Qualities of an international language
The need for an international language cannot be gainsaid and its need has been felt more now than before. But such a language must have certain qualities so that it could be accepted as an international language. The purpose of this essay is to discuss some of those qualities.
Any language must have its own alphabets. The Roman Script in which most of the European languages are written is very convenient as it has the smallest number of letters. It is only twenty six and compared to the thousands of letters of Chinese, it is very easy to master Roman Script. But even here there are certain difficulties because all sounds could not be expressed in the Roman Script. That is why experts like Bernard Shaw suggested a forty script language. So an international language must have a small number of simple scripts and must be useful to express any sound.
Secondly it must have a rich vocabulary. There are dozens and dozens of highly developed languages in the world with their beautiful vocabulary. Some of those words, if they are already popular and could be easily understood, must find a place in the international language. These words must have the respectability capable of being used in the newspaper, in conferences and international meets. Those words must be acceptable to the people of the world, at least the educated who would be using them very often.
Thirdly it must have good idioms and expressions. Only these make any language virile and the international language must absorb those idioms into it so that it will be better understood in suitable form. Since in an international meet, all kinds of people from different countries would be present the idioms must be acceptable to all and intended only for international usage. All that is peculiar to a particular tongue need not be there. The language must be capable of being spoken and written by many, neither too hard to understand nor to simple too be forgotten.
It must not have a cumbrous and difficult grammar. Each language has its own rules of grammar, some of them not very logical on the face of it. For example, in English we say `I read, you read and he reads’. This has proved a headache to many a beginner of English. In fact in almost all languages these peculiarities are also found. So the international language must have a simple grammar.
The language must be capable of being used in the august assemblies of the world. But that is not enough; it must be capable of being used by the man in the street as well; otherwise it will become dead soon. It has been the fate of some great languages of the world, for instance, Sanskrit, which continued to be the court language and the language of the elite and so it became dead. To attain an international status, it must be the language at that level. It must be used in world bodies so that translation could be avoided.
Since the international language will have to be evolved it must avoid the pitfalls in other languages. Newspapers of repute can have their edition made in the international language. Great books of the world must be translated into the international language. The whole trouble is a language has to evolve and is never made. So the birth of an international language may have its birth pangs but it may be worthwhile to make an attempt.