Why Esperanto ?

Why Esperanto ?

Why did you start learning Esperanto ? The famous question that any esperantist heard at least once, or even at each meeting or during any conversation. The answer is often linked to three reasons: curiosity, the desire to travel and above all, curiosity. I’m not going to hide from you that it’s not very different for me. However, it also meets an old ideal (the kind of ones we have in childhood).

A man surrounding by bubble

I didn’t speak about this in my first article (which it’s not translated and I’m not really sorry, ‘cause it isn’t good, additionally to require a lot of work), because this is a subject I wanted to talk about separately and clearly.

Personally, I am fascinated by the simple idea of a common (if not international), neutral (because not represented by a nation, but its speakers) language. Moreover, I had wondered why we humans with our superior intelligence had not thought of this possibility.

Well, it turns out that there are many languages built to facilitate international exchanges (and some, like Sol Re Sol, are particularly… interesting?), so Esperanto is not the only solution (advocating its supremacy is a complete idiocy, in addition to being a ridiculous cliché). Despite this diversity, the most obvious answer for the average person remains: why giving a shit about this ? We have English.
And then we enter into an endless debate about whether or not English is legitimate as the ultimate international language…

About English

OK, so because, this article is translated in English, I have to speak/write more about the English language, even if I don’t want at all. First thing : I don’t like English. Of course like millions people around the planet, I had to learn this… thing during my early life… and maybe that’s why I don’t like it. In addition to making us believe that it is the simplest language in the world (which is totally false, according its many grammatical and verbal exceptions, its complex pronunciation – Though, Thought, Tough, Through, Thorough, did you just prononce the ending of these words in the same way ? Well unfortunately, your English is shit [It’s second degree, cynicism, in short, not serious, don’t stone me]. – and so many others awkward things), we are also imposed its culture ; which is normal in fact, except that it tends more and more to crush others to get into our heads (say farewell to neutrality).

I like this song, so representative of globalization.
And yes, I know, English isn’t only a U.S. thing, but I don’t know why, many countries know more U.S. artists than ones in their own country…

These are not the only grievances I have with this language. I am sure that if I had been given the choice (without any pressure), I would not have learned English. Quite simply because I don’t like much about it (its culture, its history, its functioning, England…). Besides, it seems to me that I was more interested in German… I don’t know if it would have been really better… But at least it’s effectively useful to communicate, even speaking with people from other countries (but strangely, it’s a pleasure for only a few of them).

I’m not anti-English or pro-Esperanto. Besides, opposing the two languages is a bad idea (and this logic applies to all languages) : I’m sure English has quality (even if the first one that comes into my mind is as much a quality as a flaw: its culture offers landmarks to almost everyone on the planet), but you know when we believe that a national language must represent all the peoples of the world and cement the foundations of international communication, we are making a huge mistake.
On the other hand, claiming that Esperanto must replace English (or even replace the language altogether and suppress its learning) is the same dystopic logic. Fortunately, this logic is in the minority (I hope), because its speakers wish above all to propel it as an international auxiliary (or complementary) language, i.e. one that can be learned in addition to its own and others.

We don’t speak about it, so it doesn’t exist

The key of the mutual language, lost in the tower of Babylon, can be built only by using Esperanto.
Jules Verne

Like the English language in fact, except Esperanto has more qualifications to do this job than Shakespeare’s language. And one of them precisely led me to learn the language : it does not belong to any country (and, some would say, therefore to everyone, ) and therefore, much more neutral than national languages. Moreover, the language is still spoken (apparently several million non-quantifiable speakers), brings together an international community, a homonymous culture (in addition to its own) and has native speakers.

Taking into account this last point, when and especially how, can it be decreed that Esperanto “does not exist” or “is useless” ?! I see no harm in presenting it as a little linguistic curiosity (but without condescension), that’s the only approach the media has anyway. But as for many things, we consider that if we don’t talk about it, then it doesn’t exist (a good example of cultural openness). At least it’s easy to apply.
But you know, we talk about millions of speakers and with people who have been through international conflicts, while trying to preserve their beliefs (in this case : a language).

World languages

In this case, we might as well apply the same logic with Irish (disappearing), Breton (after all, it’s just a regional language), Slavic or Scandinavian languages (there are not even 10 million speakers !). We’re on right track to eliminate some 3800 languages with this… !

Um, let’s get back to me. So I started to learn Esperanto, because it’s more neutral than English, as well as for the diversity of its speakers and the opportunity to meet/discuss with people you would never have met otherwise. There is another reason : curiosity, simply. Esperantists love pointing out that language is learned 10 times faster than English (perhaps true, except that the speed of learning varies considerably from one person to another), that it has propaedeutic values (nice, again, it depends on the person), that it is perfect for the E.U., it would make it possible to make global economies… The kind of numbers and information that don’t matter to me.
If we look closely, the “simple” fact that a language developed 150 years ago, survived the 20th century, is still spoken today and has no grammatical exceptions, is rather a good advertising, right ?

Anecdote

UKE 2019 flag

You know, when I started to learn Esperanto, I also began learning the Finnish language (and Danish, but I gave up around six months ago, because of its whimsical pronunciation). Needless to say that isn’t the same madness (vowel harmony, 15 grammatical cases, conjugation… in French style…).
In short, by chance (not really, it is a coincidence), the UK 2019 took place in Finland, in Lahti. Even though I could only go there for two days, it was really worth it.

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