The subject I’m going to discuss in this essay is about the language Esperanto, and other artificial languages. The subject of artificial languages is a difficult yet interesting one. It is so, because the majority of “serious” linguists do not see artificial languages as a real area of linguistics, since they believe that you can’t have linguistics of an artificial language.
An interesting question arises from the study of artificial languages. Why do so many people dedicate so much work “to attempt to tame the language by making it more orderly, more rational, less burdened with inconsistencies and irregularities”? (Okrent, 2009). There are hundreds of artificial languages, and some may deem them failures. Nonetheless, there is some logic for the desire to create a new and improved language. For thousands of years we have had to deal with words that mean more than one thing, with idioms, with exceptions to every grammatical rule, misunderstandings, irregular verbs, etc. And while most of us don’t mind, there are other that thrive to make a world a better place through language (Okrent, 2009).
But why, then, are these efforts to build a new language fail time after time? In her book, “In the Land of Invented Languages”, linguist Arika Okrent tells us one of the reasons why these inventors are ridiculed by the linguist community (and by everybody else). She says, and in my research I found it true, that these people lose respect with their claims of: “It can be learned in twenty minutes! It can express anything you wish to say with a vocabulary of only fifty items! It is logically perfect!” (Okrent, 2009). To this I would add the fact that most of these people imagine an idealistic reason for their language.
For example, in the introduction of the book “Dr. Esperanto’s International Language, Introduction & Complete Grammar”, Geoghegan points out the need of a universal language, a language learned and understood by everyone (Geoghegan, 2009). He tells us about the difficulty of learning various languages, and not being able to master them all. How it would be so easy to just learn two languages, so everyone could be on the same page (Geoghegan, 2009). And in my opinion, these are valid points.
However, he also goes on this idea of how the world would be a better place if we had an international language. He claims that the biggest barrier people have is the language, that by not understanding the language of another person we automatically dislike them; that the difference of speech causes even hatred among people (Geoghegan, 2009). He wants to make us believe that if everyone spoke the same language there would be no misunderstanding, no hatred, no difference between nations, and that everything would be good.
Geoghegan is not the only one to live in this ideal world. In March 17, 1914, a Representative in the Congress of the United States, went before the board of Education to propose a resolution promoting the study of Esperanto...