ONE of the e-mails I received last week was in a language I'd never seen before. It turned out to be Esperanto, a language "invented" by a man named Dr L. L. Zamenhof in 1887 and kept alive by a determined band of idealists around the world who believe a common international language will promote peace and harmony.
To be honest, the idea has never taken off, though there are a handful of Esperanto speakers in Perth and the British Esperanto Society claims to have more than 1100 members, including several Members of Parliament.
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN big weekend Saturday June 9, 2001 2
But Esperanto is not the only artificial language out there. Almost as well-known is one called Loglan, developed in the 1950s and 60s in the belief that a language free of ambiguities would free people's minds from ancient linguistic bonds.
Another is Interlingua. It draws out all the common elements of Western languages into a new, simplified tongue which, its promoters say, you should be able to understand even if you had never had any contact with a foreign language.
An example they give is: "Le unitate del civilisation occidental corresponde in grande mesura a un unitate linguistic." I think it means that Western languages have a lot in common.
Interesting as these ideas are, the fact of the matter is that the quest to find an international language is over. For better or worse, English is the global tongue.
-- ©Copyright André Malan, "Tongue twister in Interlingua," Malan on Saturday, The West Australian, Big Weekend page 2, Saturday June 9, 2001.
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