International auxiliary language
An international auxiliary language (sometimes abbreviated as IAL or auxlang) or interlanguage is a language meant for communication between people from different nations who do not share a common native language. An auxiliary language is primarily a second language.
Languages of dominant societies over the centuries have served as auxiliary languages, sometimes approaching the international level. French and English have been used as such in recent times in many parts of the world. However, as these languages are associated with the very dominance - cultural, political, and economic - that made them popular, they are often met with strong resistance as well. For this reason, many have turned to the idea of promoting an artificial or constructed language as a possible solution.
The term "auxiliary" implies that it is intended to be an additional language for the people of the world, rather than to replace their native languages. Often, the phrase is used to refer to planned or constructed languages proposed specifically to ease worldwide international communication, such as Esperanto, Ido, and Interlingua. However, it can also refer to the concept of such a language being determined by international consensus, including even a standardized natural language (e.g., International English), and has also been connected to the project of constructing a universal language. Some auxiliary language aficionados call these languages auxlangs.
History of auxiliary language
The history of auxiliary language is controversial. Louis Couturat et al. exemplified the controversy in the Preface to their book on International Language and Science:
For Couturat et al, both Volapukists and Esperantists confounded the linguistic aspect of the question with many side issues, and for this reason discussions about the international auxiliary language has appeared unpractical. However as Pfaundler wrote in the same publication, the language was intimately connected to science, and not simply linguistics:
The history of the most notable constructed auxiliary languages can be summarized in table form:
The following classification of auxiliary languages was developed by Pierre Janton in 1993:
Methods of propagation
As has been pointed out, the issue of an international language is not so much which, but how. Several approaches exist toward the eventual full expansion and consolidation of an international auxiliary language.
There have been a number of proposals for using pictures, ideograms, diagrams, and other pictorial representations for international communications. Examples range from the original Characteristica Universalis proposed by the philosopher Leibniz, to suggestions for the adoption of Chinese writing, to recent inventions such as Blissymbol.
Within the scientific community, there is already considerable agreement in the form of the schematics used to represent electronic circuits, chemical symbols, mathematical symbols,and the Energy Systems Language of systems ecology. We can also see the international efforts at regularizing symbols used to regulate traffic, to indicate resources for tourists, and in maps. Some symbols have become nearly universal through their consistent use in computers and on the internet.
An international auxiliary sign language has been developed by deaf people who meet regularly at international forums such as sporting events or in political organisations. Previously referred to as Gestuno but now more commonly known simply as 'international sign', the language has continued to develop since the first signs were standardised in 1973, and it is now in widespread use. International sign is distinct in many ways from spoken IALs; many signs are iconic and signers tend to insert these signs into the grammar of their own sign language, with an emphasis on visually intuitive gestures and mime. A simple sign language called Plains Indian Sign Language was used by indigenous peoples of the Americas.
Gestuno is not to be confused with the separate and unrelated sign language Signuno, which is essentially a Signed Exact Esperanto. Signuno is not in any significant use, and is based on the Esperanto community rather than based on the international Deaf community.
There has been considerable criticism of international auxiliary languages, both in terms of individual proposals and in more general terms.
Although referred to as International languages, most of these languages are constructed on the basis of Western European languages. The response to this criticism has been that doing otherwise in no way makes the language easier for anyone, while drawing away from the sources of much international vocabulary, technical and popular.
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