The End Of Esperanto?

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 1 2013 @ 9:33am

The Economist spells doom for the would-be universal tongue, despite “some 87,000 users, far and away the most among invented languages”:

Esperanto will probably never become the world’s lingua franca. Why not? Well, one reason is simple: It hasn’t yet, in almost 130 years. Esperanto isn’t quite as old as The Economist, but it’s older than, say, Norway or Stanford University. Yet it remains thin on the ground. This is partly because language, more than any other tool, benefits from network effects. The more people who speak a language, the more desirable that language will be. This is of course why Esperanto speakers play up the biggest possible numbers for their community—the hopes that others will join, for the benefit of being able to use Esperanto with more people. …

People may learn English or German or Chinese to get a job. But they also learn languages to experience travel, food, film, music and literature. Look at the cover of a language textbook and you’ll find an attractive person strolling down a stereotypically picturesque street from the country in question, or maybe a famous landmark. “That,” thinks the learner, “is what I want.” What would that picture be for an Esperanto textbook?