The Interlingua-English Dictionary is the latest product of the long-term research program of the International Auxiliary Language Association.
The purpose of the Dictionary is to furnish a scientifically sound vocabulary for the auxiliary language which is needed in all fields of international communication. The objective methods used in its compilation should make it a reference work of value in the general field of comparative linguistics. Its primary purpose, however, is to meet the needs of all workers in the special field of interlinguistics.
Interlinguistics. — The quest for a common international language can be traced back to the beginnings of modern times. The idea of obtaining such a language from the elements common to national tongues appeared in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth Centuries. From these beginnings has come the gradual development of that branch of comparative linguistics which has been given the name of interlinguistics.
Men of many nationalities have taken part in its coming of age.
The first to work out a complete auxiliary-language system based on the common elements in national languages was a Spaniard, Pirro, whose Universalglot was published in 1868.
Volapük, the work of a German priest, Johann Martin Schleyer, which appeared in 1880, used the idea in a limited way, drawing heavily on English. This system had a decade of extraordinary popularity which justified the establishment of a Volapük Academy.
Esperanto, also the creation of one man, Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof of Poland, was published in 1887 and has achieved wide renown. In 1894, Dr. Zamenhof himself proposed a reformed Esperanto in response to demands among his followers for a simplified grammar and a more thoroughly international vocabulary. His proposals were not adopted.
In 1907, three Frenchmen, Louis Leau, Louis Couturat, and Louis de Beaufront, were leaders of a delegation which again proposed certain reforms in Esperanto. The outcome was a schism in the Esperanto movement with the promulgation of another system called Ido.
The original system of Dr. Zamenhof remained the foundation of all official Esperanto publications and organizations, of which there are many throughout the world. Ido has also successfully been used in many publications.
Esperanto II, a system proposed by René de Saussure of Switzerland, which aimed to remove certain features of Esperanto while retaining its fundamental structure, has never been used to any great extent.
Meanwhile an Austrian, Julius Lott, and a Chilean, Alberto Liptay, had further clarified the idea that “the international language does not need to be invented. It exists. One only needs to collect all its words and set them in order.” When Waldemar Rosenberger, a Russian, assumed the leadership of the declining Volapük Academy, he made of it an energetic center of experimentation with Liptay's principle. The results, made public in 1902, became known as Idiom Neutral. A contemporary of Rosenberger, basing his work on the same principles, was Dr. H. Molenaar of Germany. He has continued to advocate his system under the name of Unial.
In 1910, the Idiom Neutral (formerly Volapük) Academy, under the leadership of an Italian mathematician, Giuseppe Peano, became the Academia Pro Interlingua, a society for research in interlinguistics. Most of its publications were in the form of Interlingua known as Latino sine Flexione, but its members were free to experiment with, and advocate, other proposals. One member, Aldo Lavagnini, an Italian living in Mexico, promoted his own system under the name of Mondi Lingua. Mrs. Alice V. Morris, representing the International Auxiliary Language Association, became a member of the Academia. Its headquarters were in Turin, Italy. After the second World War they were reorganized in The Netherlands.
Occidental, subsequently also called Interlingue, was published by an Estonian, Edgar de Wahl, in 1925. De Wahl and his group devoted much attention to the problem of combining great naturalness with great regularity in the derivational patterns of their language. It found many advocates throughout Europe. Various types of periodicals have been regularly issued in that language. The headquarters of the Interlingue-Union are in Switzerland.
In 1925, Joseph Weisbart, also a German, began to promote his Medial. Otto Jespersen, the internationally known linguist of Denmark, produced a system of his own called Novial.
Throughout the past quarter of a century experimentation in interlinguistics has been on the increase. Among the systems recently published are Interglossa by Lancelot Hogben of Great Britain, Internasional by Paul Mitrovitch of Yugoslavia, Mondial by Helge Heimer of Sweden, Neolatino by André Schild of Switzerland, International by Campos Lima of Portugal, and Ling by Anders Olsen of Sweden. Many other one-man products are in manuscript form.
Controversial questions pertaining to vocabulary and grammar have caused so great a variety of auxiliary-language systems. Their multiplicity has fragmented the movement for that one world language to which developments in modern communications point. The positive aspect of the situation must be stressed, however. Underlying all controversial details, the numerous systems have a great deal in common. They may be regarded as variants of the one essential international language which is latent in the living languages. The most urgent practical problem in the field of interlinguistics is to build up a basic stock of language material which all interlinguists can accept as authentic. The Interlingua-English Dictionary offers such authentic material.
