Why Esperanto?

Flag of Esperanto

Flag of Esperanto (varients)

A Natural Negative Viceral Reaction

I imagine that if your have read this far you most likely do not fall into this group, here but assuming that you are one of the few whose emotions do take charge and determine your reaction this is normal for many, abortion but I am hoping that we can look beyond that potential irrational thoughts to see the logical value that Esperanto holds for humanity. Many of the psychological reasons for a negative reaction to Esperanto have been covered in depth by Claude Piron in his article titled “Psychological Reactions to Esperanto. If that is not enough then perhaps you may consider the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I am bringing these two articles up so that hopefully we can bypass emotions and take a look at Esperanto from a logical point, troche since emotions and irrationality are a lot of what has kept Esperanto from being accepted world wide. I am hoping to help you, my humble reader, to bypass this into enlightenment. =)

Prague Manifesto from the 1996 World Congress of Esperanto

Perhaps the Prague Manifesto (in English) (in other Languages) has said it well with its 7 points as to why we should adopt Esperanto:

  1. Democracy
  2. Global Education
  3. Effective Education
  4. Multilingualism
  5. Language Rights
  6. Language Diversity
  7. Human Emancipation

Read the entire text of the manifesto for their explanations.

All something that is related is UNESCO’s Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.

Neutral Language

Esperanto is a neutral language in that it does not have any specific ties to a religion, culture, or nation. All other languages such as Japanese, English, Swahili, French, Russian, Hebrew, etc all have national, religious, cultural, political, and/or historical connotations, and baggage associated with them. Americans and the British want English to remain the lingua franca, the Japanese want Japanese, the Russians want Russian, and many will oppose a language other than their native language simply because it is not their language or because there is national (French), historical (German), or political (English) problem from some countries which would keep it from being accepted. French was for a long time the international language prior to World War II  and then English took over after America showed its economic and military dominance throughout that war.

The future change in the world’s international language  is imminent especially as world’s political and economic landscape changes. What will be the next International Language? Whose will it be? For native English speakers who do not speak Hindi or any dialect of Chinese learning these languages can can be quite the daunting thought. It is likely that these will be one of the two languages that may be potentially more important than English in the future due to their nascent and rapidly growing economies. Where the money goes so shall the language and the world will have to change with it and that is not small, cheap,  or quick process. The answer to this is using Esperanto since it is neutral an easy to learn.

The Culture of Esperanto

The culture of Esperanto is is not identified in quite the same way you would identify the culture – mostly, directly or indirectly, by geography – of the rest of the world. Normally culture is seen as being inherent to a country such as France, a region such as the Southern United States, or an ethnicity such as Russian. People from these cultural backgrounds will find musical, linguisitic, literary, idealistic, and historical commonality that they can share and collectively identify as their culture. Esperanto has musical, linguisitic, literary, idealistic, and historical commonality that all who join the movement share, but it is not identified or contained within geographical boundaries or by a certain religion or ethnicity. It is identified by the idealistic boundaries of equality, freedom, openness, and dignity.

There are original musical and literary works written in Esperanto. There is history surrounding Esperanto that stems 120 years and growing from 1 speaker to over 2 million speakers even in the face of having its speakers exterminated at the hands of Stalin and Hitler. And, of course, there is a linguistic commonality of all speaking a common and easy to learn second language. Esperanto is a language unlike any other language in that it really is capable of bringing people together on even footing from all different parts of the world and allows them to communicate easily and simply. This is something that no other language, natural or constructed, can claim to do. Esperanto and its speakers are unique in their desire to unify the world in peace and to break down cultural and linguistic walls so that we can understand each other better.

Read More: The Culture of Esperanto (Ronanld J. Glossup, Aug 2005)

Interesting Social Multi-Linguistic Terms

The original term krokodili may have been chosen as an allusion to the phrase “crocodile tears” or because the crocodile has a small brain and a large mouth. Other terms followed using other types of similar reptiles. Wikipedia has more info (in Esperanto only =( ).

“aligatori” (alligator)
to speak a national language which only some of those present understand in an Esperanto environment
“gaviali” (gavial)
to speak Esperanto when another language would be more appropriate
“kajmani” (caiman)
to speak a national language which is native to none of the participants in an Esperanto environment
“krokodili” (crocodile)
to speak one’s native language when Esperanto would be more appropriate

Note that all of these, at least to me, seem to be pejorative in nature and denote an active mindfulness at the linguistic abilities of those around us and speaking that language which is most inclusive.

Constructed Language

Some would say that the fact that Esperanto is a constructed language is a disadvantage, but I will argue that this is a distinct advantage when applied to an international audience and learning it as a second language.

Planned Language

The native languages that people speak have naturally and organically evolved through happenstance and serendipity much to the chagrin and frustration of a person who is trying to pick them up as second languages. No one sat down and said this is how we are going formulate our language so it makes sense and is usable. Native languages evolved throughout humanity’s history to be complex, inconsistant, exception ridden, and only “easy” to learn if you learned it natively.

If you try to learn a second “natural” language you have to deal with many grammatical inconsistencie, homphones and homonyms, and exceptions inherent in most organically evolved “natural” languages, slang, as well as colloquial usage and pronuncuation. Esperanto spares you pretty much all of this, because it is a non-organic constructed language built with the intent to be consistent, phonetic, and easy to learn and speak naturally. Italian born American polyglot (fluent in 30+ languages) and linguist, Dr. Mario Pei, extols the virtues of Esperanto as a primary and real answer to the International Language problem in his 4rth and final response in the July-September, 1963 issue of International Language Review.

Is Difficult for Some Group?

