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English is spoken in every major city in the world, especially tourist destinations. Terry Dip thinks there’s a problem with that.

Photo by BingBing

Paris. At a cafe outside the Pantheon, I see a group of Japanese tourists, all women between their 20′s and 50′s, telling a waiter in broken English, “Something to drink, please… non-alcoholic.”

Costa Rica. Far away from any major city, I get an ear infection and go to the doctor, who asks me if I speak Spanish. I can chat in the language, but I couldn’t discuss my medical status in necessary detail. The doctor speaks to me in English.

Ho Chi Minh City. I go out with a friend who is bilingual in Cantonese and Vietnamese. I speak neither language. We stay at his friend’s house who speaks only Vietnamese. The friend tries to communicate with me in English.

These scenarios happen the world over.

English is spoken in every major city in the world, especially tourist destinations. You might think that means it has the most speakers. Not true – Mandarin is spoken by more people, but Mandarin is not spoken much outside China.

Mandarin was never a colonial language on a global scale. English claimed the title from French, which was a colonial language but has been losing power ever since America became the dominant world power.

If there’s a world language, it is English.

A Lack Of Colour

I find myself annoyed when Americans tour the world expecting to be understood whenever they speak in English.

I find myself annoyed when Americans tour the world expecting to be understood whenever they speak in English.

I am even more irritated when I hear travelers from outside the English-speaking world visiting another foreign country where English is not the official language and trying to get around by speaking English.

To be fair, there’s nothing linguistically wrong with the English language, and I admit it’s very convenient (for Americans, Brits, and Aussies).

But I strongly believe the prevalence of English is one of the biggest reasons the majority of America’s youth know next to nothing about the outside world. And the ignorance is not limited to just that age group. FDR ended American’s “age of isolationism” more than half a century ago.

It’s time Americans did some serious footwork to catch up.

Studying Abroad

Studying abroad has become more popular over the years for cultural immersion – yet the most common destinations for Americans are still Britain and Australia, followed by Italy, France, and Spain.

You couldn’t live in Rome without speaking Italian, Paris without speaking French, or Seville without speaking Spanish, but English could arguably get you through a summer or semester, which is typically the amount of time college undergrads spend abroad before they get back to the U.S. in the fall.

Even if American college students stay abroad long enough to understand the language and culture to a modest degree, most are still studying in the West.

In comparison, India and China send more students to America for higher education than any other countries in the world. This is a severe global cultural imbalance (not unlike the import-export gap America has with China, and look where that’s gotten the US economy).

Pop Culture USA

Photo by Terry Dip

American movies and TV rule the world. That’s a fact. When was the last time you saw a TV ad or a billboard for a foreign film? Yes, we all know Bollywood, but the Indian actor/character Americans are most familiar with is undoubtedly Apu.

Advertisements for Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Fearless have gotten some airtime, but any publicity is minuscule compared to what any standard American movie gets. Furthermore, even big foreign films have only limited releases.

During my time own study abroad term in Sweden, Pirates of the Caribbean II and Superman Returns were playing in major movie theaters whereas domestic Swedish films had posters in alleyways and were played in small movie houses.

Friends is insanely popular in France. I know friends who stay up watching 24 in Hong Kong and Japan.

I myself spent many weeknights watching Family Guy, in the original English (Swedes never dub their imported American TV shows), with fellow international students when we could’ve been exploring the nooks and crannies of Lund, the local town.

In Sweden, I had the privilege of taking an academic trip to Brussels with a number of colleagues. While at a mini-conference with some representatives from the EU Commission, an American student raised her hand and asked, “Is the EU thinking about having a single official language?”

The EU now has over 20 official languages, and annual translation costs are over $1 billion USD – so if if her question was thoroughly impractical, it did show some concern for the cost.

But then she added, “Maybe English?”

War Of Confusion

While it’s possible that miscommunication due to ignorance of each other’s languages has been a driving force of ethnic wars, I don’t think having an international language is the solution.

Our entire concept of everyday reality is shaped around language. Language, more than anything else, I think, defines a people.

If English is the world language, it could burn away the cultural differences that make our world so interesting, reducing our vibrant global inheritance of culture to ashes (does anyone remember The Giver?)

Our entire concept of everyday reality is shaped around language. If you speak multiple languages, you start to see things in many more shades because some concepts just cannot be translated, directly or indirectly.

Language, more than anything else, I think, defines a people. You can’t fully understand a culture without first learning the language. Forgive me for mentioning pop culture, which some might find vapid, but you can’t deny the influence it has on the members of our society, especially the young.

Have you ever tried to call someone a chicken in Spanish by directly translating the word? Didn’t make much sense, did it?

Did you know that the famous Japanese phrase itadakimasu, said before every meal, simply means “to receive with gratitude” in formal speech? Imagine saying “Receive!” right before dinner.

Even “Let’s eat,” which is the typical translation in anime and Japanese dramas and movies doesn’t quite have the same effect.

Our different languages have shaped who we are, our history, our heritage, our culture, our identity. Why should the world have one language when it can have many?

The Power Of Words

In the end, it is unclear whether our global America-dominated media culture is an advantage to Americans or not.

When I was in Sweden, most Swedes knew more about American politics than I did. The reason is simple: economically and politically, it is more important for them to know about America than it is for Americans to know about Sweden.

If you’re an American, are you comfortable with the rest of the world knowing more about you than you do about them?

English shouldn’t be the international language. Neither should Spanish, French, Mandarin, or Esperanto. The world doesn’t need an international language. What it needs is more cultural exchange and less cultural imperialism.

What do you think about English as the world’s international language? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Activism + Politics

 

About The Author

Terry Dip

Terry is some young chap who's traveled a bit and thinks he writes well enough to have a blog about it. He might be wrong. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. Check out more of his writing at Complete and Creative.

  • http://www.tylerbell.net Tyler

    Interesting article. Recently an American restaurant owner has been hanging ‘please speak English’ signs about his establishment. I wrote an article on my take on it:

    http://blog.tylerbell.net/2008/03/22/please-speak-english/

  • http://www.tourpizza.com Olga Pizza

    In any case, we need a language which will be known by most people. I don’t agree that English may become the world’s international language, but still it helps us to understand one another. As for me I adore various cultures, so I am interested in studying their languages, but most people just don’t need and don’t want to spend their time on it. They know their language and have to learn another one for communicating with people form various countries. Yes, as a rule they say “we have to”. That’s why it is so important for them to have some universal language in this world.

  • http://www.msadventuresinitaly.com/blog Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy

    I think you need to separate the two arguments: English being the world’s language, and Native English speakers like Americans expecting others to speak English while traveling.

    The second is definitely a problem if people refuse to learn how to speak the local language at all. The first IMO doesn’t have to be a problem – living now in Italy, I realize how much Italians have to rely on English traveling abroad. I think if it makes people more open to travel and willing to explore more exotic places knowing that somehow they can make themselves understood, it’s a positive thing. When I visited Fiji, I started filling my notebook with the language and practicing as some locals taught me, but we used English as the medium to further my curiosity.

    Another important thing is also the way English is used – about the culture, learning something, instead of “How much does this cost?” and “Where is the nearest bar?” – something I see being a big fault of Study Abroad – an extended binge drinking/shopping trip for some and bad form in any language, and I strongly recommended learning Italian in the guide I wrote for Matador Travel.

    Interesting topic!

  • http://www.wranglingrhinos.com N. Chrystine Olson

    Nothing more surreal than watching CSI or Sponge Bob in French….Madagascar’s colonial language. The island teemed with French tourists. I’ve always had problems with French pronunciation and except for Tana (Madagascar’s capitol) no English is spoken much. I shifted to Malagasy, a language that doesn’t swallow most of it’s consonants.For me part of the allure of travel is not speaking my native tongue, seeing how I fare. Nice, thought provoking article.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Wow. Can’t wait to read the feedback for this one. Should be pretty lively.

    I take the controversial view that a world language needn’t or mustn’t necessarily erase cultural difference. It’s controversial because there are examples where this argument has failed. But I side with linguists David Crystal and Suzette Hayden Elgin, who believe there should be a lingua franca AND distinctive languages of ethnic origin. And both sides of the coin take effort.

    India survives with its historic British influence. So do the many other countries around the world that have at one time or another been swept by the “imperialism” of French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Swahili, etc. They have, admittedly with some struggle, managed to hold on to their ethnic languages in the face of aggressive acculturation. One need only look to Native American tribes to see the devastating effect that cutting out a traditional language has not only on the culture, but the individual psyche – as well as how powerful it is to hold on to your traditions.

    Overemphasis on monolingualism is deadly. There is a lot of American shortsightedness to claim some sense of superiority due to the spread of English (Brits and ex-colonies know better) – which, yes, I believe has partly led to our marked ethnocentrism. But it’s a false security. Tourists insisting they can’t even manage a linguistic courtesy is embarrassing, but when a Chinese businessman turns to his partner and discusses an issue in Chinese, the monoglot’s at an incredible disadvantage. That day isn’t coming, it’s already here.

    Still, I don’t buy your charge of outright American imperialism. True, Americans are just beginning to understand en masse what we really look like in the mirror of recent events. We’re slowly beginning to wake up to painfully flawed the neocon “Better Living Through Democracy (TM)” is. And a lot of us are still hitting the snooze bar. But as recent voting trends show, that ain’t everybody.

    That said, no one here is demanding English bushiban schools in China and Taiwan. Or SUVs. Or fast food. They’re all surviving abroad just fine without forcing them down anyone’s throats. If there wasn’t a market, they wouldn’t exist. Just like American culture isn’t curling up and dying from all the Chinese products at Walmart. Frankly, I consider crappy dollar-buys for crappy happy meals a fair exchange.

    It’s impossible to preserve a culture in linguistic amber. Language changes. People, fashion, technology, history – all of it changes, whether it’s due to external cultures or not. Some languages inevitably disappear, just like the telegraph and bowler hats. Today it’s English, which begins to morph into its own local versions (someday, to be dialects?). On the other hand, look how fast Americans are putting Chinese classes in grade schools, just like Russian was hot in the 60s.

    In your last line, I don’t see how you expect cultural exchange without a common language. Most people don’t have the time to learn seven languages for their European trip, and even if they do it’s no guarantee they’ll get a “deep interaction” with natives. American imperialism has got a lot of people pretty scared (me, too), and I think reasonably so. But that doesn’t negate the need for a common language. You CAN separate one from the other. It’s a matter of tolerance.

  • T. Page

    What about the Canucks? They speak English too! – including many of the Québecois.

  • Ross

    “I am even more irritated when I hear travelers from outside the English-speaking world visiting another foreign country where English is not the official language and trying to get around by speaking English.”

    So let’s say a Romanian is traveling the world and finds himself in Japan. What language makes sense for him to try to use? Yes he could try to brush up on some basic Japanese, but if he is traveling to many countries over a few months there is no way he can be expected to learn enough every language he will encounter.

    English is widespread, it simply makes sense to try to use it instead of grunting and pointing.

  • http://gregwtravels.travellerspoint.com Greg Wesson

    “Our entire concept of everyday reality is shaped around language. If you speak multiple languages, you start to see things in many more shades because some concepts just cannot be translated, directly or indirectly.”

    While I agree that one’s mother tongue is an important part of both an individuals sense of self and a culture’s sense of self, I’m not sure that language is the most mportant piece of a culture.

    I’ve been to many places where English is the official language, and can still find important culture differences between them. Ditto with places that speak French or Spanish (though admittly I am not very fluent in either of those languages). While it may be English, French of Spanish colonialists that initial spread the use of these languages and installed them as the “official” languages, that hasn’t stopped these places from developing a very unique and interesting culture.

  • http://www.thelanguagetravelcompany.com Zoey

    Very interesting. However, I feel the thing that we cannot lose sight of when discussing the prominence of one language over another is the fact that all languages have an wonderful habit of evolving naturally, intermingling, becoming modernised and bastardised in equal measures. No language is a fixed thing and whether we embrace or resist the dominance of English people the world over are simply going to use the language that makes most logical sense to them and provides the opportunities that are attractive to them. Without a doubt, knowing the local language helps you engage with the local culture on a far deeper level. But ultimately I feel that as an individual you need an innate curiosity about the world and sense of adventure as an impetus for study abroad. Whether you are a complete novice or an expert speaker of a foreign language is less important than the enthusiasm for foreign culture. Using a simple ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the local language can be as meaningful as being able to conduct advanced conversations, and so long as one is traveling with awareness and genuine interest in the local culture, I feel that having to occasionally resort to English for logical reasons is not the most terrible thing a person can do.

    and for this reason I feel that

  • http://www.rucksackwanderer.com/ Tim Patterson

    Really enjoying this discussion – great points as usual Daniel.

    T Page – I was surprised at how few Quebecois spoke English outside Quebec City and Montreal. I had a hard time communicating on the Gaspesie.

    Sara, I really liked your article on Study Abroad in Italy over at MatadorStudy – nice job!

    http://matadorstudy.com/the-study-abroad-guide-to-italy/

  • http://completeandcreative.com Terry Dip

    Thanks for reading, everyone. And for the input.

    More than happy to have started such passionate debate.

    I’ll keep on working hard to produce articles like this. =)

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca Brian

    You wrote:
    >If English is the world language, it could burn away the cultural differences that make our world so interesting,

    I totally agree. But I think maybe you haven’t quite got clear in your head exactly what you mean by ‘world language’. The way we are headed nowadays with World English it seems to mean ‘one language for the world’ – which totally appals me – I’m all for linguistic and cultural diversity. What I would prefer, and what seems to make the most sense to me, is ‘universal bilingualism’ [YOUR language + non-ethnic, non-territorial Esperanto for everybody (including English-speakers)]. That is the fairest and most democratic solution, where we are all on the same level playing-field, and not in a place where some are specially linguistically privileged. Take a look at the 7 points of the Prague Manifesto:
    http://lingvo.org/
    and let us know what you think.

  • http://www.matadortravel.com/travel-community/deva Eva

    “English claimed the title from French, which was a colonial language but has been losing power ever since America became the dominant world power.”

    Daniel alluded to this, but the history here is a little off. French went into decline after the British Empire was done wiping the floor with its French equivalent a couple hundred years back. Of course in the 20th century American pop culture has done its bit, but English was on track to be the world’s global language even before 1776, let alone the FDR era.

    I also think your assessment of the dominance of American pop-culture is a little skewed. Sounds like Sweden was all Hollywood, all the time, but not everywhere is like that. Bollywood actually produces more films (and I believe, brings in more money) and they are gaining popularity outside of the Indian subcontinent, and particularly in Britain. Meanwhile, lots of countries have potent local film-making and television-producing industries, including France, Britain, Canada, and Australia – the countries that are generally considered to be most America-fied. Foreign films are easy to find where I live anyhow, playing in mainstream theaters alongside the big blockbusters.

    Of course I agree that people should learn second and third languages, and try to pick up bits and pieces of local languages when they travel, but I don’t think it has to be one or the other. English can continue to be the “global language” – we can all simply choose to make the effort to learn more anyway.

  • http://www.matadortravel.com/travel-community/deva Eva

    One more thing, because I can’t resist!

    “for Americans, Brits, and Aussies…”

    And Canadians, Irish, Kiwis, South Africans (English is one of 11 official languages there), Indians (English is in fact the official language of India)…

    My point is, it’s hardly a “fringe” language spoken by some tiny imperial elite and being imposed on the rest of the world. It’s the dominant language on two continents (North America and Australia) and spoken by entire nations on three others. What other language can claim to be so widespread?

  • Daniel Harbecke

    Fun fact: English is even the official language of Zimbabwe. For what it’s worth…

  • http://www.matadortravel.com/travel-community/deva Eva

    Ha. Thought it might be, but couldn’t be bothered googling to make sure…

    As a total sidebar, I think it’s fascinating the different ways different countries approach the “official language” issue. You’ve got South Africa on one extreme, trying to accomodate everyone with eleven official languages (my best effort at naming them without resorting to google: English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Xhosa, Zulu, Setswana…) and on the other hand, India, admitting defeat given the hundreds (?) of local languages and dialects, and just opting for English – neatly sidestepping the Hindi/Urdu divide with its Hindu/Muslim overtones…

  • http://www.lostweekend.tv/ Rory B

    Interesting post and the endless source of debate in hostels around the world. I’ve lived in several countries around the world, learning the language in some (Poland) not in others (China), but I can undoubtedly say that the use of English as a second language has only benefited travellers.

    I agree that learning a local language gives a much deeper insight into a country than speaking in English. However, as pointed out above, expecting people to learn a language for a holiday is wholly impractical. Nor do people need a deeper, spiritual connection with every country they visit. English allows visitors to strike up a conversation immediately and get to know the country much better than having no common language. Chatting to the locals in English while in Spain on a week long holiday is a great way to get a feel for the place, you don’t need to be talking in Spanish about the finer points of moorish culture. English has changed the way the world communicates for the better.

    I have to say this point made me laugh out loud

    I am even more irritated when I hear travelers from outside the English-speaking world visiting another foreign country where English is not the official language and trying to get around by speaking English.

    Trust me, I’ve tried speaking to a Vietnamese taxi driver in Polish, it just doesn’t get the job done. People speak English because it works. When you want to make sure what you’re eating is pork and not dog, high ideals of a utopian society where we all speak thirty different languages go out the window pretty quickly

  • http://www.languagelearning-hub.com Language Hub

    Hey!

    I think every language has its own beauty and speaks about the culture of its own country. So, there is no point in discussing about this topic.

  • http://completeandcreative.com Terry

    Hmm…where to begin?

    Well, I read the Prague Manifesto (yes, in English). I think I might’ve seen this way back in high school in computer science class.

    As for the abundance of comments, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to type paragraphs. And I’ve taken everyone’s criticism to heart.

    Gracias. 谢谢。ありがとう。Merci. Grazie. Danke.

  • Daniel Harbecke

    “I find myself annoyed when Americans tour the world expecting to be understood whenever they speak in English.”

    Y’know, I kinda know what you mean. Americans annoy me, too. And I’m an American, in America even. “American Idol” just nails me to a cross. But the Sturm und Drang helps me write. It also makes me want to drink. But anyway.

    It’s getting better. One of the best things to come out of the last 8 years is the USA beginning to notice – surprise! – we’re not the only ones on the planet. That’s a good thing. It just takes a little while to remove our collective head from our ass when so many people seem to like the view.

    (Ever notice how no one else on all of two continents are “Americans” except us? Sorry, Canada! Maybe that’ll change soon. Your dollar’s pretty strong these days.)

    You seem to be saying, “How can a country so self-obsessed inspire so many others to adopt their language?” That, my friend, is a whole ‘nother discussion. But on behalf of my fellow Americans: “Thanks for your patience.” =)

    Terry, you’re awesome. Thanks for writing this. You can take that to heart, too.

  • Sandra

    I personally agree that we should have a generic Language that we could use all over, it will be nice for it to be English (already speak), it can be another one also.
    This is a direct effect of the global economy and increase on the communications due to the internet.

    Personally I speak English, German and Spanish, which makes it quite simple to get around, but generally it is easier to locate a person that speaks (or partially) English.

    In some cases or due to the complexity of meetings it is required to have a professional translator or interpreter, but (in my point of view) it will be very simple if we all could communicate in the same language.

  • http://www.esperanto.net Bill Chapman

    An interesting debate. I hope you’ll take another look at Esperanto, which has never had any ambitions to displace ethnic languages. Take a look at http://www.esperanto.net

  • inga johanson

    And this will happen when a swede use English as an international language
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2ez11LkUwM&feature=related

  • http://www.irishpolyglot.com Benny Lewis

    Excellent post!! I couldn’t agree more. The “solution” of an international language is a lazy one for those who want to travel the world and see its sights behind a camera lens. I’ve really tried immersing myself into countries that I visit and for me this involves very much focussing on learning the language to the point of being able to converse easily about any topic. Before I decided to do it, I was limited to knowing only the college educated from major cities. I can’t even begin to describe the wealth of experiences I got from talking to the elderly from small villages, flirting with a girl in her language, and even making small talk with the guy sitting next to me on the bus. I’ve gotten a glimpse into the real culture of a place that would be impossible with just English. As you say, conversationally English just can’t convey some things a local language might.
    @Eva: English may be the “official” language of the countries you mentioned, but I would personally be much happier speaking MY language (Irish Gaelic) rather than English when travelling (if I was too lazy to learn at least a little of the local language), since there are some concepts that English does a horrible job at conveying. I know plenty of “Canadians” who would gladly prefer to speak French in their travels (and some who travel only to Francophone countries specifically for that reason) and India has the greatest linguistic diversity of all, so labelling it as an English speaking country so simply is quite an insult I would think…

  • http://esperantolobby.org Brian Barker

    The great thing about Esperanto, as opposed to English, is that it avoids the accusation of “lingustic imperialism” because Esperanto places all languages on an equal footing.

    Interestingly then that eight British MP’s have nominated Esperanto for the Nobel Peace Prize 2008

  • Henry V. Janoski

    An excellent topic and excellent posts!

    As an American speaker of English, I could simply say “Let everyone learn English!” But that puts me at an advantage over those people who are not native speakers of English. Esperanto puts us both on the same level — it has been described as a “linguistic handshake.”

    I speak French and Polish, in addition to English, and enjoyed being able to speak with Frenchmen and Poles when I visited their countries. But I could not help but feel some inferiority at being a non-native speaker of these languages. And when I crossed into Germany or Italy, I was lost, since I do not speak German or Italian.

    But I also speak Esperanto, which I taught myself at age 12, because it is so easy to learn. When I attended my first World Esperanto Congress at Vilnius, Lithuania in 2005, I was impressed to find that there were 2,344 people from 62 countries and we could all speak to one another in Esperanto — as equals!

    It would be great if more people knew about Esperanto. That is why I am hoping that this language gets more world-wide publicity, such as it would receive if it won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2008! I believe that the Europeans, who correctly saw the need for a common currency and adopted the “euro,” will also see the need for a common “second” language, while maintaining their individual “first” languages.

    Once the European Union adopts Esperanto as its common “second” language, it will not be long before people from other countries will also learn Esperanto to be able to communicate with the EU.

    Good luck!

  • Hoss

    Wow—well put, Henry!

    You’re absolutely right about Esperanto; it’s remarkably useful for meeting people on an equal footing. In just a few years of speaking it I’ve had conversations with new friends from Japan, Finland, Uzbekistan, Quebec, Australia, Iran, China, England, Macedonia, Mexico, Switzerland, Poland, Brazil, Vietnam, the Netherlands… even exotic Texas!