International Auxiliary Language Association. — The International Auxiliary Language Association, generally known as IALA, is an organization which grew out of investigations of the auxiliary language problem undertaken after the first World War by committees of the International Research Council, by the British, French, Italian, and American Associations for the Advancement of Science, the American Council on Education, the American Council of Learned Societies, and other groups of specialists.
Dr. Frederick Gardner Cottrell of the International Research Council interested Mr. and Mrs. Dave Hennen Morris of New York in the idea of creating a permanent body which would continue the studies begun by the various committees. They had both been long active in organizations concerned with the betterment of conditions of human society, and they saw at once the significance of an international language as one of the means for developing the international community which seemed at the time a possible hope. They brought together in 1923 men and women of wide experience in international affairs, communications, and linguistic scholarship to discuss what might be done to focus attention upon the already well-established movement for an international language.
The group included Dean Earle B. Babcock, New York University; Dr. LeRoy E. Bowman, Columbia University; General John T. Carty, Vice-President, American Telephone & Telegraph Company; Mrs. James S. Cushman, World's Committee, Young Women's Christian Association; Dr. Stephen Duggan, Director, Institute of International Education; Mr. Harry E. Edmonds, Founder, International House, New York; Dr. John H. Finley, Editor, New York Times; Dr. Alfred N. Goldsmith, Radio Corporation of America; Dr. Arthur Hamerschlag, President, Research Corporation; Mr. and Mrs. John H. Hammond; General James G. Harbord, President, Radio Corporation of America; Clarence Howard, President, International Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Frederick P. Keppel, President, Carnegie Corporation; Mrs. James Lees Laidlaw, Woman's Council for the League of Nations; Dr. Sidney E. Mezes, President, College of the City of New York; Dr. Arthur E. Morgan, President, Antioch College; Dr. Herbert N. Stanton, Columbia University; Mrs. William Jay Schieffelin; Miss Clara B. Spence, Principal, Miss Spence's School; and Mrs. Charles L. Tiffany, New York League of Women Voters.
The deliberations of these men and women bore fruit. Under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. Morris the International Auxiliary Language Association was founded and incorporated in 1924 as a non-profit organization “to promote widespread study, discussion, and publicity of all questions involved in the establishment of an auxiliary language, together with research and experiment that may hasten such establishment in an intelligent manner and on stable foundations.”
Dean Babcock became the first President. In 1936 he was succeeded by Dr. John H. Finley. Dr. Stephen Duggan served as President of IALA from 1940 to the time of his death in 1950.
Mrs. Morris became Honorary Secretary of the Association and later also Chairman of the Research Division, in which roles she carried the task of developing the many-sided research and promotional activities of IALA.
Mr. Morris was IALA's Treasurer from the founding of the Association until his death in 1944. During the years of his ambassadorship to Belgium (1933-1937) he and his wife were successful in bringing European scholars as well as leading men of practical affairs to take a serious interest in IALA's work. Their son, Mr. Lawrence Morris, succeeded him as Treasurer.
Exploratory Work. — The first decade of IALA's research program was of an exploratory nature. Contacts were made with leaders in the various groups supporting different auxiliary-language systems. In order to survey the extent of the successful use of auxiliary languages a special library was collected. It includes books, pamphlets, and periodicals published in different interlinguas, as well as dictionaries and textbooks. A bibliography listing all the material available in European libraries on the subject of international languages was prepared in collaboration with the Universal Esperanto Association.
The anthropological approach to the auxiliary-language problem was directed by Professor Edward Sapir of Yale University. In a series of studies called Foundations of Language, the speech habits typical of different languages were analyzed in connection with specific aspects of grammar. Some of these studies were published by the Linguistic Society of America. Mrs. Morris was the Editor in collaboration with Dr. Sapir, Professor William E. Collinson of the University of Liverpool, and Dr. Morris Swadesh.
As long ago as 1930 IALA planned a meeting in Europe at which for the first time linguists and experts in auxiliary languages sat down together for a period of two weeks to exchange ideas. Convened by Professor Otto Jespersen, the conference gave its approval to the research program proposed by IALA. Since that time four official congresses of linguists have had reports on IALA's work set before them.
