A Plethora of Solutions

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This material is copyright © 1995 by Donald J. Harlow. Hard copies may be made for personal use only. Any user may make one electronic copy for personal use only. All copies must contain this copyright notice, including the date given below. No electronic copy may be located elsewhere for public access. Links to this original copy on the World Wide Web are encouraged. Please respect the conditions of this copyright notice; I simply don't want to have various unofficial (and perhaps not up-to-date) copies floating around elsewhere. Date: 2003.02.07.

          "I don't remember when, but in any case quite early, I began 
       to realize that the only [satisfactory world] language would 
       be a neutral one, belonging to none of the now living nations...
          "...for some time I was seduced away by the ancient languages 
       and I dreamed that I would someday travel across the world and 
       with fiery speeches I would convince men to resurrect one of 
       these languages for common use.  Later, I no longer remember how, 
       I came to the firm conclusion that this was impossible, and I 
       began to dream nebulously of a NEW artificial language."

                                            --Zamenhof, L.L., in his letter 
                                              to Nikolai Afrikanovich Borovko.

          "Is each little language to have its own nation?"

                                            --Remark attributed to an exasperated 
                                              Clemenceau during the redrawing of 
                                              the map of Europe, Versailles, 1919

It is a characteristic of human beings that, when faced with a problem, they immediately set out to find a solution. In Western society we have codified an abstract version of this principle as the so-called Scientific Method. There are several steps in scientific method, but in simplest terms these reduce to two:

Define a question;
Find its answer.

Questions demand answers; problems demand solutions. Here is where we must turn to the engineer's variant of this approach:

Determine a problem;
Solve it.

The language problem demands a solution rather than study, and those of us who are interested in the language problem are -- being human -- interested in finding such a solution. Solutions aren't hard to find. There are, perhaps, too many rather than too few. The problem lies not in finding a solution, but in determining which of several solutions is the best one. In this chapter we're going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of six such solutions:

A subset of the ethnic languages;
Two ethnic languages (this is really a variant of 2);
One single living ethnic language;
One single "dead" and therefore "neutral" ethnic language;
One single constructed language.

Let's look at these solutions, and the relative advantages and disadvantages, merits and demerits of each.

Laissez-faire. This is the standard solution to the language problem. Laissez-faire does not (quite) ignore the problem, but also does not attempt to enforce an explicit solution, merely letting history, usage and the exigencies of politics, economics and plain old kick-butt force decide which language or languages are going to be paramount at any given moment in world history.

There are two major obvious advantages to laissez-faire, one economic and one (at least from the current Western point of view) philosophical. In the first place, adoption of this solution would simply leave things as they are, and there would be no major changeover dislocations or one-time expenses incurred. In a world where a third of the human race lives on the edge (far too often, over the edge) of starvation, this point is worth considering. But there is a corresponding disadvantage. As we saw in the last chapter, there is a certain financial drain involved in a multilingual situation, an ongoing expense that, in the long run, will exceed any possible one-time startup expense of implementing some other solution. We have to decide whether a single large investment now is better than a lot of little payments in the future, on a permanently revolving charge account. The $100,000,000 a year spent by the United Nations on language services in 1976, little as that may be in terms Americans understand, could, as I pointed out in the last chapter, have made the difference between mere hunger and killing starvation for more than a million children around the world in that year.(1)

The philosophical advantage of laissez-faire derives from the fact that it most closely fits our current Western political and economic theories. It has been an article of faith in the West for many years that, although you can engineer rockets, dams, highway systems, telephone networks and the like, you can't engineer social systems and factors such as economics and morality -- despite the fact that our Constitutional government is one of the most successful examples of social engineering in history. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels violated this belief when they proposed their "dialectical materialism" or Communism, and they were roundly condemned for their ideas long before anyone ever took the trouble to put them to the test. Similarly, it has been popular for years to damn Franklin Roosevelt for the social engineering he undertook to ameliorate the Great Depression, even in the years when we were still making regular use of his solutions. And most people would put language into the social category, rather than into the category of tools such as the telephone, on which engineering is philosophically permissible.