    There’s also the Pasporta Servo, which provides free lodging and local information to Esperanto-speaking travellers in over 90 countries. A friend of mine spent over a year travelling across Europe that way; by the end of her trip she had seen over sixteen countries and stayed with over a hundred families using Esperanto. All for free! Just recently I was host to a traveler from Brazil; although he has spent years studying English, he found it much easier to communicate with me in Esperanto. More info on the Pasporta Servo can be found at: http://www.tejo.org/eo/ps

    Also, a quick comment about the Nobel Peace Prize nomination: many news outlets are mis-reporting this. The nomination is not for the language itself (which would be kind of silly, in my opinion), but rather for UEA, an organization that turns 100 this year. UEA works to promote Esperanto, stimulate discussion of the world language problem, and call attention to the necessity of equality among languages. Here’s an article from Libera Folio: http://www.liberafolio.org/2007/nobel2008

    Great discussion!

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    And just today, I read that the Polish parliament has officially recognized the fact that the World Esperanto Association has now been in existence for 100 years:
    http://www.polskieradio.pl/zagranica/news/artykul84592.html
    Do you think that this snippet of information will ever make it to any English-language news agency?! Fat chance!

    ‘Universal bilingualism’ [YOUR language + Esperanto for all] still seems to me to be the most democratic and rational solution by placing everyone on the same level linguistic playing field, without granting special unwarranted privileges to one élite ethnic group, as nowadays. And the 7-point Prague Manifesto (previously mentioned – April 2) has not yet been commented on.

  • http://www.yahoo.com.br Timoteo Arao

    For me, English is already an International, global or universal language.
    Today, if you travel a lot and you don´t speak English, I cannot understand how you can enjoy the trip and learn.English is indispensable in all fields of knowledge.I can even say that in any nation of the world whatever the official language spoken in such country,if you are undergraduate or even graduate, but you don´know English, you are seriously limited.English is the language of knowledge and communication today.How can you keep up with the increasing of knowledge and information today, if you do not know English?I realized that English even will help you to be more fluent in your own language.English is a must today.

  • http://www.esperanto.net Bill Chapman

    Although I’m a native speaker of English, I’m aware of the added value Esperanto can bring. Indeed, the language has some remarkable practical benefits. Personally, I’ve made friends around the world through Esperanto that I would never have been able to communicate with otherwise. And then there’s the Pasporta Servo, which provides free lodging and local information to Esperanto-speaking travellers in over 90 countries.

    In the past year I have had guided tours of Berlin and Milan in the planned language. I have discussed philosophy with a Slovene poet, humour on television with a Bulgarian TV producer. I’ve discussed what life was like in East Berlin before the wall came down, how to cook perfect spaghetti, the advantages and disadvantages of monarchy, and so on.

    English might have enabled me to have a limited conversation with a hotel receptionist. Esperanto has tasken me into people’s homes.

  • Henry V. Janoski

    As a native speaker of English, I have to agree with Timoteo about the value of English in the modern world. And I would like to see more people learn English.

    However, not everybody has the same capacity to learn a foreign language, and many may find it difficult to learn English, especially the spelling of English words!

    This is where the “propaedeutic” (help in learning another language) value of Esperanto comes into play. Studies have shown that those, who learn Esperanto first, find it easier and quicker to then go on to learn another language, than those who simply start to learn that other language, without the benefit of Esperanto. This is probably due largely to how much easier Esperanto is to learn than other languages. One can become quite proficient in using Esperanto rather quickly. (It may take up to ten times longer for such proficiency in another language!) This builds up confidence in one’s ability to learn languages and makes it that much easier to then tackle learning a second or third language.

    Henry V. Janoski

  • http://esperantolobby.org Brian Barker

    If the Polish Parliament has voted, unanimously, in favour of Esperanto, please don’t denigrate it.

    Good luck to Esperanto, and may it also move forward!

  • http://www.esperanto.org.au Penny Vos

    Thanks, everyone, for a great discussion!

    My middle daughter is Korean and I took her on a tour of Korea and Japan when she was 11. We stayed in people’s homes all the way and learned how it is to live domestic life there, both directly and through deep and subtle conversation. It is not an experience we could have had without Esperanto.

    My daughter, like her sisters, has easily topped her school language classes (French, Italian, Indonesian and German, between them all) by speaking Esperanto first.

    Esperanto is a step towards each other, linguistically and culturally, which makes the next step easier.

    Australian Ministers for education are considering a proposal to teach Esperanto to most primary school students, using their usual teachers, so that scarce specialist language teachers can be redeployed to secondary schools for better effect. This allows language learning to begin early, in small and frequent sessions, for all Australian children whilst gaining a broad intercultural education.

    (For more detail on this, search LOTE on the http://www.Lulu.com site.)

    All the best to all of you,
    Penny

  • Cabby

    It is great when people know other languages and other cultures, but come on, we are living in the U.S.A., where the official language should be English. If you go to another country, it is best to speak that other language. Now, there are alot of people in this world speaking English, but you will be better off if you spoke the language of the country you visit or live in. I got fed up and tossed those politicians at brick at bricktoss.com, and you can to.

  • Mike

    I for one think the European Union needs to make English the official language. Whatever the history it just makes sense as so many people already understand English to a high level. I sometimes think the Dutch know the language better than half the people of Britain. I realise this would irk some people particularly the French but if the Union can’t have a common language I doubt it can ever move on. As a Brit I feel we would probably lose the most from this situation as every other nation’s people would end up being bilingual. The British government would need to place much more effort into getting Brits to learn another European language.

  • http://esperantolobby.org Brian Barker

    Communication should not be just for an educational or political elite, it should be for everyone. Those who know English are part of that elite.

    Sorry. Not acceptable. Linguistic discrimination against language minorities is completely unethical.

    The virtue of Esperanto therefore presents both an ethical and practical solution. In fact, a long-term solution.

    By placing all languages on an equal footing, Esperanto avoids linguistic discrimination.

  • Maria

    Nice article. I agree that English as a worldwide speaking language leads to a big percent of culture ignorance. I travel a lot and it makes me sometimes embarrased to see and hear how US citizens (not Americans) give the a country a bad reputation. English as the world’s international language isn’t itself a problem but the native English speakers who culturally narrow themselves.

  • http://pupeno.com J. Pablo Fernandez

    No, it shouldn’t. English is a very hard to learn language with lots of complexity that puts a couple of groups over the rests. After 15 years of learning and using English daily I still couldn’t attain the proficiency to feel at the same level as native speaker.

    On the other hand Esperanto is neutral, very easy to learn, simple, very expressive and cheap (free) to learn at http://lernu.net In three days I was chatting (slowly) with a Russian woman and we didn’t have any other common language than Esperanto. It’s amazing. Go give it a try, it won’t cost you a cent and you’ll get a peak at a wonderful world with a wonderful community.

    If you want to travel, you can use Pasporta Servo, which is a hosting service that is very cheap or free provided in a voluntary basis for esperantists to esperantists world wide. You can find more information on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasporta_Servo

    And if you never learned a second language, Esperanto is the best place to start because you’ll get comfortable with the concept of a second language in no time and learning a third one will be much easier.

    Please, give it a try, you have nothing to loose.

  • http://www.EsperantoFriiends.blogspot.com Neil Blonstein

    Wow, This is an excellent debate. I hope that more supporters of English as a Second Language will participate. I was an English as a Second Language Teacher for over 20 years, mostly in the United States. Not all immigrants master English and the United States has a fifty percent drop-out rate from high school.
    If it was in demand I would have been teaching Esperanto, a passion of mine since I was 16 years old.
    For those content on the spread of the English language, study history!History is being forgotten. Not only has Greek, Latin and French been called World Languages before but I believe German deserves credit. (Go to my blog for several pages on this.) We continue to think we have reached the FINAL WORLD LANGUAGE but a good analysis of history says to the victor the spoils. The Esperanto Movement goes against the flow of history and SO DO I. As the American Stock Market Crashes around us with its domino effect, as half of Africa remains illiterate and educated in the colonial languages I remain hopeful for a world modeled on the Golden Rule, which brought the existance of Esperanto into reality.
    Some national and regional language planning has worked: Modern Hebrew, Bahasa Indonesia (spoken by as many as 200 million), Swahili and at least one form of Norwegian.

  • Julie Spickler

    Thanks, Neil — I agree with you about the desirability of Esperanto as an international language. For one thing, it’s easy to learn (even for Asian-language speakers, who don’t have the advantage of the Indo-European language-based vocabulary used by Esperanto). For another thing, it’s not the native language of anyone (excepting, of course, the very few people born into Esperants’ families where the parents had Esperanto as their common language). This makes the language-learning playing field much closer to “level,” unlike the use of English, where the English and people from their former colonies have a huge advantage. And since it’s not meant to replace anyone’s native language, and its speakers (at least so far) appreciate and value the cultures of others, it doesn’t lead to the homogenization of culture which the use of any country’s native language does. For other good reasons to learn Esperanto and use it, see esperanto-usa.org.

  • joke hoobroeckx heemskerk nederland

    Just try Esperanto and you will become another person. Amazing!

    Probeer Esperanto en je wordt een ander mens. Verbluffend.

  • Allan C. Boschen.

    I’ve read this whole series, the article and the comments. Very interesting, with very GOOD comments about various ideas about practicality, cultural bliipps, and on and on. I think we are missing the idea of the dire need to communicate at the highest political level, and to communicate WELL, and EFFICIENTLY. We have to get SERIOUS about the absurdity of ongoing WAR, all over the place. It has been said that if we were to experience an invasion by aliens, from outer space, bent upon our destruction, as some nations, or tribes among us have sought to do to others, Hitler’s Holocaust for instance, or Rome against Carthage, way back then — That this would bring us all together at last to save ourselves. Well, now! Consider this Climate Change! Consider the possibility that this could be Apocalypse, brewing up slowly right before our eyes. Well, I’ve heard some right-wing politicians brushing that aside, with silly remarks, i.e. that if it were, it would be too late already. Well, each of us knows that knows that he / she must die one day. (Well, at least SOME among us know this.) Should we then just stop living? Jump off the cliff? Even though still in the prime of health and happiness? Hownever! C.C is not our first such Apocalyptic challenge. The Cold War itself was one. We simply lucked out on that one, that some nut might have gotten his finger onto the Red Button, and set the Earth into oblivion. That silly slogan about MAD (mutually assured destruction) notwithstanding. And now, even apart from the C.C. threats, that Red Button still remains a dire threat, but even more serious, in the context of terrorism mounted upon the premise of religious fanatics, expecting heavenly rewards for wiping out infidels.
    And then too, not only individual people die, but whole civilizations have risen to many stages of glorious splender, only to wither and die, or to be killed by rivals.. The Maya of Central America, for instance; Carthage. Ancient Israel. And on and on. Are we perhaps in the early stages of our own demise, in this economic collapse even apart from all the Apocalyptic threats? The utter disintegration of this great nation? I could go on all night!
    Let me get back to the most basic! We have to let President Obama get on with the Fundamental Change(s) that he promised. The simplest first step in this, (in terms of material investment costs — zero!) (And immediate DIVIDENDS, [to bring in some capitalistic jargon!] ) is to bring Esperanto into the foreign language programs in the schools. This would result in immediate enhancement of public education and would point the way for further steps that would constitute REAL education reform, such as we have never seen before! And the spin-off from this, just 10 – 15 years downstream, is that the UN would begin to function in ONE language, instead of 6, thereby to operate far more efficiently and to save tons of money! (And, of course, to help the many countries of this precious Earth to get off each other’s backs!)

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Alan C. Boschen, you are so right!

    Did you know that a teaching resource has just been created that allows any English-speaking elementary school teacher to teach the class Esperanto, whilst learning along-side them?

    We’re looking for a US distributor, government or commercial.

    Search “Mondeto” for more info.

  • Norte Americano

    Esperanto is, if nothing else, a fun idea, but it will never get very far as a genuine universal or world language. Even though a small (very small) minority of people are trying to get their families to use it as a first language at home, only the most dedicated will take the time to learn an artificial language with no real cultural substrate to back it up. Although the Esperanto promoters claim it gives equal weight to all languages in its design, that is simply not the case…it is, in fact, heavily biased toward the characteristics of eastern European languages, which is not surprising considering that its developer was a native speaker of an eastern European language.

    A more realistic goal is for everyone to at least learn the languages of greatest regional significance. The Europeans tend to be ahead of the curve on this point, with most knowing at least two or three languages (typically their own, plus some combination of English, French, German, or Italian). A good percentage of European web sites (the EU site is a good example) include a toolbar on every page which allows the user to instantly switch to a different language.

    In North America, unlike Europe, only three languages predominate: English; Spanish; and French. Most educated Canadians (and all national politicians, with rare exceptions) know both English and French fluently, whereas most educated Mexicans speak both Spanish and English. Most Americans, however, even if highly educated, speak only English fluently, unless from a Latino or immigrant background.

    All three major countries of North America (USA, Canada, Mexico) should aspire for all their citizens to be fluently trilingual (English, French, Spanish). Ideally, all North American web sites should also include a language toolbar, similar to European web sites, to select among those three languages.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Esperanto is the cheapest and fairest way to give everyone a say in what happens in our world.

    Its cultural substrate is all that is common to humanity: parenthood, love, jealousy, ambition,…and it provides a means to discuss and understand less widespread cultural elements.

    Esperanto is easier to learn if you already use an alphabet something like ours but it is the most equally-available language on Earth. Unless you want to start from scratch, anything else you propose will add a heavier learning burden. (Ido may be the exception).

    “A more realistic goal is for everyone to at least learn the languages of greatest regional significance. ”

    I doubt that that is more realistic: for one thing, it asks for a lot more of people’s time, probably about 400 hours each for the European ones you mention, whereas Esperanto would take you 100 hours. Who do you know with 700 hours just waiting to be filled? Plus, you still only have access to a slice of the world, and only that slice gets access to you.

    If you imagine this learning happening in schools, what subjects will students drop in order to fit in all these extra hours of languages?

    And what about the World’s most disadvantaged people, who speak minority languages and will never be able to afford even 400 hours (not enough for them because they are not starting from a European base) to participate in the World community. Is it ok to write them off?

    “All three major countries of North America (USA, Canada, Mexico) should aspire for all their citizens to be fluently trilingual (English, French, Spanish). Ideally, all North American web sites should also include a language toolbar, similar to European web sites, to select among those three languages.”

    If everyone speaks all three languages, companies would be wasting money to translate into three languages, as any one would do. On the other hand, if all sites were trilingual, users would have no motivation to be trilingual because any one language would do.

    On the other hand, businesses investing 100 hours to offer their pages in Esperanto, make their information available to anyone in the World willing to invest 100 hours in international communication.

    Sounds more realistic to me.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    The question asked was:”Should English Be The World’s International Language?”

    Philosophers disagree on how to determine what should be, but one of the most widely accepted is Jeremy Bentham’s “The greatest good for the greatest number”.

    The greatest good, in the context of language, is to both be able to maintain one’s own language and to understand and be understood by everyone.

    The greatest number who could enjoy the greatest good, is the ten billion or so people on Earth, plus the billions not yet born.

    Therefore, what should be the World’s international language is the one which everyone can learn, in addition to their own language, at the lowest cost in time and money i.e. Esperanto.

    This is hardly a matter of fun: Never before has the World had to sustain 10 billion people, less than a lifetime ago there were only 2 billion of us. We speak 6, 000 languages, and more and more of us want fridges. We Earthlings have things to discuss and much to learn in limited time. The sooner we fix our communication problem the better we are going to deal with the challenges and opportunities ahead.

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    Norte Americano asserts:
    >Esperanto promoters claim it gives equal weight to all languages in its design,
    and
    >it is … heavily biased toward the characteristics of eastern European languages,

    The word-stock of Esperanto was selected a priori on the basis of ‘maximum internationality’. While the phonology is perhaps reminiscent of a Slavic language, word-building is similar to what happens in Turkish or Hungarian. More than half of the world’s population now speaks an Indo-European language. Why should a common second language such as Esperanto not reflect this? While including 5 words from Zulu, 10 from Inuit, or adding the Javanese system of honorifics, might be more politically correct these days, it certainly wouldn’t make the language easier to learn.

    The reasons for Esperanto, as opposed to the hegemony of one ethnic language (and thus unfair advantages accruing to one ethnic group, and linguistic discrimination for the other 90% of the world’s population), can be read in the Prague Manifesto:
    http://lingvo.org

    S/he further asserts:
    >Most educated Canadians (and all national politicians, with rare exceptions) know both English and French fluently,

    You are be right about the politicians, but you are (unfortunately!) way off base concerning ‘educated Canadians’!! I can think of very few university colleagues on the west coast able to give an interview in the other official language. If we can’t even get people to become bilingual, what hope have we for trilingualism (as promoted in the EU)? Get real!

    • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

      Correction sorry! : a priori > a posteriori
      (Klingon is an ‘a priori’ language, Esperanto an ‘a posteriori’ one, based on existing ethnic languages).

    • Norte Americano

      Thank you for your comments and clarifications, which are much appreciated.

      You are absolutely correct that not all rank-and-file Canadians are truly bilingual, even though they tend to be much less provincial than the Americans in their thinking. I agree that the chances to promote bilingualism in North America (let alone trilingualism) are currently remote, particularly among English speakers, who have no real incentive (at present) to learn anything else. In this regard, I believe you will see rapid cultural change in North America over the coming decades, driven in large part by the realities of globalization. What I was positing was not the current state of affairs, but a goal moving toward the future.

      I completely understand the reasoning behind the design decisions for Esperanto. Unfortunately (for Esperanto, anyway), that simply buttresses my original argument. I am not arguing that Esperanto should have been designed as a smorgsabord of world languages (of which English, ironically enough, is already the best example today, having borrowed liberally from most major languages in both place and time). Instead, Esperanto is doomed to worldwide failure for the very reason that, at heart, it is simply another “me too” eastern European language, regardless of the worthy aspirations of its creator.

      Another argument that has been made for Esperanto on this forum and elsewhere is the supposed ease of learning of Esperanto, due to the regularity and simplicity of its constructions, which were designed to not favor one eastern European language over another. This kind of argument, although initially appealing to the analytical mind, is heavily rooted in 19th century ways of thinking about motivation and learning.

      It doesn’t really matter whether it takes a 100 or a 1000 hours to attain book proficiency in Esperanto or any other language. If someone is emotionally motivated to learn a language, the necessary time will be used. A small minority of people are, of course, engaged by the ideals associated with the Esperanto movement, but that simply is not going to work for the vast majority of people on this planet, let alone North America. As Pimsleur and others have discovered, language is much more effectively learned by hearing and speaking than any amount of book learning (which many ESL programs unfortunately emphasize). The need to communicate with the Spanish speakers in the Mexican grocery store or the Chinese speakers in your business partner’s factory is far more motivational to most folks than Wilsonian ideals of international harmony.

      But now, let’s say the Esperanto movement is somehow successful, and billions (or even millions) of people start speaking Esperanto. What do you suppose would happen? Well, those horrible, illogical, emotional masses (tongue firmly in cheek) would develop regional variations, start coining words, borrow words as needed from (gasp!) other languages, and very quickly make a joke of the whole idea of Esperanto being the very flower of “simplicity”. It would be something like someone from Iowa trying to communicate with someone from the Philippines, where constructions and vocabulary from both “standard” English and Filipino are liberally sprinkled into each other.

      The proponents of the metric system (which I support) in America have typically made the same mistake. They appeal primarily to logic and reason, but most people are swayed (for better or worse) by feeling and emotion. The only reason that people make a commitment to anything is that they feel an emotional connection to the underlying goal. Language learning is inextricably linked to cultural awareness: the learner of the French language, for example, is motivated by the new ability to engage meaningfully with the French culture.

      Universal North American trilingualism can (and I believe will) succeed eventually, but it will, of course, require an initial commitment from probably some future generation, possibly after a period of increasing popularity and awareness. For example, if all three languages (English, Spanish, French) were required and taught in the schools, with concomitant support from society at large, children, who are natural language learners, would attain such fluency almost transparently.

  • http://matadortravel.com/travel-community/alainaob Alaina

    I find this article quite interesting, and agree with a lot of what you wrote, (although I realize this is somewhat contradictory coming from me, while teaching English in Europe).

    This summer, I met a guy from Iceland whose English was perfect because they do not dub TV shows or films in Iceland. Additionally, he knew more about American sports, politics and culture than any of us Americans did. Everytime he had a new fact, I was amazed.

    I especially enjoyed your mention of cultural imperialism in the last sentence. An/a observation/statement/connection that is not often made in “this day and age.”

  • Henry V. Janoski

    It is apparent that Norte Americano does not know the Esperanto language. His repeated references to Esperanto as being primarily an “Eastern European” language indicate this. A glance at the Esperanto vocabulary shows it to be primarily a “Western European” language, even though its creator, Dr. L.L. Zamenhof, lived in Warsaw in Russian-dominated Poland. Only a handful of Esperanto words are derived from Russian or Polish, two languages which Dr. Zamenhof spoke on a daily basis. About 75% of Esperanto root words come from Latin and the Romance languages, mostly French. About 20% come from the Teutonic (or Germanic) languages, English and German. Zamenhof tried to select words that were already fairly “international.” Latin and French, having been the most widely used “second” languages in previous years, especially for science, accounted for much of this. This was an improvement over Volapuk, an earlier “constructed” language, where there were few, if any, associations with intermational words to help with memorizing a new vocabulary.

    This “Western European” language background for Esperanto should not be viewed, in my opinion, as an obstacle to learning this language for the rest of the world, where non-European languages are spoken. Norte Americano correctly points out that any attempt to create a “smorgasbord” vocabulary in order to promote an “equality” of world languages and a truer “internationality” of vocabulary would be a step in the wrong direction. It would be like a return to the vocabulary of Volapuk.

    On the other hand, this “Western European” language background for Esperanto has some positive features for non-Europeans or Eastern Europeans and even for Western Europeans. For one thing, learning Esperanto before other languages enables one to take advantage of its “propaedeutic” value: it makes it easier to then go on to learn Greek, Latin, French, English, German, Italian and Spanish, all languages with great literatures and scientific writings. These were the great languages in world history, For an Asian or African student, this would be better than learning a “second” language with a “smorgasbord” vocabulary. Furthermore, this “propaedeutic” value of learning Esperanto before other languages makes it easier to learn any other foreign language, since the student early on builds up confidence in language-learning, once he/she has achieved early proficiency in Esperanto, because of its simplicity.

    The Europeans surprised many people when they adopted the “euro” as a common currency in most of the countries of the European Union and it is highly likely that they will surprise people again when they adopt Esperanto as a common “second ” language for the EU. There are now 27 countries with 23 “official” languages in the EU, with several more waiting to join. This is obviously an unwieldy situation for efficient communication. Unlike the adoption of the euro, where they had to give up their French franc, German mark and Italian lira (the British still hang on to the pound), they will not be asked to give up their native tongues. Rather they will be asked to learn Esperanto as a common “second” language. The Europeans, having already shown their practicality with regard to the euro, will see this, I believe. Once the EU adopts Esperanto the rest of the world will follow, in order to trade with the EU. China already has indicated that they are waiting for this to happen.

