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Roots of New Languages

Since the 1600s, more than 100 languages have been invented, most with the ambition of becoming a universal second language to bring mankind together.

Esperanto (1887) is the most widely used and it borrows heavily from Latin and French with some Slavic words. Its grammar and syntax, while regular, are complex enough that it takes about a year to learn. To date, some 10,000 books have been published in Esperanto. One Esperanto poem reads: El tra nub', el tra rub'/ ciela/ ridas nun brila sun' (From through cloud, from through rubble / of sky/ laughs now a shining sun.)

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Volapuk (1879) was reportedly invented during a night of insomnia by a German cleric, Johann Martin Schleyer. At the onset, it was as popular as Esperanto, but it was eventually eclipsed probably because its words were so heavily modified that they often bear only a tenuous connection to their English and Romance language roots.

Ekspreso (1996) purports to be the language for people in a hurry. It has very simple rules of grammar, and its vocabulary is rooted in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Latin. Ke hora es? Vo comprendes anglese? These hardly require translation.

Glosa (1981) has a vocabulary of only 1,000 to 2,000 words, all of which have Latin and Greek roots. Proponents claim it can be learned in a matter of days because of its simplicity. Mi ne pa pote ne ridi may not be immediately recognizable as "I couldn't help laughing," but kogita (Think!) and it will become clear.

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