Key to Interlingua


Praesidente: G. PEANO, Prof. in Universitate de Torino, Cavoretto, Torino (Italia)

SCHOLA ET VITA: Organo de Academia pro Interlingua

Directore: Nicola Mastropaolo, via E. Paglinno 46, Milano (Italia)

Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tnnner Ltd.. Frome and London




THE idea of an international language for use in written and oral intercourse between peoples of different mother tongues is not a modern one. By "international auxiliary language" is meant any system of international language intended to assist and not to replace the mother tongue. It was a subject treated by philosophers several hundred years ago, notably by Descartes and Leibnitz. Over two hundred systems have been devised in the last 300 years.

Three classes of languages present themselves for consideration with respect to the solution of this problem, viz.:

1. Living or national languages;

2. Dead languages;

3. Artificial or synthetic languages.

Concerning the first class, many think that some one of the national tongues ought to be adopted as an international language. A number of persons in the United States and Great Britain believe that English is destined for this all-important role, no doubt because of the vast geographical distribution of English-speaking countries, and on account of thc present social, political, and commercial importance of that language. A brief consideration of the facts should easily reveal the fallacy of the proposed adoption of any national language for this purpose. At various times in history some language has had a predominant position in the world or in a large part of it. In the West, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Italian, and French, have each held such a preeminent position and now English is predominant. Those languages have been displaced from their privileged positions. What will be the comparative position of English a century hence, in face of the very probable expansion of Russian in Easter Europe and Western Asia, of Spanish in South America, of Chinese in the Far East?

It is obvious that if English or any other national language were chosen as an international auxiliary tongue the favoured nation would be given immeasurable advantages over all others, commercially, socially, politically, economically, and in a multitude of other ways. Such a country would be relieved of the necessity of learning any secondary language at all. Other countries would be required to learn the selected national language in addition to their mother tongues. Neither the United States nor Great Britain would ever consent to give any country such tremendous advantages; how can we expect, therefore, other nations to accept a foreign tongue? The resultant inequalities would be intolerable.

The impracticability of the adoption of a living language, therefore, leads to a consideration of the second class of available systems, viz., the so-called dead languages and the possible adoption of some one of them, like Latin, or Greek, or Sanscrit. They all possess the prime requisite of neutrality. Latin has been most often proposed for the role, one of its ablest advocates being Prof. Roland G. Kent, of the University of Pennsylvania.

(Latin as the International Auxiliary Language, by Roland G. Kent, Professor of Comparative Philology, University of Pennsylvania, published by the American Classical League).

The chief objection to these languages, however, is the great difficulty to learn them and because, in their unmodified, inflected forms, they are too cumbrous and unadapted to meet all modern conditions.

The modification or simplification of any one of them would require such changes as to remove it from the class of dead languages into that of artificial or synthetic languages, where it would then more properly belong.

This leads naturally to the conclusion that, no one of the living or dead languages being acceptable, the only practical solution of the problem is the adoption of an artificial or invented language, which is the conclusion now most generally accepted.


The term "artificial" or "invented language" signifies any language specially devised to serve as a means of communication between persons of different speech. Dr. F. G. Cottrell aptly designates them synthetic languages in contradistinction to ethnic or so-called natural languages. Such a language may be invented anew or may be based upon borrowed elements which philologists and others estimate to be useful for the purpose. Again, it may be a modification or simplification of some dead language, or, finally, it may be a modification of an existing natural language.

Synthetic languages are classified into three groups, first, a priori, i.e. systems based on some logical plan having nothing in common with natural languages; secondly, a posteriori, i.e. systems based mainly on elements derived from natural tongues, and thirdly, mixed systems or those which partake of the nature of the first two.

Strictly a priori or philosophical languages have never had any success thus far.


It was in 1880 that Johann Martin Schleyer published

Volapük (Vol, world, reduced and altered from English world, + -a-, connecting vowel of compounds, + pük, speech), reduced and altered from English speech = World speech), a system comprising both original and borrowed elements and therefore belonging to the mixed group of artificial languages. It had a complicated but logical grammar, which possessed a richness of verbal forms, and a vocabulary of root words taken from Latin and other languages, including a great many from the English, so altered and deformed as to be quite arbitrary in character. The analysis of the name of the language, shown above, well illustrates this deformity of borrowed root words. There were many other lingual monstrosities but space will not permit discussing them in detail.

Though very crude in comparison with later systems, it was the first invented tongue to demonstrate successfully the practicability of a synthetic language. Volapük attracted a numerous following and crystallized sentiment into effective action for those interested in the international language idea. It reached its apogee in 1889, with about 283 societies and about 25 or more periodicals devoted to its dissemination, and then rapidly disappeared amidst a haze of dissension concerning various reforms.

The brief but surprising success of this brave attempt gave greater courage to those who believed in the ultimate establishment of an `interlingua'. The historical influence of Volapük has contributed much toward the development of correct principles and this project probably deserves more credit for this reason than the literature of the movement has heretofore accorded it. It showed, at least, many of the pitfalls to be avoided.

That Volapük collapsed suddenly, first demonstrating the strength of the general idea and then the weakness of its own construction, was due merely to the fact that it was one of the transitory, necessary stops in the evolution of an idea which was to flower later in a form better adapted to its purpose. The need was not then sufficiently critical and the proposed solution was not efficient enough.


Zamenhof, a Polish doctor, published in 1887, two years after its invention, the language which came to bear the pseudonym of its author "Esperanto", meaning "Someone hoping", therefore a "hoper". Esperanto falls within the a posteriori group of synthetic languages. Root words taken from many of the natural languages of the West comprised the major portion of its vocabulary. Numerous invented prefixes and suffixes, without internationality, enabled the formation of a large number of words in a regular manner. The grammar followed those of natural languages more than Volapük, but was still unnecessarily complicated.