    As an American, I speak English. I welcome others to learn English. But I realize that its spelling and pronunciation are very difficult. In addition I speak French, Polish and some Russian and dabble in Latin. But I also speak Esperanto, which I taught myself at age 12. That’s how easy it is to learn. I attended my first World Esperanto Congress in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2005. There were 2,344 Esperanto-speakers from 62 countries and we could all speak to one another without knowing the other’s native language. Esperanto works! It is waiting in the wings. It is an idea whose time has come! Lernu Esperanton!

    Henry V. Janoski

    • JackOfAllTrades

      I haven’t been able to find any evidence that the Europeans (let alone the Chinese) are even considering adopting Esperanto as a common language. What are your sources?

      Also, your stated background in languages is certainly impressive, and you must be gifted in that respect. Although you taught yourself Esperanto as a child, you must understand, however, that the vast majority of folks will not share your drive or have your native ability. Talk to the hairdresser in the salon in any world city about learning English, and their ears will perk up; talk to them about Esperanto, and their eyes will glaze over.

  • http://www.lernu.net Brian Barker

    As a native English speaker I would prefer Esperanto as the future global language :)

    Communciation should be for everyone, not just for an educational or political elite; that is how English is used at the moment.

    Your readers may be interested in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2LPVcsL2k0 Dr Kvasnak teaches English at Florida Atlantic University.

    A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

  • Strumpkin

    Cultural diversity is a separate issue from language diversity. The Americans, Aussies and Brits all have ther own distinct cultures even though they share a language. If, say, all the Japanese were suddenly to speak Spanish they would still be Japanese and their culture would scarecely be affected.

    In my experience our global village has an ever increasing need for a lingua franca, simply for the purpose of co-operation and communication.

    To me it is self evident that we should make progress at the sharp end of commerce and technology and a sentimental attachment to language diversity has to be secondary to that.

  • JackOfAllTrades

    The only people who speak Esperanto are aficionados, and that’s the way it’s always going to be…sorry. Only languages backed by an actual culture have any real chance of capturing the hearts and minds of a majority of real people. For all intents and purposes, English is already the world language. In the 18th and 19th centuries, French was dominant, in competition with English, which eventually won out (as did the associated empire and its heirs, such as the USA). When Russia was at the peak of its power in the 20th century, Russian was considered a strong contender for a world language competitor. Japanese had a bit of a run in the 1970s and 1980s. Now, the talk is all about Mandarin Chinese. I’ll wager anything, however, that English, and especially the American variety, will continue to be the world language of business and culture for at least the next century or two to come…and probably for millenia after that in some form or another, assuming globalization continues. Yes, they’ll definitely be speaking English in Starfleet….

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Jack-of-all-trades, did you read anything before you wrote?

    It’s true that many people don’t make many choices- just go to the church their parents did, speak what they learned as a baby and buy what everyone does, but some people do think first and choose later.

    I was no aficionado when I learned Esperanto, it was a pragmatic choice to teach my class a working language in the two hundred and fifty hours we had before they graduated.

    In the following decade, it provided both huge job satisfaction and amazing travel experiences- dancing in courtyard of the castle at Karlsrue, singing for my supper in Strasbourg, mountain climbing with the Esperanto club at Busan in Korea, a fondue party in a 300 year old restaurant in Switzerland, presenting at a peace conference in Japan, talking with refugees in a camp in West Africa…

    …..so after the pragmatism comes the affection.

    • JackOfAllTrades

      I am pleased that your association with Esperanto groups has given you wonderful opportunities for social interaction around the world. Obviously, the same is true for other pastimes, such as mountaineering, Mensa, philately, or cat fancy.

  • Henry V. Janoski

    JackOfAllTrades asked where I got my information re the desire for Esperanto in the European Union and in China.

    Two members of the European Union Parliament are speakers of Esperanto and are working in the background to persuade their fellow members of Parliament to adopt Esperanto as a common “second” language. They are Malgorzata Handzlik of Poland and Ljudmila Novak of Slovenia. Indeed, English is widely used in the EU. This is a politically sensitive topic for many members, especially the French and the Germans. But I believe that eventually the EU will see the necessity of adopting Esperanto, just as they saw the necessity of a common currency, the “euro.” (The largest number of attendees at the Esperanto World Congress held in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2005 were Lithuanians. But the second largest number were French and the third largest were Germans!)

    In the “People’s Daily Online” of July 27, 2004, Yu Tao, secretary-general of the All-China Esperanto League, acknowledges that English is more popular than Esperanto in China. But Hou Zhiping, former chief editor of an Esperanto magazine “China Report” said “the real reason is that there is no job demand for Esperanto speakers.” “However,” Hou said “the European Union’s adoption of Esperanto as a working language can create demand for its learners, which can be in turn transmitted to China and other countries by international business and conferences.”

    I am optimistic that the EU, having 23 “official” languages from 27 member countries, with more soon to be added, will see the value of Esperanto as a common “second” language, just as they saw the value of the “euro.” China and other countries will then see the value of using Esperanto to trade with the EU.

    Henry V. Janoski

    • JackOfAllTrades

      In any large body of elected officials, particularly one as removed from real life as the EU parliament, you can always find one or two people promoting one agenda or another. That’s hardly a movement, let alone official policy.

      It’s also hardly surprising that the President of the Esperanto club in China would be in favor of adopting Esperanto in China. I’ll be more impressed if somebody from the Politburo has something positive to say.

      The rest of your posting was essentially filler. I am really disappointed…I was hoping for something much more substantive.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Thanks for those statistics, Henry.

    A reporter at a recent foreign language festival in Beijing was amazed to see that Esperanto was the best represented language after English in terms of presentations and interest shown. But it makes sense: The Chinese government would be pleased for its citizens to be freed from the restriction of having to learn English to do business with the world. They have better things to do with their time than spend 3000 hours learning English, just as we have better things to do than 3000 hours of learning Mandarin or Cantonese, 100 hours of Esperanto for all of us makes a lot more sense.
    The rest of the BRIC (Big, Rapidly Industrializing Countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China) have good reason to agree, and the president of Brazil made a public statement to that effect a couple of months ago.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Dear Jackofalltrades

    You do seem to have missed the point: Brave New Traveller is about travelling, not cats or stamps, and this Blog is about what “should” be the World’s language.

    You seemed to have a problem with the fact that people who like Esperanto speak Esperanto (although that could also be said for most other languages – perhaps English less than most since many are compelled to use in spite of not liking it.).

    I was noting that a good return on investment is a likely source of the good feeling you observed.

    I doubt you’ll disappoint us, Jack. We know the end of the expression you chose as your name :-) and that you are busy defending the only contender you know, because you know it and choosing it is the path of least resistance for you.

    • JackOfAllTrades

      Just a few minor points:

      1: As you pointed out, the site is about travel, and the blog is about the advantages of a global language, be it English or Esperanto or Mandarin (which a lot of business folks have been promoting due to practical considerations). Your argument was about how Esperanto led to good times for you, which is fine, but not germane to whether or not Esperanto is a likely (note that I did not say “good” or “bad”) candidate for a world language. I’m not sure why you missed my argument by analogy, but so it goes.

      2: I do not have a problem with people speaking Esperanto, nor do I have a problem with them speaking Gaelic, Urdu, Globish, Interlingua, or even Klingon. I personally love languages, although I admit a personal preference (shared by billions) for languages with an interesting cultural backdrop (such as French or Japanese, for example).

      3: My whole line of reasoning in this entire debate comes down to one simple point: most people will always choose the path of least resistance. English is already the de facto world language, and that is what most people trying to get ahead in the world are going to be motivated to learn. The UN can issue all the position papers they like, but that is not going to change that fundamental reality.

  • http://www.lernu.net Brian Barker

    Both Mao Zedong (China) and General Franco (Spain) supported Esperanto.

    Next year’s World Esperanto Conference, will be in Cuba. Needless to say when Castro attended the last Esperanto meeting in Cuba (yes he did!) he affirmed that he was a “soldier for Esperanto”

    Yet Esperanto remains non-political :D

    See http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

    Or http://www.lernu.net

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    JackOfAllTrades, you are of course right in your reasoning.

    My reasons for sticking with Esperanto though, having spoken it for sixty or so years around the world, are neatly summed up in the seven points of the Prague Manifesto:
    http://lingvo.org
    1) Linguistic democracy, not linguistic discrimination
    2) Global education, not monocultural education
    3) Effective second language learning for all, not years spent in ineffective FL learning
    4) Multilingualism and language awareness
    5) Equal language rights for all, not just for the élite few
    6) Preservation of language diversity, not language extermination
    7) Human emancipation and inclusion, not language-based exclusion.

    Maybe this is all too pie-in-the-sky for you, but I think it is a goal worth working towards.

  • Henry V. Janoski

    I am not sure what some people mean when they say that, unlike English or French, Esperanto has no “culture” behind it. But Esperanto has developed a culture of its own during the 122 years since its creation! This can be seen in its
    creator Zamenhof’s “interna ideo” of the brotherhood of man, which was expanded by the Prague Manifesto of 1996, as outlined by mankso above.

    Let’s look at the “culture” behind some of French literature. When I was learning French, I remember reading Emile Zola’s “L’attaque du moulin” (The Attack on the Mill), which is a story about the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 that led to the creation of the united German Empire. That story awakened in me pro-French and anti-Prussian (anti-German) feelings. Since I do not speak German, I did not have exposure to the German side of this war. Is this how prejudice begins?

    There have been some 30,000 books printed in Esperanto over the years, both original works and translations of world literature from many countries. So, in this way I can gain access to the “cultures” of many countries, including German as well as French! I believe that this is preferable to learning about only a few cultures through being able to read their literature in their own languages. Who has the time or desire to learn all of the 3,000 to 6,000 (depending on classification) languages in the world?

    Henry V, Janoski

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Hi Jack,

    3: My whole line of reasoning in this entire debate comes down to one simple point: most people WILL always choose the path of least resistance. English is already the de facto world language, and that is what most people trying to get ahead in the world are going to be motivated to learn. The UN can issue all the position papers they like, but that is not going to change that fundamental reality.

    But the question was “SHOULD English Be The World’s International Language?”

    You are offering your answer to the question “WILL English….?” but that is a different question.

    As I may have mentioned before, for his work in game theory, Selten won the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, that wouldn’t have happened if game theory didn’t have useful predictive power and he disagrees with your prediction of what WILL be.

    In any case, it is irrelevant to the question “SHOULD…….?”

    The answer to that is that it SHOULD be possible for all the World’s people to get ahead without thousands of hours of English study and the embarrassment of Chinglish or Spanglish or Hinglish and the rest. It isn’t fair that you and I get off with no effort. How would you feel if everyone except Mandarin speakers had to spend thousands of hours to be functional in the world at large. Is that as it should be??
    The English option is not ethically different, you are just personally on the winning side.

    What SHOULD be is that we all make 100 hours investment in intercultural communication and get on with learning all the other things we need to know.

  • http://www.lernu.net Brian Barker

    If English is the de facto International language, why does the United Nations, and the European Parliament employ translators !

    In the House of Lords, Lord Harris brought the following facts, I repeat facts, into the public domain.

    “Only 6 per cent of the global population are native English speakers and 75 per cent speak no English at all. One telling indicator of the relative influence of English is its declining share of internet traffic. English material on the web has fallen from 51 per cent in 2000 to only 29 per cent in 2009. Over the same period, the amount of material in Chinese rose from only 5 per cent to 20 per cent.”
    Source: http://www.lordtobyharris.org.uk/as-an-american-once-saidif-the-english-language-was-good-enough-for-jesus-christ-the-house-of-lords-debates-modern-language-skills/

    There seems to be a gap in the market here for Esperanto. More power to the elbow for those who support it :D

    • JackOfAllTrades

      This particular argument is so specious on the face of it, that it can be easily refuted with no additional facts whatsoever, just a quick thought experiment or two: (1) If it is true that 75% of the world’s people speak no English at all, what percentage of those do you suppose speak Esperanto? The answer is likely pretty close to 0%. (1a) Of that same 75%, which percentage would prefer to learn English over Esperanto? You have to admit that the likely answer will be pretty close to 100%. (2) How many native Esperanto speakers are there? I realize that a very small minority of families (for idealistic reasons, which I will not criticize) try to speak Esperanto as a first language around their children, but the answer worldwide is still essentially 0%. (2a) Of all the Esperanto speakers, how many speak English? I realize this might be subject to debate, but I’m willing to be that the the answer is at least 90%, and probably pretty close to 100%.

      As far as the UN translators go, close to 100% of the delegates speak either of the two primary UN languages (English or French, if not both). However, each and every delegate is going to be most comfortable with their own language. Since the UN can easily afford the budget needed to support 200 translators, real-time translation for the benefit of the individual delegates is easy to provide. Even if you could convince every single delegate to master Esperanto (or any other third language), I can guarantee you that they would still prefer to conduct business in their respective first languages.

      This is probably one of those areas where translation technology will eventually overcome the need for any common language, even English. Projections are that real-time automated speech translation will become a reality within the next few decades, as is already nearly the case for on-line translation. Until then, the traditional method of human translators works well for situations where the parties do not already share a common first or second language.

  • Henry V. Janoski

    I continue to be optimistic that the European Union will adopt Esperanto as its common “second” language because the European government LEADERS will see that it is a practical thing to do, just as it was practical to adopt the “euro” as a common currency. The euro is now used in 17 of the 27 countries that are members of the EU, but more and more are being lined up to qualify for adopting this common currency.

    It is interesting to go back and see the arguments for and against the adoption of the euro before it went into effect in 1999. In particular, in 1997 Edmund Stoiber, the Premier of the German state of Bavaria, opposed the euro, which he called “Esperanto money.” At that time about 60% of the German people did not want to give up their Deutschmark, which dated from 1871.

    But successive government LEADERS in both Germany and France, going back to the Treaty of Rome of 1957, which set up the European Economic Community or “Common Market” (predecessor to the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 that set up the European Union), continued to LEAD the people to European integration and a common currency, in spite of the large numbers who opposed it. If I were a betting man, I would have bet against the euro’s adoption back then. But now I believe that the European LEADERS will continue on the path of European integration and adopt Esperanto as a common “second” language. Stoiber thought he was being sarcastic when he pejoritively referred to the euro as “Esperanto money.” But he was wrong about the euro, which is now a strong currency worth about $1.50 in our money, and he was wrong about the Esperanto language!

    Henry V. Janoski

    • JackOfAllTrades

      Time will tell whether your line of reasoning proves out. Those same EU leaders tried for two decades to enforce metric-only labeling, an effort which was abandoned recently due to public outcry (and not just from American posturing).

      I definitely agree with you on one point: international standards are invaluable and should be encouraged. For example, I have, for the most part, adopted the international standard of English punctuation in my own writing, the so-called “logical punctuation”, which has been the standard everywhere except in the United States and Canada.

      Even in the USA, the trend, originally driven by online community, has been toward keeping punctuation logically separate from quoted text unless directly related to it. For example, the Wikipedia community of editors, after considerable debate, adopted logical punctuation into the official manual of style. Logical punctuation is not only more logical, but also more attractive than the traditional American style, which was originally introduced for dubious reasons of typographical expediency.

      Although considerable inertia and resistance to changing American style to the internationally accepted standard of logical punctuation still exists among old-school traditionalists, who typically fill the positions of power in the traditional media, over time I believe that the influence of new media will cause common sense to prevail, and that American style manuals (especially Strunk & White) will be updated to reflect the international standards of punctuation in English.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Hi Jack,

    Your argument has gone off track again:
    1.You claimed that English is so widespread that it SHOULD be the World’s Language.
    2. Brian showed that this is factually not the case.

    Instead of conceding the point you claim that E-o is even less widespread and call his argument specious. But Brian never argued that E-o was widespread, or that the number of E-o speakers meant anything at all, so that wasn’t fair comment.

    I realize that you have limited knowledge of Esperanto but do you actually believe that it is, in any way, more JUST or BENEFICIAL for the World to speak English rather than Esperanto for intercultural affairs?

    or are you actually simply rejecting the question as given, on the grounds that you don’t believe that SHOULD comes into it, because what WILL happen WILL happen whether or not it SHOULD?

  • DHarbecke

    You’re all wrong! The language of the future: Emoticon! :D

  • JackOfAllTrades

    It seems to me that this debate has reached its logical conclusion. Everyone has presented their arguments, which are rapidly petering out and being replaced by personal invective. It’s been enjoyable for me, however, so thank you all for remarks! I especially appreciated some of mankso’s positions. Only time will tell who is in the right ballpark.

    Nevertheless, I think that DHarbecke summarized it best! ;)

    Thanks again….

    JT

  • Henry V. Janoski

    Penelope Vos correctly pointed out that some of us are using “WILL” instead of “SHOULD” in answering “Should English Be The World’s International Language?”

    Therefore, I recommend an on-line document by a Swedish medical doctor, in excellent English, in favor of Esperanto. His name is Hans Malv. His document is “A world where everyone understands one another is a better world” and can be found at http://www.2-2.se/en/index.html It includes an on-line index to some 30 sections that answer many questions relating to the question above.

    Henry V. Janoski

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    Is English easy enough for the whole earth to learn as a second language ?

    http://www.say-it-in-english.com/SpellHome.html

    sentence containing seven spellings of the [i] (“ee”) sound
    “He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas.”

    sentence containing nine ways the combination “ough” can be pronounced
    “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman
    strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”

    Whose interest is served by spreading the English language ?

    David Rothkopf, “In Praise of Cultural Imperialism?” Foreign Policy, Number 107, Summer 1997, pp. 38-53
    DAVID ROTHKOPF is managing director of Kissinger Associates QUOTE :

    TOWARD A GLOBAL CULTURE

    It is in the general interest of the United States to encourage the development of a world in which the fault lines separating nations are bridged by shared interests.

    And it is in the economic and political interests of the United States to ensure that if the world is moving toward a common language, it be English; that if the world is moving toward common telecommunications, safety, and quality standards, they be American; that if the world is becoming linked by television, radio, and music, the programming be American; and that if common values are being developed, they be values with which Americans are comfortable.

    Americans should not deny the fact that of all the nations in the history of the world, theirs is the most just, the most tolerant, the most willing to constantly reassess and improve itself, and the best model for the future. End of quote.

    Dans son rapport de 1987/88, le directeur du British Council écrit « Le véritable or noir de la Grande-Bretagne n’est pas le pétrole de la Mer du Nord mais la langue anglaise . Le défi que nous affrontons est de l’exploiter à fond. » end of quote.

  • http://lingvo.org mankso

    And according to this new article, many British teenagers are no longer capable of using Standard English, are unable to distinguish where and when it is appropriate, and use slang to exclude others.
    “Mind your slanguage!”:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8388545.stm
    Could this development partly be the result of native “English-speakers” no longer having a language to call their own? How can such a diverse language have any pretensions to be a/the World Language?

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    Hoping to give the Moderator a little smile, but not expecting publication
    —–
    Subject: Did I Read the Sign Right?

    TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW
    In a Laundromat:
    AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT
    GOES OUT
    In a London department store:
    BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS
    In an office:
    WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER YESTERDAY PLEASE BRING IT BACK OR
    FURTHER STEPS WILL BE TAKEN
    In an office:
    AFTER TEA BREAK STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE TEAPOT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE
    DRAINING BOARD
    Outside a secondhand shop:
    WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING – BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR
    WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?
    Notice in health food shop window:
    CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS
    Spotted in a safari park:
    ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR
    Seen during a conference:
    FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN’T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE
    1ST FLOOR
    Notice in a farmer’s field: that is a good one and brings back memories
    THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.
    Message on a leaflet:
    IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW TO GET LESSONS
    On a repair shop door:
    WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE DOOR – THE BELL DOESN’T
    WORK)

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    This relates, of course, to a past event; however it shows how seriously the matter was approached :

    The cost of English spelling
    7-8 June 2008
    Coventry University, UK
    How much time, effort, and money is spent in schools, and in educational contexts generally, merely to cover the complexity of the current “traditional” English spelling system rather than teaching the joy of reading and writing? This conference aims to draw attention to the financial, educational and cultural costs for all levels of the English Educational system, comprising Universities, Schools, teachers and students arising from the difficulties in teaching reading and writing in the current spelling system, using recent research and comparisons related to the ease with which better structured orthographies in other languages are learned and taught. The above costs also include the often unrecognised expense (time and money) that employers and authorities incur in offering remedial courses to help otherwise vocally skilled people who have not managed to master the illogicality of English Spelling while being verbally adept in the language The event is sponsored by the Spelling Society.

    Schedule
    (times subject to variation)

    Members who have booked a space will be able to use a display stand throughout the conference, on the theme of “The Cost of English Spelling”. Delegates will be able to view these during the refreshment breaks, and to receive a presentation by the displayer at one of the times shown in the indicative schedule below.

    Saturday 7 June 2008
    0900 Refreshments

    1000 Welcome: Mr Jack Bovill, Chair of the Spelling Society

    1015 Sessions

    1015 Ms Masha Bell: “The most costly English spelling irregularities”
    1100 refreshments
    1115 Dr Stephen Bett: “The cost argument in historic appeals for spelling improvement”

    1215 Cold buffet

    1300 Keynote speaker: Prof John Wells, President of the Spelling Society, Emeritus Professor of Phonetics, University College London: “Why do we need pronunciation dictionaries?”

    1500 Refreshments

    1530 Sessions

    1530 Mr Christopher Jolly: “Remedial teaching of reading: a trial with reformed spellings”
    1615 breakouts & refreshments, time for members to visit displays by members
    1700 Ms Zuzana Kotercová: “The cost of teaching English in primary schools”
    1730 Ms Raffaela Buonocore: “Does being a Chinese speaker reduce the time of learning English spelling?”

    1800 close of day’s business

    1900 Dinner at the Ramada hotel for the overnight delegates

    Sunday 8 June 2008
    0845 Transport from the Ramada for residential delegates (and checkout)

    0900 Refreshments

    breakouts and personal presentations (continued)

    0945 Sessions

    0945 Prof. Anatoly Liberman: “The emotional costs of learning modern English spelling”
    1030 Refreshments
    1100 Dr Valerie Yule, “The international costs of English spelling, and the comparative costs of improvement”
    1145 Mr Tom Zurinskas: “The costs of poor reading skills”

    1300 Close and thanks: Mr Jack Bovill

    Speaker Profiles
    Press Contact
    For all press enquiries please contact:
    Vikki Rimmer
    Tel:01322 866293
    Mobile: 0788 667 3412

    Hit count:
    000000008894
    since 1 Oct 07.
    ©TSS. updated 2008.05.07 The Spelling Society

    Therefore, how judicious would it be to extend the problems globally ?

