LangX - A Hierarchy of IALs


Provisional IAL Name

   Number of Consonants and Vowels

Inaugural Year as Official IAL

First Language or Mother Tongue

 Second or Auxiliary Language


      27 C     26 V

 2726 AD




      26 C     23 V

2623 AD




      25 C     20 V

 2520 AD




      24 C     17 V

 2417 AD




      23 C     14 V

 2314 AD




      22 C     11 V

 2211 AD




      21 C       8 V

 2108 AD




      20 C       5 V

 2005 AD




LangX is a hierarchy of IALs, each one of which contains the phonetic and grammatical attributes of those below it. Alternatively, it might be regarded as stages in the projected development of a single IAL. The above table is intended to be illustrative rather than prophetic - but who knows!

The Initial IAL Must Be Very Simple

A major challenge to the concept of a single IAL is that the peoples of the world speak different grades and types of language. For instance, some pidgins and creoles have a very basic grammar and a sparse spectrum of speech sounds, whereas other languages used by peoples at similar levels of material civilisation employ advanced grammars and phonologies. In like contrast, Chinese and some other Asian languages use elementary analytic grammar, whereas Western tongues tend to be highly inflected and synthetic.

The essential point to bear in mind, when considering a response to this challenge, is that the IAL will be the only language required to be taught in schools world-wide in addition to the mother-tongue. Hence it will be learned by millions of children who not only speak a relatively elementary mother-tongue but are themselves of that significant proportion of students everywhere who are non-linguists. For this reason alone the IAL must begin at a very elementary level.

Professor Hogben's Interglossa (1943), with its three tenses and absence of inflections, was a very suitable candidate. He and his successors may not have selected quite the optimum phonology / vocabulary but the original grammar was easy enough to be mastered by all non-linguists. A recent update of Interglossa's successor, Glosa, is likewise excellent - but possibly goes a bit beyond the minimal grammar necessary for the initial IAL.

An IAL Hierarchy

To begin with, the IAL will be a pure auxiliary, used solely for communication between rather than within cultures. But will this situation last? Will the peoples of the world be content to speak and write to one another on a second-hand basis ad infinitum? The barriers of race, nationality, politics and religion are gradually being subsumed into the greater whole - why should linguistic apartheid necessarily remain?

The initial IAL might fairly accurately be described as a global pidgin. But the signal fact about pidgins is that they eventually either fall into disuse or become creolised as the rising generation spontaneously develops vocabulary and grammar whilst learning these trading lingoes as mother-tongues. Why should the IAL be any different? Sure, everyone will learn the IAL as an auxiliary to begin with, but it is hardly conceivable that some of the next generation will not learn it as their mother-tongue.

Those peoples, families and individuals who move around the world, who no longer have roots more or less exclusively in one national culture, are likely to include those who expand and develop the IAL in this way. Additionally, primary creative impetus will enter the IAL as orators, writers, film-makers, advertisers etc. use it directly in order to address a global market. This theme is elaborated upon in the first chapters of LANGO, in "Some General Observations", and elsewhere via the links below.

The IAL must be expansible to allow for this development, whilst retaining unity of focus. Hence, whilst Lang25 were the Official IAL (in this proposed scheme), Lang29, Lang33 etc., each with a greater phonology and vocabulary and more sophisticated grammar than the last, would be perfected in practice. Then, in due time, Lang29 - which would have incorporated all of Lang25 in an expanded and more economical format - would be adopted as the new Official IAL (though Lang25 would continue to be comprehensible), and so on.

So far as grammar is concerned, the likely progress up the hierarchy would be from the entirely analytic (no inflections) with Subject-Verb-Object syntax to the highly synthetic (infix, agglutination etc.) with variable syntax. Since advanced polysynthetic grammar is essentially no more than the agglutination of elementary "spread out" grammar there is no reason why the grammatical hierarchy shouldn't be as much a seamless gradation or continuum as the phonetic.

Eventually the best features of all languages, whether "natural" or "constructed", would be incorporated into the hierarchy, according to their linguistic level. Using the English alphabet, a phonemic constraint would appear with Lang53, though the process might be continued with diacritics (unless a completely new script were adopted at some point).

It might well be asked why only one level of the hierarchy should be the Official IAL at any time. Why shouldn't the IAL be split into graded but congruent levels for different peoples and purposes, all of them being equally valid, and hence "Official"?

The danger, I think, is that in the present world - where educational opportunities are so far from universal - the result would be a "vertical" split into "class languages" just as invidious as the "horizontal" division into national and ethnic tongues that presently obtains. For the sake of linguistic unity, therefore, the "Official IAL" should better remain with the generality of non-linguists - only moving up a gear when the grammatical / phonetic / lexical transition had already become a fait accompli in mass usage.

Go to Introduction

Go to Lang25 - Inaugural IAL

Go to LangX Background

Go to Lang53 Orthography

Go to Lang29 Grammar

Go to LangX Vocabulary


Go to Contact & Criticism

Go to Relevant IAL Links

Go to Corres.

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