However, it is true that if we walk along the different Esperanto Congresses which are held all over the world, we'll see that the medium age of the members is high. This is because people older than 30 have more money, and those older than 60 have more time to attend congresses.
But it is also true that many people who when they were young had fought against, despised or simply ignored Esperanto have needed all their life to mature enough and understand the essence and nature of Esperanto, outgrowing their prejudices —which most times are external to them— which did not let them see clearly enough. These people are late to help creating and improving the Whole Mankind Culture, but at least they can get some benefit out of its present condition
However, I could not care less about how many we are. We'd better be few and good than many and bad. :-) Of course, with time the number of esperantists will grow, but every day the esperantists make the cultural patrimony of mankind a little bigger and bigger. We think of Man as a whole rather than particular national individual. Those who will come after us will find a lot of ground flattened out. But the path will go along the way we will have made!
WHY WAS LATIN ABANDONED as a learned language? When Gutenberg invented the press, culture became more popular, that is to say, was accessible to everybody because books became much cheaper than ever, which was a real cultural revolution. Common people learnt to read and write, making general illiteracy decrease drastically. But books, if they were to be sold, could not be in Latin, learned language which common folk did not master. That is why vernacular languages (like English, French, Spanish, Italian, German) became so important, so much that they cornered out Latin slowly but for good..., to such an extent that nowadays Latin is no longer in the syllabus of Secondary School in Spain and some other countries whose language stems out from it.
With such a long introduction I want to tell you that I concede you are right: the XXth century scholars use English for their papers and speeches. Of course, they each would prefer to use their own language, but they all know that is not feasible and they get by with their mimed and clumsy English, which lacks style and lexical and syntactical richness, which some even call International English in an obscure attempt to legalize their huge linguistic and —above all— phonetic mistakes they make. Let it be!, let the wise use English if they are so interested in it.
But common folk, we the people who are not Erasmus of Rotterdam or Sir Isaac Newton, nor Madame Curie nor Emily Dickinson, we need a simple language which is easy and we can learn in less than a year and which in the term of a fortnight let us manage in the situations of common life. It is true that English is easier than the rest of the European languages. It is also true that it is not easy enough for our needs. The only serious alternative is Esperanto.
For all this, we can finally allow that ENGLISH IS THE LATIN of the XXth CENTURY. Esperanto is —a little more every day, and fully in a day which maybe we all will see— the world romance language, the one we all, not just the scholarly élite, can understand and teach one another about what whatever each one of us is keen on, without us having to be an Erasmus or Hipatia of Alexandria..., and also it will be a good tool through which —those who desire to do so— can fraternize in full freedom and equality, reaching that which the people have been asking for since the French Revolution —two centuries ago—and which is still an unfulfilled desire for Mankind.
Regarding the groups sc and nkc, what you complain about really is about the sound of the letter c. But you will have it right if you pronounce AT THE SAME TIME a t and an s. Esperanto is much easier than any other language, but it still has a few difficulties. They are not difficult to overcome, above all if you have a good teacher, and even the worst language students can attain a perfect Esperanto accent, since they only need interest and perseverance.
Basically, who forces English in the present day world? It is true that huge amounts of money are spent in promoting English and in trying to persuade us that without English you can go nowhere. And it is true that with English you can go very far nowadays..., provided that you master it, of course! The trick is convincing people that the others master it, since it is clear that standard people, those who usually walk on our streets, those whom we meet at the picture house, the shop or the concert hall, those whom we see at college —and not just the alumni— are unable to produce a ten minutes long paragraph in English, not to mention talking about their private life, their most confidential wishes, in English- At most, they can speak about an abstract, general topic, which is much easier because the language level needed for that is very standard, with no dialectal differences.
We esperantists can add two plus two, and very seldom it is not four: if I cannot master this language, neither my neighbours can, nor my fellows, nor my countrymen in general, I can assume that those from other different countries cannot master it any better. Therefore it is not possible. This assumption can make us feel better, since thus we discover we are not stupid, and that it is false that assumption, that we are not good at languages, but that they in general —and English in particular— are difficult, more than a musical instrument. But as well as everybody has not the temper nor the time needed to master piano or guitar, and yet after a few hours' practice we can handle a recorder and produce a few melodies, we can also certainly handle Esperanto within a few hours. Of course, a language —including Esperanto— can never be fully apprehended. But the ten or twelve thousand sentences in which we can compress the whole of our existence we could learn to construct after a relatively short training. This is not fantasy. This is something which experience proves every day. And yet, it is something impossible to achieve in any other language. Because Esperanto (and this is not exaggeration, but simple fact) is the easiest language in the world! Once we have overcome the mental conditioning we suffer from television and publicity in general, with false slogans like the one which says that "within three months you will learn English without studying", then we will be able to call everything by its own name, and so we'll solve the problem.
