I first heard about Esperanto ten years ago when I was writing at a site called BackWash. One of the other writers was learning to speak the language and writing about it. I read some of the history, how the language was developed. I even wrote a post about Esperanto, as a resource for anyone else interested in finding out more. Then, I heard very little about it again, until finding this post today (see below). Esperanto is still around, still has all the potential to grow and become important… but it hasn’t yet.
Like its vastly more successful digital cousins — C++, HTML, Python — Esperanto is an artificial language, designed to have perfectly regular grammar, with none of the messy exceptions of natural tongues. Out loud, all that regularity creates strange cadences, like someone speaking Italian slowly while chewing gum. William Auld, the Modernist Scottish poet who wrote his greatest work in Esperanto, was nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times, but never won. But it is supremely easy to learn, like a puzzle piece formed to fit into the human brain.
Invented at the end of the 19th century, in many ways it presaged the early online society that the web would bring to life at the end of the 20th. It’s only ever been spoken by an assortment of fans and true believers spread across the globe, but to speak Esperanto is to become an automatic citizen in the most welcoming non-nation on Earth.