An international auxiliary language (sometimes abbreviated as IAL or auxlang) or interlanguage is a language meant for communication between people from different nations who do not share a common native language. An auxiliary language is primarily a second language.
Languages of dominant societies over the centuries have served as auxiliary languages, sometimes approaching the international level. Arabic, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Russian, French and Mandarin have been used as such in recent times in many parts of the world. However, as these languages are associated with the very dominance—cultural, political, and economic—that made them popular, they are often met with strong resistance as well. For this reason, some have turned to the idea of promoting an artificial or constructed language as a possible solution.
The term "auxiliary" implies that it is intended to be an additional language for the people of the world, rather than to replace their native languages. Often, the phrase is used to refer to planned or constructed languages proposed specifically to ease worldwide international communication, such as Esperanto, Ido and Interlingua. However, it can also refer to the concept of such a language being determined by international consensus, including even a standardized natural language (e.g., International English), and has also been connected to the project of constructing a universal language.
Some of the philosophical languages of the 17th-18th centuries could be regarded as proto-auxlangs, as they were intended by their creators to serve as bridges among people of different languages as well as to disambiguate and clarify thought. However, most or all of these languages were, as far as we can tell from the surviving publications about them, too incomplete and unfinished to serve as auxlangs (or for any other practical purpose). The first fully-developed constructed languages we know of, as well as the first constructed languages devised primarily as auxlangs, originated in the 19th century; Solresol by François Sudre, a language based on musical notes, was the first to gain widespread attention although not, apparently, fluent speakers. Volapük, first described in an article in 1879 by Johann Martin Schleyer and in book form the following year, was the first to garner a widespread international speaker community. Three major Volapük conventions were held, in 1884, 1887, and 1889; the last of them used Volapük as its working language. André Cherpillod writes of the third Volapük convention,
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