Winter 1943 • Vol. V No. 1 Nonfiction |

Basic, Latin, and Other Languages

It is hard to see why the enthusiasm for a universal language is so very recent. The modern world let Latin die. Perhaps Latin was too hard to learn. Perhaps it made too great use of verbs for a mercantile and technical civilization like ours, which seems to prefer abstract nouns. The Basic vocabulary is quite alien to Latin, as its first words are sufficient to show: account, act, addition, adjustment, agreement, air, amount, amusement. The Romans did not talk much about such things and, if they did, used verbs. The need for a universal language has been recognized since the story of Babel was written. Since Latin is dead and travel has increased, I suppose that the need may be greater than ever. But Basic is not good enough for so high a destiny. I believe that no language of 850 words with only sixteen verbs can be an instrument for good literature or even intelligent communication. I do not want to see English, French, German, Italian and Spanish replaced by anything that is

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