The Neo-Romance Languages

by Edo Bernasconi

from Esperanto aŭ Interlingua, La Chaux-de-Fonds: Kultura Centro Esperantista, 1977, pp. 86-110

11.1. Introduction

If we agree on the Eurocentric sociopolitical theses of the Neo-Romantic school, it is also logical to accept a language built on the basis of a corresponding methodology. If we further agree with the theses of Alexander Gode, it is clear that we will also tend to accept Interlingua as a linguistic concretization of those theses (on the basis of the prototypistic etymological technique).

In this chapter we will examine from a closer point of view how a Neo-Romance language looks and functions, and we shall grant special treatment to Interlingua. Our purpose is not to "demonstrate" that Esperanto is more suitable than Interlingua; that is an impossibility, because the goals of the two languages are different, and so the methods of construction are different, and the results of the planning technique, i.e. the two languages, are essentially different.

It is not to be wondered at that the Neo-Romance planned languages are complicated: in the perspective of the Neo-Romanticists, this is not a downcheck, but a logical consequence of a basic postulate ("the international language must be Neo-Romance").

But this chapter also has two other purposes: the first is the following. We will demonstrate that Interlingua does not always respect Gode's methodology: its structure is in places incoherent and incongruous with its pasic postulates. Interlingua, then, is not "natural" and "100% prototype-based": to the contrary: there are many "artificial" (arbitrary) characteristics in it. The second purpose consists in the presentation of an "error grammar" of Interlingua (taken from Interlingua periodicals).

11.2. Phonogy and Orthography (1)

The most important planned languages utilize the Latin alphabet; the autonomist school (to which Esperantist interlinguists belong) generally use only a phonological orthography; the Neo-Romanticist school, on the other hand, uses other systems.

Until 1910, the Neo-Romanticists took steps to work out writing systems which were supposed to succeed in linking a phological orthography with a "natural" appearance. In this way a phonological system was applied to a planned language, Idiom Neutral (1902), which curiously resembled French: eksepsion (exception), nasion (nation), serv (deer). (2) We will find a later analogous solution in Novial (1928): sesa (to cease), seremonie (ceremony), mesene (Maecenas), sone (zone, belt), etc...

Molenaar, in his Universal (1903), did the same with Romance material that was to be pronounced as per German customs, as in: seduzer (to seduce), komenzment (beginning), facer (to do), vincer (to conquer), zent (hundred), zerv (deer), etc. (3)

Later on, the Neo-Romanticists discovered, probably because of the appearance of the (otherwise) autonomist language project Ido (1908) that, to attain "direct understandability," the orthography was much more important than the problems of phology. Von Wahl wrote that "it is quite simply impossible to wish to work out a phonetic [= phonological] orthography on the basis of pronunciation, if we do not want to see happen what happens in some projects in which the orthography has been so crippled that many well-known words have become unrecognizable ... If we take as a point of departure the written language, it can be demonstrated that the historical form of the root is the most widespread..." (4) These considerations lead to ever more common attempts to work out an orthography on the basis of the common characteristics of the Romance languages, e.g. with the double value of c ("k" and "s"), g (hard "g" and soft "g"), s ("s" and "z"), t ("t" and "ts"), y ("i", "y" and "ü"), and the double consonants cc, nn, ss, ll, rr and, finally, the letters qu ("k", "kv", "kw") and x ("ks", "gz", "kz").

In some projects, e.g. in Interlingua, two orthographies have been proposed: one is "etymological," with the sign-groups th, ch, ph, y (e.g.: physiologia), the other is more "popular" (although no less historical), with t, c/k, f, i (e.g.: fisiologia). In Interlingua today, the most widely used orthography is the "historical" or "etymological" variant.

It is clear that the transition of the Neo-Romanticist interest from the phonological language structure to the etymological state of the external appearance of the language gave birth to many phological and etymological studies about a few words -- but killed the tendency toward interest in phonology, which on this account has almost completely disappeared.

The Neo-Romance languages, conceived as tools for passive (reading) understanding, have never stimulated phonological studies.

11.3. Morphology and Syntax

Our goal cannot be to present a comparative grammar of the different projects, nor to present the differences between the systems of Esperanto and Interlingua. The reader will find here only typical cases that characterize the appearance and working of the different Neo-romance languages.

One thing that strikes you when you read an Interlingua textbook is the fact that the morphology and syntax in no way depend on the etymological rules of prototypism. The rationalization of the Neo-Romance grammar occurred in a very arbitrary and artificial way. If Gode really wanted to sythesize a common inter-Romance language (a Western Ursprache), he went only halfway.

In all Neo-Romance languages, the morphology is very much reduced: it is based on rationalization of the linguistic structure of the Romance languages and of English, with somewhat more or somewhat less analytic or synthetic tendencies. The inflectional foundations of Latin are only rarely preserved (e.g. only in an old project, as in Isly's Linguum Islianum, 1901).

11.3.1. The Article

In all the Neo-Romance languages there general exists a single definite article: le (as in Interlingua), or li (as in Occidental), or, more rarely, el (as in European). There also exists, almost always, an indefinite article (un).

11.3.2. The Adjective

As in all Western languages there are two types of adjectives: primitive adjectives (as in French bon [good], grand [large]), and adjectives derived from roots belonging to other grammatical categories (as in French mystérieux [mysterious], nation-al [national], effect-if [effective], ann-uel [annual], etc.). In Interlingua there is no characteristic adjective ending (such as -a in Esperanto), as in the Esperanto: bona, granda, mistera, nacia, efika, jara, etc.

The primitive (or, more correctly, root) adjectives derived according to the rules of prototyping should end in two ways.

The first Latin group (-us/-a/-um) should be transformed into adjectives ending in -o (if masculine or neuter) or in -a (if feminine);

The second Latin group (-is/-is/-e) should be transformed into adjectives ending in -e. But this is not the case. Let's take a look:

The adjectives
have the following prototypical forms:
But in Interlingua, this time the sacred rules of prototyping are not respected, and the Interlingua forms are:
  bon (good) and nove (new).
Analogously, the adjectives
have the following prototypical forms:
Interlingua respects only the first prototype, and not the second:
  breve (short) but civil (civil).

This is arbirary, artificial, unsystematic. And in addition it runs counter to the rules of prototypism.

We'll discuss the formation of derived adjectives in a later chapter.

11.3.3. Conjugation of the Verb

One of the characteristic traits of almost all Neo-Romance languages is the fact that in conjugating verbs they do not make use of personal endings. The situation is the same in Interlingua, where we say: io ama (I love), tu ama (thou lovest), ille ama (he loves) ... etc. But let us here note that the form ama is prototypical only for the 3rd person signular. The prototypical form for the first person (I-person) should be *amo, and for the second *amas (thou lovest). Here, too, Interlingua has simplified in a direction that is very distant from the spirit of prototyping, and, let us acknowledge this, also from the spirit of the Romance languages.

