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Esperanto prevents the strong from imposing their language on the weak
Seán Ó Riain
Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Ireland, Vienna
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
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 Białystok (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 Poznań). It is our language hope for the 21st century – and “a human being having hope” is also the meaning of the word Esperanto.
Europe already has a continent wide lingua franca
Polyglot, Founder of the YouTube channel “Conor Clyne – Tsar Experience”
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.
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.
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.
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