Progress at the start was slow, but in 1898 the French Society for the Propaganda of Esperanto was founded and thereupon Esperanto propaganda received a strong impetus. Beginning in 1905 Esperantists held congresses each year until the World War in 1914, when its zenith was reached, at which time more than one hundred periodicals were being published, a large part of them in Esperanto alone. In 1920 annual congresses were again resumed.

Esperanto, like Volapük, was abundantly illustrative of things to be avoided. The ingenious grammatical forms of Esperanto were deeply cherished by the followers of that language. Taken separately, each Esperantian invention appeared as a clever linguistical device but when the many contrivances were assembled, thc machinery did not seem to function so well in practice. So many persons thought in the same way that new groups using modifications of Esperanto were formed. Too great demands were made upon the users because these devices were unnecessarily subtle and intricate. Great care had to be taken to observe the many grammatical details established by the rules of Esperanto grammar to avoid the odium of being termed "ungrammatical" and therefore not using "good Esperanto". Grammar seemed to be more of a consideration than the workability of the language.

Another impediment was the special, and therefore defective, alphabet with circumflexed letters which made the language unadapted for use in connection with modern communicative appliances.

Several modified forms of Esperanto have been suggested, the most important of which is Ido, but none proved to be the solution of the problem.


Among practicable systems Interlingua (Latin and English inter, between, + Latin lingua, tongue, language = Interlanguage) has achieved the distinction of being a superior language system, attracting the favourable comment of many in a position to judge. Interlingua or Latino sine Flexione (Latin without inflections), as it is sometimes designated, is a logical, scientifically prepared language, suitable for the purpose for which such a language is intended. It has taken many years to reach its present stage of development, but it is believed that the product is highly worth the effort that has been expended and that it furnishes the best basis yet presented to reach thc goal.

To Prof. G. Peano, Professor of Mathematics, University of Turin, Turin, Italy, justly belongs a very large part of the credit due those who have worked on the preparation of Interlingua. Prof. Peano has given much time to the study of the subject of international language systems, and it is he who has laid in large measure a permanent scientific foundation for many of those systems by the publication of his Vocabulario Commune, showing the occurrence of the same root words in all the principal western languages. He thus derived more clearly the principle of maximum internationality and helped establish a more accurate basis for the adoption of an exceedingly large number of words in any scientifically constructed synthetic language vocabulary, and particularly in the preparation and compilation of the Interlingua vocabulary.

One of the things salvaged out of the ruins of Volapük was its administrative organization then known as "Kadem Bevünetik Volapüka" and which became for a time under the name "Akademi de LIngu Universal" a means of holding together those interested in the ultimate establishment of some form of international language. In 1908 Prof. Peano was elected the President of this Society, thus heading the organization now known as the "Academia pro Interlingua". Under his administration, he threw open the doors to all forms of language projects, established unification of effort, instituted collaboration on different phases of the work to be done, and made the Academia effective as a clearing house for cooperative endeavour throughout the world. Especially did the membership devote itself to the accumulation of international philological elements which, later, were to demonstrate that practically all synthetic languages tend to converge.

There are, of course, many existing language projects, most of them comparatively unknown except to those familiar with the movement. New projects will probably be advanced by earnest inventors from time to time, but the circle of their endeavours is constantly contracting. This is due to the fact that the most promising synthetic language systems tend to be drawn toward the common centre of maximum internationality. Prof. R. Lorenz, observes this tendency to converge when he states

"there are about ten artificial languages which have sprung up during and after the period of Volapük and Esperanto, and in which the experience of their predecessors has been more or less made use of. A study of these attempts leads to the surprising result that they often differ less than, for example, the Romance languages. If, then, one were to choose any one of these languages and direct its systematic development according to the principles which experience and knowledge have shown to be requisite for the construction of an international language, one would in each case arrive finally at approximately the same result."

(International Language and Science, by Couturat, Jespersen, Lorenz, Ostwald and Pfaundler, translated by F. G. Donnan, London, Constable & Company, 1910)

Interlingua Imder Peano's leadership has reached a practical working stage and it is concluded to be the best adapted of all systems yet devised to serve as the great bridge of international communication. Interlingua has been termed the "most a posteriori of all a posteriori languages" or, to recast the thought, the most practical of all practical languages.


The term "interlingua" generally means any international language, but is used throughout these remarks to denote that particular language which the majority of the members of the "Academia pro Interlingua" advocate: a modernized international Latin, without inflections.

The following cardinal rules form the foundation of the language adopted by the Academia:

1. Interlingua adopts every word common to English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and every Anglo-Latin word;

2. Every word, Which exists in Latin, has the form of the Latin stem or root or radical;

3. The suffix -s indicates the plural.

The vocabulary of Interlingua is composed of a great many Latin words which have come into English, but little changed in form or in meaning, and therefore easily comprehended by an English-speaking person It includes all terms used in the scientific nomenclatures of botany, chemistry, medicine, zoology, and other sciences. Many of these terms are either Greek or Græco-Latin. A few necessary classical Latin words without international equivalents are a part of the vocabulary. It takes also non-Latin words already in international use, adopting them in the forms which they bear in the language of their origin, unless some other form is more convenient. The 1915 edition of Peano's Vocabulario Commune contains 14,000 words which have currency in the leading nations.

