Thread: Should we bring Esperanto back ?

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  1. #1
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    Default Should we bring Esperanto back ?

    Is it a good idea ?
  2. #2
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    Didn't realise it had gone anywhere?
  3. #3
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    I mean, its a dead language by now, and most of the community that manages to speak it fluently are hardliners when it comes to radical stalinistic ideas
  4. #4
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    Esperanto itself was poorly done. It claims to be a potential global language, but it only really borrows from Indo-European languages. It's more of a Eurocentric project than a global project, which reinforces the imperialist world order.

    But on the notion of a world language -- I deeply think it's an impossibility. Let's take a relatively small country, like France. The same French is taught in all the schools, yet even in this small territory, different dialectics exist in various regions. It's a small country, so the differences from one region to the next tend to be slim. Or take the larger country of the United States. We all sorta speak the same language, but there are several dialectics, some of which I struggle to understand.

    If we look at the Romance languages, they are all loosely inspired by Latin. Even if we maintain a single, unified language in education or in academia, local vernacular will always exist. It's part of how language develops. It's the same today in the Arab nations. The speaker of Moroccan Arabic will have difficulty understanding Egyptian or Gulf Arabic, even though they're all taught Modern Standard Arabic in school and MSA is used in academia. A universal language couldn't exist unless language didn't develop. But it does, and it doesn't develop at a unified scale, but on a local scale. Sometimes developments can reach large groups of people or entire nations, but the un-universal nature of the development of language prevents the maintenance of a universal language.

    Given that a universal language is an impossibility, and since I personally focus a lot of attention on the problems of Africa, I'd like to respond briefly to how education and the state should handle education in nations with two or more languages. Ethiopia, for example, has around 90 languages (more or less, depending on what is counted as a language and what is counted as a dialect). We should ask ourselves, what is the purpose of education within socialist society? Unlike in class society, the purpose is not to disengage the masses, but to engage them and to serve them. If education is not in their language, then they will be disengaged and not engaged. Therefore I think it's important that even in a country with so many languages, which could ultimately be a logistical nightmare, that education is provided in one's mother tongue. And instead of forcing a language onto people, education should respond to people. That is, if language evolves, then the education of the language needs to evolve with it. That is not to say that we should accept mistakes in writing or grammar, but that if everyone says something one way, it's not really a mistake anymore; it's just the way the language is now.

    There's another question I've thought a lot about, while I'm at it, about the potential class nature of language. I remember reading a while back something Stalin wrote: he said that language is not part of the superstructure because it's not effected by class, and therefore doesn't need to be radically changed after the revolution. But, language *is* effected by class. Not all of society is the same class, so let's rather address commonalities between all classes. I'd like to look at the example of patriarchy, and how it impregnates all of our language. I'll give a few examples:

    1) Man/woman. I'm sure we've all heard the argument that 'woman' has 'man' in it, so we should use a different word for woman. The reality is that earlier, 'man' was gender neutral, and we had werman and wifman to describe man and woman, respectively. The fact that 'man' came to only refer to the male gender reflects a change in English society in the last 1000 years, notably that the development from tribal society into early forms of civilization included a change in the status of women, in that they were not considered equals with men, indeed, that they didn't constitute full humans. Perhaps instead of saying 'man' we should use something along the lines of 'wereman' to correspond to the opposite of 'woman'.

    2) Wife/husband. Wife is related to the feminine prefix 'wif' as mentioned above. Supposedly 'wer' was formerly used to refer to a husband. Husband comes from Old Norse, Hus 'house' and Bondi 'manage', essentially meaning the head of the house/family. The term is deeply rooted in patriarchy. Thus, the term 'wife' relegates her value into her feminine characteristics, i.e. her ability to reproduce, whereas the term 'husband' elevates his status to that of the head of the household. Perhaps we should use exclusively the gender neutral and non-patriarchal term spouse to refer to both.

    3) Hysterical and lunatic. Hysterical comes from Latin 'hystericus' meaning 'of the womb.' Lunatic comes from 'luna' meaning moon. Both of these terms find their origins in the idea that a women go crazy during their menses. The patriarchal origin of this is also quite stunning.

    I don't think such changes can be imposed in school, because that would violate the principle of school in socialist society, and because that's not how languages evolve. But such developments can certainly be undertaken in a conscious manner, and I believe they should be. Once the majority of people accept them, it seems reasonable to then incorporate it into the formal language rules. As I said, language isn't defined by past rules but by the present manner of speaking.
    "All reactionaries are paper tigers." Mao Tse-Tung

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