Should We All Speak Esperanto?

I couldn’t help noticing that some of my readers were looking up “Esperanto” after I mentioned it in “The University as a Fount of Idiocy.” For those who are still curious about it but haven’t gotten around to looking it up, perhaps the following will be helpful.

Esperanto is an artificial language, like Pig-Latin, created in 1887 by a guy named Zamenhof. He hoped with all mankind speaking the same language, world peace would ensue. That should give you an idea of how seriously to take this project.

As a child in the 1950s, I remember Esperanto as a hot topic: all the whoopee crowd were into it. In 1954 the United Nations recognized it as an official language: there was even a plan to establish an Esperanto-speaking country in a tiny sliver of land on the German-Belgian border. This came to nothing. But in 1985 UNESCO recommended that its member nations adopt Esperanto as a language. Those nations already had languages, so the UN recommendation came to nothing.

According to Wikipedia, “Estimates of Esperanto speakers range from 10,00 to 2 million active or fluent speakers” worldwide. What would you think of a mechanic who estimated the cost of your car repair as, “Oh, anything from $100 to $20,000”? What they really mean is they haven’t got the foggiest idea how many people speak Esperanto.

I believe there was a Chinese government official who, not long ago, recommended that the Chinese language be replaced by Esperanto, but I don’t know what happened to him.

About leeduigon

I have lived in Metuchen, NJ, all my life. I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1977. I am a former newspaper editor and reporter. I was also the owner-operator of my own small business for several years. I wrote various novels and short stories published during 1980s and 1990s. I am a long-time student of judo and Japanese swordsmanship (kenjutsu). I also play chess, basketball, and military and sports simulations. View all posts by leeduigon

21 responses to “Should We All Speak Esperanto?

  • Bill Chapman

    You’re entitled to your view, of course, but Esperanto is far more than a “project”. You’re right that no one knows exactly how many people speak Esperanto. Whatever the number of speakers, I’ve found it extemely useful and easy to use.

    Esperanto works! I’ve used it in speech and writing in about fifteen countries over recent years. I recommend it to any nomad, as a way of making friendly local contacts. Esperanto may not be perfect, but I’ve used it successfully in Africa, South America and Europe, and it does the job.

    When you write that “Those nations already had languages”, you miss the point that Esperanto was designed as a second language for us all – no more and no less.

    I hope you’ll allow me to add that Esperanto is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. That’s quite an achievement for what started as the idea of just one man. It has survived wars and strikes and economic crises, and continues to attract young learners.

    Incidentally I have been married to my wife Patricia since 1974.

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  • Erlene Talbott

    What fools these mortals be. They never cease to amaze me. Did they learn nothing at all from the Tower of Babel incident? No, of course not. The answer is too obvious for the obfuscators of the world.
    ha

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  • francislee28

    Only a World census could determine how many people speak Esperanto. and that would need to be in all languages of the World.

    We do know, as a fact however, that Esperanto has become a living language. See http://www.lernu.net

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    • leeduigon

      All well and good: but you must pardon me for believing that anything which unites the nations, other than the Lordship of Christ, is bound to lead to mischief, men being what they are. I would much rather see everybody speaking different languages, every nation keeping to its own piece of ground, no UN, no EU, no Arab League, no NATO, etc. If two sinners can make trouble, four sinners pooling their efforts can make at least twice as much trouble (and probably more). I guess I just don’t have a globalist bent–but power is a real good thing to keep out of human (and humanist) hands.

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      • Brian Barker

        Certainly the promulgation of English or Mandarin Chinese as the world’s “lingua franca” is unethical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker.

        Unethical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. English is now used, at an international level, in this way.

        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.

        An interesting video can be seen at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU

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        • leeduigon

          Brian, you might have something there! I’m not sold on the idea that an international language is needed, but I strongly wish for obscure little languages to be preserved. Why should they be squeezed out? What treasures might be lost forever, with the loss of one of these languages? As it is, even without the loss of minority languages, minority cultures are being engulfed by our blah-boring global culture. That hip-hop “music” can be heard in Tannu Tuva is monstrous. (No, I’m not kidding.)

          But all is not lost. Welsh, for instance, had practically gone extinct before it was revived some 100 years ago, and is now a living language once again. Cornish, which did die, is being reconstructed.

          Funny, isn’t it–that those who yap the loudest about “diversity” are always the ones trying to homogenize everything?

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  • Dorothy Robbins

    I heard it mentioned that English has become an international language and, from all I’ve observed, a great many other ocuntries do learn and use English. I have a Japnese friend who taught English in Japan before he migrated to the great English spoeaking world of the USA. Incidentally, he speaks excellent English, very likely more grammatically correct than mosst Americans today….and I am not kidding! Just prick up your ears when watching/listening to your T.V. or radio!

    Like

  • Dorothy Robbins

    Oh, dear. Just look who wrote about bad English and then….

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  • Jerzy Walaszek

    It is easy and convenient for an English speaking person to state that English is international language. No, it is national. All the foreigners have to spend half of their lifetime to speak it as an adult, not as a child. I wonder how many errors I have made in this short text in “international” English…

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    • leeduigon

      Cheer up, Jerzy. There are a lot of American high school and college students who can’t write English as well as you do. The errors in your post are so small as to be not worth mentioning.

      Personally, I see no need for a truly “international” language. It would only be one more thing our glorious leaders would use against us. I rejoice in the diversity of languages! The more, the merrier. I’m also a fan of dead languages–like Hittite, Old English, etc.

      I think it’s good that some of the idiotic things our leaders and our intellectuals come up with can’t easily be translated into certain other languages. We don’t need the whole world laughing at us.

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  • neilnachum

    I am 58 year old, conversant in Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese and Arabic. However since the advent of the computer, Esperanto has become my language of choice for daily FRIENDSHIP. I find Esperanto speakers in dozens of countries much more worldly and much more hopeful than the monolingual or illiterate English speakers that are all around me in the United States….especially in New York City. As we enter World War III, with the US dominating, we need something for hope. IT IS NOT AMERICAN ENGLISH.

    Like

  • Ward

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    Like

  • Mike Jones

    The best way for someone to learn English is to learn Esperanto first. To read up on this concept, google for “springboard to languages”.

    Like

  • Qui Suis-je

    I’m an English-speaking American. With great effort of years I learned French. Later, just for chuckles, I took up Esperanto. Whatever may be Esperanto’s status, utility, etc., I attest that the beginner-intermediate level was achieved perhaps 10 times faster than French. Esperanto is a very well constructed piece of work and in no way feels inferior to natural languages.

    If I were not one of the English-language or perhaps Mandarin fortunates, I’d be pushing hard for Esperanto. Of course, I speak English. So, until our dominance changes, you had better brush up on your English (say 8-10 years in private school), the language of your dominators.

    Man, I hope my kids don’t need to learn Chinese; that’s so foreign.

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    • leeduigon

      Cheer up! Mandarin isn’t all that hard to learn (to speak, I mean–no way we’ll ever learn to read or write it). Once you’ve trained your ear to recognize the different tones, all you need to do is build up a vocabulary.

      Yes, English is very difficult to learn. Once upon a time, French was the civilized international language. When France went belly-up, English filled that role. When America craps out–and our beloved leaders are tirelessly working to make that happen as soon as possible–another language will replace English.

      I hope it’s Australian.

      Like

  • UnKnowable

    I’m all for “Strine”, which is to say Australian, as the official language.

    Like

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