Esperanto (pronunciation) is the world’s most spoken constructed international auxiliary language. The language of Esperanto, meaning ‘one who hopes’, was created by L. L. Zamenhof in 1887 to be an easy to learn international language with the intent of it being a universal second language that rises above the segregation of politics, religion, regions, nationalities, and transcends national borders to promote peace and universal communication. Esperanto is spoken in about 115 countries, has over an estimated 1 million speakers, and is even learned as a native language. (Source)
Although Zamenhof’s full intent of being a world second language has not been reached, today Esperanto is learned to help aspiring polyglots get further ahead in their target language by spending some time learning Esperanto first prior to proceeding on to additional languages. As an adult learner we learn languages differently than a toddler. The hardest language for us, then, is our second language (assuming we only learned one native language growing up). Therefore, spending a few weeks learning an easy language such as Esperanto then gives us the courage and experience to move on to our third language (may it be French, Spanish, Russian, etc.). It is getting over the hurdle of tackling that second language as an adult learner that stumps so many of us. Read more about this theory on Benny Lewis’ blog Fluent In 3 Months.
Founder of Esperanto, Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, was a Polish ophthalmologist and polyglot. He began creating an International language in the mid 1800’s. He grew up speaking Russian, Yiddish, Polish, and German. Mr. Zamenhof then went on to learn French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and English, with an interest in Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian. He was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize in 1910 and died in 1917. (Source)
The World Congress of Esperanto
The World Congress of Esperanto (Universala Kongreso de Esperanto) has been held yearly around the world to celebrate and share the language of Esperanto (except for the year of WWI and WWII). The first World Congress of Esperanto was in 1905 in France. 2011’s congress was held Copenhagen, Denmark with 2012 scheduled in Vietnam and 2013 in Iceland. Upwards of 6,000 people have attended these yearly congresses with an average of 2,000 people per year.
Esperanto Symbols and Esperanto Flag
The Esperanto flag was adopted by the first World Esperanto Congress in 1905. The green star (verda stelo) was purposed early on and adopted into the Esperanto flag. The green of the flag represents hope; the white area represents peace and neutrality; and the 5 point star represents the 5 continents of Europe, Asia, Americas, Africa, and Oceania.
The Esperanto Jubilee Symbol (jubilea simbolo) was created in 1987 to mark the 100th anniversary of Esperanto. It was constructed from two E’s: the Latin E on one side (representing the West) and a Cyrillic Э (for Эсперанто which is Russian for ‘Esperanto’) on the right side.
On December 15th, 2009 Google added an Esperanto Flag in their logo on search result pages to celebrate L. L. Zamenhof’s 150th birthday.