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    And here is (supposedly) help for native english speakers to learn to read :

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1523708.stm

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    Everybody speaks English !
    Hotel-speak :

    In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the porter (Vienna)
    The Manager has personally passed all the water served at this hotel. (Madras)
    We highly recommend the hotel tart (Terremolinas)
    In order to prevent shoes from mislaying, please don’t corridor them. The management cannot be held (Thessalonika)
    Please hang your order before retiring on the door knob (Ankara)
    To stop the drip, turn cock to the right (Helsinki)

  • Nahid Firoozi

    I beleive all the major linguists of the world should put forward the advantages and disadvantages of the language of their choice and then chose a pannel amongst themself to gather together to discuss those comments and decicde which is the best language for the whole world to communicate with.

  • Bai Ren

    It doesn’t matter how bad English is, how unsuitable, how imperialistic, &c,
    that does not make Esperanto good.

    Esperanto is easy only if you already know some English, German and/or a Romance language. It has all manner of unnecessary grammatical complications.

    Who needs case, adjectival agreement, plurals or tenses?

    The sound system is also unnecessarily complex. Consonantal clusters are very difficult for many. Esperanto has horrible clusters – ngv in lingvo, shtr in shtrumpo, sts in scio – just for starters.

    Why does Esperanto have two h sounds? H with a hat is used in a handful of words, and is quite unnecessary.

    Letters with hat in general are a pain. There are enough letters in the ordinary Roman alphabet to provide all the sounds you need. Why does Esperanto have both L and R?

    Then there is all the unnecessary vocabulary. To render “pediatrician” into Esperanto, you can use simple Esperanto roots, giving infan-kurac-isto. A word that a beginner from any language background could easily understand. But that would be too easy. Some stupid Western European imperialist added “pediatro” to the dictionary – and there are many, many more such words.

    Another shining example is veterinary [a doctor for animals]. This is quite easy to say in Esperanto: best-kurac-isto. But again that would be too easy, so some idiot added veterinaro to the dictionary. No problem is your mother tongue is English, Italian or French. Not much use to the vast multitude who speak other languages.

    As well as being completely unnecessary, veterinaro is a stupid word. A beginner would try to analyse the word into its basic components, and come up with vet-er-in-aro = collection of female collections of betting, or veter-in-aro = collection of female weather.

    I could give example after example of such stupid and imperialistic words.

    Then there is the total mess of Esperanto’s names for countries. This “logical language with no exeptions” right from the beginning had two classes of countries: those countries such as Meksikio, which have their own name, and those such as Anglujo which are named after their inhabitants.

    Angl-o = an Englishman, angl-a = English, and Angl-ujo = the country of Englishmen = England.

    Meksiki-o = Mexico, meksiki-a = Mexican, and a person from Mexico = Meksiki-ano.

    Then some twit decided that he did not like the -ujo ending, and started writing Anglio for England, and similarly for all other -ujo countries.

    So now when you meet a country name of the form XX -io, you do not know whether a person from that country is an XX-o or and XX-iano, and you don’t know whether the adjective is XX-a or XX-ia.

    You have to learn each one separately – very logical, very simple?

    With Mexico, you have the added problem that Meksikio = the country Mexico, and Meksiko = the city Mexico.

    Esperanto also has stupid numbers. The largest possible number is 999,999.

    So you can say 999,999 apples for example, but the next “number” is miliono, and you have to say “a million OF apples”.

    Now according to the basic rules of Esperano, -ono added to a number makes a fraction. du = two, so du-ono = half, dek = ten, so dek-ono = tenth, and so on.

    A thousand is mil, so milono = thousandth. But miliono is not a fraction, it is million. Is this logical?

  • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

    Thank you for this interesting and honnest article.
    If I understood the question, the debate is about what is able, and what is desirable.But we also have to reflect about our ideals, and the consequences of our choices. Does Humanity is a group wich lets History’s accidents choose… or who try to get some influence? It could be interesting to make a comparison beetween the the linguistic situation and the climate situation. On a hand, we may follow the flow, accept any injustice, saying: “We can do nothing!”. On the other hand, we can say: “This situations do not match with my IDEALS, so I want to try to change it”. On my opinion, those, who accept any “de facto” situation are not very different from monkeys which cannot change their behaviour, because it’s “programmed” in their genes.
    Well, I know that climate changes are more worrying than language changes. But there are some people who think, that it’s not worth loose cultural diversity. And they want to have some influence to keep it. They are numerous enough, to make esperanto a living language. Why has english become a so widly spread language? Because it was taught in many places of the world. Despite of that, the result is not very good, because it is (like most of “natural” languages) difficult enough to learn.
    Nobody can learn easily 4, 5… foreign languages. But to learn 2 or 3 is possible, if the first one is esperanto (I learnt it in only 6 months!, and english during 7 years). Most of people, who learnt english as their first foreign language (and very often cannot speak it on a satisfying level) are discouraged to learn others. So, in my opinion, language diversity will become possible only when a lot of educational systems will include esperanto in their curriculums. I think it’s desirable and possible, and that those who think it will never succeed are a kind of “monkeys” who cannot imagine the hudge diversity of future(s).

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    Dear Bai Ren,

    Thank you for an objective criticism of some aspects of Esperanto. You evidently have studied it.

    Countries names : are being actively debated.

    Pediatro, veterinaro : are not acceptable The rule remains : use existing components to form a word, unless it is a new invention, a newly discovered plant, etc., where you can submit a word to the Academio.

    L and R : can be difficult to distinguish . Can you suggest how to solve this problem without losing the meaning ? (in english also, there are R and L)

    ^^^^ : the “hats” are used in many languages; software is available to produce them. Perhaps the difficulty comes from a lack on the “english” keyboard. On old french typewriters (i.e.) the ^ was a separate key to be used before the targeted letter,
    Other points you have mentionned can be viewed as positive or negative, depending on one’s mother tongue. May i again suggest that you, dear Madam or Sir, would be a great asset to the Academy.

    Here is what a Chinese lady has to say:

    She is a worker in a factory of electric appliances in Nanking (here is the translation of what she said in Esperanto):

    “I have always wanted to have contacts in the outside world. So I went to an English course. After an exhausting work day, there is not much energy left to strain one’s mind and overload one’s memory with so many unexplainable things (why, in English, can’t you deduce ‘first’ from ‘one’ as you deduce ‘tenth’ from ‘ten’ and as we do in Chinese? Why can’t you deduce ‘my’, ‘mine’, ‘me’ from ‘I’ as we do in Chinese?). So I realized that I simply could not assimilate all these complications. Just imagine, in English, if you know how to say tooth’, this does not help you to say *dentist*, you have to memorize yet another word. And if you want to say ‘mare’, ‘stallion’ or ‘colt’, remembering ‘horse’ is of no avail. In Esperanto, as in Chinese, those words are derived from the basic word according to a consistent pattern. I’m very glad that when a course of Esperanto was organized in our factory, I decided to follow it. Here I felt comfortable, and I enjoyed the lessons very much. Esperanto is like Chinese, a language entirely consisting of invariable elements that combine without limitation. People say that English is the international language. But what’s the use of an international language that cannot be acquired by working people? I have now many contacts all over the world. For what I wanted, I didn’t need English. Too bad that I was so late in discovering it.”

    Abandonning the roman numerals for the “indo arabic” system may have seemed strange – fancy making long divisions with M – D – C – L – X – V – I ?
    Then again, the Abacus may be the best answer (please forgive my ignorance).
    Adopting the metric system simplified measuring. Can a neutral, easy but precise, language be learnt universally as a SECOND language, respecting all the native tongues, dialects, which would disappear if a national language overtakes them. ? Anyway, english has already begun to splinter up, It, too, needs rescuing from globalisation. .

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Wow, that’s an impressive list, Bai Ren!
    Of course, we don’t have to use those neologisms, I’ve never seen them used myself, and most dictionaries will drop them again eventually in order to remain pocket sized and saleable.
    Even with the imperfections you list, there is no better candidate for the world’s language than Esperanto. Therefore we could start from scratch or evolve Esperanto (which is happening anyway).
    Seriously, your good list was just a page (you’d need several books for the wackiness of English) and it is a lot easier to live with/change one page of bugs that to create and market a brand new language.
    The world’s problems can’t wait a hundred years for a new language to build it’s credibility to where Esperanto is now.

    • Bai Ren

      No, “they” don’t have to use horrible words like “pediatro” and “veterinaro”, but those words are in PIV, and ‘veterinaro’ was officialised in the very first Aldono.

      I’m willing to be corrected, but I’m not away of PIV discarding words listed in earlier editions.

      Unfortunately, many Esperantists think that PIV is some sort of Holy Writ and everything thing in it has been some how canonised.

      The dictionary writers are little help.

      Try a modern English-Esperanto dictionary, such as Benson [1995], and look up veterinarinan. You will find only “veterinaro”, and no mention of the “proper” word bestkuracisto.

      Similarly, pediatrician has only pediatro, no infancuracisto.

      Earthquake gives “sismo” first, and later “tertremado”. It’s probably arranged alphabetically, but how many beginners will just take the first word.

      Benson makes no comment on relative worth of words, thus each is to be taken as equally appropriate.

      The older Fulcher and Long [1949] puts ‘veterinaro’ first, but at least includes ‘bestkuracisto’.

      Langenscheidt’s Deutsch-Esperanto dictionary puts ‘bestkuracisto’ first [it is, after all a direct translation of the very sensible German word], but includes ‘veterinaro’.
      It also has ‘infankuracisto’ first [again a straight translation of the German], but includes pediatro.

      So much of the propaganda for Esperanto talks about what the language could be or should be, rather that how it really is.

      Unfortunately it has become a plaything for authors looking for rhymes and rhythms rather than a tool for solving the language problem.

      How does the word “olda”, taken straight from the Language of Satan [aka English], and meaning exactly the same – according to PIV – as ‘maljuna’ make Esperanto a better solution to the language problem?

      Why ‘hemisfero’ when duonsfero is available? Why ‘aerolito’ [ which is not an air-bed, but a meteorite] instead of meteorshtono ?

      When authors, dictionary writers and publishers in Esperanto seriously ask “Is this word helping to solve the language problem” before they include it, Esperanto will make some progress to being what it claims to be.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Couturier, you may like to click on my name and find my website. I am producing materials that enable non-Esperanto-speaking teachers to teach and learn the language together with their classes in primary school, as an introduction to language, bilingualism and world cultures, before going on to more difficult foreign languages.
    If you find it interesting, I would be interested in your view of whether it needs more than translation to adapt it to use in France.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    That’s a great quote, Henriette. Thanks!

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    I agree with Bai Ren 100% on everything except the conclusion.

    Esperanto is 90-something % what is claims to be. Imperfection does not disqualify things as you suggest, or would a country be a non-country if it had a fault? a wife be unloving if she had a grumpy moment?…..The price of perfection is prohibitive and it simply is not possible to get around refusing to recognize imperfect beds, partners, breakfasts, showers, cars, roads and languages.

    It is possible to get in there and push. I’m onto it and would welcome your collaboration. There’s a lot less to do than there would be for English!

    By the way, my favourite dictionary is Andrew McLinen’s but I loaned it to a friend and can’t check the words you mentioned, do you have it?

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    The handy dictionary at http://www.lernu.net lists bestkuracisto first and both that other silly word and tertremo.

  • Hoss

    @Bai Ren,

    While many speakers share at least some of your frustrations, the fact remains that living languages like Esperanto cannot be centrally controlled — nor, perhaps, should they be. Roots like ‘veterinar-’ often exist alongside compositional forms like ‘bestkuracisto’ because they are well-known internationally. In the case of ‘veterinar-’, for instance, see Polish ‘weterynarii’, Turkish ‘veteriner’, Tagalog ‘Beterinaryo’, French ‘vétérinaire’, Hungarian ‘veterinar’, Russian ‘?????????’, and so on.

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    And here’s one disastrous effect on education that the imposition of English can cause – Mauritius calls for Kreol instead of English:
    http://www.guardianweekly.co.uk/?page=editorial&id=1381&catID=18

  • beto

    I think that ‘imperfection’ from Esperanto is due to the fact that after all it is a language, and it evolves, so these ‘imperfections’ might be the result of that development. As long as it is used by society then it will always have a development according to it.
    I personally like these imperfections of Esperanto because it avoids the language to be mediocre. I know the aim is to be learned by anyone for it is an easy language, and it is! But it must have certain difficulties and I think that is something good for everyone because it expands their linguistic horizons.

    As for English as the international language, I think it should not be it but we must face that it does break language barrers !
    I’m not for or against an international language… This is a debate that is too long and old to learn new ideas, and I don’t have a solid opinion about this. I like Esperanto very much and I meet people all around the world with it, but English has helped me in many occasions.

    • Bai Ren

      Imperfections stop a language from being mediocre?
      Now there’s a thought!

      You should absolutely **adore** English – it’s full of imperfections!!

      Why does Esperanto have to have difficulties?
      Again, English must be your god. How its many difficulties must have broadened your horizons!

      One of Esperanto’s great problems is its “eternal beginners”, who acquire a smattering and never progress, but feel good about themselves because they are supporting this wonderful project to bring peace and mutual understanding to humanity.

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    Surely the point is that no ETHNIC language deserves to be, or is appropriate for use as, the world inter-language? Non-ethnic Esperanto, with all its supposed imperfections, works absolutely fine just as it is. Are not the points that we should be addressing the following?:

    - linguistic democracy – how can the present non-democratic language régime be made more democratic at the institutional level (EU, UN, Unesco etc.), so that all are included, and non excluded?
    - global education – use of any one ethnic language as the world inter-language means that we learn all about that particular area, and neglect the rest; a non-ethnic language at least provides the option for a more balanced multidirectional information flow.
    - effective language education – how much time is spent in schools around the world learning ethnic languages, and by graduation-time few are able to actively use this knowledge in practice? With a regularized and stream-lined non-ethnic language the learning time can be cut to 1/10th, leaving curriculum time to be put to better use.
    - multilingualism – all Esperanto-speakers are by definition at least bilingual; many have had their interest in language(s) piqued by early contact with Esperanto and go on to learn several more ethnic languages.
    - language rights – there are many areas of the world where the use of one’s native language is proscribed by the state, with consequent power-struggles between ethnic groups. At least Esperanto-speakers are making an attempt to meet all others halfway (not your language, not my language, but OUR language!).
    - language diversity – many minor ethnic languages and cultures are facing destruction from the pressures of contact with majority ethnic languages. Surely the world’s language diversity is a heritage worth preserving, just as biodiversity is? Esperanto can theoretically act as a “buffer language”.
    - human emancipation – every human being deserves to have a voice; ethnic languages can be used to exclude or to include others from the group; non-ethnic Esperanto is an attempt to include all, at all levels, not just the élite.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Yes, I think so, Mankso :-)

  • Bai Ren

    May be I am expecting too much from Esperanto, but it does claim to be logical and to have **NO** exceptions to the rules – for me that means 100%, not 90%.

    There is a verb “to saw” [segi], so the noun saw is a “sawing implement” [segilo]; there is a verb “to shovel” [shoveli], so the noun shovel is a “shovelling implement” [shovelilo], so far all nice and logical.

    But when we get to “hammer”, suddenly the noun “martelo” is the basic root, rather than the verb “marteli” , thus there is no word “martelilo”. – no exceptions?

    May be it is a bit hard to sell Esperanto as “mostly logical”, “not many exceptions”, “not really easy, just not as hard as most other languages”, “more or less adequate”, but at least we would have truth in advertising.

    • Hoss

      @Bai Ren: “May be I am expecting too much from Esperanto, but it does claim to be logical and to have **NO** exceptions to the rules – for me that means 100%, not 90%.”

      Esperanto is indeed logical, but one musn’t take that claim *too* literally. The language isn’t 100% unambiguous and precise; it can’t be, as human languages just don’t work that way. If it were, it would be something like Loglan: an interesting project to be sure, but not terribly viable as an auxiliary language—or a human language, for that matter.

      Your example of an “exception” in Esperanto is based on a misunderstanding of how Esperanto derivation works. The “-o” ending merely names the idea defined by the root. The idea of the root “seg-” is “the action of sawing”, thus “sego” is an act of sawing” and “segilo” is a “tool for sawing”. The idea of the root “martel-” is “a tool for hammering”, thus “martelo” is already a tool. No “-il” is needed, as that would be redundant and… illogical. :-)

      The claim of “no exceptions” relates to the basic rules of grammar and morphology as established in the Fundamento: All verbs take the same conjugation, no exceptions; all nouns follow the same paradigm of inflection, no exceptions; all nouns agree with their adjectives in case and number, no exceptions. And so forth.

      In that very practical sense, the language is indeed logical and regular. But if you’re expecting a computer language, then I’m afraid Esperanto is probably not the best choice for you.

      • Bai Ren

        @ Hoss
        Your example of an “exception” in Esperanto is based on a misunderstanding of how Esperanto derivation works. The “-o” ending merely names the idea defined by the root. The idea of the root “seg-” is “the action of sawing”, thus “sego” is an act of sawing” and “segilo” is a “tool for sawing”. The idea of the root “martel-” is “a tool for hammering”, thus “martelo” is already a tool. No “-il” is needed, as that would be redundant and… illogical.

        My observation is not based on a misunderstanding of how E-o derivation works, but rather a very good understanding of the ARBITRARY nature of derivation in this language which claims to be logical.

        It was the purely arbitrary decision of LL Zamenhof to make the noun “martel-o” [a tool for hammering] the basic root rather than the verb “martel-i”.

        Therein lies the illogicality. I get out my tool kit.
        I want to saw [seg-i], so I get out my tool for sawing – seg-ilo
        I want to plane [rabot-i], so I get out my tool for planing – rabot-ilo
        I want to bore [bor-i], so I get out my tool for boring – bor-ilo
        I want to file [fajl-i], so I get out my tool for filing – fajl-ilo
        I want to solder [lut-i], so I get out my tool for soldering – lut-ilo
        I want to hammer [martel-i], so I get out my tool for hammering – martel-o.
        Why? No reason. You just have to learn it.

        The student of Esperanto has to simply learn all the exceptions in this “language with no exceptions”, just as the student simply has to learn that “sun” is grammatically masculine in French, feminine in German, and neuter in Polish.

        Then there is “drilo” which is a tool [ilo] for drilling, but is not a derived word. The verb “dril-o” is the basic root. This is not to be confused with the very similar “bor-ilo”, which is also a tool for drilling/boring, and comes from the verb “bor-i”.

        So “Li dril-as per dril-o”, but “Li bor-as per bor-il-o”

        It is the same with the transitive and intransitive verbs. There is no logic: you just have to learn which is which.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    The idea of “a bit hard to sell” is curious.

    I’ve never pitied those who market “the best available” in any category even though their wares are never perfect: you or I could always ask for more.

    The hardest part of their work is that those goods and sevices are usually so much more expensive than the competition.

    Uniquely, Esperanto is a fraction of the price of inferior competitors in the intercultural language stakes.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    I’d like to communicate with Dr Hans Malv. I know Terry Dip spoke to him. Terry, can you help me find him please?

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    Bai ren:
    If, for whatever reason, the more precise word ‘martelo’ is not acceptable, you always have the choice of using another less specific root, such as e.g. ‘bat-’ to produce ‘batilo’ – a beater or striker; or ‘frap-’ for ‘frapilo’ meaning – a banger, knocker, if the context would make it clear what you mean. Likewise instead of specific ‘plumo’, ‘krajono’, ‘globkrajono’, ‘kreto’, ‘sangotrempita fingro’ etc. you can use the generic ‘skribilo’ = writing instrument.
    I think you are indeed expecting too much of Esperanto, a language based almost entirely on existing ethnic languages on the principle of ‘maximum internationality’. You preference seems to be for a more schematic, and less naturalistic, type of planned language. I doubt whether it is possible to produce a perfectly consistent and exception-less constructed language, human ‘logic’ being what it is – what is linguistically logical to one person is not necessarily similarly logical to another.

    • Bai Ren

      I still have to learn each word independently to know that the basic meaning of frap- [etc] is verbal.

      I don’t think that I expect too much of Esperanto and Esperantists.

      The only reason Esperanto has for existence is as a solution to the language problem.

      Some of the illogicalities we are stuck with – and Esperantists should be honest about them – but when an Esperantist puts pen to paper, or opens her mouth, she should seriously consider whether her choice of words, her construction of the sentence, &c, &c are tending towards that goal.

      She must ask herself “Am I imposing the habits of my mother tongue, or am I really thinking internationally?”

      Too many Esperantists seem to think that Rule 15 means that if a word is used in southern Belgium, northern France and western Switzerland that it is “international”, despite that fact that the word is completely unknown elsewhere.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Another option is to be a bad boy and call it a martilo and insist that what you are doing with it is martado. Because it does seem more logical, it may well catch on. There are plenty of examples of such things happening in English.
    I think it’s kind of ok to do that because there are more future E-speakers than present ones so it’s rather democratic to prefer what suits them i.e. that a hammer will match the other tools.

  • beto

    Esperanto <3

  • http://www.lernu.net Brian Barker

    Can I add a joke, albeit somewhat vulgar :)

    I always thought that the Esperanto word “mistifiki”, meant “having sex in the fog”

    Can someone please give an explanation.

    By the way Google gives its logo to Esperanto today

    Today’s Google logo commemorates “Esperanto Day” with the inclusion of the Esperanto flag.

    See http://i244.photobucket.com/albums/gg21/JRedPRP/Look%20Up%20Fellowship/GoogleEsperantoLogo.gif

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    Brian:
    That is a very anglo-centric joke – in the fog indeed! To a German-speaker it might recall doing it on, or near, the manure-heap [Mist = dung, manure], and to a speaker of Gaelic during the menstrual period [míosta = menstrual] . The Esperanto root is obviously cognate with the English ‘mystify’.

    And to Penelope:
    Can’t agree with you at all that it is OK to use whatever form form one likes (martilo/martado). For Esperanto to function properly, it needs to have people stick to standard forms in a disciplined way, and to master the basic XVI Rules. It’s not a linguistic toy any more – only dilettantes diverge from the norm, and even our avant-garde creative poets stick to the Fundamento while exploring and exploiting latent possibilities in the language.

  • beto

    Felicxan Zamenhofan Tagon !! =)

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Dear Mankso,

    I think it all depends on what it means for the language to function properly.
    For me, it means for Esperanto to be available to all the diverse people of the planet. That includes dilettantes, and progressives, and idealists and people who like logic, and people who insist on truth in advertising,and etymology enthusiasts and conservatives and people who like to be sure that they know what is right and what isn’t. All successful languages embrace such diverse populations. Esperanto will can not function properly as long as people of one style of thinking insist that they won’t share, or at least as long as the others accept their exclusion.
    Zamenhof was a very smart man and proposed a logical and regular language but recognized that no creation is perfect, and anticipated trouble between those who like personal authority and those who prefer logical authority so he said, it’s not mine, it’s yours. In so doing, he reunited the cultists with the whole.
    We need not worry, it is in every users interest to use a form not far from the mainstream in order to be understood. If some people spell hammer oddly, it matters less than Americans calling taps “faucets”.
    Of course you will worry, if it is your nature to do so, and I’m sorry, but if it wasn’t me being different, it would be someone else – unless we’ve really stuffed up and there is no-one else!

