The international status of a language is generally the result of political and economic power structures.
What effects does the hegemonic position of one or a small group of languages have at an international level in areas such as politics, culture, education and science? All languages are of equal value, but do they have equal rights? Why are some languages „dying out“? What is linguistic imperialism?
What possibilities are there for optimizing international communication?
English is generally considered to be the ‚lingua franca‘ of the whole world. But how effective and democratic is it for everyone to have to speak English? Who is at an advantage, and who is not? Could there be other possibilities, such as using a politically neutral language, like technology or an international planned language?
What are international planned languages?
The conscious construction of languages and language planning are both very widespread phenomena. The conscious construction of a language and its practical use is a special form of language planning. The first thoughts about a “lingua universalis‘ can be traced back to Leibniz and Descartes. Since their time, there have been over a thousand attempts to construct an international language. Only a few of them ever found any practical use and even fewer are still used today. How have experiences with planned languages thrown new light on philosophical, linguistic and other related problems and issues? Why have some language projects been successful while others have not?
What has our experience with Esperanto taught us?
Esperanto is the most successful planned language so far. The theory behind the language and the practical use it has found have both been scientifically investigated. What expressive potential does the language have? What are the characteristics of its speech community? What practical role will it be able to play in the future? What can it achieve, and how is it developing? What are simply claims about the language and what is the reality?
Here are some key terms and how they are generally understood within the Society for Interlinguistics:
Interlinguistics is the study of international communication in all its aspects, including the roles, structures, development, and application of ethnic and planned languages as means of international communication.
Planned languages are languages that have been consciously designed according to definite criteria by individual people or groups of people mainly for the purpose of making international communication easier. Other similar terms that are used include ‚artificial languages‘, ‚international (artificial) languages‘, ‚constructed languages‘, and ‚universal languages‘.
Esperanto has been the most successful case so far of a language project which has managed to develop into a fully fledged language with a diverse speech community.
Esperanto studies (a sub-branch of interlinguistics) investigates the sources, structure, evolution, communicative performance and the speech community of Esperanto, the planned language established by L. L. Zamenhof in 1887.
GIL has prepared a selective bibliography on these topics.