Should Esperanto be an official EU language? One of the most popular ideas on the Conference on the Future of Europe platform comes from Louis, who calls for: “Official recognition of Esperanto as one of the languages of EU citizens”. Does he have a point?

To get a response, we spoke to Marko Modiano, Professor of English at Gävle University in Sweden (and a proponent of “European English” as a common European lingua franca). What did he think about Esperanto as an official European language?

If we want to entertain the idea of Esperanto being a choice [for Europeans to learn] there are several problems. One is that Esperanto will not put money in your pocket – learning the language is not a gateway to a career or into financial services or into a great high-tech job. Those are the kinds of things that get people interested in languages; when it helps them in their work, where they can make more money, they can be more prosperous and successful. Esperanto won’t do that.

Second, Esperanto doesn’t have a battery of poetry, novels, short stories, films, and so on. It has no cultural heritage. I know there are a few things, and I’m sure there have been some great novels written in Esperanto, but they’re not going to fare very well in competition with Jane Austen. We have this incredible cultural heritage in languages like French and German, and certainly English, Italian, and so on, and that makes those languages vastly superior to a language like Esperanto which, basically, is a political movement, if you will. We don’t need to get into that, but what we have is that more than 95% of the young people in the European Union today have some knowledge of English, and… there are more speakers of Klingon than there are speakers of Esperanto.

We put Prof. Modiano’s comment to Louis from the Conference on the Future of Europe platform for him to respond:

Image of a citizenI think the professor you quoted is just badly informed. There are something like 120 books published every year in Esperanto, and I don’t know how many books are published at all in Klingon but it’s certainly less than one or two a year – it’s nearly nothing! And I don’t know if you know any Klingon songs? Well, you can search for Esperanto music on YouTube. So, I think we should go back to reality: it’s not because someone is a professor that he’s well-informed about Esperanto and Klingon…

Esperanto gives you direct communication with lots of people around the world. A friend of mine made a trip with a professional travel group to Nepal and, when she was there, in the evening, she said: ‘Goodbye, I’m going to visit some Nepali people’. They were astonished that she knows someone in Nepal but, in fact, she was meeting up with fellow Esperanto speakers in Nepal, who are open to visitors who come and are pleased to have them as guests in the evening. That’s what Esperanto gives you all around the world: speakers who are really enthusiastic about the idea of people coming together on an equal level. And, yes, I have had guests from Nepal, from Madagascar, from South America, from Brazil, and it’s a wonderful way to get informed about other cultures…

Should Esperanto be the official language of the EU? Is it an easier language to learn than English? Is it more neutral and less political? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

Image Credits: CC BY-SA 3.0 – Vilĉjo Walker

37 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    We’ve been here before…. NO!!

  2. avatar

    English the language of computers is de facto the universal language.

  3. avatar

    No. Whatever is artificial won’t last.Linguistically, Esperanto was already a major fail.

    • avatar

      Крис Караджов All languages are the result of an extremely slow and organic evolution through the centuries. So, in the main core they’re a natural way to express concepts.By artificial, I mean the artificial and unnatural way to use a language which has no real cultural implications on a daily basis.Esperanto is totally artificial and useless

    • avatar

      Simone Borgia I’m very sleepy today so I unintentionally wrote a reply to your comment when I was actually about to write my own comment under the post. Check my new comment in the section of you like. And yes, we both agree.

    • avatar

      Крис Караджов My grandfather studied Esperanto at school, back in the ’10s of the last century, here in Italy.Totally useless

  4. avatar

    Nobody can be forced to learn a non-maternal language he doesn’t know. During the communist period all Bulgarian children had to study Russian. We don’t need to force today children to study a language that is totally impractical.

    • avatar

      Крис Караджов Nobody can be forced to learn a foreign language, but some chose to. That makes all the difference.

    • avatar

      Natasha Pikoul Your reply is completely irrelevant to my comment. If you want to learn Esperanto or any other language sign up for a course. Why should it be official for 500 million people?

  5. avatar

    Arabic seems to be the only language spoken in every EU country. Plus it’s close to Maltese so there’s legitimacy

  6. avatar
    EU Reform Proactive

    Kiel EU-landaj impostpagantoj povus favori, ke iliaj impostoj estu direktitaj (kaj malŝparitaj) pri ne-temoj kiel “Ĉu Esperanto estu oficiala lingvo de EU”?

    Klingona aŭ alkroĉita? Ĉu tio estas la estonteco de EU?

    Se tiel serioze, bonvolu sugesti landajn referendumojn. Noto: klingonoj estas nelegeblaj kaj estas ekskluditaj de la vera voĉdona listo!

    Eble la DE prefere celu, ke EU transformiĝu al Unio de eksterteranoj, se naturaj lingvoj malpermesiĝus.

