So I stumbled on this from one of the many other blogs out there.
When I was a teenager someone showed me a page printed in this "new language," Interlingua. At first it seemed like gibberish, but after looking at it for a few minutes, it was--amazingly--understandable! Here's a more recent sample from the article linked above:
Interlingua es un lingua auxiliar international naturalistic basate super le vocabulos commun al major linguas europee e super un grammatica anglo-romanic simple, initialmente publicate in 1951 per International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA).
Interlingua es le resultato del labores de 15 annos de un equipa de linguistas.
Le labor pro crear Interlingua habeva le start in Europa, a Liverpool in 1936 e le fin a New York in 1951, le equipa de linguistas ha extrahite le vocabulario international del linguas europee.
In 1967, ISO (International Organization for Standardization), que normaliza le terminologia, ha votate in unanimitate proxime de adoptar Interlingua como le basa pro ille dictionarios.
Interlingua = “International Lingua” es intendite que illo debe devenir un lingua commun del mundo pro succeder in servir le humanitate, ma non un solo lingua comun.
Apparently a team of linguists constructed the "language" from words common to several European languages--thus the fact that it's relatively understandable to speakers of those languages.
"Wow, this is great," I thought. "Now there'll be no real need to learn a foreign language!" But, alas, artificial languages may be useful for scientific papers, but, lacking the nuances and slang of an everyday living language, they can never become a substitute for authentic, natural human language. Things just don't work that way. (Sorry, kids.)
In fact, if I understand the above article correctly, the originators hoped it would develop into something useful, but had no illusions of it becoming a single common world language (un solo lingua comun, dig it?).
For better or worse, thanks to the internet, English has now become as close to a world language as any other, despite its odd and antiquated spelling "system", a fact that has allowed most Americans (in spite of the influx of Spanish speakers) to remain abysmally ignorant of other languages.
Not that it's willful ignorance by any means. Some Dutch people I knew, who settled in West Virginia, were often told, "Ya know, y'alls language can't be all that different from ours. We can almost understand some of what y'all say!" Problem was, they were speaking English.