Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Is Esperanto a neutral language? The political paradoxes of the Esperanto Movement

375 views

Published on

Presented at the conference The Politics of Multilingualism, University of Amsterdam, 22-24 April 2017

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Is Esperanto a neutral language? The political paradoxes of the Esperanto Movement

  1. 1. Augusta Taurinorum Is Esperanto a neutral language? The political paradoxes of the Esperanto Movement F Gobbo (Amsterdam / Torino) ⟨F.Gobbo@uva.nl⟩ 22-24 April 2017 The Politics of Multilingualism University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. What is Esperanto? Esperanto is a planned language, i.e. a language that violates the priority of orality (Lyons) because a single man (or a committee) writes its normative variety before to form a community of practice. Ludwig Lejzer Zamenhof, an Ashkenazi Jew living mainly in the Pale of Settlement, launched his lingvo internacia in 1887. Several International Auxiliary Language (IAL) were proposed since then, but only Esperanto became relevant from a sociolinguistic point of view. 3 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  4. 4. How many people speak Esperanto? From: Gobbo (2015)4 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  5. 5. Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof: life ■ 1859: born in Białystok (Poland, then Tsarist Russia) ■ 1879-81: student of medicine in Moscow ■ 1881-1885: studies in Warsaw ■ 1887: launch of Esperanto (language project) ■ 1901: definition of Hillelism (religious-political project) ■ 1905: first World Esperanto Congress in France ■ 1906: launch of Hillelism ■ 1913: launch of Homaranismo (ethical project) ■ 1914: answer to the foundation of the Hebrea Ligo ■ 1915: Appeal to the Diplomats after the Great War ■ 1917: last words. Death in Warsaw 5 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  6. 6. In the beginning was the First Book (1887)
  7. 7. Is a absolute neutral language possible? Van Parijs (2011) attacks Esperanto not being neutral as it is not “equidistant” from all the languages of the world (let’s call it absolute neutrality). The history of Interlinguistics shows that only a-priori languages, such as the philosophical languages by Dalgarno and Wilkins, or Lincos by Freudenthal, are absolute neutral, but they cannot be put in use in practice. Esperanto is an a-posteriori language. It is based on the repertoire of Zamenhof: early bilingual Yiddish and Russian, he spoke Polish and German in his city, studied French, Latin and Greek in school, Hebrew in the synagogue, self-studied English, contact with Lithuanian. 7 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  8. 8. A contact language highly regularized
  9. 9. A corpus-based analysis of the lexicon LAT EPO GER I-EU GR BSLA first 100 words 47 27 7 17 1 2 first 1000 words 704 121 101 50 15 9 total 70% 12% 10% 5% <2% <1% Gledhill (2000:20) Legenda: ■ LAT = Latinate (Latin, French mainly) ■ EPO = Esperanto special new words (correlatives mainly) ■ GER = Germanic (German mainly) ■ I-EU = Indo-European ■ BSLA = Balto-Slavic (Russian, Polish, Lithuanian) 9 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  10. 10. Zamenhof’s Hillelism and the ‘neutral language’
  11. 11. What is Hillelism? A religious-political project From a letter to Abraham Kofman (1901) by Zamenhof: Even if all scholars of the world would accept Esperanto, even if one million people would use it, nothing will guarantee, that within one year it will be put away and forgotten forever! […] It will be strong only if will exist a group that woul accept it as its family, heritage language. […] Neither the solution to the Jewish question nor the grounding of a neutral language will be possible without Hillelism, i.e. without creation of a neutral people. (my translation) For Zamenhof Esperanto is the vehicle “to spread among humanity the truth of monotheism and the principles of justice and fraternity” (in Schor 2015:132). 11 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  12. 12. The impact of the first World Esperanto Congress
  13. 13. Declaration of Esperantism, 1905 ■ 1. Esperantism is the endeavour to spread throughout the entire world the use of this neutral, human language which, “not intruding upon the personal life of peoples and in no way aiming to replace existing national languages”, would give to people of different nations the ability to understand each other […] All other ideals or hopes tied with Esperantism by any Esperantist is his or her purely private affair, for which Esperantism is not responsible. […] ■ 4.Esperanto has no lawgiving authority and is dependent on no particular person. All opinions and works of the creator of Esperanto have, similar to the opinions and works of every other esperantist, an absolutely private quality. […] ■ 5. An Esperantist is a person who knows and uses the language Esperanto with complete exactness, for whatever aim he uses it for. […] (my emphasis) 13 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  14. 14. Esperantism is not necessarily Zamenhof’s! Zamenhof’s ideology treats languages as tools of communication, and communication as a tool for improving human welfare. [This implies] that the peoples of the world have much in common, so international communication will contribute to friendship and peace, rather than animosity and war (Jordan 1987, my emphasis). Esperanto outlived its creator not because of structural perfection, but because of […] a community which linked the language to nonlinguistic ideas (Corsetti 1981, my emphasis). 14 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  15. 15. The Swiss neutralism
