Circular: Letter to Floyd Hardin, October 3, 1958
from Mario Pei



I am sending out copies of the letter reproduced below to some fifty individuals, including linguists, philologists and certain officers and members of the National Society for the Study of Communication, the Modern Language Association of America and the International Society for General Semantics. It is hoped that this may serve to provoke discussion as to the validity of the methods employed by Descriptive and Structural Linguistics in its approach to language. The editorial referred to in Professor Pei’s letter is entitled, “Language and the Rhetorical Representation of Life”, and appears in the current issue (no. 12) of the International Language Review. - - - Floyd Hardin, Directing Editor, P.O. Box 393, Denver 1, Colorado, U. S. A.




In the City of New York

Department of Romance Philology


October 3, 1958


Dear Mr. Hardin:


            I don’t know when I have ever read a more pointed or better written indictment of the school of so-called “linguistic science” than appears in your current editorial. You may or may not know it, but I, as an old-line philologist, have been carrying on the battle against the encroachments of the structuralists for the last thirty years; often, it almost seemed, single-handed. If you are acquainted with the Modern Language Journal and have access to its files, I can give you a very long list of references to articles and book reviews I have written on the subject. I shall be glad to send you some reprints, if you care to read them: for others, I can give you the references.


What I should be interested in knowing is what impelled you to write your editorial. Remember that I have never had the pleasure of meeting you, and know nothing about your background, save that you publish the International Language Review. Yet you write with an assurance and a competence that indicate that you have delved pretty deeply into the field of general linguistics. Cold you be a fellow-professor in disguise?


            Next, I should like to ask you what you propose to do with your editorial. It is far too interesting to the linguistic world to be read only by the readers of your Review. I should like to see it read by every member of the Linguistic Society of America, the Modern Language Association of America and the various Associations of Language Teachers. This is probably too ambitious a project, involving some 20,000 pieces of mail, but the least that could be done would be to send a copy

to the editor of every language journal in the land, in the hope that some of them may reprint it, in whole or in part. I shall be glad to furnish you with a list of the more important ones, if you are not already acquainted with them. Lastly, I should love to have several dozen copies (merely of the page bearing the editorial, not of the entire issue) for distribution among some of my colleagues who feel as we do.


Ever since I first came in touch with you, I have admired the splendid work you do in spreading the gospel of a world tongue, without partiality toward any of the innumerable natural and constructed languages that vie for that post, but giving cordial hospitality to all ideas on the subject that are not of the downright crackpot variety. Now I find that I have to offer you admiration in another field, that of the philosophy of language, for setting forth in admirably succinct and effective fashion, what so many of us have been thinking, talking and writing about for years.


Cordially yours,


(Mario Pei)



A Recent Book by Mario Pei:


            One Language for the World and How to Achieve It; the Devin-Adair Company, 25 East 25th Street, New York 10, New York, USA.Price: $5.



Other books on language by Mario Pei include:


            Language for Everybody (1957)

            All About Language (1954)

Swords of Anjou (1953)

The Story of English (1952)

The Story of Language (1949)

The World’s Chief Languages (1946)

The Italian Language (1941)

            - - and other works



Professor Pei may be addressed as follows:


                        Professor Mario Pei, Casa Italiano,

Columbia University, New York 27, New York




SOURCE: Circular: Letter to Floyd Hardin from Mario Pei, Department of Romance Philology, Columbis University, October 3, 1958; with prefatory note by Floyd Hardin. One sheet with two-sided printing.

Wanted: A World Language by Mario Pei

The International Language Association: A Prospectus and Report

Language and the Rhetorical Representation of Life” by Floyd Hardin

Signs and Symbols Could Have Saved the World” by Floyd Hardin

Two Poems by A. D. Foote

International Language Review (issues listing + selected contents)

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

Esperanto & Interlinguistics Study Guide / Retgvidilo pri Esperanto & Interlingvistiko

On other sites:

Mario Pei @ Ĝirafo

Mario Pei - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mario Pei - Vikipedio

One Language for the World by Mario Pei
Parts 1 and 3

Samples of multiple planned languages by Mario Pei
(from One Language for the World)

One Language for the World (phonograph record, 1961)

Liner notes

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Coming Attractions | Book News
Bibliography | Mini-Bibliographies | Study Guides | Special Sections
My Writings | Other Authors' Texts | Philosophical Quotations
Blogs | Images & Sounds | External Links

CONTACT Ralph Dumain

Uploaded 9 June 2013

Site ©1999-2021 Ralph Dumain