I might add here that Marx and Engels, along with later disciples such as Lenin, while perfectly willing to engineer a socioeconomic system, apparently themselves had a laissez-faire attitude toward language. Communist theory predicted that the eventual world language would automatically evolve as international cooperation developed among the workers in the worldwide Communist society. Esperanto, whose structure and vocabulary were heavily influenced by the bourgeois idealism that had infected its creator, was given no chance of success.(2)

Since a firm belief in social laissez-faire is usually religious or pseudo-religious in its intensity and logical basis, True Believers are unlikely to be willing to recognize its disadvantages. But if we consider language as more in the nature of a telephone or a bridge than a moral or economic system, the value of an engineered solution becomes immediately apparent. If you want to cross a canyon, you don't walk ten miles around just because Grampa did, or hope that a lightning storm will knock a convenient tree down across the gap; you build a bridge. Similarly, if you want to talk to someone in Weehauken, you don't wait for a string to magically appear between his tin can and your tin can; you invent the telephone. Looking at language as a tool rather than as a social system enables even those of us with firm beliefs in laissez-faire to see that some engineering to solve the language problem is tolerable, and may well be advantageous.

Who profits from laissez-faire? In the long run, nobody. In the (historical) short run, the laissez-faire method always gives certain groups linguistic advantages over other groups. But those advantages have always proved ephemeral, and sooner or later the group on top has, at least for a time, found itself on the bottom. Let's look at a couple of examples from history.

After the Medieval wars of succession between France and England, the French succeeded in expelling the English from continental Europe and established the primacy of the French language in many different fields. French became a language so important that it was widely used even in countries where it was not a native tongue (as at the court of the Russian Empire, for instance). Even after the Napoleonic disaster, French retained its importance for at least a century; the Congress of Vienna, convoked in 1815 to decide what to do about a defeated France, was conducted entirely in French, as 140 years later the First Bandung Conference of unaligned nations, "unaligned" largely in opposition to the English-speaking powers, would be conducted in English.

But French had become an important language not because of any innate superiority but because of the power -- political, economic and military -- of France. And when those declined, so did the French language. The fate of French was sealed by the imperialistic policies of the Bourbon kings, as opposed to the colonialist policies of the British. When the time came to compete militarily on a global scale, France was not ready; it could keep the British out of Europe, but could not keep them out of North America and Asia. The fate of French was sealed more than two hundred years ago, at Pondicherry and Québec. If French hung on to its privileged position for another century and a half, this was due more to tradition than to the reality of the situation, and the ultimate demise of French as the (though not a) world language was not prevented by the tardy establishment of a strategically unimportant French African empire and equally unimportant outposts in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. By the middle of the 19th century, although French retained its semi-official international status, most educated people recognized that English was the up-and-coming language; this was why the lexicon of Volapük, the first widely-known constructed language, was designed with English rather than French in mind. By the end of World War I French had to yield equal status to English; and today French, with fewer speakers than (for instance) Bengali or Japanese (3), should be considered a relatively minor language on a global scale, although not everyone yet realizes this.

Now let's take a look at our second example: English. The advantages of the laissez-faire approach for English speakers are obvious. English is currently on the top of the heap. It is the second most spoken language in the world, after the putonghua of China.(4) If the figures for English are nowhere near as optimistic as various pundits would have us believe, as indicated in the preceding chapter, neither are they terribly depressing; more people speak English as a second language, for instance, than speak most languages, including French, as a first language.

We may be justifiably proud that almost ten percent of the world's people speak English today. Yet we should reemphasize the implied corollary: if ten percent of the world's people speak English, ninety percent do not! Furthermore, consider that ten percent figure in its historical framework. At the end of the reign of Queen Victoria ten percent of the world already spoke English; and at the height of American power, in the early 1950's, the figure was eleven or twelve percent! (5)

The popularity of English, like that of such predecessors as Latin and French, is based not on the inherent superiority of the language, but on the global clout of the United Kingdom and the United States. The United Kingdom lost much of its physical power (if not, immediately, its moral force) in the late 1940's, after almost two centuries as the global power. The United States has, to a great extent, replaced it on the world stage. But what of the future? The expulsion of America from Southeast Asia in 1975 was a significant event; the transfer of global economic power from North America to East Asia is an all but accomplished fact today; and we have seen America go, in a few short years, from a creditor nation to a nation sunk far more deeply in debt than the worst nightmares of any third-world debtor. These economic changes, which began in the 1970's, promise to be far more significant in America's future than the political changes in Eastern Europe that occurred at the end of the 1980's -- political changes which, in any case, will most likely be far more profitable for newly united Germany than for the United States.

