Letter: Esperanto is not yet extinct

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The Independent Online
THE item 'Design Dinosaurs - Esperanto' (Sunday Review, 3 April) makes a valid point in saying that people learn languages out of necessity rather than choice. But more people would turn to Esperanto as the rational answer to the world's language problems if they were given the facts by impartial commentators rather than given misconceptions by journalists.

Your item ends with the comment that 'English still has what Esperanto never had; a reason for learning it'.

There are at least three very good reasons for learning Esperanto. First, it is the only language in the world that is acceptable to all nations. Second, it is the only language in the world that can be learnt in a few weeks and used in any country in the world. Third, its wider use would cut expenditure of energy, money and personal effort by some 80 per cent.

Conversely, there are four very good reasons for foreigners not learning English: English varies so much that it cannot universally be understood, even in its country of origin; its use is not acceptable to millions of French, Germans and other foreign nationals; it is an exceptionally complex language to read and write; and, from an ethical viewpoint, the use of any national language in international circles inevitably implies domination of one nation or individual over another.

Bearing in mind that less than 8 per cent of the world's population can read and write English - despite the power of the dollar - and that, after only a short history, well over 10 million people can read and write Esperanto to some extent, one shouldn't consign this growing language to any dinosaurean swamp yet.

It is very much alive and well - and is still growing in influence and value.

It is the only practical answer to many of the world's problems, and it is held back only by prejudice, ignorance and fear.

Brian W Burnett

Llandegla, Clwyd

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