The Latin spelling of Latin words is retained for the reason that these forms are better known and are less apt to be a tax upon the memory when no Latin vocabulary is readily available. Proper names of persons and places are spelled according to thc orthography of their origin as much as possible.

The Interlingua alphabet is the same as in English, and therefore equally adapted for use in all modern printing, telegraphic, and other communicative devices.

A few general rules make possible the compilation of an Interlingua glossary. If a word has many forms in Latin because of inflections or declensions and conjugations, the inflections are suppressed and the stem, root, or radical is adopted to give the Interlingua form. Interlingua adopts as the stem or root of nouns the Latin ablative case which gives the most important part of the word. The Latin dictionary gives two forms for each noun, e.g.: rosa, rosae--rose; pes, pedis = foot. The first of these forms is called the nominative, the second, genitive. Interlingua uses the genitive and from the Latin dictionary the ablative is established by use of the following:
Genitive endings: -ae -i -us -ei -is; are changed to
Ablative endings: -a -o -u -e -e, which then become
the Interlingua endings and forms.

The stem of the verb is obtained by dropping the ending of the Latin infinitive -re, which gives the Interlingua word.

Uninflected Latin words are adopted without change when there is only one form: id, et, circa, post; if there is a declensional suffix, it may be omitted, e.g., secundum = secundo; multum = multo.

The "Grammatical Notes" should be consulted for additional information concerning the derivation and identification of other parts of speech, viz. adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, etc. Also, the essential structure of Interlingua is given in the Grammatical Notes.

The method of derivation from Latin to Interlingua can be reversed, that is to say, it is possible to pass from the reduced or simple Interlingua forms back into the original inflectional or Latin forms. This would be of assistance to students of Latin who already know Interlingua.


Interlingua attempts to reduce grammar to a minimum. A language with a minimum of grammar is easier to learn and use than a language with much grammar. For this reason Interlingua omits more idiomatic peculiarities resident in such items as the articles, number, person, mode and tense, gender, etc. Formulas of algebra are propositions without grammar. The language of China is practically grammarless. It is minus prefixes, suffixes inflections, declinations, conjugations, and similar structural features, yet it is capable of expressing the most subtle concepts of philosophy and literature. Orientals experience much less difficulty in learning a synthetic Western language than a natural Western one because the invented language is more logical in structure. The overthrow of grammar makes Interlingua more capable of meeting the lingual requirements of Oriental countries


Experience indicates that to speak, read, and write Interlingua fluently takes a small fraction of the time that would be needed to learn similarly a modern language, a remarkable saving in time that needs no benefit of exaggeration. The simplificative processes of invented languages make possible this wonderful saving. Persons with an aptitude for languages may become excellent Interlinguists within four months or less, but for those less versatile and for whom the learning of languages is peculiarly a labour, it will require a longer period. They would have the satisfaction, however, of knowing that no other language presents less difficulties to them


Professional persons deem it a duty to keep themselves informed concerning foreign progress in their respective fields. To do so, however, becomes increasingly onerous, since intellectual and industrial activity throughout the world grows more intense. International industrial competition and technical advance are forcing requirements that must be met. One of these requirements is more intensive language training and the learning, possibly, of additional foreign languages, perhaps even more difficult than those already made a compulsory part of present-day educational curricula. What about Japan, and the Japanese whose very able work in the sciences is forcing itself more and more upon the attention of the world and who are rapidly becoming a nation of linguists? What about the Spanish language which is assuming greater commercial importance, particularly in the Americas, with each advancing year?

The amount of human energy expended in the study of foreign languages is already enormous. The price paid in time and labour is excessively and unreasonably high.

There is a practical solution and a capable alternative to this hardship, and that is: the international use by common consent of Interlingua, specially conceived for international usage and adapted to technical and philosophical requirements.

In Interlingua may be printed the abstracts of results of research work or of complete articles if intended for international diffusion. Credit and priority by publication in Interlingua could be achieved much quicker and prompt professional recognition secured for the authors all over the world. Scientists who now wait for months and sometimes years for translations of complete results bearing on their particular problems would possess the great advantage of having this material made quickly available. The use of Interlingua would lead undoubtedly to the greatest possible amount of collaboration and cooperation and would reduce language difficulties to a minimum.


The mastery of Interlingua by Latin teachers permits them the rarest kind of opportunity to enlarge their sphere of usefulness. It would increase their pedagogical importance by allowing them to follow their natural vocation of teacher to those desiring to learn Interlingua in a correct, pedagogical manner. They would form a natural corps of trained teachers should Interlingua be adopted, either governmentally or by the common consent of use. It would be possible for the study of Interlingua to be introduced at once in all schools teaching Latin, that is, in the large majority of the secondary schools of all countries.


Interlingua is a veritable treasure house of etymological information concerning the composition and derivation of many thousands of English words constructed from Latin or Greek. The possibilities for the more efficient study of English etymology will undoubtedly appeal to many English teachers interested in this phase of school work. The etymology of words derived from the Latin and the Greek is of prime importance in the study of English. The number of words coming directly from the Greek, is relatively small, although it has contributed a great many scientific words and continues to do so. Those from the Latin or from the Greek through Latin, however, are very numerous. The labours of the English teacher would be materially lightened through the fact that the student would be able to trace with ease and enjoyment through Interlingua the etymology of an extremely large class of words. Such study has the prospect of being both interesting and helpful in the better use of English.

