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Esperanto and humanism. LLZ in brief. Born Bialystok, Poland. In Bialystok lived Germans, Jews, Poles, Russians. The young Zamenhof felt a common tongue would help these nationalities live in peace and harmony. At university he studied medicine. Ludoviko Lazaro Zamenhof 1859-1917. 900+.

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esperanto and humanism
Esperanto and humanism

LLZ in brief

Born Bialystok, Poland. In Bialystok lived Germans, Jews, Poles, Russians. The young Zamenhof felt a common tongue would help these nationalities live in peace and harmony. At university he studied medicine.

Ludoviko Lazaro Zamenhof


Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

planned languages


Planned languages

Hildegard von Bingen


Descartes: ‘une langue universelle, fort aisée à apprendre, à prononcer et à écrire …’ (1629)

Leibnitz 1666

Ampère 1793

Sudre 1866 (Solresol)

Saussure 1910 (Novesperanto)

Hogben 1943 (Interglossa)

IALA 1951 (Interlingua)

Okrand 1984 (Klingon)

Johann Martin Schleyer

Volapuk (1879)

After 10 years …

25 newspapers

283 groups

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

regular language
big / large

small [unbig]

biggish / largish

huge [megabig]

size [bigness]

a big / large person [bigman]

a small person [unbigman]

to grow / get / become large [to biggen]

to make big / enlarge [to biggify]

to start to enlarge [to embiggen]

Regular language …

Esperanto is …

  • some five times easier to learn than other languages
  • phonetic
  • without exception
  • flexible
  • logical (e.g. no gender)












mal a





mal ulo




Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

simple verb forms
Vi kantisbele

No. of irregular verbs in …














Simple verb forms …



You sang nicely

You have sung nicely

You had sung nicely

You did sing nicely

You did use to sing nicely

You were singing nicely

You used to sing nicely



Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

logical lexis
Logical lexis …

place = ej

football pitch / ground

cricket pitch / ground

golf course

tennis court

swimming pool

running track

shooting gallery / range

bowling green

bowling alley










This is an instance of the ease of learning Esperanto. There is one affix – ej – to express place. There is no need to learn a host of illogical pairings. Why can’t we say in English ‘cricket court’?

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

logical lexis6
Logical lexis …

What are these


in English … ?















Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

the spirit of esperanto
The spirit of Esperanto


Because a language is planned does not mean it is


incapable of expression


Many languages contain planned. ‘non-natural’ elements!



Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

language spirit

Acceptable …


I bicycled to town

I cycled to town

I biked to town

less acceptable …

I trained to town

I carred to town

I bussed to town

(but equivalents acceptable in Esp.)

Language spirit

Puns …

ŝi suferas pro kataro (catarrh / kindle of cats)

literaturo (litera turo) (tower of letters)


he put a mouse into the shoe

li metis muson en la ŝuon

li enŝuigis muson (en+ŝu+ig+is / inshoe-ed)

Flexible (word order / word forms)

ni iris per trajno al la urboper trajno ni iris al la urbo

al la urbo ni iris per trajno iris ni al la urbo per trajno

ni trajnis al la urbo ni trajnis urben

ni alurbis trajne ni iris trajne urben

(the root trajn – train – is used here as a noun, a verb and an adverb)

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

cultural spirit
Cultural spirit


‘An artificial language cannot have a history’

  • Ido-crisis
  • Kabe
  • League of Nations
  • ‘Dangerous language’
  • Conferences

Above all …

  • Human histories

‘An artificial language cannot have a literature’

  • Translated literature
  • Original literature
  • Magazines
  • Music

120 years of history

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

the ideological spirit


The ideological spirit



Zamenhof (1905):

‘… at our meeting are no strong nations or weak nations, with privileges or without; no-one is humiliated or embarrassed; all of us feel as members of one nation, of one family … today, surrounded by the welcoming walls of Boulogne-on-Sea, it is not French who met English, nor Russians who met Poles, but people who met people.’


From the Boulogne Declaration:

1. Esperantism is an attempt to spread throughout the entireworld the use of a neutral, human language which, not intruding on the personal life of peoples and in no way aiming to replace existing national languages, would give people ofdifferent nations the ability to understand each other, and couldserve as a language of peace …

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

the inner idea
The inner idea


‘… via a neutral language to remove the walls which divide people and to accustom them to seeing in those around them simply fellow humans and brothers.’