An important point is the indicative. In almost all Neo-Romance languages there exists only the present tense [Esp. as-tenso], the past tense [Esp. is-tenso] and the future tense [Esp. os-tenso]. In Interlingua, too, where we say:

io ama [Esp. -as] io ama-va [Esp. -is] and io ama-ra [Esp. -os]

Amava as a past tense? In fact, amava is a prototype only for the first and third person of the Romance imperfect and not of the perfect! This is against the etymological rules of prototypism and against -- once again -- the spirit of the Romance languages. This is true to such a degree that the friends of Interlingua have long discussed among themselves whether a separate form for the perfect should be reintroduced. (5)

The Neo-Romance languages, furthermore, are not unified in conjugation. Two tendencies have always existed in parallel: a tendency toward analysis (as, for example, in Occidental) and a tendency toward synthesis (as, for example, in Interlingua):

Esperanto mi amas (I love) mi amis (I loved) mi amos (I shall love) mi amus (I would love)
____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
Occidental yo ama (yo fe amar)
yo amat
yo va amara yo vell amar
____________ ____________ ____________ ____________ ____________
Interlingua Io ama io amava io amara io amarea

Furthermore, amarea (conditional, Esp. us-modo) is etymologically very strange and unsatisfying: the prototypical form should be: *amaria, amarias, amaria, amariamos, amariatis, amarian.

It is clear that in the Neo-Romance languages the compound tenses are formed with the helping verb to have (Interlingua: haber) plus the past participle. The passive verb forms are formed with the helping verb to be (Interlingua: esser), plus the past participle.

In Interlingua the imperative [Esp. u-modo] had a curious fate: it almost gives the impression that it was nearly forgotten. In fact, its ending is the same as that of the present tense. This solution is good enough for the second person singular (ama! = love!), but how to express the second person plural? The expression vole ben has been proposed (vole ben amar = y'all love), but this form does not express the imperative well from a semantic point of view. For the first person plural, a tiny monstrosity is used: vamos (vamos amar! = let us love!).

11.3.4. Personal Pronouns

In Interlingua they are:

io (I), tu (thou), ille (he), illa (she), illo (it)
nos (we), vos (you), illes (they), illas (they), illos (they).

There exist so-called "oblique" forms, i.e. forms used after prepositions, as accusatives or as datives:

me, te, le, la, lo, nos, vos, les, las, los

Double use (dative and accusative) is bothersome, the more so because we don't know whether the dative in Interlingua has to precede the accusative or inversely, and because we don't know whether these "oblique" pronouns precede or follow the verb. So,

He gives it to you can be translated indistinguishably as:

Ille te lo dona
Ille lo te dona
Ille lo dona te
Ille dona lo te
Illedona te lo
Ille dona lo a te, etc.

of which the first five can equally well mean He gives you to it!

A solution will probably be found in the normalization (according to the rules of prototyping) of the corresponding syntagms in the Romance languages. But this work has not yet been done.

11.3.5. Nouns

Two genders are known in the Romance languages: masculine and feminine. In the majority of the Neo-Romance planned languages (with the exception of Neolatino, presented in 1947 by André Schild), there is no grammatical gender. This is obviously in violation of the rules of prototyping, at least with respect to Interlingua.

Because of this lack of gender, in several Neo-Romance planned languages the south Latin noun and adjective plurals -o and -a (prototypical) are transformed to a more "neutral" -e, or disappear completely. For example, in Occidental we write: lingu-e, commerci-e, detriment-e (prototypical forms: *lingu-a, *commerci-o, *detriment-o). The endings -o, -a are preserved only in the case when they mark the sex of a living being: fili-o (son), fili-a (daughter). Not always, of course: e.g., rey (king) becomes not rey-a, but rey-ina (queen).

Interlingua, to the contrary, preserves the prototypical -o and -a, which then have two functions:

a) In non-living beings, these endings are a simple part of the prototype, and can show nothing about gender: for example, in lingua, commercio, detrimento. And in fact their personal pronoun is always illo (it), and never the prototypically expected illa (she), ille (he), illo (it).
b) In living beings, the endings -o and -a can indicate the "natural" sex of the being itself: fili-o (son), fili-a (daughter). But not always: from vacca (cow) we don't get *vacco (bull), but must use instead tauro. Panthera (panther) does not indicate sex (*panthero does not exist): the ending -a is simply a part of the prototype. The complications in this respect are many. For example, from heroe (hero) we get heroina (heroine), and not *heroa, as from rege (king) we get regina (queen), and not *regia. So from gallina (hen) we expect *gallo (or *galle: rooster), analogous to the Italian gallo. But no: the official word is gallino, which is everything except prototypical.

We can note here that remembering the endings -o, -e, and -a, which have no meaning (for lifeless objects) besides being an "etymological pedigree of prototypicality" is not easy.

For example, let's consider the following adjectives:

lingu-al (linguistic), commerci-al (commercial), niv-al (snowy), nation-al (national).

The respective basic nouns are:

lingu-a (language), commerci-o (commerce), niv-e (snow), nation- (nation).

We see, then that the same adjective ending -al corresponds to nouns with the non-functional endings -a, -o, -e, and no ending at all.

Let's also note that nation- (nation) is an erroneous prototype. The correct form should be *natione.

But these prototypical endings may have one function: to distinguish between roots which, without them, would be homophonic, (6) as:


So if we say medi-al, we do not know whether this word comes from medio, media or medie. And will calce-ari mean "having to do with a shoe" or "having to do with a sock"? So it will be convenient not to use such adjectives and risk annoying misunderstandings. But sometimes the Romance language tradition makes solutions available to us: for example, in the Romance languages ov-al can come only from ov-o, while ov-in only from ov-e.

Some readers might now start to think that it suffices to know the gender and the characteristic endings in Italian to guess the prototypical ending in Interlingua. This is true in some cases, such as:

Interlingua Esperanto Italian French English
panico (masc.)
domenica (fem.)
maschera (fem.)
guida (fem.)
orzo (masc.)
schizzo (masc.)
panique (fem.)
dimanche (masc.)
masque (masc.)
guide (masc.)
orge (fem.)
esquisse (fem.)

But this does not always work: sometimes it is the French grammatical gender which indicates to us what the correct etymological ending is, while Italian offers us only "false friends": (7)

Interlingua French Esperanto Italian English
abricot (masc.)
gland (masc.)
ulcère (masc.)
intrigue (fem.)
anecdote (fem.)
ulcero, vundo
albicocca (fem.)
ghianda (fem.)
ulcera (fem.)
intrigo (masc.)
aneddoto (masc.)

Here is something curious: abricoc, of Arabic origin, has not been Latinized. Harengo, Germanic, has been Latinized. And why with -o instead of -a (in parallel with the Italian aringa)? The creators of Interlingua acted arbitrarily.

11.3.6. Affix Derivation in the Neo-Romance Languages and in Esperanto

We have noted that in Esperanto there is no true derivation, because the affixes are real words. The so-called Esperanto "derivation" is in fact agglutination. But for the moment (and for the sake of argument) let's agree to speak of Esperanto "derivation." There are two types of derivation.