Interlingua as a source of cultural education is probably not exceeded by any other study in the entire field of liberal education. Full cultural growth is not attained until there is some familiarity with at least one language in addition to the mother tongue. No other language, artificial or natural, possesses greater educational value than the study of Interlingua. Majestic and sonorous, it is wealthy in the richness of a world-wide vocabulary. It forms an excellent foundation for a study of classical Latin should this later become a necessary part of future educational requirements for the student. Latinists usually regard any modernization of Latin as barbarous, which is natural after spending so many years with it. The English feel the same way about spelling reform. Latin is too highly inflected and complicated for the modern world to afford the time that is necessary in trying to acquire it. In many countries Latin is studied from six to eight years and then it is not suited for practical use. Interlingua is largely understood at first sight. There are no advantages which may be claimed for modern Latin that do not apply with equal or greater force to the use of Interlingua as an international auxiliary language. The real point of the matter lies in the difference between the Latin grammar and the Latin vocabulary. Latin grammar is too difficult to learn and is contrary to the modern tendency which leans toward the analytical style. The Latin vocabulary is just as usable today as it ever was, in many cases it is a part of our daily vocabulary, is easily adapted, and possesses possibilities for expansion as great as any natural mother tongue.

Interlinguists do not offer a dogmatic language, complete for evermore. They do not wish it to become petrified. Volapükists and Esperantists demanded that the general public take their languages in the form presented or let them alone. This policy proved disastrous; unfortunately for those systems, most people let them alone. Interlingua is not a finished product and never will be, any more than English will ever become such. It has all the good qualities of a living natural language and is as responsive and adaptive as the mood of the Interlinguist might dictate.

The workability of Interlingua is the chief aim and whoever uses this language is an Interlinguist. There need exist no fear of being ungrammatical, but the purpose of having a minimum of grammar is to avoid this torment. Grammatical mistakes in Interlingua are relatively unimportant, provided the right vocabulary is used. All that is necessary is to put together the proper words in reasonable order and relation to convey the intended meaning and that the sentences follow one another logically.

The language should be put to the earliest practicable use. Correspondents should be found abroad who are willing to exchange regularly communications in Interlingua. The subject matter of the first communication may deal with anything of general interest. The theme may be suggested by an article in a magazine relative to some interesting phase of life abroad, or the letter may concern an item of foreign news appearing in the daily newspaper or put on the air through the radio, or, finally, it may be on a topic of particular personal interest concerning which specific information is sought abroad The more diversified the subjects the more opportunity there is to exercise and increase the scope of the Interlingua vocabulary of the user.


Interlingua or Latino sine Flexione (Latin without inflections) supplements all mother tongues for international communication and is the auxiliary language advocated for general adoption by the Academia pro Interlingua.


Includes every word common to English, French German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Russian, as well as Latin and Greek. It adopts every Anglo-Latin word in the form of the Latin stem or root.

If an Interlingua word is not immediately intelligible, any Latin school dictionary may be consulted to obtain the meaning.


As in English and Latin:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r a t u v w x y z.


The Latin orthography is used: aeterno, philosophia, theatro, etc.; e may be used in place of æ and ae; f for ph; t for th, but Latin spellings are preferred, because of the large number of dictionaries of Latin and another language already existent. Proper names of persons and places retain their national forms as far as possible.


"Interlingua is by far the most scholarly, the most artistic, and the easiest to read at first sight."

(Albert Leon Guerard, A Short History of the International Language Movement. T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., London; and Boni & Liveright, New York, 1922, p. 259.)

". . . The result (i.e. Interlingua) is a language very similar to Latin and to Italian, singularly pleasing to the ear as well as to the eye. Interlingua has the full, sonorous, vocalic endings of Esperanto, without the slight monotony and artificiality caused by their inevitableness under Zamenhof's system....

(Albert Leon Guerard, A Short History of the International Language Movement. T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., London; and Boni & Liveright, New York, 1922, p. 167.)

"Latino sine Flexione too is psychologically sounder than Esperanto or Ido. It has all the advantages of these of being built out of generally known materials and the important further advantage of not forcing violently new associations. A vast number of people have a fair smattering of the Latin vocabulary but an imperfect memory of the rules of Latin grammar. A language which capitalizes both this knowledge and this ignorance is really in a psychologically impregnable position.

"In a wider historical sense too Latino sine Flexione has a great advantage. It is worth remembering that Latin has a practically unbroken history as the international language of West European civilization. Of later centuries this tradition has become rather threadbare but it has never died out completely.... One of the incidental advantages of Latino sine Flexione is that it can serve as a useful stepping stone towards the learning of Latin itself."

(Edward Sapir, Memorandum on the Problem of an International Auxiliary Language, The Romanic Review, Vol. XVI, No. 3, July-Sept. 1924, p. 25l.)

"We have recently read a scientific treatise on the elementary principles of radio-commnnication written in Interlingua, the language sponsored by Prof. Peano, of the University of Turin, and were much impressed by its ready intelligibility and its brevity.

" . . . in view of the very great advantages that would follow the adoption of a suitable medium for international communication in science, we think that the subject should not be allowed to drop. If the world were ruled by reason (which it is not, and probably never will be) an international auxiliary language would have been adopted many years ago; it remains to be seen how far civilization will succeed in promoting the dictates of reason against the opposition of instinctive tendencies and age-long prejudices."

(Nature, London, Oct. 16, 1920: Books, Libraries and Languages, p. 543.)


Histoire de la Langue Universelle, par L. Couturat et L. Leau, Paris, Librarie Hachette et Cie, 1903; and its supplement; les Nouvelles Langues Internationales, par L. Couturat et L. Leau, Paris, Hachette, 1907.

Short History of the International Language Movement, by Prof. Albert Leon Guerard, T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., London, 1922; and Boni & Liveright, New York, 1922.