Linguistic Research. — Five international language systems, Esperanto, Ido, Esperanto II, Occidental, and Latino sine Flexione, were selected for analytical study by IALA because they all had official organizations promoting them and had been used with success in publications and in spoken communication. Parallel studies of these languages with comparative studies of national languages were carried on by IALA's Research Staff under the direction of scholars in American and European universities.
An intensive study of language difficulties in international conferences was made by Professor Herbert N. Shenton, then of Syracuse University and Executive Secretary of IALA. The extent to which auxiliary languages have been tried out in international conferences was surveyed. The results of this research project were published under the title of Cosmopolitan Conversation by Columbia University Press in 1933.
Various kinds of educational research projects were pursued centering upon the basic idea that an interlingua can be used in a simplified course in comparative linguistics to initiate students into the study of foreign languages. A textbook for a General Language Course was prepared by Helen S. Eaton of IALA's staff. It was used in experimental courses in schools cooperating with IALA's educational program.
Dr. Edward L. Thorndike on an initial grant from Carnegie Corporation conducted a series of experiments in the relative ease of learning constructed and natural languages. His findings were published under the title Language Learning by the Bureau of Publications of Teachers College of Columbia University in 1933.
During the second World War, when the necessity for learning foreign languages was emphasized by world events, a pictorial method for the beginner was embodied in a textbook series by two members of IALA's Research Staff, E. Clark Stillman and Alexander Gode. The series included the titles Spanish at Sight, French at Sight, and Portuguese at Sight.
A new contribution to the field of word-frequency studies was made in the form of the Semantic Frequency List by Helen S. Eaton, Linguistic Research Associate of IALA's staff. This work was issued by the Committee on Modern Languages of the American Council on Education and published by the University of Chicago Press in 1940.
Work on the Dictionary. — Preparatory work on the Dictionary included consultation with linguists in the United States and Europe and with experts in the various auxiliary-language systems. It was carried on by means of conferences, correspondence, and questionnaires.
At the University of Liverpool from 1936 to 1939 various methods of compiling international word material were tested under the direction of Professor William E. Collinson. A staff of persons of different language backgrounds was assembled. Mr. E. Clark Stillman succeeded Dr. Collinson as its Director. The outbreak of war forced the transfer of the work to New York, where Mr. Stillman assembled a new international staff and continued to direct it until he joined the State Department in 1942. During the war years, Dr. Alexander Gode kept the research program going by assuming the duties of Acting Director in addition to his regular work as Editor of Reference Books with the T. Y. Crowell Company. In 1946 IALA brought Dr. André Martinet from the Sorbonne to New York and entrusted him with the direction of its interlinguistic research. Upon his joining the faculty of Columbia University in 1948, Dr. Gode assumed full direction of the work. In its final form the Dictionary is his conception and his responsibility. It is the fruit of his and of his staff's exacting scholarship and patient labor.
The present Directors of IALA are: W. Hallam Tuck, Vice-President, Belgian American Educational Foundation; John V. Irwin; Lawrence Morris; LeRoy E. Bowman; Ben M. Cherrington, University of Denver; Harry Edmonds, Founder, International House, New York; Alfred N. Goldsmith, Past President, Society of Motion Picture Engineers; Henry Goddard Leach, President, American Scandinavian Foundation; Frederick H. Osborn; Mrs. Harold Peabody; and Thomas J. Watson, President, International Business Machines Corporation. In their names I acknowledge the many kinds of cooperation IALA has received in its researches.
Financial support of IALA's work has come from many sources. Carnegie Corporation gave a grant to Teachers College of Columbia University for preliminary research in language learning. Rockefeller Foundation provided a grant for lexicological work done at the University of Liverpool. Research Corporation made liberal undesignated annual grants over a period of years. To all of these foundations IALA expresses gratitude not only for the funds given but for the recognition of the importance of the work in the whole field of communications.
IALA's faithful membership has helped to underwrite the task of producing the Dictionary and has followed every stage of its work.
The most substantial amount of financial support has come from Mr. and Mrs. Morris and their children. They never failed to comprehend the cost of a research program like IALA's, to respect the points of view of the scholars they enlisted in the work, and to meet the needs of IALA's budget. Year after year they gave money but they also gave themselves unselfishly and enthusiastically to the practical details which might help to make their ideal aim of an international language a reality.
A special debt of thanks is due to IALA's Budget Committee of which James G. Harbord was Chairman and S. Sloan Colt and Samuel McRoberts were members.
