METHOD AND TECHNIQUES
Eligibility of International Words. — Words are eligible in the international vocabulary if they have currency throughout the Anglo-Romance sphere of languages. The language units to be examined individually are Italian, French, English, and Spanish and Portuguese combined. The combination of the two Iberian languages is indicated not because their separate importance could be doubted but because their significance in the pattern of the Romance languages is similar. The absence of a word from the vocabulary of one of the units listed is often a coincidence which cannot suffice to bar it from the international vocabulary. German or Russian may take the place of any of the Anglo-Romance source units. In sum, a preliminary formulation of the criterion of internationality runs as follows: A word is to be accepted as international when its presence is attested - in corresponding forms and with corresponding meanings - in at least three of the language units, Italian, Spanish and/or Portuguese, French and English, with German and Russian as possible substitutes.
The practical application of this rule encounters a number of specific problems.
1. — The decision as to whether a word exists in a given language is not always a clear and simple matter. It is neither possible to limit oneself to the listings found in a set of chosen dictionaries nor to consider every obscure entry in the most exhaustive compilations. Technical terms should be looked for in technical dictionaries while everyday expressions should be traced in average dictionaries of the everyday language. Furthermore, the investigation cannot in all instances be limited to the current modern vocabulary. For instance, while the modern French word tuer ‘to kill’ shows no relationship to the Italian word uccidere of the same meaning, there are traces in French of the older occire, and even in Spanish, whose normal word for ‘to kill’ is matar, an old verb corresponding with Italian uccidere and French occire has survived at least in the participial form occiso. In this case — and similarly in similar ones — one may reason that hidden behind, and represented by, tuer and matar there are older forms corresponding with Italian uccidere, so that the requirements of internationality are fulfilled in regard to a word for ‘to kill’ which corresponds directly to Latin occidere.
Carried to its extreme conclusions this procedure justifies the inclusion in the international vocabulary of words corresponding with all Latin terms provided their concepts appear in one form or another in the modern languages. At first glance so broad an interpretation of the rule of modern internationality of words might seem arbitrary. Upon closer examination, however, one is struck by the fact that the languages of the Western World are all in the habit of having recourse to classical and predominantly Latin word material whenever new expressions are to be coined, as well in cases where new ideas, facts, and things are to be named as also when a synonym for a traditionally available term is needed.
2.- The principle of correspondence of word forms in the various contributing languages needs to be allowed a certain latitude. The English words automobile and fidelity correspond completely with French automobile and fidélité or Spanish automóvil and fidelidad. The second is everywhere a direct descendent from Latin fidelitas, fidelitat- and consists everywhere of an adjective made into a noun by the addition of one and the same suffix in various etymologically identical forms. The first is everywhere a modern compound consisting again in all instances of etymologically identical elements. However, in an example like Italian amaritudine, it will be found that neither its Spanish nor its French equivalents are in full etymological correspondence. French amertume and Spanish amargor as also the Italian synonyms amarore and amarezza have substituted deviating suffixes for the original Latin one. Such suffix substitutions, which are not occasioned by expressive needs, must not be allowed to deny a particular word its full international standing, for with them the deviation in form does not imply a deviation in meaning.
Numerous examples of this point are supplied by English adjectives which often differ from the corresponding words in other languages by an excrescent meaningless suffix. The suffix -al in fanatical is meaningless; it does not cause the word to differ in any sense from its synonym fanatic and justifies no discrimination between it and French fanatique, Italian fanatico, etc. The same holds true for the English type voracious which has a "superfluous," that is, a distinctively English and meaningless suffix -ious. The corresponding French word is vorace, Spanish voraz, etc.
3. - There are numerous words which, paradoxically, do not occur in a particular
language but are potentially present in it. In English, for instance, the derivational types of versatile-versatility, visible-visibility, etc. are so normal that the exceptional occurrence of an isolated proximity without a corresponding adjective strikes the student as a peculiarly English "accident." There ought to be an adjective *proxim or possibly *proximous. The frequency and clear-cut character of the English affix -ity permits the assertion that behind the noun proximity there exists — potentially if not in fact — an adjective which can join the actually existing Italian prossimo and thus contribute to the international standing of the simple adjective behind its derived noun. This same reasoning could not apply if the adjective in back of proximity did not exist anywhere. On the other hand it does apply in cases where the situation is reversed, that is, where the simple word is fully international while it is the derivative which is merely "potentially" available.