Delphos, the Future of International Language, by E. Sylvia Pankhurst; Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd., London, 1927; and E. P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1927.


Interlingua es lingua universale que omne persona in modo facile scribe et intellige sine usu de speciale studio. Libro in Interlingua es diffuso supra plure regione de Europa, America, Africa, Australia et Asia ubi cultura occidentale es noto.

Interlingua adopta omne vocabulo que existe simile in Anglo, Germano, Franco, Russo, Latino et Graeco. Et adopta omne vocabulo anglo-latino cum forma de thema (radice).

Interlingua sicut medio de scripto et orale communicatione inter populos de vario nationalitate es multo superiore ad omne alio artificiale auxiliare lingua pro sequentes ratione:

1. Suo vocabulario non es formato ad arbitrio, sed consiste de vocabulos hodie in usu in vario lingua.

2. Pro isto ratione illo habe maximo praecisione de expressione et es uno vivente organismo.

3. Illo es analytico et libero ab mortuo pondere de grammatica quale, articulo, numero, genere, tempore et modo, concordantia, etc.

4. Pro suo practico usu, exige nullo speciale libro.
Pauco regulas elementare et uno dictionario classico- latino in usu commune in linguas moderno es suficiente, in casu de necessitate pro interpretatione de uno publicatione in Interlingua.

5. Interlingua es perfecto in philologia et habe maximo de internationalitate.

Usu de Interlingua es indicato pro scientifico, litterario, artistico internationale communicatione, pro commerciale correspondentia, pro scopo sociale et de viatores, etc.

Suo usu in omne internationale congressu et per omne fine politico aut scientifico facilita intelligentia et economiza multo tempore. Interlingua es de aequale aequisitione ad omne classe de societate que habe mutuo interesse de communica inter se.

In additione Interlingua es de magno valore educationale nam es de logico et naturale formatione.

Interlingua non pertine ad uno societate speciale sed ad toto mundo.

Interlingua non es facto pro servi interesse de uno natione, classe de homines, aut individuo, sed pro redde facile progressu de genere humano.

Interlingua non es dogma; regulas de Interlingua es simplice opinione de majoritate de sectatores. Libertate es necessario conditione in scientia et in sociale vita.


1 uno. 2 duo. 3 tres. 4 quatuor. 5 quinque.
6 sex. 7 septem. 8 octo. 9 novem. 10 decem.
100 centum. 1000 mille.

Me habe uno capite, duo manu, duo pede.

Manu habe quinque digito. Duo manu habe decem digito.

Capite habe fronte, naso, ore, mento, duo oculo, duo aure.

Fronte es super naso et oculos. Naso es inter oculos.

Naso es super ore. Lingua et dentes es in ore. Ore es sub naso, et super mento. Labios es circum ore. Oratore fac oratione orale per ore.

Nos vide per oculos, audi per aures, senti odore per naso, gusta per lingua, loque per ore, tange per manu, ambula per pedes.

Caelo es super terra. Terra es sub caelo. Sole da luce et calore ad terra. Sole ori in oriente, ct fi die. Sole cade in occidente et fi nocte. Luna et stellas splende in nocte. In die nos labora, in nocte nos dormi.

Aqua es in fluvio et in mare. Fluvio flue ab monte ad mare. Insula es in mare. Mare es circum insula. Aere es super terra. Aere in motu es vento.

Homine es mas aut femina. Homine ab quando nasce usque ad septem anno es infante; usque ad 14 (decem et quatuor) anno es puero; usque 21 (duo decem et uno) anno es juvene. Mas post 21 anno es viro. Post 70 anno, homine es sene. Morte es fine de vita.

Omne homine es filio de patre et de matre. Patre et matre es genitores de filio. Matre es uxore de patre; patre es marito de matre. Illos es conjuge. Si uno conjuge mori, alio fi viduo. Patre de fratre et de sorore de me es patre de me.




Any Latin dictionary gives two forms for each noun, for instance:
rosa, rose = rose; pes, pedis = foot. The first form is called nominative, the second genitive. The Interlingua nouns are taken from the Latin genitive form, by changing the genitive ending in accordance with the following table:

latin Genitive ending: -ae -i -us -ei -is

Interlingua ending: -a -o -u -e -e


Words of Latin Vocabulary      Interlingua Words       English Words
Nominative       Genitive
rosa             rosae         rosa                    rose
laurus           lauri         lauro                   laurel
casus            casus         casu                    case
series           seriei        scrie                   series
pax              pacis         pace                    peace

A few nouns are used in their nominative forms to avoid confusion with other words:

"mas" --English "male."

Nouns used only in the plural in Latin may take the following Interlingua endings:

1. -a, when the Latin nominative plural ends in -a, as:
Latin--arma, Interlingua--arma, English--arms.

2. -a or -as, when the plural nominative ends in -Ee, as:
L.--divitiae. IL.--divitia or divitias. E.--riches.

3. -os, when the plural nominative ends in -i, as:
L.--liberi. IL.--liberos. E.--children.

4. -e or -es, when the nominative plural ends in -es, as:
L.--majores. IL.--majore or majores. E.--ancestry.


The Latin vocabulary gives the nominative of the three genders, and in some instances the genitive.

The Interlingua form is obtained:

I. from the nominative neuter:

(a) by leaving it unchanged when it ends by e;

(b) by changing it to o when it ends in um;

II. from the genitive form in all other instances:

(c) by changing to e the enaing is as in the case of nouns.


Latin                           Interlingua     English

celeber celebris celebre        celebre         celebrated
novus nova novum                novo            new
audax audax audax audacis       audace          audacious


The Latin vocabulary gives the present indicative and the present infinitive. By dropping the ending of the infinitive -re, the Interlingua form is obtained.

