Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


How to Say ‘Peace’ In Esperanto

Polish town remembers “international language” founder

Print Email

The town of Bialystock, Poland, might be most famous for giving its name to Mel Brooks’s blustering theater producer. But this week, it’s getting attention for the accomplishments of Ludwig Lazar Zamenhof (né Eliezer Samenhof), the Jewish Bialystocker who invented the “international language” of Esperanto. In honor of Zamenhof’s 150th birthday, Bialystock is opening a center devoted to Esperanto today, in advance of this weekend’s 94th World Esperanto Conference, also in the city.

With words derived mainly from Romantic, Germanic, and Slavic tongues, its ingenious system of prefixes and suffixes—heavily indebted to Hebrew’s linguistic structure—enables speakers to coin new words on the fly, obviating the need for an extensive pre-established vocabulary. The BBC estimates that one million people around the world speak Esperanto today. (While Zamenhof believed that an uneducated person could learn to speak Esperanto in a week, the BBC observes, Britishly, that “this assessment was probably optimistic.”)

Esperanto represents the other side of the same coin of Zionism’s project to rejuvenate Hebrew, Ilan Stavans points out in Nextbook Press’s Resurrecting Hebrew. Where Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the founder of modern Hebrew, propounded a sort of linguistic Jewish nationalism, Zamenhof—a one-time Zionist, who was born one year after Ben-Yehuda—sought the Jews’ salvation in a utopian linguistic universalism: a self-consciously international language that could further the cause of peace. For a time, Zamenhof’s vision bore fruit: organized groups for Jews and Arabs to converse in Esperanto were a common feature of Mandatory Palestine. After Israel’s founding, however, such contacts largely disintegrated. Perhaps the two sides should take a trip to Bialystock.

Esperanto celebrates power of hope [BBC]
Esperanto centre opens in Bialystock [Polskie Radio]
Resurrecting Hebrew

Print Email

Thanks for taking the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If doable, as you achieve experience, would you thoughts updating your weblog with additional information? This can be very useful for me.

Neil Blonstein says:

I was in Bialystok, where the goverment royally receive some 1,500 of Esperanto speakers.

At the UN, where I represent the Esperanto community, I’ve destributed a flyer on the Holocaust and Esperanto.

There were some dozen Esperanto clubs in the Bialystok region with about 300 members. After the holocaust 3 Esperanto speakers were still alive in Bialystok. It appears that many early speakers in Bialystok were Jewish.

At my blog, EsperantoFriends, I found several relevant links, showing how negatively Esperanto was affected during the Holocaust. The book, La Dangxera Lingvo (The Dangerous Language–available in several languages) further document the disappearance of Esperanto speakers during World War II.

I like this post very much. I’ll certainly be back again. Wish that I can read a lot more insightful posts then. Will likely be sharing your understanding with all of my friends!

Pozdrowka z Bilgoraja :)

Hey! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having difficulty finding one? Thanks a lot!

Jerry Coleman~ That noise in my earphones knocked my nose off and I had to pick it up and find it.

Dialect right excessive dispatch to hang on.. I am absolutely impressed with this article. Looking an eye to later posts.

JP Geis says:

I wanted to know how “Peace” is said in Esperanto. I did not get an answer. As to the language:
As Mama said more than once, “Ve(we) are in America, —You learn English!—“.
Altho I decided to be multilingual, I feel that English will be the dominant language unless China becomes the world power.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

How to Say ‘Peace’ In Esperanto

Polish town remembers “international language” founder

More on Tablet:

How to Follow the Israeli Elections Online—and in English

By Yair Rosenberg — From polls, to reporting, to political parody videos