Ariel Goldberg
Ariel Goldberg

Esperanto ankoraŭ vivas kaj viglas … Huh?

Imagine if you could communicate clearly and easily with people no matter which country in the world you were visiting. Imagine if everybody was on an equal footing when it came to expressing their ideas and opinions. Imagine if language was something that united all of humanity instead of a hurdle we had to cross when reaching out across to another ethnic group.

On the 6th of August 1905 more than 600 people assembled in the French sea-side town of Boulogne-sur-mer to endorse what would later become known as the Declaration of Boulogne, a document written by the creator of Esperanto to define what the exact purpose and intention of the Esperanto movement would be.

His name was L L Zamenhof and he had previously published the language eight years earlier in a book called Lingvo internacia. Antaŭparolo kaj plena lernolibro (International Language. Foreword and Complete Textbook).

Growing up in the town of Białystok (then part of the Russian empire now part of Poland) Zamenhof became frustrated by the many quarrels between the town’s four main ethnic groups and believed that the reason for the hatred and animosity that existed between them was their common misunderstanding and inability to communicate with one another. From as early as secondary school, Zamenhof started working on what would eventually become Esperanto — humanity’s best hope to date of a common auxiliary language.

The ideal behind an international auxiliary language is not to get rid of the incredibly rich and wonderful lingual diversity we have in the world, but rather to provide a secondary common tongue that we all would learn in addition to our own native languages and be able to communicate effectively and easily with. To lose the incredible cultural and lingual wealth humanity has accumulated over the centuries would be a terrible fate and would certainly not happen as a result of us being able to communicate in a common secondary language.

The benefits of being able to communicate with one another in a common secondary language however would be enormous. Language is our interface to the world, to ideas and to other people. If people and nations communicated with one another in a language they both understood, subtle injunctions that can so easily be misinterpreted and cause untold strife would be far more easily resolved and understood.

The richness of collaboration would increase dramatically as scientists and businessmen would be able to communicate effectively. Researchers and educators would be able to share their ideas with ease. Politicians and diplomats would be able to negotiate in languages they are proficient in. Children would be able to learn about how other children grow up. Cooks could share recipes.

In short, everybody would win. From the higher echelons of society down to the most broad-based grass roots aspects. We would expand our field of knowledge and make the task of being a united and common human family much easier to accomplish.

The world congress of Esperanto has happened every year since 1905, interrupted only by the two world wars. There is still an active movement of Esperantists working for the dissemination of their language and a number of high profile individual’s who support the spread of the language. Chiefly among them are the 1994 Nobel laureate in economics Reinhard Selten and 1996 World Chess Champion Zsuzsa Polgar, both of whom speak Esperanto. See the Universal Esperanto Association website for more details.

So what does “Esperanto ankoraŭ vivas kaj viglas” mean you ask? Well, meaningfully translated it is “Esperanto is still alive and kicking”