There are a few exceptions: dic, duc, es, fac, fer, vol.


If they have one single form, this is the Interlingua form: e.g. ab, ad, ante, circa, etc.

If they have a declensional suffix, it may be omitted:

secundum = secundo.
multum = multo.


Many derivative words are in international use. New ones can be freely formed, as in English, from the words already in use, by the attachment of prefixes and suffixes, provided the meaning warrants such formation. For example, the ending " -atione " denotes a process, " -tia " denotes a quality, " -ico " denotes pertaining to, " -iza " ends a verb denoting the admixture of one thing with another, " -tore " denotes a person who performs the act indicated by the stem of the word, etc.

The commonest suffixes and prefixes are given below.

Suffixes                        Examples
English         Interlingua     English                 Interlingua
-ism            -ismo           protectionism           protectionismo
-ic             -ico            electric                electrico
-id             -ido            splendid                splendido
-ist            -ista           feminist                feminista
-al             -ale            general                 generale
-an             -ano            American                americano
-ary            -ario           aviary                  aviario
-aster          -astro          poetaster               poetastro
-ble            -bile           stable                  stabile
-el             -elo,-ela       sequel                  sequela
-or,-our        -ore            colo(u)r                colore
-tive           -tivo           punitive                punitivo
-ous            -oso            famous                  famoso
-ate            -ato            suhlimate               sublimato
-er             -tore           maker                   factore
-tor            -tore           actor                   actore
-ty             -tate           quality                 qualitate
-tion           -tione          declaration             declaratione
-cy             -tia            tendency                tendentia
-ce             -tia            elegance                elegantia
-e              -io             spectroscope            spectroscopio
-y              -ia             zoology                 zoologia
-fy             -fico           justify                 justifica
-esque          -esco           statuesque              statuesco

The ending -ed as in "faced " (having faces) may be rendered with cum: cum vultu or cum superficie; cornered (having corners,) cum angulo.

Prefixes                        Examples
English         Interlingua     English                 Interlingua
anti-           anti            anti-suffragist         antisuffragista
auto-           auto-           automobile              automobile
self-           auto-           self-induction          auto-inductione
well            bene-           wellsaid                benedicto
co-             co-             co-operator             cooperatore
dis-            dis-            dismember               dismembra
im-             im-             immortal                immortale
in-             in-             inability               inhabilitate
inter-          inter-          interact                interacto
mis-            male-           misform                 maleforma
pan-            pan-            pan-asiatic             panasiatico
by- (beside)    para-           by-product              para-producto
pseudo-         pseudo-         pseudonym               pseudonymo
quasi-          quasi-          quasi-official          quasi-officiale
re-             re-             reexamine               reexamina
sub-            sub-            subterranean            subterraneo
super-          super-          superman                superhomine

As indicated above, "bene" may be used to render the prefix "well" either separately or combined: bene consiliato or beneconsiliato or benconsiliato = well-advised; "male" may likewise be used to render " ill- " or " mis- ": male famato or malefamato or malfamato = ill-famed; male conceptione or maleconceptione or malconceptione= misconception.

The prefixing of the negative "ne" or "non" may ordinarily be used to denote the contrary. The preposition "sine" may be used to denote lacking, like the suffls "-less" in English.

The pronoun "qui" with a verb indicates the person performing the action, "que" with a verb denotes the instrument used in performing it, "quem" with a verb indicates the person on whom or the object on which the action is performed.

Adjoctives may be formed by means of "de";

de fratre = fraterno = freternal.

Intransitive verbs may be formed with the help of "fi" = become; transitive with the help of "fac" = make. Fi albo = albo fi = albofi = to become white = to whiten (intransitive). Fac albo = albo fac = albofac = to make white = to whiten (transitive). Verbs, however, may be used as transitive or intransitive, if the meaning in that sentence is unequivocal. Other verbs may be formed by means of "es" = to be; redde = to render = to make; da = to givc. Es causa de = to cause; es flexo = to sag; redde triste = to sadden; to make sad; redde nullo = to annul = to render void; da animo = to encourage = to give courage.


A few Latin words not in international use are also adopted. Also, words are taken from any language if in international use.


The same word may be used as verb or as noun, either without any change, or with a slight change of the ending in accordance with rules elsewhere given. Adjectives may be used as adverbs.


Latin words retain the old orthography.

Proper names of persons and places maintain their national orthography as far as possible: New York, Washington, Roma, etc.


Most Interlinguists are in favour of the old Latin pronunciation.

Vowels are pronounced as indicatcd bclow:

a--as in father.
e--as in they or as
i--as in machine.
o--as in tone.
u--as in rule.
y--as French u.
j--as y in yes.
ae--as i in aisle.
oe--as oi in boil.

Consonants are sounded as in English with the exceptions indicated below:

b--like English b, but like p if followed by s or t.
c--like k always, as in can, cat.
g--like g in go, get, give, gate.
h--silent in th, ph, ch, rh, otherwise like English h.
q--as qu in quarrel.
r--as in correct (trilled).
s--as in sound, so, see.
t--as in time.
v--like English w or v.
x--as ks.
z--as in zeal.

Other Intcrlinguists would simplify it, and pronounce:

y and j--as i in tin.
ae and oe--as a in fatc or e in get.
b--always like English b.
h--silent always.
ph--as f.
v--like English v.

The tonic or principal accent should always be on the syllable next to the last one (penultimate), and the secondary accent, when neccssary, should be placed where good sound, harmony and elegance demand.


