment a certain degree of nicotine concentration were reached and if this inventor wanted to call his gadget an autoejector, there could be little doubt about the foreign names for the instrument upon its arrival on distant shores in the wake of the spread of civilization. The Germans would call it Autoejektor, the French autoéjecteur, the Italians autoeiettore, etc.
The point to be borne in mind is that the translator from English into any other language within the orbit of the international vocabulary is immediately able to render words like retrotensive and autoejector not because he understands what they mean but because he is aware of their structure. If such an awareness of structural patterns on the translator's part enables him to state what such and such an English word of obvious internationality must be in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German, Russian, and numerous other languages as well, a similar ease of rebuilding such terms in the international language can be attained on the basis of a corresponding awareness of the structural patterns prevailing in the international language. The Dictionary had therefore to be made to include ample illustrative material of all manner and kind of formations from all branches of man's scientific and technological endeavor.
The account of how the Dictionary was made to fulfill this requirement may be merged with the account of how the body of words included in it was selected.
A dictionary of the international language poses problems sharply distinct from those confronting the makers of dictionaries of fully established languages with a verifiable tradition of usage. If, let us say, a 27,000-word dictionary of English — monolingual or with translations into any other language — were envisaged, the initial task to be dealt with by the lexicographer would be to select from the total body of English words those 27,000 items which his prospective readers could be expected to inquire about most frequently. On the whole the 27,000 most frequent words of the English language would be included.
The 27,000 most frequent words of the international language, however, cannot be thus identified. Neither can we know whether a particular international word is frequent or infrequent, nor can we base the selection of items to be included in the Dictionary on the criterion of their importance in any one of the source languages.
Among the distinctive features of our approach to the question of the international vocabulary is the fact that the starting point must never be the question, "How do you say in the international language ‘desk, doughnut, dumbbell,’ or whatever else happens to come to mind?" When the parallel question is asked, "How do you say ‘desk, doughnut, dumbbell’ in French, German, or Arabic?" the answer, "A desk is this, a dumbbell that, and a doughnut does not exist," is possible because the body of words of those languages is fully established and ready for perusal.
The first job to be tackled had to be the compilation of at least large portions of the international vocabulary without any sort of reference to starting points in English or any other individual language. Furthermore, if secondarily the question about the international equivalent of such and such a word from any particular language is admitted, it should be explicitly preceded by an inquiry as to whether or not the thing, fact, or idea in question is international. For if no one can be expected to give the French, Russian or German word for doughnut if he can prove that the thing itself is unknown to the speakers of those languages, the same privilege should be enjoyed by a person speaking or writing the international language.
Inversely the international vocabulary, to qualify as the vocabulary of a full-fledged language, must be able to produce an equivalent for every concept which is truly international. It does not follow that non-international concepts cannot be expressed in the international language. A Russian, German, or Frenchman can very well refer to a doughnut in his own language by using various circumlocutions even though he may find that there is no crystallized term for the thing. Exactly the same — but nothing more — may be expected of the international language.
In the preparation of this Dictionary the technique of checking the internationality of concepts represented in individual languages and of subsequently ascertaining their being covered by the international vocabulary, has been applied after the assembly of an initial stock of international words was completed.
The basis from which the initial compilation took off consisted of complete assemblies of all words in the major source languages belonging to a particular etymological word family. The selection of the etymological families to be so treated was naturally guided in a general way by the knowledge that it would be technically impossible to treat the total vocabulary of the source languages in the manner indicated and that a family like that evolved from Latin corpus ‘body’ or Greek lithos ‘stone’ should have priority over an item like Latin jurgare ‘to quarrel’ (from which we have such obscure words as English objurgation) or Greek limos ‘hunger’ (which produces the English term bulimy ‘a morbid form of hunger occurring in idiots’ also known as ‘canine hunger’).
One result achieved by the method of etymological family alignments is that it permits the student to see at a glance what etymologically corresponding words there are in the various languages under observation. For example, the English word necessitous has the Italian correspondence necessitoso, it appears in French as necessiteux, but nothing like it existed in Latin or exists now in Spanish and Portuguese. The word necessity, on the other hand, has etymological correspondences practically every where. English necessitude existed in Latin and older Italian but is nowhere really alive.
More important is the fact that the assemblies of complete etymological families bring out the derivational patterns, which are often obscured or disrupted in individual languages, with such clarity that the result may be termed the underlying prototype or international schema of derivation. English paucity, for instance, looks certainly like a derivative with the suffix -ity, but from the English point of view it is not possible to state from what other word it is derived. The Iberian languages and Italian clarify the question. The base word is represented in them by poco and the archaic Italian form pauco which serve to explain the English paucity. Or again the French word crétacé ‘cretacious’ shows at best a vague or "learned" dependence on craie ‘chalk.’ But when this craie appears in alignment with Italian creta, the clear Italian pattern creta-cretaceo brings out the obscured but latent French continuity craie-crétacé.
