Why some prefer Occidental to Interlingua

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I think every IALer has a list, whether conscious or not, of preferred languages from top to bottom. For me Ido is at the top for example, a whole bunch are at the bottom, and Occidental is somewhere above Interlingua. I know little about the language though and was curious why Kjell at Auxlang had also decided to prefer and start using Occidental after some time with Interlingua, and he was kind enough to pen the following response:

No, I don't think I have written some succinct message about my reasons for giving Occidental a chance. But I'll try to explain my stance on the subject.

I'll begin with the positive side:

IALA did - as far as I can judge - a very thorough job in their selection of vocabulary for the language. In many cases I have had the idea that some entries were incorrect, but on closer examination I had to realize that they had done the right choice. When you really know interlingua you have arrived at a very good understanding about the common language that we have as an inherent lexicon in the Western languages.

For those who don't speak Romance languages, Interlingua is a formidable bridge to those languages. An Italian correspondent of mine told me that Interlingua is fantastic in the sense that an Italian can learn it in some weeks.

As I understand the IALA people did an honest work.

My impression is that IALA withheld the idealistic thought about an international language to the advantage of academic merit. I even have the impression that Gode in a way was afraid to state that he wanted an auxiliary language.

There we touch the negative side.

Many people who are very well read in Romance linguistics have a tendency to go further and either make Interlingua yet more Latin or trying to make it more like the Romance languages. Another risk is that we go back to "protoromance", but the "Proto-Romance" forms just gave the beginning to the modern Romance languages, but they were borrowing from and were depending from Classical Latin. Mostly it is Classical Latin that has spread to the European languages.

The scientific approach to Interlingua makes it difficult to handle. Speakers of Romance languages think that Interlingua should be more similar to Italian, Spanish or Portugese! And a usual argument against the language is the tenses that are generally Germanic and not according to the Romance languages.

The consequence is that with every new Interlingua user you will have to explain, over and over again, why a given word should look in a certain way and not another! And finally you get bored to death by all explaining instead of using the language for communication.

In short I would call Interlingua a Catharevoussa among the auxiliary languages. It is a beautiful creation and it can fly, if the users let it do so.

Occidental, on the other hand, is a little bit more eclectic. It deserves a chance. Having studied Occidental for some time I can guess what will be an Occidental word. It is also more userfriendly in the sense that you don't have to be a professor of Romance Languages in order to use it consistently.

One could describe Occidental as a form of Esperanto or Ido where the schematic features of these languages have been replaced by a type of word derivation, closer to the languages where its lexicon has its origines.

My new word today: Katharevoussa.

He also sent the following links for those that want to see a full description of the language:
For those who read German I'd recommend:

Same text in Occidental only:

Repetitorium del grammatica de occidental
I think I'll include a section from one of the links just because I'm curious what language the ads on the right will end up showing in. Actually, that might be an interesting way in getting an objective view on what language a certain IAL seems most related to.

I think the most interesting part is the section on the role Latin words should have in the language. Here's a part of it:

Li international comprensibilità del paroles deve esser direct, ìnmediatmen sensibil por omni educat homes mem sin latin studies preparatori, ne solmen por docti latinistes. Departiente solmen del latin on posse nequande arrivar a un modern international lingue, quel contene adminim un ters de vocabules non-latinic. Circa un demí de omni latin paroles es mort por sempre e ne plu posse esser revivificat. Li rot del historie ne torna a retro. Nequande plu li antiqui signification de copia (stock, multitè), charta (paper), lapis (rocc, petre), classis (flotte) etc posse reviver.

It es conosset, que mem li lingue latin, precipue li latin terminarium del scientie, ha acceptatmult elementes del grec. It vell esser un van effortia voler purificar li lingue scientic nu in ti direction quam quelc persones vole far it, i. e. que on vicea generalmen introductet hybrides greco-latin quam automobil, television, glacialgeologie, monoplan etc per formes purmen grec o purmen latin. Li pur-grec parol telescopie ja have un altri signification quam television, e li parol crystallo-geologie vice glacialgeologie vell esser tre misguidant, nam solmen li grecos comprende crystallo quam «glacie», contra que li altri europanes vell comprender it quam «cristall». Li lingues evolue continualmen, si anc ne tam mult in li pronunciation (li fonetica), tamen in li signification (li semantica). Li parol radio significa hodie in li expressiones radio- amator, radio-emission, radio-telegrafie altri-cos quam in radio-actività e radio- terapie. Protestationes contra tal fenomenes in li vive del lingue effecte ne plu quam li cri del corvos in li storm. Un parol ne explica li notion representat, ma es solmen un etiquette con un signe, quel es comprensibil solmen al adept, secun tradition e convention. Talmen D Dampfer, A steamer, F vapeur, I vapore, S vapor significa «vapor-nave» e ne «locomotive», malgrè que ti ci sense vell esser plu proxim e familiari al hom continental. Ma anc in Esperanto it es un pur convention e tradition, que vagonaro (sillabalmen: collection de vagones) significa ne «parc de vagones» D Wagenpark etc, ma «tren» D Zug etc, malgrè que li unesim, ne usual signification vell esser plen justificat per li analogie al Esperanto-parol homaro (omni homes, homanitè). Anc in Esperanto li derivates in mult casus deve esser apprendet separatmen, sammen quam paroles radical. It have do poc valore practic, que on deve dir in Espersnto por «aperter» malfermi, quo li franceses comprende plu probabil in li sense de fermer mal (cluder mal).


Laurentio said...

Very interesting post, although I didn't completely grasp why you guys prefer Occidental over Ia.

I'm an interlingua speaker myself, but not a very zealous one and by no means blind to the fact that it's not a perfect language.

I've subscribed to the Occidental mailing list - might be nice to have my horizons broadened a bit. :)

PS. Does Kjell also consistantly refer to himself as "ego" in Occidental? ;)

Anonymous said...

No, I don't use "ego" in Occidental. I think I have seen it in earlier texts, but the users of Occidental have abandoned it. Therefore I use "yo" in occidental as is the standard.

The reason for "ego" in interlingua is that this is the international word that has given "egoista", "egocentric", "alter ego" in interlingua and "egocentri-" exists in scores of European languages. So if one were consistent, one would use "ego" in Interlingua, but I have been unable to explain why "ego" in interlingua :-(

Laurentio said...

Oh, hi, Kjell. I don't know if you remember me from Interlng. (I'm Lars from Denmark.)

I see what you mean about the word 'ego'.

Your text, that Mithridates quoted, was very interesting although I thought it ended a bit abruptly. Have you written any other texts where you elaborate on your thoughts?

Laurentio said...

Oh, hi, Kjell. I don't know if you remember me from Interlng. (I'm Lars from Denmark.)

I see what you mean about the word 'ego'.

Your text, that Mithridates quoted, was very interesting although I thought it ended a bit abruptly. Have you written any other texts where you elaborate on your thoughts?

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