  • http://esperanto.lodestone.org Hoss

    @Bai Ren wrote: “My observation is not based on a misunderstanding of how E-o derivation works, but rather a very good understanding of the ARBITRARY nature of derivation in this language which claims to be logical.”

    Then I think you’re misunderstanding how human languages work in general. Derivation in Esperanto is indeed logical. As mentioned previously, -o simply names the idea expressed in the root. Always. Without exception. Verbs are conjugated the same way. Always. Without exception. The suffix -il turns an action into an implement for effecting that action. And so on. All this is perfectly consistent and logical.

    The problem, I think, is that you’re expecting a logical taxonomy of ideas where everything is cataloged and pigeonholed into categories that manifest themselves in the morphology. You don’t like the fact that “martel-” is an implement, but “seg-” is an action. Why can’t all root forms be one or the other? Because semantically, there’s no one obvious way to divide the world into logical categories, and no matter what taxonomy you create, there are always going to be problems with it. This idea has been tried before—many, many times.

    There’s a great book out by Arika Okrent in which she tries to find the word for “shit” in just such a logical language. You’d think it’d be easy, but it isn’t. Why? Because to find the name of the idea you still have to memorize an arbitrary categorization scheme. After all, how *does* one categorize shit? By appearance? By odor? By color? By viscosity? By the method of its production? By the creatures that produce it? By the organs from which it is excreted?

    Similarly, if I want to express the idea of “a hammer”, there are lots of ways it could potentially be categorized. It could simply be an object with its own name. Or it could be derived: from an action, for instance. Or from the name of the objects it typically acts upon. Or from the name of a profession that typically uses it. Or from the sound it makes when used. And so on, and so on. There’s no one “logical” way to determine this; the naming process is inherently arbitrary. Is it logical that “the act of hammering” should be the base form, and “the implement for hammering” be a derived form? Or is it more logical that the implement be the base form and the action be derived instead? Neither is more logical, really. So you simply have to learn that the root form, “martel-” is an implement.

    For lots more about this, see: “In the land of invented languages”, chapter 5, “A hierarchy of the universe”. Another great book in this vein is by Umberto Eco, “Ricerca della lingua perfetta nella cultura europea”. The Esperanto translation is “La ser?ado de la perfekta lingvo” and the English is “The search for the perfect language”.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    I once taught at a school that had lost it’s focus and just wasn’t working well. I hated it for six months and would have left if I didn’t need the money. I wanted to found a school that would work much better. Then I thought about all that would have to be done to achieve that: licenses, premises, staff, first students….and it occurred to me that it might be better to fix what I had. I got involved in creating the missing focus, got promoted to management and got a school I loved for the next six years.
    Esperanto is for everyone, especially newbies, and as long as we remember that, it can be what it is meant to be.
    Bai Ren is right that naming the tools in the kit consistently would help newbies more that expecting them to take more interest in etymology than most people do, so we should be prepared to stick to our goal and make the necessary adaptations.
    Some won’t but some will, and the world is not going to deliver better than that whether we start over or not.

  • Siu Yee

    Hi everyone,

    Having read the comments/discussions since 1st Dec 09 had left me wondering if I should commit myself to learning Esperanto. My concerns are:

    1. I don’t believe in false hope/blind faith and I am not interested in having one. I thought the same as Bei Ren (it would be certainly easier for someone to pick up Esperanto if that person had already known some English and European languages) when I first attempted to learn Esperanto a year ago. Esperanto is a very European based language in its form and governing rules. Language, as a means of communication, is encoded and decoded by the perception of one’s mind, and the minds and perceptions are shaped by the conscious and subconscious in one’s upbringing.

    2. It puts people off when the claims are not consistently with the experience of reality. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, the outcome is the same: breaking the trust and leading people to be skeptical and disappointed. The more one wants something such as an ideology to be true, the more disappointed one will get.

    3. I hope that the Esperanto movement has no hidden political agenda. If the answer is ‘yes’, it dooms to fail as people are not stupid. There is no point to jump from one boat to another if they are fundamentally the same: having the same problem(s) that can’t be resolved. Who wants to re-marry to a less abusive spouse or any spouse who is not as bad as the previous one? Not a very clever person!

    4. If the existing Esperantoists became so offended when the new learners or users are just stating some very valid facts and arguments, you are the same as the person who called him/herself ‘Jack of all trade’ or any die hard English speaking fans. I am sure the general public non European speakers have very good reasons why they find it hard to learn and use Esperanto given the current global linguistic environment. In reality, Esperanto could be the second language for a student in the developed world to learn but definitely the third language in the developing and underdeveloping world. How many people in these countries can afford the time to learn a third language?? The situation can change if using Esperanto provides employment opportunities.

    5. If the E-movement wants to be more pro-active and genuinely wants to make Esperanto a more widely used language, the language itself needs to be modified and be more inclusive of other languages. Such committee needs to understand more about language universal and typology and how people in different cultures perceive and think. There is a book called Cross Cultural Communication by Anna Wierzbicka may give people some sense of meta language and the way how she ladders the core meanings of emotional words is a useful tool for the advanced Esperantoists to understand how E can be more user friendly.

    Well, I hope my concerns give the advanced Esperantoists some food of thoughts.

  • http://www.lernu.net Brian Barker

    Hi Siu Yee

    I hope that the following comments will answer some of your questions :)

    There should be no “Esperanto movement” Quite simply, it is just a language.

    Secondly. To have a truly international language, should we choose 5 words from the 6,700 existing languages, and start from scratch again, in order to create another new language !

    Thirdly, and lastly, Esperanto does exist. See http://www.esperanto.net

  • Henry V. Janoski

    Voltaire wrote that “Le meilleure est l’ennemi du bien” ( The best is the enemy of the good). Because Esperanto is not “perfect” some people apparently want to change it so that all tools have Esperanto words formed exactly alike, or want to add words from all the world’s languages to make its vocabulary more “equal” and “democratic.” What they miss sight of is the “Big Picture” that Esperanto, as it exists, already does a far better job of serving as an international language than any other language, natural of constructed.

    We all may have certain things about Esperanto that we don’t like and perhaps would like to change. For example, my pet peeve is the use of “mal” to mean “opposite” as in “malamiko” to mean “enemy.” Zamenhof chose this root from the French word “maladroit” meaning “unskillful” or “clumsy,” the opposite of “adroit” meaning “skillful.” However the word “mal” in French also means “evil,” as in the poem title “Les fleurs du mal” (The Flowers of Evil). So when I see the Esperanto noun “malo” my reflexes make me think it means “evil” instead of “opposite.” I have to stop and think and use “malbono” for “evil.” But this is simply nit-picking.

    I speak French and still cringe when I have to translate “ninety-nine” into “quatre-vingt-dix-neuf” (four-twenty-ten-nine). Why don’t the French simply say something like “neuvante-neuf,” as I understand the French-speaking Walloons of Belgium do? After all, French is billed as a very logical language! But isn’t this simply nit-picking too?

    Why have so many other constructed languages failed to attract the following that Esperanto has? I believe it is due to the “interna ideo” of the “brotherhood of man” that Zamenhof stressed as the underlying basis of Esperanto.

    When I attended my first World Congress of Esperanto in Vilnius, Lithuania in 2005, I did not feel awkward about approaching any of the 2,344 members from 62 countries and beginning a conversation with a stranger, because we all shared this “interna ideo.”

    And I noticed that a Nepalese gentleman was able to converse with me in Esperanto, even though Esperanto has no words derived from Nepalese! The same was true when I conversed with another man from Togoland! And even a Polish girl spoke to me in beautiful Esperanto, even though there are only about a dozen Slavic root-words in Esperanto! We could have spoken iin Polish, as this might have been easier for both of us, but we chose to use Esperanto, as it would have been rude to the other people in our group of Lithuanians, Russians, Germans, Czechs, etc, who did not speak Polish!

    People who argue that Esperanto is a West European-oriented language are technically correct, especially in the way that it “illogically” uses the polite plural form for “you” as both singular and plural, just as in English and French. And one can argue that the vocabulary is some 75% Romance, especially French, and about 20% Teutonic (Germanic), mostly English and German. But I did not meet any nationals from “ex-colonial” countries that resented this. After all, Esperantists do not hinder people from learning other languages. As a matter of fact, it has been shown that Esperanto has a “propaedeutic” value that makes it easier for one who learns Esperant first to then fo on to learn another language But it is West European languages in which so much of the world’s literary and scientific works are to be found.

    I think that Voltaire was telling us that we should not “miss the forest for the trees.”

  • Siu Yee

    Hi Brian,

    Regarding your comments of my post above, I think you missed my points.

    Hi Siu Yee I hope that the following comments will answer some of your questions :) There should be no “Esperanto movement” Quite simply, it is just a language. Secondly. To have a truly international language, should we choose 5 words from the 6,700 existing languages, and start from scratch again, in order to create another new language ! Thirdly, and lastly, Esperanto does exist. See http://www.esperanto.net.

    I am completely lost with your comments in relation to mine. I know Esperanto does exist and it is a language… I don’t have a clue why you stated the obvious!
    If advocating to learn and use Esperanto is not a movement, why did the committee bother to lobby it as one of the many foreign languages to learn at schools in the United States? Why did they bother to be recognised as a practicing language in the United Nation?

  • Siu Yee

    Dear all,

    Why was it so hard for my points to be heard and understood? What I was asking from the Esperanto speakers in my first posting was:

    1) Be open minded and listen attentively to others first especially if you want to befriend with others. Other people may have some very good points. Dear Henry, no one asked for a perfect language before we use it. It is not possible to have a perfect language especially for all. Let’s not to be naive and again, please don’t state the obvious except for kids. Please don’t overuse ” ” around words as it appears to be sarcastic and unfriendly remarks. Overdoing it does give people impression of being upset or over-reacting and there is no reason to be so here.
    Also, I found your comment “the “Big Picture” that Esperanto, as it exists, already does a far better job of serving as an international language than any other language, natural of constructed.” and “Why have so many other constructed languages failed to attract the following that Esperanto has”? very arrogant like the Americans! Excuse my ignorance, what are ‘other constructed languages’ and how many of them in the world? I am not being unfriendly here, but I am just expressing my feelings and thoughts.

    2) The focus of my discuss was about the discrepancy between the claims about learning and using Esperanto and the reality of it. Why is it such a resistance to change and even only raising the point?

    3) Resentment?? Don’t start with this please or you will beg a pardon. You may interpreted it as one, but you haven’t seen or hear it one yet on his blog. For a French speaker who does find Esperanto easy to pick up, but it is a completely different story to others. An experienced driver does find driving a second nature whereas the inexperienced drivers/learners struggle so much to drive. The experienced driver may think that the inexperienced ones simply find excuses to complain. Mind you, everyone has a different learning path, depending on the resources one has, the background they are from and the situations they are in.

    4) “brotherhood of man” that Zamenhof stressed… Well said! I wonder if Zamenhof would shake his head and cry his eyes out if he was alive and read what some Esperanto speakers had had said on this blog or other’s.

    5) There are nationals who can speak beautiful French, German or Russian and yet whose first language does not share any similarities with these foreign languages. Surely they have their reason why they choose to speak a foreign language so well and have their effective ways to achieve it.

    6) Let’s consider this proposition: other ways to be linguistically equal amongst speakers of different languages. I know this is not practical and the followings are just some thoughts.

    Amongst travellers, they may choose a language only spoken by a small, sparely populated country. One may hardly run into these national in other parts of the world and not many people have a dominant linguistic advantage over others.

    Amongst businessmen and foreign workers, having a registered standard plain English is not a bad idea either. (I can hear all the unresisting noises already!). This is just another idea and I am not saying that it is better than Esperanto, phew!
    This registered standard plain English should also be followed by the native speakers of different varieties of English. Plain English should be taken out all the cultural components in the English language and narrowed the use of widely varied vocabulary of the similar meanings. English does have a relatively simpler morphological structures and rules than the Latin originated or Germanic languages.

    I must stress that I have nothing to go against learning or using Esperanto in any settings as I was prepared to attend its intensive course in January. I believe the best way to attract more people to like the language so that they will use it is the people who speak Esperanto. Open mindedness, accepting and welcoming of different opinions/ideas are more attractive than ambiguous/inaccurate claims.

    • Allan C. Boschen.

      Siu Yee. I tried to make the point that Esperanto, though artificially designed, is not at all UN-natural. So the better way to distinguish it from other languages is NOT to call it “constructed” while calling the others “natural”. Better to call the others “ethnic”, thus to include not only the “national” languages, but also regional languages and any others that are not tied to or based upon any formal “country”. enough on that.

      No, Esperanto is not ‘perfect’, but its ‘imperfections’ are trivia, compared to its overall merits. If a world body, such as the UN ever went into formal deliberations about making Esperanto its own, it would be well advised to take up a bit of clean-up in those deliberations, such as letting “vir-” serve both as the prefix for “male” and the word-root for “man”, which results in the anomally, “virino” for woman. Again, this item is only trivia. A much bigger refinement is suggested by the mistaken comment by the linguist, McWhorter of Manhatten Institute. After a very interesting and informative commentary on Esperanto, he disparaged about its imperfections, citing as an example its use of the accusative ending, ‘n’ for a noun when it functions as object of the verb, He said that this was redundant, “because”, he said, “we do very well without it in English.” That could not have been a greater mistake for a linguiist to make. This ending is important because other languages do not all have the same prevailing syntax as English has. Mc Whorter’s comment suggests another ending for nouns which is indeed redundant and useless. That is the ending for plurality, ‘j’ in Esperanto, equivalent to the USUAL ‘s’ in English. It is redudant, in English, as also in Esperanto, because in all cases where the plurality is important, the noun involved is associated with a number, and that number establishes the plurality without any need for the letter ‘s’. For instance, “I have 10 oranges.” Let”s try another example, “I have 10 sheep.” (This one PROVES that the ‘s’ is not needed and serves no useful purpose.) We don’t have any special ending to indicate ‘more than 2′, nor for ‘more than 10′, etc. So why for ‘more than 1′?

      Another refinement I would suggest, if a body such as the UN, or EU, wanted to get the ultimate for its “official language” would be to design a new set of letters which would reflect the relationships among its letters, rather than having the current alphabet, an arbitrary set of symbols. such as Esperanto now has. This would remove the one important factor in its being closer to European languages than to others, and would make it just a sliver easier to learn for anybody who does not already know a Latin-type alphabet.

      Allan C. Boschen.

    • Henry V. Janoski

      Siu Yee
      1) I agree with you that we do not need a perfect language before we use it. But why are so many people suggesting reforms for Esperanto now before they will use it? One of the reasons why Esperanto has been the most successful constructed language to date is that Dr. Zamenhof realized at an early date that he must provide a standard form of Esperanto in his Fundamento to prevent continuous suggestions for change, rather than using the language as he presented it. A vote was taken by the Esperanto speakers at that time and the vote was in favor of this decision. But Zamenhof said that if a responsible government agency wanted to make necessary changes that had been suggested over time, they could do so prior to its official adoption by that government. Zamenhof gave up all his rights to the language he invented, giving it freely to all humanity for their use. In the meantime, the Akademio de Esperanto is the arbitrator of the purity of the Esperanto language and decides what new words are to be accepted as they are submitted for new ideas, inventions, etc. as they occur. All this was done in response to the creation of Ido by one of his followers, which tried to immediately replace Esperanto in 1907. For a list of auxiliary languages that have also tried unsuccessfully to do this see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_constructed_languages .
      I am sorry that you misinterpreted my use of quotation marks as being sarcastic and unfriendly — I thought I was simply using them for better clarity! Perhaps I should have used brackets or some other device to make the specific word examples and their translations stand out. And I am sorry that you seem to view me as “very arrogant like the Americans!” Are you prejudiced against Americans?
      2) Perhaps some Esperantists overly exaggerate how simple it is to learn Esperanto. But it does appear to be much easier than learning other languages! And you will notice that in some of the constructed languages listed above, there are people who think Esperanto should look MORE like the Western European languages, just as there are people who think that Esperanto should include MORE root-words from other world languages to make it more democratic. Zamenhof tried to choose root-words that were already in the international realm, like telefono. (In deferrence to you I shall not put quotations marks around telefono, which I would normally do as good writing style.) However, it is a fact of history that many of the ideas and inventions in world history occurred by people who spoke Western European languages such as Latin and French, or Classsical Greek.
      3) You are correct, of course, that everyone has a different ability in learning another language, and here, too, some Esperantists may get carried away in saying how simple it is to learn Esperanto. But the fact remains that Esperanto is a lot easier to learn than a language that has five conjugations of verbs, like Latin, or seven declensions of nouns, like Russian, or the superfluous use of words like up in look up, think up, gather up, etc. in English. (Once again I defer to you in leaving off the quotation marks that would make this easier to read.)
      4) I apologize for any of my fellow Esperantists who may have said or written anything that could be interpreted as putting down (what does down mean here?) the brotherhood of man.
      5) I agree.
      6) Amen! Most Esperantists are probably amateurs when it comes to selling the language to others. But they mean well. In many cases they may be so excited at the results they have had in being able to speak with others in the world, that they get carried away. By the way, have you looked into Basic English by Ogen? It has a vocabulary of only 850 words. But of course the spelling is still a problem. I would be interested to learn why you might think this has not caught on! (There we go again, that little word on.)
      Mi volas al vi sukceson en via lernadon de Esperanto!

  • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

    I didn’t come back during a lot of time, and I tried to read what was written during the last days. But I must confess, that it’s too difficult for me to read in english. I can do it, but I need to make more efforts than in my mother tongue (french) or in italian (and obviously in esperanto).
    It is rather diffiicult to understand what are Esperanto language and esperanto movement, without being “in” them.
    Siu Yee, I understand what you mean when you wish more “internationalization” of it.
    A lot of people think in the same manner, and this reaction seems “logical”. Nevetheless, as said Henry “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”… esperanto is not a “perfect” language (and we all know that NO language is perfect!!!). If we want to obtain a “perfect one” adding words and making reforms, we never will get it, or it will become less efficient.
    We just can say that nowadays, it is the one wich has the higher “internationality” and is the easiest to learn for any people.

  • http://al-terity.blogspot.com/ Alterity

    English the World’s International Language?

    Of course it is! And that’s how it will stay.

    • Henry V. Janoski

      If, as you say, English is [already] the world’s international language, and that is how it will stay, why is the USA having the problem of so many Spanish-speakers, both citizens and illegals, not wanting to learn English?

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    May Igo back briefly to 12th Dec.? I rashly wrote : “Pediatro, veterinaro : are not acceptable The rule remains : use existing components to form a word…”,

    Although i do prefer the “above rule”, i must confess : Reading VIVO DE ZAMENHOF by EDMOND PRIVAT on page 23 end of third paragraph we find: ” Veterinara Instituto kaj Reala Gimnazio”.

    To create a tool for international communication, should humans go back to grunts, squeals and gestures ? Those would probably take a different form in different parts of the earth. Is there a deaf-mute language expressing not letters nor words, but concepts ? but then that would exclude blind people, no good.

    Does it not remain that English, already splintering into englishes, is not the ideal vehicle for our aim of a neutral, auxiliary tool for understanding each others?

  • http://EsoerantoFriends.blogspot.com Neil Blonstein

    Rory B said: English allows visitors to strike up a conversation immediately and get to know the country much better than having no common language.
    Neil (me) says: As a representative in the United Nations of a NGO I was recently at a meeting with a French-speaking African, who is the highest ranking diplomat (Executrive-Director) for Unicef, the educational division of the United Nations. HE FREQUENTLY APPOLOGISED FOR HIS ENGLISH (which was prepared and read) AND I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND HALF OF WHAT HE SAID. DURING A QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD HE APPOLOGISED AGAIN AND THEN GAVE A SHORT TALK IN FRENCH WITH A TRANSLATOR.
    MORE REALITY:
    I recently rented the award winning movie “:The Constant Gardener” spoken in several fluent English accents. After the half-way point i returned the beginning and added on the subtitles in English and found I couldn’t really grasp more than 75 percent of what was being said in the first listening.
    I recently listened to the most famous Australian environmentalist for an hour and couldn’t repeat mor than 75 percent of anything he said, but sat there pretending to understand with a group of American environmentists.
    I don’t have this problem when listening to Esperanto speakers, thank God. I wish to share the pleasure of basic communication with others.

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    That’s interesting, Neil!
    As an Australian born in England, I get to hear lots of US accents and some British ones on TV. It hadn’t really occurred to me that you listen to us a lot less and so find us more foreign and incomprehensible. The accent situation reflects the asymmetry of the language station in miniature: Those who are most understood, understand least!

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Allan, you raise some interesting points.

    There is an argument for retaining some redundancy in language to allow for “lossy” communication. Sometimes people don’t hear every word, due to inattention or noise, and redundancy can help reconstruct the communication. On the other hand, learning Esperanto would be a good 20% quicker without “n” and “j” and you can usually ask for clarification if you miss something.
    Did you know that English once had accusative endings but dropped them?
    I think that it is likely that as Esperanto becomes more mainstream and incorporates more people interested in using it than mastering it, that the same forces will have the same effect, for the same reasons. Maybe not though, because the Esperanto “-n” is already a lot simpler than the irregular (middle?) English accusative forms.

    Re-ordering the alphabet makes sense to be fair to non-Europeans but it would make all dictionaries and encyclopedias obsolete, which would be inconvenient during the transition. What proportion of the world’s people do not know, and will not want to know, an alphabet where “A” is near the beginning and “z” near the end? (Of course the unborn ones don’t know).

    I think that the “vir” problem is much worse than the “mal” because “mal” only bothers French and English speakers, and only really on entry to the language. The inequitable treatment of gender affects everyone, doesn’t go away, and is inappropriate in a language for a more fair future. The regularity of Esperanto makes it easy to fix, using -i?o as a male ending to reflect -ino as the female one, and considering all root words neutral. Other modern languages evolve away from 19th century gender presumptions in language and Esperanto should too.

    • Allan C. Boschen.

      Penelope. Redundancy comes into play in many ways. I was speaking about structural redundancy, and I am saying that the “N” ending, as the accusative declension for nouns, is NOT structurally redundant. But the “J”, to indicate plurality of nouns, IS a structural redundancy and serves no useful purpose. As for making sure that a point is understood, one can always rephrase a passage where understanding of a thought appears to be unclear. This is useful redundancy. As to the ‘letters’, my thought was not to mix them up, but rather to develop a new set that reflected some logical structure. For instance, the vowel sounds are made by having the tongue at varous levels in the tongue, among other factors. These factors might be reflected in the shape of its symbol (the ‘letter’). Another example, the ‘B’ sound has the same relation to the ‘P’ sound as has the ‘D’ to the ‘T’, ‘V’ to ‘F’, ‘hard G’ to ‘K’, the ‘TH’ in ‘the’ to the ‘TH’ in ‘thin’, and more. I would suggest as a first thought that the aspirated member of each of most of such pairs be retained as a basic letter, but the vocalized member of each pair be the same as its aspirated ‘partner’ with another special mark to indicate its being vocal, i.e. P & P+, F & F+, K & K+, etc. Close study might indicate some other relationships that could be reflected in the shapes of the letters and where each ought to appear in the sequence.
      I put these ideas forth ONLY as suggestions, to be THOUGHT ABOUT, and DISCUSSED by interested persons, who may like to TOY WITH such ideas, but with no idea nor intent to try to implement them, until such time as an int’l gov’l organization makes a formal commitment to implement a universal second language (as prescribed by Zamenhof). I imagine that the Esperanto Academy has a vast list of such items all logged in quite neatly, ready to be put forth for debate when such date arrives.

