Language of the diaspora draws 2000 delegates to Gotenburg

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Jul 16 23:46:57 UTC 2003

Forwarded from: Dafydd ap Fergus <dafyddapfergus at>

Language of the diaspora draws 2000 delegates to Gotenburg

Over 116 years on, Esperanto, the neutral planned language devised in the
diaspora by Polish Jew Lazar Zamenhof is set to draw 2000 to the World
Esperanto Congress in Sweden. A strong contingent of delegates from Israel
is attending. Press release: 16/07/2003. Growing up in the town of
Bialystok, in what was then part of the Russian empire in the 1860's and
the 1870's, Lazar Zamenhof prayed in Hebrew at the synagogue, spoke
Russian and Yiddish at home. "At school he studied Russian, Latin, Greek,
German, French and later English. He also learned Polish and Hebrew. Like
many of Bialystok's Jewish population he had a special gift for
languages," says Marko Naoki Lins from the World Esperanto Association.

"Being Jewish, Zamenhof had daily experience of the hostility in Czarist
Russia, and later in Poland, towards the Jewish population. He was also
witness to the lack of comprehension between Bialystok's four ethnic
groups, Russians, Germans, Poles and Jews, each speaking their own
language. He sought to solve this problem by devising a neutral
easy-to-learn language, Esperanto," says Lins. Zamenhof's planned language
annually attracts thousands to World Esperanto Congresses, which are held
in a different country each year. The congress also took place in Tel Aviv
conference in 2000 thanks to the strong backing of the Israeli Esperanto
association. It is the largest Esperanto event usually bringing together
between 2000 and 3000 participants. "Esperanto is a language of the
diaspora - created to bring peace to a divided world. Despite Hitler
attempting to root out what he called 'a language of the Jews', Esperanto
is today stronger than ever." Zamenhof published the grammar and basic
vocabulary of Esperanto in 1887 and thus laid the foundation for an
easy-to-learn language to promote international understanding and peace.
Today, several million people around the world speak Esperanto

Around 2000 participants from over 70 countries are expected in the
Swedish town of Gothenburg from 26 July till 2 August 2003. Thanks to
Esperanto, no interpretation is needed. The Patron of the event, Swedish
Prime Minister Göran Persson, will deliver a special message as will the
Director-General of Unesco Koïchiro Matsuura. Reflecting a traditional
concern of Esperantists with language diversity the conference will
consider the theme "Language rights and duties". An international
Esperanto-children's congress, with children playing and participating in
various activities, is also taking place.

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list