Profile of the Week
Esther Schor, a professor of English at Princeton University, has written a book detailing the creation of the universal language, Esperanto. Esperanto is derived from Germanic as well as from romance languages and was created by Ludovik Lazarus Zamenhof (1859-1917).
Zamenhof was born in Bialystok, which at the time was part of the Russian Empire. The population of his hometown is what drew him to the creation of a universal language. He said that his town “consisted of four diverse elements: Russians, Poles, Germans, and Jews; each spoke a different language and was hostile to the other elements”. He thought that, by creating a universal language and bridging the most prominent communication barrier, global peace and order would be achieved.
The idea of a universal language is of course highly relevant to considerations of a global political structure. For instance, does a global-scale state require a single, unifying language? If so, is English the necessary default in that regard, or should something more "intentional" like Esperanto be promoted? Are there cultural downsides to having a unifying lingua franca? And if so, would those downsides be mitigated more effectively by the use of Esperanto than by the use of a language which is associated with the current global superpower?
Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language
Global Governance: Myth or Reality?
Henry Kissinger: World Order