If an economic collapse of the United States occurred, it would almost certainly leave English in place as the preferred language of international middle management for a decade or so. But eventually, under laissez-faire, new languages would replace it, and would in their turn be replaced by others. At the moment, Japanese seems like a likely candidate, but German shows promise of becoming resurgent in early 21st century Europe, and such dark-horse candidates as Chinese, with its billion speakers, or Russian, language of a country with great reserves of untapped natural resources and technological know-how, cannot be counted out.

We may accept the policy of laissez-faire if it pleases us to do so; but it leaves us at the mercy of forces over which we have no control. Far better for us, as men and women, to take command of our own linguistic destinies and make the future easier for our children, who might otherwise find themselves forced to learn Chinese or Yoruba.

A subset of the ethnic languages. This solution has been proposed several times, most notably by Joseph Stalin, the wartime Soviet dictator. Furthermore, a variant of it has been tried and, in fact, accepted -- in many international organizations -- with results that are less than satisfactory.

Stalin apparently proposed the idea (he called it Zonal Languages) with the intent of using it to expand Soviet power at a time when his country had little direct influence outside its own borders. Stalin proposed that the world be divided up into a series of zones, each of which would have its own interlanguage. Russian, of course, would be one of these languages, and would help extend Soviet hegemony into Eastern Europe. In the event, Zonal Languages turned out to be unnecessary for this, and the idea was allowed to die out. According to Ulrich Lins, Stalin foresaw his zonal languages eventually merging together into the single language of the (Communist) world.(6)

Some similar system has been accepted as standard policy in many postwar international organizations. The United Nations, for instance, today has six official/working languages; UNESCO has several more, depending upon circumstances; and the European Economic Community considers as official every national language used within its borders -- though not every ethnic language; such widely-spoken but unofficial languages as Breton or Catalán are not counted, and indeed several of Europe's national languages -- Letzeburgish and Gaelic -- are given short shrift in practice.

The idea does permit a certain amount of democracy in linguistic affairs. Almost all residents of the EEC can speak one of its official languages, at least as a second tongue. The languages of the U.N. are less representative of the world as a whole, but we can estimate that perhaps forty percent of the world's population speak one of its own official languages, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian or Spanish.

Yet this putative solution, valid in some degree for international bodies, is, for most of us, no solution at all. Such bodies are only representative of the world's people -- they are not the world's people themselves. If American and Chinese delegates can communicate with each other at the United Nations, through interpreters, this does not mean that the average American and Chinese citizens can communicate with each other in the same way; the expense is too great, given the high costs of interpreters and translators, and in any case information is still filtered. This sort of multilinguicity is at best a half-hearted solution of the language problem, and only at the highest levels -- not where most of us live.

Furthermore, such a solution is, more than any other engineered solution, subject to the same problems as laissez-faire -- because it is, in fact, just another kind of laissez-faire. It's no accident that, with six official languages, U.N. headquarters in New York depends to an overwhelming degree on English; nor that the U.N.'s offices in Geneva use French to a greater extent than any other language; nor, indeed, that German -- which is not even an official U.N. language! -- is spoken with great frequency at the U.N.'s Vienna offices. The choice of languages has historically been dependent upon economic and political clout, not rational decision-making. Lest you doubt this, consider the conditions under which Arabic became an official language of the United Nations, at the time of the Great Energy Crisis of the seventies; and remember how Chinese was upgraded from official to working language, coincident with the replacement of the Taipeh government in the U.N. by that in Beijing. There is nothing to guarantee that, in some unlikely but not impossible future, the U.N. would not decide to replace the English of a group of nations of economically depressed yeomen with, for example, a Japanese dominant in global technology and economics.

We've been talking about official use of languages. But what if everybody decided to learn six different languages? Wouldn't communication be easier then? Maybe ... but consider how unlikely it is that everyone in the world -- or even a large part of the world's population -- would or could devote the personal time and resources necessary to learn five or six foreign languages. Suppose that it takes about a thousand hours to learn the average language to the point where you can converse in it -- would you be willing to devote five thousand hours -- over one year of your waking life -- to the improvement of the world's communication situation? ...Somehow I didn't think so! Of course, if the number of languages to be learned were fewer than five or six...

Two ethnic languages. The ultimate variant of the multilingual situation is that in which everybody learns one or both of two foreign languages. This solution gained some popularity in the English and French speaking worlds in the thirties and forties, with the Monde Bilingue movement. The idea was that everybody in the world would learn either English or French, with English-speakers learning French, French-speakers learning English, and everybody else learning one, if not both, of the two interlanguages. That way, everybody could communicate with a minimum of effort.

