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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

490                The Loom of Language
than fanatical adherents of Esperanto A constructed auxiliary now
designed in the light of defects and merits of previous proposals
would therefore be almost, if not quite, as free of flexions as Chinese
or Peano's Interlingua Tins leaves us with the following question
Would it be also free from other types of word-modification > An
international language would not be piacticable if it listed as many
words as the Concise Oxford Dictionary or Webster Our limited
learning capacities demand something more economical. So there
is another need for which the planner has to cater. Apart from
being economical, the vocabulary must allow for expansion made
necessary by the incessant emergence of new articles., inventions, and
Many pioneers of language planning have tried to kill two birds with
one stone by composing a restricted set of basic or root words from
which other words can be derived by a rich battery of prefixes and
suffixes. They do what we do when we derive bookish from book, or
systematize from system Till now the prevailing attitude towards such
derivative affixes has been on all fours with the attitude of Schleyer,
Zamenhof, and Jespersen towards flexions They have been less critical
of their functional importance than of their erratic behaviour. For
instance, the Esperanto suffix -EC for the abstract idea is an incitement
to people the world with new fictions comparable to the definition of
love as the ideality of the relativity of the reality of an infinitesimal
pen tion of the absolute totality of the Infinite Being
Irregularities, formal and functional, of English derivative affixes are
typical of other Aryan languages The prefix re- may, and often does,
connote repetition when attached to a new word, but it is quite lifeless
in receive, regard, respect The negative prefixes un-, in-, im-, irr-
attach themselves to a root without regard to phonetic or philological
etiquette, as in unable—impossible, inert—unconscious, insensitive—
irresponsible* The Teutonic suffixes -dom, -ship and -head or -hood
turn up in abstract nouns of the same general class (wisdom—friendship)
lordship—fatherhood}. If we tack on -er to some verb roots we get a
member of the agent class represented by fisher, writer, reader, teacher,
manufacturer We may also get a means of transport (steamer) or a com-
partment in one (smoker, sleeper) To all these irregularities we have to
add those inherent in borrowed Latin roots which contain such uncer-
tain prefixes as e- or ex-, and in-, the last of which may signify either
enclosure (insert) or negation (innocuous) Clearly a language with a
regular system of derivative affixes for such clear-cut categories as