39 esperanto relaunch directed by La Loko play clip
Most people have heard about Esperanto. It is an international language that was launched in 1887. A lot of people today go around with the notion that Esperanto is a "failed project" or a "dead language"; Esperanto is seen as a utopian dream that did not succeed.
But Esperanto is not dead. Today at least 100 000 people speak it, maybe as many as 2 000 000. Esperanto speakers are spread all over the world and with the Internet it has become easier than ever to keep in touch.
For its inventor, Ludwik Zamenhof, Esperanto was a concrete answer to a concrete problem: how to create understanding between diverse language groups.
Zamenhof grew up in a Jewish-Polish family in the city of Bialystok, which had a rich mixture of different ethnic groups: Jews, Poles, Germans, Russians, and White Russians. Growing up, experiencing violent ethnic clashes close at hand, he wanted to create a tool that could increase understanding between different peoples. Zamenhof´s idea behind Esperanto was that it should be a second language, not that it should take the place of existing languages and cultures.
When people look at Esperanto as a failed project, the underlying thought seems to be that it was some kind of reform executed from above, that did not gain ground. But Esperanto was invented by one individual, who made it freely available to whoever wanted to use it.
Esperanto is designed to be easy to learn and easy to use. One can learn it in a month or two. But one can express oneself in Esperanto with the same sophistication as in any natural language.
Among people who know Esperanto, one will also find native English speakers, because they have realized that Esperanto is a radically different way of communicating internationally. Esperanto is democratic. Everyone participates on equal terms in a language that is not connected to any specific national culture or politics.
A re-launch of Esperanto should stress that speaking it is an individual decision.
The Esperanto-speaking community consists of individuals who have decided to acquire a democratic tool for international communication. One can see Esperanto as a success every time it manages to create understanding across borders.