Interlingua has the minimum of grammar. All grammatical elements not necessary, declension, conjugation, etc., are eliminated.


There is no grammatical or artificial gender.

Natural gender is indicated by different names if these are in international use:

patre           father          matre           mother
fratre          brother         sorore          sister
propheta        prophet         prophetissa     prophetess

If different names do not extist, gender is indicated by:

mas      =      male            femina    =     female

cane mas = male dog.

cane femina=female dog.

There are no cases in Interlingua The English genitive, expressed by "s" with an apostrophe, is translated by "de", as:

the man's foot = pede de homine

An "s" marks the plural, but it is omitted when not necessary:

tres filios or tres filio = three sons.

nos habe uno lingua et duo aure = we have one tongue and two ears.

The plural "s" is necessary in cases like the following:
patre habe filios et filias = the father has sons and daughters.
but the phrase could be changed to avoid the use of the plural:
patre habe plure filio et plure filia.


There is no definite or indefinite article in Interlingua.

It is translated with a pronoun, like "illo", "uno", etc., when it has the value of a pronoun and its use is necessary:

da ad me libro          =       give me the book
da ad me hoc libro      =       give me this book.
da ad me illo libro     =       give me that book.
da ad nne uno libro     =       give me a book.
da ad me illo meo libro =       give me that book of mine.
da ad me uno meo libro  =       give me a book mine.
da ad me meo libro      =       give me my book.
Ieone es forte          =       lions are strong.
hoc leone es forte      =       this lion is strong.
ferro es utile          =       iron is useful.
hoc ferro es utile      =       this iron is useful.


Plus, magis, minus, multo, ultra, extra, etc., are used.

breve                                   = short.
plus breve quam, magis breve quam       = shorter than.
minus breve quam                        = less short than.
multo breve, ultra breve, extra breve   = very short.
maximo breve                            = shortest.
minimo breve                            = least short.
tam breve quam                          = as short as.


These are obtained by mcans of: cum mente, in modo

cum mente diligente,        }
cum diligente mente,         }
                              }         = diligently
in modo diligente,           }
in diligente modo,          }
in modo fraterno           }
                            }           = fraternally
in modo de fratre          }

Or the adjectives may be used as adverbs without any change.


Cardinal Nurnerals                        Ordinal Numerals
        uno                      1              primo
        duo                      2              secundo
        tres                     3              tertio
        quatuor                  4              quarto
        quinque                  5              quinto
        sex                      6              sexto
        septem                   7              septimo
        octo                     8              octavo
        novem                    9              nono
        decem                   10              decimo
        decem et uno            11              decimo-primo
        decem et duo            12              decimo-secundo
        decem et tres           13              decimo-tertio
        duo decem               20              vigesimo
        tres decem              30              trigesimo
        quatuor decem           40              quadragesimo
        quinque decem           50              quinquagesimo
        sex decem               60              sexagesimo
        septem decem            70              septuagesimo
        octo decem              80              octogesimo
        novem decem             90              nonagesimo
        centum                 100              centesimo
        mille                1 000              millesimo
        millione         1 000 000              millionesimo

Distributive Numerals

        singulo, uno per uno            =       one by one.
        bino, duo per duo               =       two by two.
        trino, tres per tres            =       three by three.
        quatuor per quatuor             =       four by four.

Multiplicative Numerals

        simplice        = simplex.
        duplo           = double.
        triplo          = treble.
        quadruplo       = quadruple.


        dimidio         = one-half.
        uno tertio      = one-third.
        uno quarto      = one-fourth.

Numeral Adverbs

        semel, uno vice = once.
        bis, duo vice   = twice.
        ter, tres vice  = thrice.
        quatuor vice    = four times.



        me      = I, me.
        te      = thou, thee.
        illo    = he, she, it,
                  him, her.
        nos     = we, us
        vos     = you.
        illos   = they, them.
        id      = it.

Feminine forms may be used:

        illa    = she, her.
        illas   = they, them.


        se      = himself, herself, it,
                  itself, self, themselves.
        se ipso = one's self, themselves.


        que (nominative,
              referring to
              things only)  = that, which, what,
        qui (nominative,
              referring to
              persons only) = who,
        quod               = that, what.
        quem (accusative,
              referring to
              persons and
              things)      = what, which (acc.), whom
        utro               = whether, whichever (of two).


        illo            = that (it, he, she, him, her).
        ce, hoc, isto   = this, these.
        illos           = those.
        ipso            = self.
        idem            = same.
        tale            = such.
        quale           = such as.


        qui?            = who?
        que?            = which, what?


        aliquo          = some, some one.
        omne            = all, every.
        uno             = one.
        ullo            = some, any.
        nullo           = not any.
        nemine          = nobody, no one.
        alio            = other, else.
        solo            = alone, single, one.
        toto            = whole, all, entire.
        neutro          = neither.
        altero          = either, one but not the other of two.
        utroque         = either, both of two.


        meo     = de me         = my, mine.
        tuo     = de te         = thy, thine.
        suo                     = his, her, hers, its, their, theirs.
        nostro  = de nos        = our, ours.
        vestro  = de vos        = your, yours.


To the present form of the verb add:

(a) for the infinitive -re
(b) for the past participle -to
(c) for the present participle -nte

Ex.     present                 ama     = love.
        infinitive              amare   = to love.
        past participle         amato   = loved.
        present participle      amante  = loving.


me ama           = I love.
te ama           = thou lovest.
illo, illa ama   = he, she loves.
nos ama          = we love.
vos ama          = you love.
illos, illas ama = they love.

The form of the imperative is the same as the one for the present.

