Western Hemisphere-wide Esperanto Conference in Montreal Draws about 200

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Oct 14 21:25:02 UTC 2008

Let's talk about Esperanto

Western Hemisphere-wide Esperanto Conference in Montreal Draws about 200

Okay, yes, the post starts off discussing Quebec's language laws, but
that's not really the focus of the article (although language policy
in Quebec is a fascinating topic). The author points out that a
hemisphere-wide Esperanto conference doesn't have the pull of a Trek
convention and that this bodes ill for the whole Esperanto movement.
(There is some rebuttal in the comments, but I think that the point
stands.) I think Esperanto is an interesting idea in theory, but, in
application, not so much. Why?

1) Ninety or so percent of Esperanto's vocabulary comes from the
Romance languages. One would think that an alleged world-wide language
would have a more diverse vocabulary.

A counterargument to this? The Romance languages are spoken across a
wide area of the world. Heck, 25% of English's vocabulary comes
directly from French. (This doesn't count Latin's contributions to
English.) So, perhaps the Romance languages deserve some sort of
disproportionate presence in vocabulary.

Also, it's not like Esperanto just apes Romance. It gets rid of
grammatical gender (a construct I've never cared for), for instance.

2) Esperanto doesn't have a dedicated community of native speakers.
With the exception of scattered households, Esperanto is a Second
Language. But, without native speakers, Esperanto has very little (if
any) literature associated with it.

3) There are no real business opportunities in Esperanto. So, since it
has neither business nor cultural cachet, Esperanto won't attract many

4) The whole "If everyone speaks the same language, we'll have peace" thing.

This is a great big pile of steaming crap. Just one counter-example:
The American Civil War. Everyone spoke the same language there.

5) Finally, the idea that once everyone learns Esperanto, everyone
will always speak the same language.

Living languages change over time. What is to stop any world language
from splintering into daughter languages, like Latin evolving into the
Romance languages?


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