Interlingua: The 'new' language you might be able to speak without even studying it

Orlophe Vauchertres makes TikTok videos about interlingua, a "constructed language" that can be understood by people who speak romance languages, like French, Spanish and Italian.
Orlophe Vauchertres makes TikTok videos about interlingua, a "constructed language" that can be understood by people who speak romance languages, like French, Spanish and Italian. © TikTok / @orlophe_vauchertres

On TikTok, "Orlophe Vauchertres" is introducing millions of people to interlingua, a so-called “constructed” language that is easy to understand for almost all speakers of Latin-based Romance languages, from Spanish to French to Italian to Romanian to Portuguese. This TikTok star told our team about the “magic’ of this language. 

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"La lengua que io parla es extremente utile pro me” is a phrase that rings true for Orlophe Vauchertres, a TikTok star who makes videos in the language of interlingua. Most of his 430,000 followers and the millions of people who have watched his videos don’t know how to speak the language and, yet, they can understand it. That’s because Interlingua was created to be understood by people who speak Latin languages, including Italian, French, Spanish, Romanian and Portuguese.  

Interlingua was created by linguists back in 1951 using simplified grammar and vocabulary from 'Romance' languages as well as a bit of English. There are thought to be around 2,000 speakers.

For a long time, it’s been a niche language mostly used by researchers and people passionate about linguistics. That is, until Orlophe brought the language to TikTok.

Orlophe, whose real name is Carlos Valcárcel, is a researcher who studies Lantin language, as well as being a teacher of French as a foreign language (FLE) at Vigo University in Galicia. He first started posting videos on TikTok for his students. But to his surprise, his videos were met with resounding success on social media.

"The power of interlingua is how easy it is to understand"

Interlingua was originally inspired by Espéranto, a constructed language spoken by three to nine million people that, like interlingua, is based on the grammar and the vocabulary of several existing languages.

But unlike Espéranto, which is hard to understand if you haven’t studied it, interlingua can be understood by anyone who speaks a Romance language, whether they have studied interlingua or not. There are nearly a billion people who also speak Romance languages — there are nearly 500 million speakers of Spanish alone. The whole goal of interlingua is to be understood, Orlophe told our team:

The strength of interlingua is how easy it is to understand, especially the fact that it can be understood without any prior study.

A lot of people have left comments telling me that they struggle with English and they thought they were bad at foreign languages and so could never communicate with other people from other cultures.

On TikTok, I really was able to see new potential for interlingua. I’ve seen comments from people from everywhere from Romania to Brazil to Peru, even French speakers in Quebec. In linguistic terms, it is a translingual experience. It’s the first time I’ve had this kind of experience and, as a linguist, I think it is amazing.

Interlingua wasn’t created to replace a language. Instead, it is nourished and evolves alongside other languages. The goal of interlingua is to remedy communication issues, to communicate with speakers of different languages at the same time without having to speak English, which takes some time to learn.  

"Interlingua can really foster a desire to learn languages"

Orlophe’s goal isn’t necessarily that everyone learns interlingua — he just wants to wet people’s appetite for learning foreign languages, whether they are major languages like French or Spanish or less well-known regional languages and dialects that also share Latin roots. Most of his TikTok videos are about different languages.  

Interlingua can really foster a desire to learn languages. It’s sort of a bridge towards other Romance languages. For example, many French people have told me that they better understand Spanish grammar thanks to Interlingua.

@orlophe_vauchertres Responder @samueldiazdm #interlingua #italiano #italian #differences #languages #learnontiktok ♬ som original - orlophe
In this video, Orlophe responds to a user who thought that he was speaking in Italian.

I often use this channel to highlight different Romance languages, especially regional languages like the langue d’oc, spoken in the Béarn region in France, or Picard, spoken in the Picardie region of France. And thanks to interlingua, all of the speakers of these languages can understand what I am saying.  

 

 

Interlingua is derived from Latin, the source of all of the Romance languages. Very often, the words and the grammar are very similar in these regional languages. For example, the adjectives "fantastica" and "logica" are the same in both Occitan, spoken in the French region of Provence, and Catalan. In other cases, the words might be the same in Romanian and Galician- Portuguese.  All of the Romance languages are represented in some way in Interlingua. It’s also a way for me to connect with my audience because they recognize words from their own language.

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TikTok has become a well-known place to promote so-called “constructed” languages like Interlingua. Some were invented as a way to enable speakers of different languages to communicate, like Espéranto or Interslavic, while others were invented as part of works of fiction, like Klingon, the language spoken in Star Trek or the elf languages spoken in the Lord of the Rings. There are also thousands of accounts that highlight regional dialects and languages.

@ticetacfurlan Attenzione a non scivolare🇮🇹/🦅Ocjo a no sbrissâ #ticetacfurlan #imparacontiktok #blastaildubbio lezionidifriulano #linguafriulana#JetPuffedSmourth ♬ Funk It Up - Official Sound Studio
This account teaches people to speak Friulian, a language spoken in the Friuli region in Italy.
@thenerdycomedian Reply to @classicanibal hope this helps! Boiling down the OVS structure to be as simple as possible #klingonsoftiktok #klingon #learnwithme2022 #explainittomelikeimfive #klingonlanguage #conlangtiktok #qapla #nerdtok ♬ original sound - lili fox-lim
This account teaches people to speak Klingon, a language spoken in Star Trek.