Natural and Universal Languages: Esperanto the Artificial Language Part 2

About the artificial language Esperanto developed by Zamenhof, a possible universal language, history, grammar, and rules.

Toward a Universal Language

Within a few years, Esperanto clubs had sprung up all over the world. Now several million people speak Esperanto. Over 600 schools teach it to 20,000 students a year. There are 100 journals and 7,500 books written in Esperanto, including translations of works from 65 languages. Esperanto has been used in more than 700 international conferences as well as in U.S. Army war games.

Esperanto is not the only, or even the 1st, artificial language. In the 1600s, Descartes created a language made up of numbers to represent words and ideas, and Sir Francis Bacon suggested a written system similar to Chinese ideographs. Other scholars came up with other schemes. Most, however, had little success. Their languages were rigidly logical, and very scholarly, while natural languages, used by everyone, tend to be illogical, flexible . . . and speakable. Between the time of Descartes and the present, 700 artificial languages have been created. They have included languages based on codes, on musical notes, on numbers. In one, for instance, "Honor thy father and thy mother" was written "leb2314 p2477 pf2477" and was read "lebtoreonfo peetofosensen piftofosensen."

Many experts oppose the idea of an artificial international language. Some claim that such languages will always favor one language group rather than another. Others say that we are not yet knowledgeable enough about the nature of language to be able to create one having all the factors that make up a natural language: nuances, cadences, modifications made by time. Most natural languages can be used by everybody--adults and children, scholars and blue-collar workers, young and old, doctors and dropouts. That cannot be said for any artificial language now in existence.

Other artificial languages are: Ro, Occidental, Arulo (later named Gloro), Suma, Neo, Loglan, Nordlinn, Spelin, Romanal, Nepo, Occidental (invented by Edgar de Wahl of Estonia in 1925), Novial (invented by Danish philologist Otto Jespersen in 1928), Mundolingua (invented by Julius Lott in 1890), Universal (invented by H. Molenaar in 1906), Bopal, Dil, Balta, Veltparl, Langue Bleue, Latinesce.

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