Sunday, August 11, 2013

Esperanto: The World's Most Popular Constructed Language, Part 2

Yesterday we began discussing the history of Esperanto, a constructed language or conlang that was created by L. L. Zamenhof. We left off yesterday  mentioning how the US army used Esperanto in their training exercises and drills.

The main reason that the US army made this decision was that Esperanto has no nation of its own, so it would be very difficult for any other nation to take offence at the military practices in the US. It was also useful as it was fairly unlikely that any of the troops taking part in the drills would have learned Esperanto before.

A map of European Esperanto groups in 1905.
It would seem that given its political neutrality, Esperanto would be the ideal language for everybody to learn, wouldn't it? It turns out that the ideal of the language of peace wouldn't be as readily adopted as Zamenhof would have liked.

Though UNESCO recognised Esperanto in 1954, to date no country has recognised it as an official language. Esperanto has an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 speakers, though some estimates reach as high as 2 million. Esperanto also has around 1,000 native speakers. The lion's share of these are children born to parents who met through Esperanto and as result their children were born into an Esperanto-speaking household. Almost all of these children are raised bilingual due to most of the outside world speaking a language other than Esperanto.

Since we've looked at the history and use of Esperanto, tomorrow we'll be continuing our look at the language with an analysis of its linguistic construction.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4