The affixes which, when occurring in formations of limited range, carry them nevertheless into the international vocabulary, must be both frequent and clear. All those found to qualify under this head are represented by special entries in the body of the Dictionary. A complete list appears below on pp. xlvif.
What has been said about affix formations of limited range applies likewise to compounds. The Italian word for ‘match, lucifer’ is fiammifero. It is a compound of
elements which are completely international and quite unambiguous. The word as such occurs in but one language, but the representation of its elements in all the contributing languages justifies the claim that the word is potentially international. In a considerable number of cases where ideas of full international range happen to be represented by numerous and etymologically quite unrelated terms, adequate renderings in the international vocabulary can be found by examining all the monolingual renderings in regard to their potential representation in the source languages as a whole.
Form of International Words. — The forms under which the international words are listed must be neither Italian nor French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, or Russian; they must be international. This implies that everything is to be eliminated from them that is a characteristic feature of but one particular language. If the Spanish word for ‘earth’ is tierra, the international form of it must not contain the diphthong -ie- which is a typically Spanish development. The international form corresponding to French aimer must not end in -er which is a typically French development. Or again, if the word voracious is qualified to enter the international vocabulary, it cannot appear there with the final syllable -ious because that is a peculiarly English excrescence.
On the other hand, the international form of a word must be such that every idiosyncratic feature of its representation in one particular language must be explicable as a monolingual transformation of it. It must be the prototype of which all contributing forms are specialized variations. For example, the prototype of French terre, Spanish tierra, Portuguese and Italian terra is terra. The French final -e and the Spanish diphthong are specifically French and Spanish developments from the original neutral final -a and the original neutral monophthong -e- respectively. The resulting international form terra may look like the Italian, Portuguese, and Latin forms, but it is "international" and not Italian, not Portuguese, and not Latin. In a great many instances the prototype and hence the international form of a word does coincide with its etymological origin, that is, in the case of words derived from Latin, the Latin ancestor form. But this is not necessarily so. If the diphthong of tierra were not a Spanish peculiarity but occurred in Italian and French as well, the prototype and hence the international form would not be terra but *tierra.
A more typical (and more complex) instance is that of Latin causa which appears in the modern languages as two distinct words, one represented by Italian, Spanish, Portuguese causa and French, English cause; the other by Italian, Spanish cosa, Portuguese cousa, and French chose. The prototype of the former is causa, that of the latter cosa, from which the French initial ch- and final -e as well as the Portuguese diphthong -ou are peculiarly French and Portuguese deviations, explicable in terms of specifically French and Portuguese sound laws. The transformation of Latin -au into -o- is a development characteristically international.
In keeping with the general goal of evolving non-specialized international forms, the prototypes must not be determined by a trait occurring in but one language. A monolingual trait is to be disregarded provided such a procedure does not reduce the international range of the result below the stipulated minimum. To refer again to the example of Latin causa, in the branch yielding the prototype cosa, all contributing forms with the exception of Portuguese show the vowel -o-. If the Portuguese -ou- were not a specifically Portuguese diphthongization of an earlier -o- but rather a survival of the Latin diphthong -au- the resulting form should still show no diphthong since three languages — Spanish, French, Italian — exhibit a simple -o-.
Terminations. — Like all other formative elements, suffixes too appear in fixed prototype forms which do not vary erratically from one case to another. If it is an historical fact that the suffix in English agile and that in fossil are the same, and if furthermore the other contributing languages show them to be alike (as they actually do), then the English difference between this particular -ile and this particular -il must leave no trace in the international forms.
The common form from which the suffix represented by English -al has evolved in the various languages is a form technically known as the crude form of the Latin oblique cases of -alis, that is to say -ale. This -ale is the ancestor of all the contributing variants but its full spelling is maintained only by Italian. All the other control languages omit the final -e. Therefore the prototype serving as the international form of the suffix omits it likewise and appears as -al.
Somewhat more complex is the case of the parallel suffix evolved from Latin -ilis. It, too, appears in Italian with a final -e in all cases, but the alignment of a pair of illustrations like English civil, agile, Spanish civil, agil, Italian civile, agile, and French civil, agile leads to the introduction of two prototype forms, the one, -il, bearing the stress and omitting the final -e; the other, -ile, equipped with a final -e and occurring after a stressed syllable.
