"THE FOUNDER" OF ESPERANTO.
Otago Witness , Putanga 2715, 28 Poutūterangi 1906, Page 39
"THE FOUNDER" OF ESPERANTO.
The Rev. Isidore Harris has in Great Thoughts an interview with Dr Zamenhof. the '"founder" of Esperanto. Dr Zamenhof at present practises as an oculist in Warsaw, but he was born at Bialystok, a Polish town on the borderland of Germany and Russia. " Bialystok (says Dr Zamenhof) is one of the most cosmopolitan places in Eastern Europe. At least four different languages are spoken by the various nationalities who compose it*population
— Russian, Polish, Gorman, and Yiddish. Even as a child, this diversity ot tongues seemed ro me to be the primary cause of the mutual animosities and bickerings of the place to which, as a Jew, I was particularly exposed. Broo-1-ing over this state ot things, I used to indulge in childish dreams of a worldlanfmago which would help to bring about a leign oi peace and goodvv.ll among the children of the human fami . ' For years these remained dreams, and when the family removed to Warsaw where Zamcnhof continued his linguistic studies, he continued working at a universal language. The idea of Esperanto did not occur to
D- Zarneniioi at once; it was the outgrowth of several fruitless attempts, which one alter another had to be discarded: — " At one time I entertained the idea of a mathematica- obstruction, then the claim oi tae dead languages appealed to me and paramount among them that of Hebrew, which 1 i.ad learnt at home and m thesynagogue. . But practical considerations scon *=howed the impossibility o. lie brow, ihen for three years I worked at Yiddish . . . . iii the hope that, being a modern tongue, it might be possible to uriversalise it. That idea also had to be given up. I can.c to the eonclsuion that I ii- 1 language could ever become a universal
medium of c-i mmunication which identified itself with any particular nationaat.y 01 country. It must be a neutral language.' By the year 1878 he had j autically evolved such a language. Dr Zamcnhii confesses that he should neer have succeeded in his attempt it it had not been for an inspiration which came to him one day during his studentship at the Gymnasium, when he noticed the sisjns on the shop windows: — "There, in one corner of the market-place, was^ a shop which called itself Svejtskaja, drink-shop,' and close by another which was named Konditorskaja. ' sweet-shop.' Suddenly it flashed upon me that by means
of affixes an endless na.nber o£ words could be formed out oi a single root. • iCuieka !' 1 cried, as I felt the ground Ljucath mv !«• -t, and saw the huge dictionaries ' .irinking visibly before my very eyes." lor the next six years, however, he kept his discovery a secret. It was not till 1f 37 that he published an anonymous brochure entitled '' An International Language, by Doktoro Esperanto." It win issued in four languages — Russian, "Hish, Gorman, and French, — and was -"ortlv fo^iwed by other works in the new language. They '" all caught on at once," and there are now 120 periodicals published in the interests of Esperanto.