Interlingue language

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Tilda de Occidental
Created byEdgar de Wahl (1922)
Setting and usageInternational auxiliary language
Language codes
ISO 639-1ie
ISO 639-2ile
ISO 639-3ile
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The language Interlingue, previously Occidental, is a planned international auxiliary language created by the Balto-German naval officer and teacher Edgar de Wahl, and published in 1922. The vocabulary is based on already existing words from various languages. The language is thereby naturalistic, at the same time as it is constructed to be regular.[2] Occidental was quite popular in the years up to and during the Second World War, but declined thereafter.

Edgar de Wahl (far right) in 1927.

Occidental is devised so that many of its derived word forms reflect the similar forms common to a number of Western European languages, primarily those in the Romance family,[3], along with a certain amount of Germanic vocabulary. This was done through application of de Wahl's rule which is a set of rules for converting verb infinitives into derived nouns and adjectives. The result is a language easy to understand at first sight for individuals acquainted with several Western European languages. This readability and simplified grammar along with the regular appearance of the magazine Cosmoglotta made Occidental popular in Europe during the 15 years before World War II.[4]

In The Esperanto Book, Don Harlow says that Occidental had an intentional emphasis on European forms, and that some of its leading followers espoused a Eurocentric philosophy,[5] which may have hindered its spread. Still, Occidental gained adherents in many nations including Asian nations. According to the Occidental magazine Cosmoglotta in 1928, a majority of Ido adherents took up Occidental in place of Ido.[6]

Occidental survived World War II, undergoing a name change to Interlingue, but faded into insignificance following the appearance in the early 1950s of a competing naturalistic project, Interlingua,[7] which attracted among others the notable Occidentalist Ric Berger.[8] The emergence of Interlingua occurred around the same time that Edgar de Wahl, who had opted to remain in Tallinn, was sent to a sanitarium by Soviet authorities and was not permitted to correspond with Occidentalists in Western Europe. His death was confirmed in 1948. [9] The proposal to change the name from Occidental to Interlingue was twofold: to attempt to demonstrate to the Soviet Union the neutrality of the language, and in hopes of a union with Interlingua.


Participants at an Occidental gathering in Vienna, 1928: Engelbert Pigal, Karl Janotta, A. Deminger, Hanns Hörbiger, Eugen Moess, Franz Houdek, Johann Robert Hörbiger

The activities of Occidental and its users can be seen through the magazine Cosmoglotta, which began publication in 1922 under the name Kosmoglott. For a number of years it was a forum for various other constructed auxiliary languages, while still mainly written in Occidental. In 1924 the magazine was briefly also affiliated with the Academia pro Interlingua [10], now known as Latino sine flexione. In 1927 the name was changed to Cosmoglotta as it began to promote Occidental in lieu of other languages. [11] The years from 1935 to 1939 were the most active for Cosmoglotta, during which two editions were produced: the original Cosmoglotta, along with a second version called Cosmoglotta B which focused on more linguistic issues. In 1940 no issues of either Cosmoglotta were produced, but in 1941 Cosmoglotta B began publication once again and continued until 1947.[12] The choice of Cosmoglotta B was due to only Occidentalists in the neutral countries Switzerland and Sweden having the ability to devote time to the language, and these carried on activities in a semi-official form using Cosmoglotta B. During this time a great deal of time was spent working on the standardization of the language and creation of courses, and in August 1943 the decision was made, given the length of the war, to create an interim academy to guide this process. [13] Cosmoglotta A began publication again in 1946.

Alphabet and pronunciation[edit]

Occidental is written with 26 Latin letters: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z. The letters of the alphabet are pronounced as a, be, ce, de, e, ef, ge, ha, i, jot, ka, el, em, en, o, pe, qu, er, es, te, u, ve, duplic ve, ix, ypsilon, and zet.[14]


The vowels a, e, i, o, and u have a continental pronunciation and are all sounded. The y (initial and medial) are pronounced as in "yes", ey (final) as in "they", and eu as éh-oo.[15]

The consonants are pronounced as in English, with the following exceptions:[15]

  • c when before e and i = [ts]: cive, helice
  • g when before e and i = [ʒ], French j, or English s in pleasure: plage, giraffe; but elsewhere c and g are hard as in can, go
  • ss = [s] as in pass
  • s between vowels = [z]: rose, positiv
  • z = [dz]
  • zz = [ts]
  • ch = [ʃ], English sh: chambre
  • j = [ʒ], French j, or English s in pleasure


Sticker from 1930 created to emphasize readability at first sight: Li lingue quel vu comprende (The language you understand) Occidental propaga se self (Occidental promotes itself)

Like English, Interlingue has a definite article and an indefinite article. The definite article (the) is li, and the indefinite (a, an) is un. Plural of a noun is made by adding -s after a vowel, or -es after most consonants.[15] To avoid pronunciation and stress changes, words ending in -c, -g, and -m only add an -s: un libre, du libres, un angul, tri angules, li tric, li trics, li plug, li plugs, li album, pluri albums, li tram, du trams.