These data can be looked at inversely so that — as a general rule applying to the forms entered in this dictionary — a final -e after -l (and likewise after -n- and -r-) turns out to be an indication that the stress must fall on the third last syllable, as in agile (as against civil), in automobile (as against infantil), as in ordine (as against asinin), as in arbore (as against professor), etc. — See also under "Pronunciation," p. liii below.
Termination of Infinitives. — The prototype procedure outlined above would yield infinitives in -are, -ere, and -ire. As in the case of -al and -il, it is again only Italian that retains he final -e systematically. Since, however, English absorbs Romance verbs as a rule without the Romance infinitive termination, it cannot assist French and the Iberian languages to overrule the conservation of the final -e. If this English "abstention" is not to allow Italian to settle the question in favor of its own unique usage, there remains only the possibility to let the prototype forms of the infinitive follow the model of comparable cases, as for instance that of the suffixes -al and -il. Thus the prototype forms of the infinitive terminations appear as -ar, -er, and -ir.
Since the subdivision of Latin -ere verbs in two groups with the stress on the penult and antepenult respectively is clearly traceable within the sphere of the modern Romance languages, the prototype of the infinitive termination might be determined for each of the two cases separately. The resulting distinction of verbs in -er with the stress on the last syllable and a smaller group of verbs in -ere with the stress on the antepenult would largely correspond to two types of derivation. The verbs in -er would show "weak" derivatives in -it- plus -ion, -ire, -ura, etc., while the verbs in -ere would build such derivatives by adding -ion, -are, -ura, etc. to a "strong" or modified stem. In this Dictionary no such distinction has been made.
Termination of Adjectives. — A special problem is posed by the class of adjectives which maintain in all Romance languages a difference between masculine and feminine forms. Here the prototype procedure collides with a point of grammar which must be discussed at this time although grammatical questions in general have no place in a purely lexical discussion. The prototype of English, French grand, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese grande emerges smoothly as grande. However, in cases like that of the international word corresponding to English saint, the outcome is undecided because here the original inflectional system of Latin survives in all the Romance languages not only with a distinct form for the plural but also with distinct masculine and feminine forms. The adjectival prototype of English, French saint, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian santo would be *sancto, but that of English saint, French sainte, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian santa would be *sancta. When used as nouns to represent a male or female saint, the forms sancto and sancta are satisfactory. But with adjectival functions they would be usable only if the grammar of the international language were to keep up a corresponding gender distinction.
It is possible to envisage the international vocabulary in operation with a grammatical system which does maintain a gender distinction. Attempts in this direction are on record, but they form a decided minority. The procedure adopted in this Dictionary is the one favored by most users of the international vocabulary. All adjectives are treated as though Latin and the Romance languages knew only the one type of adjective in which there is no distinction between masculine and feminine. The resulting dictionary entries exhibit no difference in termination between the types grande and sancte.
Forms of International Words in Derivational Series. — The prototype, as discussed so far, may be defined as the nearest common documented or hypothetical ancestor from which all contributing variants can be developed in accordance with the individual laws and motives operating in the various languages considered. This implies that in the case of Latin-derived nouns and adjectives the prototype is normally neither coincident with nor based upon the original nominative (i.e., the form conventionally entered in dictionaries) but rather that it will have the appearance of the crude (i.e., truncated) form of the Latin oblique cases. This is so because the Romance languages, when — in the course of their development from Latin — they abolished the declensional system of nouns and adjectives, did not normally preserve one case at the expense of all the others; they normally preserved a composite of the various oblique cases. French pied, Spanish pie, etc. did not develop from Latin pes but from Latin pede which may be called a combination of pedem, pedis, etc. Now it happens to be the stems of the Latin oblique cases (i.e., the stem at the base of the international prototype) which appears again in the derivatives from nouns and adjectives. A word like temporal (whether it is considered in its English or any other variant) does not come from the stem of Latin tempus but from that of temporis, tempore, etc. A word like pontifical is not based on the stem of Latin pontifex but on that of pontificem, etc.
