Language of the Lost Tribe

By Andrej Mrevlje |

Of all the languages one can hear on the streets of New York — apparently there are about 800 different languages spoken in this city — I have never heard somebody speak, or even mention, Esperanto. I actually thought that Esperanto was already dead. Well, according to a funny report from London, where a yearly congress on this language recently took place, Esperanto is still spoken by about 2 million people. That, my friends, is the exact number of people who speak my native tongue, Slovenian — the language that might even be spoken in the White House if the U.S. elections don’t take a turn for the better in the next few months. Yes, I have in mind Melania Knauss — Trump — who is purebred Slovenian.

But back to Esperanto. I know from history classes that at the end of the Chinese Empire, during the period between the two World Wars, the Chinese reform movement tried to introduce Esperanto as an official language because of the hatred for the defunct imperial order. This movement against the status quo came  largely from educated youth who embodied the movement’s iconoclast spirit.

I always thought that Esperanto represented the state of mind of people searching for identity — a language of some sort of lost tribe. I  do not know how the language was created, but this piece from London made me laugh a lot, while the language sounds to me almost like Dothraki from Game of Thrones. Like the phrase “Kiom ofte mi uzas drogojn? — which means “How often do you use drugs?” There are other nice words in this piece like “la belaj homoj” — the equivalent to the Italian expression “la bella gente.” Or “katoj,” which Google Translate said means “cats,” though that translation likely comes from the fact that the word actually means “pussy.” That would make Esperanto vulgar, right? But luckily, languages’ popularity seems to shift alongside whoever has the biggest armies, and there’s never been an Esperanto army. But read the article. It’s bizarre and fun.  

Also published on Medium.

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