EsperantoUSA № 2008:4

Why does an American use Esperanto?

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Adapted from a talk by Joel Brozovsky.

People are sometimes surprised to learn that as an American, I use Esperanto instead of English when traveling abroad. Why do I prefer to use Esperanto with non-Americans?

Friendship. Speakers of Esperanto are usually interested in me or my culture. Many become friends, in fact! By contrast, those people who speak to me in English are usually interested primarily in money. They want to sell something, or they want to learn English in order to be able to get a better education and a better-paying job, etc.

Equality. When speaking English with someone whose native language is not English, I necessarily have the position of an expert in the language. Regardless of how much the other person has studied English, he or she necessarily speaks from a lower position, like a student to an instructor or a subordinate to a superior. If instead I speak in the other person’s native language, we have the same problem in reverse. That kind of inequality really gets in the way of friendship.

Opening doors. Esperanto opens a tremendous number of doors for me, both figuratively and literally. During a three-year journey I was a guest in the homes of 150 Esperanto speakers; only once did I pay for a hotel! Thanks to Esperanto I enjoyed a rich culture, I met lots of different people, and I really got to learn about their lives, cultures, homes, thoughts, etc. I’ve gained many valuable life experiences which I wouldn’t have had without Esperanto.

To help the world. If people throughout the world can communicate freely as equals, and become friends via Esperanto, the world will definitely become a better, more just, more likeable place. I don’t imagine that Esperanto alone will solve all the world’s problems, but it can help people devise solutions.

Creativity. I love the tremendous flexibility in the language. Writing or speaking in Esperanto, I feel more free than with English, in which the structure and vocabulary are relatively fixed. The possibilities for creating new expressions in Esperanto are almost endless; it’s really a pleasure to explore them, finding just the right expressions by recombining existing elements.

A new world-view. Esperanto has drastically altered my world-view. I once imagined that the world was full of foreign, inaccessible people. You can’t really see eye to eye with people who are foreign, can you?

With Esperanto, I discovered that the world is really full of people much like me and my family. And what’s more, many of those people want to be my friends when they meet me and get the chance to know me. I no longer feel tied to only one part of the world and only one culture. I am now linked to friendly people throughout the world, because Esperanto allows me to easily communicate with them.