Should Esperanto become an official language of the EU?

esperanto european union linguistics official language international language conlang polyglot
Numéro 1

Learn the ropes

What is Esperanto?
Esperanto is a language constructed in 1887 by a Polish oculist, L.L. Zamenhof. He was living in Bialystok, nowadays in Eastern Poland, and part of the Russian Empire back at the time of his living. He observed a big cultural and linguistic diversity in his town, where many different ethnic minorities struggled to communicate in their everyday life.

In 1905 he published a book, Fundamento de Esperanto, explaining the principles of this language. It’s goal was to become a language of intercultural and international communication, and a “neutral tongue”. Words in Esperanto are derived from several European languages and grammar is simple and regular, which makes it intentionally easy to learn. Over the years the language developed and the amount of word roots increased. Currently, the language is spoken by a community present in over 120 countries in the world.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

What are official EU languages?
There are 24 official languages in the European Union: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.

These languages are official and speaking languages recognised by every EU Member State. The status of official language allows EU citizens to communicate with the EU institutions in any of these languages. They must answer in the same language and translate regulation and laws in all the official languages. Members of the European Parliament also have the right to speak in any of official languages in the institution.

Source: europa.eu

Why is this a debate?
With growing interest for Esperanto, some started to see in this language an opportunity to pursue European integration through a common language used in the Union.

Moreover, official languages in the EU do not come without costs: about 1% of total EU budget is spent each year on translation. There are around 4300 translators and 800 interpreters working permanently in the EU institutions.

Source: europa.eu

Numéro 2

Choose your side

The idea behind the Rift is simple: for each topic of debate, we provide you with an expertise based on a pro-con approach, written by competent and legitimate experts. We want to help you make your own opinion, and guide you on first steps to civic engagement.
What is your opinion before reading the article?


FOR

Seán Ó RiainReinhold Utri

Esperanto prevents the strong from imposing their language on the weak



sean o raian esperanto in the eu official language ireland

Seán Ó Riain

Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Ireland, Vienna

www.europo.eu



Yes, it should become an official EU language, because:

1.Due to its logical, streamlined structure, a month’s study of Esperanto is equivalent to a year of English or French. It can thus bring European integration closer to the citizen, by improving communication between citizens of all EU countries,

2.The Esperanto wikipedia now contains over 257,000 articles, more than 11 of the 24 official EU languages. It is the 32nd largest of the 303 wikipedia languages.

3.It is not an “artificial language”, as it has its own native speakers and a high-quality original literature.  Dr Geoffrey Sutton’s “Concise Encyclopedia of the Original Literature of Esperanto” (Mondial, New York 2008) contains 728 pages. In 1993 it was recognised by PEN International as a literary language.

4.It has been in use in over 120 countries for five generations, or 132 years.  “Dangerous Language”, by Dr Ulrich Lins (Palgrave Macmillan, London 2016) documents the oppression of Esperanto speakers by Hitler and Stalin.

5.It was officially recognised by Poland (2014) and Croatia (2019) as “part of the intangible cultural heritage” of those countries, and of Europe. Similar applications has been lodged with Slovakia and Lithuania.

6.It would help strengthen a common European identity in harmony with national identities. English, as a world language with most of its native speakers living outside Europe, cannot do this. An Esperanto text of the European Anthem, with translations into 40 languages, can be heard here.

7.It would prevent the strong from imposing their language on the weak, and replace hierarchical with egalitarian communication. Nobody would have a life-long, unearned advantage due to accident of birth.

8.It favours multilingualism. Pedagogical experiments since 1921 have shown that short courses in Esperanto tend to improve language learning in general. The “Multilingual Accelerator” programme, financed by Erasmus +, continues at present in Croatia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.  

9.Claude Piron has written widely on the psychological reasons for the rejection of Esperanto, based on the irrational refusal to check verifiable facts.

10.Professor François Grin has calculated that the EU could save up to EUR 25 billion annually by the use of Esperanto as a common language. He further calculated that the present dominance of English in Europe leads to financial transfers of EUR 17-18 billion annually to the UK economy.  

