A Conversation for Talking Point: Learning Languages
KB Started conversation Jun 30, 2007
I'm learning esperanto just because it's interesting. I think its demise is a bit exaggerated. It's certainly a minority language, but the only major survey done about world languages came up with a figure of around two million people with a good working knowledge. Obviously figures vary, as it's hard to calculate figures when it isn't restricted to a country or countries.
Another thing is how easy it is to learn. With a couple of hours study, I was able to have a conversation with some guy from Brazil. He knew as little English as I know Portuguese, but we could have a basic conversation about music, hobbies etc.
Plus, you can watch the famous 'cursed' Esperanto film with William Shatner. Lots of the cast ended up topping themselves or others after it was made. Not sure if the curse effects viewers too...
KB Posted Jun 30, 2007
Having said that, Esperanto wouldn't prevent war. Economics causes wars, not language. Think how many civil wars the world has had, between factions who speak the same language.
I've been to the Esperanto museum in Vienna. The language has a curiosity value but that's about all. I think it went out of favour, if ever it was in favour, when Adolf Hitler encouraged people to learn it.
MizBluestButterfly Posted Jul 1, 2007
What is the name of the William Shatner movie? I would like to see it.
You can call me TC Posted Jul 1, 2007
Personally I've never felt the need - nor, indeed, had the opportunity - to learn Esperanto, as I speak 5 European languages, but basically I think it's a Good Thing, particularly as many people seem to have difficulty learning languages.
Funnily enough, the Church supports it. In fact, there is an ecumenical Esperanto movement, so that should read the ChurchES support it. Perhaps it's not so odd, considering that it was the Church that was the perpetrator of the lingua franca previous to Esperanto and English - i.e. Latin.
I find it hard to believe that children are learning languages less. I still maintain that learning French was the only thing I did at school that was any use to me later in life, and in fact it was the reason I went on to learn other languages.
Maybe languages are just not offered in schools these days. Perhaps the students have too much freedom of choice in which subjects they choose. In our case, the school only had 300 pupils, so there were only funds to teach one foreign language - but we all had to do it. Nobody asked "why?" - we just did it.
From the teacher's point of view, modern languages offer such mind-blowing scope as to how to jazz the lessons up and vary teaching techniques ... that I still can't believe that languages are not offered in schools. What is being taught instead?
Anyway, more fool the schools system, the parents, the teachers or whoever it is that's responsible for language teaching diminishing in schools. It's far harder to start learning languages at a later age. Someone's going to regret it.
Tumsup Posted Jul 2, 2007
We regret it already but I think ultimately all languages are doomed, including English. Languages evolved exactly the same way species did; in isolation. That isolation is dissolving very fast. All our great-grandchildren [if we get any] will speak the same language; likely some creole with some english but with a simplified grammar.
KB Posted Jul 2, 2007
Adolf Hitler encouraged people to learn it? I don't know about that. I've heard he viewed it as part of the "Jewish world takeover strategy".
Yes, according to wiki: 'Starting in the 1930s, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin murdered many Esperanto speakers because of their anti-nationalistic tendencies. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that it was created as a universal language to unite the Jewish diaspora. Stalin called it "the language of spies". While Esperanto itself was not enough cause for execution, its use was extended among Jews or trade unionists and encouraged contacts with foreigners.'
It does say fascist Italy used the language to promote Italian tourism, is that what you were thinking of?
You can call me TC Posted Jul 2, 2007
Why should the Jews need Esperanto? Surely their common language is Hebrew?
KB Posted Jul 2, 2007
It's Hitler you're talking about. If it rained on his picnic it was the Jews' fault.
Presumably his idea was that they used it as a way to undermine the German language and to influence non-Jews under cover.
Greetings King Bomba,
Hitler once had the idea that all the non-German speaking peoples in his back yard might benefit from learning Esperanto; Polish, Galicians, Ukrainians and so on. According to the blurb in the museum anyway. Presumably since many of these peoples had an aversion to German a new common language would assist in the control of the proletariat.
Skinnylinny the not-so-incredibly well known Posted Jul 3, 2007
Am I right in thinking that Esperanto appeared in shop signs etc. in the Charlie Chaplin film "The Great Dictator"? Something about it looking foreign (to British eyes) but not pinning down the action to any specific country? And yes, the William Shatner film was Incubus.
I too am learning Esperanto, partly out of interest in languages in general (I've learned Italian, French, German, Latin and classical Greek as well to various levels), partly because I'm lazy (it's ridiculously easy) and partly because I think it's such a good idea. Didn't know about the Esperanto museum in Vienna though. Might have to visit that at some point...
KB Posted Jul 3, 2007
Interesting Lucky, I've never heard that. If memory serves, he was pretty down on it in Mein Kampf though.
Skinny, it *is* ridiculously easy, isn't it? Almost too easy - by that I mean you can pick up so much so quickly that it's hard to remember it all.
I do have a vague feeling that there's some connection with the Great Dictator. I'm not sure.
I'll pop in the Esperanto Museum next time I'm passing and check my facts and refresh my memory. It's two small rooms below the Globe Museum, takes about 15 minutes to look round.
mummit Posted Jul 4, 2007
I went to Vienna a couple of years ago, and wanted to go round the Esperanto museum, but we didn't have time to fit it in as we only had a couple of days there. Next time I visit the city, it will be at the top of my list!
I am a bit of a Red Dwarf fan, and I have to admit I first became properly aware of Esperanto through the series and the books. I just wondered whether anybody remembered Rimmer's very amusing attempts to learn Esperanto? I think in the early series Red Dwarf was a bi-lingual ship with signs in both English and Esperanto.
Also, (and slightly off the subject) one of my favourite Red Dwarf episodes is 'Back to Reality' where they discover the wreckage of SSS Esperanto on an ocean planet. All the crew committed suicide, and the only living creature seems to be a giant squid. The squid squirts them with ink which makes them crash, and they discover they've been playing a Red Dwarf computer game for the past four years. Upon re-emerging into the real world, Andy the Brummie technician says the name of the ship is a clue for the players - Esperanto is hope and hope defeats despair. If only Rimmer had been more successful at his Esperanto studies, maybe he would have realised that and the crew wouldn’t have scored a measly 4% at the Red Dwarf ‘game’!
Key: Complain about this post
- 1: KB (Jun 30, 2007)
- 2: KB (Jun 30, 2007)
- 3: Lucky Llareggub - no more cannibals in our village, we ate the last one yesterday.. (Jul 1, 2007)
- 4: MizBluestButterfly (Jul 1, 2007)
- 5: You can call me TC (Jul 1, 2007)
- 6: Tumsup (Jul 2, 2007)
- 7: KB (Jul 2, 2007)
- 8: KB (Jul 2, 2007)
- 9: You can call me TC (Jul 2, 2007)
- 10: KB (Jul 2, 2007)
- 11: Lucky Llareggub - no more cannibals in our village, we ate the last one yesterday.. (Jul 3, 2007)
- 12: Skinnylinny the not-so-incredibly well known (Jul 3, 2007)
- 13: KB (Jul 3, 2007)
- 14: Lucky Llareggub - no more cannibals in our village, we ate the last one yesterday.. (Jul 4, 2007)
- 15: mummit (Jul 4, 2007)