Enkomputiligis Don HARLOW

The Gode-Lapenna Debate

correspondence initiated and collected by Floyd Hardin

First published in The International Language Review, Apr.-Jun. 1963

[EDITOR'S NOTE: All correspondence here reproduced is by written consent of those participating. To conserve space, certain paragraphs not pertinent to the Gode-Lapenna debate are omitted. FH.]


Dear Mr: Hardin: Thank you for sending me advance proof of your reprint of Dr. Lapenna's article originally published in Esperanto. I request that you publish the following statement and urge that you send copies to both Dr. Lapenna and the editors of Esperanto.

Dr. Lapenna's assertion that a great deal of nonsense about Esperanto and the international language question in general appears in print cannot be gainsaid. Much that is published on these subjects is prejudiced, and we all know that prejudice thrives on lack of information. As for my claim that the factual thinness of what is said by certain opponents of Esperanto is fully equaled by the irrelevancy of the arguments used by many Esperantists to stop the progress of Interlingua, Dr. Lapenna does nothing to improve the situation with his persistence in criticizing Interlingua and (by implication) me without honestly identifying by name the objects of his attacks.

In the interest of clarity and the propagation of factual information I herewith challenge Dr. Lapenna to a public, oral, man-to-man debate. I urge that he accept this challenge, and I close with the suggestion that we both turn over the matter of the necessary technical arrangements to a joint committee to be appointed by the editors of the International Language Review and Esperanto. (Dr. Alexander Gode)


Dear Profesoro D-ro Lapenna: Doubtless the 50-page section of the Review comprising the symposium on the "Schematic versus the Naturalistic Constructed Languages" is now in your hands. It was forwarded to you by registered air mail on October 29.

As you scan the pages of the section you will note that Dr. Alexander Gode of New York City, author of Interlingua, has invited yow to participate in an oral debate on the respective merits of Esperanto and Interlingua. I sincerely hope that you will be disposed to accept his invitation and discuss this important subject on a common platform, either in the United States or in England. I believe that such a debate would be widely advertised and bring to the attention of the apathetic masses the present urgent importance of one language for the world. In the event that you consent to engage in this public discussion, please advise me promptly and I will immediately get in touch with the Editors of Esperanto following the plan that Dr. Gode has suggested, provided that this procedure meets with your approval.

I have known Dr. Gode for many years and have found him to be a profound scholar as well as a distinguished gentleman. In any public debate, such as is proposed, you can be assured of his observance of the amenities of such an occasion and of his respectful consideration of your views as publicly expressed. (Floyd Hardin)


Estimata Sinjoro Hardin, Principe mi akceptas la inviton de D-ro Gode publike diskuti kun li la aferon. Mi ankaŭ akceptas lian sugeston, ke vi kaj S-ro Auld nomu la komitaton, kiu prizorgos la teknikajn flankojn de la aranĝo, se S-ro Auld akceptas tiun proponon. Pro mia laboro en la Universitato mi ne povus viziti Usonon, sed estas preta diskuti la demandon en Londono. Plue, ĉar la tuta problemo havas plurajn aspektojn -- ne nur pure lingvistikan, sed ankaŭ sociologian, psikologian kaj eĉ politikan -- kaj mi mem ne opinias min kompetenta por ĉiuj ĉi aspektoj, mi opinias, ke en la diskuto devus partopreni ne nur D-ro Gode kaj mi, sed pluraj aliaj specialistoj, almenaŭ 3 de ĉiu flanko. Mi insistas pri tio, ke ili estu kompetentaj kaj rekonitaj fakuloj, ĉiu por sia branĉo. Ekzemple, por komenci kun mi mem, mi certe ne estas preta diskuti pure lingvistikajn aspektojn de la demando, ĉar, kvankam mi parolas 7 lingvojn kaj havas pasivan konon de 7 aliaj, tamen mi ne estas profesie lingvisto kaj sekve ne konsideras min kompetenta por tiu aspekto. Mi sugestos la nomojn de Prof. Waringhien, aŭ Prof. Collinson aŭ alia lingvisto per (*) tiu flanko: Kiam la afero fariĝos aktuala, mi sugestos unu aŭ du aliajn nomojn per (*) la psikologia aspekto, dum mi mem estas preta pritrakti ĉiujn aspektojn de la lingva problemo ĝenerale en internaciaj rilatoj kaj la taŭgecon de la Internacia Lingvo (Esperanto) por ĉiuj formoj de tiuj rilatoj. Mi estas certa, ke D-ro Gode konsentos, ke la problemo estas tro kompleksa por esti traktata de nur du personoj kaj ke mia propono ne nur altigos la nivelon de la diskuto, sed ankaŭ donos al la tuta afero la necesan prestiĝon.

