From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Occidental language)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
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, known as Occidental until 1949, 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 and a system of derivation using recognized prefixes and suffixes. 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][4][5], 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.[6]

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,[7] 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.[8]

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,[9] which attracted among others the notable Occidentalist Ric Berger.[10] 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. [11] 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.

History and activity[edit]

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 in Tallinn (at the time still often called Reval), Estonia 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 [12], 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[13], and the magazine's editorial and administrative office was moved to Vienna, Austria. 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. At the same time, the years leading up to the Second World War led to difficulties for Occidental along with other planned languages which were made illegal in Germany along with Austria[14] and Czechoslovakia, and forced to disband.[15] In 1940 no issues of either Cosmoglotta were produced, but in 1941 Cosmoglotta B began publication once again and continued until 1947.[16] 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.

De Wahl had created Occidental with a number of unchangeable features, but believed that certain others where more than one permissible form existed could not be resolved by decree alone and left the ultimate decision regarding them to the community by including both permissible forms in the first Occidental dictionaries.[17] The decision over etymologic vs. recognizable spellings in words such as attractive (adtractiv, attractiv or atractiv) and oppression (obpression vs. oppression vs. opression) is one[18] example where the community quickly rejected the first option by not using it and eventually settled on the third. Much of the language was quickly solved by community usage (e.g. de Wahl proposed both ac and anc for the word "also" but ac was hardly if ever used). With questions still remaining about the official form of some words, during World War II 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. [19] During this time, Cosmoglotta maintained that standardization was being carried out based on actual usage, stating that "...the standardization of the language has natural limits. "Standardizing" the language does not mean arbitrarily officializing one of the possible solutions and rejecting the others as indesirable and irritating. One only standardizes solutions that have already been sanctioned through practice."[20]

During the war, Occidentalists noticed that the language was frequently allowed to be sent by telegram within and outside of Switzerland even without official recognition, surmising that censors were able to read it[21] and may have thought them to be written in Spanish or Romansch[22], the latter language an official language in Switzerland but lacking a standardized orthography. A few months before the end of World War II in Europe (January 1945) Cosmoglotta had subscribers in 58 cities in Switzerland.[23] Cosmoglotta A began publication again in 1946 after originally planning to do so from 1945.

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.[24]


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.[25]

The consonants are pronounced as in English, with the following exceptions:[25]

  • 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

Other doubled consonants are pronounced as a single consonant, unless when separated they would be pronounced differently. Ex. grammatica is pronounced as if written gramatica, but occidental and suggestion are pronounced as if written as oc followed by cidental, and sug followed by gestion.


Words are generally stressed on the vowel before the final consonant: intercalar, parol, forme. Pluralizing a noun does not change the stress: paroles, formes. The endings -bil, -ic, -im, -ul and -um do not change the stress (even when more than one is present in a single word), nor does the adverbial ending -men: rapidmen, duplic, bonissim, singul, possibil, maximum, statisticas. Two vowels together are diphthongized and do not count as two syllables for the purpose of stress: familie, potentie, unless the word is a single consonant or consonant cluster followed by two vowels: die, deo. Compound words are stressed based on the last word in the compound: hodie, substrae. In cases where the accent is irregular, it is indicated by an accent: café, ínpossibil, numeró, númere, felicitá.


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.[25] 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.[26] The pronoun expressing politeness is vu,[24] which behaves like second person plural. The indefinite personal pronoun "one" is on in Occidental.[25] If necessary, one can specify the gender of third person plural by using illos (masculine) or illas (feminine).[24]

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). In the oblique case, the pronouns are me, te, il (or le), noi (or nos), voi (or vos), and ili (or les), varying by user and situation outside of the forms me and te.[27] The possessive pronouns are mi, tui, su (his/her/its), nor, vor and lor.[24]

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).
  • a: nouns that end in e formed from an -ar verb are often written with the -a ending if one wishes to emphasize the verbal (active) aspect. A me veni un pensa (a thought occurred to me) vs. Penses e paroles (thoughts and words). The a ending also makes nouns feminine: anglese (English person), angleso (Englishman), anglesa (English woman). This does not apply to nouns that on their own indicate the gender (patre, matre).
  • o: indicates the masculine gender in the same way a indicates the feminine.


The application of de Wahl's rule to verbs and the usage of numerous suffixes and prefixes is characteristic to Interlingue. The rules are

  1. . If, after the removal of -r or -er of the infinitive, the root ends in a vowel, the final -t is added. Crear (to create), crea/t-, crea/t/or, crea/t/ion, crea/t/iv, crea/t/ura.
  2. . If the root ends in consonants d or r, they are changed into s: decid/er (to decide), deci/s-, deci/s/ion deci/s/iv. Adherer (to adhere), adhe/s-, adhe/s/ion
  3. . In all other cases, with six exceptions, the removal of the ending gives the exact root: duct/er, duct-, duct/ion.

