Is Interlingua Better than Esperanto or Viceversa? A Close-up on Constructed Languages

This article is in partnership with Day Translations.

To answer the question in the title, no language is better than the other because each serves different purposes. Both esperanto and interlingua aim to aid communication among people from different countries and cultures and both are constructed languages. But first, what are constructed languages?

A Brief History of Constructed Languages or Conlangs for Short

Move over Artificial Intelligence, here we are talking about artificial languages or conlangs.

The first example of a constructed language can be traced back to the 12th century when an Abbess in the German convent in Rubensberg created a whole new language from scratch because, simply put, she was a multitalented genius.

The constructed language that Hildegard von Bingen had developed was called Lingua Ignota or “unknown language” because it was supposed to be mysterious. In fact, the language included more than a thousand completely invented words. The purpose of this constructed language was to express religious concepts, experiences and mystical states.

Fast forwarding to the 20th and 21st centuries, artificial languages have often been deployed in fiction as a way characters and whole communities communicated in novels, films and TV series. Examples include the languages spoken in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Game of Thrones’.

In summary, conlangs can convey various types of meanings including religious, artistic or as a way to connect people who speak different languages. Conlangs such as interligua and esperanto were conceived with the specific purpose of enabling communication across communities that may not have anything in common.

What Language Is Interlingua?

Interlingua blends Latin languages like French and Spanish, with the aim to make it easy to learn for people who already speak those languages and aid communication between them. This language can pose some challenges for speakers of non Latin languages as it implies some previous knowledge, especially with regards to pronunciation.

It has been reported that interlingua was first developed in the 1950s and has a rather small group of people who have learned it and use it frequently.

What Language Is Esperanto?

Esperanto, on the other hand, mixes several European languages using a simplified grammar and phonetics with a very straightforward system for pronouncing words. The main aim of the language is to aim international communications.

Esperanto was first developed in 1887 and it has a large following – it has been estimated that about 2 million people have learned the language and use it regularly.

Esperanto or Interlingua?

Both languages have their pros and cons when it comes to learning and accessing available learning resources. The short answer is that esperanto has a larger pool of resources and a wider community of learners, because it has a longer history.

Depending on the key objectives of a language learner, esperanto or interlingua offer different advantages, with esperanto focusing more on ease of learning while interlingua focusing more on building on existing similarities across Latin languages.

Concluding Remarks

Both esperanto and interlingua have their own fans, just like football teams have their own supporters. Because of this, esperanto fans and interlingua fans will tell you that their language is better, but the key factor we need to remember is that either language has a specific purpose and the development of these two languages has taken different routes. In other words, they are not interchangeable and not comparable.