<a name="building">Active Word Building.</a> — The clearer the derivational patterns in a given language, the freer will be the permissible use of new or nonce formations. If no English nouns in -ity existed without a base adjective preceding it (that is, if paucity were impossible without *paucous), inversely formations like strangity and sacrity would seem less impossible.
For the international vocabulary the clarity of its derivational patterns is of such essential importance that it was decided to stress it in this Dictionary by an almost unqualified adherence to the principle that no word is listed without simultaneously admitting all its clear compounds, derivatives, and formations preceding it in a derivational series. If the adjective marin ‘marine’ is listed, it is allowed to take with it the compound submarin ‘submarine,’ the derivative marinero ‘mariner,’ and the form mar ‘sea’ which precedes it. Of course no word is allowed to carry with it dependents not clearly recognizable as such. If the adjective marin has a substantival derivative marina ‘navy,’ this word does not appear in the Dictionary as a dependent of marin because no one will recognize the signification of marina on the basis of his acquaintance with the adjective marin plus the termination -a. The word marina is in the vocabulary by its own rights. It is international in the required sense all by itself.
In order to establish a rule that every word that enters the international vocabulary can carry with it all related formations differing from it by an element of distinct and logical value, a list of standard affixes with standardized forms and standardized meanings must be provided. The selection of these affixes was made possible by a study of the complete assemblies of etymological families previously mentioned.
For the purposes of this Dictionary all the affixes here listed have been considered active or autonomous. That is to say, any word — even though it occur in only one of the contributing languages — is listed in the Dictionary if it is built by means of one of them on a base in full international standing. Every active affix is represented in the Dictionary by a separate entry which includes a full analysis of its meaning or meanings. Inversely, every affix represented by a separate entry in the Dictionary is thereby identified as an active one.
<a name="affixes">List of Active Affixes</a>
As for compounds, every formation is considered active (or autonomous) if both elements constituting the compound occur in other compounds of full internationality which thus serve as models. The international words telegraphia and microscopio can carry a formation like micrographia into the international vocabulary as a logical, self-explanatory compound provided it is found represented in at least one of the contributing languages.
The compounds thus given active standing include the type portamoneta ‘purse’ which consists of a verb form (conveniently described as the infinitive deprived of its final -r) plus a noun. The meaning of the compound follows the pattern, "a thing or person that is to perform the action expressed by the first element in regard to an object represented by the second element." The second element may be singular or plural in form depending on the logic of the situation. If, as in guardacostas ‘coastguard,’ the second element is given in the plural, the pluralization of the compound produces no distinct form. ‘Coastguards’ is still guardacostas.
The inclusion of all types of compounds in the Dictionary has not been carried as far as in the case of affix formations.
If, within the limits noted, a consistent effort was made to exhaust derivational series and incorporate all their links in the Dictionary, the families in which the words of the international vocabulary are presented do not of necessity constitute etymological families in the broad sense of the term. The international vocabulary is based on the vocabulary of a series of contributing languages but is not identical with them. In this sense English is based on Western Germanic (as is German) without being identical with it. And as, for instance, the English word dollar is not, in English terns, a derivative from the word dale although in terms of West Germanic such an etymological interrelation is a fact, so there are word groups in the international language which may very well be etymologically interrelated in terms of the Romance languages or Latin or Greek without therefore being interrelated within the framework of the international vocabulary. An instance of this sort is the international word prision which constitutes a word family by itself despite the fact that it is-ultimately — by way of the Romance languages and Latin —related to the international word prender.
<a name="free">Free Formation.</a> — Among the word families in the Dictionary there are naturally not a few which consist of one single word. They are in a sense potential families. Although the present Dictionary does not include words totally devoid of support in the contributing source languages, there is no reason why the user should not operate freely with the derivational and compounding devices placed at his disposal. He may thus expand single-word families to fuller representation in exactly the manner in which he may add newer formations to any of the larger groups. He may, for example, take the word jada ‘jade’ and derive from it the verb jadificar ‘to transform into, make look like, jade,’ just as he may use the word pluralista ‘pluralist’ to form the adjective pluralistic. Nothing can prevent him from making such words except the worry that he would not know what to do with them. He may go farther and form such monsters as jadification and jadificational or pluralisticitate. To be sure, there are psycho-linguistic blocks (rooted in Romance tradition and usage) which will prevent the majority of users from forming such words as well as others of the theoretically altogether possible type of jadal or pluralistal.
The Dictionary includes a fair number of doublets which cannot be kept out of the international vocabulary because they happen to be international. Most of them owe their occurrence to the principle of complete derivational series. There is for instance the international word vindication which carries with it the infinitive vindicar supported both by English ‘to vindicate’ and international derivatives and compounds of the type vindication, revindicar, etc. These forms having been established and included in the international vocabulary, the contributing languages present the additional correspondence French, English vengeance, Spanish venganza, which justifies the adoption of a doublet verb vengiar. Since the Dictionary is not meant to legislate within the frame of what has been described as the international vocabulary, it must refrain from expressing a preference in favor of one of two equally international forms of the same word. The user may take his choice. Similar consequences result from the principle that the deriving stem of a particular series of words determines the form of the base word. Both iridescentia and irisation are fully supported international words. The former carries with it the base form iride ‘iris’ (supported by Italian); the latter would justify the inclusion of iris even if it were not international in itself. Hence the doublet iris-iride.