Intellectual support of IALA's program has come from men and women in all parts of the world. Specialists in communication, international relations, education, and many of the sciences have participated in discussions of IALA's program.
Offers of collaboration have been received from many authors of auxiliary-language systems, some of whom have placed their own manuscripts at the disposal of IALA. Open-minded interest has been demonstrated by many supporters of different auxiliary languages, while linguists have given the work their serious attention. Business men have shown genuine interest, among them Rotary International, which appointed a committee to follow IALA's activities. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has established contact with IALA.
Among those who took part in formal and informal conferences of IALA were: Leslie Adie; Mrs. Yorke Allen; Dr. James R. Angell, President, Yale University; Professor Kan-Ichi Asakawa, Yale University; Siegfried Auerbach, Akademio di Ido; Professor Charles Bally, University of Geneva; Clarence Barnhart; Louis Bastien, Esperanto Society of France; Andre Baudet, Paris Chamber of Commerce; Wilhelm Blaschke; Pierre Bovet, Rousseau Institute, Geneva; Willem de Cock Buning, Rotary International; Mrs. Westwood Carr; Professor Gustave Cohen, École Libre des Hautes Études; Mr. and Mrs. G. Alan Connor, Esperanto Association of North America; Andreo Cseh, Internacia Cseh-Instituto de Esperanto; Mrs. James S. Cushman, Y.W.C.A.; Dr. Malcolm Davis, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Dr. Watson Davis, Science Service; Professor Albert Debrunner, Universities of Berne and Basle; Professor A. W. de Groot, University of Amsterdam; Rollet de l'Isle, Internacia Scienca Asocio Esperantista; René de Saussure, Esperanto II; Edgar de Wahl, Occidental Union; Professor Henry Gratton Doyle, The George Washington University; Mrs. Laura Dreyfus-Barney; Miss Helen S. Eaton; Gertrude Ely; Professor Robert H. Fife, Columbia University; Professor P. Fouché, Sorbonne; Dr. Frank Fremont-Smith, Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation; Professor Otto Funke, University of Berne; Miss Clarissa H. Gordon; Mrs. Ruth M. Griggs; Professor Albert L. Guérard, Stanford University; Mrs. Hamilton Hadley; Dr. Walter D. Head, Rotary International; Professor V. A. C. Henmon, University of Wisconsin; Professor Eduard Hermann, University of Göttingen; Dean Henry W. Holmes, Harvard University; Mr. and Mrs. I. R. G. Isbrucker, Universala Ligo; Professor Roman Jakobson, Columbia University; Professor Otto Jespersen, University of Copenhagen; Dr. Marguerite Jones, Hunter College; Professor Serge Karcevski, University of Geneva; Professor Hayward Keniston, University of Michigan; Dr. Laura H. Kennon, Brooklyn College; Professor Wencil J. Kostir, University of Ohio; Wladyslaw Kozlowski, Lingvo Monde; Dr. John Lansbury; George Winthrop Lee and John L. Lewine, Esperanto Association of North America; Miss Anne Lincoln; Professor Kemp Malone, Johns Hopkins University; Professor Antoine Meillet, Sorbonne; Mrs. Dudley H. Mills; Dr. Arthur E. Morgan, Antioch College; Dave Hennen Morris, Jr.; Professor Henri F. Muller, Columbia University; Professor C. K. Ogden, Cambridge University; Professor Austin M. Patterson, Antioch College; William Perrenoud, Esperantist; Howard A. Poillon, Research Corporation; Professor Pitman B. Potter, Institut Universitaire de Hautes Études Internationales, Geneva; Bronson Price; Edmond Privat, President, Universal Esperanto Association; Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt; Professor Albert Sechehaye, University of Geneva; Dr. James T. Shotwell, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Professor Herbert Schofield, Loughborough College; Mgr. Schrijnen; Professor Alf Sommerfelt, University of Oslo; Pierre Stojan, Esperantist; Dr. Lester Struthers, Rotary International; Mrs. Walter Knight Sturges, Jr.; William Mark Taylor; George L. Trager; Professor Nicolaas Van Wijk, University of Leiden; Professor Joseph Vendryes, Sorbonne; Professor Jean Paul Vinay, University of Montreal; Eugen Wüster, International Standards Organization; Reinhold Zeidler, Novial. — To these and many others IALA is most grateful.
Mary Connell Bray
Executive Director, IALA