Category: Belgium

February 5th, 2004 by David Ferguson

For many, English is just the way the modern world communicates. It is the language to unite countries – be they poor or rich – through a universal standard. Nonetheless, for an estimated 2 million speakers of Esperanto, English is the language of the richest and militarily most powerful countries in the world. It is not neutral; the language’s dominance has allowed English-speaking countries to establish cultural and economic hegemony by exporting their films, books, music, and even commercial services around the world. And if you want to get on in life, work for the United Nations or an international company, then you need to speak good English, preferably studying in an English-speaking country.

“Bush and Blair have become Esperanto’s best friends,” says Probal Dasgupta, professor of linguistics at India’s University of Hyderabad. “Globalization has put a wind in our sails, making it possible for people to have interest in Esperanto as not only a language, but also a social idea.” Ian Fantom, of the British Esperanto-Association agrees: “Esperanto is a public domain planned language, created over a hundred years ago, to help people from different countries and cultures to communicate on equal terms.

Its inventor, Ludwig Zamenhof, disclaimed any copyright for the language.” Fantom says the language belongs to everyone. Zamenhof, from Warsaw, published the grammar and basic vocabulary in 1887. He thus laid the foundation for an easy-to-learn language to promote international understanding and peace. The lexicon derives primarily words used internationally, usually Lating-based, while structures can be formed liberally as in languages like Turkish or Japanese. Read more of this article »

Posted in Belgium, Op-Ed