What happened to Esperanto? Is it being translated?
Esperanto is an international language created by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof (1859-1917). His idea was that human beings of all cultures could communicate and understand each other better through a rich and clear language that was easy to learn.
This way, Zamenhof also pursued humanistic goals. As a first-hand witness to the clashes between different ethnic and religious clans in his city (Białystok, in present-day Poland), he saw the need for men to consider each other as brothers. Thus, a common language such as Esperanto was an instrument for peace between peoples.
Esperanto has experienced a consequent renaissance with the emergence of the Internet, as the BBC explains in a 2018 article dedicated to the topic of Esperanto's second life on the Internet.
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Esperanto is an invented language, but it is easy to learn, regardless of our linguistic background.
Esperanto is therefore a language that is:
- Linguistically rich: Esperanto is as rich as any national language (and sometimes richer, as the way it is constructed allows for as many additions as you like),
- Clear: each letter (28 letters in total) corresponds to a single sound and vice versa, so there are no (or very few) spelling difficulties,
- Easy to learn, no doubt, as it is a regular language without exceptions,
- Quick to master: the essential rules of grammar (16 rules) can be memorised in a very short time (Tolstoy learned Esperanto in one hour!),
- Neutral: Several well-known companies have chosen an Esperanto name because of its neutral and trendy character (Norda Stelo, Akvo, etc.).
The simplicity of the language can be noticed especially in the verb endings: all verbs in the present tense end with “as”, in the past tense with “is”, in the future tense with “os”, etc.
It’s true that Esperanto has not developed as much as could have been expected at the beginning. However, there are many extenuating circumstances (Esperantists persecuted and decimated by dictatorships, prejudice towards a supposedly artificial language, various oppositions, lack of financial support...).
However,after more than 130 years of existence, Esperanto is still there and continues to make progress, recognised by official bodies such as Unesco and even by the European Union.
Today there are millions of Esperanto speakers all over the world perpetuating the ideals of brotherhood between peoples. The latter benefit from new communication channels: The Internet has led to a new interest in the language.
Esperanto, contrary to what one might imagine, is a language with extensive literature. It includes thousands of translated and original works, numerous periodicals published all over the world, and several libraries offer works on loan or for consultation (such as the national library in Vienna, Austria or La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland).
There are many radio programmes and a growing number of websites in Esperanto. The search term “Esperanto” (without accent) alone generates some 240 million results on Google.
The online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, which is called Vikipedio in Esperanto, has to date some 300,000 articles: a very large number compared to other languages with tens of millions of native speakers, but with only a few hundred pages.
Did you know...? Charlie Chaplin, who was interested in Esperanto, chose to write in this neutral language the signs of the Jewish ghetto in his film “The Great Dictator"”
If everyone spoke Esperanto, of course, we wouldn't need translators. But perhaps the world, as Zamenhof imagined, would be a more peaceful place.
However, Esperanto is one of the languages included in the main free machine translation tools on the Internet, such as Google Translate.
There is a chance that Esperanto will become a requirement in a translation agency in the future, although official and commercial documents to be translated, hardly exist today.
Despite the preponderance of English in international relations, Esperanto, without any serious equivalent, has millions of followers. It also benefits from the recognition of several international bodies, as well as a special place in the digital world.
These are enough reasons not only to continue to be interested in, but also to give Esperanto a more prominent place in the field of professional translation.
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Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.