I ESTEEMED it a great privilege to be one of the fourteen hundred people who attended the Third International Esperanto Congress, last August, in Cambridge, England. I had heard members of the First Congress, at Boulogne-sur-Mer, in 1905, and of the Second Congress, at Geneva, in I906, tell of the usefulness of the new language; but at the close of the Cambridge congress, I was ready to exclaim, as did the Queen of Sheba on leaving King Solomon and his glory—the half had not been told!
During the congress I saw representatives of thirty-four different lands—who naturally speak twenty-two different languages and dialects—meeting upon the basis of a common speech, and not only comprehending each other's words, but experiencing a thrill of fellowship such as only a mutual understanding can produce. As one of the speakers put it:
“The man from Archangel uses the same language as the man from Rio de Janeiro, and there is less difference in their pronunciation than between mine and yours.ˮ He was a Yorkshireman, speaking with a slight northern accent to Londoners.
Twice during the past year I have held a public discussion with a very learned linguist who is a foe of Esperanto, and each time he averred that the devotees of the language in different countries will never speak so that they can understand one another. As he graphically put the case:
‟The man from Russia will be absolutely unintelligible to the man from Nebraska.”
Now, I had no faith in the argument of my opponent, but I could only deny it upon hearsay; so I went to the Cambridge Congress to listen for myself. Luckily the man from Russia and the man from Nebraska were both there. They understood each other, I understood them, and they understood me. In fact, after dining in the great hall with nine hundred and ninety-nine other Esperantists, and chatting with those at the right of me, those at the left of me, and others in front of me, I observed to an Englishman:
‟It is the veritable truth that I do not have as much difficulty in talking with a foreigner who speaks Esperanto as in understanding some of your English servants;ˮ and he confessed the some himself.
My memoranda show that during the congress I actually talked in Esperanto with men and women not only from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the United Slates, but also from France,
Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Russia, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Siberia, Venezuela, Tunis, Italy, India, and Poland—people from twenty countries, speaking at least sixteen languages by nature; but Esperanto was the least common multiple of all.
Moreover, except in two instances, I do not recall any difficulty in understanding what they said. One Russian and one Spaniard spoke with careless enunciation and extreme rapidity, and either my ear or my brain was laggard, so that I lost some nuggets of expression; but on reflection I was comforted with the thought that, a few days before, I had met an American woman with the same defects of enunciation and excessive speed, and that I had had nearly as much difficulty in understanding what she said to me, though she spoke excellent English.
A slight knowledge of the principles of Esperanto is enough to convince must unprejudiced thinkers of its practical value. Every one who has studied another language than his own has met with difficulties in grammar and pronunciation that are not only discouraging but needless. All such foolishness is barred out of Esperanto. No letter has ore than one sound; so the language spells itself when it is once pronounced. The accent always falls on the last syllable but one, if the word has more than one syllable; so the language pronounces itself when it is once spelled. There are only two cases, easily distinguished, and the abomination of gender for genderless objects is abolished. Sixteen short rules comprise all the grammar, and a thing once learned is learned forever, as there are no exceptions.
There is the same difference between this language and a language that has come into being ‟naturallyˮ that there is between the streets of Boston, old Prague, or lower New York, and the streets of upper New York, new Paris, and Washington. The first follow original cow-paths, or are laid out by accident; the last conform to system and rule. The ﬁrst are like trees that spring up by chance in a forest, racked by the winds, bent by rude circumstance, gnarled, twisted, and unarranged; the last are like trees in a landscape-garden, pruned, protected, and arranged with an eye to both use and beauty.
I heard an accomplished linguist, a director of public education, say at the congress—speaking in Esperanto—that this new international language is the most natural introduction to other languages; that if he were permitted to do so by the powers above him, he would undertake to teach Americans or English not only Esperanto but French and German too in the same time that he could teach either French or German alone; furthermore, that he could teach all three more thoroughly than he could teach either French or German alone. That is a rather startling statement, and I admit that it needs to be proved by experiment; but if I were the autocrat of education in the United States I should make a rule that for the next twenty years no child should study any language except English in the public schools till he had first studied Esperanto. I believe such a rule would he an incalculable service to liberal education.
Would such a regulation be a hardship? Think how many weary months a student of other languages has to struggle with declensions, conjugations, exceptions, and irregularities. Of the ﬁrst two, in Esperanto, there are a single declension of two cases, and a single conjugation of six endings; of the last two there are none!
Here is Tolstoyʼs opinion of Esperanto:
‟It is so easily acquired that, having received an Esperanto grammar, a vocabulary, and some Esperanto literature, after not more than two hours of study I found myself able, if not to write the language, at least to read it readily. The sacriﬁce which every man of the European world would make in devoting some time to the learning of this language would be so insigniﬁcant, and the results, if Europeans and Americans would take [it] up, would be so great, that one cannot but make the trial.ˮ
Of course, the student cannot expect to become ﬂuent in Esperanto by working upon it for a couple of hours. He can
easily muster its short and simple grammar in that time; but he will still have to refer to at dictionary for the words he needs.