Mi sendas kopion de tiu ĉi letero al S-ro Auld, kun kiu vi povas rektre pritrakti la detalojn surbaze de mia propono. (Profesoro D-ro Ivo Lapenna)

(*) "por" -- apparently a double mistype on the part of Floyd or Evelyn Hardin.

English translation provided by Floyd Hardin:

I accept in principle Dr. Gode's invitation to discuss the matter with him in public. I also accept his suggestion that you and Mr. Auld name the committee which will handle the technical side of the arrangements, provided that Mr. Auld consents. Owing to my engagements at the University here I cannot travel to the United States, but shall be ready to discuss the question in London. Further, since the problem has several aspects -- not merely linguistic, but also sociological, psychological and even political -- and as I do not consider myself competent in all these aspects, it is my view that Dr. Gode and I should not be the only participants in the discussion, but that several other specialists, at least three on each side, should take part. I stress that they should be competent experts recognized in their fields. For example, to begin with, I certainly am not prepared to discuss the purely linguistic side of the matter, for, though I speak seven languages and have a passive knowledge of seven others, I am not a professional linguist and, in consequence, do not consider myself competent in that area. I suggest the names of Professors Waringhien or Collinson or some other linguist for this area. When it appears likely that the matter is actually fully prepared, I shall propose a few names for the psychological side, while I myself am prepared to consider all aspects of the language problem in general in international relations and the suitability of the International Language, Esperanto for all kinds of such relations. I am sure that Dr. Gode will agree that the problem is too complex to be dealt with by only two persons and that my proposal will not only serve to raise the level of the discussion but will also give to the entire matter the prestige which it requires.

I am sending a copy of this letter to Mr. Auld with whom you can deal directly concerning the details on the basis of my proposal. (Profesoro D-ro Ivo Lapenna)


Dear Mr. Hardin: Thank you for your letter of recent date and the enclosed copy of a communication you received from Dr. Lapenna signifying his acceptance in principle of my proposal that a public debate be organized between him and me for the purpose of clarifying for as extensive an audience as possible the true characteristics of Esperanto and Interlingua. I do not at this time make any suggestions as to when, where, and how the debate should be set up, nor do I comment on Dr. Lapenna's suggestions along these same lines, for I believe that such matters are properly to be left in the hands of the organizing committee which obviously will have to work in close and constant contact with the principals whose consent will naturally be a sine qua non.

I do permit myself a brief reference to Dr. Lapenna's premature proposal that the debate between him and me be coupled with a panel discussion by experts in various specific disciplines, supplying ammunition in favor of Esperanto and Interlingua respectively. This proposal would seem to indicate that my original challenge was not sufficiently clear for Dr. Lapenna to understand that I have no interest whatsoever in discussing the comparative merits of Esperanto and Interlingua. As a matter of fact I was motivated in challenging Dr. Lapenna exclusively by the hope that a debate between him and me would result to the benefit of the peace of the world, in people (including Esperantists, Interlingua-ists and ordinary mortals) finally understanding that Interlingua and Esperanto cannot be compared, and that the areas in which they can conceivably collide are truly insignificant. (Dr. Alexander Gode)


Dear Profesoro D-ro Lapenna: Acting as a member of the Committee on arrangements for the forthcoming Lapenna-Gode Debate, I am enclosing the original of a letter written to me by Dr. Gode with the request that I forward it to you. While the letter is addressed to me, it is primarily designed for your personal attention. I am by this same mail, sending a copy of the Gode letter to Mr. Auld in Scotland, and take occasion to enclose herewith a copy of my communication to Mr. Auld. Since these items are self-explanatory, it is not necessary for me to comment on them at this time. I would be glad to hear from you at your convenience about the matters with which this letter is concerned and in the meantime I am happy to send you cordial greetings of the Holiday Season.(Floyd Hardin)


Tre estimata Sinjoro Hardin: Kun danko mi konfirmas la ricevon de viaj leteroj de la 10-a kaj 16-a de decembro. Mi tutkore dankas al vi pro afablaj vortoj rilate mian artikolon. Mi tre esperas, ke vi havos la ĝentilecon sendi al mi 2-3 ekzemplerojn de The International Language Review, en kiu ĝi aperos.

