There are hundreds, if not thousands of invented languages in the world, in almost every conceivable style. Some were made for fun and some were made with grandiose hopes of changing the world. Yet 99% were never learned by anyone except the creator (and often not even them). Out of this jungle of competing languages, Esperanto towers above all others. Only a handful of invented languages have communities, yet even these are only about the size of a local Esperanto club. Only Esperanto has made the jump to active associations all over the world, congresses with thousands of participants, a vast library of books, songs, magazines, blogs, youtubers etc.
But why Esperanto? What’s so special about it that allowed it to succeed instead of others? It was not the first constructed international language, it did not invent the concept so it cannot claim first mover advantage. It’s by no means a perfect language, in fact there’s a long line of people who have claimed it’s deeply flawed and they can improve on it. Some openly scoff at the idea that a mere eye doctor could know anything about languages, compared to intelligent linguists (like themselves). Considering how much the field of linguistics has developed since the 19th century, projects from that time are outdated and primitive. But why hasn’t this happened? Plenty of linguists have made their own language that (at least according to them) is far superior to Esperanto, but why haven’t they succeeded in replacing it? Continue reading “Why is Esperanto the most successful invented language?”
A major problem facing Europe today is the lack of co-operation and sense of common identity. We have a European Union but no union of Europeans, in fact few people identify as Europeans in any serious or meaningful way. So, let me propose an idea that would strengthen the bonds between Europeans while also making the European Union more efficient. We should make Esperanto an official EU language.
I’m sure this sounds a bit crazy and unrealistic, but it’s good to occasionally examine fresh and unusual ideas rather than solely sticking to the conventional wisdom. One wild idea every now and again won’t kill you. So, what is Esperanto and why should you learn it? Continue reading “Why Esperanto Should Be An Official EU Language”
A while ago I was reading about the Ido-schism when I noticed several Wikipedia pages referenced a book named A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell, in which the schism was portrayed. As it’s rare to see reference to Esperanto in English, let alone a book about it, I bought the book straight away. It’s not the only English language novel that has Esperanto in it, for example in the Yiddish Policeman’s Union, the main character lives in Hotel Zamenhof which includes a few Esperanto signs like lifto (lift) and one character exclaims “What’s Esperanto for a pile of shit?” (I would suggest fekaĵaro). However, unlike others in books, Esperanto isn’t just mentioned in a throwaway line, it forms a core part of the story.
The book is essentially about three Jewish men and three cities at the turn of the century. Sigmund Freud, L.L. Zamenhof and Kalonymos Kalmish Szapira, in Vienna, Paris and London from 1894-1940. Following this structure the book is divided into three parts, with the middle one heavily focusing on Esperanto. The main character becomes a passionate Esperantist and there are many conversations in and about Esperanto. So is the book any good? Continue reading “A Novel About Esperanto”
Two books have been in my mind lately. Firstly, this week was the 130th anniversary of the publication of the Unua Libro, the first book in Esperanto, which makes it one of the few languages in the world to have a birthday. On the 26th of July 1887, L.L. Zamenhof created an international language that he hoped would bridge the divide between people and reduce ethnic conflict. The second thing is that I have been reading The Vanquished: Why The First World War Failed To End by Robert Gerwarth. The book details the enormous amount of ethnic conflict that erupted after the end of the First World War and continued simmering until erupting again in the Second World War. Continue reading “Esperanto and Ethnic Conflict Since 1887”
You don’t see many libertarian Esperantists. Well, you don’t see many political Esperantists, the language is strictly political neutral and aims to appeal to everyone regardless of political opinion. Even still, Esperantists are more likely to be left rather than right wing. It’s understandable why nationalists don’t like Esperanto, it’s a very un-nationalistic if not anti-nationalistic idea. Tearing down barriers between nationalities does not appeal to them and nationalists fear that Esperanto could undermine the national language and culture. However, I think there are several good reasons why Libertarians should like Esperanto.
The only times I’ve seen Libertarians mention Esperanto it’s been to dismiss it. They viewed it as artificial, as a top down attempt to force social change instead of a natural bottom up approach. I want to argue that this misperception of Esperanto is actually the reverse of reality. Esperanto is really the perfect example of natural bottom-up growth, whereas natural languages are top-down enforcement by the state. I’m not the only one, just last week I read an article (in Esperanto) arguing for Anarcho-Capitalism for Esperantists. Continue reading “Why Libertarians Should Like Esperanto”
Where I come from, almost everyone speaks only the one language. Learning another language is like learning what happened at the Battle of Vinegar Hill or how mountains are formed. Something you try in school and maybe make some progress in the exam, but never really use in your life. People who know more than one language do exist, but so do talented people who can play musical instruments or get chosen for a sports team. They’re admired for such a gift, but most people don’t have that ability or even try to learn it.
I used to fall into this group, I could only speak English and didn’t see the need for any other language. Yet now I find myself using three different languages every day. Although I spend my leisure time reading and watching videos in English, I live in France and work for an Esperanto association. So, my free time is in English, my work is in Esperanto and everything else is in French. Continue reading “My Life In 3 Languages”
The vast majority of blogs (and vlogs) are in English, even when that isn’t the authors native language. Most people seem to believe that if you want to be read, you must write in English (or at least another major language) and that writing in a minority language is a waste of time. After all, it makes sense to go to where the largest audience is right? You would think that this is especially the case for a minority language like Esperanto, a language that many people have never heard of. How could that possibly compete with English, one of the dominant languages of the world, with hundreds of millions of native speakers and over a billion people who can speak it to some degree? I think it’s very interesting to compare my experience of two similar blogs, with very different audiences. Continue reading “6 Differences Between Blogging In A Minority Language Versus English”