Ranto Appendix – F


Many Esperantists have a weird model of “political neutrality”.  English is considered an unacceptably partisan choice as a world auxiliary language because it's closely associated with (if not original to) the USA, while Esperanto is considered neutral because it isn't a “national language”, it's the language of a harmonious and open community.  That sounds sensible enough until you compare it to other world‐wide standards such as S.I. units, which became international by being adopted as “national” standards for more than one nation‐state; the “neutrality” Esperantists prize so highly (just like its small‐town friendliness) is the mark of a failure.  After all, if the EEC had adopted Esperanto as its lingua franca in the seventies, Belgium would by now be full of eurocrats claiming it as their native language; wouldn't that make Esperanto just as politically unacceptable as English for an Asian interlinguist?

Besides, Kurdish isn't a “national language” either, but that wouldn't make it a politically neutral choice as a global auxlang.  Nations aren't the relevant question; what matters is the power‐balance between existing speakers and new learners, and that's mostly dependent on how the learners are organised.  There are obvious reasons why people might be wary of adopting the tongue of the current coca‐colonial superpower, but that isn't the only option – here in the UK we have our own independent standard dialect, and India and Ireland have versions with quite different geopolitical associations.  None of these countries maintain National Language Academies full of English Grammar Police, and even if they did, they couldn't stop foreigners setting up their own rival standards.

(Please note: using English to point out the holes in Esperantist propaganda is not the same thing as advocating World English – if I knew all my readers spoke Spanish, I'd choose different examples…)

How would it be possible for a global social‐engineering project like Esperantism to be politically neutral, anyway?  Stalin and Hitler didn't think it was; they saw international communication as a dangerous thing and global auxiliary language organisations as conspiracies of dissent.  What, you disagree with the policies of Stalin and/or Hitler?  Fine, but that means you're abandoning any claim to political neutrality…

As a further illustration, consider one of the irregularities in Esperanto's word‐building system.  The names of nations such as Austria or Belgium are formed from the word for an inhabitant, using the ‑ujo “container for” suffix:

But most countries outside Europe are handled the other way round, using the ‑ano “member of” suffix:

The situation is obscured by rampant irregularity – e.g. Svislando is inhabited by svisoj, whereas Irlando is inhabited by irlandanoj; and to top it all off ‑ujo is normally replaced by ‑io in modern Esperanto.  But ignoring all that: why the big split between countries like Austria and countries like Australia?  Wouldn't a single system have worked everywhere, so that Austrians are (say) aŭstrianoj?  Zamenhof's insistence on going the long way round shows the influence of the political worldview in which races are elementary units and nation‐states are natural homelands for single ethnic groups (each with its own unique culture and language) – a doctrine that was all the rage in pre‐World‐War‑I Eastern Europe, or indeed apartheid‐era South Africa.