Personal pronouns[edit]

Interlingue has two forms for the personal pronouns: one for the subject form (nominative), and one for the object form (accusative or dative). In short, the personal pronouns in the subject form are:

Singular Plural
first second third first second third
English I you he she it we you they
Occidental yo tu il illa/ella it noi vu ili (illos, illas)

The variants illa and ella both exist for third person singular feminine.[16] The pronoun expressing politeness is vu,[14] which behaves like second person plural. The indefinite personal pronoun "one" is on in Occidental.[15] If necessary, one can specify the gender of third person plural by using illos (masculine) or illas (feminine).[14]

In the object form the pronouns are: me, te, le, la, it, nos, vos, and les (with los and las as specific masculine and feminine forms, respectively). The possessive pronouns are mi, tui, su (his/her/its), nor, vor and lor.[14]

Grammatical endings are used to a certain extent, though to a lesser degree than languages such as Esperanto and Ido where parts of speech are marked with obligatory endings. Some grammatical endings are:

  • ar, er, ir: verb infinitive. far (to do), posser (be able), scrir (to write)
  • e: the general substantival (noun) ending used obligatorily to differentiate nouns from other parts or speech, for reasons of pronunciation, or optionally for euphony. Examples of obligatory -e endings: capitale (capital, noun) vs. capital (capital, adjective), contenete (content) vs, contenet (contained), sud (south, adjective) vs. sude (south as an independent noun, as in the north and the south). Optional -e endings: can or cane (dog), Pentecost or Pentecoste (Pentecost).
  • i: the general adjectival ending, similar to -e in usage. Examples of obligatory -i endings: pigri (lazy), acri (sharp) for ease of pronunciation, verdi (green, adjective) to distinguish from verde (green, noun). Examples of optional -i endings: etern vs. eterni (eternal), imens vs. imensi (immense).

Example texts[edit]

PR postcard with Occidental text created in 1928 in Vienna

Li material civilisation, li scientie, e mem li arte unifica se plu e plu. Li cultivat europano senti se quasi in hem in omni landes queles have europan civilisation, it es, plu e plu, in li tot munde. Hodie presc omni states guerrea per li sam armes. Sin cessa li medies de intercommunication ameliora se, e in consecuentie de to li terra sembla diminuer se. Un Parisano es nu plu proxim a un angleso o a un germano quam il esset ante cent annus a un paisano frances.

Translation: "Material civilization, science, and even art unify themselves more and more. The educated European feels himself almost at home in all lands that have European civilization, that is, more and more, in the entire world. Today almost all states war with the same armaments. Without pause the modes of intercommunication improve, and in consequence from that the world seems to decrease. A Parisian is now closer to an Englishman or a German than he was a hundred years before to a French peasant."

Lord's Prayer
Occidental version Interlingua version Latin version (traditional) English version (traditional)

Patre nor, qui es in li cieles,
mey tui nómine esser sanctificat,
mey tui regnia venir,
mey tui vole esser fat,
qualmen in li cieles talmen anc sur li terre.
Da nos hodie nor pan omnidial,
e pardona nor débites,
qualmen anc noi pardona nor debitores.
E ne inducte nos in tentation,
ma libera nos de lu mal.

Patre nostre, qui es in le celos,
que tu nomine sia sanctificate;
que tu regno veni;
que tu voluntate sia facite
como in le celo, etiam super le terra.
Da nos hodie nostre pan quotidian,
e pardona a nos nostre debitas
como etiam nos los pardona a nostre debitores.
E non induce nos in tentation,
sed libera nos del mal.

Pater noster, qui es in cælis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in cælo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
sed libera nos a malo.

Our father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done.
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts
as we have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

New Year's greeting from Cosmoglotta B published in Switzerland, 1942
Occidental English
Si noi vell viver ancor in li felici témpor quel precedet li guerre universal, tande anc li present articul vell reflecter li serenitá per quel noi acustomat salutar li comensa de un nov annu. Ma hodie, li pie desir quel noi ordinarimen expresse per un cordial 'Felici nov annu' ha transformat se in sanguant ironie. Noi plu ne posse pronunciar ti paroles sin sentir lor terribil banalitá e absolut vacuitá de sens. Li future es obscurissim e it promisse nos plu mult sufrenties quam radies de espera. Li pace va sequer li guerre quam li die seque li nocte e quam li calma succede al tempeste. Un nov munde va nascer ex li caos e in ti nov munde anc noi interlinguistes va ti-ci vez luder un rol decisiv. If we were to still live in the happy time that preceded the world war, then this article would also reflect the serenity by which we used to greet the beginning of a new year. But today, the pious desire that we ordinarily express via a cordial 'Happy new year' has transformed itself into bloody irony. We can no longer pronounce these words without feeling their terrible banality and absolute lack of meaning. The future is beyond dark and it promises us more suffering than rays of hope. Peace will follow war in the same way the day follows the night and the calm comes after the storm. A new world will be born out of the chaos and in this new world we interlinguists will also this time play a decisive role.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Interlingue (Occidental)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Curs de Occidental in Occidental, read 18 November 2013.
  3. ^ Translation: "Occidental being a neo-Latin language, the influence of the languages French, Italian and Spanish will probably still be greater than that of the Anglo-Saxons."
  4. ^
  5. ^ Harlow, Don. The Esperanto Book, Chapter 3: "How to Build a Language" Archived 2012-02-04 at the Wayback Machine..
  6. ^ Cosmoglotta, October 1928, Num. 53(10), p. 142, 149-152, Ido-Congress in Zürich.
  7. ^ Language, p. 73, at Google Books
  8. ^ Interlingua Institute: A History, p. 21, at Google Books
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ English translation: "Because the president and secretary of the Academy are located in countries in a state of war, the leading Occidentalists of the neutral countries, Switzerland and Sweden, believe it necessary to set up an INTERIM ACADEMY which will function until the other will be able to resume its work. The decisions of this interim academy will be conditional, i.e.: must be validated by the regular Academy after the war, and due to that it will deliver to it all documents justifying its decisions, with detailed reasons."
  14. ^ a b c d Grammatica de Interlingue in English, F. Haas 1956. Read 31 October 2013.
  15. ^ a b c d The Basis of International language. Read 1 November 2013.
  16. ^ H. Jacob on Occidental (1947). Read 3 November 2013.

External links[edit]

Grammar and Dictionary[edit]