Rilate la sugestitan debaton inter D-ro Gode kaj mi, mi devas konfesi, ke mi neniel komprenis la aferon tiel, ke D-ro Gode kaj mi devus fine, rezulte de la debato, interkonsenti, ke la sferoj de apliko de Interlingua kaj Esperanto estas malsamaj kaj sekve ne "konkurencaj". Sincere parolante, mi ne vidas ian ajn utilon de tiel limigita debato. Laŭ mia koncepto de la rolo de neŭtrala komuna internacia lingvo, ĝi devas servi por ĉiuj internaciaj rilatoj kaj ne limiĝi al tiu aŭ alia kampo. Esperanto, ne nur el teoria vidpunkto, sed ankaŭ laŭ siaj praktikaj aplikoj dum pli ol 75 jaroj, montriĝis kiel perfekta instrumento de pensado kaj komunikado sur ĉiuj niveloj kaj en ĉiuj aspektoj de internacia komunikado. Eĉ se la tezo de D-ro Gode estus korekta -- nome, ke la afero de Interlingua neniel kunpuŝiĝas kun tiu de Esperanto -- tiu tezo estus per si mem kontraŭa al la ideo mem, por kiu ni ĉiuj pledas, nome solvi la lingvan problemon per unu komuna lingvo. Se ni devas anstataŭigi la nun aplikatajn multnombrajn naciajn lingvojn per ne unu, sed pluraj internaciaj lingvoj, ĉiu por iu aparta sfero, tiam la tuta afero perdas ĉiun sencon. Tiu mia pozicio estas tiel ferma (*), ke neniu debato povas ĝin ŝanĝi. En tiaj kondiĉoj, kiel dirite, mi bedaŭrinde ne vidas sencon de la proponita diskuto. Mi estas preta kontribui al la solvo de la lingva problemo per diskuto ĉu kun D-ro Gode ĉu kun kiu ajn alia pri ĉiuj aspektoj de la problemo -- kaj tion mi volonte akceptis -- sed mi ne estas preta perdi mian tempon por sterila diskuto, en kiu mi klarigos, ke Esperanto taŭgas por ĉiuj aspektoj de la internaciaj rilatoj, dum D-ro Gode plue asertos, ke la sfero, kiun celas Interlingua, neniel ĝenas la kvazaŭe limigitan sferon de Esperanto. Do, mi ripetas: se D-ro Gode estas preta diskuti kun mi la tutan problemon en ĉiuj ĝiaj aspektoj, mi volonte akceptas lian elvokon. Se ne, mi bedaŭrinde ne povos partopreni en tiu plano.

Dankante al vi pro la bondeziroj kaj tutkore reciprokante ilin mi restas kun estimo. (Profesoro D-ro Ivo Lapenna)

(*) "firma"

English translation provided by Floyd Hardin:

Dear Mr. Hardin: I hereby confirm with thanks the receipt of your letters dated December lOth and 16th 1962. I am most grateful for your kind words with regard to my article. Please be so kind as to send me two or three copies of the issue of the International Language Review in which it will appear.