The first type of derivation makes up the processes of transformation from (e.g.) noun to adjective, from verb to noun, etc. This is the transformation of a root from one grammatical category to another. This happens in the national languages, too:

Consider the following examples from French (with Esperanto equivalents):

nation (naci-o) [nation]
accepter (akcept-i) [to accept]
malheureux (malĝoj-a) [sad]
transforms to nation-al (naci-a) [national]
transforms to accept-ation (akcept-o) [reception]
transforms to malheureu-sement (malĝoj-e) [sadly]

We note that in the Romance languages this categorical transition is very complicated and unsystematic, while in Esperanto, thanks to its characteristic (category-indicating) endings -o, -a, -e, -i, far fewer problems occur. This is the relatively ideal linguistic situation of which Tauli speaks: "In an ideal situation it should be possible to derive semantic and grammatical categories from any word at all, if necessary. This concerns mainly the transition from one word-class to another." (8)

The second type of derivation concerns the addition to the root of units of meaning (by addition of morphemes), which transform its meaning. This system also exists in the Romance languages.

Here is a French example:

fils (filo) [son]
maison (domo) [house]
+ prefix "bo"
+ suffix "et"
beau-fils (bofilo) [son-in-law]
maisonn-ette (dometo) [cottage]

In this field, too, Esperanto is simple: for every suffix or prefix there is only one unit of meaning, and, if we want to add a unit of meaning to a root, it suffices to add a single affix.

On the other hand, the Neo-Romance languages follow Latin usage, according to which there are many affixes having the same meanings, and therefore a single meaning can be expressed in several ways (with several affixes), as per the history of the Romance languages.

The Neo-Romance languages, because they are then no more than a template of the Romance languages, are just as complicated and unsystematic as the latter. Speaking of Interlingua, Detlev Blanke claims that its "system of word derivation becomes a mere etymology of the Latin languages, and has no meaning for active and regular word-formation." (9) Even Gode agrees with this. In the Introduction to the Interlingua-English Dictionary he claims, i.a., that in Interlingua word-formation is unconstrained. For example, from plure (several) pluralista (pluralistic) can be derived, and further on pluralisticitate (pluralism), but "quite certainly, there exist psycholinguistic inhibitions (based in Romance tradition and usage) that hinder the users from forming other words from the (theoretically possible) group of 'pluralistal'..." (10)

Let's see a few examples:

From universitate (which means "university," but comes from the adjective universe by addition of the abstracting suffix -itate) we can derive the adjective univers-it-ari (by addition of the adjectivizing suffix -ari, en a word where -it- is the abbreviated form of the above-mentioned suffix -itate). But from the word ver-itate (constructed exactly like univers-itate) we cannot derive the adjective ver-it-ari (which would correspond to the Esperanto ver-ec-a), because this kind of adjective does not exist in the Romance language!

Similarly, in Interlingua the suffix -ace corresponds to the Esperanto -ema. But the Esperanto -ema can be added to any root, on condition that the whole thing have meaning, while the Interlingua -ace can be added only where the Romance languages add it:

Interlingua Italian Esperanto English
morder / mord-ace
viver / viv-ace
mordere / mord-ace
vivere / viv-ace
mordi / mord-ema
vivi / viv-ema
to bite / biting
viver / lively


creder / credule
 not: credace!
tolerar / tolerante
credere / credulo

tollerare / tollerante
kredi / kred-ema

toleri / toler-ema
to believe / gullible

to tolerate / tolerant (11)

Let's see some other examples:

-- To transform a verb to a noun, in Esperanto you simply change the ending (-i becomes -o): movi (to move) --> movo (a movement). In Interlingua we have to use several suffixes, but selecting the right one depends on the factual use in the Romance languages. So you might theoretically say, from mover (to move), movition or movita. But you have to say: movimento (motion).

-- To transform a noun to an adjective, in Esperanto you change the ending (-o becomes -a): virino (woman) --> virina (female). In Interlingua there are several suffixes, with identical meanings, but not freely usable: theoretically, you might say (from femina): feminal, feminic, feminil, feminesc. But you have to say: feminin. The same holds true from the adjective derived from populo (popolo, [a] people). This adjective might be populal, populic, populin, populesc, populil, populari. But in actual fact you have to say popular (popola, having to do with the people).

-- To indicate the basic idea of "ergative" in Esperanto, you use the suffix -igi. In Interlingua, several means have to be utilized: for example,

from nette (pura, clean)

from carbon (karbo, coal)

from triste (malĝoja, sad)

might come:

but in fact only

might come:

but in fact only

might come:

but only
a-nett-ar, etc.
nett-ar (purigi, to clean) is correct.

carbon-isar (karbigi, to turn to coal) is correct.

a-trist-ar (malĝojigi, to sadden) is correct.

The chains that imprison Interlingua are heavy indeed. It may indeed be true that it can be read without study by anybody who already knows a Romance language or two, but the costs of this are very high: rigidity of expression, tremendous redundancy, so a lack of economy, relatively high difficulty in case of active use.

Esperanto, to the contrary, follows the path of reason. Out of invariable words, just as in Chinese, we can economically construct new words. Here is an example which I have taken from Claude Piron: (12)




membro del familia
family member

habitante del mesme domo

scholar del mesme classe

membro del mesme tribo
fellow tribesman

...etc., etc. ...

We immediately observe that, where Chinese uses only tong (and Esperanto: sam-), Interlingua uses com-, co-, and where Chinese regularly uses ren (and Esperanto: -ano), Interlingua uses -ota, -alista. Words are not economically translatable in Interlingua: sam-dom-ano becomes habitante del mesme casa, et al. ... The Esperanto system, then, looks relatively easy for a Chinese, while the disorder of Interlingua will seem to him difficult and, in the main, arbitrary.

So we note that Esperanto can function as a very synthetic language (like German), or like a relatively analytical language (like French). Interlingua, to the contrary, can be only analytical. As an example. let's look at the following German expressions:











konscia pri propra personeco
consciente de su personalitate
conscious of one's personality

spitanta la forton
opponite al fortia
defying force

proksima al la realo
proxime al realitate
near to reality

inda je vivo
digne de esser vivite
worthy of life

Even quite long agglutinations can be expressed in two ways in Esperanto: for example, here is a Swedish expression:

civilförsvarsutbildning which in Esperanto can be, synthetically, civildefendotrejnado, or, analytically, trejnado por civila defendo (civil defence training).

11.3.7. A History of Derivation from the Verb in the Neo-Romance Planned Languages

Several naturalistic affixes (such as the suffix -ero, indicating profession [for example: barba = beard --> barbero = barber]) are relatively easy to define and can be systematized more or less regularly. But there are some of them which can be used only with great difficulty.

These are the affixes that must be used in derivation from verbs, i.e. in the derivation of new words from verb roots.

How to regulate the following examples of word families, as:

ex-pon-er (to show)
fac-er (to do)
ex-posit-ion (a showing), and
fact-o (deed)
ef-fect-o (effect)
in-fic-er (undo), etc.?

