Edgar de Wahl

Edgar Alexei Robert von[1] Wahl or de Wahl (23 August 1867 – 9 March 1948) was a Baltic German teacher, mathematician and linguist. He is most famous for being the creator of Interlingue (known as Occidental throughout his life), a naturalistic constructed language based on the Indo-European languages, which was initially published in 1922.

Edgar von Wahl
Edgar de Wahl 1926.jpg
Edgar de Wahl
Born(1867-08-23)23 August 1867
Died9 March 1948(1948-03-09) (aged 80)
CitizenshipRussia (1867 – 1918)
Estonia (1917 – 1948)
Known forInventor of Interlingue a.k.a. Occidental
Arms of the Wahl family

He was born at Olwiopol (according to some sources in Bohopil, a town nearby[2][3][4][5]), Kherson Governorate, Russian Empire (now part of Pervomaisk, Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine). The family spent some years in Ukraine, since the father of Edgar von Wahl worked there as a railway engineer.[6] After that the family stayed some years in Tallinn and moved then to Saint Petersburg. Wahl studied there and began after that service in Imperial Russian Navy. Since 1894 Wahl worked as a teacher in Tallinn.[7]

De Wahl first became an adherent of Volapük after being introduced to the language by Waldemar Rosenberger (a colleague of de Wahl's father), and began composing a lexicon for marine terminology.[8] A few months later in 1888 he discovered a brochure on the language Esperanto in a bookshop and became a strong supporter of the new language. One of the first users of Esperanto, he advised L. L. Zamenhof on some points of grammar and vocabulary.[9] After several years he abandoned Esperanto after the failed vote to reform the language in 1894 (de Wahl was one of the few that voted for a completely new reform), and in the following decades he worked on the problem of the ideal form of an international auxiliary language.

In 1922 he published a "key" to a new language, Occidental, and the first number of a periodical entitled Kosmoglott (later Cosmoglotta), written in that language. In following years, de Wahl participated in discussions about Occidental, and allowed the language to develop gradually as a result of the recommendations of its users. After World War II started in 1939, he had only intermittent contacts with the Occidentalist movement, which had become centred in Switzerland. He became a member of the Committee of Linguistic Advisors, part of the International Auxiliary Language Association, which would present Interlingua in 1951.

The last years of his life were spent in a psychiatric hospital in Tallinn, Estonia, which he was sent to in 1944. His home in Tallinn had been destroyed in aerial bombardments in 1943, and he had been incarcerated for a time after the arrival of Nazi troops in the city for having refused to move to Germany as an ethnic German, and thereafter saved by his friends who argued for his mental instability and need to relocate to the hospital.[10] With his home destroyed, he remained in the psychiatric hospital after the war and died there in 1948.[11] Shortly afterwards, in 1949, the name of Occidental was changed to Interlingue. Later, in 1951, Interlingua was unveiled, attracting many prominent users of the now-named Interlingue including Ric Berger[12] and André Schild.[13]

See alsoEdit


  • Edgar von Wahl. Flexion und Begriffsspaltung. – Linguist 1896, nr 10.
  • Edgar von Wahl. Ausnahmen. – Linguist 1897, nr 3.
  • Edgar de Wahl. [Idiom neutral reformed]. – Progres 1906, nr 6.
  • Julian Prorók. Ketzereien: Keimzellen einer Philosophie. Tartu, Leipzig 1906.
  • Edgar de Wahl. AULI = Auxiliari lingue International. – Discussiones 1909, nr 1-2.
  • Edgar de Wahl. L leges de derivation en verbes. – Lingua Internationale 1911, nr 1.
  • Edgar von Wahl. Kaiserlicher Estländischer See-Yacht-Club: historische Übersicht 1888-1913. Tallinn 1913.
  • Edgar de Wahl. Qual instructiones da nos li historie de lingue universal. – Kosmoglott 1922, nr 1, pp 6–8.
  • Edgar de Wahl. Radicarium directiv del lingue international (occidental): in 8 lingues. Tallinn 1925.
  • Edgar de Wahl. Interlinguistic reminiscenties. – Cosmoglotta 1927, nr 41, pp 54–64.
  • Edgar de Wahl. Occidental: gemeinverständliche europäische Kultursprache für internationalen Verkehr: Begründung, Grammatik, Wortbildung, vergleichende textproben. Tallinn, Viin 1928.
  • Edgar de Wahl, Otto Jespersen. Discussiones inter E. de Wahl e O. Jespersen. Chapelle 1935.
  • Edgar de Wahl. Spiritu de interlingue. Cheseaux/Lausanne, 1953.


  1. ^ In German personal names, von is a preposition which approximately means of or from and usually denotes some sort of nobility. While von (always lower case) is part of the family name or territorial designation, not a first or middle name, if the noble is referred to by surname alone in English, use Schiller or Clausewitz or Goethe, not von Schiller, etc.
  2. ^ Mäeorg, Kalmer; Rahi-Tamm, Aigi (2016). "Edgar von Wahl 1867–1948: keelemees ja poliitiline prohvet". Ajalooline Ajakiri (2): 295. doi:10.12697/AA.2016.2.08.
  3. ^ Ojalo, Jaan (2000). Enciklopedio pri la Estona Esperanto-movado. p. 82. ISBN 9985913043.
  4. ^ Künzli, Andreas. "Edgar von Wahl (1867-1948). Aldonaj biografiaj notoj pri lia familia deveno kaj atentigo pri grava libro pri la genealogio de la familio von Wahl" (PDF). planlingvoj.ch. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  5. ^ Stammtafeln nicht immatrikulierter baltischer Adelsgeschlechter. Band I. p. 27. ISBN 9789949262694.
  6. ^ Album Academicum der weil. drei Corporationen : A. Baltica in Zürich. B. Livonia in Carlsruhe. C. Baltica in Carlsruhe. Tartu: Jurjew, (Mattiesen). 1900. p. 57. hdl:10062/16929.
  7. ^ Mäeorg, Kalmer; Rahi-Tamm, Aigi (2016). "Edgar von Wahl 1867–1948: keelemees ja poliitiline prohvet". Ajalooline Ajakiri (2): 296. doi:10.12697/AA.2016.2.08.
  8. ^ "Cosmoglotta A, 1946, p. 17".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "ÖNB-ANNO - Kosmoglott (Serie A)". anno.onb.ac.at. Retrieved 2019-01-05.
  10. ^ Barandovská-Frank, Vĕra. "Latinidaj planlingvoj (AIS-kurso, 1 studunuo)" (PDF). Post la okupo de Tallinn per sovetia armeo estis deportita kaj malaperinta la edzino de De Wahl, lia domo komplete forbruliĝis dum bombardado, detruiĝis lia riĉa biblioteko kaj manuskriptoj. Post la alveno de naziaj trupoj De Wahl rifuzis translokiĝon al Germanio kaj estis enkarcerigita. Por savi lin, liaj amikoj lasis proklami lin mense malsana. En la jaro 1944, 77-jaraĝa, li eniris sanatorion Seewald apud Tallinn kaj restis tie ankaŭ post la milito, ne havante propran loĝejon
  11. ^ Mäeorg, Kalmer; Rahi-Tamm, Aigi (2016). "Edgar von Wahl 1867–1948: keelemees ja poliitiline prohvet". Ajalooline Ajakiri (2): 307, 309. doi:10.12697/AA.2016.2.08.
  12. ^ "Historia de interlingua: Biographias - Ric Berger".
  13. ^ "Interlingua 2001: Information con obstaculos in Tchecoslovachia".