A Global Language


Letter in Esperanto
Paul Brooker, via Flickr

Can a language create world peace? Tell us what you think. And then listen to today’s Spotlight program on the world’s most popular invented language: Esperanto.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3 

Saluton.

Voice 4 

Saluton. Kiel vi fartas?

Voice 3 

Bonege, dankon.

Voice 1  

Did you recognize that language? It sounds European - a little like Spanish, or German. But it is neither. It is called Esperanto. You may have heard Esperanto before! It is the most popular invented world language. Today’s Spotlight is on Esperanto.

Voice 2

Conflict and troubles affect people in different ways. They make some people want to run and hide. And they make other people feel angry at the world and the people in it. But some people try and find a way to change things.

Voice 1

Ludovic Lazurus Zamenhof was one of these people. Zamenhof was born in 1859. He lived in the city of Bialystok, Poland. At that time the city was part of Russian territory. There were three major ethnic groups in the city; Poles, Belorusians  and Yiddish-speaking Jews. The conflicts between these groups saddened the young Zamenhof. As a Jew, life was not easy. Several hundred years ago many Jews fled to Poland for safety. But conflicts continued. Even children were part of the conflicts. They had fights in the schools and on the streets. Zamenhof grew up in an environment of deep hatred and fear.

Voice 2

However, Zamenhof did not feel hatred and anger in his heart. Some people say that his mother helped to create his good nature. His mother believed that all human beings were children of a loving God. The young Zamenhof began to think of ways to change the hostile environment he lived in.

Voice 1

Zamenhof believed that language barriers were a big part of the problem. He thought that if all people could speak the same language, they would communicate better. As a child, he believed that a common language would end hatred. He dreamed of an end to political and racial hatred. He dreamed of a united world.

Voice 2

Zamenhof began experimenting in creating an international language. In the beginning he tried to create a language with rich grammar. But this became very complex. Zamenhof learned many languages, including German, French, Latin and Greek. He decided that the international language must be as simple as possible. He worked hard for many years. He began by ‘testing’ the language.

Voice 1

How do you test a new language? Well, Zamenhof tried translating existing books, stories, prayers and parts of the Christian Bible. Let us hear how Esperanto sounds!

Voice 5

“Cio estigis per li; kaj aparte de li estigis nenio, kio estigis. En li estis la vivo, kaj la vivo estis la lumo de la homoj. Kaj la lumo brilas en la mallumo, kaj la mallumo gin ne venkis.”

Voice 1

In English this means, ‘And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the word. Everything that was created received its life from him. And his life gave light to everyone. The light keeps shining in the dark. And darkness has never put it out.’

Voice 2

After Zamenhof had tested the language he needed to publish his book. He called it, ‘Lingvo internacia. Antauparolo kaj plena lernolibro.’ This means ‘International Language. Foreword and Complete Textbook.’ Zamenhof did not put his real name on the book. Instead he used the name ‘Doktoro Esperanto.’ This means ‘Doctor Hopeful.’

Voice 1

So let us take a closer look at Esperanto. About 75% of the words come from Latin and Romance languages like French. About 20% come from German and English. And the rest comes from Russian, Polish and Greek. 28 letters form the Esperanto alphabet. And the language is ‘phonetic’ - you say every word exactly as it is written. There are no exceptions. Most of the grammar of Esperanto follows one of 16 basic rules.

Voice 2

In Esperanto all nouns end with ‘O’. For example the noun bird is ‘birdo.’ If you have more than one bird it becomes ‘birdoj’.

Voice 1

Here is another interesting thing. If you add ‘mal’ to the beginning of a word, it gives the word the opposite meaning. For example - alta means tall. Malalta means short. Seka means dry. Malseka is wet. Pura is clean. Can you guess what dirty is?  Malpura!

Voice 2

No one knows exactly how many people speak Esperanto. Some people estimate around 2,000,000. This is based on information such as sales of Esperanto language books and Internet users. Esperanto is most common in Central and Eastern Europe. Speakers of Esperanto have developed some similar customs. But, many people argue that an ’international language’ should not have its own culture. They say that an international language should avoid cultural and racial divides.

