artificial languages

What Is Your Ideal Artificial Language?

A short Reminder

Artificial languages are languages whose phonology, grammar and vocabulary have been entirely created by an individual or a group of people instead of having naturally evolved over time in a civilisation.
But why would people invent a new language? Will you ask.

There are more reasons than we expect and they primarily include the desire to facilitate human communication, to bring a constructed world to life, but also the taste for linguistic experimentation, artistic creation and language games.

Perhaps you are dreaming of a language that would be easily understood all over the world? A language, which goes beyond all borders and let people communicate freely? Well, you are not the first one to have such an interest. Indeed the list of languages created on this purpose is quite long and include all the so-called “international auxiliary languages”.

You probably have already heard about Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua or Volapük, which are the most popular artificial languages created in the hope of making communication worldwide easier. So in this article you are going to find everything you need to pick up Your Ideal Artificial Language between the 4 more commons.

Esperanto

It is the most widely spoken constructed language in the world. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto (literally translated the word Esperanto means “the one who hopes”), the pseudonym under which physician and linguist L.L. Zamenhof published the first book about this new language, on July 26th 1887. Zamenhof’s goal was to invent an easy-to-learn, politically neutral language as a mean of peace and understanding among people.

Today almost 10,000,000 people worldwide speak Esperanto, including about 1,000 native speakers, spread within 120 different nations and above all in Europe, South America and East Asia. There are more than 25,000 Esperanto books, both originals and translations, as well as songs based on Esperanto lyrics. Esperanto is used at some extent also in films, TV series and video games.

Ido

It is another international auxiliary language designed to be grammatically, orthographically and lexicographically regular in order to be easy to learn and use. Ido was created in 1907 out of a desire to reform Esperanto and in fact its name comes from the Esperanto word “ido”, meaning “offspring”, “descendant”.

Ido uses the same 26 letters as Latin alphabet, without diacritics. It draws its vocabulary from French, Italian, Spanish, English, German and Russian and is largely intelligible to those who have studied Esperanto. Several works have been translated into Ido, including The Little Prince and part of the New Testament. Unfortunately, the emerging of schisms around different reform projects caused the decline of this language, which currently counts only 100-200 speakers in the world.

Interlingua

It is another widely used international auxiliary language developed between 1937 and 1951 by the International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA). Like Esperanto and Ido it combines a simple, mostly regular grammar with a vocabulary common to as many languages as possible. In this way, Interlingua is comprehensible to hundreds of millions of people, mainly Romance language speakers.

At present governments, private companies and individuals use this language in education, travels, online publishing and communication across language barriers. Moreover, several books and periodicals are published by many national organizations. Interlingua has active speakers on all continents, especially in South America and in Eastern and Northern Europe, most notably Scandinavia, Russia and Ukraine. In Africa, it has official representation in the Republic of Congo. In recent years, samples of this language can be seen in music and anime in addition to television and radio.

Interesting is also the fact that Interlingua is taught in many high schools and universities, sometimes as a means of teaching other languages quickly or introducing international vocabulary, an example is the University of Granada, in Spain.

Volapük

It is the last constructed language, which succeeded to become quite popular. Johann Martin Schleyer, a Roman Catholic priest in Baden, Germany, created it in 1879-1880. After some conferences, in 1889 there were about 283 clubs, 25 periodicals and 316 textbooks in 25 languages with nearly a million adherents.

Schleyer adapted the vocabulary mostly from English, adding some words from German and French. The grammar is based on that of typical European languages, but with the use of inflections. Schleyer was criticised because the majority of Volapük words were modified, losing their ties to the languages they came from. These alterations were probably made on purpose not to ease native speakers of one language or another.

Volapük was largely displaced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Esperanto and Ido which were actually created starting from Schleyer’s example.

Conclusion

babel tower

So, have you made your mind? We hope that having read this article made you even more interested in the worldwide communication. Artificial languages are great for they create new bonds between people, looking for an optimal communication. Speaking such a language is like being an inhabitant of the Babel tower, don’t you think?

So why not grabbing the opportunity and beginning to learn one of the languages we have presented to you? Take the challenge with  whichever international auxiliary language and have fun! Let us know  in the comments below which one you have chosen 🙂

Authors: Donatella Zunino, Juliane Daudan and Quentin Mosnier

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