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Thursday, 21 May 1936

Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - HUGHES. - I mention . this point because I think that there is some confusion in relation to it in the minds of the general public. There is a tendency to think that the adoption of a common language involves the sacrifice of their own literature. I wish to emphasize that that is not so.

Senator Abbott - The Czechoslovakians have about seven mother tongues, and the Swiss, three or four. It would not be any hardship to those who have only one mother tongue to adopt an additional one which all could understand.

Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES - A discussion of this subject involves a consideration of the probable result of the general adoption of the honorable senator's suggestion. In that event, what language would most likely be selected as the subsidiary language of the various nations ? I think that I ought to say that, if honorable senators fancy that, as a matter of course, English would be the language selected - either in its present or in its basic form - it is extremely probable that they will be disappointed.

Senator Abbott - Why?

Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES - I see no possibility of the nations of the world, in their present frame of mind, adopting a language which is based on English. Can wo imagine that the German nation,which has developed nationalism to the highest pitch, or the Italian race, will adopt a language which is essentially English? If this matter is pressed on them, I think we must face the fact that it will not be possible to have any but a neutral language adopted. Esperanto is a notable instance of a neutral language.

Senator Abbott - All neutral languages have their roots in other languages.

Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES - That is so. English is, as I think we will all agree, a magnificent language. It has grown by slow degrees from a number of sources - Greek, Latin, Arabic, and others - whereas Esperanto is based on a scientific arrangement of some" of the prevalent languages in Western Europe. I hold strongly the view that Esperanto is a scientifically designed and beautiful language, and has great claims for adoption as an international medium. Any person who favours the adoption of an international language, in the belief that thereby his own mother tongue will be preserved to the exclusion of all others, is, in my opinion, doomed to disappointment. With the world in its present state, I can see no possibility of any arrangement being arrived at except on the basis of a subsidiary language which is essentially neutral. Subject to that qualification, I most cordially compliment Senator Abbott on having brought this matter forward. He has placed before the Senate one of those really big ideas which should he followed up. The honor able senator can rely on any support that I can give when the matter comes before the Senate later.

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