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”
One of the best way to use and learn Esperanto is by reading magazines. You get to practice using the language while seeing the views and opinions of Esperantists from all over the world. There are loads of Esperanto magazines, covering a wide range of topics, so there’s certainly going to be something to interest you. There are hundreds of magazines in total as most countries and interest groups have their own review. I won’t be able to discuss all of them in this post, so I’ll just focus on the main international journals. Esperanto magazines do not have one flat subscription rate, instead the price varies by country, with poorer countries paying less and richer countries paying more.
The internet is full of advice for learning languages. There are numerous blogs, podcasts, discussion forums and YouTube channels where people share advice and experience. However, one thing I’ve noticed is that almost all the advice is given by people who have been extremely successful in learning languages, usually polyglots who can speak multiple languages.
But this isn’t the typical experience. For a great number of people, learning another language is something they wish they could do, but are unable to. Most attempts end in failure with people giving up with little to show for their efforts. Most students spend years studying a language in school yet are unable to speak it by the time they are finished. Failure has as much, if not more, to teach us as success. Why do so many people not succeed? Continue reading “What I Learned From Failing To Learn Languages”
When people ask me why I speak Esperanto, my answer is simple; it’s really easy. I’ve always had difficulties learning languages and Esperanto is the only language I’ve ever succeeded in learning. The arbitrary pronunciation, random grammar rules, infuriating irregularities, endless exceptions that had to be memorised, silent letters, obscure tenses and half a dozen other rules in every language, drove me mad. I spent countless frustrating hours trying to decipher these Byzantine codes, usually without success. I would complain to my teacher (and anyone who would listen) about how these rules were unnecessary and added nothing to the language, couldn’t someone just remove the irregularities? Continue reading “5 Ways Esperanto Is Easier Than English”
Esperanto isn’t a common discussion topic, certainly not in the English speaking world. There’s rarely articles and hardly any books about it, so naturally I was excited about the new history of the language, “Bridge of Words” by Esther Schor, which is billed as the first book about the whole history of Esperanto. The book narrates the history of the language, the ideas behind as well as the personal experience of the author who spent years in the Esperanto community.
Hopefully this will generate interest in the language and provide a valuable resource to people who want to learn more about the language. So far, there have been some reviews in leading journals which will introduce the language to many people for the first time. However, these reviews are written by outsiders who know little about Esperanto (so there is a lot of the inevitable ‘Esperanto failed’ nonsense) and in fact the author herself was an outsider before she wrote this book. So I decided to write a review from an insider’s perspective, from the view of a committed Esperantist. Continue reading “An Esperantist Reviews “Bridge of Words””
During Christmas, I returned home and met some friends who asked I’m up to nowadays. “Well,” I said, “I’m working in an Esperanto office.” They didn’t believe it. What is Esperanto? Why would anyone want to speak it? Is it some sort of cult? Why don’t you just speak English, the language that everyone speaks? Is Esperanto even a real language? Have I lost my mind? Continue reading “My Life As An Esperanto Volunteer”
So let’s say you’re learning Esperanto and it’s going well. In fact it’s going so well that you want to speak it with lots of people, not just those in your local group (if there even is one). Instead you want to go abroad to an international Esperanto event, but you don’t know which one. There is a complete list of all Esperanto events in the world here, but as you can see there’s a huge number. I had the exact same problem trying to figure out which of the alaphbet soup of Esperanto events were worth going to, so I’ve made a list of the main ones to help make it easier for you. I’ll focus on the ones I have gone to for obvious reasons. Continue reading “A Guide To The Main International Esperanto Events”