31 December 2009

Esperanto and Zamenhof: Happy Birthday

Who, you may say. L. L. Zamenhof, aka Dr Esperanto, the man who invented the world's most successful artificial language. Well, maybe after Elvish and Klingon. His 150th birthday was 15 December. There is an excellent article about him and his language movement, which was for him much more than a language movement, here, by Esther Schor.

To Esperantists, the man who created the language-movement is a household god, a patron saint. As for non-Esperantists who are aware of Zamenhof, he’s too unthreatening nowadays to be derided as a quixotic dreamer. Most regard him with mild condescension as a MittelEuropean, Jewish Geppetto, hammering together his little toy language in the hope that it might someday become real.

But inside this Geppetto was not only the dream of a new language, but also of something far stranger and unimagined: a new people altogether, and neither the Jews nor the Esperantists were the people he envisioned. Project by project, credo by credo, member by member, he tried to build a new people, a Geppetto with the audacity of Frankenstein.

Esperanto, here, here, and, of course, here.

By the way, he was born in Bialystock, Poland.

Think Max Bialystock.


Labels: , ,


At 31 December, 2009 13:26, Blogger Bill Chapman said...

Your comparisons with Elvish and Klingon were perhaps intended to be humorous.

Esperanto is spoken by a growing population spread all over the world. I hope you'll learn it yourself!

At 02 January, 2010 18:22, Blogger Clemens said...

Humorous? No.
Sarcastic, yes.

I have tried to learn it, once, long ago.

(did Jack send you over here?)

At 02 January, 2010 19:03, Blogger Clemens said...

PS: Thanks for commenting. I followed up on some of your favorite sites. Maybe I will give Esperanto another try.

Anyway, thanks for visiting and thanks for your feedback.

At 03 January, 2010 09:40, Anonymous Brian Barker said...

Think the choice of the future global language lies between Esperanto and English, rather than an untried project.

As a native English speaker, I would prefer Esperanto.

Your readers may be interested in http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

At 03 January, 2010 21:22, Blogger Clemens said...

I don't think it will be much of a contest. I've written about this before but English now has hundreds of millions of people worldwide who speak it at least to some extent.

Esperanto, not so much.

Still, it is a beautiful idea of noble intent, and a fun language to play around with. As one of the little videos linked to shows, you can learn the necessary grammar in an afternoon, and then simply build up vocabulary.

For me personally though, I have much more recourse to Latin and even Catalan than Esperanto.


Post a Comment

<< Home