The ‘Grin Report’ and its pretended support of Esperanto over Indo-European as European Union’s official language

We have received at Indo-European Language Revival Association an email suggesting us learning more about Esperanto, describing its advantages, and especially talking about the Grin Report, an expert study supposedly favoring Esperanto as the only language for the European Union. This mail comes probably from a reader of Spanish newspapers who read about recent news on Indo-European revival, who possibly didn’t read about our proposal, maybe because we use mainly English in our writings and he just can’t speak but Spanish and Esperanto…

I think that specially any study written about linguistic policy – in our outside the EU – before 2006 (i.e., before we made our proposal) is indeed not intended to support Esperanto over Indo-European, and that even present-day studies supporting the adoption of Esperanto are not – unless expressly doing so – against Indo-European, but just ignoring our project, thus invalidating almost any future use of it against us.

Here is an extract of the open letter sent to the European Parliament defending the adoption of one language for the EU – when it says Esperanto we will write Indo-European, and the Grin Report and the letter will still be saying the same…

We pay € 17 THOUSAND MILLION each year into the British economy!

Dear Member of Parliament,

October 2005 saw the publication of a particularly interesting report, accessible in French in PDF Format, by the Swiss Professor François Grin.

The most startling conclusion of the report is that, due to the current dominant position of the English language, the United Kingdom gains € 17-18 thousand million each year, which is more than three times the famous British rebate, or 1% of its GNP. In other words, each of the 394 million non-English-speaking citizens of the EU, including those from the poorest new Member States, are subsidising the British economy!

This amount comes from the sale of books and other goods relating to the English language, from the 700.000 people each year who go to Britain to learn English, as well as from the savings that stem from the neglect of foreign-language teaching in British schools. This does not account for all of the languagerelated economic transfers to the United Kingdom but for 75% of them, which the author sees as the fruit of the hegemony of English and not just of the demographic weight of the language itself.

François Grin who is a professor at the University of Geneva and a specialist in the economics of language, has released an extensive dossier in which he analyses the language policy of the European Union. The study was commissioned and published by the French Haut Conseil de l’évaluation de l’école (High Council for School Evaluation) – an independent public body which evaluates and analyses the state of teaching in France.

The report poses the question “What would be the optimum choice for working languages in the European Union?

A more equitable system would save the EU at least € 25 thousand million annually!

The Swiss economist proposes a comparison between three possible scenarios:
1. English as the sole language,
2. multilingualism,
3. Esperanto Indo-European as an internal working language the EU institutions.

The third option, Esperanto Indo-European, comes out as the least expensive and most equitable, but Grin believes it is not currently viable because of the strong prejudices against Esperanto Indo-European based on simple ignorance. He believes, however, that it is strategically possible for a new generation, on two conditions:

  • a sustained large-scale information campaign throughout the EU about language inequality and
    Esperanto Indo-European,
  • the cooperation of all Member States in the campaign.

This could lead to net annual savings for the EU of approximately € 25 thousand million! “That is directly and manifestly to the advantage of 85% of the population of the 25 states”, Professor Grin claims.

Now do the same with the Grin Report itself and substitute “Esperanto” for Indo-European as the best option, and you will have a natural, democratic, culturally neutral and thus better language alternative for Europe than Esperanto, supported by previous economic and linguistic policy studies which didn’t take our alternative on account because they couldn’t.

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7 thoughts on “The ‘Grin Report’ and its pretended support of Esperanto over Indo-European as European Union’s official language

  1. Voltaire wrote: “Le meilleur est l’ennemi du bien” (The best is the enemy of the good). Ever since Ido tried to “improve” on Esperanto, many other constructed languages heve come along, but none has achieved anything near to what Esperanto has accompliched. For example, there are more than 30,000 book titles in Esperanto! And Esperanto has been around for more than 120 years! Most of the other attempts at a constructed language have fallen by the wayside. A similar fate awaits Indo-European, which, in its attempt to be more “naturalistic,” has actually become more difficult to learn, with its four conjugations of the verb, for example.

  2. I have read your posting “Esperanto & other invented languages vs. Indo-European for Europe (and IV): Universal Law of Persistence of Error.” Since there was no place for a reply there, I shall submit a reply here.

    You quibble about the difference between Esperanto as a “constructed” language and Indo-European as a “reconstructed” language. But you go on to say that you have only a tentative word now for “sun” and may have to replace it “because of a different Vedic Sanskrit or Tocharian attested word.” Why would anyone want to learn a language where the words may be constantly changing?

    You say that your language, Indo-European, is the one spoken 4,500 years ago. How do you know that your version of this language is what was actually spoken then, if you also say (above) that you are not sure what the word for “sun” was? And why pick 4,500 years ago? Wasn’t Indo-European spoken before then, as some believe, or even later, as others believe? How do you pick an arbitrary date?

    You belittle the figure of 30,000 book titles in Esperanto. This is the approximate number of titles of an Esperanto library in London. It consists of both translations (such as that of the Polish epic “Pan Tadeusz”) and original works. Your reference to the number of book titles of Proto Indo-European on Google refers to scholarly books ABOUT the language not IN the language. Moreover, you can go to a Vikipedia in Esperanto (a version of Wikipedia) and find thousands of articles written IN Esperanto. Esperanto is the 15th most popular language on this site, out of some 6,000(?)languages in the world.

    You admit that Esperanto is much easier to learn than Indo-European and claim that this is not important. I disagree. I learned Esperanto at age 12 and had a good command of that language within a few months. But it took me 4 years or more to attain some degree of proficiency in French and later Polish, and I am still struggling with Latin and Russian.

    I commend you and others for the work being done in Proto Indo-European, as I have an interest in this field. But don’t deceive yourself that you are able to “reconstruct” Indo-European as a spoken or written language. The best we can hope for is to come up with probable formulas for the words, pronunciation and grammar of this language. A tale “written” in this language by one of the scholars has since been “improved upon” amsny times, as new knowledge has been acquired. It is just as impossible to reconstruct classical Latin from French, Italian, Spanish, etc. We know Latin only from written books and documents (and are still not certain of its pronunciation). But there are NO written books or documents IN Indo-European!

    I sincerely hope that the “Universal Law of Persistence of Error” does not mean you will continue to think you can “revive” Indo-European as a spoken language.

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