    Nur en aprilo 2021 ĉi tiu numero estis komentita- ĉu ne sufiĉa?
    Chay’ may EU national taxpayers would qu’ in favour ‘e’ their taxes is directed (& wasted) on non-issues parha’ “Should Esperanto qu’ an official hol of the EU”?
    Tlhingan qoj cling on?

    If ‘e’ serious, please chup national referendums. Note: Klingons are illegible & are excluded from the voter’s tetlh!

    Chaq the DE should rather lobby ‘e’ the EU transforms into a divi’ of supra- extraterrestrials, were natural languages are prohibited.
    Neh in April 2021 was this issue commented on- not mevyap?

    How may EU national taxpayers would be in favour that their taxes are directed (& wasted) on non-issues like “Should Esperanto be an official language of the EU”?

    Klingon or cling on? Is that the future of the EU?

    If that is serious, please suggest national referendums. Note: Klingons are illegible & are excluded from the terrestrial voter’s roll!

    Maybe the DE should rather lobby that the EU transforms into a Union of supra- extraterrestrials, where natural languages become prohibited.

    Only in April 2021 was this issue commented on- not enough?

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      EU Reform Proactive

      As you have shown so well, Esperanto is a medieval process, narrow in perception and without ability to clarify. I would have thought, as a world people, we have enough inadequate languages to express complicated thought already in existence.

  7. avatar

    Is there any country called esperanza..? Unfortunately we already have Esperanto in Europe which names english. No need for another zinzin…

  8. avatar
    Kahraman Marangoz

    One language makes it easy’r and so I find that Esperanto should be Europe’s language. Because it is new there is a road to get there and with a few generations it is possible that all Europeans speak Esperanto and next to it another language.

    • avatar

      I think our future Chinese overlords will have the final say on what languages can and cant be spoken on whatevers left of this continent in the near future.

    • avatar

      totally agree

  9. avatar
    Drago Dussich M

    La angla estas konfuza kaj nepraktika lingvo trudita per perforto.

    El inglés es un idioma confuso y poco práctico que se ha impuesto por la violencia.

    English is a confusing and impractical language imposed by violence.

  10. avatar
    Noe Bailly

    Jes! Esperanto vivas! Mi lernis ĝin facile kaj rapide.

  11. avatar

    “Second, Esperanto doesn’t have a battery of poetry, novels, short stories, films, and so on. It has no cultural heritage. I know there are a few things, and I’m sure there have been some great novels written in Esperanto, but they’re not going to fare very well in competition with Jane Austen. We have this incredible cultural heritage in languages like French and German, and certainly English, Italian, and so on, and that makes those languages vastly superior to a language like Esperanto which, basically, is a political movement, if you will. We don’t need to get into that, but what we have is that more than 95% of the young people in the European Union today have some knowledge of English, and… there are more speakers of Klingon than there are speakers of Esperanto. ”

    Sorry, but what you are saying shows you are ignorant about Esperanto. Esperanto does have a cultural heritage. Let me remind you that it is a 130 years old language, it wasn’t born yesterday. Its literature is of course not comparable with the English, German or French literature, I don’t think anyone said that. However, there are tens of thousands books written in Esperanto and actually some Esperanto authors have proved to be as good as the best authors of “great” languages: William Auld, the greatest Esperanto poet, was nominated for the Nobel prize in literature. Esperanto has a real culture, with notions you won’t understand if you aren’t part of the Esperanto community.

    Also, you said that Esperanto was “basically, a political movement”. No, Esperanto is a language, acknowledged by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, and a living language.
    The Esperanto movement, a movement promoting the use of Esperanto, exists. Is it political? Of course, it has a goal – that Esperanto becomes the international language, and contains values that could be described as humanistic, but its ideology is no more than this. That’s not much ideologically. There are esperantists of diverse political backgrounds, and historically the Esperanto movement is divided by those who were neutral politically, forming the neutral movement, and a far-left movement (whose ideology isn’t Esperantism or I don’t know what Esperanto ideology, but a far-left antinationalist one). Most of the esperantists supporting the use of Esperanto as a common language in the European Union are part of the neutral movement.

    You say that 95% of the European youth speaks English. Well, at which level? Only 25% of European citizens can understand a news report in English (source: Eurobarometer).

    You say that there are more Klingon speakers than Esperanto speakers. Personally, I do not know any trustworthy number of Esperanto speakers. It’s not easy to count them. And how to define a speaker? Someone with a B1 level?

    s Klingon spoken in events everyday of the year? Esperanto is. Did Klingon contribute to create families and thus native Klingon speakers? Esperanto did. Does the European Commission gives subventions to projects using Klingon? It’s the case for projects using Esperanto.

