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]

Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua,… (2)

I was wondering what could happen if people disagreed with our approaches to Europaio. We have allowed anyone not only to disagree within our frameworks, but also to use our works and names to create their own projects – but for “Dnghu” and “Europaio”, if they completely disagree with our grammar rules. We thought this was the fairest legal position to hold, given that we had to defend our efforts as first-movers in IE revival issues, at the same time guaranteeing everybody the right to create a better project, as nobody should be able to retain rights over the Indo-European language in any possible way.

Leaving legal issues aside, what about a more Latin Europaia? a more Slavic Europaiska? a more Germanic Europaisk? or a more Greek Europaika? What about Europai, Newom? What about IALs like Enterdnghu or Sperantom? I hate giving ideas, believe me, but this way it cannot be said that we were not aware of the risks of releasing our works under free licences.

Unlike artificial languages, Proto-Indo-European was only one language, and especially the one we want to reconstruct and use as a modern language is the dialect spoken some 4.500 thousand years ago by the (mainly) European prehistoric community. For people wanting to be purer – thus older – in the verb reconstruction, or in the phonetics, or more neutral, or anything like that, there is always a place; we’ll still be trying to speak the same language. And for those enthusiasts looking for early PIE, or even Indo-Uralic, Eurasiatic, and so on, wanting to use laryngeals, to use a simpler syntax, an older noun declension system, etc. there is also a place, although those will mostly remain theoretical projects.

The problem with artificial languages is not the risk posed by disagreements with the majority of Esperantists, and proposals of (supposedly) improved languages derived from Zamenhof’s concept, such as Ido, Interlingua or Novial. The real problem comes when there is an overwhelming choice of very good conlangs [Wikipedia], each one better than others in some respects, and worse in others; then, learning one of those languages implies necessarily loosing your time if it is eventually not the one chosen by the majority. Learning Europaio, on the other hand, gives you not only the certainty of not being replaced by a completely different language with the same concept, as there is only one, but also, if it is not adopted officially by the EU, you will have learnt the linguistic features of the ancestor from which the mother tongues of half the world’s population are derived. In this respect, it would be like learning Latin before learning romance languages.