Well, the following hit my doorstep: Correct Your French Blunders (Mazet); An Introduction to French Pronunciation (Price); French Grammar (Kendris); and the complete set of Pronounce it Perfectly in French (Kendris).
Lovely! I may actually get somewhere with this language now. I look forward to being good enough to read Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (easy) and La Peste (hard); both of which are sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me. Not to mention the audio book of La Peste read by Christian Gonon. I want to be able to read them aloud, well enough to be clearly understood, and with expression.
Needless to say a stack of books about three miles high now awaits me, on my bookshelves, from all these languages I am studying. The only thing I have not ordered is the rare, out-of-print book about the Mondial language, a language similar to Interlingua, approximately halfway between the highly naturalistic Interlingua and the somewhat more schematic Interlingue Occidental. Sooner or later temptation will get the better of me and I'll order the Mondial book. It will be interesting to see how long I hold out...
Which brings me to Interlingua. Okay, I've been reading a little of Le defuncte Mattia Pascal (a novel by Pirandello, translated from the Italian) and Cinque aventuras de Sherlock Holmes (short stories). Both in hardcopy, of course. That is, actual books which one holds and not just electrons on a computer screen. Lovely. Look, it's a pleasure. Interlingua is fun to read. It's just a wee bit too difficult and needs just a wee bit of improvement, as previously discussed. It's almost there. Almost. That is, in the market segment it occupies.
Because it is a bit too tiring to read Interlingua in its traditional form, we just need to jazz it up a little to make it easier. Apart from adopting the simpler but still official collateral orthography (ortografia colateral), I am also marking irregular stress (ortografía colateral), and using official, collateral forms of the irregular verb "to be", esser (namely era, será, seréa and the imperative sia).
All right. Okay. So far so good.
But... not enough.
Further change is needed. Now, whether the following experimental practices mean I am no longer using Interlingua, and therefore should not refer to it as Interlingua but rather by some other name, I will leave to others to judge. Should anybody complain I will just invent another name. However I would urge you not to complain too loudly. My intentions are good. Also, I am just experimenting. Finally, who cares anyway? I am just one insignificant writer.
With that said, here I go...
Reading the Sherlock Holmes stories aloud I realise that Interlingua is, compared to English, a little too hard too read aloud due to its great verbosity. Words are sometimes excessively long. And there are far too many Es on the ends of words here there and everywhere. The biggest problems here are habeva, the past tense of "to have", which is very commonly used to form perfect tenses, -mente, the adverbial suffix, and -e, the common suffix on many adjectives. Put these things together and you have text which: is slower to read out loud than English; is more difficult to read out loud than English; yet is no more recognisable unless your first language happens to be Spanish, Portuguese or Italian (SPI).
In English, -mente would be -ly; in French, -ment. I see no reason why -men could not be a reasonable and permissible alternative if our aim is to preserve the spirit of Interlingua while using it with a vastly easier orthography and more concise, easier pronunciation. Here I am paying the price of loosing some recognisability to SPI speakers, and also slightly changing the pronunciation, but the benefit is we gain a lot of ground for speakers of English, French and other languages. Because reading becomes quicker: less seconds per paragraph and less effort required, less tiring physically to read.
Teamed up with this, in addition to the official collateral orthography rules for dropping the -e off the end of words finishing in T preceded by a vowel (et cetera), I believe in addition that -e needs to be dropped off the end of most adjectives except where the E is preceded by a vowel or by certain consonants (that is, there will be some entirely regular exceptions). Not having to vocalise all those Es makes sentences quicker and easier to read; again we lose some recognisability here when spoken aloud to SPI speakers but we gain massively when spoken aloud to anybody else. Also, we are just subtly becoming more like standardized English, just enough more distant from natural Romance languages to perhaps reduce the "drift" and keep the language intact. Which brings me to the next point...
I think we need a tiny hint, a tiny twist, just a little seasoning, just a pinch... of Germanic flavour. Just enough, again, to make SPI speakers constantly remember that Interlingua is also based of English, French, German and Russian. Remember, guys, this is an international language. Where is the German? Where is the Russian? Okay, here goes...
