On the Need to Speak Esperanto

Fragment of a speech
by L.L. Zamenhof

Many of us are not willing to talk Esperanto with our countrymen. Zamenhoff already met that problem last century. This is what he thought about it.
On the Need to Speak Esperanto.- You will certainly ask yourselves why I am not talking to you in Russian, but in Esperanto; perhaps you will even say that since we are holding a national congress and we all, or at least nearly all its participants understand the same language very well, it is more natural talking that language. There are, however, important reasons to choose for my speaking this language, for which we struggle and because of which we have met here.

Ludoviko Luis ZamenhoffOur congresses, not only the Universal ones, but also the national congresses, have above all an instructive and educational meaning. The esperantists, scattered through the varied cities and countries, gather together in more or less big quantities to hear our language, to control the accuracy of their learning, if they understand it well, to compare their way of speaking with that of the more expert esperantists. When they go back home later on, they not only speak it better, but they also standardize the use of the language, and thanks to our congresses Esperanto is already spoken exactly the same not only in the farthest corners of this secluded country, but in the most infrequent places in the terrestrial globe. Now, when we hear a good esperantist talker, we can guess to which land he belongs to. The full autonomous life of our language, with its own spirit, not imitated nor copied, is stronger and stronger. as if every esperantist in the world lived side by side in a small piece of land.

Not less important is the educational meaning of Esperanto congresses. Isolated esperantists who have never had the possibility to put in practice what they have learnt, usually doubt whether one can make himself understood with Esperanto perfectly. Even within Esperanto groups often they do not dare speak in Esperanto, but mumble, preferring talking his national language, and according to their little decision in his discourse, so is the propaganda uncertainty, since mumbling esperantists cannot get free from their fear that Esperanto is perhaps much more a theoretical than a practical affair, no matter how good their will is. But when the mumbling one comes to the congress where he has the opportunity to meet excellent, expert esperantist speakers, when they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears the beauty and flow of speech in Esperanto, he gets enthusiastic, he sees that he is working for something alive and enlivening, and he goes back home with a new courage and energy. Our congresists, not only universal ones, but also the local ones, get an education in this way like convinced fighters and thus enthusiastic about our affair.

These are the main reasons why in our congresses, not only universal ones, but also in the national or regional ones, we must not only speak about Esperanto, but also in Esperanto.

L.L. Zamenhof

(from a talk in St, Petersburgh in 1910)

If you want to read this document in Esperanto, click here.

Or in Spanish, here.

© 1996 Jesuo de las Heras
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