During its first years, the Neo-Romance school took two routes. Either irregular word-families were accepted (which means that there was no attempt to establish derivation and synthesis rules, and words simply had to be looked up in the dictionary, where they lay just like independent roots), or steps were taken to "regulate" these word-families, allowing few deformations and so hindering the intended immeditate understandability.

The first route was followed by Molenaar in his Universal (1903). In this language, the word infanz (childhood) is independent of the root infant (child); the verb reziper (to receive) in no way gives birth to rezepzion (reception); solver (to solve) does not give soluzion (solution); between szienz (science) and szientifik there is no formal relationship; imprimer (to print) is independent of impres (printed matter), and leger (to read) cannot formally generate lektor (reader [person who reads]). In this way, Italia, Francia, Spania (Spain) have no formal relationships with the adjectives italian, franzes, spaniol, etc., etc.

Idiom Neutral, contrariwise, followed another route: its authors tried to establish a set of rules that could synthesize the words that are called "international," but these rules often turned out to be failures. So, if from adapt-ar (to adapt) we regularly get adapt-ation (adaptation), adapt-ator (adaptor), from invent-ar came several "unnatural" words: invent-ation (invention), invent-ator (inventor). This forced the developers of Idiom Neutral to accept parallel "irregular" words: invention, inventor. And in any case there remained a grave problem, for which Idiom Neutral never found a convenient solution: how to regularize the word-families mord-/mors- (bite), scrib-/script- (write), curr-/curs- (run), leg-/lect- (read), etc.? Several solutions were proposed: by Blondel (1907), Creux (1910), Meysmans (1912), Moore (1912). (13) But the near-definitive solution was proposed by Von Wahl in 1922, after 13 years of research.

According to Von Wahl, the word roots could be formally divided into two categories: The roots which he called "static," and the roots which he called "dynamic." These names are simply ways of categorizing, and indicate nothing about the semantics of this division.

The "static" verbs, like dist-a-r (to be distant), proven-i-r (to come from), et al., form their derivatives on the basis of the form of the present participle (dist-a-nt, proven-i-ent). So the nouns that derive from these verbs are: dist-a-nt-ie (distance) and proven-i-ent-ie (origin). The "dynamic" verbs, on the other hand, form their roots on the basis of two different forms: (a) the root of the infinitive itself, or (b) in case of addition of the suffixes -ion (noun), -ure (noun), -or (person involved with), -iv (adjective), -ori (adjective), on the basis of a specially formed root which is called the "supine" additional root.

To discover the supine additional root we proceed as follows. First, remove the ending -r from the infinitive of the verb (if the preceding vowel is -a- or -i-). If the preceding vowel is -e-, remove -er. So:



If the remaining part of the root ends in a vowel, add -t. If the remaining part of the root ends in -d or -r, transform both to -s. In all remaining cases, the remaining part of the root is the supine root itself.


cre-a-r (to create) --> cre-a-t
exped-i-r (to send) --> exped-i-t
atribu-e-r (to attribute) --> atribu-t
explod-e-r (to explode) --> explos-
adher-e-r (to adhere) --> adhes-
direct-e-r (to direct) --> direct-
cre-a-t-ure (creature)
exped-i-t-ion (a sending)
atribu-t-ion (attribution)
explos-ive (explosive)
adhes-ion (adhesion)
direct-ion (direction)

Later an additional rule was added: verbs ending in -nyer transform -y- to -t-. For example:

extiny-e-r (to extinguish) --> extint- --> extint-ion (extinction)

Von Wahl's rules, applied to Occidental, allowed a few exceptions:


sed-e-r (to sit)
ced-e-r (to yield)
vert-e-r (to turn)
ven-i-r (to come)
ten-e-r (to hold)
mov-e-r (to move)
irregular supine additional root


Three verbs can have a regular root and an optional irregular supine root:

f-a-r (to do)
d-i-r (to say)
scr-i-r (to write)
f-a-t-, fact-
d-i-t-, dict-
scr-i-t-, script-

With these roles Von Wahl succeeded in attaining almost 95% regularity in the formal Romance word families. (14) 5% remaining unsatisfying: in fact, a system to completely regularize the word family, without crippling it, cannot be found. So: act-e-r (to act) instead of the international *ag-e-r, because of act-ion (an action, a stock certificate), act-iv (active); direct-e-r (to direct) instead of the more international *dirig-e-r because of direct-or (director), etc.

Determining the supine additional root is not too complicated. More complicated is the determination of the infinitive when only the supine is known. In fact, does expedit-ion come from exped-i-r or from expedit-e-r? Does mors-ure come from morr-e-r, mord-e-r or mors-e-r? No rule can help us make this determination.

It must nevertheless be said that the majority of adherents of the Neo-Romantic and prototypistic schools have not accepted these rules, which are, despite everything, convenient. They are of the opinion that neither Latin nor the other Western European languages possess (formal) "rules of derivation," and that on this account the introduction of a rule foreign to the spirit of the Romance language group must be refused.

It is just for this reason that in Interlingua words are accepted as individual roots, independently of the existence of rules of synthesis. We take note of this fact in this example: the different words belonging to the formal word family around the verb "fac-e-r" (to do) "originate" from four different roots; formally unrelated between themselves:

as in fac-er (fari, to do, make)
as in fact-o (faritaĵo adeed, or also: fakto, a fact)
as in per-fic-er (plenfari, finfari, to complete)
as in ef-fect-ive (laŭfara, as done)

But we shall also see this later.

11.3.8. The Affixes in the Neo-Romance Languages

As we have already seen, the derivational system via affixes in language such as Occidental is a system whose autonomy is only seeming: synthesis is indeed possible, but "correct" (i.e. acceptable to the language's norm) means having a parallel form in the Romance languages. The criterion of correct usage is, then, external to the system itself, and depends, from a psycholinguistic viewpoint, on a knowledge of one or several Romance languages. On the other hand, Occidental's system certainly allows the synthesizing of international words, but the meaning of a word synthesized in such a way cannot be interpolated by analyzing the meanings of the individual affixes which have been added to the basic meaning of the root. Occidental's system, then, can deliver linguistic forms, but never meanings.

Considerations about Interlingua are the some. But something is added: the derivational system of Interlingua is much more imprecise than that of Occidental, and because of this it does not even allow synthesis of the pure forms of the international words. It allows only analysis of forms: and this analysis, of course, can lead to extrapolation of nothing concerning the meaning of the word analyzed.

Esperanto has 10 prefixes and 31 suffixes. We can add around 10 additional affixes used mainly in scientific prose. And with these few particles we can construct the entire language.