      Allan Boschen.

      • http://esperanto.lodestone.org Hoss

        @Allan: Since the -j ending is the only indicator of plurality in the language, I’m guessing you didn’t really mean to claim that it’s a structural redundancy which serves no useful purpose. :-)

        What you might have meant — and what others often assert — is that noun/adjective agreement in Esperanto is a useless redundancy. For example, why say ru?aj pomoj (“red apples”) with the -j on both adjective and noun, when *ru?a pomoj should theoretically contain enough information?

        In a language with fixed word order, such a feature would indeed be unnecessary. But Esperanto word order is flexible: adjectives can follow their nouns.

        It turns out that Zamenhof’s linguistic intuitions were more finely attuned than many give him credit for. Many years after his death, the famous linguist Joseph H. Greenberg compiled a list of “universals” of human language — common rules that languages rarely violate, if ever. Whether or not we like these universals, they do reflect the basic features of the innate human capacity for language. A language creator violating these universals risks creating a truly alien tongue. Luckily, Zamenhof intuitively understood this fact, even without the benefit of future scholarship. One of Greenberg’s universals (#40) notes an interesting feature of adjective inflection in human languages:

        “When the adjective follows the noun, the adjective expresses all the inflectional categories of the noun.”
        http://angli02.kgw.tu-berlin.de/Korean/Artikel02/morphology.html

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Henry, I thought that was a great letter.

    You say Zamenhof took a vote on language management, showing that you share my democratic ideals (are we right, or just in the same cultural clique?) but seem to suggest that democracy ends there. That seems arbitrary.

    Wouldn’t it be more consistently democratic (if democracy is an appropriate ethical basis for deciding what “should” be) to conclude:

    Esperanto should be the World’s International Language, because it best suits the majority of present and future world citizens, and all users of the language should participate in its evolution, by usage and persuasion, to the extent that they care to do so?

  • Henry V. Janoski

    Dropping the accusative case ending -n in Esperanto may not be such a good idea. Zamenhof realized that not all languages express the object of the verb by position in the sentence, as in English. Thus, we say “Henriko vidis Johanon” to mean “Henry saw John.” But we can also say “Johanon vidis Henriko” and this still means that Henry did the seeing and John was the object of his seeing. This sentence might be used to emphasize that it was John who was seen. But if we say “John saw Henry” now John did the seeing and Henry is who was seen. So, Esperanto is a more precise language! Someone who ordinarilly speaks in an inflected language, and uses a different word order from that of English, will still be understood easily when he speaks in Esperanto but perhaps not in English.
    So, should we simply put it to a vote to decide whether or not to keep the -n?

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Voting is the epitome of democracy only if all interested parties have access to the ballot. In this case it is not possible as 1. many Esperanto speakers are isolated by poverty and politics and a host of other obstacles, and 2. future Esperanto-speakers are not yet identified or born and yet often have a greater stake in terms of years of future use than many current Esperantists. (I, for instance, won’t be able to use it much beyond 2060 but many a baby will).
    Therefore, the best we can do is to reserve empty seats for rightful but absent voters and make the best-informed guess possible about the choices that benefit them, act on the result and explain it to others.

  • Bai Ren

    The accusative is unnecessary, and generally a pain for learners of Esperanto. It would be much simpler to stick to a subject-verb-object word order, which is in fact the usual order in the vast majority of Esperanto sentences.

    In the famous Sixteen Rules, every sentence is V-S-O.

    The accusative does not make Esperanto more precise.

    Who is beating whom when I say “Multe da virinoj batas multe da viroj”?

    • Henry V. Janoski

      Bai Ren

      You have indeed pointed out what I consider one of the weaknesses of Esperanto in your sentence “Multe da virinioj batas multe da viroj.” Using an adverb and preposition as both a subject and an object does not make sense to me. I would prefer to write it as “Multaj virinoj batas multajn virojn.” or “Multo da virinoj batas multon da viroj.” In this way it is clear that the women are the ones who are hitting the men.

      English almost always uses the SVO order in positioning words and this can lead to monotony. WhenThomas Gray tried to liven things up in his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” he wrote:

      The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
      And all the beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
      Awaits alike th’inevitable hour:
      The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

      Sure enough, his editors tried to change “awaits” to “await” and would have changed the sense intended!

      Another weakness that I find in Esperanto is the lack of apposition, as found in Latin, for example. “Inteligenta persono lernas la lingvon Esperanto rapide kaj facile.” Why is “Esperanto” not written in the accusative with an -n in apposition with “lingvon”? Or why can we write “Mi lernas la Esperanto-lingvon: as well as “Mi lernas la Esperantan lingvon”? I opt for the second one. I think we should simply stick to the early rules about using the accusative in -n. But all this, too, is just nitpicking. I still think Esperanto is more precise than English because of the -n case

      Henriko

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Bai Ren, are the 16 rules a quirky exception like the twice quantified domestic violence sentence, or is the s-v-o pattern similarly prevalent in other works?

  • Wayne Russak

    Good Cheer To All,
    May I suggest that in leiu of a universal language maybe we could be a little more sensitive to others feelings and attempt to understand the meanings of their words, however forgien, before extracting a belief and/or definition about their meaning. I think it would require us to slow down a bit. Would this be good or bad? Tell me what you think.
    The Radical One

  • http://www.lernu.net Brian Barker

    There are more fluent speakers of Mandarin Chinese than English.

    Can we therefore claim that “everyone speaks Chinese” … ?

  • Allan C. Boschen.

    Dr. Albert Einstein, in the aftermath of WW II, thinking about his part in opening the way for the invention of the A-bomb, did an extended anti-war lecture series. His most essential basic message was that the root of our greatest problem(s) lay in the fact that the evolution of our social institutions has not kept pace with technological evolution. The latter had produced ever more complex and sophisticated devices, for every imaginable application for bettering the pleasures of life – and for making war. And here at last is this ultimate weapon with the capacity to wipe us all out, friend and erstwhile enemy alike. Why had our systems of law not evolved in step? They had produced peacefully organized society at local and national levels, and even international federations and other empires. Why not also for the whole world? We had produced the League of Nations, in our efforts to avert war, but it was not enough. So we moved on, to the UN, a further step in sophistication, toward the desired goal, but still not enough. For in the very midst of its development sprang the Cold War, ever threatening to turn hot and wipe us out. Now we have lucked out of the Cold War, avoiding the wanton destruction normally associated with war – but for the monstrous wastes of vast missile systems, and associated military armies and supplies, built up for no good purpose!
    Unable so far to take that final step in making the UN effective toward its ultimate goal(s), perhaps we could look at lower levels with Einstein’s theme. –
    Here, communication is the first step, and is fundamental, in everything that we do. You can cite all the wondrous devices, radio, TV, computers, the internet … , asking what more can we do. Still, the UN is burdened by translation services that eat up 10% of its operating budget. Worse still, this mode of operation leaves it open to serious misunderstandings, while also slowing down operations when time may be critical. The Language Barrier, hard at work! However marvelous may be the so-called Simultaneous Translation, it still is a poor second to direct communication in a language which is mutually well understood by all concerned. Einstein’s theme comes in quite strong, here!
    The solution is quite simple, a universal second language (USL), as postulated some 400 years ago by the great philosophers Descartes and Liebnitz.
    This idea has been acted upon by many intellectual giants in many countries, down thru the years, thus to have developed an ideal working model, along with all the necessary material peripherals. That model is Esperanto, with its world-wide community of adherents and the extensive and elegant literature that this community, in turn, has developed thru the years.
    ————————————————————-
    So now let me ask, how long — how many times can we go on “lucking out”, not to blast ourselves and this whole beautiful planet into eternity? Is there no way that we can get REALLY SERIOUS on these matters? Zamenhof made the very best first-step in that direction. So many among us have seen the light of his vision, and have tried in so many ways to help, as best we can. It seems that the next logical BIG step is to get Esperanto into the schools, as a choice among languages to be studied and learned — and APPLIED in the various ways that it can provide general ENHANCEMENTS to education, especially in this country (USA). How do we reach the EDUCATORS, with this as a REVELATION?

    Allan.

    • Henry V. Janoski

      Allan:

      Thank you for that brilliant summary of the need for Esperanto! I fervently hope that more people pay heed to it.

      May I also add to it the “Concluding words” of the English-speaking Swedish medical doctor to his article “A world where everyone understands one another is a better world,” which can be found at http://www.2-2.se/en/31.html .He, too, does an excellent job of answering questions about the need for Esperanto.

      He writes:

      I believe in the importance of communication, not solely between countrymen. Unfortunately I cannot afford an advertising campaign to spread out the message in this document. If you think I am right, spread out the message to your friends; write to a paper, politician, celebrity, or think of other ways in which to help me create a public opinion in favour of Esperanto. I believe that we all have a responsibility for the world we live in.

      If you do not agree with me, what do you believe? That we should continue with language barriers, communication difficulties, poor international understanding and a cultural levelling of the world? Nobody stands to gain from that.

      Now, it is time for you to act. “Nobody has made a greater mistake than he who did nothing, since he thought he could only do so little.” — Edmund Burke, politician and philosopher.

      Do not forget the words of Andrew Jackson: “One man with courage makes a majority.” Are you brave? It is your decision.

      Albert Camus said: “Those who lack courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.”

      Henriko quoting Dr. Hans Malv

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    I absolutely agree, Allan, when you say: It seems that the next logical BIG step is to get Esperanto into the schools, as a choice among languages to be studied and learned — and APPLIED in the various ways that it can provide general ENHANCEMENTS to education, especially in this country (USA). How do we reach the EDUCATORS, with this as a REVELATION?

    …so much so that I have spent the last three years writing policy proposals and resources to enable other generalist teachers like me to teach Esperanto in primary schools as an introduction to the world of languages and culture and the first step to further language learning.(Before that I spent 10 years teaching Esperanto in schools).

    There has always been a bottle-neck in the supply of Esperanto education to children in that people think languages have to be taught by specialists, language specialists teach what they know and they don’t know Esperanto.

    I’ve worked to remove the bottle-neck by designing teaching materials that can be used by teachers with no second-language background at all. They can learn with their class, providing an inspiring example of life-long learning and the valuing of languages, as well as a much more effective learning experience based on frequent, short, integrated lessons and practice than a weekly specialist can provide.

    Australia is writing its first ever national curriculum for languages and this new strategy of giving all children a second language, from their own class teacher, in primary school, and then a third language in high school is under consideration.

    I’m looking for collaborators interested in promoting the same strategy in the states.

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=englishes+around+the+world&meta=&aq=5&oq=englishes

    Of course, English is the world language ! A travelling friend of mine brought back the proof : Signs she encountered in hotels :

    In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the porter.

    The manager has personally passed all the water served at this hotel.

    We highly recommend the hotel tart.

    In order to prevent shoes from mislaying, please don’t corridor them. The management cannot be held.

    Please hang your order before retiring on the door knob.

    We serve 5 o’clock tea at all hours.

    As for the tripe served to you at the Hotel Monopol, you will be singing its praises to your grandchildren on your deathbed

    To call Room Service, please open the door and call Room Service.

    To stop the drip, turn cock to the right.

    We sorry to advise you that be a electric disperfect in the generator master of the elevator we have the necessity that don’t give servicxe at our distinguishable guests.

    Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

    Swimming is forbidden in the absence of a saviour.

    If your wish breakfast, lift the telephone and our waitress will arrive. This will be enough to bring up your food.

    Special cocktail served for ladies with nuts.

    Cooles and heates. If you want condition of warm air in your room, control yourself.

    • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

      During the Esperanto Conference in 2004 (Beijing), I went to the “business center” to read my mails.
      The attendant (a young chinese girl) said to me “Your doctor is beautifull”. Durind a few seconds, I wondered what she meant!
      But I understood quickly that she spoke about my daughter (!!!) who went at the business center just before!

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    N or no N ?

    Mary loves George more than John. ambiguous ?

    Mary loves George more than she loves John Mario amas Georgeon pli ol Johanon

    Mary loves George more than John loves George. . Mario amas Georgeon pli ol Johano.
    “N” is useful (but please correct my sentences if i became confused !)

  • Henry V. Janoski

    Henriette:

    These are excellent examples of how using the accusative ending -n helps to make Esperanto more precise than English. But I already believe in the value of using -n. It would perhaps be more interesting to hear from those who do not.

    How many people think that Dr. Zamenhof came up with the Esperanto language in a comparatively short period of time? He actually worked on it from 1878, when he was 19 years old, till 1887, when he first published this language. During that time, he translated many works into Esperanto to see what problems he would run into in using this language. He made several changes along the way and had good reasons for why the language ended up as it did. And he translated the Old Testament in its entirety into this new language. All those who want to make changes NOW should keep this in mind. That is not to say that new changes will not occur in the future, evolving as accepted usage over time. Some are already underway, as the names of countries, for example. Original Esperanto usually uses -ujo added to a nationality to form a country name, as “Slovakujo” or “Polujo” ( -ujo refers to a container, so we have a “container of Slovaks” for “Slovakia” and a “container of Poles” for “Poland”), But in recent years, some people began to use -io and -lando, so we have “Slovakio” and “Pollando,” alongside the use of the -ujo names. I, myself, prefer “Slovakio” and “Pollando,” but I cringe when I hear “Polio.”

    So, the feminists, for example, should not give up in their quest for more equal treatment of gender in Esperanto. A first step would simply be to use a name of a profession in one form only: aktoro (drop aktorino) or advokato (no need for advokatino). My older daughter is in law school to become a lawyer. Period. No need to specify gender here. Zamenhof lived in a time when it was common to do so. But I think he would look at it differently if he were alive today. Like him, I speak Polish, where gender distinctions are very common. The Poles use “Pan,” “Pani” and “Panna” (Mr., Mrs., Miss), for example, perhaps because unmarried girls wanted it to be known that they were available for marriage. But when I was in Poland in recent years, I heard a middle-aged store manager address a 7-yeal old female customer as “Pani.” This is more and more common. But please don’t go all the way and try to eliminate natural gender distinctions. There is still a natural difference between a man and a woman. ( I am married to a woman, have two daughters and two female dogs. I do not think I am a male chauvinist). I like to distinguish between “vir” and “virino” but I am glad that I do not have to learn two separate root words to do this. This is one of the ways to keep the learning of new words to a minimum.

    Henriko

  • Henry V. Janoski

    Terry Dip’s excellent, thought-provoking article seems to suggest something similar to the current “official” language policy of the European Union, where 23 languages are now official and more will soon be added. The EU suggests that each citizen speak his own language and learn two others. This is simply maintaining the status quo. Terry says that English should NOT become an official international language. But since most of the non-English-speaking inhabitants of the EU opt for English as one of the two new languages, or perhaps only language, to learn, this could further the cultural imperialism of English that Terry rightly deplores.

    I am an English speaker and also speak French and Polish. But I am at a loss when it comes to speaking German, Italian, etc. Terry correctly points out that the best way to learn German, Italian, etc. “cultures” is to learn their languages. But who has the time and money to learn all these other languages?

    However, I AM able to communicate with Germans, Italians, etc. who share with me Esperanto, which is the third language that I learned. Esperanto is NOT intended to REPLACE any national language and is NOT a threat to other languages like English is!

    Since much of the world’s national literatures have been, or are being, translated into Esperanto, this gives me access to the German, Italian, etc. cultures that I would otherwise not have. Yes, it is true that some of these literatures may be available in English translation, and I welcome that, but it is not the same. The translations that I come across in Esperanto are usually not available in English because they may be from obscure writers, from an English-speaking point of view, and not profitable for English-language publishers to consider. Also, much of the translations into Esperanto, and even original writings, are done directly by people whose languages I do not speak. This gets me closer to the source.

    So, I agree with Terry that English should NOT be the world’s international language and agree with him that we should try to learn as many foreigh languages as we can. But I also think that Esperanto should be adopted as a common “second” language by all people. The world is shrinking and there is a need for all of the world’s inhabitants to be able to talk to one another.

    Henriko

  • http://esperanto.org/espviva Ian Fantom

    Terry’s article is excellent. In a future blog, he might consider in a little more detail just how English has come to have such a dominant position.

    Zamenhof expected the main opposition to Esperanto to come from the big language powers, which would have meant the French-speaking powers and the English-speaking powers of his time. Instead, the opposition came from undermining within the Esperanto community. Initially, this was coming primarily from French-speaking Esperantistist, then later from English-speaking Esperantists. What would that suggest?

    Zamenhof pointed out that attacks from within are much more powerful than attacks from outside. So, if you were a power freak wanting to make French or English the world’s language, how would you do it?

    Gordon Brown has made it known that it is government policy to make English the world’s language. Here in the UK we had suspected that for decades, since Esperantist Harold Wilson went silent on Esperanto on becoming Prime Minister. Now we know. Nowadays, UK prime ministers are believed to be puppets; Harold Wilson tried to stand up to this and eventually resigned.

    The Grin Report gives sufficient reason to think that the financial oligarchy behind the US and UK governments may be behind this.

    What do power freaks do when they want to push their own agenda? Openly pushing their own language at too early a stage would merely create a back-lash. The EU in earlier days wouldn’t have stood for it.

    I would be surprised if there had not been an operation of undermining of the opposition in the case of language politics. Just look at the history of Esperanto.

    Yes, English is a language of imperial design, being pushed by the military-industrial complex. When people recognise this, they will look for a fairer and more peaceful world.

    When the 9/11 wars are over, and people come to the realisation of what it’s all been about, they will be more receptive to the idea of Esperanto.

  • http://www.lernu.net Brian Barker

    Excellent analysis by Ian Fantom :D

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    Bai Ren Dec.14 2009

    “One of Esperanto’s great problems is its “eternal beginners”, who acquire a smattering and never progress, , but feel good about themselves because they are supporting this wonderful project to bring peace and mutual understanding to humanity.”

    As one of those wicked-great-problem-causing-smatterers… and on behalf of others… T’was 1942, I was 11yrs old. Choice had to be made : Latin plus either German or English. My father told the head-mistress : ESPERANTO, the only way to prevent such frequent wars. – NO ! In german-occupied France teaching Esperanto was not permitted.
    After a heated argument, my (french) father decided i should study german. His argument : France and Germany are at war every 20 years, it is about time we learnt to understand each other. What a difficult three years for us “children of collaborators”, Boches lovers, finding swastikas on our clothes, desks, etc., being tripped and harassed. I certainly wished we had all been studying Esperanto…
    A few years later, as an immigrant in Australia, i sure wished for Esperanto as a universal second language. ..

    Work, children… Swiftly went the years. Much later, in retirement, i had the joy of meeting Esperantists. After much wear and tear, and a light stroke, i enjoy reading and writing Esperanto, but speak it, indeed, as an eternal beginner. But i would feel good if i could hope that it will help the following generations.

    Mankso Dec. 13 That is NEAT ! Concise but precise . May I print it for showing to non-esperantists ? please ?

    Siu Yee Dec. 25 Dear Siu Yee You said : “It would certainly be easier for someone to pick up Esperanto if that person had already known some English and European languages” Sure. However, being phonetic is a great time-saver. What language would you suggest as better suited for global direct communication ?

    Siu Yee Dec 27 what are ‘other constructed languages’ and how many of them in the world? I am not being unfriendly here, but I am just expressing my feelings and thoughts
    Here are a few http://www2.cmp.uea.ac.uk/~jrk/conlang.html and there are more .
    Henry V. Janoski Dec 28

    ” Dr. Zamenhof realized at an early date that he must provide a standard form of Esperanto in his Fundamento to prevent continuous suggestions for change, rather than using “the ‘language as he presented it. A vote was taken by the Esperanto speakers at that time and the vote was in favor of this decision. But Zamenhof said that if a responsible “government ‘agency wanted to make necessary changes that had been suggested over time, they could do so prior to its official adoption by that government. Zamenhof gave up all “his rights to ‘the language he invented, giving it freely to all humanity for their use. In the meantime, the Akademio de Esperanto is the arbitrator of the purity of the Esperanto “language and ‘decides what new words are to be accepted as they are submitted for new ideas, inventions, etc. as they occur. All this was done in response to the creation of Ido “by one of his ‘followers, which tried to immediately replace Esperanto in 1907. For a list of auxiliary languages that have also tried unsuccessfully to do this see “‘http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_constructed_languages .”

    The above reminded me of recently reading the following : from VIVO DE ZAMENHOF de Edmond Privat – “Granda estas la diferenco inter homo-infano kaj homo-viro, granda eble estos la diferenco inter la nuna Esperanto kaj la evoluinta Esperanto de post multaj jarcentoj… Iom post iom konstante aperas novaj vortoj kaj formoj, unuj fortigxas, aliaj cxesas esti uzataj. Cxio farigxas kviete, senskue, kaj ecx nerimarkeble. Nenie montrigxas ia diferencigxado de nia lingvo laù la diversay landoj… Nenie rompigxas aù difektigxas la kontinueco inter la linfvo malnova kaj la nova. Malgraù la fakto ke nia lingvo forte disvolvigxas, cxiu nova Esperantisto legas la verkojn de antaù dudek jaroj kun tia sama facileco, kiel Esperantisto tiutempa.”

    En Ameriko Zamenhof klarigis pli detale sian penson. Se iam aùtorita delegitaro de diversay regnoj volus iom sxangxi Esperanton, antaù ol gxin oficialigi, kiel gxi agus ? Por akcepti kelkajn utilajn vortojn, por limigi l’akuzativon aù cxesigi l’akordigxon de l’adjektivoj en multnombro, cxu taùgus subfosi la tutan laboron de duoncentjaro kaj rekomenci cxiun sperton per alia vojo ? Suficxus, ke la Lingva Komitato rekomendu la forlasojn aù aldonajojn en uzado cxiutaga. Post kelka tempo, kutimo ja farigxus sen ia rompo, se gxi montrigxus tre praktika. Se ne, ecx decido la plej alta falus morte. Efektive la sperto baldaù montrus cxu tio, kio sendube estas pli facika en u z a d o, ne igas tiom pli malfacila la komprenadon.

    Therefore, although esperantists are occasionally considered “inflexible”, L. Zamenhof himself was open-minded to future needs.

    Hoss Dec 29

    To accord or not accord noun and adjective ? http://angli02.kgw.tu-berlin.de/Korean/Artikel02/morphology.html Saluton !

