Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/165

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161
INTERNATIONAL SPEECH

characteristic features of every "natural" language, different in each, and no less difficult in the English than elsewhere. While they give a tongue much of its piquancy, its individuality, they immensely augment the difficulties of its mastery.

But, finally, there are two fundamental inescapable facts, inherent in the nature of things, which will inevitably make it impossible for any great living tongue—the native language of any people, however powerful and aggressive—to become, in the widest and most real sense of the word, international. First, the essential fact that no single such language, however broad, even the English, contains in its structure, vocabulary and idiom, enough of the elements of internationality already present and available to make it acceptable to, and easy of acquisition by, all other peoples. In all cases, the use of any single existing language internationally, involves the neglect of valuable, useful, beautiful, skilful forms of speech, possible in each of the others. The second, and perhaps the most serious fundamental obstacle exists in the mutual jealousy of nations, and national, provincial pride in one's own language. The experiences of Russia with Poland and Finland, of Austria with Hungary and Bohemia, of Germany with Alsace, are instructive.

To-day the nationalistic tendency is rampant in every tiny state and dependency in Europe; is fermenting among all the black and brown and yellow peoples over the earth who have heard of Japan's victory over a white race. And as the natural concomitant of this tendency, or indeed often as its main expression, we see dozens of petty dialects, once thought doomed to be swallowed up in a few of the great languages, now not only resisting furiously any such engulfment, but aspiring themselves to be great, to be spoken widely over the earth. Instead of Europe, for example, becoming more homogeneous in language with the development of the great consolidated states, it is apparently becoming more heterogeneous. The Bulgarians would Bulgarize the Balkans, including Macedonia, which the Greeks in turn are equally determined to Hellenize. Roumania and Servia have developed a national pride of language undreamed of in the seventies. Neither Russia nor Germany, despite the harshest measures, has succeeded in displacing Polish in its share of the dismembered kingdom. Every patriotic writer in Finland, in Lithuania, in Bohemia, rejects the great "world languages" for Finnish, for Lett, for Czech. Even the Irish are fervently reviving Erse. The Hollanders show no signs of a readiness to abandon Dutch for German, nor do the Walloons of Belgium intend to yield to the dominant French of their state.

As once in the early middle ages, writers in Italy and France, in England and Germany, disdained to express themselves in the com-