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Interlingua – a lost language found in old journal articles

by Eva Amsen

My inner language geek (see also the previous post) is thrilled to bits with the discovery that Blood articles from the fifties and sixties contain a summary written in the auxiliary language Interlingua.

For example, see this 1959 article by Hermansky and Pudlak. It’s the first English article they published about the disease they discovered a few years earlier (Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome). At the end is a summary of key points, followed by the same summary in Interlingua.

“Es reportate le casos de duo albinos non-consanguinee con diathese hemorrhagic e con peculiar cellulas reticular pigmentate in le medulla ossee.”

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Bill Hooker June 29, 2008 - 8:46 PM

What, no Esperanto? 🙂
I learned E-o in grad school, just because I thought it was a great idea to have a simple universal second language. If Interlingua or Ido or even Klingon ever gains traction, I’ll learn those too. It’s an idea that has never really gone anywhere, and I still don’t quite understand why.

Eva Amsen June 29, 2008 - 8:54 PM

I started learning Esperanto a few summers ago, but then I didn’t have time anymore. I still have all the stuff I printed out for it, and I’ll pick it up again at some point.

Heather Etchevers June 30, 2008 - 7:18 AM

_It’s an idea that has never really gone anywhere, and I still don’t quite understand why._
The “why” is that it is actually much easier to learn a currently spoken language, and that by going to the place where you are completely immersed in it, than to learn one from a book or well-meaning but non-native instructors.
After two months in France trying to understand cafeteria talk, I had made more progress than in all my years of secondary school study. (Although the grammatical bases probably helped – but then, they would have done for Interlingua or Esperanto as well.) An interesting case study is that of modern Hebrew, revived and practically invented by “one single man”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliezer_Ben-Yehuda who raised his first son to speak a language that no others (except his parents) spoke – a trifle harsh.
The moral is, short of pure fanaticism, it’s hard to invent a new language. You still have to convince others that the world really needs it – and needs to talk to you.

Bill Hooker July 1, 2008 - 3:59 AM

it is actually much easier to learn a currently spoken language
No, it really isn’t — that’s the whole *point* of an auxlang. It doesn’t compete with or replace any natural language;it doesn’t have the power, nuance or range. It’s an auxiliary, simpler and easier to learn and use, designed as a fast way over every language barrier at once.
“Classical” E-o, for instance, has 16 invariant rules of grammar and a vocabulary that’s a snap for any Indo-European language speaker. (And whenever the point is raised that Asian language speakers might be disadvantaged, they pipe up and say no, it’s OK, this stuff is really simple — some of the biggest E-o communities are in Asia.)
You can be up and running in E-o in a few weeks; I’ve done it myself. Try that with any natural language.

Eva Amsen July 2, 2008 - 4:32 PM

In this particular article, the use of Interlingua was actually a bit unnecessary: Hermansky and Pudlak had already published several articles in Czech on their discovery between 1953 and 1959 (none of them online). Presumably, they wrote this English article so they could reach a wider audience. They didn’t need Interlingua in that article, it would have been way more useful in the Czech ones, because hardly anyone speaks Czech outside of that part of the world. (I can say “beer” (“pivo”) and “books” (“knihy”) and “good day” (“dobry den”) and “thank you” (I don’t know how to spell that one) in Czech, but that’s no good for understanding the medical literature.)

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