Mi Lernas Esperanton

Last week I mentioned that I had started using Duolingo to learn German and Esperanto. That adventure has quickly morphed into an almost exclusive focus on the latter.

As I said in my previous post, I’ve never been terribly successful learning human languages. Part of my motivation for learning Esperanto is becoming familiar with various concepts found in human languages. Another motivator is the purpose and history of the language itself. Esperanto was created as an auxiliary language by Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof with the intent of enabling individuals around the world to converse with one another in the hopes of avoiding conflict creating misunderstandings. To that end he designed the language to be easy to learn and consistent in its rules. In addition to those two characteristics the language was also neutral in regards to nationality.

Esperanto actually enjoyed a good deal of success initially. In fact it was so successful that many tyrants tried to snuff it out. Nazi Germany sentenced Esperantists to death during the Holocaust due to Zamenhof being Jewish and the international nature of the language (because Nazis were national socialists they hate everything international socialists liked). In fact Hitler specifically mentioned Esperanto in Mein Kampf (and not in a good way).

Speaking of international socialists, they thought Esperanto was a really neat idea… for a while. The Soviet Union initially supported Esperanto. And why not? International socialists are supposed to spread the wonders and joys of socialism to all people so a common easy to learn language should be right up their alley! Joseph Stalin himself even studied Esperanto. Then the Great Purge came. Stalin did a complete 360 and threw Esperantists into gulags.

Being hated by those two bastards is quite an endorsement but the biggest endorsement, in my opinion, is the type of people who adopted it. Esperanto, due to its neutral nature, was embraced by anarchists. There were even plans to declare Esperanto the official language of Neutral Moresnet. Today the language is growing in popularity due to the international nature of the Internet and enjoys considerable support on Wikipedia.

It’s a fascinating language and I have been enjoying the learning process. According to Duolingo I’ve only spent 11 days learning Esperanto and I can already hold simple conversations in it. A handful of us anarchists in the area hope to see Esperanto picked up by more members of our circles because, like the early anarchists that fell in love with the language, we see it’s lack of national ties as an asset to our anational goals.

I urge all of you to check out Duolingo and try some of the early Esperanto courses. Even if you don’t know a second language you’ll likely find it easy to pick up. And it never hurts to have an additional language under your belt to throw on a resume.