(Well, almost everybody. A Nigerian who had learned English in addition to her native Yoruba and an Algerian who had learned French in addition to his native Arabic might still have a communication problem. But the problems of the "uncivilized" peoples of what we now call the Third World were, in those innocent days, considered unimportant -- when they were considered at all.)

The idea is not a bad one; it decreases effort, while maintaining a certain pretense of linguistic democracy. Of course, the languages involved would have to be properly chosen. While English and French were the original choices for this particular alternative, Monde Bilingue has long since passed away, its only legacy a few Anglo-American and French towns that have culturally twinned and become subsumed into the world-wide Sister Cities movement. The best choices today might be Chinese and English, on the basis that these two languages, between them, are already spoken by about thirty percent of the world's people -- almost a third -- and with relatively little overlap! Whether the economically-superior Japanese or the militarily-powerful Russians, for instance, would accept such an arrangement is another question.

We need not dwell at length on the advantages and disadvantages of bilingualism. It is certainly superior to multilingualism. But if two languages are better than six, why not...

A single living ethnic language. Well, why not? We know that every ethnic language is a satisfactory means of communication, at least among those who speak it. If we select a single living ethnic language as a common language for the world, the amount of work necessary for disseminating it will be minimized -- most people will have to learn only one language, and some will not have to learn a new language at all.

There are two obvious problems involved in selecting an ethnic language. One is difficulty of learning. None of the living ethnic languages is particularly easy to learn or use. We are, of course, accustomed to thinking of English as relatively simple, compared with languages such as Russian or Japanese -- and indeed it is, if we don't consider such minor matters as spelling, syntax, prevalence of idioms, contextual rules for selecting synonyms, etc. Other peoples may make similar claims for their own languages. Learning a single ethnic language such as English may be considerably easier than learning half a dozen; it is not, as we shall see, the optimum solution.

William Auld, the Scottish Esperantist poet and essayist, gives one example of the results of the choice of English as a mode of communication within an international group, and the problems caused by its difficulty:

"I was once sitting on a cafe terrace on a Greek island. Next to me sat an international group of young people. One of them, an American, was the only native English speaker, but English was their conversational language. Being myself a native speaker of that language, I paid careful attention for an hour to their discussion.

"It started out quite vigorously, with a lot of laughter, but little by little quiet set in, and at the end of the hour, after some silent viewing of the sea, the group broke up and left, in groups of two or three. I felt that the meeting had been, to some degree, a fiasco. The fact was that the vocabulary of the non- English speakers was truly limited: the same clichéed sentences were repeated several times, until they were no longer adequate. The subjects were limited for the same reason, and people very soon grew tired of them. At the same time the poor American was often forced to repeat a sentence that hadn't been understood, or look for an easier expression. Not to mention his pronunciation, which even I sometimes had difficulty in understanding..."(7)

The other problem is, of course, the cultural-political one of deciding which language to select. In terms of number of speakers, Chinese -- and by this term we understand, not the complex of divergent dialects ordinarily referred to as "Chinese," but the Mandarin-based national language known to the Chinese as the putonghua -- is far superior to English; if Chinese were chosen as the world language, fewer people would have to learn it. But English (which just happens to be my language) is also spoken by many people. Furthermore, it is the preferred language, internationally, in many fields of endeavor; and where it is not the first-place language, it is often the second. French can, and does, lay claim to the mantle of international language on the grounds of its traditional international status; and there have been, at least in the past, rumblings from the old USSR and modern Russia that Russian certainly deserves consideration. We might also mention Spanish and Arabic, each of which is spoken as the primary language in many countries.

There is a third, truly fundamental, problem in choosing any living ethnic language, a problem of which most English-speakers seem to be blissfully unaware. That is the problem of, to use a phrase coined by my friend Mr. William Harmon, "speaking uphill." Let me give three examples of this.

Bill Harmon once spent some years in Japan as the representative of an American shipping firm. As an Esperantist, he found himself far more fully integrated into Japanese life than most Americans visiting that country, and he played an active role in the Esperanto movement there.

