Latino sine flexione, Peano´s Interlingua: a linguistic bridge

Walter A. Carnielli *

In 1903 the Italian logician Giuseppe Peano, preceded in his ideas by Descartes and Leibniz, published in the "Revue de Mathématiques" vol. 8, no. 3, at pages 74-83 the article “De Latino Sine Flexione” , later called Interlingua, a form of modern Latin without declensions particularly adapted for use in science


The principle behind Peano's Interlingua is that it is classical Latin with a minimum grammar. Interlingua is based on the idea that there exists an international vocabulary in the languages of Europe which suffices for most communication, specially for scientific communication. . These are words that occur in at least three languages in similar forms and with the same meanings. By limiting the search just to the major European languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian) one can capture more than 99 % of the international vocabulary. The form by which words, roots, and affixes are to be standardized are the theoretical or historical prototypes for these from which their counterparts in the source languages of Interlingua are transformations according to the characteristics of those languages.


 Because Latin (and the Greek conveyed through Latin) is the source for much of the international vocabulary, notably in science, the prototype forms are often very close to classical Latin forms. There are, however, modern international words borrowed from the modern languages like "software", "shopping", "computer" (from English), or “robot” ("slave labor", from Slavic roots), or "sushi" (from Japanese), and these enter into Interlingua in those forms. Interlingua furthermore does not focus just on individual words, but on word families built around common roots like 'currer' (run), 'prender' (take), 'caper' (grasp) and a common set of prototypic affixes (ad-, pre-, pro-, -ion, -ive, -ura, etc.). Often these word families are not clearly represented in individual source languages, so Interlingua re-establishes them in their entirety, and thus can be seen as a valuable tools in languages learning. This creates considerable regularity along with a complete naturality.


In 1924 the "International Auxiliary Language Association" , IALA was created in the United States as a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering Interlingua as an international language. Interlingua of IALA (the International Auxiliary Language Association) and Interlingua of Peano (Latino sine Flexione) are quite similar in appearance, but they have differences in grammar: Peano favored the abolition of grammar, while IALA´s convention reduced it to a minimum, both however using a common Latin base. Peano took a single existing language Latin and gave it a highly simplified minimum grammar. Interlingua looked for the forms from which the similar international words were derived and established an international vocabulary. This vocabulary was then given a minimum "romance-like" grammar for use of the vocabulary. Although the concept of what constitutes a minimum grammar differs between IALA's Interlingua and that of Peano´s Interlingua, the common idea behind Interlingua argues for itself: more than 80% of this text is just Interlingua with slightly different spelling.


* This note was compiled from Internet sources