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 Considering how much the field of linguistics has developed since the 19th century, projects from that time are outdated and primitive.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 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”
As readers of this blog may know, I’m a big fan of Esperanto and how it simplifies language to make it more logical and easier to learn. However, some people thought this could be taken a step further and Esperanto itself could be reformed and improved. This reformed language is called Ido (which means offspring in Esperanto) and aimed to replace Esperanto as the main international language. This became known as “The Schism” and like all splits it was incredibly divisive and bitter, leading to a lot of vitriol being thrown around. Continue reading “Ido Not”
Continuing on from yesterdays post, I have been sharing articles from The North American Review about Esperanto from 1906-9. These offer a fascinating insight into the movement in its early days and the hopes and dreams of its early advocates. Let’s continue this walk through history. Continue reading “The Duty Of Every Intellectual Man And Woman To Learn Esperanto (1909)”
One thing that I have been exploring over the last few weeks is the world of constructed languages. As opposed to regular languages, these did not evolve over centuries, but were rather invented by someone. I find the whole idea of creating a language with a specific aim to be fascinating and constructed languages (or conlangs for short) give us amazing freedom to explore how languages work. Even a short study of them can give us an insight into how languages like English do or do not operate. So I thought I would give a tour of the main conlangs that people do learn (excluding those that were created for TV or a book). I have included a translation of the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer) into each conlang as seems to be the standard, as well as an example of the language being spoken or song where possible. Continue reading “A Tour Of The World Of Constructed Languages”