Mario Pei revisited

Pei, Mario. One Language for the World. New York: Devin-Adair, 1958. (Reprint: New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1968.)
Parts 1 and 3 can be found here. The bulk of the history of the international language movement, not included here, will be found in part 2 supplemented by the bibliography & appendixes. Complete text available to Questia subscribers.  You can see the complete table of contents and other snippets at Google Books.
The history of artificial languages and the quest for a universal language has been documented in several languages. There is a selected bibliography of key works under the rubric of Selected General Works on Interlinguistics and History of Constructed and Universal Languages in my bibliography:

Philosophical and Universal Languages, 1600-1800, and Related Themes: Selected Bibliography

. . . which otherwise focuses on the subset of artificial languages indicated.

The most general web guide to the field of artificial/universal languages, which in recent decades as morphed into the conlang phenomenon, can also be found on my web site:

Esperanto & Interlinguistics Study Guide

Until Pei's book came along in 1958, the most prominent work in English was:

Guérard, Albert Léon. A Short History of the International Language Movement [on my web site]. London: T. F. Unwin, Ltd., 1922. (Reprint ed.: Westport, CT: Hyperion Press, 1979.) [Also offsite.]

You can now get it online, but back in the day, it could probably only be found in large central public libraries or research libraries.

After Pei, the most significant general work in English was:

Large, J. A. The Artificial Language Movement. Oxford; New York: B. Blackwell; London: A. Deutsch, 1985. (The Language Library)

But now, your first English-language go-to place for this subject matter is:

Okrent, Arika. In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2009. See also web site: http://inthelandofinventedlanguages.com.

Many decades ago this field was dubbed interlingustics, but the explosive growth of language invention as a hobby in the Internet age yielded the term conlangs. Large still reflects the old concerns; Okrent reflects the conlang world of today.

When I first became interested in this subject matter, circa 1968, Pei was my major reference point. And I don't think he is entirely obsolete, both in covering the issues and the specifics of artificial language projects.  What has most conspicuously changed is not merely the world of conlangs but the geopolitical and technological picture in general, which does not favor the solution of one world auxiliary language save to the extent that English has become dominant though not universal.

In the same time period Pei recorded a record album with Smithsonian's Folkways Records, also titled One Language for the World (1961). Thanks to the digitized world we now live in, this recording is obtainable via download or CD. I don't believe I ever listened to the original record album.

The liner notes for the album can be found here.

My own interest in this subject matter now is bibliographical, historical, and sociological. The old philosophical languages of the 17th and 18th centuries hold a special interest in the history of ideas and philosophy of science. I suppose I was a conlanger avant le lettre in 1968. In those days the publications of enthusiasts (like the International Language Review which became International Language Reporter which became Eco-Logos) took some effort to track down. Aside from my use of Esperanto, I don't find conlangs in themselves interest me: I approach this area from a distance seeing it as a subcultural and ideological phenomenon. But I can also pay tribute to human inventiveness and creativity, and in the process, to Mario Pei for taking the trouble to document this phenomenon.

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