The ‘is hard for this group of people’ arguments are not really valid arguments, in my opinion, since this argument is not helpful to discriminating between better or worse languages since it applies to all. No matter what language you use whether natural or constructed some group is always going to be at a disadvantage. There are significantly less people – as a matter of orders of magnitudes less – that are at a significant disadvantage when learning Esperanto. Esperanto is strongly influenced by Chinese, Greek, and Turkish in its grammar – see famed psycholinguist, Claude Prion’s article titled “Esperanto, a Western Language? or Esperanto: European or Asiatic Language for more information a to where its grammar and root words are really pulled from. Almost all of the problems that you will find with almost all natural languages, in one form or another, are not found in Esperanto.

Save Lives, Save Money

Airlines (Kent Jones)

Esperanto has been constructed to be consistent, phonetic, and easy to learn avoiding the pitfalls and difficulties of native languages, which can also save lives. Kent Jones, a former airline pilot, has been a strong advocate of having Esperanto as the default language for all airline positions. English is difficult to learn and is fraught with inconsistencies that have resulted in many unwarranted deaths due to misccommunications (Plane SpeakingNews Briefs – Aug. 1999HongKongTV News Talks About Air China JFK Incident, Did language barrier take Polish President to plan crashing?). He argues that Esperanto relies on our innate instincts for word formation once the language is learned making it easier and far more intuitive.

Pharmaceuticals

Two major pharmacy chains have agreed to translate prescription drug instructions into customers’ primary languages in more than 2,000 stores across New York. Pharmacies agree to translate drug instructions, Forbes, November 2008

More money and lives to be saved by Esperanto. The way to protect US interests, save lives, and to level the playing field for all is to adopt Esperanto which has no cultural or national ties. It is orders-of-magnitudes easier to learn and gain a conversational understanding – somewhere in the realm of a little over 1 year of active study verses 4-6 years for a “national” language.

Gateway Language

Esperanto will serve as a gateway language which will make it easier for people to more quickly learn other languages. Learning Esperanto prior to learning another can help reduce the amount of time to achieve conversational fluency by up to two years. It has also been proven to increase understanding and proficiency of your native tongue as well. Invest a year in learning Esperanto and your can decrease the time to fluency in a foreign language as well as join the world as one of its citizens. ( Propaedeutic value of Esperanto @ World Lingo or Propaedeutic value of Esperanto @ Wikipedia) Dr. Mario Pei talks about the many merits of Esperanto as a gateway language while speaking at Columbia University on 16 May 1973. Benny the Irish Polyglot @  Fluent in 3 Months covers his view in his BLog post titled “Just 2 weeks learning Esperanto can get you months ahead in your target language“.

Here is a excerpt from the Springboard 2 Languages pilot program in Britain in which they are teaching Esperanto as a prequel for learning other languages:

Springboard and the National Languages Strategy

Many schools used to teach children the recorder, not to produce a nation of recorder players, but as a preparation for learning other instruments. Springboard uses Esperanto, not to produce a nation of Esperanto-speakers, but as a preparation for learning other languages.

Why does Springboard use Esperanto?

Esperanto is an ideal ‘apprentice’ or ‘starter’ language bringing together elements from other languages and with structures and word-building features which appeal to young learners. Many of its words and phrases are instantly recognisable (e.g. la suno brilas = the sun shines). Its regular grammatical structure helps learners to develop a feel for nouns, verbs and adjectives, etc. It is used in some 90 countries round the world and is perfect for learning about other cultures and lifestyles. Springboard 2 Languages , Britain

Here is a quote from Mondeto, a second language for all children, an Australian project that introduces Esperanto in a similar fashion and means in their schools:

Why My Child Should Learn Esperanto?

One of the benefits of second language learning is the effect it has on brain function. Modern optical imaging technology captures brain activity and research has shown that the bilingual brain behaves differently to that of the single language learner. Studies show that bilingual children demonstrate greater creativity, cognitive development and divergent thinking than monolingual children. The work of researcher Andrea Mechelli of London’s Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience discovered that the brain of bilingual people develops more densely which gives it an advantage in various abilities and skills. Mechelli’s research explains the nature of the two types of tissue visible to the naked eye, termed grey and white matter. Bilingual speakers had denser grey matter (or volume and intellect), especially in areas of language, memory, and attention compared with monolingual participants (Hitti 2004). Mechelli’s work showed that this was especially evident in participants who had begun their second language learning at or before age five. This is due to the fecundity of neural networks and greater plasticity of the young child’s brain. The University of Cologne’s, Dr Claudia Riehl  purports that a second language should be acquired as early as possible and that language learning in the classroom can be improved through programmes which consider that languages are connected (Riehl 2006). Learning a second language assists proficiency in first language learning. The investigation of tructures and the application of strategies for accessing language establish a set of connected and complementary understandings which leads to an enhanced mastery of both languages. Several studies show that people who are competent in more than one language outscore those who are speakers of only one language on tests of verbal and non verbal intelligence. (Bruck, Lambert, and Tucker, 1974: Hakuta, 1986: Weatherford, 1986). Australian research (Clyne et al. 1995:8) showed that exposure to as little as one hour per week of a second language in the earliest years of primary school advances the age of reading readiness in English. Ellen Bialystock of York University, Canada, found that pre-school children who are bi-lingual are quicker to understand the symbolic function of letters and score twice as high as monolingual children in recognition tests of written characters (Bialystock 1997). Studies also show that learning another language enhances the academic skills of students by increasing their abilities in reading, writing and mathematics (NCSSFL 2002). Why My Child Should Learn Esperanto?, Mondeto – Australia

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3 Responses
  1. neil_nachum says:

    Still Excellent/Getting Better. Neil/New York

  2. mankso says:

    Surely the 7 points of the Prague Manifesto:
    http://lingvo.org
    should feature prominently somewhere here,
    as a modern rationale for Esperanto?

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