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Renato Corsetti: Esperanto for Sustainable and Harmonious Development

Renato Corsetti

Global Harmony Association: Honorary Advisory Committee Chair

President of Universal Esperanto Association

Professor of Psycholinguistics

University “La Sapienza” in Rome

Esperanto for Sustainable and Harmonious Development

The speakers of the international planned language Esperanto regard the present international language order - in other words the way in which o­nly certain languages are currently used in relations between people of different nationalities - as unsatisfactory and incompatible with the need to further mutual understanding, peace and equal rights among all people.

They are also very critical of the policy pursued at present in nearly every country in the world with regard to the teaching of foreign languages, which does nothing to further international understanding but simply serves the aim of assimilating everything that comes from the most powerful countries.

The speakers of the international language Esperanto consider that all languages and all cultures carry with them values that must not be lost to mankind.  They further believe that linguistic human rights must be respected at all levels. Everyone is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights against discrimination based, among other things, o­n language. No national or international authority is entitled to disregard that right in the name of efficiency or of other considerations.

We, the World Esperanto Association, recognise that UNESCO and the United Nations have produced many documents in this field. The most recent, for example, the "Human Development Report 2004", deserves our full support and also refers to the three-language principle advocated by UNESCO:

-mother tongue (however small)
-local contact language (generally the national language)
-international language.

In this connection we maintain that the optimum language to act as an international language is the international planned language Esperanto. The use of a national language, whichever it might be, is unjust, causes human suffering, leads to extra costs for societies that need to learn that language and in the long run results in the loss of languages and cultures.

The Human Development Report quotes figures that clearly show the positive effect of mother-tongue teaching (even where there are large numbers of languages) compared with teaching the former colonial languages.

We maintain that the same goes for teaching dominating languages instead of the neutral international language Esperanto.

We maintain that the teaching of Esperanto as a foreign language has benefits compared with the teaching of, for example, English (greater ease of learning, so that learning objectives can be achieved in a fraction of the time, more cost-effective teaching using local teachers and materials).

We believe that switching from, for example, English to Esperanto in the teaching of foreign languages around the world would lead to such enormous savings that sufficient funds could be released to overcome some of the problems of disease, malnutrition and inadequate education systems which currently suffer from a lack of resources.

We call o­n all people desiring development and peace to support the experiments to be carried out under scientific supervision in a number of countries o­n the ease of learning Esperanto and the results achieved compared with learning other foreign languages

For more than a century Esperanto, which was launched in 1887 as a project for an auxiliary language for international communication and quickly developed into a rich living language in its own right, has functioned as a means of bringing people together across the barriers of language and culture. The aims that inspire the users of Esperanto are still as important and relevant as ever. Neither the worldwide use of a few national languages, nor advances in communications technology, nor the development of new methods of language teaching is likely to result in a fair and effective language order based o­n the following principles, which we hold to be essential.

1. Democracy. Any system of communication which confers lifelong privileges o­n some while requiring others to devote years of effort to achieving a lesser degree of competence is fundamentally antidemocratic. While Esperanto, like any language, is not perfect, it far outstrips other languages as a means of egalitarian communication o­n a world scale.

2. Global education. All ethnic languages are bound to certain cultures and nations. For example, the child who learns English learns about the culture, geography and political systems of the English-speaking world, primarily the United States and the United Kingdom. The child who learns Esperanto learns about a world without borders, where every country is home.

3. Effective education. o­nly a small percentage of foreign-language students attain fluency in the target language.In Esperanto, fluency is attainable even through home study. Various studies have shown that Esperanto is useful as a preparation for learning other languages. It has also been recommended as a core element in courses in language awareness.

4. Multilingualism. The Esperanto community is almost unique as a worldwide community whose members are universally bilingual or multilingual. Every member of the community has made the effort to learn at least o­ne foreign language to a communicative level. In many cases this leads to a love and knowledge of several languages and to broader personal horizons in general.

5. Language rights. The unequal distribution of power between languages is a recipe for permanent language insecurity, or outright language oppression, for a large part of the world's population. In the Esperanto community the speakers of languages large and small, official and unofficial meet o­n equal terms through a mutual willingness to compromise. This balance of language rights and responsibilities provides a benchmark for developing and judging other solutions to language inequality and conflict.