Occidental has 14 prefixes and 68 suffixes, often synonymous. (15) Interlingua (16) has about thirty prefixes and seventy suffixes. We cannot analyze the functionality of all of them: we shall examine only a few. What we say about some of them will also define the functionality of the others.

a) To indicate the idea of "to cause to be" Esperanto uses only one suffix: -igi; Interlingua, to the contrary, is wasteful, because it uses at least ten different means. Here are a few:
From triste (trista, sad) comes at-trist-ar, or also con-trist-ar (tristigi, to sadden), and not in-trist-ir, trist-isar, trist-ificar, trist-ar (as nett-ar).
From melior (pli-bona, better) comes a-melior-ar (plibonigi, improve), and not melior-isar, melior-ificar (as in just-ificar, petr-ificar).
From grande (granda, large) comes ag-grand-ir (grandigi, to make large), and ne in-grand-ir (as im-bell-ir), grand-ar (as nett-ar), ag-grand-ar (as a-melior-ar), etc.
From belle (bela, beautiful) comes im-bell-ir (beligi, to beautify), and not ab-bell-ir (parallel to the Italian abbellire), im-bell-ar, com-bell-ar (as con-trist-ar), bell-isar (as real-isar), etc. In addition, we also have the verb bell-ar, but it comes from bello (milito, war), and means "to make war."
From real (reala, real) comes real-isar (realigi, to realize), and not real-ificar (as just-ificar), ir-real-ir (as im-bell-ir), etc.
From juste (justa, just) comes just-ificar (justigi, to make just), and not just-isar (as real-isar), a-just-ar (as a-melior-ar), etc.
From nette (pura, clean) comes nett-ar (purigi, to clean), and not a-nett-ar (as a-melior-ar), nett-ificar (as just-ificar), etc.
From rubie (ruĝa, red) comes rub-esc-er (ruĝigi, to redden), and not rub-ificar (as just-ificar), rub-isar (as real-isar), etc.
From perfecte (perfekta, perfect) comes perfect-ionar (perfektigi, to perfect), and not ap-perfect-ar (as a-melior-ar), or im-perfect-ir (as im-bell-ir).

Happily, something in shining in this chaos; we can always say: facer triste, facer grande, facer belle, facer real, facer juste, facer nette, facer rubie, facer perfected...

b) To indicate "a person who works not only for his own pleasure, but also for gain" (i.e. for the role of the Esperanto suffix -isto), Interlingua has at least 10 suffixes:
(komerco, business)
(misio, mission)
(aviado, aviation)
(barbo, beard)
(arto, art)
(servo, service)
(kuraca, therapeutic)
(invento, invention)
(kemio, chemistry)
(historio, history)
(komercisto, businessman)
(misiisto, missionary)
(aviadisto, aviator)
(barbisto, barber)
(artisto, artist)
(servisto, servant)
(kuracisto, doctor)
(inventisto, inventor)
(kemiisto, chemist)
(historiisto, historian)
c) Esperanto has a single suffix that indicates the abstract noun: -eco. Interlingua has 7 suffixes with the same sense:
(malsana, ill)
(vera, true)
(libera, free)
(propra, one's own)
(afabla, kind)
(frida, chilly)
(koketa, coquettish)
(alta, tall, high)
(malsan/ec/o, illness)
(ver/ec/o, truth)
(liber/ec/o, freedom)
(propr/ec/o, property)
(afabl/ec/o, kindness)
(frid/ec/o, chilliness)
(koket/ec/o, coquetry)
(alt/ec/o, height)

It is known that the ending -ec-, always possible, is often superfluous in meaning. We have blocked it in places where it is superfluous and not absolutely necessary. Translator's note: there is in fact a difference in nuance between vero (truth, as an abstract quality) and vereco (truth, as a characteristic of something), for instance; but many people simply choose to ignore this difference as being unimportant.

11.3.9. The Alternation of the Root Allomorphs in the Interlingua Verbs

We have seen that the word families in Interlingua are not linked together by meaning but only by formal means. So if we consider the semantic family of the Esperanto verb paroli (to speak), we will discover that it is represented in Interlingua by at least four roots. This means that for a single semantic family of words we have to utilize forms which derive from 4 different formal word families (17) :

Esperanto: Interlingua: Family of:









paroletta (wordlet)
parola de honor (word of honor)
verbalisar (to verbalize)
oralitate (mouth-ness), ore (mouth)
orificio (orifice)
parlamento (parliament)
parlatorio (place for speaking)
altoparlator (loudspeaker)

We have seen that within the same formal word-family the basic root can alternate with a secondary root. We are here speaking of constrained alternation (because it depends on the surround morphemes) of the allomorphs. They are, then, found in a complementary distribution. There are verbal allomorphs of two types: the basic allomorphs (like fac-), the so-called supine allomorphs (e.g. fact-) and the secondary allomorphs (e.g. fic-):

For example, the morpheme ten (of the verb ten-er [to hold]) can be found int: de-ten-e-r (to have), inter-ten-e-r (to bring to life), man-ten-e-r (to handhold), ob-ten-e-r (to receive on request), sus-ten-e-r (to sustain), re-ten-e-r (to hold back)

The allomorph tent can be considered a "supine allomorph". It is met i.a. in: de-tent-ion (incarceration), ob-tent-ion (receiving on request), sus-tent-ive (sustaining), re-tent-iv-itate (tendency to retain).

The allomorph tin is called a "secondary allomorph". We find it in: abs-tin-e-r (to abstain), con-tin-e-r (to contain), per-tin-e-r (to pertain).

We note that the secondary family of tin has its own supine allomorph, tent, which is identical (in form) with the supine allomorph of the basic allomorph ten. E.g.: abs-tent-ion (abstinence), con-tent-ive (tied) (18) .

Some supine allomorphs can give birth to an entire "secondary family". Here, for example:

basic root supine allomorph secondary allomorph supine secondary allomorph
caper (to catch)
cap-ace (capable)

capt-ar (to capture)
capt-ura (capture)
  and even:
capt-ur-ar (to capture)

re-cip-er (to receive)
re-cip-iente (receptacle)

re-cept-a (recipe)
con-cept-o (concept)

There are verbs which have two alternative supine roots: E.g.: flu-e-r, which has the two alternative supine allomorphs fluct- and flux- (as in fluct-u-ation [oscillation], flux-o [flow], and the verb prend-e-r (to take), with prens- and pris- (as in prens-ion [taking], and pris-a [capture, taking]).

Here are some further examples

Dic-e-r [to say] has a supine root dict, which gives birth to the verb dict-ar [to dictate]. By analogy, pasc-e-r (to herd) has a supine allomorph past, from which comes past-ur-a [pasture], and even the verb past-ur-ar [to herd). You should know that among caper, captar and capturar (see above) there is no difference of meaning. We can say the same about the pair pascer and pasturar. Contrariwise, there is a great difference of meaning between dic-e-r and dict-ar. But, indeed, this is known: the derivational system of the neo-Romance languages (and especially of Interlingua) cannot lead to derivation of meanings, but only of forms. And we have seen that Interlingua's system is more suitable to formally analyze words, but not to synthesize them. (19).

There are no rules for formally deriving the additional allomorphs of the basic allomorph. Contrariwise, there are a set of rules for deriving the supine allomorphs:

The verbs in -a-r lose the -r ending and add -t:
  am-a-r [to love] gives rise to am-a-t-;

The verbs in -e-r lose the ending -r and the linking vowel -e. Instead they add -it:
  hab-e-r [to have] gives rise to hab-it-;

The verbs in -i-r lose the ending -r, and add -t:
  aud-i-r [to hear] gives rise to aud-i-t-;

There are a hundred irregular verbs (generally belonging to the category of verbs ending in the linking verb -e-). For these verbs rules have been worked out, but they are so complicated and full of exceptions that it is easier to learn them by heart (20).

