I am in a discussion on another site about a language called Esperanto. I learned about it in my Linguistics classes in college. It was made up by linguists in the late 1800’s hoping that it would catch on for everyone in the world to communicate using that language. However, it didn’t catch on. No one was speaking it as a first language. It was everyone’s second language. Only the people who studied linguistics even knew it existed. There is a guy on another site trying to convince everyone they need to learn Esperanto. I told him there were no native speakers, and he told me there was a billionaire who speaks it as a first language. Does he really think the whole world is going to bow down to a billionaire and learn his language? We need to think about why people learn a second language to start with.
Most people who travel do so because they are in a service job of some kind. Maybe they are in the military. Maybe the are missionaries. Perhaps they are teachers, doctors, or nurses. Those are the largest percentage of people who travel. The number who travel on business, pleasure, or for diplomacy is much smaller. Most military people don’t learn a foreign language. My dad was military and multi lingual, but he was in a minority. Most American military I have met around the world don’t even begin to know the language of the country where they are because they live on base and don’t have to. Missionaries are urged to learn the language of the people where they live because they are there to communicate God’s love, and people feel in their first language. If you communicate with them in a second language, it is too sterile and won’t touch them as deeply, but that doesn’t mean it can’t. However, some missionaries still struggle with language and don’t learn the language and try to teach all in English, but they are in the minority. If you are a Korean missionary, and there are many, they learn English because they consider English an international language and know they can communicate in all countries with English. Teachers, doctors, and nurses who travel usually speak English.
You can travel to any country in the world and find an English speaker. In the days of Mercantilism, countries went out and conquered other countries to gain gold. It was the system. There were many empires, but the British empire spread out further than any other. They brought English with them. They spread it all over the world. When Mercantilism went out and the British empire was not so important, America became important. It was a huge country that was the land of opportunity. America had a robust economy and lots of land, and people wanted to either live there or do business with America. People studied English to talk to Americans who traveled. It caused English to spread even more. After that, they started the United Nations. People who don’t speak English sit in on the meetings in the United Nations with a translator, but the language of the United Nations is English. The head of the United Nations is a Korean/American, and he speaks English.
There are countries around the globe where there are many different people groups in the country. They have different first languages that the others in their country don’t speak. The only way they can all speak together is through English. English is the second language of many, many countries around the world. Even in countries you would never suspect like Bangladesh, they speak a mixture of English and Bangladeshi. Many people who read my blog are from different countries. If they couldn’t speak English, they wouldn’t be reading my blog. We have an international language that works. It grew naturally.
Trying to force a language like Esperanto on the world from the outside is unnatural. English spread naturally. People don’t even know Esperanto exists. It makes no sense for people to argue that we should all learn Esperanto. We already have English. Spanish is close behind it. Spanish speakers are spread across the globe too. It may have begun with the Roman empire, then on to the Mercantile era with the Spanish empire, and many Spanish missionaries have gone out. Now a days, all the countries south of the United States besides Brazil speak Spanish, and Brazil can understand Spanish. When I was in the Philippines, I watched a movie that was in three languages at once, Tagalog (a Filipino language), English, and Spanish. There are countries in Africa that speak Spanish too. Morocco has French and Spanish Morocco.
Many people talk about Chinese, but Chinese is only in China and Taiwan. They have a lot of speakers, but it is not a widespread language. And, if you go to China, you learn that Chinese is not just Chinese. There are five different major languages that are called Chinese, but the speakers don’t understand one another. The Han Chinese speak a kind of old Korean at home and speak Chinese out of their house. Should Chinese really be considered that important? If you speak Spanish, the whole Latin speaking world opens to you, and English is easier for you than for speakers of other languages too. What is related to Chinese beside another Chinese language? You can go into Japan and read and understand the kanji, the Chinese characters they use, but the Japanese use a different pronunciation. You used to be able to go into Korea and do the same thing, but Korea has abandoned the Chinese characters.
Languages spread naturally. Trying to force everyone into giving up the ones they know for an artificial language makes no sense. In a Utopian world, we would all speak the same language, but we don’t, and making up a fake language that no one except some billionaire speaks as a first language makes no sense. I wonder who taught it to him as his first language. Probably, he doesn’t know the language of his ancestors since Esperanto didn’t exist until the late 1800’s. When we get to Heaven, we will all be able to communicate with one another, but until then, we have languages like English and Spanish that help us communicate in the here and now practically. I guess if that billionaire wants Esperanto to be important, he needs to pay people to learn it. We need motivation to learn a foreign language, or we don’t do it.