Friday, August 1, 2014

Esperanto and Tutonish

Said that Esperanto was
unjust to Teutons
Elias Molee, whose Teutonish I previously wrote about, was an American writer who created a series of languages based on an amalgamation of English and German. His father, according to Wikipedia, emigrated from Norway to Wisconsin in the early nineteenth century.[1] Molee was born in 1845, and lived in an area with a concentration of people who spoke Germanic languages other than English. At that time, many people in the United States used German as their primary language. The earliest reference to Esperanto I have found in an American newspaper is in German. (Der Deutsche Correspondent wrote about Esperanto on September 14, 1887, when the language was just eighty-five days old. I haven’t found a reference in an English-language newspaper before 1891.)

Molee’s language work stretched from 1888 through 1923, during which he issued a series of books and pamphlets in which he proposed, revised, and renamed the language that he felt people should be speaking. As noted in the piece in the Sun, he felt that after fifty years of study, everyone would be speaking Tutonish (or Amerikan, or Niu Tutonish, or Alltutonish, or Alteutonik) and that the existing Germanic languages (German, English, Dutch, Frisian, Swedish, and so forth) would simply be forgotten.

Of course he addressed Esperanto.

Both Molee and Zamehof grew up on polyglot areas and in each case they decided from their experiences that a common tongue would be useful. After that, they differed. Molee wrote in Tutonish:
Being born in Wisconsin in 1845, of Scandinavian parents, with a mich of German blood from Slesvich, Holstein, on my mother’s side, and being thrown among recently immigrated English, German, Dutch and Scandinavian people at home and at the district school, I was early in life troubled with the diverse Teutonic tongues, often poorly spoken, causing much misunderstanding and irritation. I often heard my parents say, “What a blessing it would have been if the English, Germans, Scandinavian and Dutch had had only one language.”
His earliest book does not mention Esperanto. Plea for an American Language[2] came out only one year after Zamenhof issued his initial pamphlet on Esperanto, so Molee probably hadn’t heard of it. It’s a strange and difficult language.

Amerikan has sixteen vowels, counting o and ö and u and ü as separate vowels. (For some reason, while o precedes ö in his list, ü precedes u.) He uses three script variants of a, and adds seven other specialized symbols, making me wonder if he cut his own type. There are twenty-four consonants, including the long s (ſ) which he uses for the sh sound, and then five special symbols. I won’t be transcribing any of it.

He is aware of other proposed languages, as he devotes a chapter to Volapük, which he describes as “an intellectual pleasure.” In this chapter, Molee sets out his aims, contrasting them with Schleyer’s dream of an auxilliary language.
I, on the other hand, want a language for the whole Germanic race, if possible; if not, then for all the English-speaking countries, including also Holland and Skandinavia, which are troubled with a too small number of speakers, and consequently fewer writers and smaller literature. If that is not possible, then I want the United States to adopt this reformed language. I don’t want this reformed language to be learned in addition to English, German and Skandinavian, but to take their places entirely.
Two years later, Molee was proposing Pure Saxon English. This offers a more conservative change than Amerikan, or at least fewer new letters. He inverts a few letters to indicate special sounds. He has become more critical of Volapük.
Volapük, Pasilingua, Spelin, Lingua, and Neo Latine are five plans of proposen international languaga, and all boast of their euphony, flexibility, and wealth of forma.
Molee started incorporating some of his ideas into his use of English, including the idea that plural of nouns ending in consonants should be -a. Esperanto has also come to his attention. Here comes the criticism:
Languages like Volapük, Pasilingua, Spelin, Lingua, Linguo Interncia, etc. are intended to be mere business languages, and to serve as extra interpreters between strangers. They may develop fine grammars, as inflections are merely the turning-pins of language; they may construct euphonious words; but a mixed vocabulary, though probably necessary in their case, can never possess a brotherly and sisterly harmony and cordiality; there will not be any high mutual accommodation between words to explain and support each other in a hundred turns and circumstances, often unexpected, and often hardly visible, but instinctively felt by many nations, both in Europe and Asia, to-day; for by mixing languages we can not economize affixes and base words.
“Linguo Internacia” is Molee’s error for Lingvo Internacia, Zamenhof’s original name for Esperanto. When people started using his pseudonym, Dr. Esperanto, as a name for the language, he acquiesced.

