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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/157

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INTERNATIONAL SPEECH

THE PROBLEM OF INTERNATIONAL SPEECH
By ANNA MONSCH ROBERTS

MANHATTAN, KANS.

TO any thoughtful student of affairs, it is perfectly clear that, as the years go by, all the nations of the earth must inevitably become more and more closely linked together in all their interests. The present highly perfected modes of communication will become greatly improved and vastly extended. All the economic and material commercial, as well as all the intellectual interests of each people will become of increasing significance to every other one. National boundaries will, in the lapse of time, become of as purely formal, merely administrative importance as are our American state and county boundaries to-day. Already in The Hague tribunal we have the beginnings of an international supreme court. In time the United States of Europe is a conceivable possibility, with abolished frontiers and armies reduced to police forces. Commerce and industry are certain to end the folly and barbarism of war; since the rise to self-consciousness of the working classes (who fill the armies) will make their community of interest the world over plain to themselves, and they will see that to hire themselves out to kill one another is a crime to common humanity.

One prime obstacle to that clear and perfect understanding among human minds everywhere over the broad earth lies in their inability fully to comprehend one another's thoughts and purposes, because of the diversity of tongues. That this is a very serious obstacle to human progress and the development of the globe, becomes increasingly evident the more readily and easily possible communication by mail, telegraph and actual travel becomes. So long as the different peoples read little, wrote less, and traveled scarcely at all, the polyglot condition of the world was a matter of little interest. To-day it has risen to be a most serious hindrance and inconvenience to the steps of advancing humanity. It is true that almost all educated persons feel impelled to-day to attempt the learning of other languages than their own, if only to come in touch with the civilized world's literature, aside from the ordinary practical considerations. Sometimes this feeling petrifies into the pious attitude ironically commended by Lord Palmerston, who said that while it was not necessary that every gentleman should know Latin, he should at least have forgotten it.

It is trite and easy to say that this is a scientific age, but one must actually have worked in some field of science to realize the blunder-