When we see that we can make ourselves understood by people from other cultures, like the Lithuans, the Chinese or the Maoris, all these mental barriers will fall. It is true that we will not be able to contact a thousand million people through Esperanto. But if we mastered Chinese, we wouldn't either. Because the number of people whom we will be able to have met in our whole life is a very limited one, and it is not bigger than a few hundreds. But it is sweet comfort to know that if needed, after a few hours' training anybody can make him/herself understood in Esperanto.
I think this is a very clear argument about what we can do to turn over those facts which are apparently condemn us to linguistic slavery nowadays. On television we can see European ministers who speak in English in the news. But their English is painful, and they would certainly rather speak in their own language. Shall we defend the reason of force, or do we feel we are strong enough to demand the only ethical solution?
But if you are abroad and fall ill, the doctor needs not understand English even if he is a real authority in medicine and has published his findings in English, since the publication can have been translated by a professional translator, or he may be competent in written English and yet not understand oral English. If he gets the wrong information from you, it is you who is in trouble, possibly in danger of death through a wrong treatment. Maybe your back is aching, or your eyes are itching or your mouth is dry, or you cannot breath correctly..., you may even not be able to move at all if you had an accident, and gestures are not possible at all... Do you really think people from other lands have the obligation to waste their time in learning a language just in case the English speaking people do not have a problem when they wander all over the planet they only share? They might understand altruism is something different..., and two-sided! Of course, if the problem is that you get involved in an accident, you can hire a translator to assist you in court..., but are you sure you can afford it? And by the way, the worst accident in the history of aviation took place at Los Rodeos (Tenerife, Canary Islands) because the pilots of either plane (none of which were English) did not guess on time whether that word, report was a noun or a verb (report freeway).
Esperanto, after a short training, offers you the opportunity to talk to natives of the place you are visiting, to talk about any topic at a depth and variety of details which are simply unknown in any other language no matter how long you study it. Talking the local language is always an important step towards your host's culture, and it is much more enriching that staying at the high tower of English, waiting for us the common folk to ascend to its eminence. Learning Esperanto is giving just half a step, it is true, but it is also an invitation for people from other cultures to imitate us and meet us half-way at that cross-roads which is really our language of concord and comradeship.
If we had to talk about German, it would be very interesting to have a look at the language at the eighteenth century, when Martin Luther translated the Bible: he had to give a full vocabulary at the end, because the different dialects of German were not standardized yet, and so he had to create a lot of words and explain them at the end of his translation. That, evidently, reminds us of what Zamenhof did with Esperanto...
Not to look partial, I shall also say that Spanish is also a conglomerate of the different speeches of the Christian tiny kingdoms at the Iberian Peninsula between the eighth and eleventh (or so) centuries. Actually nasal vowels passed away because Basque speakers did not have them in their native Euskera. In Spanish, thus, you find Latin, Arab, Basque, Celtic, Arab, Italian, French and English words all mixed together. It happens the same all over the world, for trade, war and other kinds of human relationships bring languages together and make them influence one another.
But what sheer use of force, economic power, moral authority (Luther and the Pope), or that of any other kind (literary, scientific, etc.) did in English, Spanish or German, it was done through a scientific way by Zamenhof in Esperanto. Table, for example, is tablo because of the French table Italian tavola and Spanish tabula among others. The idea is that the words must sound familiar to as many people as possible and that it happens so in so many words as possible. However, nothing tells us whether report is a noun or a verb in English, whereas we have immediately this problem solved in Esperanto: informi is the verb, and informo is the noun. It is simple, because it is logic and it consumes no effort at all. In Spanish mesa can be table (noun) or pull your hairs hard (verb) according to the context, but nothing in the word itself explains it to us.
Therefore, we see that Esperanto is not just a mixture of words, but a logical system of rules and words intertwined which our thought can ride to open our mind and concept of life itself. That's why Esperanto is a hidden treasure for those who want to unbury it at a very cheap cost.
When you hear people talk French or Spanish with -say- Bristol accent, you wouldn't say you use a Bristolian accent of French or Spanish, but that they don't manage their foreign language. If the same person were so careless when speaking Esperanto, why should you say he or she is talking Esperanto with a Bristolian accent?
Unfortunately there are many esperantists who don't care to learn the Esperanto phonemes, which are not coincidental with any native language, luckily. And I feel it is lucky because that forces us all to open to the others. Esperanto is everybody's, it is true, but it is also everybody else's, and so you cannot do whatever you want. You said you heard people from France, Spain and England talking it each with their own accent. That is a shame which can be corrected after a couple of hours. But that must be solved by everyone on their own.
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