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A Grammar of Interlingua

Alexander Gode & Hugh Blair IALA 1951



Copyright, MCMLI, by International Auxiliary Language Association, Inc.
Copyright, MCMLV, by Science Service, Inc.


The Preface to the First Edition of this Grammar has been read with approval by a number of individuals known for their contributions in the field of interlinguistic experimentation. They have authorized the use of their names in this place because they believe, as the authors do, that the unity of the auxiliary-language movement depends on neither more nor less than unanimity in principle regarding the ultimate bases of the modern interlingua, for these bases are strong enough for the most complete freedom of choice in operational procedures to become beneficial rather than detrimental to the common cause. The signers have not seen the manuscript of the grammar itself and their endorsement as here presented may not be construed as applying to anything but the guiding ideas of the Preface. It must also be understood that the signers were approached as individuals and not as members of a particular group. As a matter of fact, it was felt best to forgo the inclusion in the list not only of all organizations but also of those of their members whose representation in this place might conceivably be misconstrued as involving more than their personal points of view.

Henk Bijlsma Aldo Lavagnini Henrik Molenaar
A. De Belie Campos Lima Engelbert Pigal
Walter Hinde Paul Mitrovich André Schild

Second Printing, 1971
1SBN 0-8044-0186-1
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 75-154059

Preface to the Second Edition

When this book was first published in 1951, the language it describes was a project. Today, little more than three years later, it is a functioning reality.

In 1953 the International Auxiliary Language Association - under whose sponsorship all the research and all the laboratory work which culminated in the formulation of Interlingua had been carried out - turned over the task of promoting the practical utilization of the new language to Science Service, the Institution for the Popularization of Science. In two years of operation the Interlingua Division of Science Service has succeeded in demonstrating the practical value of Interlingua as a tool of international communication, especially in science and most particularly in medicine. Numerous journals have adopted Interlingua as a secondary editorial language for abstracts and summaries, and several international congresses - notably the Second World Congress of Cardiology in 1954 in Washington - have found it useful as a substitute for multiple translation in their programs.

The phenomenal progress of Interlingua is proof of the soundness of its underlying principles, but without the wise guidance and the contagious drive of one man - Mr. Watson Davis, Director of Science Service - we would not and could not be where we actually are.

This Second Edition of our Interlingua Grammar is a carefully corrected reprint of the first. In its preparation we have gratefully made use of comments from many students of Interlingua, especially Mr. Erich Berger of New York City, Mr. Woodruff W. Bryne of Caracas, and Dr. Eugen Wüster of Vienna.

The text of the Preface to the First Edition follows unchanged in substance.

This grammar is designed to function in conjunction with the international vocabulary contained in the Interlingua-English Dictionary.*

The Dictionary contains a copious all-purpose vocabulary of about 27,000 international words and includes an Introduction with a detailed analysis of the methods employed in gathering and standardizing so comprehensive a body of terms which owe their representation in a variety of national languages to the fact that, with regard to considerable portions of their vocabularies, the languages of Western civilization may be viewed as so many variants or dialects of a common standard.

There can be no practical auxiliary language in modern times which does not make use in one way or another of the existing international vocabulary. This implies that the Interlingua-English Dictionary - which represents a collection of the international vocabulary - may be expected to prove useful from the viewpoint of most, if not all, auxiliary-language systems now extant, in so far as they are based on, or are influenced by, the principle of actual internationality of words.

Whether other auxiliary-language systems will use the material embodied in the Interlingua-English Dictionary in its present state or with minor or major modifications and qualifications, the result will be a welcome rapprochement of the several systems and projects which may thus be more clearly recognized as what they really are: variants or dialects of the same interlingua.

This grammar of the international language is recommended as a convenient system to operate the vocabulary of the Interlingua-English Dictionary. It is a practical and simple system, but all its advantages cannot make us overlook the fact that the auxiliary-language project it represents is but one variant or dialect of the type referred to above. This point bears so much stressing because it is of great practical importance that the reader should understand in what sense he is not to be introduced here to a brand-new language practiced by a handful of eager pioneers, but that the use of this grammar will make him a member of a sizable community of auxiliary-language advocates in all parts of the world who speak and write the same language with more or less striking deviations. It is in the nature of this language that it can be managed with a good deal of elasticity according to one or another of kindred grammatical systems, just as it is in the nature of any ethnic language that it can be used in regional, social, or individual variations. 1

It is important that an ever-increasing number of people all over the world should learn to communicate with other nationals by means of the common international language. We hope that many will do so on the basis of this grammar, but it was with considered care that we called it a grammar of the international language, which is to imply that other grammars and other variants of the same language are not only possible but highly welcome.

H. E. B.

* Interlingua-English, a Dictionary of the International Language, prepared by the research staff of the International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA) under the direction of Alexander Gode, Ph.D. 480 pp. Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.

1 As a matter of fact, the grammar here presented - while completely unambiguous in its individual rules - makes provision for at least one collateral variant as covered by §15 note, §57 note, §79 note, §97, §116 note, §134 end of introductory note, §148 note.

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