In his first book on Tutonish, he’s still appreciative of other proposed languages. He brings in a disturbing theme: race unification. Maybe this was less scary in 1902, but our perspective, unification of the German Volk has a rather sinister history.
I believe such proposed languages as Volapuk, Interpretor, Pasilingua, Lingua, Spelin, Anglo-Franca, Lingvo Internacia, Cosmos and Clarison are great artistic helps to future race unifications. On such a race union tongue, when made a national and living family language must rest, the only true and durable basis for the much-desired “International language”—national before international.
By the time Molee was writing Tutonish, which seems to return to the themes of Amerikan, a standard tongue for the Germanic people, but finally he has dropped the odd letters. He feels Esperanto has no prospects:
A few curious enthusiasts may study a new foreign tongue for a while, as a matter of pasttime, but when the curiosity has died out, the new language will be laid aside like a child’s plaything. Such new proposed international languages such as Volapuk, Esperanto, Idiom Neutral, Pasilingua, Spelin, Kosmos, Lingua, Clarison, Anglo Francia, Neo Latine, Lingua Lumia or Visona cannot become international until some great race will make it national for home use.
This is where he gets the idea that use of his language should be mandated for fifty years, to make certain it succeeds. He seems to have a real issue with the “Latin nations,” as he puts it, and he seems to view Esperanto and other international languages as schemes of the “Latin linguists.” (Was Zamenhof a “Latin linguist” from a “Latin nation”?)
Those languages have too difficult and complex grammars and too arbitrary and mixed vocabularies. Being really systematized Latin tongues, they are most favored by the Latin nations, and would have been more favored there, if they had been more true to their own race. The Latin linguists are trying to introduce a new international Latin tongue into the world by the help of the Teutons; that is, they want the Teutons to draw the chestnuts out of the fire for the Latins. Let the Latin nations form a union tongue of their own words.
By 1906, Molee had come up with his latest, about biennial, revision of his language. No new letters, and he’s dropped all capitals and added some abbreviations in nu tutonish.
e unneccesary capital letters h for many years bn discarded in tutonish. there is also now e lawyer in the city of san francisco, california, who uses no capital letters in his writings without any disadvantage t his business.
Molee’s not actually consistent about this, as e is supposed to mean “the,” but he misuses it in the phrase “e lawyer in the city,” which should be “a lawyer in e city.”
In this book, he sees teutonish as a chance to unite the teutonic people (as he sees them, and Esperanto (and similar languages are an attack on them. He says that
“idiom neutral” n “espearanto” take only such common words v conversation, commerce n literature; z, pater, terra n libro (father, land n book) from latin sources, but also all e words v e arts n sciences; that is, e latins h taken e whole cheese n the teutons h bn given only e smell v it. we enter a protest against such unfair divission. there is no justice in such divission.[3]