The prototype of English pontiff and the corresponding Romance variants which establish the internationality of the word, is pontifice. That of pontifical and its Romance equivalents is pontifical. The continuity of form in the prototype pair pontifice-pontifical (in contrast to English pontiff-pontifical or German Pontifex-pontifikal) is an important feature of the international vocabulary. It permits the interpretation of pontifical, as it were, as a special form for special uses of pontifice just as, let us say, brotherly in English might be called a special, that is, the adjectival form of brother. If this feature is to be generally characteristic of the international language, derivatives must always be made to have a bearing on the prototype forms that constitute its vocabulary. For instance, the prototype of Italian tempo, Spanish tiempo, Portuguese tempo, French temps, must, in view of the derivatives, become tempore, despite the fact that the nearest common ancestor form of those variants is tempus — or at least, if French is disregarded, tempo. Italian cuore, Spanish corazón, Portuguese coraçao, cor, French coeur do not appear as core, which would reflect the Vulgar Latin declension cor, coris (instead of classical cor, cordis) but are standardized as corde, in view of the derivative cordial, a Medieval Latin formation with the suffix -ial on the stem corde.
Word Families. — The bearing which, in the prototype procedure, derivatives have on their base, establishes in the standardized international vocabulary clear continuities in derivational series. Such series, often clustered in more or less extensive word families, exist in all the control languages. In many cases, however, they have become blurred by peculiar trends or historical "accidents," and it becomes one of the most important functions of the prototype technique to give back to them their due scope. Blurred series like English letter-literal or publish-publication emerge in the international vocabulary in clear continuities as littera-litteral, publicar-publication. This is of the utmost importance for the free formation of autonomous derivatives in an auxiliary language.
The principle which governs the limitation of derivational series or word families in the international vocabulary is that of a parallel between formal and semantic continuities. Since the idea of causal is a derivative from that of cause, the corresponding standardized words appear in a formally continuous series as causa-causal. Since, on the other hand, the idea of causal is in no way a derivative from thing (although French chose, Spanish cosa, etc. are historical developments from Latin causa), the standardized international word corresponding to thing does not appear in the same series but emerges as cosa. The prototypes cosa and causa belong, in terms of the standardized international vocabulary, to two different families, although the corresponding words in the Romance control languages are all members of the one etymological family of Latin causa.
These and related aspects of the prototype technique and its results are particularly significant in the case of certain verbs and their derivatives. A more detailed analysis of some verb families may prove useful at this point.
Tener is the prototype of Italian tenere, Spanish tener, Portuguese ter, French tenir. The Latin ancestor word is tenere, which is the head of a large family of derivatives and compounds. Among the derivatives that are international and appear also in English, are tenace, tenacitate, tenor, ‘tenacious, tenacity, tenor,’ etc. In Latin the compounds of tenere appear with a characteristic vowel shift as abstinere, continere, obtinere, etc. (with derivatives of both the types abstinentia and retentio). The modern languages did not maintain this and similar vowel shifts in the compound infinitives but adapted them to the form of the simple verb, e.g., Spanish tener-abstener, French tenir-contenir, etc. However, the international derivatives from some of these compounds (abstinente, continente, etc.) force them back into the Latin pattern and the infinitives appear in the international vocabulary as abstiner, confiner, pertiner, but detener, intertener, mantener, obtener, retener, sustener.
In the case of this verb family, the different branches are interlinked by a comparatively clear continuity in meaning. The idea of ‘to hold’ is everywhere preserved: confiner is "to hold as contents" or "to hold back"; mantener is "to uphold"; detener "to hold in custody"; etc. A case where one branch of an etymological verb family has become completely detached, both in form and meaning, both in the control languages and hence in the international vocabulary, is that of Latin pendere ‘to suspend’ and ‘to weigh’ with the derivative pensum ‘something weighted, a weight.’ Its frequentative pensare ‘to weigh’ and figuratively ‘to ponder, consider’ gave rise in the Romance languages to two distinct derivational series. The words for ‘to weigh’ are Italian pesare, Spanish and Portuguese pesar, French peser (cf. also English to poise). They are completely detached, in form as well as in meaning, from the Romance words for ‘to think’: Italian pensare, Spanish and Portuguese pensar, French penser, whose standardized form is pensar and whose derivatives appear as pensative ‘pensive’ and pensator ‘thinker,’ etc. In the modern languages none of these words reveals itself either formally or semantically as a derivative from ‘to weigh.’ Hence the international word for ‘to weigh’ is not influenced by them and appears as pesar, which may be taken as a derivative from peso ‘weight’ (the prototype of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese peso, French poids, also English poise, from the abovementioned Latin pensum); and peso-pesar constitute a new family independent from pensar.