Sometimes the idea of the past is indicated in some word of the sentence and in such case there is no need to inflect the verb.

"Heri me scribe" can be used for "I wrote yesterday".

When it is necessary to indicate the past, this can be done by an adverb, as "jam" or "tum", particularly used for this purose, or by "in praeterito" or by "e" preceding the verb:

me, te, illo, illa, id, nos, vos, illos, illas, jam ama (or)
tum ama or e ama.

I, thou, he, she, it, we, you, they loved.

Likewise for the future. The idea of time may be implied in some other word of the sentence like:

cras nos lege = we will read to-morrow.

If it is necessary to indicate the future, it can be done by the expression "in futuro", or by the verbs "vol" and "debe"

like in English, or by "i" preceding verb:

me vol ama, me debe ama, me i ama = I shall or will love.

The subjunctive has no special ending, its idea is expressed by the use of conjunctions like si, que, ut, quod.

The passive form is rendered by the past participle and the verb "es", to be:

es amato = is loved.

The passive may be done away with, as in any language, by changing the sentence:

filio es amato ab matre = the son is loved by the mother


matre ama filio = the mother loves the son.

It may also be rendered by "quem" and a relative clause:

filio es quem matre ama = it is the son whom the mother loves.


alibi    = elsewhere.
ante     = before.
bene     = well.
bis      = again.
certo    = certainly.
cras     = to-morrow.
dextero  = at the right.
ergo     = therefore.
heri     = yesterday.
hic      = here.
hodie    = to-day.
ibi      = there.
in fine  = at last.
interim  = meantime, meanwhile.
ita      = thus.
iterum   = again.
jam      = already.
male     = badly.
multo    = much.
nam      = because, for.
nimis    = too much.
non      = no, not.
nunc     = now.
nuper    = lately, recently.
post     = after.
primo    = at first.
quam     = as, than.
quando   = when.
quasi    = as if, almost, nearly.
quia     = because.
saepe    = often.
satis    = enough.
semper   = always.
sic      = so, thus.
sinistro = at the left.
subito   = at once, immediately.
tale     = like, such.
toto     = entirely, wholly.
tunc     = then.
tuto     = safely.
ubi      = where.
ut       = as.
usque    = till, up to.
valde    = greatly, very, very much.


ab       = by, from.
ad       = at, to.
adverso  = against.
ante     = before.
apud     = near.
circa    = about.
circum   = around.
cum      = with.
de       = concerning, from of.
ex       = from, out of.
extra    = outside, without.
in       = in, into.
infra    = below, under.
inter    = among, between.
intra    = within.
juxta    = near, next to.
ob       = on account of.
per      = by means of, through.
post     = after, behind.
prae     = before, in front of.
pro      = for, on behalf of.
sine     = without.
sub      = below, under.
super    = above, on, upon.
trans    = across, beyond.
ultra    = beyond.


ante     = before.
aut      = or.
cum      = with, when, though, whereas, since.
dum      = during, until, when, while.
ergo     = therefore.
et       = and.
etiam    = also, even.
etsi     = although, even if, though.
nam      = because, for.
ne       = no, not.
nec      = nor.
nisi     = unless.
quam     = as.
quando   = when.
quasi    = as if.
sed      = but.
si non   = if not.
tamen    = however, nevertheless, notwithstanding, yet.
ubi      = where.
ut       = in order that.


aut ... aut      = either ... or (exclusive).
et ... et        = both ... and .
neque ... nec    = neither ... nor.
minus ... quam   = less ... than.
plus ... quam    = more ... than.
tanto ... quanto = as much ... as.
ut ... ita       = as ... so.
vel ... vel      = either ... or (indifferent).


apage!  = get out!
ecce!   = lo!, there he is!
eheu!   = alas!
eho!    = hallo!, hello!
euge!   = bravo!
heu!    = alas!
heus!   = hallo!, ho!
vae!    = woe!


an?, utro?  = whether?, or?
annon?      = or not?
non?        = not?

Non es cane simile ad lupo? = Is not the dog like the wolf?
An negare aude? = Do you dare deny it?

In answering "yes" and "no" the speaker repeats the verb or uses one of the following expressions:

in answering yes:

certo      = certainly.
etiam      = even so.
ita        = true, so, yes.
ita vero   = certainly.

in saying no:

minimo     = by no means.
non        = not so.
nullo modo = by no means. [no way!]


The order of words in Interlingua presents no great difficulties, grammar and inflection having been reduced to the minimum. It is so nearly similar to the English order of words that one may safely follow that usage without fear of being misunderstood or being too greatly incorrect.

The subject tends to come first, the predicate last, as in English and other languages. The word most expressive of the thought uppermost in mind will likely come first and the others follow in their natural swquence.

The position of the verb is usually not different from that of the English. For the sake of emphasis, the verb may sometimes come first in the sentence, without any introductory words.

Adverbs tend to follow the verb and to come before the adjective when modifying it.

Adjectives tend to follow the nouns which they modify, differing in this respect from English usage.

Demonstrative and interrogative pronouns tend to precede, relative pronouns to follow, the word or words to which they belong.

Prepositions usually precede their nouns though sometimes placed between a noun and its adjective.

The negative usually precedes the word which it affects, otherwilse it precedes the verb. Frequently it begins a sentence for the sake of emphasis.

A notable difference between Interlingua and English is shown in the absence of agreement of the verb with the subject in respect to number and person, such agreement being dispensed with and regarded as unnecessary. Other agreements usually found in English and other languages area almost wholly absent in Interlingua.

In general, word-order and style may be best acquired by frequent reading of Interlingua literature.

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