“teutonish” divides e vocabulary so z t let e tutons learn many latin or romanic words, n let e latins learn many etutonic words, thus meeting one another part v e way n dividing e burden v memorizing new words. “idiom neutral” n “esperanto” throw e whole burden upon e poor teutons. we object t that kind v divission in e interest v e teutonic people.
Esperanto unjust to Teutons! He further says that
at any rate, there is more justice in e latins learning e more international teutonish, than in e teutons learning e less international idiom neutral n esperanto.
I’m not sure how he decided that Teutonish, derived only from the Germanic languages was more international than Esperanto, which has roots from not only the Germanic languages of German and English, but also from Romance languages (if we can count Latin there along with French), and the Slavic languages.
By 1915, Teutonish had morphed into Alteutonik (with predecessor versions of 1911 and 1912). He had spent twenty-seven years promoting a pan-Germanic language, with, it seems, little success. Alteutonik, 1915[4] has dropped reference to any other constructed language, but he made arguments against Esperanto in the 1912 version of Alteutonik, where he simply noted its failure to meet its goals.
when is “esperanto” t come in for sufficient practice t a large enough number, in order t make it international? when n where?
He hadn’t given up. In his 1920 translation of Ibsen’s A Doll House, into Alteutonik, where it becomes pupetheim, he writes
alteutonik is e most homogenous (einartik) n transparent (durksiktik) of all old or new langauges. esperanto, ido, panroman, nsf,[5] are mixed greek-romanic-latin tongues; mixed largely with e old dead greek tongues, hence arbitrary n difficult to master, especially outside e romanic (latin) countries.
And he lays down the challenge:
alteutonik is e most international, because it can be understood by e greatest number of people, taking e world as a whole. this can b said truthfully, altho it is claimed repeatedly by e adherents of esperanto, ido, panroman n others that they are e most international. let us see, if alteutonik cannot be understsood by the greatest number of people in europe, asia n africa.
He then uses the words ichthyology and scapula to show just more international alteutonik really is. But maybe the first line of putetheim would be more revealing:
n o r a.—ferware e winaktobaum gud, helene. di kinda dyfre 1a (erst) bekoma to se it heute abend wan it is putsn. (to e bote, herforziande e portemonä) wifi’l?
This is supposed to be comprehensible to a native English speaker?

The book does explain why there is a long gap between nu teutonish (1906) and alteutonish (1911). We’d expect a revision sometime around 1908.
my greatest help, however, i received from e germans in berlin, germany, during my 2 years stay in europe, from 1907 to 1909. alteutonik do no wish to hold back other union race tongues, as alromanic, alslavonic, n almongolic. in this way each race could use its own dear base-words with which they are most familiar n can agree upon.
Alteutonik 1915 may be his “magnum opus,” as pupetheim includes the extract from the earlier work. It’s clear, looking at his productions, that he could not resist tinkering with the language. Although some have criticized Zamenhof for allowing no changes to Esperanto after 1905 other than new words, it has given the language stability, while Molee couldn’t even give his language a stable name. What would he have said to someone who had learned Tutonish in 1902 when faced with Alteutonik in 1915?

After Molee had spent about thirty years tinkering with his lanaguage, H. L. Mencken would write of him in The American Language,
A philologist of Scandinavian extraction, Elias Molee, has gone so far to argue that the acquisition of correct English, to a people grown so mongrel in blood as the Americans, has already become a useless burden. In place of it he proposes a mixed tongue, based on English, but admitting various elements from the other Germanic languages. His grammar, however, is so much more complex than that of English that most Americans would probably find his artificial “American” very difficult of acquirement. At all events it has made no progress.

  1. I should have checked further. Both of his parents emigrated from Norway. ↩

  2. Here are the years for some of Molee’s books:
    • 1888 Plea for an American Language, or, Germanic English
    • 1890 Pure Saxon English, or, Americans to the Front
    • 1902 Tutonish, or, Anglo-German Union Tongue
    • 1904 Tutonish, A Teutonic International Language
    • 1906 nu teutonish, an international union languge
    • 1911 Alteutonish
    • 1912 Alteutonish
    • 1915 Alteutonik, 1915
    • 1922 Teutonik veltosprake

    Wikipedia mentions two other books, but I haven’t been able to examine them to determine if they are works putting forth a language or works in one of his variant forms. For that matter, I’m not certain if Teutonik velotsprake is a new version of Teutonik or what.

    His works include at least one translation, pupetheim, a translation of Ibsen’s A Doll House into Alteutonik (1920). The book includes a defense of Alteutonik in Molle’s own version of English.  ↩

  3. This is his own spelling of “division.” I’m not sure why he doubled the s.  ↩

  4. Its name really is “Alteutonik, 1915,” presumably to distinguish it from its predecessor versions of 1911 and 1912.  ↩

  5. nsf “and so forth”  ↩

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