Bruce's main language page.

This is mostly a page to guide you to other sources of information. Rather than trying to put everything up myself, I've used the linking nature of the Web to show you what the best sites I've found are.

On this page, you will be able to see:

  • links to my own pages on specific languages,
  • a description of the background of my language interests, and
  • my favorite language-related links.
  • (The section entitled "The Great Debate on the Esperanto Accusative" has been moved to another page.)

    My pages:

    I have put up some material of my own on three languages because I have special reasons:
  • Otto Jespersen's Novial, the best international auxiliary language proposal I've found, and which I believe is the best starting point for any new IAL construction to be followed;
  • Voksigid, which is a project that I was myself involved with; and
  • Americai Speak, a creation by Ruby Olive Foulk, which I'm documenting only because her book seems totally unknown to the world and I feel someone ought to make it known.
  • .

    My background in Languages and Interlanguages:

    I am over 50 years old, and have been interested in IALs (International Auxiliary Languages) since I was somewhere around 10-12. I had heard of Esperanto, but had no idea what it looked like. At the time, my feeling was that a basically Romance vocabulary was appropriate; I'd had some French in school, and learned a little Spanish from phrasebooks and the like, and from those (and eventually my high school Latin) cobbled together "Símplé Románcé," my first conlang. It had a fairly complex verb system, patterned on French but regularized (tense, person, and number endings were used agglutinatively, though I did not know the word "agglutinative" then) and it is hardly what I would create now, but over 40 years ago, given my age at the time, it was the best I could do.

    In college I ran across my first actual book in (and/or on) a conlang, Alexander Gode's "Interlingua at Sight." So, unlike many others, the first conlang other than my own that I encountered was not Esperanto, but Interlingua. And as the title promised, I read it at sight. There was a little one-page list of small words in it, but otherwise no dictionary, yet I had no trouble reading it. I was impressed.

    By then I had had three years of high-school Latin and was beginning two years of college German. I had also picked up bits and pieces of Spanish and had had to study Hebrew (though not in the kind of class where I got to learn the grammar, though I had managed to figure out something of how Hebrew grammar works by "logic-ing" out the individual forms) for my bar mitzvah.

    I also had, since age 9 or so, as a result of an encounter with a man who had taken an interest in me, a strong interest in comparative and historical linguistics. We remained friends for several years; I have a dictionary he gave me as a bar mitzvah present. The interest has continued to the present; while I only had one college course in linguistics, I have a large library of books on the subject, and have actually read probably hundreds of those books from cover to cover. The books are not there for show.

    So, in college, I became an advocate of Interlingua. When I finally found out how Esperanto works, I was dissatisfied. It was so much more complex: adjective-noun agreement, an accusative case ending, etc. The only way in which it was better than Interlingua was that it had no irregular verbs. And that was hardly worth it. In the absence of knowing any other IALs, the choice was easy to me: Interlingua, and if I could only regularize the verb system, so much the better.

    Then I read some pro-Esperanto articles in a Mensa publication, and I wrote a response. My response in turn drew letters from two sources: one particular Esperantist, S. R. Dalton, who attempted, by logic that seemed specious, to convince me that all Esperanto's flaws were virtues, and two or three Idists. (It is still true today that Esperantists go to extraordinary lengths to justify that which is unjustifiable! For more examples, see the Q&A page which has been put on the Web.) The Idists' letters convinced me that a middle ground between E-o and IL existed, and I transferred my loyalty to Ido. (A summary of some of the improvements made to Esperanto when Ido was devised is posted here. )

    The next step occurred when Carl Rostrom, the US head of the Ido movement, died. His daughter distributed what she thought were his Ido materials to any people who requested it. But one of the pamphlets I got was not in Ido. It was the "Standard-Grammar of the Auxiliary Language Intal" by Erich Weferling. It was written entirely in Intal, yet I read it painlessly. It had the regularity of Ido (or Esperanto) but was as at-sight-readable as Interlingua. I really felt that this was the ideal IAL. It had a few idiosyncrasies like an Esperantine "kv" in words that ought to have "qu" and the "c" being pronounced "sh," but these were quite minor to me. Intal became the language I pushed. And in fact I would still be a devotee of Intal if I had not found, in a used book store, Jespersen's book An International Language, where he defined Novial. I found that everything I liked about Intal had been anticipated by Jespersen, and so it is now Novial that I now favor.

    I have, over the years, created or coauthored a number of languages, either "experimental" or intended as IALs. As I mentioned, I started with Símplé Románcé as a child, and at one time was working with a co-author on an IAL called Novulinge. A few years ago, I was part of a group that started to develop Voksigid (which unfortunately was never completed). But right now, my main efforts are devoted to a collaboration to update Novial.

    Other Sites:
    There are a number of good general surveys of languages:

    And if you don't have enough linguistic terminology to understand some of these writeups, there is a whole page of linguistic glossaries online.

    There are two mailing lists for constructed languages that you might like to join: CONLANG (general constructed language stuff) and AUXLANG (languages intended for use as international auxiliary languages). To subscribe to either, send e-mail to the listserver with the words SUBSCRIBE CONLANG or SUBSCRIBE AUXLANG. (A FAQ is available here. Additional mailing lists exist for specific conlangs, and in general a list of language-related (not just conlang-related) mailing lists can be found here and here. There is also a Usenet newsgroup on constructed languages.
    If you want to comment, send me . e-mail.

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    Last modified by B. R. Gilson ( Apr. 13, 1997.
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