Once upon a time an Esperantist friend of his, a man who had been selected to interpret for a group of Japanese coming to the United States, asked Bill if they could get together for an afternoon to practice speaking English with each other. Bill agreed, and they spent an afternoon and evening speaking nothing but English. When the time came for him to leave, the Japanese, as he was going out the door, stopped and looked back. In Esperanto he said: "Let's not speak English to each other anymore, Bill. I find that I don't like you very much in English." (8)

My best friend, Chien Ming-chi, is a Chinese woman from Shanghai. She grew up expecting to become a teacher of English, and to that end she took every high-school English course that was available, passing with flying colors; then she spent five years of college continuing along the same path. She taught English for many years at East China Normal University in Shanghai -- her specialty was modern American drama -- and she once spent twenty-one months in the United States, improving her English at San Francisco State University.

She has also studied Esperanto. She took one semester of the language in her last year of college. Some thirteen or fourteen years later she was drafted to help with Esperanto courses at her university; and to that end, during her stay in the United States, she spent six weeks studying Esperanto at the San Francisco State University intensive summer courses. From 1983 until 1990 she taught Esperanto, as well as English, at her university in Shanghai, and she has been responsible for the Esperanto courses taught under the DeCal program at the University of California at Berkeley since that time.

You can see from the above description that she has a much more extensive background in English than in Esperanto. Nevertheless, when we talk on the phone we always speak in Esperanto. Once, when she had written me that she was starting a new English class, I suggested that we might talk in English for a few minutes, for practice. Her agreement was enthusiastic. But within three minutes, we had tacitly switched back to Esperanto -- her doing, not mine. Apparently she felt less comfortable "talking uphill" with me. It was easier to be friends on a common level.

Just how forceful and pernicious this problem can be was brought home to me in a very direct way some twenty-five years ago. At that time my wife Angela and I, living in Great Britain, regularly attended the weekly meetings of the London Esperanto Club. One of the other members of the club was a man well known among Esperantists as a clear-thinking intellectual with outstanding oratorical capabilities ("silver-tongued" was an adjective used to describe him). Outside the Esperanto movement, he was also recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on Eastern European (particularly Soviet) jurisprudence, and was a sought-after lecturer on the subject at London University College and the London School of Economics.

One night, after a meeting, he joined a group of us for an after-meeting snack at a local restaurant. When it came time for him to order, for the first time I heard him speak in English: "Aye vood layk de hom on de ekz," very slowly and deliberately.

Intellectually I knew, then as now, that this man was an outstanding human being. And I confess to a certain shame at the sudden, unbidden gut feeling that translated itself to my mind as: "What is this person doing here? He should be down on Skid Row, sitting in the gutter with a bottle of cheap wine in his hand!" Because clearly he was not my intellectual equal; he couldn't even talk straight!

(It is worth mentioning that Prof. Ivo Lapenna received his ham and eggs only after my Spanish-speaking wife's intervention -- because the waitress, a Spanish girl, did not understand English at all!)

The point here is that when two people speak to each other in a language which is native to one of them, but not to the other, they establish a social polarization between them, showing which one is higher on the social ladder and which one is lower, who will be the active provider of influence and who the passive acceptor. In some situations this is tolerable -- the relationship between a diner and a waiter, for instance, has already been determined, even before the two of them open their respective mouths -- but in a situation in which the two individuals involved are trying to establish a relationship between equals, it can be fatal. Chinese, for instance, may be a suitable medium of intercourse for an American and a Japanese; but for an American and a Chinese it is far less acceptable. This is the legacy of having to "talk uphill," and the most serious disadvantage to the choice of a living ethnic language as an international language.

A good illustration of language as a symbol of cultural superiority was provided some years ago by a short discussion of China on NBC's Sunday Today show. In the course of the program, one reporter commented with wonder and pride on the number of people he found speaking English in China; when, within two minutes, he mentioned in another context that very few Chinese English-speakers know more than a very few phrases of the language, it became apparent that to him "speaking English" in China didn't refer to a medium of communication between Chinese and Westerners, but to a symbol of Western, specifically American, cultural dominance. To the Chinese, of course, English is a means of accessing certain aspects of Western culture -- notably, Western technology -- and to profit from our knowledge they are willing to come to us as supplicants, as students. How long this will last after they know all that we know and much that we don't -- for, some recent commentary notwithstanding, history doesn't stop with us, and we as a culture have not shown much willingness to learn from others, at least in recent decades -- is anyone's guess.

A single dead ethnic language. If living ethnic languages are not suitable, why not choose a dead one? That would be fairly "neutral," wouldn't it? Could not, for instance, an American and a Chinese communicate on an equal basis in Latin? Believe me when I state, from experience, that Latin would give the English-speaker little social advantage over the Chinese-speaker!