With regard to the suggested debate between Dr. Gode and myself, I must confess that I never understood the matter as one according to which Dr. Gode and I would, as a consequence of the debate, agree that the areas of application of Interlingua and Esperanto are dissimilar and, consequently, not in competition. Speaking quite sincerely I see no utility in so limited a debate. According to my idea of the role of a neutral common international language, it must serve as an instrument for all international relations and not be limited to one area or another. Esperanto not only in theory but in its practical applications over a period of more than 75 years, has shown itself to be a perfect instrument for thought and communication on every level and in every aspect of international communication. Even were Dr. Gode's thesis correct -- namely that Interlingua's field of action in no way conflicts with Esperanto's -- that very thesis itself is contrary to the idea which we all support, i. e., the solution of the language problem by means of one common language. If we must replace the numerous ethnic languages now in use not by one but by several international languages, each in a special area, then the entire proposition loses all significance. This viewpoint of mine is so firmly held that no debate can change it. Under such circumstances, as I have indicated, I must regretfully affirm that I can see no sense in the proposed discussion. I am quite ready to contribute to the solution of the language problem through discussion -- either with Dr. Gode or with anyone else -- of all aspects of the problem. This I most willingly accepted. But I am not prepared to waste my time in sterile discussions in which I shall point out that Esperanto is suitable for all aspects of international relations, while Dr. Gode asserts that the field of action in which Interlingua seeks to operate in no way interferes with the apparently limited field of Esperanto. Consequently, I repeat: If Dr. Gode is willing to discuss with me the entire problem in all its aspects, I gladly accept his challenge. If not, I must regretfully make clear that I cannot participate in the project.

With many thanks for your kind wishes, which I reciprocate most cordially, I remain, Very sincerely yours, (Profesoro D-ro Ivo Lapenna.)


Dear Mr. Hardin: If you need a clarifying statement as to what I wish to achieve through my challenge to Dr. Lapenna, here goes: My suggestion that a public debate with Dr. Lapenna and myself as participants be arranged was clearly formulated as a sequel to the premise that both Esperanto and Interlingua are frequently the targets of nonsensical attacks motivated less by ill will than by prejudice based on ignorance. Attacks on Interlingua very frequently reflect complete unawareness of the fact that this language cannot be judged in accordance with Esperantistic criteria since both its objectives and its underlying philosophy differ radically from those traditionally formulated for Esperanto. The idea that a public debate could be used for the purposes of an evaluative comparison of the two languages is conceivable only as having arisen on the basis of the very kind of misunderstanding I wish to see eliminated.

If Dr. Lapenna wants to use the occasion of a debate with me to extol Esperanto and denigrate Interlingua I shall not reciprocate, for I hold that Esperanto "is the sort of thing that people like that like that sort of thing" and the fact that I am not among them is not a sufficient reason for me to conclude that no one else should be. If there is a frequently voiced Esperantistic argument that I feel free to reject then it is the claim that the existence of Interlingua interferes with the work that is being done on behalf of Esperanto and that the existence of Esperanto implies the undesirability of the existence of Interlingua. (Dr. Alexander Gode.)


Dear Mr. Auld: I write you these few lines with pleasurable anticipation at the prospect of knowing you and working with you to advance the cause of the international language movement at this critical period in human history.

I have no doubt but that you will approve of the suggestion made that you and I proceed to make arrangements for the Lapenna-Gode debate on the subject: "Is Esperanto the Answer to the World Language Problem?" According to my understanding, it is the expressed wish of D-ro Lapenna and Dr. Gode that we act jointly in this capacity. Please be so kind as to write me upon receipt of this and advise whether or not you are disposed to join with me in this important task.

I am not unaware of the distinguished work you have done in the promotion of Esperanto and in its use as a literary vehicle. Your talents in this area command my admiration and my profound respect.(Floyd Hardin)


Dear Mr. Auld: While I am awaiting your reply to my letter of Dec. 7, I am prompted to write you again and suggest a method of procedure in the matter of the Gode-Lapenna debate. I am writing on the assumption that you wi11 consent to act on the Committee for Arrangements with me, which, as you know, is the wish of Profesoro D-ro Ivo Lapenna and also of Dr. Alexander Gode. My suggestion is that both you and I, acting independently, appoint one person to serve on the Committee with us, making a Committee of four. If this procedure is agreeable to you, I will appoint Mr. Hugh E. Blair, of New York City, who was formerly an active member of the International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA), and is now Editor of the new periodical, "Interlingua at Work". Since Mr. Blair is in close contact with Dr. Alexander Gode, he would presumably act on the Committee of Arrangements in keeping with Dr. Gode's wishes. For your part, you could appoint an active Esperantist fox the fourth member of the Committee, and if your appointee happened to live in London, he could act in close and frequent consultation with D-ro Lapenna.

