Zamenhof Day 2009

150 years ago today, December 15th, Ludwik Zamenhof was born. His was a divided city, partitioned in four quarters. Four identifiable groups (Germans, Poles, Jews and Russians) lived in Białystok, each category keeping to its own area.

Young Zamenhof
Young Zamenhof
The young Zamenhof was touched by the unnecessary violence exhibited towards others who were different, the segregation. Having witnessed for the umpteenth time the beating dished out to a member of one group who strayed into another’s area, the young Zamenhof thought to himself that the situation would not have arisen had the two groups involved been able to talk to one another.

So he started work on his project for an international language, a mutually understood yet neutral language that each group would have in addition to its own. The Russians would still have Russian, but switch to the international language when speaking to Germans, who would keep their Germanic tongue, but opt for the international language when in conversation with the Poles, and so on.

At the party for his 18th birthday Zamenhof presented to his friends his lingwe uniwersala, the first draft of what would become nine years later Esperanto.

Since the 1920s Esperanto-speakers have celebrated December 15th as “Zamenhof Day”. Having started with only one member Esperanto has wound its way around the globe; the World Esperanto Association has members in 121 countries. Not a bad rate of success for a project started by a teenager, especially when compared to the results of efforts of intellectual heavyweights such as René Descartes :)

Anyway, aided and abetted by Google China’s logo today, I’d like to wish well on Zamenhof Day to any and all curious souls who may have stumbled upon this blog entry.

If you’d like to find out more about Esperanto I’ve written a brief description of the language’s history, provided some useful information such as details about its alphabet, how it sounds, and how many speakers it has, and run some online forums where you can get a flavour of some of the young people who speak Esperanto in Britain, find information about our meet-ups, and get answers to any questions that you may have. Have a snoop around; it won’t take more than a few minutes and, you never know; you may find something interesting. I know I did :)



One Response to “Zamenhof Day 2009”

  1. Tim Says:

    Update: A couple of years removed from this post I no longer run the forums that I wrote about and the link to the useful information is no longer valid and so has been removed from the article.

    I hope to re-host the archive of the forums and articles one day.