To analyze the international words defective verbs must also be introduced. For this reason there are in Interlingua several basic allomorphs which exist only in derivations, and never as a primitive verb. For example:

Somebody can be, in Interlingua, loqu-ace [talkative], but the verb * loqu-e-r does not exist. In interlingua you can con-stru-e a house ... but the berb *stru-e-r [to build], with the allomorph struct, does not exist. So a defective verb can have a supine allomorph ... and even an additional allomorph!

For example, the defective *grad-e-r (supine allomorph gress) gives rise to the additional allomorph gred (with supine allomorph gress). which we can find in the existing ag-gred-e-r [to aggress], con-gress-o [congress].

One of the most complicated efectives corresponds to the semantic content of our (Esperanto) verb "koni" [to know, to be acquainted with]. This is the defective basic root nosc, with the supine allomorph not, and the additional allomorph gnosc (with, in turn, the supine additional allomorph gnit). We find these words in not-or-i [famous], co-gnosc-e-r [to know], co-gnit-ion [knowledge], etc., etc...

11.3.10. Archaisms and synonyms

Interlingua's vocabulary contains several synonyms (21), which have been introduced for several reasons, but mainly becaŭse they are the legitimate result of the application of the rules of prototyping to the linguistic material of the Romance languages. Some of these words are, contrariwise, "concessions" to already existing planned languages (i.a., mainly to Occidental). These pairs are not different in meaning: they therefore represent no real enrichment of the language. Becaŭse of this, several Interlingua-ists consider them useless (22).

According to the law of prototyping, by which, in case of disagreement between the control languages, we have to go back to Latin, to buy must be translated into Interlingua by emer (in fact: French acheter, Italian comperare, Spanish comprar, Latin emere, English to buy). But in Interlingua there is also another word, comprar, which is accepted by applying the rule by which we can introduce a necessary word even if only the southern Romance languages possess it. Here are other examples:

prototypical form meaning synonyms (archaic and not)
mais (almost unused) but sed (a pure Latinism, used mainly in the United States), and ma (a concession to Occidental, used mainly in Europe).
io I ego (a Latinism, from which: egoismo).
Also jo, yo (an Occidentalism).
nove nine novem (a Latinism, used because nove also means "new").
---- (sign of ?) an (a Latinism).
esque (a concession to Occidental).
alique something alco (South Romance), and
alicosa (South Romance).

Etc., etc.

11.3.11. Transition from one grammatical category to another

The transition from one grammatical category to another in Esperanto is relatively simple: it generally suffices to change the grammatical ending. For example, we get the adjective from a noun by transforming the noun ending -o to the ending -a.

In Interlingua there are no endings that define grammatical characteristics; so this category transition is done with affixes -- or sometimes can't be done at all (if, e.g., in the Romance languages a noun has no corresponding adjective). Let's see a few examples:

Nouns Adjectives





dumtempa, interim-a

temporary, interim

So we see that in Esperanto the single ending -a corresponds to a mass of endings in Interlingua: -al, -ese, -ar, -ic, -atic, -in, -ari, -esc, -il, -ose, -an, -erne, -e, -atic, -ative, -atori, -ori, -ee, -ente, -estre, -este, -ide, -i-ente, -ific, -itive, -ive, -c, -ual, -ian, -ol, etc... So thirty different suffixes!

So we won't wonder if nouns derived from verbs, which all end with the suffix -ion, transform into adjectives with different suffixes:

adjective form is compensat-ori
adjective form is illustrat-ive
adjective form is intent-ion-al
adjective form is react-ion-ari
adjective form is sedit-iose
(ribel-a) (23)

Another quite complicated category transformation is the transition from a verb to its corresponding noun. In Esperanto this process is relatively simple: you change the ending -i to the ending -o (on the condition that the root belongs to the semantic category "verbal roots". In case it doesn't you add the ending -ado. The mechanism in Interlingua is very complicated, and, simplifying somewhat, it looks like this:

1. Verbs that form the noun derived from the verb by using a regular supine allomorph:
a) -ion: consolar / consolat-ion (konsoli / konsolo)
b) -ura: martellar / martellat-ura (marteli / martelado), nutrir /nutritura (nutri / nutro).
2. Verbs that use the infinitive as a verb-derived noun:
i.a.: haber /le haber (havi /havo), deber /le deber (devi / devo).
3. -age: abordar / abord-age (albordiĝi / albordiĝo).
4. -amento, -imento: arrangiar / arrangi-amento (aranĝi / aranĝo).
5. -o: ruitar / ruit-o (brui / bruo).
6. naked root: regrettar / regret (bedaŭri / bedaŭro).
7. -or: caler / cal-or (varmi /varmo), amar / am-or (ami / amo).
8. -ata, -ita: promenar / promenata (promeni / promeno), blanchir / blanch-ita (blankigi / blankigo).
9. -antia, -entia, -ientia: sperar / sper-antia (esperi / espero), patir / pat-ientia (pacienci / pacienco), arder / ardentia (bruli / brulo).
10. Verbs that form the verb-derived noun with an irregular supine allomorph:
a) -ion: proponer / proposit-ion (proponi / propono)
b) -ura: franger / fract-ura (rompi / rompo)
c) -o, -a: efficer /effect-o (efiki / efiko), conducer / conduct-a (konduki / konduko).

In the above example we note that the quoted suffixes are identical in meaning, because they are used in the same way. But, examining other examples, we will discover that in other situations they can also have different functions, so have different meanings.

So the suffix -ion can mean:

an action (as in ager / act-ion, an action), the result of the action (as in proponer / proposit-ion, something that has been proposed), the location of an action (as in rediger / redact-ion, where something is edited), the concrete result of an action (as in construer / construct-ion, a building).

We can notice the same regarding the suffix -age, which can mean a coordinated collection, often with an erroneous nuance (foliage [foliaro, foliage], plumage [plumaro, plumage], plantage [arbaro, forest]). After verbs it means an activity, mainly industrial or professional, or the result, place, time, sometimes even the costs (e.g.: rafinage [rafinado, refining], abordage [albordiĝo, coming-to-shore], luage [luprezo, rent], doanage [doganpago, customs fee], viage [vojaĝo, trip, i.e. route]) (24).

Furthermore, these difficulties are not unique to Interlingua: they are found in all the Western languages. For example, in French we say pâtiss-erie (a cake shop) and confis-erie (confectioner's), but pâtiss-ier (cake-baker) and confis-eur (confectioner). In Italian, to translate the Esperanto suffix -igi, there are several forms, as i.a.:

ricco / ar-ricch-ire
caldo / s-cald-are
scuro / o-scur-are
(riĉa / riĉ-igi)
(varma / varm-igi)
(malluma / mallum-igi)

An analogous example from German: the above examples are translated by:

reich / be-reich-ern; warm / er-värm-en; dunkel / ver-dunkel-n.

