Book Review: Esperanto: The World Interlanguage

Esperanto:  The World Interlanguage, compiled by George Alan Connor, Doris Tappan Connor, William Solzbacher, and Dr. J.B. Se-Tsien Kao

This book advertises itself as being six books in one, and it demonstrates something that can be seen through the general body of literature concerning the education of Esperanto [1], namely the fact that Esperanto writers do a very good job at creating material for new learners.  This is something that has to be praised.  As someone who is a student of languages in general [2], I have been consistently pleased by the ready availability and straightforwardness of material focused on teaching Esperanto.  This book is an example of that ease and also the way that Esperanto as a language is not only focused on communication but that the materials in and about Esperanto usually do the same thing as well.  Some cultures are prone to enjoy conferences and meetings and get-togethers and to focus on communication and the publishing of a lot of materials, and that is definitely something one notices in the Esperanto world as well, as my recent reading on the subject has made clear.

The contents of this book are helpfully described on the cover of the book, making it clear exactly what one will be getting from this book.  In about 250 pages, the compilers of the book manage to write a defense of Esperanto and a history that demonstrates the world language problem in international institutions as well as the development of Esperanto within the world of invented languages.  After this the authors write a practical textbook for Esperanto pronunciation.  Then there follows a short Esperanto reader that includes short stories, a short dialogue showing Esperanto playwriting, as well as some poems and even an editorial and a comment on the triangle of death in Nazi Germany during World War II and a sample of Zamenhof’s praise of the United States as a land of liberty, and a sample of three kinds of letters:  a private letter, a professional letter, and a commercial letter, for those of us who are letter writers.  The fourth part of the book contains a guidebook and directory of how to use Esperanto in one’s business and social life as well as the various voluntary organizations connected with Esperanto.  The fifth and sixth parts of this book are an Esperanto-English and English-Esperanto dictionary that provide useful vocabulary for those learning the language.

If there is one thing this book demonstrates clearly, aside from the skill of Esperantists in publishing good language learning material, it is the fact that language choices are not rational.  As language is associated with power, it is striking that more people do not see the power of learning languages.  I happen to know a fairly diverse group of people, many of whom are proficient in other languages, be they Spanish or French or German or any other number of languages.  Yet institutions commonly struggle to deal with business across cultural boundaries, and many people simply do not consider it important to learn languages.  It would appear, as someone who has some deep reservations and skepticism about international governance and one world ideas, that if there is a desire for international harmony as well as a shared language that is not an imperial language of some kind (like English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, or Hindi-Urdu) that Esperanto is almost the only option available, certainly the only option that combines ease of use with the existence of a robust vocabulary and culture.  One wonders why it remains so obscure even today.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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9 Responses to Book Review: Esperanto: The World Interlanguage

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