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Esperanto

Esperanto (ĕspərän´tō), an artificial language introduced in 1887 and intended by its inventor, Dr. Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof (1859–1917), a Polish oculist and linguist, to ease communication between speakers of different languages. In the 20th cent. it has been taught in schools and universities throughout the world but has not received wide acceptance as an international language. Its grammar and lexicon are relatively unfamiliar to users who do not know other Indo-European languages; its syntax, spelling, and pronunciation are influenced especially by Slavonic. See international language.

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Esperanto

Esperanto an artificial language devised in 1887 as an international medium of communication, based on roots from the chief European languages. The name Dr Esperanto was used as a pen-name by the inventor of the language, Ludwik L. Zamenhof (1858–1917), Polish physician; the literal sense is ‘one who hopes’ (based on Latin sperare ‘to hope’).

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Esperanto

Es·pe·ran·to / ˌespəˈräntō/ • n. an artificial language devised in 1887 as an international medium of communication, based on roots from the chief European languages. DERIVATIVES: Es·pe·ran·tist / -tist/ n.

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Esperanto

Esperanto Language devised in 1887 by Ludwik Zamenhof (1859–1917), as a language of international communication. Its spelling and grammar are regular and consistent, and its vocabulary mostly derived from w European languages.

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Esperanto

Esperanto XIX. Pen-name Dr. Esperanto (i.e. ‘hoping one’) of the inventor, L. L. Zamenhof.

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Esperanto

Esperantobateau, chateau, gateau, gelato, mulatto, plateau •de facto, ipso facto •alto •canto, Esperanto, manteau, panto, portmanteau •antipasto, impasto - •agitato, Ambato, castrato, esparto, inamorato, legato, moderato, obbligato (US obligato), ostinato, pizzicato, rubato, staccato, tomato, vibrato, Waikato •contralto •allegretto, amaretto, amoretto, Canaletto, cornetto, falsetto, ghetto, larghetto, libretto, Loreto, Orvieto, Soweto, stiletto, Tintoretto, vaporetto, zucchetto •perfecto, recto •cento, cinquecento, divertimento, lento, memento, pimiento, portamento, Risorgimento, Sacramento, Sorrento, Trento •manifesto, pesto, presto •concerto •Cato, Plato, potato •Benito, bonito, burrito, coquito, graffito, Hirohito, incognito, Ito, magneto, Miskito, mosquito, Quito, Tito, veto •ditto • in flagrante delicto • mistletoe •pinto, Shinto •tiptoe •Callisto, fritto misto •cogito • Felixstowe • Sillitoe

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Esperanto

ESPERANTO.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Esperanto was intended as an international language, a language of wider communication to exist beside local and national languages, and was first introduced in 1887. The work of a young Polish Jewish ophthalmologist and intellectual, Lazar Ludwik Zamenhof (1859–1917), the language is based primarily on European languages, particularly Latin, with words drawn also from Germanic and Slavic sources. The grammar, however, has many features linking it with agglutinative and isolating languages in other parts of the world. It is both a spoken and a written language, using the Roman alphabet, and is based on fairly simple rules, making it relatively easy to learn.

Esperanto was one of several languages proposed in the late nineteenth century, among them Volapük (1881), the work of Johann Martin Schleyer (1831–1912), which proved difficult to learn, so that many of its adepts moved to Esperanto. Zamenhof limited his own contribution to Esperanto to a basic vocabulary and a set of grammar rules: he left its development to its users, thereby combining a planned core with free-flowing expansion of the language through active use. The language flourished initially in the Russian Empire, where Leo Tolstoy was among its earliest converts (1894), and then in the 1890s in Germany, France, and beyond. Esperanto clubs were formed in numerous communities, books and magazines appeared, and vigorous international correspondence began. Zamenhof translated major literary works, including Hamlet and the entire Old Testament, into Esperanto, beginning a tradition that continued into the early twenty-first century. The first international congress of Esperanto speakers took place in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, in 1905, and the Universal Esperanto Association (UEA), linking Esperantists in Europe and beyond, was founded in 1908. In France the language was supported particularly by business people and scientists. During World War I, UEA was active in relaying communications among families divided by the war.

