© Dudich, Endre (Hungary) 2008 (revised)

A Dozen Pros and Cons Concerning Esperanto

Audiatur et altera pars

Why not to adopt Esperanto? Why to adopt Esperanto after all?
1.Esperanto is not a living natural language, but an artificial one, lacking any tradition.Esperanto is in fact an "artificial", planned language, but it is based on several "natural" / ethnic languages, profiting from their respective traditions. Accordingly, Esperanto combines the advantages of both categories of languages, and is particularly suitable for computer use due among other things to the scarcity of synonyms and homonyms. It is widely spoken it has evolved into a living language.
2.Esperanto has been developed by amateurs, non-linguists, not by competent professionals.Esperanto was indeed initiated not by a linguist, but a physician, who spoke several languages. But later on also professional linguists contributed to its development. Accordingly, Esperanto possesses all the advantages of everyday practice and scholarly theory combined.
3.The structure of Esperanto is oversimplified, and its vocabulary is rather poor.The structure of Esperanto has carefully conserved the necessary elements of grammar and syntax. Its simplicity means flexibility without complexity and stability without rigidity. The vocabulary of Esperanto has been steadily enriched by the regular formation of new words and terms (e.g. artefarita intelekto = Artificial Intelligence), and also by the borrowing of necessary and useful neologisms from other and not only Hindo-european languages, e.g. nunatako from the Eskimo (Inuit), sauno from the Finnish, hanuko from the Hebrew, cunamo from the Japanese or obo from the Mongol.
4.Esperanto is unable to cope with the stylistic variety of the belles-lettres.Since its birth in 1887, Esperanto has acquired a large and proliferating belletristic literature. This comprises not only thousands of translated works of prose and poetry, but also many original ones collected and stored in major libraries, e.g. in Budapest, London, Rotterdam and Vienna.
5.Esperanto has no "soul", it does not represent and mediate a specific cultural heritage.As a matter of fact, Esperanto has not an ethnic "soul" bound or confined to a particular people or culture. Instead, it has a "universal soul", open, tolerant and tending to facilitate direct communication between different peoples and cultures in an age of inevitable globalization.
6.Esperanto is not suitable for use in up-to date science and technology.Esperanto is already at least partially adapted to meet the requirements of modern science and technology, and is widely present on the Internet. Its characteristics (cf. item 3) permit and assure continuous development in those fields, too, from Astronomy to Zoology (e.g. nebulozo, Primatoj ktp).
7.The Fundamento de Esperanto is regarded by Esperantists as an untouchable taboo, and the Academy of Esperanto is an utterly conservative institution.With regard to the "taboo" concerning the Fundamento de Esperanto it is just a tool to guarantee the basic unity of the language, to prevent its disintegration into dialects. The Academy of Esperanto is by no means infallible, but its members make serious and sincere efforts to find and maintain a reasonable balance between the extremes of blind dogmatism and irresponsible anarchy, severe conservativism and absolute freedom.
8.Mainly people learn Esperanto who have failed to master any living foreign language.It is a fact that Esperanto is easier, faster and cheaper to learn than virtually any natural ethnic language. Consequently, it is especially welcomed by those who for one reason or another have difficulties in mastering foreign languages. Obviously it is even easier for those who already speak other (Hindo-european) languages, from Afrikaans and Albanian to Welsh and Yiddish.
9.To learn Esperanto is a waste of time, energy and money. It would be much more reasonable to invest those in the learning of a really useful language, e.g. English, German or Spanish.Esperanto has been found useful as a linguistic springboard. Its knowledge promotes and facilitates the learning of other foreign languages, including English. For people whose mother tongue is not Hindo-european (e.g. Arabic, Chinese, Corean, Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Japanese, Malay, Mongolian, Turkish, Vietnamese) it is kind of a reduced-rate entry ticket to this group of languages.
10.Esperanto has neither a solid economic background, nor powerful supporters.Esperanto is not bound to any financial group, either national or multinational, nor is it imposed on people by any aggressive political or military power. Consequently, it is really neutral and relatively undiscriminative.
11.To adopt Esperanto would mean to have one more foreign language to struggle with.To adopt Esperanto would mean to have a neutral, intercultural "bridging language".
12.The introduction of Esperanto would give rise to serious problems. E.g.
  • the native speakers of English, and those who have invested much time, energy and money to master it, would lose their advantage and some of their privileges;

  • a great number of translators and interpreters would not be needed any more;

  • it would be necessary to translate a great many documents into Esperanto.
The problems that would arise from the adoption of Esperanto are much less serious than those of the present-day rather expensive language chaos (especially in the European Union).
  • English (and French, etc.) would go on being used in many fields, and their native speakers would remain relatively privileged.

  • A great number of translators would be needed to translate many documents into Esperanto.

  • Interpreters would be needed as well, until the whole human race has learnt Esperanto, carefully safeguarding the precious diversity of cultures and idioms.

Please compare without prejudice, duly consider the matter and draw conclusions.

P.S. For millions of years the Dinosaurs were beyond doubt the Lords of the Earth. They were big, numerous, varied, powerful and admirable indeed. But the future belonged to the small Mammals they did not even notice.