Esperanto holds its annual world
congress on the island of Ireland
for the first time!
. . . . and a footnote to the panels
The Universal Esperanto Association, which organises the World Esperanto Congress each year, has chosen Belfast as the host city for 2021.
Members of both the Esperanto Association of Ireland and the Esperanto Association of Britain will play their part together in helping to make the congress a success.
Come and join in the fun.
Esperanto is a supra-national language, designed to be easy to learn and use. It belongs to no single country, so no national language or group of countries gain any political, commercial or cultural advantage from its use.
The Esperanto Association of Ireland was founded in Dublin in 1905. It represents speakers in the whole of island and promotes the study and wider use of the language. It publishes currently a bi-monthly bulletin.
It is used by at least a million people but they are spread thinly across a hundred countries. Despite two separate recommendations by UNESCO only Hungary teaches it officially in schools. The bigger languages oppose this.
The current EU constitution promotes only languages belonging to member countries. It will need a special decision by EU institutions to allow any trial of Esperanto and that will require member countries to agree first.
Learning any language requires study, time and practice. However Esperanto has no irregular verbs, nouns, spelling or anything else. It builds words in a logically consistent intuitive way, yet is expressive and sonorous.
How Esperanto works
Keep in mind that Esperanto is intended for world-wide use. It is a second language for everyone, simply constructed but with unlimited possibilities. It’s not a rival or replacement for any current languages, but a promoter of their survival.
Vocabulary . . . English speakers will recognise a lot of Esperanto vocabulary, especially when written down. They will recognise even more if they studied a language like French or Spanish. They will recognise nearly everything in a dictionary if they also studied some German.
But . . .
Esperanto is designed as a global language. It has to work for more than just speakers of English, French, Spanish or German. Everyone needs to feel Esperanto is their language.
So . . .
Esperanto users build up their words from small unmodifiable ‘bits’, just like with Lego. In Europe, for example, Hungarians speakers do something similar (though they modify their ‘bits’ at times). Esperanto is put together more like Turkish or Chinese where ‘bits’ are not modified. The freedom Esperanto users have to build up words is a key factor in giving them a ‘sense of personal ownership’ of the language. On the other hand users need to gain some expertise in this matter, as their home languages may not encourage such freedom and users may not be able to find in dictionaries all the words they‘ll meet!
Don’t worry . . .
Most Esperanto speakers think only about the vocabulary side. They usually just take Esperanto’s word-building as a refreshing challenge, indeed as unexpected fun compared to English or French. And they certainly don’t need to know anything about how Hungarian, Turkish or Chinese works. With respect, that’s for Hungarians, Turks, Chinese and students of these languages.
And the fun . . . English cannot move from ‘dine’ to ‘dinner’ without adding an extra ‘n’ and changing how it pronounces the ‘i’. Unlike moving from ‘mine’ to ‘miner’ for example. English users cannot use the model of ‘I whitened my shoes last night’ to create the sentence ‘I will blue-en my boots tomorrow night’. Esperanto users can do just that! Esperanto encourages playing with its ‘bits’, having fun with them. If the rules are followed, Esperanto will not let players down. And you will be understood. Maybe you’ll even earn a smile. And it’s also just as important to avoid embarrassment. Esperanto avoids idioms almost entirely. In this respect Esperanto is quite unlike English or French or modern Greek for that matter. So if you say in Esperanto that someone ‘has dug his own grave‘, you would mean just that. In a transnational context such ‘a spade is a spade’ plainness is important for unambiguous communication. And that is Esperanto’s purpose. Of course, people have created excellent poetry as well.
Following the rule of one?
There’s just one way to pronounce each letter, only one place to put the stress accent in a multi-syllable word, only one way each for making nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. The one single letter / sound makes a plural. There’s one word for saying ‘you’, etc. Traditionally there are just sixteen rules. However in practice Esperanto speakers over the years have explored ever more fully the implications of these rules. Esperanto develops just like any other living language. Yet since earliest days there has been the one influential authority to advise on best practice.
Creativity . . .
Esperanto is a recognised member of PEN International and has in its short life already produced two outstanding poets. Top novelists take longer.