Auxiliary Languages: An International Type of Guy

Is an international auxiliary language enough to truly bring people together?

| Winter 2015

I don’t remember when it occurred to me to ask the telemarketers for money. Like everyone else in those days, we were inundated by their calls. Unsolicited offers for products and services, requests for donations, come-ons for free weekend getaways made our phone ring at all hours of the day, every day of the week. These calls registered as Out of Area on my Southwestern Bell “Freedom Phone” Caller ID Box, and there seemed to be no way of dealing with them other than by not picking up.

Around this time, I’d purchased a couple of books on the North American Esperanto Association’s website, and they arrived accompanied by an enticing brochure someone at the Esperanto headquarters thought to slip into my package announcing the 88th annual Universala Kongrego de Esperanto that was being held that year in Sweden.

To the derision of almost everyone I knew—including my wife and daughter, my friends, and even distant relatives and casual acquaintances—I was teaching myself Esperanto, the universal language invented at the end of the 19th Century by Dr. L.L. Zamenhof, a Warsaw oculist.

In Esperanto, the word Esperanto literally means “one who hopes,” and it was Dr. Zamenhof’s fervent hope that a universal language, culturally neutral and easy to learn, might usher in an age of international brotherhood and world peace.

Why my friends and family found universal brotherhood and world peace so damnably funny, I have no idea, and when they scoffed at me, as they invariably did, I said to them, “Ha! You see! It works! You’re laughing already!”

Persevering like a postman through the snow and sleet and gloom of their universal derision, I diligently worked my way through Cresswell and Hartley’s Teach Yourself Esperanto, while availing myself of the 10 Free Lessons offered on the Association’s website.

12/14/2015 7:30:29 AM

Anyone who believes that having a common language will resolve all differences should check the divorce statistics.