Artificial languages are only really easy for those who already know quite a bit of them, by virtue of having much the same vocabulary and grammar in their own language. It is easy for speakers of western European languages to learn artificial variants such as Interlingua, Mundolingue, or the less attractive Esperanto.

But these people really just have the political problem of deciding which one or two or three of English, French, Spanish... shall be official international languages. For the aspiring middle class of China or Indonesia, having to learn a completely regular Spanish/French hybrid is only fractionally easier than learning a real language that millions already speak.

English is indeed the Latin of today; French held this position 200 years ago; and English is becoming more universal as time goes by.

Real English, the numberless varieties learnt in the cradle and the playground, can't be unified, can't be regularized, can't be changed or slowed by an Academy. It will be whatever it is. There will be some smoothing of differences thanks to Hollywood, but the differences accumulate faster than that.

All is not lost, however. A page of a serious book often won't tell you whether it was written and printed in Seattle, Manchester, Montreal, or Adelaide, unless it happens to contain one of the telltale minor spelling differences. There is still a common written English bereft of accent and idiom: this is sometimes called Standard English. Slang from the Simpsons reaches us all in waves of fashion at much the same time; we can write on the Web in a living English at some remove from our local dialects.

But it is real, living English: we can't artificially simplify it or make it easier for Saudis and Argentinians and Ukrainians to come to. They still have to cope with the vagaries of English.

There aren't many (natural) languages I'd say were significantly easier than natural English: probably Spanish, Persian, and Indonesian. Most languages have quite a few complications of their own, even the three I just mentioned as easier.

Of the vagaries of English, the spelling is one nightmare. We could, almost, just about, agree to do a little bit of spelling reform: write sheeld, feeld, helth, ded, bredbox, nabor, thru, laff, ruffly, without making them unrecognizable, and leave a whole lot more equally bad ones alone. That would be a start.

The grammar's not too bad, in the main. The single worst feature of the grammar is the tag question. Other languages do this so simply: "She couldn't have been caught, nicht wahr? non è vero? n'est-ce pas?"

In English you take the first auxiliary (could in the above list, not have or been), switch it to its negative, or to positive if it's already negative, contract it (will not --> won't: this contraction is obligatory, unlike in the main sentence), introduce the word do if there wasn't an auxiliary, give your verb the same tense as in the main clause, find the subject pronoun, or use the pronoun corresponding to the subject noun, invert verb and pronoun to make a question, and Bob's your uncle, innit?

To explain my last: see innit. This constant use as n'est-ce pas is beginning to spread in colloquial London English; originally associated with Indians, but now in wider use, though still not common. mirv tells me in Canadian, eh can be used with the same effect, though Cletus the Foetus points out it's only equivalent in some narrow circumstances.