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Thursday, 24 September 1936


The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator, having spoken to the original motion, must now confine his remarks to the amendment, which is to refer the subject-matter of the motion to the League of Nations.


Senator ARKINS - I shall obey your ruling, Mr. President. Senator Abbott believes that the better plan is to transmit the motion to His Majesty the King, who will be invited to summon a world convention. The Leader of the Senate to-night suggested that a better method would be to send it to a special committee of the League of Nations, as this course would not hamper the acceptance of basic English as the universal language. I agree with that view, and remind the Senate that we shall start with the enormous advantage of 500,000,000 people who use some form of English for commercial or governmental intercourse. Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and numerous other leading thinkers of the British Empire are firmly convinced that basic English will one day be the common language of mankind. Leading thinkers in Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Czechoslovakia and other countries are equally convinced that basic English will one day be the auxiliary language for the people of the world. It should, however, be remembered that the common language will be an auxiliary language; that is to say, it will dovetail in with the languages of the various nations without in any way interfering with their ideals or traditions. Its sole purpose will be to enable people speaking diverse tongues to understand one another and in that way reach a common understanding of international difficulties. I am sorry that I cannot agree with Senator Abbott as to the course to be adopted. I am in entire agreement with his ideal, which is to do something in an attempt to bring about world peace, and, with him, [ believe that a universal language will be a step in that direction. I disagree with those who think that it will lead to conflict. It was urged by one honorable senator in the debate last Thursday evening that the use of a common tongue would not make for peace; that the attempt of the Communists, by means of broadcast addresses, to engender bitterness among the peoples of various nations would bo facilitated. It is possible, under existing conditions, for any person to broadcast propaganda addresses in any language, but all peoples are not able to understand him. "Would it not be better and would it not lead to a common understanding of international difficulties if it were possible for people to listen to broadcast addresses in some common tongue from leading thinkers, on so many of the problems that beset mankind?

It is true that the adoption of a common language would not be an absolute guarantee of peace. There have been, at various times, and in many countries, most sanguinary conflicts between people speaking a common tongue; we see an instance of that in Spain to-day. Not long ago, even in England, bitter struggles occurred between people speaking in the mass the same language. Not more than a century and a half ago people living in the various counties were unable to understand one another. Even so recently as 25 years ago Yorkshire newspapers, having a wide circulation, were printed in a dialect which could not be understood by other than the people of that county. It would be a good thing if people were able to speak to one another in a common tongue and so understand each others views on vital problems. Consider the position of the League of Nations. The meeting of the assembly brings together the leading statesmen and diplomats. The absence of a common language has to be met by the employment of interpreters and the use of modern mechanical devices. Would it not be better if their deliberations were conducted in a universal auxiliary language?

I say this because of my experience with many people in this country who a few years ago spoke a foreign language. To-day they use the English language. Some of them are my best friends, because I have been able to speak to them in my tongue and I have learned to appreciate their outlook. But, as I have said, a common language will not necessarily lead to a complete understanding of all our difficulties. We have evidence of this in this country. Wo speak a common tongue, but in the sphere of politics, for example, we fail sometimes to understand one another. Even in the home there are occasional disagreements; but we should not lose sight of the ideal underlying the motion. We should do all that lies in our power to forward any movement that will lead to man's understanding of man. If we do this I believe that we shall get nearer to the realization of what our civilization should mean, namely, that we should be able to live together as a common brotherhood at peace with one another. When that idea is realized the world will be a better place for all.







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