Friday, July 26, is World Esperanto Day.
Today on KUOW Presents, producer Roman Mars told us about the history of the invented language Esperanto.
Esperanto's a language born out of the dream that if we all spoke the same language, we wouldn't have wars. That might sound a little naïve, when you consider how divided we can be even within the United States - where many people do speak the same language. Still, one can't help thinking: If we could turn on the television and see the personal stories of Iraqis, would the United States have gone to war with that nation?
Some would argue we are starting to understand each other, through English language reporting from news organizations like Al Jazeera, and CNN, which has an Arabic language channel. It's too early to say whether that programming will smooth out the differences between American and Middle Eastern cultures. But even with cable news going international, those broadcasts are just cultural diplomacy for nations that still think in different languages. And the idea of Esperanto still has power.
The Local Esperanto Connection
Seattle has an Esperanto club (it has several, actually). KUOW's Joshua McNichols called up club member Leland Ross to get a local perspective on the international language of Esperanto.
Leland says Esperanto isn't dead. In fact, it's doing better than ever before, thanks to the Internet. He says in the past, an Esperanto speaker would send off letters to an Esperanto-speaking pen pal and would have to wait for a response, but today, you can hop online and immediately chat with someone anywhere in the world.
Leland says one local group of Esperanto enthusiasts have a regular poker night conducted entirely in Esperanto. It isn't world peace, but you've got to start somewhere.
KUOW Presents is going on vacation next week. We'll be back July 29!
Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, July 18: