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Why Esperanto Failed [Quick Read]

Main image of the blog post "Why Esperanto failed", showing the Esperanto flag.

Esperanto. It sounds like the Spanish esperanza or the French l’espérance. Hope. Did I forget this language in my blog entry about romance languages? Nope. Actually, Esperanto is the world’s most prominent artificial language! Thus, it does not belong to any language family. Yet, only a few people speak this language. Why has Esperanto failed to become an international language?

The Early Success of Esperanto

The word “Esperanto” means “One who hopes.” Indeed, everything dates back to one man’s hope and genius. His name was Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, a Litvak Jew from the Russian Empire. With sorrow, he grew up seeing many conflicts in the multi-ethnic environment he lived in.

This man had one (maybe) naive thought: Conflicts among people would decrease if we all spoke one common language. Just think about how many people speaking the same language don’t like each other. Now, would a shared language solve these quarrels?

Anyway, Zamenhof introduced Esperanto in his book “Unua Libro” or “First Book” in 1887 and it would set out to be a great success. By the 1920s, Esperanto had grown both as a language and a linguistic community. World Esperanto Congresses and the Akademio de Esperanto helped to increase its popularity. As a consequence, the world was on its way to establishing a shared international language! But, then…

The Tide Began to Turn

Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin shown as important reasons for why Esperanto failed.

All of a sudden, the number of Esperanto speakers worldwide diminished drastically in a couple of years! Did everyone somehow lose interest in it? What was happening?

From the beginning of the First until the End of the Second World War, Esperanto speakers became the target of two world leaders: Hitler and Stalin! Hitler saw “Esperantism” as a weapon of the Jews, while Stalin viewed Esperantists as enemies of the people. These accusations led to many Esperanto Speakers being chased, put in jail, or killed. Was this the end of Zamenhof’s dream?

Esperanto Today

Yes and no. Eventually, it regained some of its past success. In 1954 in the Montevideo Resolution, the United Nations pledged support for Esperanto to become an international language. Many Eastern European and Asian countries have incorporated Esperanto as well. Moreover, its body of literature has grown immensely.

The internet has become vital for the further expansion of Esperanto. Realize, folks, that its speakers are dispersed all over the world. In particular, mobile apps like Duolingo contributed their share to make Esperanto more accessible. Hence, are we only a couple of steps away from introducing it as a second language into school curricula? On the other hand, wouldn’t learning yet another tongue be too much to ask for from pupils?

Esperanto Is Easy

It would not be too much to ask for. How come? Esperanto might be the easiest language on Earth! Its founder spoke, among others: Yiddish, Russian, German, French, Hebrew, Polish, and a bit of English. That many languages are remarkable for a person living in his age. Thus, the vocabulary of Esperanto mainly resembles Romance, Germanic, and, to a lesser extent, Slavic words.

Only 16 grammar rules exist, which one can learn in a couple of hours. Due to its Romance characteristics, Esperanto even sounds melodic. Writing is simplified such that every sound corresponds to only one letter. By the way, the same principle underlies Serbo-Croatian orthography. Such an organization reflects one of the best-organized spellings worldwide.

Studies have shown that learning Esperanto as a second language considerably lowers the time one needs to learn a third language! Most importantly, you usually need only a couple of months to master it. If I look at all the advantages of Esperanto, I find that learning it makes sense.

However, only about 1,000 native speakers exist. About one to two million people speak Esperanto as a secondary tongue. So, why has it never had the expected success? Why has Esperanto failed?

Image of Zamenhof, the founder of Esperanto.
Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof

The English Language – The Reason why Esperanto Failed

Next to the mentioned setback during the Second World War, there has been another big reason for the failure of Esperanto: The English language!

For example, the list of English-speaking countries includes: The United States of America, The United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, or South Africa. Clearly, we are talking about a number of the wealthiest countries of our planet.

Thus, English is the international language for trade. Like never before, English has become the ticket to enter global markets. The number of native speakers is way higher than the number of Esperanto speakers.

All in all, I do believe that Esperanto has been a success story! It might not have established itself in political or everyday life as expected. Still, it has grown a rich collection of literature and no other artificial language has nearly as many proficient speakers! Disputes among countries might not have been buried, yet, Zamenhof can still be proud of what he has achieved.

Why Esperanto Failed (Quick Read) – The Coming of a Surprising Blog

In this blog, you will discover a bunch of proven tips on how to crack the language-learning game! Just give me a bit of time. This was a short blog post that I spontaneously decided to create! I think it is an enjoyable quick read about why Esperanto failed. Hope you agree. Well, see you in my next blog entry!

There will be a loooooot more articles coming!

Are you asking yourself: “Who is this guy whose words I am reading right now?” You will find some information about me here.

Woman listening to a podcast in order to improve her literacy in a language.
#11 QuickTip: Listen to language podcasts on a regular basis. Look for beginners’, intermediate, or advanced audios. This will enhance your comprehension skills considerably.

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