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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

494                The Loom of Language
AN IKTERDICTIONARY
Among the many pioneers who have put forward proposals for a
constructed interlanguage, few have undertaken the task of giving to a
skeleton of grammar the flesh and bones of a full-fledged vocabulary.
Its execution brings us face to face with the two major difficulties of
memorizing a vocabulary, i e. unfamihanty with the auditory or visual
shape of words, and superfluity of separate forms Elimination of
unnecessary items came to the fore in the classificatory projects of
Dalgarno and of WiUons; and it has once more become a live issue
owing to the popularity of Ogden's method for teaching and using a
simplified yet acceptable form of Anglo-Ainencan Between the publi-
cation of the Real Character of Wilkins and the Meaning of Meaning by
Ogden and Richards, no author of a constructed language has come to
grips with the problem of word wastage. Those who have not shirked
the labojir of constructing a lexicon have invanably concentrated on
the more immediate and inescapable problem of word-form Thus
Peano's Interhngua accepts the entire bulk of English words derived
from Latin.
To reduce the mnemonic burden of language-learning to a minimum,
it is essential to work with familiar materials, i e with roots taken from
existing languages. Most of the languages hitherto constructed pay
hp-serace to this principle, so stated; but there is less unanimity about
the best way of choosing familiar material, i e. a stock of roots with
wide international currency. Indeed, there has been much confusion
between two issues—proportional representation of different speech-
communities in the total stock-in-trade of roots, and widest possible
international currency of each individual root
Up to date no one has consistently followed either plan. Out-and-out
application of an eclectic solution, on an international scale, would
suffice to demonstrate its inherent absurdity. A vocabulary drawn from
Teutonic, Romance, Slavonic, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Indian
vernaculars, Mongolian, Polynesian, and Bantu dialects, with due
regard to the size of each contributory speech community would be
largely foreign to the eye and ear of individuals belonging to any major
one, and it would contain scarcely a trace of roots familiar to individuals
using dialects of a small one. The aad test of basing choice on a count
of heads has never been earned out The pioneers of language plan-
ning have been Europeans primarily concerned with the needs of
travel, commerce, and technics Their outlook has been limited by