Esperanto is our language hope for the 21st century



Reinhold Utri

Associate Professor, Warsaw University, Faculty of Applied Linguistics



The language Esperanto exists now more than 130 years (he presented the final version 1887 and Ludwig Zamenhof, born in BiaƂystok (Poland) named it Lingvo internacia. Born in the small town in Eastern Poland (then in the empire of the tsar), as a boy he often went to the market square and experienced many nations there – and also a lot of quarrels because of misunderstandings, caused by the lack of a common language. It was his idea of a peaceful world – to have a common language, that has easy structures and one can learn quickly.

With Esperanto politicians could learn the common language about three times quicker

There is a lot of migrations all over the world. So there are a lot more reasons to introduce Esperanto – as a common and easy language – in schools, language schools and universities.

Politicians have to learn English or French to be able to work in the European Union. Because of many countries/languages in the EU there are a lot of translations necessary. With Esperanto politicians could learn the common language about three times quicker and the European Union would save a lot of money for translations.

There were already some Esperanto experiments in Hungarian schools – and they were very promising, so why not introduce Esperanto to the First Grades in Primary Schools or even in the kindergarten. These tests showed that also the learning the following languages (and it does not matter if they belong to the Germanic, the Romanic or the Slavic language family) after Esperanto is much easier, quicker and more successful, when the kids have Esperanto as a base.

Tests showed that learning languages after Esperanto is much easier, quicker and more successful

Esperanto can be studied now in big cities, at few universities (in Poland the Esperanto center is PoznaƄ). It is our language hope for the 21st century – and “a human being having hope” is also the meaning of the word Esperanto.

AGAINST

Conor Clyne...

Europe already has a continent wide lingua franca

Conor clyne tsar experience esperanto an official language in the eu

Conor Clyne

Polyglot, Founder of the YouTube channel “Conor Clyne – Tsar Experience”

https://www.youtube.com/tsarexperience



The EU currently has 24 official languages. This means that as an EU citizen you have the right to use any of these 24 languages in correspondence with the EU institutions, which have to reply to you in the same language.

Most EU laws and general information are also published in all 24 official languages so that EU citizens are not prevented from accessing their legal rights or understanding how the EU institutions work for them. This service comes at a significant cost, over €1 billion of the EU’s annual budget is already spent on translation.

In order for a language to legally become an official language of the EU, that language must be an official language of an EU member state and then proposed by that EU member state to be an official language in the EU.

Enter Esperanto

Esperanto is a ‘conlang’ or a ‘constructed language’ created in the 19th century by LL Zamenhof, who was born in Bialystok, a city which lies in modern day Poland. 

It was created as a universal language with the goal of reducing the interethnic strife of his hometown. However, it has failed on both of these.

Moreover, English has already established itself as a continent wide lingua franca. Thus, promoting Esperanto as a regional common language today would be superfluous. 

Legal barriers

At the moment, no EU member state lists Esperanto as an official language of its country. So an EU member state would first have to elevate the language to official status domestically and then propose that Esperanto become official on an EU level. At the moment, there would seem to be little possibility of this happening.

Can Esperanto as an EU official language be justified financially?

Becoming official would entail a certain cost to the EU member state that would introduce it and to the EU in terms of increased translation and to what benefit this additional cost? It would not help communication with any of its citizens as all Esperanto speakers should be able to speak another official EU language already. So this would make EU official status for Esperanto a waste of money in terms of protecting its citizens’ rights.

How about its value in promoting multilingualism in the EU? 

The EU already has 24 official languages and makes a great (financial) effort to promote linguistic diversity across the continent.  Promoting a conlang that by its very design is not tied to any of its member states would not help promote the EU’s linguistic heritage.

Not an ERROR 404

Despite all our efforts, we unfortunately did not find a second legitimate and competent person willing to defend this point of view.