6. Language diversity. National governments tend to treat the great diversity of languages in the world as a barrier to communication and development. In the Esperanto community, however, language diversity is experienced as a constant and indispensable source of enrichment. Consequently every language, like every biological species, is inherently valuable and worthy of protection and support.

7. Human emancipation. Every language both liberates and imprisons its users, giving them the ability to communicate among themselves but barring them from communication with others. Designed as a universally accessible means of communication, Esperanto is o­ne of the great functional projects for the emancipation of humankind - o­ne which aims to let every individual citizen participate fully in the human community, securely rooted in his or her local cultural and language identity yet not limited by it.
June 26, 2005

Renato Corsetti


Short Biography



- Born in Rome, Italy o­n the 29th March 1941,

- Now living in Palestrina (Rome), Italy, Via del Castello, 1 00036 Palestrina,tel. +39-06-9575713,

e-mail: renato.corsetti@uniroma1.it


- Studied Economy and Management in Rome and Turin and Linguistics in Rome.


- Had many management jobs in banking for the first part of his life.


- Made research activities and teaching in the University “La Sapienza” in Rome during the second part of his life until now as a professor of Psycholinguistics.


- Was guest lecturer in some universities abroad.


- Was active in the movement for an international language during many decades.


- Presently is President of the World Esperanto-Association, UEA, in consultative relations with UN and Unesco.


-Is author of tens of books and hundreds of articles o­n linguistics, sociolinguistic, Espernato, peace and international cooperation.


February 12, 2007

Renato Corsetti


An Update o­n Esperanto

In a world increasingly aware of minority rights and linguistic and cultural diversity, the international language Esperanto is gaining renewed attention from policy-makers. . . . Non-governmental organizations and coalitions are pressing to have the international language question placed o­n the agendas of the United Nations and the European Union. . . . In July 1996, the Nitobe Symposium of International Organizations brought together a group of independent experts in Prague, Czech Republic, which examined the present state of Esperanto and called for its inclusion in current debates o­n language rights and language policy: the Prague Manifesto, a modern restatement of the values and goals underlying the Esperanto movement, emphasizes linguistic democracy and the preservation of linguistic diversity. . . . Esperanto speakers in the news recently include 1994 Nobel laureate in economics Reinhard Selten, 1996 World Chess Champion Zsuzsa Polgar, and Tivadar Soros, father of financier George Soros. . . . Indigenous Dialogues, a programme to strengthen dialogue among indigenous peoples across the world, bypasses former colonial languages by using Esperanto as a means of communication. . . . Here are some additional facts about the present state of Esperanto.

Purpose and origins. The basis of what became the international language Esperanto was published in Warsaw in 1887 by Dr. Lejzer Ludwik Zamenhof. The idea of a planned international language, intended not to replace ethnic languages but to serve as an additional, second language for all, was not new, but Zamenhof saw that such a language must develop through collective use, so he limited his initial proposal to a minimalist grammar and small vocabulary. Esperanto is now a full-fledged language with a worldwide speech community and full linguistic resources. Many of Zamenhof's ideas anticipated those of the founder of modern linguistics, the structuralist Ferdinand de Saussure (whose brother Rene spoke Esperanto).

Characteristics. Esperanto is both spoken and written. Its lexicon derives primarily from Western European languages, while its syntax and morphology show strong Slavic influences. Esperanto morphemes are invariant and almost indefinitely recombinable into different words, so the language also has much in common with isolating languages like Chinese, while its internal word structure has affinity with agglutinative languages like Turkish, Swahili and Japanese.

Development. At first, the language consisted of about 1000 roots, from which 10,000 or 12,000 words could be formed. Today, Esperanto dictionaries often contain 15,000 or 20,000 roots, from which hundreds of thousands of words can be formed, and the language continues to evolve: an Esperanto Academy monitors current trends. Over time, the language has been used for virtually every conceivable purpose, some of them controversial or problematic: the language was forbidden, and its users persecuted, by both Stalin, as the language of "cosmopolitans," and Hitler, as the language of Jews (Zamenhof, creator of the language, was Jewish). Through use of the language in the home, there are now as many as a thousand native speakers of Esperanto.

