Several Esperantists have posted on Facebook this news item from the website “campus.ie” with the arresting headline: “English: the new Esperanto?”:
“The largest technical university in Italy, the 48th best in the world according to QS rankings, will switch to English: from 2014 the majority of the Politecnico di Milano courses and programmes won’t be taught and assessed in Italian, but in English. The university’s rector, professor Giovanni Azzone, explained the reason of this choice: ‘Universities are in a more competitive world, if you want to stay with the other global universities – you have no other choice,’ and ‘We strongly believe our classes should be international classes – and the only way to have international classes is to use the English language.’”
The reporter offers this explanation of the phenomenon:
“Thanks to globalization, the humanity’s ancient dream of a common international language seems to be close to come true, with English replacing Latin, his predecessor as a common European language, and closing the doors to experimental artificial languages such as Esperanto.”
Firstly, we Esperantists graciously accept the well-merited acknowledgment of our language as a standard for the concept of international language. This is only the latest in a long history of expressions such as “the Esperanto of …” (teenagers, visual images, even bacteria, you fill in the blanks – just Google “the Esperanto of” and you’ll see what I mean) – that is, a lingua franca.
Also, please note the error in the above sample – “… with English replacing Latin, his predecessor …” – and there were several others committed in this article. English, him good, but Esperanto, him gooder!
Further, as Esperantists pointed out in their commentaries, Esperanto has long since ceased to be “experimental” – since at least 1905, the year of the first World Esperanto Congress, and arguably even before that. And our language keeps getting called “artificial,” and we’re still trying to figure out what that means. Literally, the word means “made by art,” that is, human intelligence and skill. Esperanto is a language, with national languages as its raw materials, perfected by human skill, as a house is a bunch of trees and other raw materials crafted into a suitable lodging. Who would rather live in a tree? Millions upon millions of people are cured and saved every year by an artificial little thing called medicine. Well, this “artificial” nonsense will keep getting tossed around like so many artificial packing peanuts, I’m afraid.
And there are still some people who oppose Esperanto because they think it aims to replace existing languages! When a major university in Italy, a country with a rich intellectual heritage, abandons Italian – not just for some courses, but for the entire university – then it’s clear what the all-devouring linguistic juggernaut is, and it’s not Esperanto. We Esperantists want our beautiful and useful language to be present and utilized everywhere possible in countless ways and for countless benefits, but none of us want any university to jettison its own national language entirely in favor of Esperanto or any other auxiliary language.
As more and more people worldwide try out Esperanto, they’ll not only find it viable, useful and enjoyable, but they’ll come to prefer a language that’s a bridge, not a steamroller.
The best thing that could happen to the world is for Esperanto to become the “new Esperanto.”