But even Jon Snow finds it bad. If you want to contribute to this debate and defend this position, do not hesitate to contact us at hello@therift.eu!

 


What is your opinion now?

23 thoughts on “Should Esperanto become an official language of the EU?

  1. English as lingua franca? Only 25% of the EU citizens claim that they can understand news in tv or radio in other than their own language.
    Engelsk som lingua franca? Kun 25% af alle EU-borgere pÄstÄr, at de kan forstÄ nyhederne i tv eller radio pÄ et andet sprog end deres eget.
    Englisch als lingua franca? Nur 25% der EU-BĂŒrger behaupten, Nachrichten im Fernsehen oder Radio in einer anderen Sprache als ihrer eigenen verstehen zu können.
    La angla kiel lingua franca? Nur 25% de la EU-civitanoj asertas povi kompreni novaĔojn en televido aƭ radio en alia lingvo ol la propra.

    1. Estus bone komence almenaĆ­ nur por kelkaj okazoj uzi Esperanton – por demonstri la uzeblecon de la lingvo. Konvinki nur per teorioj iun ajn estas malfacile.

      1. Sufiĉas rigardi https://tatoeba.org
        Dekstre sur tiu paĝo oni vidas, ke inter centoj da lingvoj Esperanto estas en la kvina pozicio laƭ la nombro da frazoj. Oni ankaƭ vidas tie, ke per Esperanto oni povas esprimi ĉion ajn.

        Just have a look at https://tatoeba.org
        On the right side of this page, you can see that among hundreds of languages Esperanto is in the fifth position according to the number of sentences. You can also see that one can express everything using Esperanto.

        1. The problem, when people talk down Esperanto, is that they do not know, or (much more rarely) only superficially know the language.
          The equation is simple: Esperanto, try it, And you’ll adopt it!

  2. Esperanto has gread expression power and is uncomparably easer than any national language. If You has doubt about it, please subtain teaching of esperanto in scools as a preparative step. It costs nearly nothing.
    Esperanto hat große Ausdruck-Möglichkeiten und ist unvergleichbar leichter, als jede natĂŒrliche Sprache. Wenn Sie Zweifel haben, unterstĂŒtzen Sie Unterricht von Esperanto in Schulen als vorbereitender Schritt. Das kostet kaum Geld.
    Esperanto Ăš una lingua molto espressibile e incomparabilmente piĂč facile di qualsiasi lingua nazionale. Se Lei ha dubbi, sostenga l’insegnamento di esperanto nelle scuole come un passo preparativo. Questo costa quasi niente.
    Az EszperantĂł gazdag nyelv Ă©s összehasonlĂ­tathatlanul könnyebb minden nemzeti nyelvnĂ©l. Ha Ön kĂ©telkedik, tĂĄmogassa az eszperamtĂł tanĂ­tĂĄsĂĄt iskolĂĄkban eurĂłpaszerte mint elƑkĂ©szĂ­tƑ lĂ©pĂ©st. Ez alig kerĂŒl pĂ©nzbe.

  3. Some comments on Conor Clyne’s assessment:

    “It was created as a universal language with the goal of reducing the interethnic strife of his hometown. However, it has failed on both of these.” A sweeping statement which is only partially true. Interethnic strife did not cease after Esperanto was invented and we know that even those who speak the same language go to war against each other, but it certainly did become a universal language. And Esperanto is far more than a tool for enabling peace to break out.

    “English has already established itself as a continent wide lingua franca. Thus, promoting Esperanto as a regional common language today would be superfluous.” For the moment, this is true. But the history of such languages is that they do not outlast the dominant power which imposed them on the rest of the world. And no-one is talking of Esperanto as a “regional” common language (whatever that may be).

    “At the moment, no EU member state lists Esperanto as an official language of its country. So an EU member state would first have to elevate the language to official status domestically and then propose that Esperanto become official on an EU level.” Why is this necessary?

    “Can Esperanto as an EU official language be justified financially?” Saving €1 billion p.a. at today’s rates would seem to be a long-term bargain.

