Imagine yourself as a 15 year-old Polish boy, living in Byalistok in 1875. Your home town was recently conquered by Czarist Russia, there are Russian soldiers walking in the streets, and you have to know Russian because that’s the only language they will speak. The Polish shop keepers will only speak to you in Polish. You speak Yiddish at home. There’s so much anger, everyone seems to be angry with everyone else.
You think to yourself that the problem is language. If everyone spoke the same language, a common second language, maybe everyone wouldn’t be so angry. You talk this idea over with your friends. You run an inventory of all of the languages that you speak, and every one you’ve ever heard of. Nothing seems to fit. Should you make your own? Could you make your own?
This was the case of young Lazar Zamanhof. He and his friends began working on a language that fit the bill. He continued to work on it for years. He finally finished the work 12 years later, but it’s not all he did. In those 12 years he also:
The first book was published in 1887. It was well accepted. He soon began receiving letters from all over Europe written in his international language. The first International Conference for Esperantists was in 1905, less than 20 years after publishing La Unua Libro (the first book). This first conference was held in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. It was a huge success. Almost 700 people showed up for an 18 year-old man-made language, and they could all communicate in this language. Amazing!
If you are interested in learning more about Esperanto, you can read more about it on this Wikipedia Entry
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