Voice 1

Speakers of Esperanto say that the language makes communication easier when travelling. They say that Esperanto is a good second language - better than others like French, Spanish or English.

Voice 2

People in many places in the world use these languages - more than Esperanto! But there are also many native speakers of these languages. The idea of Esperanto is that it makes everyone equal - because it does not ‘belong’ to any particular group. It belongs to the international community! Zamenhof hoped that this would unite people - and help create a peaceful world.

Voice 1

Most  people argue that language alone cannot create peace. People in the same country, with the same language and culture still argue and fight.

Voice 2   

Zamenhof was an idealist. He believed that the world could change. After all, the language is called ‘Esperanto’ - ‘one who hopes.’ And a person who has hope can do more than a person without hope! Zamenhof did not see his dream in his lifetime. There is still misunderstanding between people. But Esperanto has united many people across the world. It has crossed at least some cultural and racial divides. On an international website for Esperanto speakers, one person wrote,

Voice 4

“Being a speaker of Esperanto means that I am part of a worldwide community. They are people who believe in equality - like me. There are sayings like ‘We are all born equals.’ Esperanto lets people express these ideas.”

Voice 1

The writer of today’s program was Marina Santee. The producer was Rena Dam. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘A Global Language’.

Voice 2

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What languages do you know? Do you speak Esperanto?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
nature187_vn
said on February 06, 2012

I think every country have a separate languages,as much as culture,so on.
But we still can talk with each other,if we know english .It’s a bridge to connect with people on the world.
I’m from Vietnam.I proud about national language of me .Each person of us around on the world can trade knowledge,experiment…if we can talk with each other by a commom language is english.
Thank you program for sharing the story really useful for eveyone :)

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Bill Chapman
said on February 06, 2012

I agree with nature187_vn that we need to keep each country’s separate language. That is precisely why I use Esperanto to connect with people throughout thye world. Esperanto is intended as a second language for us all, and not to take the place of national languages. I am pleased to say that I haver used Esperanto speak to Vietnamese people and in some fifteen different countries.

Good luck to those who are learning English, but Esperanto is much earlier to learn and use.

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Skender
said on February 06, 2012

I have heard even before about esperanto. It is interesting. Dr Esperanto’s job is a worthy job, because two milion people around the world are speaking his language. It seems a good idea if one day every people on the world can speak this language. Further more it seems to be an easy language to learn. On the other hand I still think that English will remain the widest language in the world.
Skender from Albania

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Alfons
said on February 06, 2012

I think that esperanto is easier than English but English is more widespread. It is reason why English will be first international language.
Adam from Czech Rep.

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Brian Barker
said on February 07, 2012

English is an international, but not THE international language. It would be arrogant to say so.

Regarding Esperanto - Their new online course http://www.lernu.net has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per day.  That can’t be bad :)

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User_From_Russia
said on March 05, 2013

I am studying English for three years and I think it is awful as an international language. Pronunciation of deaf concordants, such as “th” is awful. You hiss constantly as a snake. How in a noisy situation it is possible to understand something? Italian, Spain, German. Russian are pleasant languages for ears. As a musician I think that to speak English is how to play guitar without three strings.Sorry for my direct and wrong opinion.

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Jimmy Roberto Espinoza Mercado
said on June 20, 2014

It is a very clever and creative decieion for trying to find a way for getting rid of or avioding any conflict or war. Although, we must remember that most of the countries in Latin America speak Spanish; here, there are still territorial disputes among many countries, which sometimes lead these countries to wars. Sometimes, in some countries their inner problems become as big as to spread out of their borders, often these “overflows” break the ralations between them. Instead, Western Europe is an example of progress and integration, their agreements of integration are performed quick, even they have a single common currency or Euro, despite in these countries are spoken several languages. In the world, many regions have people who speak different languages or contain different ethnic groups, but they live as one countriy. This way, this human diversity achieves a synergy that makes progress and enrich their culture. I think that these conflects and problems include the attitud of their people and the common respec rader than their languages . Thank you!