    “How about its value in promoting multilingualism in the EU? ” Esperanto has never sought to suppress any national language – quite the reverse – since its primary function is that of an auxiliary language for those who do not speak the same mother tongue. The Esperanto movement has always defended linguistic rights.

  4. Esperanton povos ĉiuj eƭropanoj flue paroli post mallonga studtempo, se ĝi estas instruata en la lernejo.
    Krome iu ajn nacia lingvo, multe pli malfacila, ne taƭgas kiel 2a lingvo por ĉiuj. Internacia lingvo devas esti neƭtra, ĉies lingvo ĉar nenies lingvo.

  5. 1) Message of Greeting from Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, to the World Congress of the Universal Esperanto Association, Lisbon, July 29, 2018:
    http://www.linguistic-rights.org/unesco/#UNESCO_103aUK
    2) «La domination de l’anglais: un dĂ©fi pour l’Europe», de Robert Phillipson:
    https://communiques.categorynet.com/la-domination-de-l-anglais-un-defi-pour-l-europe-de-robert-phillipson
    http://www.linguistic-rights.org/robert-phillipson/#defiFR
    3) L’Union EuropĂ©enne et la langue espĂ©ranto – Point de vue de Robert Phillipson:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfKDBn__4uA
    4) Welcoming words to the UEA publication of “125 years of Esperanto” (1887-2012) by Rita IZSÁK, UN Independent Expert on minority issues: http://www.linguistic-rights.org/esperanto-125/
    Other contributors: Dr. Tove SKUTNABB-KANGAS, Dr. Robert PHILLIPSON, Gerhard WALTER, Dr. Fernand DE VARENNES:
    PDF (multilingual version): http://www.linguistic-rights.org/esperanto-125/esperanto125.pdf
    . . .

  6. La argumentoj por E-o de Ó Riain estas raciaj, konvinkaj kaj sendube konsiderindaj, tamen restas senefikaj kontraĆ­ argumentoj de homoj tiaj, kies personaj interesoj verƝajnaj igas ilin defendi la “status quo”-n tiuterene. Poliglotoj oftakaze estas vantaj kaj narcisismaj: sentante sin “heroo de nia epoko”, de la epoko de plurligveco, rilatas surde al ĉiaj argumentoj raciaj, sed kontraĆ­aj al la siaj. E-istoj en sia batalo por E-o devus laĆ­iri alian vojon por la “fina venko”, nome tiun de enkonduko de E-o en la ĉiutagan vivon, ne atendante helpon de tiaj EĆ­ropaj institucioj, por kiuj eĉ pli bagatelaj aferoj gravas pli ol la kontentigo de lingvaj pretendoj de la loĝantaro de EĆ­ropo, EU. EU kreiĝis ne por la popolo, sed por la satigi la profitavidon de la granda kapitalo, precipe franca kaj germana.

    1. Yes, all comments are published – we only moderate the exchanges in order to avoid incitement to hatred or personal insults.

  7. I learned englisch in the gymnasium for 8 jears before a long time, but it was very heavy for mi. I sink, it is also heavy for all other people, without this people who have englisch as a mother-language.
    Thisfor it is no wonder, that Mr Conor Clyne is for englisch and against Esperanto. But wen he says that the city Bialystok lies in the modern day Poland, Bialystok must be a liar, or not? I sink Esperanto is easier for all people in the EU and all must learn, but nobody has a personal profit. One of the basic ideas of Esperanto is, that everybody should learn the same language for international communication, logically one language is enough. This language must be easy to learn. The time gained can be used i.g. for languages or other beautiful things.

