Common language would benefit us all
Arizona Republic
Oct. 27, 2005

What would it be like if each young child on Planet Earth would be taught an international language besides the native tongue? Linguistically inclined persons would still be free to study languages of interest, from Aramaic to Zulu, with the added advantage of an easy means of communication for international business, travel and fun.

Oct. 24 was United Nations Day. It was so designated by presidential proclamation to commemorate the establishment of the United Nations on Oct. 24, 1945. President Franklin Roosevelt was credited with the use of "united nations" when it was first used in the "Declaration by United Nations" on Jan. 1, 1942.

How much more efficient it would be for the United Nations to carry out its many obligations in one single language for all represented nations instead of the need to have simultaneous translations of several national languages through the use of earphones. A young Jewish boy living in Poland saw the need for people to communicate through a single language. Estrangements among the Jews, Germans and Poles in his area would be removed and friendships would flourish. With a few friends he formed a small club through which they practiced together his invention. He called it Esperanto.

The imaginative boy was Ludwig Zamenhof (1859-1917). Later his father destroyed the boy's notes, making it necessary for young Zamenhof to reconstruct his secret language from memory.

Since its public introduction in 1887, the number of speakers of Esperanto has grown to more than 2 million worldwide. Children of Esperantists learn this universal auxiliary language from an early age. When they attend Esperanto conventions they converse in Esperanto with other children no matter how far they live from each other, no matter what their different ethnic backgrounds.

There are many "artificial" languages but Esperanto seems to be the most widely known and practiced. Its champions also believe it is the easiest to learn, does not replace any native language, is politically unbiased and has been tested, accepted and used in more than 100 countries for more than 100 years.

Earliest interest was shown in Rumania, Bulgaria and Russia. National Esperanto associations have existed in Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, Britain and the United States.

Surely it's long overdue for the world's leaders to gather, discuss and adopt an existing language or a new one as the official worldwide choice, a key to a streamlined system of planetary communications.

Estelle Rouse, who lives in Gold Canyon, has lived in Central America and in seven U.S. states, and has traveled in Central America, Europe and the Middle East.