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Fern@ndo
said on August 29, 2014

Hi everybody! As somebody said before, Esperanto was created to be the second language of communication, because the most important language in the world is that that you speak from the beginning (birth), because you were born, you were created and all the things they taught to you were in your native language. But when you are with foreigners, Esperanto would be a language to express your ideas in neutral field and in the same speaking conditions.  Pro tio mi esperas kaj laboras por ke Esperanto prosperu ĉiame.

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Ljeonjyid
said on February 08, 2015

.!hi ,everybody.
..Esperanto is a quasi-language only ,but not an international and not the international language especially ,in contrast to English.
..of course ,now ,at present English is a global international language ,but it is awful as an international language -+ ,?what can we do.
..I think ,it is necessary to create a lot of national Esperantos (Esperantic dialects) for each native ,national or international language with national semantic vocabulary ,but with simple fully standardized spelling and grammar.
..I have created simple common alphabet ,spelling and grammar of a new global language ,named EeSPE or ESPE (from word “ESPE-RANTO”) ,and three artificial (and skilled) dialects -+ EsperantEespe ,RusEespe and InglishEespe with common standardized spelling ( ,named Dasheevic spelling by my family name) and grammar ,but with national (native) semantic vocabulary in each artificial dialect.
.!visit to http://www.esperanto.com
.!visit to http://www.esperanto.com
.!ĥaî ,ёvr^îbâdî.
..Ёspêr^äntêu^ iz ha kwaazî+län^gwîq^  ou^nlî  ,bât not ha-n”  intöê(r^)näŝên(ê)l ênd not d^a ( = dha) intöê(r^)näŝên(ê)l län^gwîq^ ,in kontr^äst tu In^glîŝ.
..êv ko(r^)s ,nau^ ,ät pr^ёzênt dha In^glihsh ( = d^a In^glîŝ) iz ha glou^b(ê)l intöê(r^)näŝên(ê)l län^gwîq^ ,bât it iz ooful äz ha(-n”)  intöê(r^)näŝên(ê)l län^gwîq^  -+ ,?wôt kän wї du.
..aî  thinhk ( = t^in^k) ,it iz nёsêsr^î  tî kr^їёît ha lot êv näŝên(ê)l Ёspêr^äntêu^s (Ёspêr^äntîk daîêlёkts) for^ їĉ’ nёîtîv ,näŝên(ê)l or^ ( = orh) intöê(r^)näŝên(ê)l län^gwîq^  wîd^  näŝên(ê)l sîmäntîk vêkäbĵjulêr^î ,bât wîd^ simpl fulî ständêr^daîzd spёlîn^ ênd gr^ämê-r^.
..aî  ĥäv ( = ..aih hhyav) kr^їёîtîd simpl komên älfêbёt ,spёlîn^ ênd gr^ämê-r^ êv ha nĵju glou^b(ê)l län^gwîq^ ,nёîmd EeSPE orh ( = or^) ESPE (from wöê(r^)d “ESPE-RANTO) , ênd ( = ehnd)  thrhyi ( = t^r^ї)  a-r^“tîfiŝêl (ênd skild) daîêlёkts -+ EsperantEespe ,RusEespe ênd InglishEespe widh comên ständêr^daîzd spёlîn^ ( ,nёîmd Daŝēvîk spёlîn^ baî maî fämîlî nёîm) ênd gr^ämê-r^ ,bât wîd^ näŝên(ê)l (nёîtîv) sîmäntîk vêkäbĵjulêr^î in їĉ’ ( = yichj) a-r^“tîfiŝêl daîêlёkt.
.!vizît tu http://www.esperanto.com

Nelson Perez C.'s avatar
Nelson Perez C.
said on March 02, 2016

I speak español.
I know some quechua
Idont speak esperanto, i belive that english is enough for all.