A Committee of four having been chosen, the Committee itself could appoint a fifth: member who might prove useful in the event of a deadlock in some matter upon which the Committee was acting.

I am enclosing copy of a letter written to me by Dr. Gode, who requested that I forward it to Dr. Lapenna. Likewise I am enclosing a copy of this letter to you in my letter to Dr. Lapenna. (Floyd Hardin)


S-ro Floyd Hardin: Very many thanks indeed for the various things you have sent in the past three weeks, the most important being, of course, your letters of 7th and 16th December, and for your extremely friendly overtures to me which I have the greatest pleasure in heartily and sincerely reciprocating. It is these last which make it all the more difficult for me to do what I feel I must, i.e., regretfully refuse to undertake any work in connection with the projected debate between Prof. Lapenna and Dr. Gode. This decision will come as something of a surprise to Prof. Lapenna, and I am sending him a copy of this letter in order to apprise him of the fact. It would be easy enough to say that, as from the end of this year, I am no longer Editor of "Esperanto", and therefore not the proper person to act in the suggested capacity, (and, indeed, the new Editor, Dr. Sadler, will no doubt be willing to fill the bill), but I suppose Dr. Gode would have no objection to my carrying on in collaboration with you if I felt able to.

The truth is, however, that I have, personally, very little interest in Interlinguistics, and no faith at all in the value of such a debate as has been suggested, and hence I cannot do justice to the work of the proposed committee. It is true that on more than one occasion I have entered the interlinguistic lists on behalf of Esperanto; but this has always been in order to refute false or unscientific statements made about Esperanto rather than to discuss the language's merits in comparison with any projects for an international language. I shall, with your permission (and in the hope that I do not bore you) exemplify this in a moment. My interest, as I say, is not in Interlinguistics as such, but in Esperanto as my language, the language in which I have done the greater part of my hating, loving, cursing and creating. With most of my intimate friends Esperanto is our sole means of communication; during my University years I composed all my essays and theses in Esperanto before translating them into English; it is in Esperanto that I have written my books. You can therefore imagine how little patience I have with people whose objections to my language are based on inaccuracies, prejudices and forgive me for being so blunt -- downright lies. A perusal of The International Language Review (which you were kind enough to send me) leaves me once again with the firm conviction, not only that no advocate of any project such as Interlingua has ever used his project as a language, or, more important, had a single emotional experience within the context of his project, but that all such advocates regard such an experience as both irrelevant and undesirable, and are dedicated to the proposition that an interlanguage is ipso facto secondary and inferior to the ethnic languages, which to my way of thinking is utterly false to the nature of language as such, and is certainly contrary to my experience. It is because of this false premise, among others, that no project is ever likely to succeed as Esperanto has succeeded, rather than because of any defects in the given project as such.

As I said above, I should like to exemplify the kind of unscientific and false argument which I have sometimes felt it desirable to refute in public. To take, almost at random, one proposition not touched on by Prof. Lapenna in his article, I turn to the contribution of Adolf M. Fritzsche. (A similar argument is to be found in Dr. Ottmar Loew's article, where the comparison is with machinery). I quote "If a joker would send a motor car of 1900 vintage or older to Indianapolis to run for the Great Prize, he would get howls of laughter, but Esperantists believe they can sell the public an interlanguage project of 1887..." You are fortunately familiar with the context from which I have taken this quotation, so I need not labour the point that the author's intention is to show that Esperanto is both old-fashioned and invalid. Most people would not examine it, but accept it at face value, i.e. in the way the author intended it. But if we are to argue by analogy, let us look into it. The 1900 automobile and the 1962 automobile are the same thing: there is no difference between them, except that the automobile has evolved in the. 62 years between the models. Hence, if Esperanto has evolved adequately during the same period it follows (from the analogy) that the Esperanto of today is as adequate to the needs of today as the Esperanto of 1887 was to the needs of 1887. And this, though Fritzsche denies it, is precisely the case. The Esperanto of today is certainly not the Esperanto of 1887. I shall not discuss the point, because, as I said, this type of argument is unscientific and non-factual. However, it is worth adding that the pejorative use of "Old-fashioned" (even by implication) is equally invalid. To say that Esperanto is unsuitable because it is "old-fashioned" is equivalent to saying that English is unsuitable for the modern world because it was born (in the form in which we know it) in 1066; or to saying that a philosophical or religious concept is not valid today because it was formulated two thousand or what have you years ago. The point at issue here is simply: is Esperanto suitable for the world of 1962? This is a question which can be scientifically answered on the basis of observable facts, and any other approach is false. To say, as Fritzsche does, that Esperanto has not evolved since 1887 is observably untrue, and hence, I repeat, unscientific.

