Esperanto Language Finds New Life Online
January 12, 2022
The Internet has changed a lot of cultural traditions in paving the way for people around the world to communicate with each other. It is easy to see how fictious tongues from literature, movies, and cartoons could get a huge boost from those following their favorite constructured language. One of the first to come to mind might be Klingon from Star Trek (a three-year TV series created by Gene Rodenberry that turned into a $10.6 billion franchise), or Dothraki from Game of Thornes (a fantasy drama that captivated TV audiences for eight years), or maybe one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elvish languages (from the Lord of the Rings triology). However, according to some estimates, there are around 2 million speakers of Esperanto and up to 10 million learners in varying degrees making it the most useful auxiliary language since the lingua franca spoken in the Levant.
What Exactly is Esperanto?
Developed in 1887 by Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof, Esperanto was meant to be a unifying international language. Zamenhof intended Esperanto to be easy to learn as a universal second language with very few rules. It occupies a middle ground between naturalistic and priori languages. Dr. Zamenhof thought that the differences in other languages were the roots of the misunderstanding between cultures. That compelled him to develop a neutral language that any person from any ethnic background would be able to speak. Although Esperanto doesn’t have an official status in any country, devotees of Zamenhof’s dream of creating a language to promote world peace have been attending an annual language convention known as the Esperanto Congress since 1905. Aside from being spoken internationally, Esperanto is also still used today for literary publications, including poetry, magazines, and books.
Esperanto and the Internet Are a Perfect Fit
Although no nation has adopted Esperanto as an official language, online was a great meeting place for this geographically-dispersed culture, and Esperanto and the Internet have been a perfect fit. The language is spoken in about 115 countries with concentrations of speakers in South America, North America, Europe, and East Asia. Locations where Esperanto is spoken are known as Esperantujo or Esperanto-land. The Esperanto Wikipedia community created and published a 40-page handbook (Vikipedio: Praktika Manlibro); Alphabet Inc. added it to Google Translate; and Duolingo includes it learning lessons. Religious organizations that support the use of Esperanto, include:
- Bahá'í Faith has praised the ideal of Esperanto and encourages the use of the auxiliary international language.
- Christian Esperanto organizations include Catholic Esperantists as well as the Quaker Esperanto Society and Protestant Fundamentalists.
- Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran called on all Muslims to learn Esperanto and has suggested Esperanto replace English as an international lingua franca.
- Mormon Esperantists have pushed for a partial translation of the Book of Mormon, but the language has not been officially endorsed by the Church.
- Oomoto is a new Japanese religion that encourages the use of Esperanto and includes Dr. Zamenhof as one of its defied spirits.
- Spiritism teaches that Lazaro Zamenhof created Esperanto with the help of a superior dimension in order to help humankind.
Although in-person events were cancelled the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Esperanto Congress is slated for Montreal, Canada in 2022 and Turin, Italy in 2023. On average, polyglots from about sixty countries attend the annual convention, which are normally conducted the last week of July or the first week of August. Depending upon the venue, attendance over the years has ranged from 800 to 6000 Esperantists. Additionally, speakers from different countries often contact each other when traveling and set up a gufujoj (a makeshift Esperanto café) in a hotel or someone’s home to discuss a variety of cultural issues.
Although adopted by some European banks, the Esperantists currency that has been minted in the past saw only limited use, but commemorative coins are still passed amongst avid followers. If your organization or business needs to communicate with this niche but global culture, contact ProLingo at 800-287-9755 for accurate and precise translations and interpretations.