A slightly different case occurs in the family of Latin prehendere, prendere ‘to seize.’ The derivative prehensio, prensio ‘act of seizing’ is represented in the control languages by Italian prensione, Spanish prensión, Portuguese preensão, French préhension, English prehension, which yield the prototypes prehension and prension. The Latin contracted form prensio has produced another series entirely detached from the first. This series is represented by Italian prigione, Spanish prisión, Portuguese prisão, French, English prison. Phonetically all these national variants have in common the loss of the Latin n before s and the change of the e in the stem into i. Semantically, too, no connection is felt between ‘prison’ and ‘act of seizing.’ Furthermore, the derivatives built on prison — e.g., prisoner, to imprison, and their Romance equivalents — stand in close relation only to their immediate base and not at all to the original Latin family of prehendere. Thus there results a detached family prision, prisionero, imprisionar, etc.
Non-Latin Examples. —The illustrations of the prototype technique presented so far are all concerned with words either derived from Latin or built of Latin material. Additional illustrations are required for the following groups: 1) Words of Greek origin, including classical formations — borrowed directly or transmitted by Latin — as well as neologisms built of Greek word-material. 2) Words of Germanic origin which penetrated into the Romance languages in post-classical times and have become fully assimilated. 3) Foreign words which were taken over at various times from various sources outside the Romance-English language group and which have become assimilated to a higher or lesser degree.
1. — In the case of words of Greek origin it happens quite often that formations which have the semantic value of derivatives are formally detached from what might be taken as their base. In the standardized vocabulary they exert consequently no influence on the latter's form. Thus the international form of therapeutic has no bearing on that of therapy, for although one is clearly the adjective pertaining to the other, there is no direct derivational relationship between them. Both are ultimately derived from an identical third, the Greek verb therapeuein. ‘Therapy’ appears in the international vocabulary as therapia and ‘therapeutic’ as therapeutic. The semantic interdependence of the two is formally as little accounted for in the international vocabulary as in the vocabularies of all the control languages. They appear in the Dictionary as two unrelated entries.
In other instances the formal relationship by derivation which did exist in Greek has been totally severed in the modern languages which treat these words exactly like those of the type therapia-therapeutic. This severance is often due to the fact that members of a given derivational series in Greek were taken over by Latin or the modern languages as individual words whose connection with other Greek words of the same family (separately taken over by the same languages) was not made apparent in their forms. Greek phlegmatikos was actually a derivative from phlegma on the inflectional stem phlegmat-, yet this latter word appears in no modern language and certainly in none of the members of the Anglo-Romance control group in a form corresponding to the old inflectional or deriving stem. It is represented everywhere by the Greco-Latin nominative and appears correspondingly in the international vocabulary as phlegma, uninfluenced by its companion adjective phlegmatic.
In most words of Greek origin, however, the formal continuity of derivational series emerges in the international vocabulary as clearly as it does in the case of words of Latin origin.
2. — Next to Greek, the most important non-Romance contributors to the international vocabulary are doubtless the Germanic languages and dialects. Their role in the international vocabulary gives rise to two special observations.
There are a good many instances of English words of Germanic origin which are related to words in the other control languages by Indo-European cognateship. Examples are beech and Spanish haya; father and Italian padre; brother and French frère; etc. In all such instances the Germanic form (provided of course there is perfect formal and semantic correspondence) can be considered a contributing variant that adds to the international range of the word in question. As for the prototype technique, words of this category must be standardized exclusively on the basis of their Romance variants. Here the inclusion of Germanic cognate forms would produce prototypes on an Indo-European basis which is much too narrow to support an international vocabulary. Thus French frère Italian fratello (with a suffix that may be disregarded), and English brother establish the internationality of a word which is represented by the standardized form fratre, determined without reference to the Germanic variant.
A related and considerably more important problem is that of words of Germanic origin represented by borrowed variants in the Romance control languages, whether or not they are supported by an inherited form in English. Most words of this category were taken over by the Romance languages during the early Middle Ages when Germanic supremacy, especially in the fields of law and warfare, made itself felt in all parts of western Europe. If the English form of such words is available (and generally it is), it can again be considered a variant of the Romance forms, fit to add to the international range of the word in question but not suitable to enter into the determination of its prototype. French hareng, Italian aringa, Spanish, Portuguese arenque are all Romance variants of West Germanic haring and thus identical by Germanic cognateship with English herring and German Hering. The meaning of the word raises no new problems. It has full international range throughout the control languages. For the determination of its prototype the inclusion of the English and German variants would produce a result on a Germanic basis. The exclusion of English and German produces the prototype haringo which is the form by which this word is represented in the standardized international vocabulary.
