Je 05.11 ptm 2002.09.16 +0000, James CHANDLER skribis
>The final list of 22 points of agreement is now at the Basis Project
>This is a great achievement in quite a short space of time, and I would like
>to thank everyone who contributed to it.

For the benefit of those interested, the following undated letter from the
late John L. Lewine appeared in "The International Language Review", issue
of July-Oct. 1964. I have taken the liberty of correcting one or two
obvious typographical errors (which unfortunately were not uncommon in that
typed-and-mimeo'ed magazine). For those interested, John L. Lewine, besides
speaking Esperanto, Ido and Volapuk (and being active in the Esperanto
movement for many years, even _post-mortem_ -- ELNA received a large check
from his estate several months ago, almost two decades after he passed on),
also served as an interpreter on the staff of, I believe, General
Eisenhower during WWII.

Of particular interest to me was the third paragraph.


Dear Mr. Hardin:

The new departmenet of the "International Language Review" entitled
"Friends of the International Language" is interesting and stimulating --
as is so much else in your excellent magzine. It raises certain fundamental
questions, however, which, in importance, extend beyond the confines of
that particular department. This is my excuse for communicating with you
directly rather than with the editor of the special section, Dr. A. Alfandari.

The efforts to find a "compromise" solution of the IL problem by merging
several proposed constructed IL's is by no means a new one. After all, that
was the goal of the _Delegitaro_ (*) which approved the project proposed to
it as Ido under the misapprehension that this proposal had the unofficial
blessing of Dr. Zamenhof. (This is a statement of historic fact and is not
to be construed as a criticism of Ido per se).

During the ensuing years many efforts were made along similar lines. Dr.
Rene de Saussure ("Antido") produced _Esperantido_, which as followed by
_Esperanto-II_. Similar endeavors inspired authors who worked in the field
of "naturalistic" constructed languages. While I was working for IALA I was
engaged on a comparative study of six projectived IL's selected from a much
wider field, the aim of which was similar to that projected by the
"Friends". An important part of the IALA study was an effort to set up a
series of criteria for an IL as an essential first step before a further
effort could be made. The next step was then to observe to what extent each
of the six IL's approached the criteria.

To me this seems a more logical approach than that indicated in the
articles in the March-April issue of the _Review_. To discuss whether
"vidanda" is better than "vidanta" before having determined your basic
criteria (Cf. vidinda and vidinta in Es.) appears to me pretty much like
putting the cart before the horse. But the basic question is: "Who is
qualified to set the criteria and who is qualified to express a decisive
opinion on them?" Mrs. Morris suggestion that the criteria be prepared by
IALA and then sent out to a selected list of scholars, scientists, etc.,
for their approval suffered from the fact that eminent tho her choices
might have been in their respective fields, there was no evidence that they
had any especial competence in the field of interlinguistics -- a field in
which professional linguists' competence is open to question. As for
finding impartial judges amongst interlinguists, squaring the cricle would
be far easier.

This is where the weakness of the entire proposal is to be found. Why
should one assume that the contributos to "Friends of the International
Language", competent as they no doubt are, will be more so than, for
example, the members of the _Kaden Volapuki_ who authored _Idiom Neutral_,
than the members of the _Delegitaro_, than the able group of researchers
employed by IALA -- not to mention the great individual interlinguists of
the last century and this? To be sure, such has been accomplished in
research -- both theoretical and (in my view even more important) in the
practical experience of 75 years of day to day use of Esperanto in almost
every conceivable field of linguistic usage -- from scientific treatise to
_tete-a-tete_ conversation, to commercial usage to pillow talk -- and
beyond. But "research" tends to be carried on in a vacume, while the person
engaged in putting across a sale, investigating natural phenomena or hoping
to win the approval of his lady fair isn't going to be tremendously
concerned with the (putative) superiority of _vidanda_ over _vidanta_ --
not if he's a normal human being (i.e., not an interlinguist!)

Does this mean that "research" is futile and pointless? Not at all. But it
does mean that before tackling minutiae, let us give serious thought to the
things which we really want to achieve, to the criteria for determining
whether or not we have achieved them, and then to checking our theories
with practical experience. And let us not forget that the most fruitful
field of research -- altho the most difficult -- would be to conduct
studies in depth of the IL in practical use -- albeit on a limited scale
--, the International Language Esperanto.

(John L. Lewine, President, Esperanto Society of Greater New York, 52
Riverside Drive, New York 24, N.Y.)


(*) Note by DH: Actually, it appears that the Delegation (Committee) had as
its purpose the _selection_, not _creation_, of an AIL, and so the second
and third sentences of this paragraph are probably irrelevant to the thrust
of this letter.


Pasis longa voj'
Iri ĉi tien de for;
Pasis longa temp',
Sed alvenas mia hor' ...