Humphrey Tonkin, president of UEA (Warsaw, 1987)

‘Ultimately [Zamenhof's] language was and is more than a proposed solution to the language problem: it is an attempt to confront the spirit of inequality, of intolerance, of hatred that is tearing apart our world.’

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

human kind ism

Hillel: ‘That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation. Go and study it.’

Zamenhof: Declaration of Mankind (1913)

1 I am human, and all humans I regard as one family; the division of humanity into races which hate each other and into communities founded on race and religion I consider one of the greatest misfortunes which, sooner or later, must disappear, and the disappearance of which I must effect to the best of my ability.

2 In every person I see only that person, and I judge everyone solely according to his or her personal worth and deeds. …

10 I am aware that the essence of true religious commandments lies in the heart of every human being in the form of his or her conscience, and that the overriding principle contained in these commandments and incumbent on everyone is: do to others, as you would wish others to do to you: everything else that religion proposes is secondary to this.

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

common language common ethic
Common language – common ethic

‘We intend to establish a set of neutral and human ethical rules, which could make of humans humans and which would remove the awful ethnic chauvinism and the hatred and inequality between peoples; but for this set of ethical rules not to remain peripheral and totally worthless, like many fine theoretical principles of the moment, we intend to give it the specific form, set for all time, and able to be absorbed in childhood, of an automatically inheritable religion.’

Zamenhof: posthumous papers

  • Community of free thinkers:
  • ’sincerity, tolerance of other beliefs and acceptance of a communal moral code’
  • ‘to establish firm religious neutrality and prevent subsequent generations from slipping back into ethnic and religious chauvinism’
  • common churches / temples
  • neutral human ceremonies, customs and calendar for all humankind

‘Homaranismo’ to be discussed in Paris in 1914 – conference cancelled because of war.

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo


‘To be a humanist is, fundamentally, to love human beings; and to love them, in the deepest sense, is to want them to develop according to their own nature, to have the desire to relate to them and know them, to care for them, and to respect them in their entirety.

All of these elements are to be found, in an identical manner, at the root of the Esperanto phenomenon.

[Esperanto] shows itself to be an invaluable contribution to authentic, universal humanism.’

Claude Piron Esperanto: A New Form of Humanism

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

everyone speaks english
Everyone speaks English …?

‘Amazon has decided to relocate its customer service centre to Cork in a bid to take advantage of stronger language skills. The workforce in Slough doesn't have the necessary polyglotism to deal with calls from all over Europe, it says.

Headquarters will stay in Slough, but 90 call centre and support staff face relocation. The move will create up to 450 jobs in Cork. ‘ The Register, 2006-03-03

Global spread of English 'a threat to UK'

‘When we are in competition economically, educationally or culturally, conversing in English alone is no longer enough.’

The Guardian, 2006-02-15

Bradford hospital staff were unable to understand the accents of Americans brought in to advise on working practices.

The Observer, 2005-01-16

German doctors earning £1000 per day working in the NHS in Norwich were unable to understand the regional accent.

The Guardian, 2005-05-16

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

everyone speaks english16
Everyone speaks English …?

‘The majority of notices in English [in Shanghai] are either wrong or misleading’, reported the English language China Daily (2004-07-23).

A bus conductor lamenting the passing of the Routemaster bus said it was rare that passengers spoke to him because many were tourists who did not speak English.The Guardian, 2004-08-30

70% of news bulletins in India – where English is claimed to be widespread – are in Hindi, not English. ‘English is used by an elite whose views do not reflect the interests of ordinary Indians.’ The Guardian, 2005-11-16

Just one fifth of nurses from India are sufficiently proficient in English to work in NHS hospitals without taking remedial language lessons. The Guardian, 2004-09-22

Police reported it was difficult to investigate the Chinese cockle-picker tragedy in Morecambe Bay because the survivors ‘are not capable of speaking English.’ The Guardian, 2004-02-12

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo

the last word
The last word

Rabbi Hugo Gryn: ‘Let us tolerate our differences and celebrate our similarities.’

Why am I an esperantist?

  • ĝentileco (common courtesy)
  • racieco (common sense, reason)
  • homeco (human qualities)
  • internacieco (internationalism)

Why am I a humanist?

  • pro la samaj kialoj (for the same reasons)

Esperanto - la internacia lingvo