Sure enough, the neutrality of dead languages is assured. The usual quoted criticism from most opponents of reviving Latin or Attic Greek is the fact that their vocabularies are not suitable for our modern world, being hopelessly out of date. In fact, it would be a minor job of linguistic engineering to make Latin vocabulary, for instance, fully modern, as the history of modern Hebrew proves.

No, the major problem with Greek, Latin or whatever is not their primitive vocabularies, but their structural complexity. As with the living ethnic languages, the dead ones suffer from a surfeit of unnecessary grammatical ballast. Learning times are long, and success in learning is not guaranteed. Latin, for instance, could play a role as an international language -- but probably not an effective one.

The alert reader may suggest that, if the vocabulary of Latin can be engineered to bring it up to date, so can the grammar. In fact, this is precisely what the Italian mathematician Giuseppe Peano did with his Latino Sine Flexione. But any significant modification to the grammar of a language changes its very nature, unlike a change in vocabulary; the engineered language would no longer be a dead ethnic language, but a newly-created constructed language of the a posteriori type whose roots simply happened to be more localized than most.

Of all the solutions involving ethnic languages, this one is probably the best. It is not, however, the best of all possible solutions.

A single constructed language. This, of course, is where we have been leading. If ethnic languages are too complex and too non-neutral, what about a language constructed specifically for the purpose? This is not a linguist's solution -- linguists are scientists, after all, and their purpose is to observe and record already existing facts and from them deduce already existing natural laws, not to create something new -- but it is an engineer's solution.

A constructed language will, by its nature, be neutral; it has no body of native speakers (or, in one case -- that of Esperanto -- no more than a thousand or so). So an American, a Japanese and a Chinese can speak together as equals.

Most constructed languages have been shorn of the ballast that encumbers the ethnic languages. Some have not -- languages are constructed by different sorts of men for different sorts of reasons -- but by and large the constructed languages are far easier to learn and use than the ethnic languages.

It will occasionally be argued that a constructed language is artificial, and therefore inappropriate for actual use by natural, living human beings. Let's consider the context in which this argument is made. Such a criticism is usually

registered on artificial paper
using an artificial typewriter --
after the critic has sleepily climbed out of his artificial bed,
showered with water pumped artificially uphill,
brushed his -- often artificial -- teeth
with an artificial toothbrush
dipped in artificial toothpaste,
and put on his artificially produced
artificial fiber clothing.
He will then have eaten a breakfast created artificially
(and containing lots of artificial chemicals!)
and driven to his artificial office,
where he will do artificial work,
in an artificial vehicle
along an artificial roadway,
while (hopefully) obeying many artificial laws.

How at this point he can complain about the "artificiality" of any constructed language bemuses -- and amuses -- me.

The real problem with a constructed language is not lack of neutrality, difficulty of learning, or even its inherent artificiality. The problem is the same as the second one we encountered for the single ethnic language: which one do we choose? If there are between three and five thousand ethnic languages in the world, there have been more than a thousand constructed languages which have been developed over the last century or so. The problem becomes less intractable when we realize that only a dozen or so of these have been fully elaborated; the rest are little more than projects, sketched out on the back of a napkin.(9)

Our choice may be helped by a quick overview of the development and histories of a few of these constructed languages.


(1) For more on this topic, see Piron, Claude: Le défi des langues.
(2) See also Lins, Ulrich: La dang^era lingvo ("The Dangerous Language"). Gerlingen: Bleicher Verlag, 1988 (2d ed.). Reprinted Moscow: Progress, 1990.
(3) Hoffman, Mark S. (ed): The World Almanac and Book of Facts: 1990. New York: Newspaper Enterprise Association, Inc., 1989, pp. 806-807.
(4) If Hindi and Urdu are considered as a single language, as they are by some linguists, and if figures given in more recent editions of the World Almanac (footnote 3) are correct, then today English is actually in third place.
(5) Suggested by figures provided by Prof. Sidney Culbert in a paper read at the First International Conference on Science and Technology in Esperanto, Beijing, 1986.
(6) Lins, op. cit.
(7) Auld, William: La Fenomeno Esperanto ("The Esperanto Phenomenon"). Rotterdam: UEA, 1987.
(8) William R. Harmon, personal communication.
(9) We shall not here address the perhaps intractable problem of convincing each of 200 governments and 200 ruling cultural and political élites that the particular ethnic language each of them favors doesn't stand the chance of a snowball in hell of becoming the world interlanguage.

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