These six exceptions and related English words are:

  1. ced/er, cess- (concession)
  2. sed/er, sess- (session)
  3. mov/er, mot- (motion)
  4. ten/er, tent- (tempation)
  5. vert/er, vers- (version)
  6. veni/r, vent- (advent)

Suffixes are added either to the verbal root or the present theme of the verb (the infinitive minus -r). An example of the latter is the suffix -ment: move/r, move/ment (not movetment), experi/r, experi/ment (not experitment), and -ntie (English -nce): tolera/r (tolerate), tolera/ntie, existe/r (exist), existe/ntie.

Using internationally-recognized prefixes and suffixes did not however imply wholesale importing of international words. Just before the beginning of the Second World War de Wahl called criticisms of Occidental as a chaotic unfounded, stating that English and French users in particular had a tendency to see Occidental as a mix of the two: "(Occidental's chaotic appearance) is not the fault of Occidental itself, but rather that of its users and especially the French and English, or those that think that the international language should be a mixture of those two languages...that is a fundamental error, especially if these forms present exceptions and irregularities in Occidental's system."[28] Occidental's erring on the side of regularity led to vocabulary that was still recognizable but different from the international norm, such as ínpossibil in place of impossibil (ín + poss + ibil), scientic (scientific, from scient-ie + -ic), and descrition (description, from descri-r + -tion). This is one of the greatest differences between it and Interlingua, which has a vocabulary taken from so-called 'prototypes' (the most recent common ancestor to its source languages) while Interlingue/Occidental focused on active, on the fly derivation. After the standardization of Occidental in 1947 and the name change to Interlingue in 1950 there was a push towards greater and greater naturalistic forms[29] such as replacing the optional -i adjectival ending with -e, particularly by Ric Berger. Whether these proposed changes would have taken place is not known, as Berger left his position as editor of Cosmoglotta soon after[30] and eventually joined Interlingua.

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 consequentie 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
Interlingue/Occidental Interlingua Latin (traditional) English (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. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1945, p. 90: 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. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1944, p. 104: Translation: "and what else is Occidental than a simplified Italian, or, to state it more generally, the simplified commonality of all Romance languages?"
  5. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1944, p. 116: Translation: "Latin is dead, even though it is still used for a few limited purposes. But the mother language Latin still lives in her daughters, the Romance languages - and Occidental is one of them."
  6. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1935, p. 2
  7. ^ Harlow, Don. The Esperanto Book, Chapter 3: "How to Build a Language" Archived 2012-02-04 at the Wayback Machine..
  8. ^ Cosmoglotta, October 1928, Num. 53(10), p. 142, 149-152, Ido-Congress in Zürich.
  9. ^ Language, p. 73, at Google Books
  10. ^ Interlingua Institute: A History, p. 21, at Google Books
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Translation öf the last pre-war Occidental postcard from Austria sent to Switzerland in December 1938: "My sadness from not being able to continue my interlinguistic work continues and has made me almost melancholic. Please do not send me mail in Occidental."
  15. ^ Translation: "The reality is that Occidental, like the other international languages, is prohibited in Germany, that the Occidental societies have been disbanded there (also in Czechoslovakia and Austria) even before the war, and that only regime change in those countries will make Occidental propagation a possibility again.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1945, p. 3: Translation: "For some hundreds of international words there are two forms between which it is not easy to know which one is better. E. de Wahl wisely wrote both in the first dictionaries, with the intention to let practice make the decision."
  18. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1944, p. 66
  19. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1943, p. 85: 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."
  20. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1944, p. 67: " standardisation del lingue have su natural límites. "Standardisar li lingue ne significa arbitrarimen oficialisar un del solutiones possibil e rejecter li altris quam índesirabil e genant. On standardisa solmen solutiones queles ja ha esset sanctionat per li practica."
  21. ^
  22. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1945, p. 15
  23. ^ Cosmoglotta B, 1945, p. 24
  24. ^ a b c d Grammatica de Interlingue in English, F. Haas 1956. Read 31 October 2013.
  25. ^ a b c d The Basis of International language. Read 1 November 2013.
  26. ^ H. Jacob on Occidental (1947). Read 3 November 2013.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Cosmoglotta April 1950, p. 5
  30. ^ Cosmoglotta October 1950, p. 1

External links[edit]

Grammar and Dictionary[edit]