The Case of Correlatives: A Comparison between Natural and Planned Languages
Received: Jul 22, 2011; Revised: Sep 10, 2011; Accepted: Sep 15, 2011
Published Online: Jan 01, 2017
Since the publication of Volapük, the most important functional and deictic words present in grammar—interrogative, relative and demonstrative pronouns, and adjectives among others—have been described in planned grammars in a series or a table, namely “correlatives,” showing a considerable level of regularity. This article compares the degree of regularity in the correlatives series of International Auxiliary Languages (IALs) with the correlative series of natural languages of the world—e.g., with a special attention English, French, German, and Latin, i.e., the languages that influenced directly the most important IALs, from Volapük (1879) to IALA’s Interlingua (1951). Moreover, some examples in languages not belonging to the Standard Average European (SAE) sprachbund are presented for control. Finally, the correlatives of Klingon and Na’vi, two languages planned in recent times, not for auxiliary but for fictional purposes, are presented by contrast. The main result of this comparison is that, in the case of correlatives, some natural languages are surprisingly far more regular than their planned daughters, in spite of the fact that regularity was a major claim of the efforts in planning IALs during the late XIX and early XX centuries in Europe.