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    DEJA VU ——– BUT APPEARS TO BE FORGOTTEN !!!!!

    David Rothkopf, “In Praise of Cultural Imperialism?” Foreign Policy, Number 107, Summer 1997, pp. 38-53
    DAVID ROTHKOPF is managing director of Kissinger Associates QUOTE :

    TOWARD A GLOBAL CULTURE

    It is in the general interest of the United States to encourage the development of a world in which the fault lines separating nations are bridged by shared interests.

    And it is in the economic and political interests of the United States to ensure that if the world is moving toward a common language, it be English; that if the world is moving toward common telecommunications, safety, and quality standards, they be American; that if the world is becoming linked by television, , radio, and music, the programming be American; and that if common values are being developed, they be values with which Americans are comfortable.

    Americans should not deny the fact that of all the nations in the history of the world, theirs is the most just, the most tolerant, the most willing to constantly reassess and improve itself, and the best model for the future. End of quote.

    Dans son rapport de 1987/88, le directeur du British Council écrit « Le véritable or noir de la Grande-Bretagne n’est pas le pétrole de la Mer du Nord mais la langue anglaise . Le défi que nous affrontons est de l’exploiter à fond. » end of quote

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    And don’t forget this from just last year too, if you really don’t believe that World English is being actively promoted to benefit – guess who? – the native speakers themselves!:
    >GORDON Brown will today pledge to export the English language to the world – and boost our economy by billions.

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso
  • http://www.EsperantoFriends.blogspot.com Neil Blonstein

    Dear Allan,
    In regards to using Esperanto at the UN, the establishment at the UN is pretending that translation to 5 or 6 official languages will suffice to allow full debate on all subjects. In fact, in my 2 year experience at the UN 90 percent of all speakers are opting to speak in English, even when they have the speaking or reading ability of a second grader of a native speaker (I will refrain from being personal but this is the reality I see). South American indigenous opt to talk in Spanish, even as they fight for indigxenous linguistic rights. Even in various rooms with translator booths, I hear various excuses: social and technical, for translation not to be available in French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese or Arabic. (For those who know me and others I consider this generally a failed sistem that denies the majority the full right to participate.)

    Dear Henry,
    In regards to Basic English, I am taking note of more and more “simplified” or “light” forms of English being used by popular media, including the Jerusalem Post and the Voice of America. They pretend to be making these as tools to master “Real English” or “Native English” but in fact won’t these simplified versions replace native versions in the long run at many international meetings where people have accepted Anglo-US dominance (without verbalizing that).

  • LAMBERT

    Mi ne parolas la anglan lingvon kiu estas tro malfacila por la homoj kiuj ne estas anglaj ; la angla lingvo, lingvo de la mondo, ne tute ne ; la angla lingvo ne taùgas por la internacia komunikado, estas nacia lingvo kaj ne internacia kaj unu nacia lingvo ne devas regi la mondon ; unu lando kiu devigas lian lingvon al la aliaj estas diktaturo, totalitarismo do la angla ne devas esti la lingvon de la mondo ; Esperanto estas plej bona cxar estas plej facila ol la angla do pli taùgas por cxiuj

  • LAMBERT

    Après avoir mis un commentaire en Esperanto, je dis en Français que l’anglais langue du monde, non, on n’en veut pas, ceux qui acceptent l’anglais, c’est parce qu’ils ne connaissent pas autre chose, on leur a jamais appris l’Esperanto qui est plus facile que l’anglais pour tous donc l’esperanto est plus convenable que l’anglais qui est très difficile pour ceux qui ne sont pas natifs, tellement difficile d’où les accidents d’avions entre autre. Il ne faut pas accepter l’anglais, sinon c’est le totalitarisme et la dictature.

    .E LAMBERT France

    • http://evaholland.com Eva

      You demean the suffering inflicted by totalitarianism and dictatorships by invoking those terms here. Just goes to show, whether speaking in English, Esperanto or French, it’s still what you say that counts. (And yes, I could say this to you in French if I chose. Since I choose not to, I suppose that makes me a Nazi?)

  • Henry V. Janoski

    For the benefit of those of you who do not understand Esperanto and/or French, I have translated the Esperanto message of E. Lambert, who writes:

    I do not speak the English language, which is too difficult for people who are not English; the English language as a language of the world, no, definitely no; the English language is not fit for international communication; it is a national language not international, and one national language must not rule the world; one land that imposes its language on the others is a dictator, it is totalitarianism so English must not be the language of the world; Esperanto is the best because it is easier than English, thus fit for everyone.

    The French message is very similar.

    Henriko

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Eva, you could speak in French if you chose to, so you can afford to be indifferent. What if you had no access to the powerful languages of the World’s rich majority? How nonchalant would you be then? Would you feel heard? Would you feel informed?
    We privileged ones could make World news and science available in Esperanto, which can be learned from a text worth a dollar, if we cared to include those whom we currently ignore.

    • http://evaholland.com Eva

      Where did I say I was indifferent? I said I think the comparison to totalitarianism and dictatorship is inappropriate – and it is. Comparing the global dominance of the English language to, say, Auschwitz is quite frankly disgusting and insensitive. Really, I think most people would choose an inability to speak “the powerful languages of the World’s rich majority” over a violent death. I know I would.

      • Hoss

        @Eva writes: “Comparing the global dominance of the English language to, say, Auschwitz is quite frankly disgusting and insensitive.”

        Perhaps, but you’re the only one making the comparison, Eva. (And in doing so, incidentally, you’ve lent yet more support to Godwin’s law. ;-)

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law
        http://eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le%C4%9Do_de_Godwin

        • http://evaholland.com Eva

          I’m the only one making the comparison? So when Lambert mentioned totalitarianism and dictatorship, he meant the friendly kind, without concentration camps or purges or death squads?

          I’m not anti-Esperanto. What I am against is the abuse of some very serious, hurtful history for rhetorical purposes. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the global language situation as stacking up to the great dictatorships of the 20th century – the ones most people think of when they hear the term “totalitarian.”

  • http://www.EsperantoFriends.blogspot.com Neil Blonstein

    Dear Eva,
    I find your comments interesting. I recently (summer, 2009) returned from a turistic program in northern Poland (the former Prussia) and I was a little surprised when the leader made it clear: he and the majority of Poles dislike equally the the fascism of Hitler and the communist dictatorship (largely because many poles were killed by Russians and for a time denied it). (He said it all in Esperanto.) I don’t think any Esperantists will intend to compare English domination with Hitler’s dictatorship. In contrast, a very high percentage–nearly every esperantist knows that Hitler sought out Jewish Esperantists (many founding members) and socialist Esperantists (also a large group) for extermination. We ended our tour at Stuthoff, where Hitler killed 100,000 women and children, mostly Jewish. Most of the 5 day tour had individuals from 40 countries. Prior to this small event we were almost 2,000 strong from over 60 countries in Bialystok, Poland where 90 percent of the Jewish majority was killed by Hitler and 90 percent of Esperanto speakers were annihilated. On the other hand a (small) percentage of Esperantists advocated the former communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

    • http://evaholland.com Eva

      Neil – That sounds like a fascinating tour. I had never heard about the persecution/extermination of Esperantists in the Nazi era before. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.mondeto.com Penelope Vos

    Eva, everyone would, and no-one mentioned Auschwitz but you.
    The fact that some thefts are bigger than others does not make a small one no theft at all, does it?
    Cultural Imperialism is the same. Rejecting it in all degrees in no way equates all of its expressions.

    • http://evaholland.com Eva

      Penelope – see my reply to Hoss. I really don’t think it’s unreasonable to object to a comparison to “totalitarianism and dictatorship.” English is not mass murder. Seriously.

  • http://esperanto.memlink.ca mankso

    Eva:
    If you can manage to stumble your way through a page of Esperanto, there is some more info here about documented persecutions against Esperanto and Esperanto-speakers, especially under Hitler and Stalin:
    http://eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_dan?era_lingvo
    The book “The Dangerous Language” by Ulrich Lins originally appeared in Esperanto in 1973 – it hasn’t been translated into English yet, but there are (helpfully?!) also versions in German, Russian, Italian, Japanese and Lithuanian. Not everything worth knowing is available in English yet, despite what some might have us believe!

    • http://evaholland.com Eva

      Thanks! And: “Not everything worth knowing is available in English yet, despite what some might have us believe!” Hee hee. True.

  • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

    Thanks to Henriette, who cited David Rothkopf, “In Praise of Cultural Imperialism?”. Did somebody quoted Churchill (1943): “« The power to control language offers far better prizes than taking away people’s provinces or lands or grinding them down in exploitation. The empires of the future are the empires of the mind. »

    I’d like to let you know some anecdotes, wich can show how the hudge use of english leads the world to an uniformization of cultures and weakening of all other languages. Obviously, it cannot be compared with the crimes of fascism or stalinism, but it shows clearly that the “optimistic” assertions “The use of english does not, and will not damage other languages and cultures” is an illusion… or… a lie.

    1996: I drive through Germany to Czech republic. I stop and take two youngsters. After a while, we stop to drink and eat something. They even don’t know what’s the meaning of “Mit Senf” or “Ohne Senf” (->”with mustard”, “without mustard”). I do not really speak german, but as an esperantist, I like to learn the basis of the language when I travel in a country. Long time ago, german was one of the most studied languages in Czech republic (with russian, obsviously!). Now, I guess it’s english.

    1997: My teen-aged daughters are studying spanish at school. I go to Madrid with them during some days. On “La puerta del Sol” (a main square in Madrid), we sit down at a (I’m not sure how it’s said in english) cafe terrace. We want to order “churros” (we order in spanish) but they are not sold there. A very well dressed woman (of the middle or upper class) attending the scene, overheard our disappointement (my daughters and I speak together in french). She notice we are speaking french, and immediately speaks to us… in english: “I think it’s abnormal not to find churros in a cafe at one o’clock”. I answer (in spanish): “Dear madame, I wonder why your’e speaking to us in english, since we’re French, and my daughters and I want to improve our spanish speaking.” She is very disappointed, even a little picked! (I guess that for her, every stranger travelling Spain has to speak english as an “international language”?). 30 years ago, one of the main foreign languages learned in Spain was french. It no longer is! (the same in Italy).

    2006: I am in Florence (Italy) in the youth hostel (wich is also a camp site. I am accomodated in a camper-van). There are a lot of foreigners there, because of the esperanto conference. The eve of the end of our departure, I find a paper (in english) on my van (wich have a french license plate): “Please, come at the reception and let us know if you want to stay one more night”. As I like teasing, I go to the reception with the sheet, and say (in italian): “Can you please translate? I am French…” The girl replies: “Oh, you, French people, your’e duffers with languages!” (I was speaking to her in italian!!!!!!!!!”). I ask: “Would you say the same to and English people, who couldn’t speak only english?”. Did she think, that my speaking italian was not knowing a foreign language? And in the hostel, they apparently don’t use THEIR own language, and no longer use french, even with French people…

    2008: I am at a friends’home (in Toulouse, the south-west of France, near Spain), for a lunch. After the liunch, my friend (the father) tries to convince his 15 years old daughter to go to her room and study her spanish lesson. He says: “It will be usefull to you when we will travel to Spain”. She replies: “Of, never mind! I will speak english!”

    2009: I am in a camp site in Rotterdam. In the washing place, two young people ask me in english: “Do you know how it’s possible to use the washing machine?” I beging to explain, and suddenly (because I notice an accent) I add: “But, can’t you speak french?” (It happens sometime that travelers speak in english, having the same mother tonge!). No, they don’t. “Italian?” – Yes, they ARE italians. Since I speak italian better than english, I began to speak italian. But, eerily, they seem upset with this switching to italian.

    I want add an information. We (french people) ARE CONSTANTY TOLD that we are the “not good” for learning and speaking “foreign languages” (wich means “not good in english”).
    But if you examine an european survey (2000, cited by Grin) about the knowledge of english, we find that in: Belgium, Austria, Greece: there are about 29% of people speaking english, France: 24%, Italy, Portugal : 21%, eastern part of Germany 18%, Spain 15%. (western part of Germany 34%, Finland 36%).
    I wonder what is the origin of this “urban legend” about our “bad english”. Perhaps, as France is a place where people defend their cultural identity, it was necessary to make them feel guilty? Furthermore, I had some occasions to notice that Southern people from europe are said the same, but scarcely they verify that the our situations are very similar. So, everybody asume that they are “dummies”, and feel ashamed!!! This is a very sickening manner to push peole to learn the english “international language”, isn’t it?
    So, speaking english shows to some people that your’e a part of a kind of “elite”, while if you don’t, your’e not an interesting person. And sometimes (like the Spannish lady in Madrid or the young Italians in Rotterdam), they feel angry if you refuse that manner to communicate.

    So, although a comparison beetween totalitarisms like Stalinism and fascism is inappropriate, there’s something to examine about the pressure of english as an “international” language, and it’s consequences. There is a difference of degree, but a similar aim: get the power, favor a single “order” and eradicate the different voices.

  • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

    PS: The two young hitchhikers in Gerlany were Czechs (I didn’t said it clearly)

  • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

    PPS: In Florence:
    “Would you say the same to an English people, who COULD speak ONLY english?”


    (My mistakes show, that it’s not easy to use english, for somebody wich didn’t got it as a mother tongue!!!)

    • Henry V. Janoski

      M. Couturier: Vous ecrivez tres bien en anglais! Ne vous inquietez pas de vos petites fautes de grammaire en cette langue. Mais vous avez raison quand vous dites que l’anglais n’est pas facile a apprendre.

      With regard to your statement ” ‘The use of English does not, and will not, damage other languages and cultures’ is an illusion…or…a lie.” Je suis d’accord. It would be interesting if someone from Ireland would be willing to comment on this. I understand that only a tiny minority of the Irish people, perhaps 50,000 out of more than 4,000,000, use the Irish language as their daily language. This is due to the long-term presence of the English conquerors in Ireland over the centuries. Unfortunately, the spelling of Irish is as bad as that of English, making it difficult, even for Irishmen, to learn the Irish language.

      The Irish have a saying: “Tir gan teanga, tir gan anam (A country without (its) language is a country without a soul).”

      The Germans tried to do the same thing in Poland. But fortunately Poland was under German rule for only about 125 years, whereas the English have been in Ireland for many centuries.

      Henriko

  • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

    One more mistake:
    “but scarcely they verify that _—our—_ situations are very similar.”

    More details about that: I already met people from Spain or Italy, who said to me (in their language: “Oh! Do y really listen that YOU, Frenchs, are bad in speaking english??? I though we (italians, Spannish) were the most incompetent in Europe!!!)

  • LAMBERT

    Mi volas respondi al Eva. Mi volas klarigi ke la angla lingvo estas lingva kolonialismo; la diktaturoj kiuj persekutis la esperantistojn ne volis ke la homoj interkomprenigxu, Esperanto estas la lingvo de la paco kaj de la amikeco inter la popoloj ; mi forveturas en Cxinio kaj mi uzos Esperanton kun multaj Cxinoj sen esti malsupera ; la landoj kiuj ne estas anglalingvanaj estas malsuperaj al la angloj, kaj Gordon Brown volas ke lia lingvo estu supera al la aliaj, tio estas lingva diktaturo, Esperanto ne estas lingva diktaturo nek kolonialismo, nek dangxera lingvo, gxi protektas cxujn lingvojn kaj kulturojn ; la angla faras la kontraùo, l

  • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

    Translation of Lambert (I try to respect what he said):
    “I want answer to Eva. I want make clear that english language is a linguistic colonialism; the dictatorships wich persecuted esperantists didn’t want people to understand each other. Esperanto is the language for peace and friendship;
    I’m going to fly China, and I will use esperanto with a lot of Chinese, not being inferior; the countries wich don’t have english as their language are inferior to Brits, and Gordon Brown wants his language to be superiour to others, this is dictatorship, esperanto is not dictatorship nor colonialism, nor dangerous language, it protects every language and culture: english do the contrary.”

  • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

    Well, now I reply to Lambert ;-)

    I think Eva understood WHAT is your point of view. But (I didn’t really read the whole thread…), I think she (like to many people) is a little uncertain about the effectiveness of it…
    Actually, the dominance of english took such a manner to succeed, that very few people have awareness of it.

    It’s very difficult to plead for an alternative, because our point of view seems “exagerated”.
    It’s almost the same process than neoliberalism… Do you know the “frog’s fable (parable)”?
    If a frog is put into hot water, it tries to escape, and jumps out of the water.

    But if you put it into cold water, and warm it gently… the frog don’t realize the danger, after a while the water becomes more and more hot, and when water becomes really hot, the frog is boiled.

    The linguistic situation is similar.

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    To the Moderator : I attempted earlier to send this; did i push the wrong button ? was it rejected ? This is amended.

    Replying to
    Bai Ren Dec.14 2009

    “One of Esperanto’s great problems is its “eternal beginners”, who acquire a smattering and never progress, , but feel good about themselves because they are supporting this wonderful project to bring peace and mutual understanding to humanity.”

    As one of those wicked-great-problem-causing-smatterers… and on behalf of others… T’was 1942, I was 11yrs old. Choice had to be made : Latin plus either German or English. My father told the head-mistress : ESPERANTO, the only way to prevent such frequent wars. – NO ! In german-occupied France teaching Esperanto was not permitted.
    After a heated argument, my (french) father decided i should study german. His argument : France and Germany are at war every 20 years, it is about time we learnt to understand each other. What a difficult three years for us “children of collaborators”, Boches lovers, finding swastikas on our clothes, desks, etc., being tripped and harassed. I certainly wished we had all been studying Esperanto…
    A few years later, as an immigrant in Australia, i sure wished for Esperanto as a universal second language. ..

    Work, children… Swiftly went the years. Much later, in retirement, i had the joy of meeting Esperantists. After much wear and tear, and a light stroke, i enjoy reading and writing Esperanto, but speak it, indeed, as an eternal beginner. But i would feel good if i could hope that it will help the following generations.

    Replying to Mankso Dec. 13 That is NEAT ! Concise but precise . May I print it for showing to non-esperantists ? please ?

    Replying to Siu Yee Dec. 25 Dear Siu Yee You said : “It would certainly be easier for someone to pick up Esperanto if that person had already known some English and European languages” Sure. However, being phonetic is a great time-saver. What language would you suggest as better suited for global direct communication ?

    Replying to Siu Yee Dec 27 what are ‘other constructed languages’ and how many of them in the world? I am not being unfriendly here, but I am just expressing my feelings and thoughts
    Here are a few http://www2.cmp.uea.ac.uk/~jrk/conlang.html and there are more .

    Agreeing with Henry V. Janoski Dec 28

    ” Dr. Zamenhof realized at an early date that he must provide a standard form of Esperanto in his Fundamento to prevent continuous suggestions for change, rather than using the language as he presented it. A vote was taken by the Esperanto speakers at that time and the vote was in favor of this decision. But Zamenhof said that if a responsible “government ‘agency wanted to make necessary changes that had been suggested over time, they could do so prior to its official adoption by that government. Zamenhof gave up all “his rights to ‘the language he invented, giving it freely to all humanity for their use. In the meantime, the Akademio de Esperanto is the arbitrator of the purity of the Esperanto “language and ‘decides what new words are to be accepted as they are submitted for new ideas, inventions, etc. as they occur. All this was done in response to the creation of Ido “by one of his ‘followers, which tried to immediately replace Esperanto in 1907. For a list of auxiliary languages that have also tried unsuccessfully to do this see “‘http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_constructed_languages .”

    The above reminded me of recently reading the following : from VIVO DE ZAMENHOF de Edmond Privat – which i am inserting for non-english speakers (practically similar to the above from Mr. Janoski)
    “Granda estas la diferenco inter homo-infano kaj homo-viro, granda eble estos la diferenco inter la nuna Esperanto kaj la evoluinta Esperanto de post multaj jarcentoj… Iom post iom konstante aperas novaj vortoj kaj formoj, unuj fortigxas, aliaj cxesas esti uzataj. Cxio farigxas kviete, senskue, kaj ecx nerimarkeble. Nenie montrigxas ia diferencigxado de nia lingvo laù la diversay landoj… Nenie rompigxas aù difektigxas la kontinueco inter la linfvo malnova kaj la nova. Malgraù la fakto ke nia lingvo forte disvolvigxas, cxiu nova Esperantisto legas la verkojn de antaù dudek jaroj kun tia sama facileco, kiel Esperantisto tiutempa.”

    En Ameriko Zamenhof klarigis pli detale sian penson. Se iam aùtorita delegitaro de diversay regnoj volus iom sxangxi Esperanton, antaù ol gxin oficialigi, kiel gxi agus ? Por akcepti kelkajn utilajn vortojn, por limigi l’akuzativon aù cxesigi l’akordigxon de l’adjektivoj en multnombro, cxu taùgus subfosi la tutan laboron de duoncentjaro kaj rekomenci cxiun sperton per alia vojo ? Suficxus, ke la Lingva Komitato rekomendu la forlasojn aù aldonajojn en uzado cxiutaga. Post kelka tempo, kutimo ja farigxus sen ia rompo, se gxi montrigxus tre praktika. Se ne, ecx decido la plej alta falus morte. Efektive la sperto baldaù montrus cxu tio, kio sendube estas pli facila en u z a d o, ne igas tiom pli malfacila la komprenadon.

    Therefore, although esperantists are occasionally considered “inflexible”, L. Zamenhof himself was open-minded to future needs. Bai Ren may wish to join and/or partake in the Akademio (if not already there???) I’ll admit that i find difficulty in learning the verbs which are not a priori obviously transitive or intransitive. naski = to give birth – naskigxi = to come into the world -
    “naskigi” i cannot find in the PIV, could it be used to describe the function of the midwife ? – akvo bolas = water is boiling, would not “boligxas” be easier,since “boligas” = to cause to boil ?

  • http://www.bravenewtraveler.com/2008/04/02/should-english-be-the-worlds-international-language Henriette

    Is this to be inflicted on all the children of the world ?

    http://www.spellingsociety.org/media/items/cost_of_spelling

    • http://www.ipernity.com/home/onagrino Couturier

      Thank you a lot for your link, Henriette! Very interesting indeed.

  • Rebecca

    As an American living abroad I’ve heard this complaint about English a lot. However, I live in India where there are 17 national languages. Obviously I can’t learn all of them, I’ve never met an Indian who speaks all of them. Each of these languages are charged, attached to particular regions and cultures. English is a equalizer, allowing us to communicate with each other! So for this I say yay English!

