Saturday, July 26, 2008

esperanto in revival

So, as you may have noticed if you read my most immediately previous blog entry, I'm learning Esperanto, primarily with my older daughter, but to a lesser extent with my younger one, who has caught her sister's interest and my enthusiasm.

Apparently we're not the only ones. Deutesche Welle notes that Esperanto is experiencing a revival of interest, thanks in no small part to the Internet:
"The Internet has opened up new possibilities," Boris-Antoine Legault, a leading Esperantist in North America, told the Canadian Press. "Esperanto is a fantastic tool on the Internet as a bridge language."

Be it blogs, forums, or online tutorials, the Internet has allowed Esperanto to reach larger audiences than it used to. Pre-Internet, learning Esperanto generally meant ordering a book from a little-known publisher or perhaps visiting one of the few dusty Esperanto offices still open in a few larger cities.

So it's not exactly a dead language, as my brother Brian claimed in a recent conversation I had with him. (I'll give Brian some slack, though: His chief contact with an Esperantist earlier was on an e-mail listserv with someone who insisted in writing all his messages in Esperanto with a delayed English translation, even though no one else on the listserv spoke the language.)

I have to admit, I made my initial contact with the Esperanto-USA through their web site, and while Evangeline is taking the postal version of the correspondence course, so she can enjoy getting mail, I've been doing my lessons via e-mail.

I found it interesting that the United Kingdom is about to see some Esperanto-language clothing ads, with subtitles. And of course, there was that 1965 horror film, "Incubus," with William Shatner that was filmed entirely in Esperanto. With what I imagine is a relative shortage of new literature, music, and TV or movies available in the language, those roughly 3 million people are a shoo-in market for anyone ambitious enough to tap into it.

So I'm not convinced that it's going to be attaining its goals of international understanding any time soon, but I am pretty sure that this is a language that's not going away any time soon either.


Brian Barker said...

Additional information, which you are probably aware of anyway.

Nine British MP's have nominated Esperanto for the Nobel Peace Prize 2008 - the reason given was that it is now a living language.


Owen said...

I had a chance to listen see/hear that British clothing commercial (Littlewoods) on YouTube after the BBC mentioned it. All I can say is that if that's Esperanto they are using then I don't know what it is I've been learning!

It sounds more like an African language or a Polynesian dialect or maybe something made up. Whatever it is, it's another kick in the head for those of us who do take Esperanto seriously, and gives the anti-brigade more ammunition against us.

Bondezirojn kaj bon┼Łancon pro via lernado.