Esperanto, an utopia?

 

Yesterday was the anniversary of Esperanto! It has been 124 years since its invention (or creation, or formation-whatever!). Thanks to Mariah Jane (IEWY News) who has posted an article about the anniversary of Esperanto, my thoughts have focused on another issue: Is English the Esperanto of our world?

Esperanto was created by  L. L. Zamenhof who wrote a book  detailing Esperanto. Zamenhof’s goal was to create an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding between people with different regional and/or national languages. With Esperanto, we would have built the Babel Tower once again, but obviously it did not work.

Esperanto speakers range from 10,000 to two million active or fluent speakers, which is very small deal compared to English. Although English has the third rank in the list of most spoken languages in the world, you can communicate using it in almost any country. In schools, the second language is generally English. When you apply for a position, they ask if you know English or not.

Considering all these, it seems that English has become the Esperanto of our day. Zamenhof, thanks for the idea but English is about to replace your creation. If English becomes a kind of universal language in a short time, I think wei as translators, will have to look for another job!

P.S. I talked about this idea to my Turkish teacher three years ago. He is a very passionate man about Turkish language and he almost accused me of being a traitor 🙂

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bill Chapman on July 27, 2011 at 21:05

    No, there will always be a need for translators, even if you are translating to and from Esperanto!

    Reply

  2. I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

    The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is impractical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

    Impractical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

    Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is essential.

    As a native English speaker, my vote is for Esperanto 🙂

    Your readers may be interested in seeing http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU Professor Piron was a former translator with the United Nations

    The study course http://www.lernu.net is now receiving 123,000 hits per month. That can’t be bad 🙂

    Reply

  3. Posted by Gunnar Gällmo on July 28, 2011 at 08:31

    Esperanto was not designed or intended to take over the world – merely to act as an international auxiliary language. No one wants anyone to give up their mother tongue. There will always be a need to translate Welsh poems or Greek local history or Icelandic archaeology into Esperanto.

    Reply

  4. It will always be necessary to learn the local language, wherever you’ll go.
    A lot Esperantists are now learning Danish in Copenhagen where the World Congress takes place.
    Esperantists form probably the largest multilingual community in the world.
    A minority?
    So what?
    Quality is better than quantity.
    Remuŝ

    Reply

  5. ‘International Language – Forward and Complete Textbook’ was the title of a book published in Warsaw exactly 124 years ago. Its author was 28-year-old Dr Ludwik Zamenhof who had been working for 14 years on a common language for all people using the pseudonym Dr Esperanto. From that pseudonym came the name of the universal language itself, a vital language currently used in daily contacts by hundreds of thousands of people world-wide.
    The first edition of the Textbook appearing on 26th July 1887 was published in Russian, since Warsaw at that time was part of the Russian partition.* Soon thereafter editions in Polish, German and French appeared. People were eager to learn a neutral language belonging to none of them and therefore not imposing a foreign culture, alien speech or someone else’s method of expressing ideas.
    Neutrality, however, was not the only advantage of Esperanto. Also worthy of note is the surprising ease with which it can be learnt when compared to national languages. Regularity and vocabulary based on Indo-European languages make Esperanto a language more readily learnable than foreign tongues. The possibility of acquiring satisfactory communication skills in far less time is an added incentive. Esperanto develops as the world, knowledge and technology develop, and the Esperanto Academy oversees its purity.
    Today Esperanto it the most widely known and used planned language. Each year, a World Esperanto Congress is held, and this year’s is currently under way in Copenhagen with some 1,500 esperantists from all over the world in attendance.
    * Divided up and wiped off the map by Russia, Prussia and Austria in the late 18th century, Poland did not re-emerge as an independent state until 1918.
    Links:
    http://www.esperanto.net – Multilingual Esperanto site
    http://www.esperanto.pl – Polish Esperanto Association
    http://www.pej.pl – Polish Esperanto Youth
    http://www.lernu.net – Information and education platform.

    Reply

  6. Posted by geo on November 30, 2011 at 10:52

    If English is international then why it is so difficult to learn? I have to spend 10 years leraning very hard to get into the community – where Esperanto requires me to do so for only one year. I vote for Esperanto.

    Reply

  7. English is English and let it be that way. The rest of the world is not English, then why do they have to learn this difficult language to communicate among themselves? I vote for real freedom, I vote for Esperanto – the only language where I am at home, where I am myself, not an English would-be clone.

    Reply

  8. Hundreds of thousands of Esperanto speakers are on-line. They seek out friendship and peace. A large group at Facebook has 14.000 members and is growing at the rate of 100 a week. Thousands of Esperanto speakers are meeting annually. I’m an American meeting Cubans, Brazilians, Iranians and israelis on a daily basis. Try that in English.

    Reply

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