3. — As for the standardization of foreign words that were borrowed at a more recent date from different sources outside the Romance-English group, a distinction must be made between those which have become fully assimilated in all the languages of adoption and those which, having retained their original form, are always felt to be "foreign." In the first category there are a great many words of extra-European origin which were introduced into the European tongues by way of Spanish or Portuguese. In many instances the Iberian languages show a closer similarity to the phonetic structure of the original than the second-hand borrowers. For instance, the equivalents of English carafe in the other control languages are Italian caraffa, French carafe, and Spanish/Portuguese garrafa. The last named, which comes closest to the original Arabic gharrâf, would determine the prototype of all the modern variants as *garrafa if the initial g- as a trait limited to one control or source unit could not be overruled by the initial c- found everywhere else. The resulting international form is carrafa.
Derivatives from these relatively recent loan words are not very frequent. Where they do occur, they influence the prototype in exactly the same way as in all other cases. An example is the international word for ‘tea’. Italian tè, Spanish te, French thé, English tea correspond to the name of this plant and beverage in the Amoy dialect of China; Portuguese cha and Italian cia (a special word for ‘teaplant’) reflect the Mandarin variant. The combination of these two branches might prove quite problematic if it were not for the existence of the international derivative theina which serves to determine the prototype of the base word as the.
Finallv, foreign words which have been introduced into the control languages in comparatively recent times and have retained their foreign character, do so also in the standardized international vocabulary. Examples are: allegro, aria, imbroglio from Italian; cargo, matador, rancho from Spanish; bouquet, bureau, chassis from French; budget, interview, reporter, standard from English; hinterland, kirschwasser, landwehr from German. In some cases the modern languages have built on these foreign loans independent derivatives of which only the endings have to be standardized. Thus we have interviewar on interview, standardisar on standard, etc. In the Dictionary such "foreign" words are entered without accent marks and diacritical signs except when such a procedure would suggest an absurd pronunciation. Thus we have French defaite instead of défaite but German kümmel. English words reveal at times by their spelling whether they were internationalized on a British or American basis.
Summary of Definitions. — The following formulations are not intended to be self-explanatory. They are summaries of the foregoing analyses which serve to elucidate them and provide pertinent illustrations for them.
1. Eligibility. — A word is eligible in the international vocabulary if it occurs — with corresponding meanings and in forms deviating from etymological identity by nothing more than a meaningless affix — in the current or historical vocabulary of at least three of the source units, Italian, Spanish/Portuguese, French and English and also German and Russian; it carries with it all formations differing from it in both form and meaning by the addition or omission of a "normal" affix, provided such formations occur in at least one of the units listed.
2. Form. — The form under which a duly admitted word enters the international vocabulary is the prototype or nearest documented or theoretical ancestor form common to all its variants as well as to the stems of their derivatives in the contributing languages; it is determined in such a way that its variants in the source languages and the stems of their derivatives deviate from it only in accordance with the characteristic behavior of the languages they represent — with the proviso that the resultant form must never be conditioned by a trait restricted to one single contributing variant.
Meaning of International Words. — The criteria which determine what shall or shall not appear in the standardized international vocabulary are all concerned with words considered simultaneously as forms and expressions of meanings. Both the form and the meaning of a given word must have the required international range to assure the word of representation in the standardized vocabulary. Yet, while the problems arising in this connection are smoothly covered by a set of rules in so far as they are concerned with matters of form, the implications of the internationality of meaning are often delicate.
Negatively speaking, a word which is represented in the required number of control languages by "identical forms" with different meanings, must be excluded from the standardized vocabulary. The point may be illustrated by reference to the standardized form planger which corresponds to Italian piangere, Spanish plañir, French plaindre, and (archaic and dialectal) English to plain. The Latin ancestor form plangere signified ‘to beat (with a noise); to beat one's breast (in grief); to lament aloud.’ The Italian variant means ‘to weep, sob, or wail’; the Spanish form signifies ‘to groan, lament’; the French one, ‘to pity’; in English the word formerly had the meaning of ‘to complain.’ The different languages went different ways in developing the meaning of their variants, and the word would not be represented at all in the international vocabulary if it were not for the phrase planger se de ‘to complain of or about,’ for which the Romance variants supply the required three-language agreement.
