Humphrey Tonkin

University of Hartford
West Hartford, USA

INDECS 13(2), 182-192, 2015
DOI 10.7906/indecs.13.2.12
Full text available here.

Regular article


After almost one hundred years of continuous use, Esperanto has achieved the status and character of a fully-fledged language, functioning much as any other language does. Research on Esperanto is hampered because knowledge of the subject is often regarded, ipso facto, as evidence of a lack of objectivity, and also because Esperanto, as largely an L2, is elusive, and its speakers hard to quantify. The problem is compounded by the rapid shift in its community from membership-based organizations to decentralized, informal web-based communication. Also shifting are the community's ideological underpinnings: it began as a response to lack of communication across languages but is now often perceived by its users as an alternative, more equitable means of communication than the increasingly ubiquitous English. Underlying these changes is a flourishing cultural base, including an extensive literature and periodical press. There is a need for more research - linguistic, sociolinguistic, and in the history of ideas. In intellectual history, Esperanto and related ideas have played a larger role than is generally recognized, intersecting with, and influencing, such movements as modernization in Japan, the development of international organizations, socialism in many parts of the world, and, in our own day, machine translation.


Esperanto, Esperanto community, interlinguistic research, language ideology



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