Users. The Universal Esperanto Association (UEA), whose membership forms the most active part of the Esperanto community, has national affiliates in 62 countries and individual members in almost twice that number. Numbers of textbooks sold and membership of local societies put the number of people with some knowledge of the language in the hundreds of thousands and possibly millions. There are Esperanto speakers all over the world, with notable concentrations in countries as diverse as China, Japan, Brazil, Iran, Madagascar, Bulgaria and Cuba.

Teaching Esperanto. Communicative ability in Esperanto can be rapidly acquired, so it provides an ideal introduction to foreign-language study. Within weeks, students can begin to use Esperanto for correspondence, and within months for school trips abroad. Positive effects of the prior learning of Esperanto o­n the study of both first and second languages are suggested by experimental and anecdotal evidence. While it is taught in some schools, most people learn it through self-study or correspondence (using regular or electronic mail), or through local Esperanto clubs. There are textbooks and self-instruction materials in more than 100 languages. A new website for teachers of Esperanto, www.esperanto.net, gives some idea of the current educational activity.

Official recognition. In 1954 the Unesco General Conference recognized that the achievements of Esperanto match Unesco's aims and ideals, and official relations were established between Unesco and UEA. Collaboration between the two organizations continues. In 1977 Unesco's Director General, Mr. Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow, addressed the 62nd World Esperanto Congress. In 1985 the General Conference called o­n member states and international organizations to promote the teaching of Esperanto in schools and its use in international affairs. UEA also has consultative status with the United Nations, UNICEF, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Meetings and travel. More than a hundred international conferences and meetings are held each year in Esperanto - without translators or interpreters. The biggest is the World Congress of Esperanto, held in Zagreb (2001), Fortaleza, Brazil (2002), Gothenburg, Sweden (2003), Beijing (2004), and Vilnius, Lithuania (2005). World Congresses will take place in Florence, Italy (2006), Yokohama (2007). The first symposium of Esperanto speakers in Arab countries took place in Amman in 2000, the sixth All-Americas Congress was held in Cuba in 2004, and the fourth Asian Congress took place in Kathmandu in 2005. The 2005 list of the Pasporta Servo, a service run by UEA's youth section, contains addresses of 1364 hosts in 89 countries providing free overnight accommodation to Esperanto-speaking travelers.

Research and Libraries. Many universities include Esperanto in courses o­n linguistics; a few offer it as a separate subject. Particularly noteworthy are Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, with a degree option in Esperanto, and the University of Poznan, Poland, with a degree program in interlinguistics. The Modern Language Association of America's Annual Bibliography records more than 300 scholarly publications o­n Esperanto every year. The library of the Esperanto Association of Britain has more than 20,000 items. Other large libraries include the International Esperanto Museum in Vienna (part of the National Library of Austria), the Hodler Library at the UEA's headquarters in Rotterdam, and the Esperanto collection in Aalen, Germany. The Vienna and Aalen collections can be consulted through the Internet and the international lending system.

Professional contacts and special interests. Organizations for Esperanto speakers include those for doctors, writers, railway workers, scientists, musicians, and numerous others. They often publish their own journals, hold conferences and help to expand the language for professional and specialized use. The International Academy of Sciences of San Marino facilitates collaboration at the university level. Original and translated publications appear regularly in such fields as astronomy, computing, botany, entomology, chemistry, law and philosophy. Organizations exist for special-interest groups such as Scouts and Guides, the blind, chess and Go players; and UEA's youth section, TEJO, holds frequent international meetings and publishes its own periodicals. Buddhists, Shintoists, Catholics, Quakers, Protestants, Mormons and Baha'is have their own organizations, and many social-activist groups use the language.

Literature. The flourishing literary tradition in Esperanto has been recognized by PEN International, which accepted an Esperanto affiliate at its 60th Congress in September 1993. Notable present-day writers in Esperanto include the novelists Trevor Steele (Australia), Istvan Nemere (Hungary) and Spomenka Stimec (Croatia); the poets William Auld (Scotland), Mikhail Gishpling (Russia/Israel) and Abel Montagut (Catalonia); and the essayists and translators Probal Dasgupta (India), Fernando de Diego (Venezuela) and Kurisu Kei (Japan). Auld was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in both 1999 and 2000 for his contributions to poetry.

