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Why We Should Learn Esperanto [Nov. 20th, 2003|06:10 pm]
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Disclaimer: While I don't completely agree with the idea that everyone should learn Esperanto, I thought several of you would be interested in reading the following speech. - amuzulo

Ronald J. Glossop, St. Louis, Missouri, USA,
for the "Day of the School" at the Universal Congress of Esperanto,
Gothenburg, Sweden, 29 July 2003

"Why should we learn Esperanto?" Of course, the answer is not the same for each person. Furthermore, there are different kinds of reasons. I want to discuss these various reasons under three headings. The three kinds of reasons are (1) the practical reasons, (2) the reasons related to expanding one's mind, and (3) the moral reasons.

The first practical reason which I want to mention is to enjoy yourself. By means of Esperanto you can meet and become acquainted with many good-hearted, interesting, educated, clever, talented persons. You can travel to various countries throughout the world. You can participate in truly international parties. You can hear music and join in dancing the dances of many cultures. The whole planet can become your playground.

The second practical reason is to have like-minded friends (some of whom you have not even previously met) who will greet you and welcome you anywhere in the world. Sometimes they will even invite you to eat with them and stay in their homes in far-off lands. As Esperantists often say, "If you want to gain money, study English; but if you want to have friends, learn Esperanto." Undoubtedly it is a true saying that Esperantists have good friends everywhere. Beyond that, don't forget that sometimes Esperantists even find a husband or a wife as a result of belonging to the Esperanto community.

The third practical reason for learning Esperanto, especially for children in English-speaking and Asian lands, is that Esperanto provides a good way of beginning the study of a language other than your native tongue. Various experiments show that pupils learn the rule-guided language Esperanto more rapidly than European national languages such as English and French. Furthermore, one can observe that pupils who first study Esperanto instead of more difficult languages are afterwards more eager to learn still other languages. They feel confident that they have the capability to do that. On the contrary, the study of more difficult languages like Latin and English often discourages pupils from trying to learn other languages.

Let me turn now to the second kind of reason for studying Esperanto, namely, to expand your mind in order to have a better understanding of the world. As Canadian Esperantist Dr. Stevens Norvell of Nova Scotia rightly notes, Esperanto is "a window to the world." When you are able to read and hear Esperanto, you can use it to become informed about other countries, other cultures, and other viewpoints through books, newspapers, magazines, sound-tapes, videotapes, radio and television broadcasts, web-sites, and web-messages. You can acquire information from a neutral point of view about what is happening throughout the whole world.

Furthermore, it is not only specific information which you can acquire. You will also gain a better general understanding of the world. You will no longer be so tied by language to one small region of the Earth and the viewpoint of that language or cultural community. You can become acquainted with the whole human community.

The third kind of reason to learn Esperanto is for me personally the most important. It is the moral reason, and it has two sides.

First, you can have a relationship with other persons throughout the world on the basis of equality and justice because you are using the world-wide neutral language Esperanto instead of your own national language. You will not require others to use your language, and they will not require you to use their language. Consequently there exists a feeling of equality and justice between you and others.

The second aspect of the moral kind of reason for learning Esperanto is the fact that, as an Esperantist, you are helping to create an evolving harmonious global community. Through Esperanto you become part of an important historical movement which promotes a sense of solidarity among all humans. Esperanto is not only a language. We Esperantists constitute a totally new kind of universal community based on the use of our global language. We together are now moving beyond the inter-nationalism of the twentieth century to the globalism of the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, at the same time we are helping to conserve the many national languages in the various parts of the world, thus preserving linguistic diversity.

Undoubtedly there are other reasons for learning Esperanto which I have not mentioned. The situations and motives of humans are very diverse. Neverthe-less I hope that the ideas which I have presented here will help you to persuade others that they should learn Esperanto and become members of our evolving global community.

You can also read this in the original Esperanto.

[User Picture]From: kunar
2003-11-21 11:09 am (UTC)

The native speaker strikes back


Here I am - one of those "mysterious" native speakers of Esperanto. I've grown lazy about discussing my mother language, so I tend to try out new, more exotic ways of arguing.

I'm always surprised to read that people have problems about learning how complicated the world is. But let's divide it into several steps.

World concept 1.0 - so nice, because so easy!
- There are countries.
- Each country has one official language.
- There are humans.
- Every human has one mother language.
- Every language is the official language of a country.
=> Therefore, every mother language has to be the official language of a country.

World concept 2.0 - things are not as simple as they seem...
new features:
- Countries can have more than one official language.
- Humans can have more than one mother language.
- Languages don't have to be the official language of a country.
- In this case, they are called "extinct".
- "Extinct" languages can't be mother languages.
=> Every language is either mother language and official language or extinct.

World concept 3.0 - it's getting worse.
new items:
- Minor languages! They are languages, but not official languages in all countries where they are spoken.
- Dialects! They have some features of languages and may even role as a mother language of some people, but are not official languages.
- Language versions! There may be several versions of one language, some of them considered dialects, and not mutually understandable.
=> Some humans don't have an official language as a mother language. (Oh-oh...) But in this case, they are called "minor languages" or "dialects" and do not deserve to be considered "full" languages. (phew.)

World concept 4.0 - get me out of here!
introducing the "con lang" category:
- "con lang projects" are the attempts to build a new language.
- "semi con langs" are those con lang projects that came to a certain amount of use. They may not have all features of "the things formerly known as languages", but are more than just computer nerds' or linguistics' projects.
- "con langs" (aka constructed languages, planned languages) possess everything an "ethnical" language has: music, literature, and even native speakers! Until now, only Esperanto has made it so far.
=> Esperanto ruins the former world concepts.

If you think this is horrible, then you don't want to hear about the planned World concept release 5.0... where the economic importance decides whether a language has to be considered a "real, serious" language and where you can ignore smaller cultures and their people...
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