I do hope I have made it clear to you why I do not feel competent to accept a place on the proposed committee. I assure you most warmly that I have the highest regard for your personal integrity and objectivity, and that you are probably correct in believing that the work of the International Language Review is of value in the world today. I can only say how sorry I am that my own interest in your subject (Interlinguistics as such) is, for all practical purposes, non-existent. (W. Auld)


The developments in the projected debate between yourself and Dr. Gode have been somewhat disappointing to me and comprise:(1) the decision of Mr. William Auld not to act as a member of the Committee on Arrangements, and (2) a certain understandable confusion on your part as to what Esperanto and Interlingua have in common that might afford a sufficient premise from which the debate could proceed. This confusion, which I myself shared, to a degree, was brought about by Dr. Gode's statement that Interlingua is not an international language and has no ambitions to function as an interlanguage in future. Since such a definition of Interlingua made impossible any discussion of the comparative merits of the two languages, structurally or grammatically, it was difficult to see in what the projected debate would consist.

However, recent letters from Dr. Gode, one addressed to Mr. Auld, and another written to me, have, in my opinion, resolved this impasse, and made possible a constructive public discussion of Interlingua and Esperanto which would undoubtedly have tremendous advertising value for both of these constructed idioms. In the hope that you may come to the same conclusion, I enclose copy of Dr. Gode's letter to Mr. Auld, dated Jan. 11, together with certain paragraphs taken from Dr. Gode's letter to me, under date of Jan. l7. In my own mind the present attitudes of yourself and Dr. Gode raise a number of questions which are of great importance, and which are bound to engage the interest of the press and the reading public. I will proceed to outline a few of the issues involved, and while they do not necessarily define my own attitude, you may find it advantageous to enlarge upon them in public discussion.

(1) Since Interlingua, by definition, denies (according to its author), that it is an international language, Esperanto may wish to claim that it has no real competitors and stands alone in its field as a language now in use for world communication.

(2) If Interlingua restricts its use to the scientific and technological field, can it properly be called a "language", in the full sense of that word; or does it, by this limitation of its use, declare itself to be a "code"?

(3) If Interlingua is shown to be a "code", with the specific limitations which a "code" implies, can it function successfully in the scientific field, or does it take a "language" to do this?

It now appears to me that preliminary discussions about the projected Lapenna-Gode debate have by elimination, narrowed down the area of possible debate to a single, restricted, specific, yet all-important question which may be expressed in the following words:

(4) Which is best suited to serve the needs of the scientific world, Interlingua or Esperanto?

Accordingly I suggest that both you and Dr. Gode consider, whether or not, you can accept this question as affording sufficient grounds for debate and advise me of your respective decisions. If your decision is in the affirmative, the Committee on Arrangements can then complete its personnel and proceed with the necessary preparations. However, whether or not the debate between you and Dr. Gode materializes as originally contemplated, I strongly feel that it would be to the distinct advantage of the international language movement and to the adherents of both Esperanto and Interlingua, if your letters, together with the letters of Dr. Gode and Mr. Auld might be published either wholly or in part. This correspondence throws new and valuable light on the whole problem of an international language and I would very much like to make it available to our readers in the pages of the International Language Review. (Floyd Hardin.)


Dear Mr. Auld: Our mutual friend, Mr. Floyd Hardin, has kindly allowed me to read the letter you addressed to him under date of Dec. 17, 1962. I take the liberty of writing to you directly in this matter, for it gives me great pleasure to note that there are several points of basic importance in regard to which you and I see eye to eye.