After the war, UEA, based in Geneva, promoted Esperanto at the League of Nations. Despite a favorable report, a proposal to promote the teaching of Esperanto in schools (among other measures) was defeated, primarily through the diplomatic efforts of the French. However, Esperanto found ready acceptance among working people in many countries, and soon a strong socialist and proletarian movement grew up beside the politically neutral UEA, gaining particular force in the newly established Soviet Union, where some revolutionaries saw Esperanto as the future language of worldwide socialism. But a schism opened between the primarily Western European members and the Esperanto Union of the Soviet Republics (SEU) from 1928 to 1930. SEU soon came under attack from Joseph Stalin, under whose regime SEU leaders were rounded up and executed as cosmopolitans and enemies of the people. A similar fate awaited the large Esperanto movement in Central Europe. The German Esperanto Association was closed down by Heinrich Himmler in 1936, despite its efforts to accommodate itself to the Nazi regime, and a large percentage of Esperanto enthusiasts (including the extensive Zamenhof family) fell victim to the Holocaust in Germany, Poland, Hungary, and other countries.

Following World War II, Esperanto re-emerged in Western Europe. Organizations were established or re-established in most Western European countries, and in Latin America, North America, and parts of Asia. The annual World Esperanto Congresses, the thirty-first of which occurred in Bern in 1939, were revived in 1947. Efforts to interest the United Nations in Esperanto began early, with an Esperanto delegation sent to the UN's first headquarters at Lake Success. The question was referred to the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), resulting in a resolution (1956) noting the achievements of Esperanto in the promotion of international intellectual exchanges. This action was reinforced in 1985 by a similar resolution encouraging member states to introduce Esperanto and the study of language problems in schools and universities.

Stalin and his legacy slowed the re-establishment of official Esperanto organizations in Eastern Europe, although Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito, himself an Esperantist, actively promoted the language. Poland Esperantists were among the first to reorganize, hosting the World Esperanto Congress in 1959, and associations revived in Bulgaria and Hungary, with Czechoslovakia emerging after 1968, and the German Democratic Republic in the 1960s. But Esperanto activity in Eastern Europe was extensive, since the language offered a way of making international contacts outside official channels. In 1987 the World Congress in Warsaw drew almost six thousand people.

ARTICLE 7 OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, IN ESPERANTO AND ENGLISH

Ĉiuj homoj estas jure egalaj, kaj rajtas sen diskrimi nacio al egala jura protekto. Ĉ iuj rajtas ricevi egalan protekton kontraŭ kia ajn diskriminacio, kiu kontraŭas tiun ĉi Deklaracion, kaj kontraŭ kia ajn instigo al tia diskriminacio.

[All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.]

(In Esperanto, the accent in all words falls on the second-to-last syllable; j is pronounced like y, ŭ like w, and ĉ like ch.)

The electronic revolution of the 1990s saw a significant shift in Esperanto activity as more and more people learned the language over the Internet and began to use it for informal communication. Although membership in the UEA and the organized Esperanto movement in general have declined in the early twenty-first century, the number of Esperanto users appears to have increased, particularly outside Europe, in such places as China and parts of Africa. Web sites for self-instruction, large electronic libraries of Esperanto materials, and online magazines and radio are easily available.

Esperanto's future in Europe depends in part on the future of European institutions. The European Esperanto-Union has proposed Esperanto, in combination with the languages of European Union (EU) members, as a solution to the increasingly polarized language situation in EU institutions. The language is taught on a voluntary basis in a number of EU universities and schools. Above all, it is used by ordinary Europeans as a neutral alternative to English and a way of accessing international culture through its wealth of original and translated literary works, its numerous meetings and festivals, and its highly developed communication networks.

See alsoEuropean Union; League of Nations; Pacifism; United Nations and Europe.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Eco, Umberto. The Search for the Perfect Language. Oxford, U.K., 1995.

Janton, Pierre. Esperanto: Language, Literature, and Community. Albany, N.Y., 1993.

Nuessel, Frank. The Esperanto Language. New York, 2000.

Richardson, David. Esperanto: Learning and Using the International Language. Eastsound, Wash., 1988.

Lernu. Available at http://www.lernu.net. For learning Esperanto.

Humphrey Tonkin

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