Language devised in 1887 by Polish philologist Ludwig L Zamenhof as an international auxiliary language. For its structure and vocabulary it draws on Latin, the Romance languages, English, and German. At its centenary in 1987, Esperantists claimed 10–15 million users worldwide.
Esperanto spread from Europe to Japan, Brazil, and especially China. Its structure is completely regular, with consistent endings for nouns and adjectives. The spelling of Esperanto is phonetic, and stress always falls on the penultimate syllable.
The British Esperanto Association, with 70 federations, groups, and affiliated societies, represents Esperanto in Britain, and supplies literature and information. Its library has a unique collection of works. Other libraries are in Vienna, Rotterdam, and Paris.
Esperantists refer to Esperanto as a planned language and to the natural languages of the world as ethnic languages. Its stability is assured by an unchangeable basis called the Fundamento, and an international academy. It has survived opposition, suppression by governments, and many other difficulties. Many organizations exist to promote its use. The majority are affiliated to the Universal Esperanto Association, which has consultative relations with Unesco.
The original literature of Esperanto is extensive, and translations include the Bible. A Universal Esperanto Congress meets in a different country every year, all proceedings being in Esperanto. Several specialist bodies hold annual meetings of their own.
Esperanto – The International Language
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