Esperanto vs. Europaio?

I’ve recently read in some forums about Indo-European revival being a “new IAL” with ‘no chances against Esperanto‘.

The objective of Europaio is – and was – never to substitute Esperanto or to undermine the Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua, etc. communities. We are very respectful of the long tradition of IALs in building worldwide communities around international, ‘neutral’ languages, for our society to become more democratic, more jointly liable, or whatever those groups may seek.

However, things should always be clear to everyone when comparing Indo-European with such languages:

  • Esperanto is an artifcial language invented by one man, as there are hundreds of them. Europaio (as a modern Indo-European) is a unique, natural, reconstructed language.
  • Esperanto hasn’t been ever spoken but for some erudite meetings. Indo-European was spoken by a prehistoric community, and its dialects are now spoken by half the world’s population; also, many classical language students in European Universities have attended (Proto-)Indo-European courses as obligatory subjects to obtain their degrees.
  • Esperanto’s aim a century ago was to be spoken as the only IAL; some are still waiting. Europaio’s not-so-ambitious aim is to become the EU’s common language, to help further integration into a single country; we haven’t even begun to promote it, and our idea is quickly dismissed by some.
  • Esperanto’s clones – or, better, Volapük clonesare infinite, and the newer are supposedly better than the older ones. Indo-European (or better late PIE) was and is only one, although different approaches can be made to its writing and syntax system – as with any other natural language.
  • Esperanto was made by a conlang fan, as all other constructed languages. We don’t see Indo-European revival as a cultural experiment, or as a personal hobby – we rely, in fact, on more than two centuries of IE studies; we think Europaio will match the European linguistic needs for real cohesion, and will mean an overwhelming social, economic, educational and political integration movement if it succeeds. We are far from considering all this a game or a hobby.

The first motto we thought about to promote Europaio some months ago was “Europaio’s not another Esperanto!” (like “GNU’s not Unix!”), but I personally disliked it because it seemed to undermine the efforts of whole communities of well-minded conlang-supporters; it was eventually discarded because (surprisingly) many people hadn’t ever heard about Esperanto, so misunderstandings based on linking artificial languages with Europaio weren’t so likely as we firstly thought.

Now I cannot make a Google search for “Europaio” without finding it related to other five-or-ten-minute-grammar’s conlangs, and without reading some comments criticizing our lack of support for our ‘not-so-powerful conlang’, and I just cannot believe that such comments come mainly from conlangers and others who haven’t even read our project.

We are not politically involved, as we wanted to represent an apolitical (indeed Pro-European) linguistic movement, but this kind of initial reactions are making us seriously reflect on becoming politically active at a European level, whether as a provisional platform, as an association or even as a EU-only political party.

I hope those communities realize that what we are doing is trying to unite locally to act globally, and not vice-versa, and thus we are not confronted, but just acting in two very different levels. We have certainly proposed an IAL project (Sindhueuropaiom), just as some of them have proposed Esperanto as EU’s language, but both proposals are mainly theoretical and probably out of each other’s scope.

Our Europaio proposal is as real as the EU, and theirs as utopic as a worldwide (private) agreement over adopting a one-man’s language. No matter how big and strong their historic communities are, these facts will not change; they can accept it and maybe collaborate with us or others in IE revival – or just stay aside -, or they can foolishly try to undermine our efforts, thus unnecessarily confronting two very different worlds.

[By the way, we usually compare – and criticize – Esperanto and other conlangs, as we do with English, English-French, English-French-German, Multilingualism and Latin, because they all have been proposed for EU’s future language policy. Europaio is not really opposed to any of those languages, though, unless they compete for the role of EU’s main language]

3 thoughts on “Esperanto vs. Europaio?

  1. If ‘artificial’ means man-made, that applies to all languages. Esperanto is an evolving living language, not confined to the ‘erudite’. At World Congresses the entertainment side (which is also conducted in Esperanto) is probably much more popular than the ‘erudite’ meetings. Esperanto was early on handed over to the community by the inventor so as to allow evolution. It was Volapuk’s inventor who tried to make himself the sole owner (and failed). Esperanto has now been around for over 100 years, and the number of competitors speaking the ‘infinite’ rivals are actually ‘infinitesimal’ by comparison.
    One reason is that it underwent much more rigorous testing by real circumstances than its rivals, before or since. It emerged as a response to ethnic conflict in Bialytock, Zamenhof’s birthplace and underwent considerable testing – including the burning of the inventor’s papers by his father (fearful of Tsarist poersecution) and hence its forced reconstruction from scratch and more retesting – before its initial publication. Stalin called it the ‘language of spies’ and put Esperantists in the gulags (so that Solzhenitsyn mentioned them), Hitler called it a ‘Jewish plot’ and acted accordingly, and dictators generally don’t like it. But it survives.

  2. “Esperanto hasn’t been ever spoken but for some erudite meetings.”

    That’s totally wrong. Do you seriously believe that? It seems more like a statement that would be valid for Lojban. I know plenty of people (including myself) who use Esperanto every day as one of their main languages, certainly not only at “erudite meetings” but also for normal everyday activities. It’s the primary language at home for many international couples (including my home…).

    And most of the organized Esperanto events I’ve been to are not what I would call “erudite” (though certainly some are – just like how it is with meetings that happen in other languages e.g. English or German), but simply people getting together to socialize with people and share common interests, e.g. the most recent I attended was a week-long New Year’s party with plenty of concerts and dancing and fun.

    You also state that Esperanto is the creation of one person (Zamenhof), when in fact of course many people contributed to its evolution during more than a century, and of course Esperanto also draws from existing languages in terms of vocabulary, grammar, alphabet, figures of speech, etc. Indeed Zamenhof explicitly identified himself only as the initiator of the language and gave “ownership” of the language to its community as he didn’t want to be the sole creator.

    And in what sense was Zamenhof a “conlang fan”? As I understand that term, it means someone who geekily enjoys exploring and knowing about and creating many conlangs for their own sake. I don’t think that’s what motivated Zamenhof; do you? If he was a “conlang fan” by some looser notion of “conlang fan”, how are the creators of Modern Indo-European not also “conlang fans”? (And why would someone being a “conlang fan” disqualify their language from being suitable as an IAL anyway?)

    Incidentally, most Esperanto speakers I know are not particular interested in conlangs generally (though certainly some are).

    To clarify: this is NOT meant as a comment about the relative suitability of Esperanto or Modern Indo-European as an international auxiliary language, but only to clarify some misconceptions you seem to be presenting about Esperanto, seemingly in your zeal for MIE as an auxiliary language. You’re portraying Esperanto as some kind of one-man conlang project that is merely a study object of conlang enthusiasts, and obsessing over it being “artificial” (as if reconstructing an ancient language like Indo-European ISN’T artificial!), and you seem unaware (or unwilling to acknowledge) that Esperanto has a live community of speakers, culture, history, literature, etc and is not merely some theoretical project on paper.

    If there are good reasons why Modern Indo-European would be a better IAL for Europe than Esperanto, then cool, I’m interested to hear about it. But if your reasons are bogus stuff that boils down to “Esperanto is artificial and it’s just one guy’s personal conlang that no one really speaks except at erudite meetings”, then that’s simply bogus and unconvincing and makes me distrustful whether you are arguing in good faith.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.