Why do we teach foreign languages in school? Is it because foreign languages are essential job skills students will need when they join the workforce? Is it a crucial life skill we need in society? Most of my former classmates never used the language after they graduated and soon forget most of what they learned. Few visit a country where the language is spoken and even then, they mainly use English. Students rarely read books in a foreign language or watch foreign language films without English subtitles, during or after school. Even after years of study, few can speak the language with much skill or talent.
So, is teaching foreign languages a waste of time? If most students don’t reach a comfortable level and rarely use it, what’s the point? I believe that even if students never use the language, it still is useful. Continue reading “Why We Should Teach Esperanto In School”
In online language learning communities, if you decide to learn a new language, you’re bound to get support and praise. However, there is one exception to this. If you declare you want to learn German, Russian or Uzbek etc you will receive encouragement and if someone doesn’t like those languages, they’ll keep their opinion to themselves. However, this rule doesn’t apply to Esperanto. If someone doesn’t like Esperanto, they’ll definitely let you know, in fact they’ll even tell you that Esperantists are such rude people that they brought the hostility on themselves.
I’ve never seen a Reddit comment section about Esperanto that didn’t involve Esperantists having to defend themselves and justify their actions. Continue reading “Myths About Esperanto And Esperantists”
Esperanto is an international language, but do we need an international currency? At every congress, people come from many different countries to use a common language, but could they also use a common currency? Nowadays there is a massive growth in crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and that has me thinking. What if the Esperanto community had a currency? Continue reading “Imagine if Esperantists had our own currency”
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”