The world ﬁrst heard of Esperanto just twenty years ago, when Dr. L. L. Zamenhof, a physician in Warsaw, published a book outlining its principles. Though he was then quite a young man, not yet thirty, he had spent ten years or more in perfecting his new language. A Frenchman, the Marquis de Beaufront, had been at work simultaneously upon a project of the same sort, and was almost ready to make his invention public when the Polish doctorʼs book fell into his hands. Struck with its merits, the marquis dropped his own scheme to become the chief agent in promoting Esperanto. This created two centers for the spread of the new language—in France and in Poland; and from these it made its way, slowly at ﬁrst, and rapidly later on, over the continent of Europe. Twenty nations were represented in the convention that met at Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1905; and the second gathering of Esperantists, held at Geneva in the following year, was still larger and more successful.
At last summerʼs remarkable congress in the old English university town more than four hundred of the names enrolled were those of Frenchmen; the other members came literally from Siberia and Venezuela, Calcutta and Chicago, Iceland and Uruguay, and all the lands between. At the business meetings held each morning in the crowded hall, there were more speakers petitioning to be heard than could possibly find place. They spoke for the most part impromptu, rapidly, earnestly, and even eloquently; and the audience was one of the most responsive I ever saw.
The latest ofﬁcial statement (June 30, I907) reports six hundred and thirty-nine Esperanto societies—ﬁve hundred and forty-two in Europe, ﬁfty-two in North America, and the rest scattered all over the globe. The number had more than doubled since January, 1906, when only three hundred and six societies were in existence. Thirteen monthly journals are now issued wholly in Esperanto, while twenty-four others are printed partly in Esperanto and partly in the language of their respective countries. Two of these are published in the United States—the American Esperanto Journal, of Boston, and Amerika Esperantisto, of Chicago.
Since 1902 eleven national or international congresses have pronounced in favor of Esperanto, including the United Societies of Christian Endeavor at Geneva in 1906. Twenty-six non-commercial societies are already conducting an Esperanto correspondence in foreign lands. More than half of these are working directly in the interests of universal peace, looking hopefully toward the time when—
longer from its brazen portals
The blast of war's great organ shakes
But, beautiful as songs of the immortals,
The holy melodies of love shall rise.
SOURCE: Lowell, D(aniel) O(zro) S(mith) (1851-1928). Esperanto, the Wonderful New Language, The Munsey Magazine, vol. 38, no. 3, December 1907, pp. 325-327.
Note: Neither the original typography nor the original two-column format is preserved here.
These are the first appearances of Esperanto in the Munsey magazines:
Esperanto in The Scrap Book, April - June 1907.
This connects to 3 PDF files, a reader inquiry about Esperanto, then 2 articles by Lowell:
Talks With Our Readers: The Esperanto Movement [subscriber in Meriden, Connecticut], The Scrap Book, vol. 3, no. 2, April 1907, pp. 166-167.
Esperanto: A First Lesson in the New International Language, The Scrap Book, vol. 3, no. 3, May 1907, pp. 353-356.
Esperanto: Easy Lessons in the New International Language, The Scrap Book, vol. 3, no. 4, June 1907, pp. 543-547.
Lowell later produced five translations for a short-lived experiment in The Cavalier, which paired English originals with Lowells translations. For links to all the English originals and Esperanto translations and more information, see:
The Cavalier: Covers & Contents
J. U. Giesy (John Ulrich, 1877-1948) & His Collaborators
translation of L. L. Zamenhof's La Vojo
by D. O. S. Lowell
In 2112 (1912) by J. U. Giesy & J. B. Smith
2112 (1912) by J. U. Giesy & J. B. Smith,
translated into Esperanto by Elmer E. Haynes, M.D.
In 2112, by J. U. Giesy
& J. B. Smith,
translated from Esperanto by Forrest J. Ackerman
Farewell to Esperanto
by Bob Davis, the Editor
(The Cavalier, 15 Feb 1913)
“Esperanto—A Closed Incident”
by the Editor [Bob Davis],
with images of the entire letter column
“Heart to Heart Talks”
Elmer E. Haynes & John A. Morris on J. U. Giesy et al in the pulps (1915)
Esperanto in early science fiction to 1930 by Everet F. Bleiler
J. U. Giesy (John Ulrich, 1877-1948) & His Collaborators
Esperanto & Interlinguistics Study Guide / Retgvidilo pri Esperanto & Interlingvistiko
Philosophical and Universal Languages, 1600-1800, and Related Themes: Selected Bibliography
& Utopia Literaturo en Esperanto /
Science Fiction & Utopian Literature in Esperanto:
Gvidilo / A Guide
Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources: A Selective Work in Progress
J. U. Giesy @ Ĝirafo
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