  8. J’ai Ă©tĂ© convaincu par les arguments pour, et suis trĂšs Ă©tonnĂ©, car cela ne correspond nullement Ă  ma propre expĂ©rience, par la premiĂšre partie de cette affirmation, qui reste Ă  dĂ©montrer (et c’est une litote) :
    Most [???] EU laws and general information [les lois si, en effet, car c’est bien quand mĂȘme le minimum !!!] are also published in all [???] 24 official languages so that EU citizens are not prevented from accessing their legal rights or understanding how the EU institutions work for them [mais sans eux !]. This service comes at a significant cost, over €1 billion of the EU’s annual budget is already spent on translation.
    Mais peut-ĂȘtre son auteur n’a-t-il pas la mĂȘme comprĂ©hension que moi (un peu nul en anglais) des mots “most” et “all” (ou alors Ă©tant de langue anglaise il n’est jamais rĂ©ellement allĂ© voir en quelques clics si les traductions existaient bien ? Moi je me heurte partout Ă  l’anglais sans arriver Ă  trouver de traduction dans ma langue maternelle, pourtant elle aussi “officielle” (le français), et j’avoue bien souvent renoncer alors Ă  demander (alors qu’en bon citoyen d’ l’UE je devrais les exiger) les informations manquantes dans la plupart des langues (sinon toutes) hormis le seul anglais : je me rĂ©signe peu Ă  peu Ă  devenir un sous-citoyen de moins en moins bien informĂ©… et pourtant je suis candidat aux Ă©lection europĂ©ennes : quelle honte ! (Mais je n’ai pas que ça Ă  faire dans la vie.)

  9. Je viens d’ailleurs de cliquer, tout en haut, sur le drapeau français, pensant que cela m’amĂšnerait Ă  la version française de ce dĂ©bat-ci (ayant dĂ©jĂ  compris qu’il n’existait sans doute pas dans les 24 langues), mais je ne l’ai pas trouvĂ© mĂȘme en tapant son mot clĂ© “espĂ©ranto”. (J’obtiens la rĂ©ponse :

    “Rien de trouvĂ©
    DĂ©solĂ©, mais rien ne correspond Ă  vos critĂšres de recherche. Nous vous conseillons de rĂ©essayer avec des mots diffĂ©rents.”)

    Bon, je fais donc bien partie, comme la trĂšs grande majoritĂ© des citoyens de l’UE, des sous-hommes maintenus sous la domination des anglophones, et je suppose que peu de gens liront mes deux contributions au dĂ©bat. C’est bien fait pour moi : “t’as qu’Ă  parler anglais comme tout le monde !” Mais il y a d’autres langues beaucoup plus intĂ©ressantes Ă  mes yeux que celle-lĂ  ! Chacun devrait avoir le droit de prĂ©fĂ©rer Ă©tudier celle(s) qu’il veut. (Et je n’ai pas la prĂ©tention impĂ©rialiste de vouloir imposer Ă  tous les citoyens de l’UE d’apprendre, par exemple, le français, simplement parce que c’est ma langue et donc, bien sĂ»r, la meilleure et la plus belle de toutes !)

    1. Bonjour,
      Le dĂ©bat sera bien publiĂ© en français sur ledrenche.fr d’ici quelques jours, semaines au plus, le temps pour nous de traduire les tribunes.
      Merci beaucoup !

  10. “Jamais deux sans trois”. J’avais oubliĂ© la conclusion logique de mes deux prĂ©cĂ©dents messages :

    donc l’espĂ©ranto, POURQUI PAS, en effet ? Je suis mĂȘme maintenant tout-Ă -fait pour !

    Esperanto : WHY NOT ? (comme on dit en bon citoyen de l’UE)

    (en espĂ©rant que ces deux mots d’anglais seront le “sĂ©same” permettant Ă  mes messages d’ĂȘtre acceptĂ©s…)

  11. Ohne bewußte europĂ€ische BĂŒrger gibt es kein dauerhaft friedliches geeintes Europa. Ohne eine gemeinsame neutrale Sprache fehlt die Freiheit in der Kommunikation. Ohne Esperanto kann kein geeintes Europa mit gleichberechtigten BĂŒrgern entstehen.

  12. In the “against” article, change every mention of English to French. Voila! You’ve just gone back in time 100 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Empowering opinions