Published July 27, 2019
This video was recorded by Rachael Weinstein in the US state of California. Esperanto is a constructed language, meaning it has been artificially crafted by one or a handful of designers, rather than having developed organically over generations through natural linguistic processes. That said, its speaker community has grown to the extent that it has now become a living language, subject to the same linguistic processes that affect natural languages. Esperanto was created in 1887 when Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof published his first book on the subject, Unua Libro. Dr. Zamenhof announced three goals of the language: to make it easy to learn; to facilitate international communication; and to overcome "the natural indifference of mankind." Zamenhof was inspired by the conditions of his childhood, having lived in Białystok where Russians, Poles, Germans, and Jews were divided into factions who spoke different languages and were sometimes violently at odds. Zamenhof believed that a common language could overcome these tensions and provide the groundwork for peace. He envisioned Esperanto as an auxiliary language, meaning that it would supplement natural, native languages as a sort of neutral lingua franca, rather than replace them. Esperanto has grown its speaker population to over two million speakers within 120 countries, and an estimated one to two thousand native speakers -- those who learned Esperanto as a first language. Zamenhof designed Esperanto as an amalgamation of Indo-European languages: the Esperanto alphabet is based on the Latin script, its phonology and semantic framework are Slavic, and its lexical makeup is largely drawn from Romance languages. Esperanto is a constructed language, otherwise known as a conlang, and is spoken by roughly two million people around the world.