Esperanto’s creation Esperanto was created by Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof a Polish Jewish doctor inventor and writer L L Zamenhof was born on the 15th December 1859 in the Polish town of Bialystok which at that point was part of the Russian Empire Within the town there were four major ethnic groups Germans Russians Poles and Jews all of which spoke their own languages and had their own customs often leading to quarrels between people This conflict very much frustrated Zamenhof and he believed that the main reason for all the prejudice and hate was a lack of understanding between people due to the numerous languages that were spoken He believed that having one common language would prevent further conflict between all different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds Zamenhof first attempted to create an international language when he was in high school in Warsaw At this time he spoke Russian Yiddish and Polish had mastered German and had a very good understanding of Latin French and Hebrew He also had some basic knowledge of Greek English and Italian With knowledge of all these languages by 1978 he had almost completed his task of creating an international language However at the age of 18 19 Zamenhof was too young to publish his work and so upon graduating went to study medicine While working as a doctor Zamenhof continued to work on his Lingwe uniwersaia universal language project During his life Zamenhof tested and refined his new dialect by translating a large number of books which include the Old Testament Hamlet Hans Christian Andersen's fairy Tales and plays by Molière and Goethe One of his life time works includes his famous novel Fundamento de Esperanto Basics of Esperanto which was published in 1905
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The novel established the official grammar and rules of the language which are still followed to the day Esperanto s successes The first Esperanto magazine La Esperantisto was published on September 1st 1889 and a few years later in 1905 the first World Esperanto Congress was held in Boulogne sur Mer France At this event Zamenhof made numerous notable speeches however in 1912 at the congress in Krakow Poland he renounced his formal leadership of the movement as he didn't want any prejudice against himself or his religion to obstruct the language s progress The congress is still held to this day with the 2017 congress being held in Seoul South Korea After Zamenhof s death in 1917 Esperanto still continued to grow as a global language In fact in the 1920s a proposal was brought forward for the League of Nations to accept Esperanto as their working language However although ten delegates accepted the policy the French delegate Gabriel Hanotaux did not in fear that his own language French was losing its position as an international language From this many people see the 1920s as the most successful time for Esperanto Persecution faced by Esperanto learners Unfortunately Esperanto has brought considerable amounts of persecution to its learners throughout its 130 year existence due to it often being viewed as communism In the early to mid 1900s small groups of Esperanto speakers across the world saw the language as revolutionary which alarmed many rulers of the time period Russia's Tsars banned Esperanto as they saw it as a revolutionary threat and before World War II Japan executed Esperanto speakers as communists Furthermore although in the early years of the Soviet Union Esperanto was given some government support in 1937 Stalin reversed the policy calling it a language of spies and had Esperanto speakers exiled or killed Hitler due to Zamenhof s Jewish status saw Esperanto as a method of Jewish world domination and executed anyone who used it Finally during and after the Spanish Civil War Spain persecuted anarchists socialists and Catalan Nationalists for many years many of whom spoke Esperanto but in the 1950s Esperanto was once again tolerated
During the war several posters were made in Esperanto in order to create unification between the various groups of international soldiers and volunteers who were helping to defend the Spanish Republic and forge international support for Republican Spain see Figure 1 The use of Esperanto for these posters was an important method of getting support for Republican Spain from different regions of the country where different languages were spoken especially in Cataluña where Catalan is spoken The suspicion that Esperanto was a communist plot also made it very unpopular in Franco's dictatorship due to the fact many Esperantists had fought on the side of the Republicans during the civil war Dialects derived of Esperanto Like many languages dialects were created derived off the original Esperanto Almost all of these failed however one which still survives today is called Ido offspring Ido was first suggested in Paris in October 1907 by the Delegation for the Adoption of an International Auxiliary Language The language aimed to reform Esperanto by changing some grammatical features as well as semantics and parts of the alphabet in order that they are closer to that of Romance languages and therefore easier to learn However the movement began to decline and it's estimated that there are currently between 500 and a few thousand speakers of Ido
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