Friday, 22 February 2013

Language Of Diplomacy

In the 1920's the old League Of Nation's (the forerunner of today's UN), tried to suggest that the international language of diplomacy and trade be Esperanto - today there are estimated to be few more than 2,000 Esperanto speakers in the UK and maybe something between 500,000 and two million worldwide .... it was a failure.

Esperanto - failed

One reason was national chauvinism, led by 'surprise, surprise' the French, who steered by the 'Academie Francaise', resist any efforts to have an international language, unless of course it happened to be French (they still harbour dreams that French will one day become the 'Language Of Diplomacy' .... again), the language never got accepted, and maybe the last chance for 'man to speak unto man' was lost.

However now there is 'SaypU' ... which hopes to use a modified Roman alphabet of 23 letters (dropping "c", "q", and "x"), and adds a reverse e or E (- ɘ or Ǝ), for the sound schwa ...... the brain child of Jaber George Jabbour, a Syrian banker living in the UK, he hopes it will allow people to speak unto people via phonetic Inglish .... which isn't Indian English.

Phat Chance ... the French will never egrii with it ...


  1. It really is not right to call Esperanto a failure. I see Esperanto as a remarkable success story. I'm one of tyhe 2000 Esperanto speakers in the UK. Esperanto may not be perfect, but I've used it successfully in Africa, South America and Europe, and it does the job.

    Take a look at

    1. Well Mr Chapman, I concede that its certainly remarkable that you found another Esperanto speaker, in everyday circumstances in Africa, South America, and Europe .... especially as the odds against it must be stacked. I on the other hand, speak English and manage to find another English speaker everyday circumstances in most parts of the globe.

      The difference is that English in one form or another, is spoken by 375 million people as their first language, and an estimated range of between 470 million to over a billion as second language speakers. If you were looking for a world language by range & numbers then it would be English, although by numbers Chinese (including variants), or Spanish may rival this.

  2. We should not overestimate the position of English. English is an international language not the international language.

    I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

    The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is impractical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

    Impractical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

    Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is essential.

    As a native English speaker, my vote is for Esperanto :)

    Your readers may be interested in seeing Professor Piron was a former translator with the United Nations

    The Esperanto online course has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per day. That can't be bad :)

    1. Actually Mr Barker, I wasn't promulgating English as the 'lingua franca' in the post ... I was actually just pointing out the latest attempts to establish a 'babel fish' language with 'SaypU' .... I then recounted a brief mention of the last serious attempt and failure to do so with 'Esperanto'.

      However there is also no denying the fact that there are three putative languages seriously competing for the role right now, English, Mandarin (if you count dialects), and Spanish. In another hundred years they will probably end up in balance, with North America and Europe having 'English', South America (and the southern half of the USA) using Spanish), and Asia opting for Mandarin.

      Finally, this is not a democracy of languages, and ultimately there may be only a few main languages spoken in the world ... The general consensus is that there are between 6000 and 7000 languages currently spoken, and that between 50-90% of those will have become extinct by the year 2100

      The winners will prove to be the languages which have the most utility, not the ones its most fair to pick .... there will not be a non-national language picked. Esperanto had its moment and for a variety of reasons that moment passed.


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