The endeavor to make this a comprehensive dictionary of the international vocabulary implied an open-minded attitude toward previous auxiliary language proposals. The most important effects of this attitude fall in the domain of grammar rather than of lexicography. However, the two domains meet in their common interest in certain types of words with predominantly grammatical functions. Several older auxiliary-language systems operate with forms, especially of conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, and non-derived adverbs, which do not appear to be incompatible with the principles of assemblage adopted for this Dictionary. All such forms have been included. They are given in brackets; the interlinguistic systems from which they were taken have not been identified.
<a name="acknowledgments">Acknowledgments.</a> — The completion of this Dictionary brings to a close a major phase in the history of the International Auxiliary Language Association. It is hard to say when precisely the project was started, for many of the ideas used in its execution and also a number of independent studies from which some valuable raw material could be derived reach back by a decade or more and were not necessarily conceived in anticipation of the use we have made of them. To their authors and compilers we wish to express our sense of obligation and gratitude.
As the present director of IALA's interlinguistic research I am happy to express my appreciation of the efforts of my predecessors. Very essential portions of the groundwork on which we have built were laid out by Mr. E. Clark Stillman whom I feel privileged to have as a friend and whom I am eager to acknowledge as a teacher in the field of interlinguistics. The Dictionary is likewise indebted to a number of fundamental ideas originally formulated by Dr. André Martinet.
Among the authors of various projects furthered or undertaken by IALA in the past, it is especially Miss Helen S. Eaton whose indirect contributions to the present work could be observed and were appreciated by every staff worker at all times during the actual preparation of the final printer's manuscript. This is not merely a reference to Miss Eaton's published Semantic Frequency List but also to various manuscript studies which are being preserved under her name in the IALA archives.
It has often been remarked that the outline of a new auxiliary-language system is little more than a lengthy weekend job. The compilation of a dictionary is a bird of a different feather. It exceeds the productive capacity of a weekend and possibly that of a lifetime. This Dictionary, at any rate, cannot be imagined as the work of a single author. It represents staff work and staff collaboration. As I list the names of the members of IALA's past and present Research Staff in so far as they have been connected with the various stages through which this work had to pass, each one will know for himself in what respect his efforts were especially important and hence especially valued. Not thanks but warm appreciation to Dr. Dora Berger, Mr. Erich Berger, Mrs. Chassia Topaze Heldt, Mr. Francis H. Heldt, Dr. Christine Meyer, Mr. Nikolai Rabeneck, Dr. Leonie Sachs, Mr. Louis Sibuet, and Dr. Bernhard Valentini.
The manuscript of this Dictionary was going through the last stages of its editorial revision when Mrs. Alice V. Morris died on August 15, 1950. For years Mrs. Morris' interest in the progress of the work of the Association had found expression in a most active participation in all our efforts. She was the Chairman of IALA's Research Division but this position did not prevent her from working simultaneously as the most devoted and tireless member of the Association's Research Staff. Before her last illness circumscribed the extent of Mrs. Morris' linguistic investigations, most of her work was performed in close collaboration with her studious and widely-informed assistant, Mr. Hugh E. Blair, who subsequently joined IALA's general Research Staff. This project has profited greatly by Mr. Blair's unrelenting labor and ever-pertinent criticism.
Mrs. Mary Bray, Executive Director of IALA, has never shunned the extra work entailed by our calling on her for editorial advice and practical help far beyond the limits of her administrative duties. Her spirit of joyful collaboration has ironed out many a technical and non-technical difficulty. Specifically she has organized for us a clerical staff of untiring devotion whose high morale survived undaunted through many a dreary hour. May our clerical workers — Miss Louise Engelke, Mrs. Patricia Walsh Galvin, Miss Ethel Hanson, and Mrs. Margaret Timm — look upon this Dictionary as their work which in a very important sense it is.
We cannot release this work to the public without inviting the constructive criticism of practical and theoretical interlinguists in all parts of the world. This applies not only to technical flaws and errors which seem unavoidable in a work of this scope and which we shall be glad to correct in future editions. It is meant particularly to refer to questions of methodology and technique of presentation and also to guiding ideas which have a bearing on the results obtained. Let us broaden this appeal for critical collaboration and address it likewise to the student of comparative and general linguistics. Linguistic research supplied the interlinguistic methodology which produced this Dictionary. As the linguist discovers its uses, may he also discover that interlinguistics is that branch of his science where abstract scholarship and practical idealism merge.