Blogging in Esperanto and Virtues of Multi-Lingualism

Jeff Licquia's translation into Esperanto of his earlier commentary on what I'd written regarding Balkanization of the Web and the virtues of multi-lingualism proves my original point still stands: Having a multitude of living languages is actually much better than a world with a single universal language. The existence of different (human) language communities should in fact be considered, literally, as a God-given opportunity to be introduced to diverse peoples and cultural possibilities. In a single-language world, we'll be immersed in assumptions and biases that are particular to that language, never finding an opportunity for their evolution in the dialog that occurs between languages and cultures.

Note (added October 4, 2004): Please read Jeff Liquia's comment below. As he notes, he never advocated a single universal language. If I implied that above, I stand corrected. His commentary below actually amplifies that on which we both agree, and I'll take his challenge and will learn the mechanics of blogging in Persian (the problem is getting an appropriate keyboard and editor), probably on a different weblog server. More on this later, as time permits.

Comments:

When did I, or any other Esperantist, ever claim that we want to eliminate all other languages?

It is clear that the world needs some way for people to communicate with each other. So far, the preferred method is English, the language of the most powerful countries in the world, and one with a powerful cultural force that tends to overwhelm smaller cultures.

In other words, the use of English as a bridge language tends to destroy language diversity.

As you claim your allegiance to language diversity, you force your readers to learn English to learn of said allegiance, despite your professed ability to speak several languages. Why do you post in English? Is it because your job requires English, or because your co-workers all use English as a bridge language, or because no one would read a non-English blog? Doesn't this fact itself prove how English usage leads to a reduction in language diversity?

The goal of the Esperanto project is precisely to work against this tendency by providing people with a way to communicate that does not have the crushing cultural weight of languages like English.

For a better explanation of what I'm talking about, read this essay by William Auld, one of Esperanto's foremost writers.

Posted by Jeff Licquia on October 04, 2004 at 03:18 AM PDT #

Nowhere have I said that you advocate a single universal language. I'm simply saying that your desire and reasons to translate what you've written into Esperanto and my desire to read weblogs in multiple languages (and yes, also write them in multiple languages) stems from the same root, i.e. the joint notion that there is a virtue in diversity of languages. Now, I write in English because it is easiest for me to do so but I try to read and speak in other languages whenever I have a chance. Besides, there has always been languages with large footprint in the past. Think of Greek, Latin, Arabic, Persian, Spanich, French and English. Who knows . . . we may yet experience others.

Posted by M. Mortazavi on October 04, 2004 at 03:35 AM PDT #

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