But this does not mean that Interlingua is easy for a speaker of German: these two languages are indeed complicated, but unequally complicated. For example, a German, who in his own language uses the adjective universit-är (from Universität, university) and regul-är (regular), cannot understand why you can say, in Interlingua, universit-ari on the one hand but regul-ar on the other. We see the same problem with the word series:

wichtig / Wichtig-keit
aufmerksam / Aufmerksam-Kem>keit
brüderlich / Brüderlich-keit
dankbar / Dankbar-keit
richtig / Richtig-keit
importante / importan-ia
attentive / attent-ion
fraterne / fratern-itate
grate / grat-itude
juste / just-essa, etc...
(there is also just-itia, but in the sence of the German Ge-rechtig-keit, justness)

11.4. Problems of semantics

Besides the formal normalization of the Romance languages (which is manifested in Interlingua with a collection of all common forms), a normalization of the meanings of those forms would also have been necessary. This is difficult. We know, i.a., that the Spanish contestar means "to answer", and not "to contest". Similarly, the French word hôpital (hospice) only formally resembles the Swedish hospital, which means "mental hospital". IED has generally taken steps to normalize the meanings, but in case of disagreement between English and French ... both incompatible meanings are accepted! So expedition means, as in the French expédition, "expedition" e.g. to the North Pole), or "a sending"), and, as in English, also "done without delay". Happily another meaning, the German Expedition (newspaper office), was not accepted.

Analogously, convention means, according to the French custom, an informal agreement, and, at the same time, according to the English convention, also a "congress" (or meeting). And adresse means "postal address", as in French sutom, but also the "address" to an audience (as per the English address).

Other terms have been normalized by taking into account only the southern Romance languages, as totevia (nevertheless), or intertanto (meanwhile).

We have seen that Interlingua's derivational system, and generally that of all the Romance languages, delivers forms but not meanings to us. So, if we take steps to analyze the combined (derived) words, we will notice that the sum of the meanings of the individual formal combination elements does not give us the real meaning of the word under examination. To be aware of its meaning we must already be acquainted with the equivalent in a Romance language.

Here are some examples:

dis-posit-ion, according to its elements, should mean the action of having been separated. In fact, it means disposition or state-of-mind.
per-mitt-er would mean to send completely, but not to permit.
con-clud-er would mean to close together, and not to conclude.
aud-ient-ia would mean the characteristic of hearing and not audience.
com-plic-at-ion would mean the process of having been folded together, and not complication.
ex-plic-ar would mean to unfold, and not to explain, etc., etc....

On the other hand, the independent use of Interlingua's affixes, used on the basis of their meanings, might lead to forms which, certainly have meaning, but which are not correct (i.e. do not belong to the linguistic norm), because analogous forms are non-existent in the Romance "control languages":

From militari (military) we could get *militariato (militarism). But the correct word is militarismo.

From affabile (affable) we could get *affabileria (affability). But only affabilitate is correct.

From sperar we could get *sper-or (hope), but only sper-antia is the correct expression.

From libere (free) we could get *liber-ie (freedom), but only liber-tate is acceptable.

From capital (capital) we could get *capital-ario (capitalist), but only capitalista is correct.

This means that there is no free word-formation in Interlingua. A derived word is correct only if an analogous form exists in the Romance languages. In other cases, even if it has a complete meaning, it is wrong.

Translator's note: in conversations with a couple of Interlingua supporters on the net, I have noticed a slight trend, possibly under the influence of Esperanto, toward a more "autonomous" attitude toward word formation than seems to have been the case when Bernasconi wrote this. For instance, I once asked whether I could use the (legitimately derived) expression "internationari auxilial" instead of the normal Romance-justified "international auxiliari" for "international auxiliary [language]", and was told (without any great enthusiasm, however) that this would be tolerated. I note, by the way, from below that "auxiliary" should have been "auxiliar", not "auxiliari". My error -- an easy one for an English-speaker to make. Though no Interlingua speaker caught me on it...

11.5 Interlingua's "errors"

According to Swiss Interlingua pioneer Prof. Ric Berger, "[Interlingua] is so well made that practice has disclosed in it no error that needs to be corrected" (25). This is something of an exaggeration. Even in the IED there are errors that should be corrected. The Swedish philologist Ebbe Vilberg has claimed that these errors may depend on the fact that the prototyping method works with respect to scientific words, but fails when daily words require normalization; this is why a language cannot be constructed exclusively on the basis of the prototyping technique. In concrete terms:

(a) the everyday vocabulary (central, intimate) has no international words;

(b) in that vocabulary there are very many peripheral and complicated concepts where the normalization of meaning is in practice impossible (26).

Furthermore, in Interlingua (IED) several words have been normalized outside the methodology of prototyping:

Interlingua Esperanto English *genuine prototype

But mainly in the morphosyntax we have given up applying the prototyping rules. For this reason we find in Interlingua the following philological monstrosities:

Interlingua Esperanto *genuine prototype
-ar, -er, -ir
*-are, *-ere, *-ire
*-o, *-a
*-o, *-as, *-amos, *-atis, *-an
  etc. etc...

In concrete terms: amar should be *amare (to love), haber (*habere, to have), audir (*audire, to hear), national (*nationale, national), civil (*civile, civil), nove (*novo, *nova, new), veritate (*veritade, truth), altitude (*altitudine, height), io/tu, ille, nos, vos, illes / ama (*amo, amas, ama, amamos, amatis, aman, I/thou, he, we, you, they / love).

We also note that the prototyping rules, from the logical viewpoint, do not suffice. They explain to us why the prototype of oeil-occhio-ojo-eye is oculo, but they explain nothing about the reason why the prototype of temps-tempo-tiempo-time is tempore (and not *tempo), and why the prototype of corps-corpo-cuerpo-body is corpore (and not *corpo), as it should be by the prototyping rule.

A rule should be added that relates the words to be normalized with their derivatives (in this case: temporel-temporale-temporal-temporal, and corporel-corporale-corporal-corporal, respectively: having to do with time and body). But this does not exist in Interlingua.

11.6 Interlingua's adherents and the prototyping rules

It should not be imagined that application of the prototyping rules is easy. In the periodical Revista de Interlingua (henceforth RdI), 32nd number, 1972, there appeared a list, already published in 1963, with 800 new words created by C. Jardel "in the style of Interlingua". In this list around 120 words (some of which had already appeared in IED) are correct (absintho, absynthe, aconito, aconite, antro, grotto, archipelago, archipelago, etc.). But the rest are erroneous, according to the results of a study by Ebbe Vilborg (27). Here are extracts:

abritar (to cause to take refuge, copied from French), accadentia (event: *accidentia), acidosa (wood sorrel, *acidula), affaller (to bend upon falling, copied from French), agacear (to agitate, *agaciar), alceo (elk, *alce), ellebore (hellebore, *helleboro), cudar (to bend at an angle, *cubitar: copied from French), grunno (muzzle, *grunio: copied from French), inrhumar (to catch cold, *inrheumar: copied from French), marjorana (*majorana: copied from French), mosto (fermenting grape juice, *musto), scudella (shot glass, *scutella), tabes (*tabe), trucculente (threatening, *truculente).