Your impatience with the interlinguistic hobbyists cannot be greater than mine, and I also believe, as you do, that most attacks on Esperanto are quite nonsensical. This leads me to emphasize once again that nothing is further from my mind than that I would want to challenge Dr. Lapenna to a debate in which the comparative merits of Esperanto and Interlingua would represent the issue. What I expect the debate to make clear is not at all that Interlingua is superior to Esperanto, but rather that Interlingua has nothing whatsoever in common with the ideological motivation of Zamenhof and his followers.

To you Esperanto is a living language with all the characteristics implied in that designation. I assume you would agree to the statement that Esperanto still has a long way to go before it can be claimed that it represents a more or less adequate realization of Zamenhof's early vision. Your goal must be to have millions, not thousands, think of Esperanto and handle it as you do. This makes of you in a sense a missionary, for you realize that a great deal of work remains to be done before your language can perform the functions for which it was set up. As for myself, I can of course respect your faith in the future of Esperanto but I cannot share it. To me, as to millions and millions of others, an auxiliary language in the sense in which you conceive of it, is a nightmare rather than an ideal. This is a view which I have no right and no reason to impose on others; though it does, paradoxically, make me fairly intolerant of the attitude of the typical Esperantist, to whom proselytizing is a necessary and natural activity, with the implication that he must try and try again to convert me and my equals and/or our descendents to his faith in the ultimate glory and grandeur of a single common secondary language for all mankind.

I know, of course, that there are not a few advocates of Interlingua who think of it as a competitor of Esperanto in the latter's pretended or projected role of a universal language for international communication. I call these advocates of Interlingua "Esperantists" for the true quintessence of the Esperantistic attitude is not that the accusative should end in -n or that the plural must have a -j, but rather the belief that planning and propaganda and education can bring about the golden age when no two human beings are without a shared medium of communication. I consider the promotion of Interlingua in these terms to be a grave disservice to our cause, which, in fact, is nothing more than the endeavor to give concretely tangible form to the shared linguistic tradition of the Western world, because this tradition happens to have become the reservoir from which all languages all over the world derive, directly or indirectly, their technical and scientific terminologies. If medieval Latin had lived on into modern times there would be no room for Interlingua.

I have never argued against Esperanto in strictly linguistic terms, and I do not propose to do so in future. My objective then in challenging Dr. Lapenna to a debate was to make clear once and for all -- to Esperantists, Interlingua-ists, and the public at large, that Interlingua is not a rival of Esperanto, and that it is unfair and silly to judge Interlingua by Esperantistic criteria or, vice versa, to criticize Esperanto as though it had the same objectives as Interlingua.

I have recently had occasion to state the foregoing in the form of a number of concrete theses. Though these will be published in a forthcoming issue of the International Language Review, I take the liberty of sending you herewith a separate copy. [This was published in Issue No. 29-30 of the Review.]

There is one observation in your letter to Mr. Hardin on which I wish to comment specifically. I refer to the passage in which you express your conviction that no advocate of any project such as Interlingua has ever used it as a language, or, more important, has had a single emotional experience within the context of his project. This is a most interesting observation, for it does state succinctly the basic difference between your language and ours. Still, I must tell you that you are wrong in this, but I hasten to add that emotional experiences in Interlingua will never be listed amongst the raisons d'etre of this language. I have often stated that Interlingua is to the languages of the Western world what a literary national language, let us say, German, is to its dialects. To stick to the example of German, there is something abstract and in a sense unemotional about literary Hochdeutsch. Emotional experiences are "being had" if I may say so, despite the obvious exaggeration -- in local dialects or regional variants of the literary language. But this line of reasoning leads on to a strangely significant reversal of its premises. While warmly human and intimately emotional experiences are "being had" in local dialects, as mothers use them to speak to the children at their knees, there are experiences that exceed the holding power of the homely dialect and that require the abstract coolness of the detached universality of the literary norm. There is an interesting essay to be written on the comparative emotional "scope" of dialect and literary standard in poetry. I am obviously not concerned here with a comparison of Interlingua and Esperanto -- I am never concerned with such comparisons -- but I do wish to report that it has happened that in an attempt to cope verbally with an experience I failed in my native German, failed also in my acquired English, and came closest to succeeding in Interlingua.

