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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/166

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

mon vulgar speech, owning Latin alone as worthy of putting on parchment. As later, Charles V. of German-Austria, told of how he talked in Latin to God, in Spanish to his family, in French to his courtiers, in Italian to the ladies, and—in German—to his horses only. So, not longer ago than in the last century, ambitious writers in the minor tongues, disdainful of the "peasant dialects" smacking of the soil, set their thoughts over into French, spoke in French, thought in French. To-day there is scarcely a tongue in Europe, however obscure or forgotten, that is not sedulously cultivating its own idiom in a conscious literary way.

On the edge of our world are Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Persian, spoken by vigorous, populous national stocks, emerging into or fully participating in our complex international life, coming closer and closer every day by rail, steamer, telegraph and wireless, and to-morrow by the airships. Under the wise control of England, the native polyglot hordes of India are developing, preparing for a future nationality, which will not be English; in which the English language will remain what it is to-day, a foreign tongue. Over the huge domains of Mexico, Central and South America, millions upon millions of swarming people in the days to come will fill these lands with a vast Spanish and Portuguese speaking population. Will these then be among the "minor languages," to which their present position in Europe now relegates them?

What, then, of all these strong peoples who refuse to be assimilated, who are engaged in amplifying their own languages, and have no intention of meekly becoming absorbed by ours; who buy and sell, farm, mine and manufacture, produce and exchange increasingly, who share in the world's power of thought and, expression, who are making or will make great discoveries in science, who will meet in conventional dress with our august selves, whether we like it or not, around the council tables of the globe?

Tell me, is any single national form of idiom adequate for all of these? Will any such be accepted by all of them? Will the whole world of human races, with its hundreds of languages and dialects, blunder along forever, chained in the shackles of polyglot speech?

Is a world language, then, really possible? As a universal language, in the sense of one that is to replace all others,—manifestly not, or if at all, only in some extremely remote epoch. How, then, shall we achieve the more immediate, rational and practical aim, of acquiring a single auxiliary medium of international speech, that shall replace no single language, however obscure, that shall remain forever neutral, and that shall be equally acceptable to all? Clearly, not by means of any existing national, "natural" tongue, but through the outright construction of an "artificial" language, which shall possess:

First, a vocabulary having a maximum of internationality in its