Sometimes the listed words cause one to doubt their meaning: farce (farse? chopped and spiced meat?), nappetta (small tablecloth? seeping water spring?), scolopendra (millipede or scolopendra?), uluco-uluca (according to the list, two different types of owl. But in Interlingua these two words appear as though the first were the masculine form of the second!).

In RdI (70'1972) there appeared new words absent in IED: they were first approved by a language commission consisting of experienced Interlingua-ists. But, according to Vilborg (28), some words are incorrect, such as i.a. syndromo (syndrome, *syndroma), mecena (financial supporter, *mecenate), pledar (to plead, *placitar), frete (freight, *fret), stulto (stupid, *stulte).

In the most recent such work, as well, which appeared in 1974 (29), errors swarm: there are too many words in it that are met only in 3 of the control languages (or even in fewer than 3), or there are too many Latinisms, and even some amount of incoherence: e.g. trejecto (length of the route, *trajecto), anamnesis (*anamnese).

11.6 Interlingua's error grammar

One of the individuals best acquainted with Interlingua, Swedish philologist Ebbe Vilborg, has carefully examined a magazine in Interlinga, "Revista de Interlingua" (RdI), to establish a systematic catalog of the errors that are met there. This work is very interesting, and should push other researchers into this field (30).

In the orthography we note difficulties because of the double consonants: apercipe (-pp-, RdI 25), skelettic (-t-, RdI 19), symetria (-mm-, RdI 13), escapava (-pp-, RdI 13).

But a large part of these errors have to do with the "harmonious" endings of Interlingua: phantasie (-a, RdI 22), periode (-o, RdI 16), cupra (-e, RdI 16), ferre (-o, RdI 13), januar (-io, RdI 17), jentacula (-o, RdI 17), ideogramme (-a, Currero 7), cave (-a, Currero 11), chlamyde (-e, Currero 7), myrmecophaga (-o, RdI 20), regrete (regret, in: "Les écoles de Romandie et la mystique de l'Espéranto", 1975), etc...

These ending-errors are also reflected in some derived words:

from filia comes filietta (little daughter), and not filiette, as in RdI 19; we should have gravuretta, not gravurette, as in RdI 22; from filio (son) we naturally get filietto (little son), but from turre (tower) and from arbore (tree) we should get respectively turretta (small tower) and arboretto (small tree), and not *turrette and *arborette, as the example with the word filio might suggest to us. This is difficult enough, even if absolutely prototypical.

It may be that a verb is attributed to a conjugation which is not its correct one (let's not forget that there are three conjugations in Interlingua): e.g. exercir (-er, to exercise, RdI 18 and 20), avalleva (-eva, uprooted, RdI 17). The affixes, too, are difficult to use: mainly the distinction between the two adjectivizing suffixes with the same meaning -ari instead of -ar: regulari (17, 22), scholari (24), populari (19), auxiliari (13, 14), and also sometimes -ar instead of -ari: secundar (19).

11.7. Conclusion

We have, in summary and in short, looked over the (linguistic) characteristics of Interlingua. We have become convinced that Interlingua has a very complicated, but very effective, system for analyzing Romance words. Its grammar is, to the contrary, arbitrary and opposite to the spirit of the Romance languages, but, despite this, it is suitable enough as an inter-Romance language. But if we do not agree with Eurocentric socio-linguistic theses, we immediately note that such a language will never be able to become an international language. The difficulty that it introduces for all those who don't know French or Spanish or Italian makes its dissemination impossible outside that part of Europe which is generally called "Romania" (from which, certainly, Britain, which is in no way "Romance", must be excluded, despite the claims of our friends of Interlingua).

On the other hand, though, we were able to determine that Interlingua is not faithful to its own principles: there are many artificial and arbitrary language-characteristics in it. If Interlingua truly has ambitions for the role of Romance ur-language, there is much work of correcting and amending yet to be done.


(1) Tazio CARLEVARO, The Naturalist School in Interlinguistics, Braunschweig, Linguistische Berichte (Vieweg, 1971, pp. 3-4.
(2) Louis COUTURAT, Léopolod LEAU, Les nouvelles languages internationales, Paris, Eld. de la Delegitaro, 1907, pp. 47-58.
(3) Idem, p. 63.
(4) E. DE WAHL, Spiritu de Interlingue, Cheseaux s/Lausanne, Interlingue-Institute, 2d edition, 1953, p. 8.
(5) In: Le Foro, 1961-1962.
(6) Ric BERGER, Historia del lingua international (Tomo II: 1949-1972), Morges, Editiones Interlingua, undated, p. 55.
(7) André SCHILD, quoted in: Ric BERGER, Pourquoi l'Interlingua?, Morges, Editiones Interlingua, 1971, p. 51.
(8) Valter TAULI, Introduction to a theory of language planning, Uppsala, Almqvist & Wiksell, 1968, p. 109.
(9) Detlev BLANKE, "Die alten Sprachen und das Problem einer internationalen Welthilfssprache," in: Das Altertum, 1973/3, p. 191.
(10) Alexander GODE (ed.), Interlingua-English, a dictionary of the international language, New York, Storm, 1951, pp. xlviii-xlix.
(11) William GILBERT, Planlingvaj problemoj, La Laguna, Régulo, 1962, p. 31.
(12) Claude PIRON, "(Lettre ouverte)," Mont-Soleil, Campagne 'L'Espéranto à l'école', 1975, p. 3-4.
(13) A CREUX, De Auli a Occidental, Chapelle, Institute Occidental, 1932.
(14) Fritz HAAS, Grammatica de Interlingue in Interlingue, Winterthur, 1956, pp. 18-20.
(15) Idem, pp. 31-36.
(16) Alexander GODE, Hugh E. BLAIR, Interlingua, a Grammar of the International Language, New York, Storm, 2nd ed., 1955, p. 58.
(17) GILBERT, op. cit., 1962, p. 31.
(18) GODE, op. cit., 1951, p. xxxv.
(19) BERGER, op. cit., p. 54.
(20) Alexander GODE, Hugh E. BLAIR, Interlingua, a Grammar of the International Language, New York, Storm, 2nd ed., 1955, pp. 85-88.
(21) Idem, p. 90.
(22) BERGER, op. cit., p. 53.
(23) WARINGHIEN, Gaston, Lingvo kaj vivo, La Laguna, Régulo, 1959, p. 381.
(24) CARLEVARO, op. cit..
(25) Ric BERGER, Pourqui l'Interlingua?, Morges, Editiones Interlingua, 1971, p. 19.
(26) Ebbe VILBORG, "Interlingua sen principoj", in: Fokuso, 1973/11.
(27) Idem.
(28) Ebbe VILBORG, "Novaĵoj pri Interlingua", in: Fokuso, 1973/11.
(29) E. BERGGREN, Vocabulos supplementari pro usatores de Interlingua, Stockholm, 1974.
(30) Ebbe VILBORG, "Latinaj vortoj en Esperanto kaj Interlingua", in: Fokuso, 1968/3.