Now, the various meanings of the simple verb planger in the ethnic languages might still be recognized as vaguely related, and it might be argued that the discrepancy in the meanings of Italian piangere and French plaindre differs only in degree from the discrepancy in the meanings of for instance French liberté and English liberty which are not quite alike either.
However, in the case of liberté-liberty the divergencies are concerned with overtones and connotations due to specific associations and traditional usage. On the other hand, it is the very concept of French plaindre, not a peculiar set of connotations, that differs from that of Italian piangere, and if for the two a common conceptual basis were to be found, it would have to be traced back to Latin and could not be said to be available in either one of the modern variants.
If a concept in this sense is defined as a nucleus of thought crystallized in a word form as its adequate expression, it follows that liberté and liberty represent the same concept; plaindre and piangere represent different concepts. The connotational divergencies in the first example do not affect its representation in the international vocabulary; the conceptual differences of the second exclude it as such from the international vocabulary. That it does occur in it as part of the reflexive planger se is a different matter.
The meaning to be established for a given international word is the nuclear concept which its ethnic-language variants have in common. This does not signify that an international word cannot be modulated by connotations, emotional overtones, and the like. All these things, precisely as in each one of the ethnic languages, are matters of style. If, let us say, the international word perla has been established as the form representing the concept ‘the shelly concretion of nacre found in the pearl oyster and used as a gem,’ there is obviously no reason why it should not be used with reference to an efficient houseworker. In doing so the basic definition is not abandoned, just as the use of the English word pearl in such a context does not imply that the word stands for the concept ‘efficient houseworker’ but merely that it is to be suggested that the efficient houseworker is as valuable as the shelly concretion in the pearl oyster. Here the semantic continuity between the conceptual core and the metaphor is not broken. If it were broken, the meaning "efficient worker" would be a second concept represented by the same word form. An illustration of this latter type is the English word star which can be used for a luminary of the stage or screen without the implication that he or she may be compared to a celestial body. This particular development by the way is not international. The German or French words for ‘a celestial body’ can of course also be used with reference to a superior actor or actress but not without the clearly metaphorical implication that the person in question is to be called a celestial body in the firmament of the Thespian art. In both the languages mentioned the detached meaning of English star (the concept ‘a superior actor or actress’) is often represented by just that word borrowed in its English form.
In cases where the semantic break between a conceptual core and a mere metaphoric extension is sufficiently international or occurred at an early time in the language of origin of a given word, the result is that the international form stands for two or more conceptual cores. Thus, from the Latin point of view there was a perfect continuity in the semantic development of the verb intendere: from ‘to stretch out or towards something’ by way of ‘to attend, direct one's attention to’ to ‘to intend, purpose.’ From the extension ‘to direct one's attention to,’ Medieval Latin developed the new core meaning or concept ‘to understand’ which survives in the Romance languages. The current meaning of French entendre ‘'to hear,’ is a further development of ‘to understand’ and remains monolingual. Internationally, ‘to intend, purpose’ and ‘to understand,’ although they both are offsprings of the same semantic ancestor (‘to direct one's attention to’), appear as two distinct concepts. They constitute the two basic meanings of the international word intender.
Concepts in the sense here envisaged are naturally not always international. The nucleus of thought, ‘with one's hands on one's hips,’ expressed by the word ‘akimbo,’ is clearly monolingual. Other languages can circumscribe it with the help of a phrase, e.g., French les mains sur les hanches, but from the French point of view this is as little a concept as les mains sur les épaules ‘with one's hands on one's shoulders.’
English is particularly rich in terms of this sort. Most of them are represented by words belonging to the Germanic stock of the vocabulary, as bleak, to befriend, brittle, etc.; but there are also a good many English words of Romance origin which the language uses to express peculiarly English concepts, as casual, eventual, domineer, etc.
These and similar monolingual concepts are not represented as such in the international vocabulary. They are units of thought or ideas which have crystallized as clear nuclei in definite word forms only in one language. The other languages express them by various noncrystallized phrases, and so does the international vocabulary which must follow international usage.
- Theory and Principles
- Method and Techniques
- The International Vocabulary
- SPELLING AND PRONUNCIATION
- EXPLANATORY NOTES
- ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE DICTIONARY
- INTERLINGUA-ENGLISH DICTIONARY (A-Z online word entries)