Everyone knows of his link to the Teddy bear, but
Invented in 1887 to promote peace and equality, Esperanto has impacted the world in more ways than you might think.
#1 Esperanto means “one who hopes” and inventor Dr L. L. Zamenhof was indeed an idealist. He grew up in a town divided by language into Russian, Polish, German and Jewish areas. To foster global friendship he invented a language for the world.
#2 Claimed to be super-easy to learn, it is allegedly five times quicker to learn than Spanish and ten times quicker than Russian. The writer Tolstoy claimed that after only two hours tuition: “I was able, if not to write the language, at any rate to read it freely.”
#3 George Soros the billionaire philanthropist was taught Esperanto and he found it an asset: “wherever you went, you found someone to speak with.”
#4 The writer Umberto Eco admitted that he had believed that Esperanto was not a ‘real’ language. His reason? That you couldn’t make love in it. He was corrected by a student: “I’m sorry, Professor, but it is possible to make love in Esperanto. I’ve done it”.
#5 In case you are wondering, the way to say I love you in Esperanto is: ‘mi amas vin’!
#6 William Shatner starred in a 1966 cult horror movie filmed entirely in Esperanto. In ‘Incubus,’ he falls in love with a satantic witch. Shatner simply memorized the script. He gave it his best shot, but some Esperanto speakers said that his pronunciation was a little off!
#7 Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940) showed an Esperanto shop sign reading Vestaĵoj Malnovaj “Old Clothes,”
#8 An Esperanto language school features in Graham Greene’s The Confidential Agent.
#9 But not everyone wanted a language of peace and Esperanto was hated by both Stalin and Hitler. Stalin called it a language of spies and had speakers exiled or executed, while in Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler said that Esperanto was used by the international Jewish conspiracy and he persecuted speakers.
#10 But today, Esperanto is still estimated to be spoken by millions worlwide and it is even reaching out galactically – a message in Esperanto is currently in space as it was included on Voyager 1’s Golden Record.
#11 It has has 23 consonants, five vowels, (a,e,i,o,u) but does not include the letters q,w,x,v,z. New words come via prefix and suffix, e.g (birdsong and songbird are birdokanto and kantobirdo). Here are some phrases:
Bonan matenon (Good morning)
And perhaps most useful of all:
Mi ne komprenas vin (I don’t understand you!)