For the past tense of haber we need hat or some similar very short, very concise, very easy-to-say, and just-a-little-Germanic word. The present tense, ha, is excellent. The future tense, haberá, is tolerable but lengthy. The conditional, haberéa, is extremely useful and more concise than other grammatical alternatives which would require two or three words instead of one. But the past tense, habeva, really grates. It is too long, too verbose, makes forming perfect tenses too clunky; it is just too heavyweight a word for one of the most frequently used words in the language. With really frequently used words it is okay to be a little irregular. And if you actually check the source languages of Interlingua they have little or no agreement about what the past tense of the verb "to have" should be, other than a vague preference for ending with -a and maybe having a V somewhere near the end and maybe having an H somewhere near the start. But it is a very weak correlation. I'm sorry but habeva is too verbose a solution to fly for modern literary use. I'm not sure exactly what the best word is but, until I can think of something better, I'm going to use hat. Consider it a place-holder word. It will do for now.
Note: I am not aiming for a pure, schematic, extreme solution. I am aiming for a middle ground and to generally remain true to the spirit of Interlingua. Hence I choose to keep -ss- and -tion since these I believe greatly increase the internationality and recognisability of words to non-SPI speakers and are also etymologically important. The former spelling can be deduced upon hearing a word; the latter cannot but usually can be safely guessed.
Okay, so let's itemise my heresy:
WARNING: This system has been superseded.
(1) Adopt the official collateral orthography and official collateral forms of esser except those forms which represent conjugation for person. Fine, nothing heretical about that. These are officially approved alternatives.
(2) Replace -mente with -men. Also, the addition of the suffix -men does not change the stressed syllable of the base word; that is, unlike -mente, the suffix -men is never stressed; accordingly whatever is the normally stressed syllable of the word to which -men is being added takes an acute accent to indicate stress, as per (5). Heresy 1
(3) On many but not all adjectives, with regular exceptions (not after vowels and not after certain consonants such as -c-,-d-,-m-,-er-), drop the final -e. This however never applies to nouns except those already covered by (1) and never applies to adverbs, if any, which end in -e (don't forget we have already dispensed with -mente above, which becomes -men). Note that this combined with (1)(2)(5) means that brillantemente becomes brilántmen. Incidentally, that is about as ugly as I am prepared to make words. Clearly the former is more recognisable but, in this case, it is just way way way too long. The stressed syllable remains the same as in the original, traditional Interlingua word before the -e was removed; for example, frágil not fragíl. And, of course, according to (5) this is optionally marked with an acute accent. Heresy 2
(4) Replace habeva with hat (or a similarly short word). Heresy 3
(5) Optionally, at the discretion of the writer, make it correct to mark all irregular stress with an acute accent. That is, any word of two syllables or more which is not stressed on the vowel before the last consonant; the other regular stress rules are way too hard to remember. Heresy 4
(6) Since the official collateral orthography causes a collision between Il ha (he has) and Il ha (there is), a new word must be found for the latter. I will research the source languages to find an alternative. Heresy 5
The rest of the language can stay the same. It's already very good.
Unfortunately all this will be a pain as I will have to make my own supplement to the Interlingua-English Dictionary to assist readers to find words as they read them. But I can live with that.
And that's about it. Very minor changes but hugely easier.
Please bear in mind all of the above is experimental. However it does indicate the general direction in which I wish to march. A dialect with the exact same grammar as Interlingua in principle but mapped to slightly different orthographical forms and with slightly different pronunciation; the intention is to retain the character and spirit of Interlingua while become just a little less heavyweight, just a little quicker and easier to read and to spell, and just a little more like English in not having every second word end in -e. It's not just about making it easier for English speakers, either; I am thinking essentially about anyone who is not an SPI speaker. SPI speakers can still reasonably understand this dialect but it is way easier for everybody else. For example, once you have looked at Indonesian or even just Spanish orthography it is hard to take traditional Interlingua seriously as a competitor; people in Asia would probably just learn Indonesian instead and the rest of us would probably just learn Spanish instead. We need to give Interlingua orthography an edge, a small advantage. Making it just a little easier to read and write, and a tiny bit less Italian when pronounced, I think gives it the edge it needs.
Remember, for me personally Interlingua has to clearly out-perform Indonesian, Afrikaans, and indeed French otherwise I will just adopt one of those natural languages for my international writing instead.