English vs. Esperanto: who is the future?

    Over the past 50 years, the position of the English language in the international arena has strengthened to an unprecedented level. Today in the world, approximately 378 million people speak English as their native language, and from 470 million to 1 billion indicate it as a second language.

    It is noteworthy that English is spoken in 138 countries of the world - not a single international language has ever achieved such indicators. Therefore, just English has all the resources to become lingua franca - the universal global language in the foreseeable future.

    But are there any acceptable alternatives to English? Some scholars and enthusiasts believe that Esperanto is one of them. Is this really so? Let's find out.

    What is Esperanto?

    Esperanto is the most popular artificially created language, which was developed as an auxiliary language for communication between representatives of various nations.

    It was developed by Lazar Zamenhof, a Polish doctor who has been trying to create a language for more than ten years:

    • easy to learn due to a limited set of rules and the complete absence of exceptions to them;
    • global and non-national, not culturally linked to a particular state or nation, and therefore equal for all who will study it.

    Zamenhof himself was a polyglot, so he understood the main shortcomings of national languages ​​as global. Due to natural evolution, national languages ​​were overgrown with a lot of rules, nuances, subtleties, which were extremely difficult to learn - especially for beginners.

    The artificial language of Zamenhof was designed to get rid of the conventions of national languages. Partially managed to do it. Here are the main linguistic features of Esperanto:

    1. Esperanto uses the extended Latin alphabet, which includes letters with diacritics (caps and checkmarks on top).
    2. Each letter represents one sound. No diphthongs and words like “daughter” or “queue” .
    3. Esperanto has only 16 rules on which the language is built. And that’s all!
    4. Words are created in Esperanto using prefixes, suffixes and endings, which allows you to reduce the number of vocabulary needed to learn. For example, inko is “ink,” inkujo is “inkwell”.
    5. Most Esperanto words have common roots in different European languages, which makes them easy to remember. For example, ĉokolado (chocolate), etaĝo (floor).

    Esperanto's main advantage is its speed of study. According to studies by French linguists , learning Esperanto from scratch to the conversational level takes only 150 hours. For comparison - to study Italian, you need at least 1000 hours, English - 1500 hours, German - 2000 hours.

    Now a little about the development of Esperanto as an independent language. Zamenhof introduced it to the general public in 1887 and was actively involved in its promotion. The language was distributed in Europe and beyond, the number of speakers in Esperanto increased very quickly. And in the 1920s it was expected that it would become the new world language.

    Why it is English, not Esperanto, that has become the most popular language

    Reason 1. Historical and Political

    Esperanto was quite actively distributed in Europe and the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. It got to the point that in 1920 a proposal was made to make Esperanto the working language of the League of Nations.

    The French delegate vetoed this proposal. The French language at that time was actively losing popularity in the international arena, so the French saw Esperanto as a threat.

    Linguistic scholars argue that if the proposal were still accepted, it is possible that Esperanto would be one of the most popular world languages.

    Initially, the Soviet Union planned to use Esperanto, but in the 1930s, many Esperantists were accused of espionage and terrorism. The same thing happened after the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Reich Chancellor of Germany in 1933. In his book Mein Kampf, he wrote: “Esperanto was created as a universal language for uniting the Jewish diasporas,” so before the start of World War II, the study of Esperanto in Germany was banned.

    After the end of the Second World War and a tremendous economic boom in the United States, the English language became extremely active in the international arena. The Esperanto movement, although revived, was no longer able to achieve such successes as in the 1920s.

    Reason 2. Linguistic

    Dr. Zamenhof argued that Esperanto is the first truly multicultural language that does not depend on state borders.

    But there is one serious nuance - this statement is relevant only for languages ​​based on the Latin alphabet. For people who speak one of the languages ​​of the Romano-Germanic group, Esperanto will seem quite simple.

    Although many Slavic languages ​​use the Cyrillic alphabet, they still have Romano-Germanic roots. For the Slavs, Esperanto also seems to be an easy language to learn. Therefore, Esperanto gained the greatest popularity in Europe and the Russian Empire.

    But what about languages ​​that use completely different alphabets and principles of word formation? For example, Arabic, Hindi, Bengali, Chinese, Korean or Japanese?

    The languages ​​of the Indo-Iranian, Sino-Tibetan, Japanese-Ryuko and Turkic groups are spoken by more than 3 billion people. This is approximately 40% of the total population of the globe.

