Language Matters July 2008: Esperanto

Dear Language Friend,

Over the course of history, there have been many who have attempted to create new languages. J.R.R. Tolkien would be a prime example, creating a whole new dialect used by the Elves in his famous series, The Lord of the Rings. However, there is one language that stands out in particular, one that even has native speakers-Esperanto, a language created with the objective of bringing the world together. Read on for further information regarding this intriguing tongue that was once expected to bring world peace and facilitate negotiations!

Contributed by Annie Pei. Thank you for reading.

The Importance of Communication

It is no surprise that since the beginning of time, mankind has been striving to achieve universal linguistic comprehension. Politicians depend on the absence of language barriers to negotiate, challenge, and propose ideas that are understandable amongst other municipal, provincial, and world leaders. Economically, one of the key reasons why trade has been able to cross nations, oceans, continents even, is due to the work of business partners speaking the same languages around the world, or at least using interpreters and translators to facilitate communication.

Even socially, language communication is a main factor in the relationships we form with others and how we interact with friends and strangers in everyday life. But there are times when no one is able to relate to another, posing problems for everyone. Realizing this, in the year of 1887, one man formed a new language, a language we now recognize as Esperanto.

What is Esperanto?

In 1887, Doctor L. L. Zamenhof, a Polish man of Jewish descent, created a language from scratch. It was a dream of his that one day, a universal language, spoken by every member of the international community, would bring every global citizen one step further to achieving world peace and universal understanding. Deriving it from his pseudonym of Doktor Esperanto, the language was named Esperanto, which can be translated as “one who hopes” in the dialect. Zamenhof then attempted to spread knowledge of his language, teaching many who were interested in learning the new tongue.

From its humble beginnings in 1887, Esperanto is now a language spoken by at least 100 thousand to 2 million people, of whom 1,000 are native speakers. Today, Esperanto can be found playing a role in travel, conventions, literature, broadcasts, etc. although the number of such uses of the language is limited to simply a few companies.

Pros and Cons of Esperanto

Universal adoption of Esperanto would, in fact, have many advantages, a few of which will be named here. The language would give individuals the chance to communicate fluently amongst one-another without hesitation instead of individuals learning languages that may or may not be used in certain countries.

For example, a man who speaks only French and English may face difficulties as he travels through Russia, especially if many of the residents he encounters do not speak English or French fluently. The same principle is applied to trade, as Esperanto would aid the latter by facilitating communication between businessmen and thereby speeding up trade as language barriers are annihilated. In addition, the language may prove to be beneficial in the fight against linguistic discrimination, such as in Tibet where the population is being forced to seek education in Mandarin.

However, on that note, as more and more little known dialects continue on their paths towards extinction, Esperanto could potentially expedite the process of language replacement, especially as children usually learn the aforementioned languages as second tongues after they learn the official languages. This would also rob the many different cultures around the world of a very important component that distinguishes individual cultures from others: their own respective languages. There is also brewing controversy over the fact that the title of “universal language” given to Esperanto is quite inaccurate, as Esperanto is a mix of the components of European languages with no contribution whatsoever from non-European languages.

This latter fact would pose a problem to non-European language speakers learning Esperanto. While there are other reasons why Esperanto would not be ideal as a universal language (such as widening the gap between the rich and the poor as the less fortunate civilians could potentially face obstructions in obtaining instructors, materials, etc. for the language), the aforementioned would be a few of the main reasons why Esperanto has not been adopted by the international community.

Which is Why…

As less interest remains in Esperanto than it did a few decades ago, less and less people are learning the language. In addition, the language itself has never been very widely spoken, even during the few decades following its invention. Therefore, to the relief of multilingual lovers all over the world, the languages we speak today are not threatened by Esperanto.

But how do we break down language barriers? The solution is simple – interpreters and translators provide us with this service, which is what LingoStar offers. A variety of certified interpreters and translators working for LingoStar translate languages to your benefit. Languages range from European languages such as French, Spanish, German, etc. to other international languages such as Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic, to name a few. Contact LingoStar for translation of documents and other necessities, and we will efficiently break down those language barriers for you.