Esperanto Language Blog

Almost at the U.N. Posted by on Mar 27, 2009 in Esperanto Language

At two salient points in world history, Esperanto came within a fraction of a hair of being globally embraced. Unfortunately, neither of those instances proved fruitful for our favorite secondary language. However, it is worth noting that Esperanto comes closer and closer to worldwide recognition with each consecutive try – so we should be there soon!

After World War I finally ended, and the League of Nations had been established, a proposal during the first meeting of the League came about in favor of teaching Esperanto in the schools of every country. Having emerged from a global conflict in which alliances and causes for war were unclear, any effort to foster world peace was met with welcome. Esperanto, as a universal second language, would have been a helpful tool. Unfortunately, due to a vehement French delegate, the proposal was defeated – the delegate insisted that French was, in fact, the universal language that the world sought.

Later on, a similar proposal appealed to the United Nations in the 1940s. The measure sought to teach Esperanto in schools across the globe, as well as to use Esperanto as the language for international tourism and commerce. It almost worked – the proposal was backed by French President Vincent Auriol, four different prime ministers, over 400 parliamentarians, and uncounted thousands of scientists, linguists, and educators. Alas, this proposal also met its downfall, but at the hands of the United States. Since the US was a major economic power at the time, they adopted a mindset similar to the post-WWI French: English was the way to do things.

Perhaps we will learn from history this time, and support Esperanto when the opportunity arises?

(A more complete history of Esperanto can be found in David Richardson’s “Esperanto: Learning and Using the International Language [Washington: Orcas Publishing, 2004])

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  1. Janine Lowrie:

    Have you ever considered adding videos with your site posts to have the readers even more interested? What i’m saying is I just went through the entire content and it had been quite fantastic but because I am much more of a visual learner, I found that way to be a lot more helpful. well, let me know what you think.

    • Andrea Monticue:

      @Janine Lowrie Hi Janine,
      I added a video in a more recent post about religion and Esperanto, though I didn’t have sufficient experience with the medium to know not to do a video interview in a dark, noisy restaurant. I also had to edit the video in order to get the size down to something WordPress would allow. I promise to have more video content, however, as I would like to include examples of conversational Esperanto.

  2. ryan:

    I just started reading David richardson’s book. That chapter was amazing!

  3. Safiya Light:

    I was wondering if you might know where I can find any of the UN records relating to Esperanto? I want to look at it to see if a change in the way it was proposed may have led to its success instead of its rejection.