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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Language Planning for a New Order     499
meter, microscope, cyclostyle, thermoplastics, will certainly reveal wide
international currency of some Latin and Greek roots of the same
meaning This prompts the question: which should we prefer? If one
enjoys much wider distribution than the other, we should generally
decide in its favour; but if the difference is not great we might take
into consideration other criteria of merit. For instance, the existence of
a Latin and a Greek root with the same meaning would enable us to
avoid homophones Thus the Latin syllable sol is common to solar,
solitary, solitude, and solstice While there is no equally common Greek
root to suggest the meaning of alone, there is the suggestive helw of
heliograph, helium, perihelion, heliotropism, and other technical words
for the sun We can therefore keep sol for alone and take helio for the
sun Many Latin words which are international, at least in the European
and American sense, have widely divergent meanings in different
countries By substituting Greek for Latin we could avoid possible
misunderstanding For instance, the French word conscience is often
equivalent to our word consciousness, and the German praises somebody
for being consistent by applying the epithet konsequent. Another
criterion which might well influence our decision will come up for
discussion later on We can also take into account the relative ease with
which it is possible for people of different tongues to pronounce a Latin
root or its Greek equivalent
The raw materials of our lexicon will be* (a) a dual battery of cos-
mopolitan Latin and Greek roots, (&) a list of the necessary items
which make up an adequate vocabulary for ordinary communication.
We then have all the data from which a representative body could
prescribe the details of a satisfactory interlanguage. If free from gram-
matical irrelevanaes, people of moderate intelligence and a secondary
school education should be able to read it with htde previous instruc-
tion and learn to write and speak it in far less time than any ethnic lan-
guage requires. Admittedly, the intervocabulary outlined above would
be almost exclusively Western in origin. But we need not fear that our
Eastern neighbours will reject it for that reason. The word-invasion of
medicine and engineering need not be a corollary of political oppres-
sion and economic exploitation. Besides, Europe can say to China: I
take your syntax, and you take my word.
WORD-ECONOMY
The next question which arises is. what words are essential? This is
what C K Ogden and MJSS L W. Lockhart call the problem of word-