The best way to think of Occidental is as a tidied-up common Western European. It's the French or the Spanish you wish you had learned in school, because it keeps the common vocabulary but removes the parts that make them difficult. For example, to form the simple past tense you change the r in the verb to a t. And to form the simple future tense, you put a va in front of it.
Yes, you just finished learning the simple past and future tenses. Try doing that in two sentences with a natural language.
But because it's a tidied-up common Western European, it also looks like it. English liberty and French liberté is libertá, English moon and Spanish luna is lune (think lunar), English sit and Italian sedere is seder (think sedentary).
It was created in 1922 in Tallinn, Estonia, reached its height in Europe just before World War II, went into decline and nearly died in the 1980s after which it came back to life.
All auxlangs are made with the best of intentions and deserve respect. Out of the hundreds and even thousands of proposed projects, the ones mentioned above are some of the very few that have ever managed to achieve an active user base, and that makes them unique.
Having said that, what makes Occidental unique is the following:
It looks like a natural language. Most people conclude it must be a dialect similar to Catalan or Occitan, spoken in the area between Spain and France. And that means that: It's remarkably easy to read. About one or two billion people can work their way through an Occidental text without ever having seen one before. However, it's still a language created to be as easy as possible. It's a language that you can learn in a few weeks and come out knowing how to read a lot of related languages like Italian and French without having studied them before. And as the next question shows, you’ll come out knowing a lot more about English too. Some of the auxlangs above have an appearance as natural as Occidental, and others have a grammar as (and even a little bit more) regular. But no language has managed to blend a natural look and regular grammar as well as Occidental has. That's why it took its creator 30 years to put it together.
Occidental can be thought of as the simplified and tidied up quintessence of the Western European languages, or rather Europe’s Greco-Roman heritage. The common vocabulary is connected but hidden, and Occidental makes it visible. Take the word father for example. Why is it patre and not some other word? It’s because it serves the key role in words related to it that we all know.
patre (patr·e) father patria (patr·ia) homeland (fatherland) expatriate (ex·patr·ia·t·e) expatriate (ex means out, from, or out from) patriarch (patr·i·arch) patriarch patriot (patr·i·ot) patriot patriotisme (patr·i·ot·isme) patriotism repatriation (re·patr·i·a·t·ion) repatriation Now in other languages this is hidden: patre is père in French (the t is gone), padre in Spanish. But when we get to the derived terms, we see the t come back. This is the ingrained common root that Occidental uses.
When you know Occidental, the common roots simply become visible in a way excelled by maybe only Latin. Have a look over the following list and see just how clear the vocabulary becomes when expressed in Occidental.
Intervalle (interval), formed from inter (between) and valle (mound, bulwark). Literal meaning: a "between-walls”. Ínevitabil (inevitable), formed from ín (reverses the meaning), evitar (to evade) → evit·abil. Literal meaning: “un-evade-able”. burgeonant (burgeoning): a burgeon is a bud in Occidental. Then verbalized as burgeonar → burgeona·nt vernal (vernal): Think of the vernal equinox, the day in March when day and night are of equal length and spring officially begins. In Occidental verne means spring radicalisme (radicalism): the word radica means root. A radical is someone “rooted” in an ideology. seculari (secular): a secul is a century in Occidental. -ari turns it into an adjective meaning something of this era (something that is a product of its time). nomination (nomination): a nómine is a name. This one is easy: a nomination is literally a “naming”.
Occidental was created to follow a natural evolution similar to the natural languages, where usage or lack of it decides the fate of a word. And Occidental's large body of literature and wealth of suffixes taken from the natural languages makes the creation of new words easy.
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