    For the Japanese, English and Esperanto will be equally difficult to study, because they are completely different from the Japanese language with its syllabic alphabet and hundreds of hieroglyphs. Therefore, Esperanto has absolutely no advantages over other European languages ​​in this situation.

    Reason 3. Personally-psychological

    A person learning a second language does this from a position of personal gain. In most cases, this is the desire to improve in work or study, the desire to communicate with people from different countries, to explore different cultures on their own experience, read books and watch movies in the original. There are a lot of reasons, but all of them pursue purely selfish goals. And this is normal.

    At the moment, the English language provides much more opportunities for development than Esperanto.

    • 92% of the top 100 universities in the world conduct study programs in English.
    • 90% of all information on the Internet is written in English.
    • 85% of international conferences use English as their main language.
    • 50% of scientific publications, manuals, highly specialized articles and solutions are written in English.
    • 28% of all fiction in the world is published in English. At the same time, English is the first language into which books are translated from other languages.

    In terms of use, English is several orders of magnitude superior to Esperanto. Even though books are published in Esperanto, films are localized, its prevalence is too small.

    According to various estimates, there are from 200 thousand to 2 million people in the world who speak Esperanto. If you compare with more than a billion English speakers, then this is not even funny.

    Esperanto has its advantages. For example, a language has excellent didactic properties. Learning Esperanto 2-3 times simplifies the study of other languages ​​in terms of grammar and vocabulary. For example, if you intend to learn Spanish after Esperanto, you will need an average of 400 hours instead of the standard 1000.

    But it’s psychologically difficult to learn a language that you can use only as a springboard for learning other languages. Very much motivation is lost. Even with obvious advantages, most choose a more complex English, because it can be used in practice here and now.

    Can Esperanto Become a World Language in the Future?

    Trends in the popularity of languages ​​in the world change every 70-100 years.

    In the XIX century, at the peak of popularity was French, in the first half of the XX century - German, and from the 1950s until today - English. And what language will be at the peak of popularity in 2120?

    English may remain the leader, but it may happen that everyone learns Chinese instead.

    Esperanto has enough potential to become a world language in theory, but such an option is unlikely enough. And here are a few reasons for this:

    • The novelty effect of the idea has disappeared. Esperanto is considered a relic of the past on the world stage, not a very successful experiment. Moreover, only about 40% of the inhabitants of the developed countries of Europe (France, Germany), in principle, know about the existence of such a language. In Slavic countries, this figure is much lower.
    • Esperanto is a financially unprofitable project that requires a huge injection of money. For the “golden era” of the language to come for the second time, billions of dollars must be invested in its popularization, and now there are no enthusiastic philanthropists in the world who would like to do this.
    • The geopolitical ambitions of developed countries are unlikely to be favorable to attempts to promote a new language, because in fact it will be a new factor in the destabilization of society. Of the world organizations, the development of Esperanto is supported only by UNESCO, but this is clearly not enough to change the current situation in the world.
    • The very idea of ​​creating an artificial language has discredited itself. Esperanto, ido, novial, interlingua - not one of the artificially created languages ​​has become at least any significant in the world community. Most attempts to create them as an alternative to national languages ​​were made in the late XIX - early XX century. Modern artificial languages ​​are primarily of cultural and artistic value and are used in fiction, the creation of movies or computer games. For example, the elven from the Tolkien universe, the Klingon from the "Star Trek" or the dragon from "The Elder Scrolls".
    • Esperanto is a second language for most people who know it. According to various sources, there are only 200 to 2,000 people in the world for whom Esperanto is native. For the rest, the degree of language proficiency simply does not allow the creation of highly artistic works, serious scientific works, or other complex texts.

    The value of the English language in world society today is hundreds of times greater than the value of Esperanto. And trends say that in the next 10-20 years, the position of English will only strengthen. And Esperanto essentially remains in the same stagnation position that it was in the 1950s.

    Of course, the situation may change. For example, if the UN adopts Esperanto as an auxiliary language, this will play a huge role in its popularization. Or suddenly there is a billionaire enthusiast who will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the development of Esperanto.

    Yes, this is unlikely, but still. This option should not be completely ruled out.

    In the meantime, friends, learn English. Today it is much more useful than all artificial languages ​​combined. Good luck with this!

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