    Esperanto is simply more alive than Klingon.

    Sorry for this too long comment, thanks for reading.

  12. avatar

    Esperanto would be a great language for communication between European citizens. Esperanto is a key solution for building a citizen’s Europe.
    Only 25% of European citizens are able to understand a news report in English (Eurobarometer). Speakers of germanic languages are privileged compared to speakers of non-germanic languages, and wealthy individuals are also privileged compared to poor individuals because of English. English is easier for native speakers of germanic languages and to be mastered, it is almost necessary to travel in an English-speaking country. This is something costing money.
    Esperanto can be much more easily learnt by people from any linguistic backgrounds, and doesn’t require linguistic trips. It is the language of equality, neutrality and fairness.
    I’m not even mentioning the privilege of the native English speakers from Ireland and Malta, two EU-members states and the last ones after Brexit to keep English as an official language. So we have this paradox that English is still a EU-language but only because countries representing a ridiculously small part of its population. Not considering Ireland and Malta, English wouldn’t even an official EU language, yet it is the common one and in this tragic post-Brexit situation, European citizens have to speak the language of the Brexiters between themselves, because no solution has been seriously considered.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I do not hate the English language. Indeed, I am glad to have had the privilege to learn it: I had the intellectual capital of my parents and the opportunity to travel in English-speaking countries.
    But I don’t want international communication to be a privilege, especially in Europe. I believe it is a human right.
    Why should most of the young europeans make a big effort and learn a language that is difficult for them but natively acquired by some, while they could all make a small effort by learning Esperanto?

  13. avatar
    Geraldo Damasceno

    If ESPERANTO is adopted by EU in two decades there will be great ,artists,writers,poets,cientists and prominent people in all walks of life.

  14. avatar
    Bernd Wechner

    Anyone even remotely aware of what the EU spends on translation and interpretation today either stands firm, head in the sand (a popular stance), has a stake in the industry that benefits (translators and interpreters) or accepts that adopting a single official neutral planned language makes abundant sense. Esperanto is a candidate, but there’s zero drama commissioning a new one too.

    The evidence is clear, and has been studied and reported as well. That planned languages can be learned to fluency in months not years, that they put us all on equal footing linguistically (well they can, if the language embeds bias that’s less true and some bias is likely unavoidable as true neutrality is a pipe dream) and help to preserve and protect native languages.

  15. avatar
    Amadeo Sendiulo

    More Klingon speakers? Ĉu vere? If that was meant to be a joke, it isn’t funny.
    I vote for Esperanto to the lenguage of EU because it’s really easy to learn by Europeans. It would actuaklly save money, because students would become fluent much faster than nowadays studends learning English.

  16. avatar

    Some people learn Esperanto simply because they love it. No matter where you go, there is always a group of individuals you can talk to in that language just for the sake of it. Though esperantists don’t necessarily agree on politics, spirituality or dietary needs. I guess it is like most leisure activities.

    Learning Esperanto makes as much sense as learning Latin or ancient Greek, though it has an additional incentive: it’s not a dead language. It does survive after all, because it is easy to learn, it’s fun and it does help to communicate with other people, which is what languages are aimed to. Besides, it’s like learning the recorder before learning a more sophisticated instrument. It should be in the cores of primary and secondary education programs in Europe, like Latin, Greek and the recorder.

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say it should be the ONE official language in Europe, but yes… I would added it to the list.

  17. avatar
    PK O

    And we’re debating this in English not Esperanto

  18. avatar

    No. There shouldn’t be any an official EU language.

  19. avatar

    Jes! Dlaczego nie? Warum nicht? #Esperanto

  20. avatar

    No.. French German Italian and Spanish should be the most used official language. What to be colonisé by the anglo-saxon culture which dispraise us

  21. avatar

    No, barely anyone speaks it anymore.

  22. avatar

    English is easy and with the UK out, using it does not favour any particular big member. I think it’s fine if it becomes the defacto EU working language. Esperanto? I hope you are joking. French? I’m a native french speaker, and i wouldn’t wish anyone to have to learn or speak French unless they start at 2yrs old. German is not pretty enough. Italian sounds fantastic and is grammatically cleaner than french, if everyone insists on ditching English, my second choice is Italian 🙂

  23. avatar

    Each nation has its identity. We can be united in order to be economically strong but imposing one language over all nations will lead to a disaster in all life area !

  24. avatar

    This is good idea. The EU has already 24 OFFICIAL languages: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish.

    It would have 25. Not a big cost.

    Ĉi tio estas bona ideo. EU havas jam 24 oficialajn lingvojn. Ĝi havus 25. Ne granda kosto.

    Rigardu serĉtrafikon de malsamaj lingvoj je Google Trends. Check out search traffic in different languages by Google Trends.

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