Interlingua: An international language

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Posted on 
October 15, 2019

Interlingua is an international language that was created in 1951. The result of almost three decades’ work by linguists from several countries, Interlingua is easy to learn and understand, especially if you speak a Romance language.

The main features of Interlingua

Interlingua is a synthesis of Latin-based languages. Where the French language formed coeur, the Spanish, corazon, and the English, “heart,” Interlingua created corde from cordial (French for “cordial”) and cordialitate from cordialité (French for “cordiality”). Thus, Interlingua is defined as a form of modern Latin. Another example is the Spanish tiempo, the French temps, and the English “time,” which Interlingua renders as tempore and which is found in the international derivatives temporel (temporal), temporalitate (temporality), temporari (temporary) and contemporanee (contemporary). The languages influenced by Latin and Greek constitute a common root that forms the foundation of Interlingua.

As a modern reincarnation of medieval international Latin, Interlingua codifies a language that potentially already existed. Since it is taken from the Greco-Latin international vocabulary found in today’s languages, Interlingua does not contain any invented or distorted words.

Interlingua’s grammar can be explained in a few pages. The plural is formed by adding “s.” Adjectives are invariable. For example:

Un bon idea, duo bon ideas, le bon puero, multo bon pueros

A good idea, two good ideas, the good boy, very good boys

Note that puero is found in English “puerile”; and duo, in “dual” and “duality.”

I discovered Interlingua when I read Pierre Burney’s book Les langues internationales, published by Presses universitaires de France. Because Interlingua’s vocabulary draws from many languages, it has often helped me understand terms in French and other languages that Latin has influenced over the centuries.

For example, labio (lip) is found in French, in English and in the Interlingua word labial. Pilo, which means “hair” in Interlingua, is found in the French word pilosité, in the English word “pilosity,” and in the Interlingua word pilositate.

I also enjoy the cadence of Interlingua, with the position of the tonic accent on the last, penultimate or antepenultimate syllable. This feature gives the language a rhythm very similar to Latin, which makes it suitable for poetry and song.

Interlingua is everywhere

Interlingua is the most widespread of the naturalistic international auxiliary languages, according to Wikipedia. The members of the Union Mundial pro Interlingua are spread across all continents. Informal Interlingua meetings are held regularly in several Canadian cities. In Quebec, the Société québécoise pour l'interlingua promotes activities in this international language. This year, the Conferentia international de interlingua will be held in Prague, Czech Republic.

Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been translated into Interlingua. Here is Article 1:

Tote le esseres human nasce libere e equal in dignitate e in derectos. Illes es dotate de ration e de conscientia e debe ager le unes verso le alteres in un spirito de fraternitate.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Resources

Published in 1951 by the International Auxiliary Language Association, the Interlingua reference works are the Interlingua-English Dictionary and the Interlingua Grammar, both available in major libraries.

Over 200 books, grammar guides and dictionaries have been published in this international language.

In addition, Wikipedia has an Interlingua version containing more than 21,000 articles.

In closing, I would like to propose three resources from the Union Mundial pro Interlingua that will allow you to learn more about Interlingua:

Adapted by Josephine Versace, Language Portal of Canada

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed in posts and comments published on the Our Languages blog are solely those of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Language Portal of Canada.

About the author

Martin Lavallée

Martin Lavallée is an Interlingua speaker who lives in Montreal. He learned this international language in 1992. The vocabulary of this form of modern Latin is readily accessible to the 900 million speakers of Romance languages.

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