    • neil_nachum

      I find it a sad joke that a colonial language equalizes.  Likewise millions of African americans  and native americans were wipped to stop speaking their languages as slaves and in schools run by a variety of churches.  If we do not remember history we ared doomed to repeat it.  www.esperantofriends.blogspot.com http://www.esperanto-un.org 

  • http://christina-sutiah.blogspot.com/ Christina Sue

    Hi guys,

    I love this discussion board. IT’s very interesting to talk about English world languages, or as international language, or as a lingua franca. Well, any kind name is OK for English. It just depends on how communicators from different backgrounds utilize this language to understand each other. For communication among the NNS, it might be a lingua franca. Well, what about make English as yours.. I mean use your pragmatics to not ruin your culture (if you are Asians). Adopt the language not the culture, make filter. Even though we cannot separate between language and culture :))

  • John Simmons

    I would just like to say that being an American, I found this article fairly bias against Americans. In the article, the author said things such as, “It’s time Americans did some serious footwork to catch up”. This can be viewed as offensive, since America isn’t the only country to speak English. If you read the Article, it talks a lot about America, sometimes giving slanderous comments, while countries such as Australia or England were not critisized. Granted, America can be blamed for a lot of commercialism, and negative influence on this kingd of thing. But America is not the only country with tourists, which this Author seems to dislike.

  • Najmaqurbani

    i think the language that had the most native speaker in the world should be international language. 

  • schweizerblut

    I agree that perhaps a global language can be detrimental to culture, but I’m not sure that preventing English as a global language is realistic. Although non-Americans may feel some resentment about this fact, they should realize that English is becoming so prevalent as a result of America’s superiority in many respects. That may sound gaudy or arrogant, but if a nation and its culture want to survive, they need to start becoming more self-sufficient and/or performing at standards comparable with the U.S.

  • Strumpkin

    This business of people urging English speakers to learn another language is stupid.
    Buy a tv set these days and the instructions come in hundreds of languages. Most of them do not even use the Latin alphabet.  So which of some 6000 languages should we learn?
    Are any of them even worth the major effort required to achieve fluency?
    If, say, Urdu were the world’s lingua franca I’d make an effort to learn but it isn’t. English is the closest language to a global lingua franca and non English speakers have a good incentive to learn it.
    I am not being arrogant about English. This is just a plain matter of fact.

  • A Living Individual

    There is something profoundly wrong about
    the final statement of the article. Because a standard language will help
    cultural exchange since it would serve as a lingua franca and if two cultures
    were to meet each other without a lingua franca one would always have to submit
    to another. Some degree of cultural imperialism is inevitable. English is especially
    suited for role as the standard language of the world because English does not
    have a government regulated lingual authority and it is without doubt already the
    lingua franca of the majority of the people around the world. Thus English has become
    more culturally neutral than any language before it, including the artificial
    ones which were usually of a very Eurocentric composition. American culture is
    spread around the world regardless of a common lingual denominator, e.g. when
    they export movies they just dub them or put subtitles on them.

    • Jester1913

       For you to say that English is a culturally neutral language deeply offends me as an American citizen. I am not patriotic. I don’t vote. I don’t know a thing about American politics or economics. But English is the language I was raised in. It it the language through which I first discovered the world. Every memory I have resides in the English language, and every ounce of my being is due to the English language as my form of expression and communication. English is in no way culturally neutral. English is my very soul and spirit. I’ve studied French and Russian, and I speak Spanish pretty fluently. I’ve also spend a lot of time traveling and volunteering abroad, so I am in no way uncultured. But I am deeply hurt to hear people tossing my tongue around like it’s nothing. It might not mean anything to you beyond the money you can make off of it, but it’s the world to me, and I will do anything to protect it. I completely agree with this article. It’s about time more people stood up against lingua francas!

      • Terryd11

        A language being culturally neutral does not make it devoid of meaning or  significance. 

        What that commentor meant was that English is not particularly associated with any one country nor is it wrapped up in any nations identity. English was brought over from England and transformed in America, but also has been influenced by countless cultures and has adopted, transformed, and created words for hundreds of years. It is a product of multiple cultures and countries and that is why using English doesnt seem like cultural imperialism.

        If anything, using English to foreighners feels like cultural inclusion — that they now are able to participate in and experience a much greater connection to the rest of the English-speaking world and its culture.

      • NOT Terryd11

        Not really sure how money entered the equation. It was more a suggestion for the convenience of economics, business, tourism, etc. but no money would be expressly exploited from the language itself…

        I also dont understand where you get this sense of danger and attack on the English language from this conversation that you feel the need to “protect” it. Part of the beauty of English is its ability to adopt meaning and words from other languages, so diverse cultures speaking it would do nothing but expand English’s vocabulary arsenal and give speakers even more tools with which to fashion beautiful speeches, literature, etc. 

        I think the real danger is with your attitude of aggressive protection that seems to pit English over and against other languages. Because it is so important to you, you seem to have an unwillingness to share and coexist with the rest of the globe. Who are we to tell other people that they cannot speak English if they choose to (because they enjoy or because it is most convenient)? Next, to protect our all-precious language, we will be demanding all foreigners in America to speak English. And then its only a short hop skip and a jump back into cultural elitism (aka cultural imperialism).

  • Adrian

    you are an idiot

  • Kristina Torp Olsen

    jeg er en dust

    • widenmann

      ikke kalle deg en dust … du er et barn av en himmelsk Fader som elsker deg!

  • Kristina Olise Torp Hansen

    jeg er gangster og kommer fra kroken y0

    • widenmann

      are you danish?

  • Mamas boy

    Terry is a smart man i likez him, altho hez soo stoopid, and a young chup aswøll. He htink  he write good, but no iz he juzt lame or me just? What ez wrøng, eine Internazionale sprache ist eine gutes werker? Mein Herz brennt… 

  • Eivind Rydningen

    Our teacher is actually using this article as a way to teach us how to reference our sources. We are now going through all the incorrect uses. We are also going through some of your bold statements, such as ” English is spoken in every major city in the world”. Even though you could refer to this as “common knowledge”, you would definitely require a source to that specific fact. 

    I do not agree with your statements, because proper communication is key as the globalization expands. Culture is valuable, but I think that English as a global language could assist in making a proper network between countries with different spoken languages. 

  • iheartmymom

    We as a world, are ONE. We are one community, one nation, one society and mostly one race. Why not have one language?

    • wow

      We are one world, yes. We are NOT one community,  certainly NOT one nation, and definitely NOT one society. And mostly one race? Are you kidding me? This is perhaps one of the most upsetting and incorrect statements I’ve ever read, and certainly reflects American arrogance. 

  • awsumperson

    nice comment iheartmymom. well said, i totally agree

  • Hina

    Terry, you may not be a strong supporter of English being the global language yet you’d use it to tell the world what you think. Now that’s contradictory. What do you think lol?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Escomu/100001842925466 Alex Escomu

    I do not understand why Esperanto is not suitable for international communication. It’s easy, regular, you only need one year for learning it (chinese people maybe year and a half), it a non-national language, it’s democratic. You keep you mother tongue but you have a second language that is yours and you can use it for everyone else. AND: it helps learning other languages much more faster than any other language and would safe lots of money to world organizations such WHO. When Arab and Chinese were incorporated to the working languages of the WHO, since that year 5 million dollars (for only because of Arab and Chinese!!) have been wasted annually. Lots of children have got blind because there was a lack of funds! And so on with many other proyects.

  • Mukum Limbu

    I think the world has and would definitely benefit from English being so widely spoken. There are dozens of major languages and thousands of languages all together, be realistic. It takes years to learn a language properly as well as so much time, resources and effort. By the way about the “cultural imperialism”, people from around the world choose to watch and listen to TV shows, movies and songs in English. No one’s forcing them, let them be. The spread of English around the world, I believe, is one of the best things to happen in the past half-century.

  • I love my second language

    I believe the cultural signifiers in each language will be transferred to and enrich English as the world slowly moves to adopt it as the lingua franca of the information age.

    I also believe that the communicative aspect is paramount to the cultural, and that if everyone in the world were to speak English perfectly, we would understand MORE of other cultures, not less, as we could more fully communicate the concepts.

    Jag skulle säkert uttrycka detta klarare på mitt modersmål, men då skulle nästan ingen av er som läser detta förstå vad jag skriver ;)

  • Guest

    English should not be an international language. When you go to another country, it is extremely rude (and pretty stupid) not to learn some of the language. There is no reason why Japanese tourists in Europe should be ordering drinks in English. When you go on vacation, just learn the basic phrases you need to get by with stuff like that. That’s just common courtesy. How stupid would I look as an American in Japan trying to order something in, say, Italian, or even in English? It would just be rude. I shouldn’t have the expectation that another group of people will just know my language. Why would I go to the other side of the world an expect to hear English? (Oh, right. Imperialism…). People should also not just go around expecting other people to be able to speak English, and people should especially not look down on others who have not learned English as uneducated. Thirdly, if English IS going to be an international language, then you need to be able to speak just as flawlessly and seamlessly as a native. Don’t go throwing around broken bits of phrases and bad grammar. If our language is to be whored out to the rest of the world, you can at least treat her kindly by learning her right. There are so many thoughts I could express about this. It is really a big issue that people need to start thinking about more seriously.

    • Josh R

      How could it be okay in another to country to learn just basic phrases and parts of that countries language but not okay for those people to learn English and not be fluent in it?
      I travelled round Europe this summer and visited 10 different countries all with their own language, how is it practical or possible to learn to speak a language which you may only use for a few days of your lifetime?
      An international language is a necessity for our global culture to work as it does now, and, although each country or culture should be encouraged to maintain their language. In todays society it would be backwards to not also encourage people to learn another more internationally known language.

  • Jesus reincarnate

     it should be Sign Language….

    Jesus…..backand to prove I’m the real deal I explain (in all languages as promised) how I performed 2 miracles feeding the 5000 and the miraculous catch in my key video “the announcement”. More will be revealed in due course over the next few months as the world wakes up slowly to the reality I am back. Of course some will say I am an imposter but the reality is no one will wonder how the miracles were performed anymore as my truth will be embedded in the minds of man and everyone will know it’s the truth even if they deny me intheir hearts. Spread the video (facebook-Jayzus Christo, twitter-@themessiahme, email etc) if you want to speed up the coming of a world free of oppression, violence, paedophilia etc it’s going to happen but you can help speed it up.  to doubt is normal but condemn me at your peril your name shall be noted. Those who muster faith and pass on the video shall be rewarded (perhaps despised by many but cherished by me).http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p9lwanuhOMLove JesusPS. there is no contradiction between God and science as I explain briefly and succinctlyhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sV_K-Lsjw8

  • Aweinc87

    This is wrong wrong wrong wrong….I for one think that the world needs a language it already uses English as the language of business, so why not pass it on and save the world trouble.  In Japan they teach English to their students, because they know if you speak English your going to go far. 

    Living in Florida, I am so sick of tourists, Immigrants or Aliens try passing off their broken English as acceptable. 

    I’ve always been a supporter of knowing some chit chat for the country you are visiting to, and if your living there well it should go without saying but we all know that is not happening.  So pushing for an English as a first language is a great idea.

    Cultural identities are not at stake learning English, everyone knows when you hear a guy with that thick rough Bronx accent you know where he’s from you know he likes his pizza thin and huge and his pin stripes. So our Accents would be our identities as they are for those across the pond in the UK. 

    As for those Swedes there are plenty of people who follow national events in the United States, but it takes the fact that everything in our life is connected to politics to make someone actually pay attention.

    • Coffee forever

       You are sick of tourists trying to speak English when they’re going to Florida, but you advocate “knowing some chit chat for the country you are visiting to”?

      Since English does not seem to be your first language, judging from your grammar and spelling, how about some understanding for people who are trying to learn, too?

      Other than that, your comment about accents is a really good point.

  • Alina Piotrowski

    Completely in love with this article.

  • Hmmmm

    Prevalence of English is NOT the reason why most Americans are uneducated and ignorant of the world around them. Why is it then that British teenagers are so different from them?

  • Elhana

    What an idiotic notion. English is, and will be the international language, because it is the most modern and the most simple language in the world.

  • guest

    I have to say what a load of crap. I know that their are alot of countries and cultures  against americans because their a super power but your blog here is just pathetic and pointless. Since english IS the international language and it IS part of a curriculem in alot of schools around the world then ofcourse it is the most convenient language to use while your travelling or on a holiday. If i go to italy for a weeks holiday im not going to be wasting my time trying to speak italien. Instead i just speak ENGLISH

  • MapsOfWorld

    Is English The Unofficial/Official Language Of The World? Join Our Debate & Cast Your Vote? 
    http://bit.ly/engmow

  • Willy 1952

    history can judge itself. why english language is widely spoken.

  • Randenglish

    And let’s all hold hands and sing???
    Son the world is about business. English makes business work. I spend my life in Shanghai and a host of American cities. American English and the US $ have made the US and China #1 and #2 in the world.

    Oh – and all Chinese students have to know English to score well on the Gao Kao.

  • Etik & Moral: Medier

    I will have to say that some of the arguments you used, surprised me a lot. The part about the price of translation really chocked me. I mean there must be a better way to spend those dollars. Deciding on an international language would be an easy solution to a lot of problems, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t be the solution for a better world. That would simply make the world too grey. There would be no contrast and cultures would simply melt together into one big one. Of course everybody would already have their own history, but if you really think about, you will realize how much a countrys language has to do with their culture. If you ask an immigrant (perhaps a second generation), I am sure that, he would say that knowing his mother tongue is a big part of how he connects to his roots. A lot of things would be easier but it just wouldn’t be the same world, if everybody spoke in one and the same language.

    - Mathias

  • Emma Brink Hansen

    We don’t agree with you. It would be more difficult to communicate with other countries, if we can’t speak the same language. We don’t have to speak only one language, but just be able to communicate with each other in one language. We agree with you that the americans should learn more about other countries and culture. And they shouldn’t expect that everybody can speak english, just because they can. If we can’t speak the same language, we can’t trade.

    Maria and Emma.
    Fredericia Gymnasium

  • Josephine Eisenhardt

    I totally agree, because I also think that if we got a world language, then it would take away the culture from these places, and we would all get the same culture, which I think would be quite boring. The culture is the exciting part when you travel to different countries, so that would be gone. I guess, it would be nice though, if we all spoke the same language, and more convenient, but again, it would take away the cultural part, which I think is more important.
    I agree, that Americans and England are becoming a bit arrogant, since countries outside of the US is learning their mother language, so when they travel, they don’t have to bother learning a new language. Really good and interesting article though. We know everything about the American culture, because people watch so much American television all over the world, but foreign television shows or movies rarely become popular in the US. I know for example, my American friends say they don’t really like watching foreign movies, because they’re too lazy reading the subtitles.

    Thanks – Emma, Josephine, Ekrem YOUR FANS from Denmark, Fredericia Gymnasium.

  • Mikkel Vinge

    I think that it is an issue that everyone should talk the same language as their main language, though I think English should be prio secound language, as it’s very useful if you can communicate in an international spoken language. Then we save the translation fee’s, and don’t spend time doing it either. Sure let the Chiniese speak Maderin, as long as they’ve got English as a secound language. Everyone should learn English and have English understand it properly. Then we keep the cultureal differences and can communicate together. I think there is no trubble at the moment, everything is alright. Of course not everyone will have the same abillies in the English language. But its better than nothing, because if we don’t have an international spoken language, the trademarked and everything els, with international communication, will be a major issue! If it’s an issue for the French to learn English, then we exclude them from the world trade marked, and then they have fun, until they learn English!

    Mikkel, Fredericia Gymnasium.

  • Tobias Gorm Petersen

    We agree on some of the arguments, and find them valid, but we also disagree with several of the points you lay out. The cultural differences of the world is some of the most amazing things to discover. We definitely agree with you, about the Americans being selfish and arrogant, as they expects us to learn their culture and language, while they don’t know much about our cultural differences here in Europe or in other continents. The Americans don’t think they need to learn about our cultures or languages because they can go on vacation all over the world and still speak their mother language, and that is an issue, but on the other hand we still need an international language so we can communicate with people from the rest of the world.
    Tobias Petersen, Abdulkarim Harakow, Mohamed abuukar.

  • Jonathan Clausen

    As I see it there is no reasons to not make English or Spanish or another mayor language the main language of the world.

    I believe one language would be good, here’s why.

    I think that one international language would help out a lot.
    – Understanding other cultures.
    – Improve trading.
    – Break down barriers around the globe.
    – Unite the nations.
    – And a lot more…

    I believe that people would still keep their cultures or at least for a while, as it is right now the cultures are melting together and the biggest melting pot is the US so the world is turning into USA slowly but steady (But what is the US? The US is still changing and will be changing for a very, very long time) so even if the main language became English it would only speed up the ongoing process and in the end only help out making this culture melting an more smooth and painless process.

    But this is not something that needs to be forced, that would be hard/impossible but if people we’re slowly changing anyway why not help it speed up?
    If people all spoke the same language imagine how easy trading would be you get on Skype from China and call someone from Hungary and you already speak the same language so you would be able to just speak freely in you’re “native” tongue.

  • Katrine Vestergaard Kristensen

    We agree with you about that the Americans and English people can’t expect that every person in countries they visit can speak English, but still there should be a kind of a common language, so people can speak together, without learning a new language every time, we visit a new country. Even though we have a common language we should still try to learn the languages or become a part of the culture. We agree about that, if every country in the world have the same language, it would kill the differences and the special parts about different languages and cultures, and there wouldn’t be a point in visiting other countries, because it all will just be the same. But still the common language brings the world together, and do that people can communicate with each other.

    By. Katrine and Sadaf. Fredericia Gymnasium.

  • Elisabeth Aandstad Lund Jensen

    Our first thought about your blog, was that we think you should still have your own language, but to have English as your second language, is a good idea. If we all had English as our second language, we wouldn’t have problems with understanding and communicating with each other. Think about a world where we all have different languages, we wouldn’t be able to communicate. Issues and wars couldn’t be solved and little problems would turn into big problems. You say that the Americans turns into an arrogant and lazy population, but shouldn’t that be their own problem? If they don’t want to learn about our culture, it’s up to them. Our main opinion is that you should still remember where you’re from, and you should still talk your own language, but if you want to be international you need a common language.
    Mie and Elisabeth, Fredericia Gymnasium.

  • Niels Kjær Rahbek

    “I find myself annoyed when Americans tour the world expecting to be understood whenever they speak in English.”.

    I understand what you mean; I think the exact same thing about French people. But I disagree with you that countries without English as their main language shouldn’t be allowed to use it to communicate with tourist, instead of using hand gestures and making sounds.
    We don’t need an official language, but if we should then Mandarin isn’t the right alternative.
    Yes, it has numerous more speakers but it isn’t as widespread as English.
    Off course if the whole world speaks the same language there will be certain problems, especially religious and culturally wise. But why can’t we speak it? I think that we should still be allowed to speak it to foreigners, if they don’t know the main language.

  • Ray Wenzel

    English should be the official language of the world; and why not? It’s already on it’s way there now, and I don’t think that simply speaking the same language would in some(or any) way negate culture. There are huge differences in cultures between countries whose official language is English(the U.S. – England – Australia). I think that argument is simply absurd. I only see PROs in being able to communicate freely and easily throughout the world and if English happens to be the language that breaks down the barrier, so be it. How can that be a bad thing? I think this article is a bit childish and completely wrong.

  • Donthave Aname

    People here are talking about language and none of them mentions Bangla! *sigh*
    Now I’m going to tell you why I put that exclamaition mark in the above sentence.
    But first I gotta say that I agree with the writer on the idea to keep preserving our languages because that’s what shapes the dynamism of this world and makes this planet obviously unique in one more way.I thought one language would be a good idea but I think you proved me wrong.
    But if you need an international language to communicate throughout the world then in one way or another that specific language would be superior than the others.Now that’s a pretty big title to just give away right?
    There should be some good reason to hand out that title.We gotta decide on what basis we should give that superiority to that language.Now that’s where the language Bangla comes in.
    The reason I’m voting Bangla because there’s just too many reasons in favour for any other languages to compete against it.
    1.Bangla is the only language in the world that fought and died for its recognition.
    2.This is the only language that resembles to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism just as the writer was talkin about.
    3.We got a 21st February known as the Mothers Tongue Day that leads and represents all the language recognized by Unesco and UN.
    4.Its decided to be the UN’s official language by 2015.(Even supported by UK parliament officially).
    5.Its the 5th MOST spoken language in the world already!
    Now I ask can any other language compete against this in terms of logic and justice?
    I know nobody can give me one good reason against it.The one’s who will try to are for sure some ignorant idiot lacking knowledge and sense.
    This is what should be the second language of the world!
    You guys can help get it some recognition.We are counting on you. :)

    • Nafiun Turzo

      point proven

  • Castriot Crasnichi

    I absolutely agree with this article. My opinion > English should not be the international language. Firstly I think that economic situation can not decides which language will be international , secondly romance languages could be better chance for every people because are easier and are following languages of Latin which is a interdisciplinary language – nobody can deny that. Better languages than English could be: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian etc. However, this is just my opinion.

  • Nolen Hughes

    Very interesting, and I agree one international language is a bad thing to be had for the reasons mentioned above. It is the way of the world though. The society with the most power has the most influence, and therefore receives a lot of global attention. The United States is inefficient in its global immersion, especially compared to the immersion and multilingualism of Europe. Yet is is also one the most diverse populations on this Earth. Asian immigrants have populated the west coast and European on the east coast. But even with the number of immigrants from foreign nations cultivating lives in the US, the use for multiple languages is small in the grand scheme of business and entertainment. The children of immigrants are bilingual, and the children of Americans, whom have been present in the country since its founding, speak only English; the American culture is deeply rooted in Anglo tradition and the majority of the nation has kept to that tradition since the progressive era of US history. The size of the country also has a role in the maintained dominance of Anglo culture. Before immigrants even came to the US in the late 1800s, the population was dominantly white and English speaking; the numbers of this cultural type grew as families pushed west to create homesteads. The interior US is the least diverse area of the nation because it is farmland. My point is that anglo culture is as rooted in the US as it is in the UK, the land area isolates most of the interior/rural inhabitants from other ethnic influences, and because business is conducted by natural born English speaking citizens in the middle and upper classes the need for multi-linguism in the nation’s youth is small. The United States is a Union of smaller governments under a sovereign national government. All of the states must accept English as the spoken tongue because the first 13 states spoke and formed the constitution in English. The European Union was formed by sovereign nations, and has limited influence (compared to the influence of the American national government) upon the lives of all Europeans. The states of Virginia and North Carolina only differ in shape and state legislative policy. But Germany and France have language differences, cultural differences, and political differences.The size of the United states and its physical isolation from multiple nationalities neighboring on its borders dampens and sometimes stops the daily occurrences in one nation from hitting the American press and the American conscious.

  • Lynda Whaley

    I expect that if you come to America for any other reason than being a tourist, then you should learn English. I want to one day go to Japan, but I’d like to know SOME of the language before I do. If I went there to live or for an extended period of any kind, I wouldn’t go there without learning as much of the language as I can. I don’t expect to go to other countries and expect everybody to drop their language and start speaking mine. That’s stupid.

    Why do we even have to have an International Language anyway? There are too many languages and nobody wants their language left out as if one language has priority over another…

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