I regret that you cannot join Mr. Hardin as a member of the arrangements committee for my debate with Dr. Lapenna, for I have a notion that you would agree with me on what I think the debate should achieve. I read between the lines of your letter that you and I also agree on what must be avoided to prevent the debate from becoming a useless double monologue. (Alexander Gode.)


Dear D-ro Sadler: I am writing to acquaint you with what has been done in the matter of making arrangements for a projected debate between Prof. D-ro Ivo Lapenna and Dr. Alexander Gode, author of Interlingua. If you will be so kind as to carefully read the enclosed correspondence you will see what steps have been taken. Mr. Auld, formerly Editor of Esperanto, has written me that it is impossible for him to serve on the committee and I am therefore asking you to act in his place. If you will consent to serve, I suggest that you appoint a fourth member, perhaps an Esperantist, with whom you could conveniently consult. In making these suggestions I do not want it to appear that I am taking matters into my own hands. I am only trying to get the machinery going. I take occasion to express my esteem and my hope and expectation that as a new editor of Esperanto, you will have much success. (Floyd Hardin)

D-RO VICTOR SADLER to FLOYD HARDIN, Jan. [Feb.? -- DH] 5, 1963

Dear Mr. Hardin: Thank you for your letter of 5th [25th? -- DH] January, inviting me to act on the arrangements committee for the proposed Gode-Lapenna debate, and for the lengthy documentation enclosed.

The value of such a debate, I understand, lies in its "tremendous advertising value for both of these constructed idioms," (your letter of 24.1.63 to Dr. Lapenna). The only useful question involved seems to be that which you have formulated in the same letter: "Which is best suited to serve the needs of the scientific world, Interlingua or Esperanto?"

In his letter to you of 17.1.63, Dr. Gode rejects "the claim that the existence of Interlingua interferes with the work that is being done on behalf of Esperanto". However, since both Interlingua and Esperanto are intended for application in science and technology, whether wholly or in part, I fail to see on what Dr. Gode bases his rejection. If we accept the premise that it would be pointless to have two interlanguages for scientific use, then surely it follows that the use of one must interfere with the use of the other? The rejection only makes sense on the basis of the view that the aims of Esperanto and Interlingua do not overlap. The viewpoint of Dr. Lapenna and of myself, on the other hand, is that the aims of Esperanto include those of Interlingua but do not coincide with them.

It is my opinion that the existence of Interlingua interferes with work on behalf of Esperanto, for the following reasons: (a) The use of Esperanto as the interlanguage of science would be a powerful argument in favour of the general introduction of Esperanto into schools. (b) The arguments in favour of Esperanto for scientific use, conversely, depend primarily on its suitability for active, as opposed to passive use, and on the economy of using the same language for science as for other international relations. Hence to limit debate to the scientific sphere of application would be to prejudge to some extent the issues at hand.

More importantly, it is my opinion that to draw public attention to Interlingua, even though together with Esperanto, is not in the interests of our work. We are far mo re likely to persuade scientists to learn Esperanto if they have never heard of Interlingua, than if they are informed that they should learn either Esperanto or Interlingua. (In this context I would like to relate that a certain lecturer at Cambridge, England, was a subscriber to "Science News Letter", when I asked her views on the column in Interlingua, she replied that she had always assumed it was Esperanto.)

My reply to your invitation, then, must be the following: 1) a public debate with Dr. Gode on the subject "Esperanto or Interlingua for Science" is in my opinion undesirable from the point of view of the progress of Esperanto. 2) If such were the theme of the debate, then I think Dr. Lapenna would be the first to agree that he is inadequately qualified to speak on matters relating to the natural sciences and technology. 3) The other questions raised, e.g., as to whether or not Interlingua is a "language", are either semantic or academic, and to my mind can only concern the adherents of Interlingua.

I must therefore conclude, like Mr. Auld, that I am not a suitable person to prepare a debate for which I have so little enthusiasm. I am sorry, Mr. Hardin, to present such a negative front to a proposal whose motivation I sincerely respect, but I trust that I have expressed my arguments clearly enough for you to see that any other reply would be illogical. (Dr. Victor Sadler.)