  16. 16. Foundation of the Universal Esperanto Association (UEA, 1908)
  17. 17. Hector Hodler reframes neutralism In 1908 Hector Hodler founded the Universala Esperanto-Asocio (UEA) as the “Red Cross of the Soul” in Geneva, a place where every individual is accepted regardless of its ethnicity. His pillars: ■ network of konsuloj providing services to travelling Esperanto speakers ■ cultural Esperanto centres (KCE) running year-long programs and courses (like British Council or Goethe-Institut). During WWI, UEA will act as a mediator resending letters from France and Germany across the French-German front. 17 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  18. 18. The French neutralism
  19. 19. How the French changed Esperantism From: Garvía (2015).
  20. 20. Neutralism in the belle epoque Esperanto attracts French intellectuals, mainly philosophers and scientists, in order to solve the “scientific babel” (Gordin 2015), i.e., the neutral language to publish scientific research, and also: ■ for tourism (contact with the Touring Club); ■ for international commerce; ■ for diplomatic relations. The Esperanto language is considered a neutral tool for practical uses. 20 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  21. 21. La bela sonĝo de l’ homaro…
  22. 22. Zamenhof’s Homaranismo: an ethical-political programme
  23. 23. Homaranismo, Jewishness and nationalism From: the answer to the invitation joingin the Jewish Espranto League (20 June 1914): Unfortunately I must stay aside this matter, as, according to my convinctions, I am homarano (member of humanity), and I cannot bound myself to the goals and ideals of a particular ethnic group or religion. […] It is true, that the nationalism by oppressed people – as a natural reaction of self-defence – is much more excusable, than the nationalism of oppressing people; but, if the nationalism of the strong people is ignoble, the nationalism of the weak is imprudent: both generate and subtain one the other, and present a vicious circle of infelicity, from which humanity never will go out, unless everybody will offer proper group’s love and won’t struggle to stay on a completely neutral ground. 23 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  24. 24. 1914, the end of the belle epoque © 1915 Louis Raemaekers satirieke kaart van Europa, Het gekkenhuis (oud liedje, nieuwe wijs)
  25. 25. Appeal to the diplomats, 1915 © Source: Esperanto-Museum, Vienna
  26. 26. A pan-European tribunal and a neutral linguistic landscape © Source: Esperanto-Museum, Vienna
  27. 27. Principle of territoriality and United States of Europe © Source: Esperanto-Museum, Vienna
  28. 28. The non-neutral Esperantisms
  29. 29. Christian ecumenism: new Latin of the united Church
  30. 30. Vegetarianism founded by Esperantists (1908)
  31. 31. Esperanto for antifascism
  32. 32. Esperanto, the dangerous language (Lins 2017) © 2014 Dan Mazur. Esperantists
  33. 33. Esperanto neutralism after Auschwitz
  34. 34. Lapenna: the need to define neutralism again The centre of the Esperanto Movement became the new UEA, and thanks to the work by Ivo Lapenna it started to be in “Consultative arrangements with UNESCO 1962 Category B”, after the Montevideo Resolution IV.4.422-4224 (1954) in favour of Esperanto because its results “correspond with the aims and ideals of Unesco”. Lapenna was anticommunist, so UEA took the Atlantic side. Lapenna, in his Esperanto en perspektivo (1974) argues that the acceptance of a single national language for international communication is irrealistic, as the other nations will not accept it. At the international level, multilingualism is considered a problem and Esperanto its solution. 34 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  35. 35. Tonkin’s new neutralism, linked with language rights Since 1956, a distinct junulara movado “youth movement” formed inside UEA with a definite association, called TEJO. En 1969 in their meeting young Esperantists signed the Declaration of Tyresö (my translation from Esperanto, my emphasis): If we apply with consistence the concept of conserving the integrity of individuals, you will condemn linguistic and cultural discriminations in any form, and also the so-called solution of the language problem, which is based on the discrimination, and we find that until now we pay not enough attention to the destruction of cultural and linguistic background of many peoples. This destruction is nothing else than a tool of linguistic imperialism. The most influent person in UEA becomes Humphrey Tonkin. 35 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  36. 36. A summary
  37. 37. How neutralism was transformed in history position year level nationality religion LZZ’s 1901 individual respected new Hillelism > patriotism (overcome in monotheistic the long run) cult internal idea 1905 individual / respected irrelevant national Swiss 1908 individual ignored irrelevant French 1911 national respected respected LLZ’s 1913 individual federated practical Homaranismo (multicultural) monotheism Lapenna’s 1948 national > respected respected individual (antifascism, anticommunism) Tonkin’s 1974 national > respected ignored generational (no political (individual) committment) 37 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo
  38. 38. Thank you! Dankon! Questions? Comments?  ⟨F.Gobbo@uva.nl⟩  @goberiko  federico.gobbo  +FedericoGobbo  http:/federicogobbo.name/pub/ 38 (cc) 2017 F Gobbo

×