Translations. Literary translations published recently include Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Garcia Marquez's o­ne Hundred Years of Solitude, Umar Khayyam's Rubaiyat, Grass's The Tin Drum, Marco Polo's Book of Wonders, and Cao Xueqin's great family saga Dream of the Red House. For children, Asterix, Winnie-the-Pooh and Tin-Tin have been joined by Strewelpeter and Pippi Longstocking, and the complete Moomintroll books of world-renowned Finnish author Tove Jansson, as well as the Oz books of L. Frank Baum, have been made available o­n the World Wide Web. Translations out of Esperanto include Maskerado, a book published in Esperanto in 1965 by Tivadar Soros, father of the financier George Soros, detailing the survival of his family during the Nazi occupation of Budapest. This work was recently published in English in Britain (2000) and the United States (2001), and has now appeared also in Russian, German, and Turkish.

Theatre and Cinema. Plays by dramatists as diverse as Goldoni, Ionesco, Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn have been performed in recent years in Esperanto. Many plays of Shakespeare exist in Esperanto translation: the most recent performance in Esperanto was a production of King Lear in Hanoi, Vietnam, in December 2001, with a local cast. Although Chaplin's The Great Dictator used Esperanto-language signs in its sets, feature-length films are less common. A notable exception is William Shatner's cult film Incubus, whose dialogue is entirely in Esperanto.

Music. Musical genres in Esperanto include popular and folk songs, rock, cabaret, solo and choir pieces, and opera. Popular composers and performers, including Britain's Elvis Costello and the USA's Michael Jackson, have recorded in Esperanto, written scores inspired by the language, or used it in their promotional materials. Several tracks from the all-Esperanto Warner Music album Esperanto, launched in Spain in November 1996, placed high o­n the Spanish pop charts. Classical orchestra and chorus pieces with texts in Esperanto include Lou Harrison's La Koro Sutro and David Gaines's first symphony, both from the US. Music in Esperanto can be found o­n-line, including several sites devoted to Esperanto karaoke.

Periodicals. Over 100 magazines and journals are published regularly in Esperanto, including the monthly news magazine Monato, the literary magazine Fonto, and UEA's own journal Esperanto. The biweekly news digest Eventoj offers an electronic edition as well, as does Monato; a number of magazines provide o­n-line archives. Other periodicals include publications in medicine and science, religious magazines, periodicals for young people, educational periodicals, literary magazines, and special-interest publications.

Radio and television. Radio stations in Austria, Brazil, China, Cuba, Estonia, Hungary, Italy and Poland broadcast regularly in Esperanto, as does Vatican Radio. Several programs are also available over the Internet. TV stations in various countries broadcast Esperanto courses, including a recent 16-part adaptation of the BBC's Muzzy in Gondoland o­n the Polish Channel o­ne network.

Internet. Electronic networks are the fastest-growing means of communication among Esperanto speakers. There are several hundred mailing lists in Esperanto, for discussion of topics ranging from the family use of the language to the general theory of relativity. Esperanto is widely used in such chatroom protocols as ICQ, IRC and PalTalk. Web pages in Esperanto number in the hundreds of thousands. Some can be found through the Virtual Esperanto Library at http://www.esperanto.net/veb/, others by typing "Esperanto" in any search engine.

UEA services. UEA publishes books, magazines, and a yearbook listing Esperanto organizations and local representatives around the world. These publications, along with information o­n records, cassettes, etc., are listed in UEA's book catalogue, also available o­n the World Wide Web. The Association's Book Service has more than 5000 titles in stock. An English-language series published by UEA, Esperanto Documents (ISSN 0165-2575), includes studies and reports o­n the current situation of Esperanto, which are available from its Central Office in Rotterdam.


For further information o­n Esperanto, contact UEA at Nieuwe Binnenweg 176, NL-3015 BJ Rotterdam, The Netherlands (tel. +31-10-436-1044; fax 436-1751; e-mail info@uea.org), at 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA (tel. +1-212-687-7041; fax 949-4177), or via its website at http://www.uea.org.


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