1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Esperanto
  4. >
  5. An International Second Langu…


An International Second Language: Is it a good idea?

I recently started learning about the history of auxillary languages such as Esperanto and Ido. The prospect of breaking down language barriers is very exciting to me, as someone who grew up in a place where language barriers have caused a considerable amount of social tension.

However, I also want to hear more about other people's perspectives. What are some pros and cons of the idea of an international second language? If you support the idea, how do you think we could reasonably go about implementing it? Do you think it could be sustainable? Why or why not?

For this discussion, please disregard the controversies over Esperanto. I want to hear about your opinion on the concept of a global second language, regardless of what that language could be and what languages are currently on the table.

May 30, 2019



A few years ago, a wise Esperantist said to me "Forcing everybody to learn Esperanto is a great way to make sure everyone will hate it." This completely changed my perspective on finvenkismo.


Ne eblas "forcing" iun!


Se iu lingvo vere fariĝas tutmondlingvo, homoj ne havus la elekton NE lerni ĝin ĉar ĝi fariĝos parolenda por partopreni en interligita mondo. Rigardu la nuntempa situacio de la angla (nek tiu lingvo ankoraŭ estas vera tutmondlingvo): en multaj landoj, la angla estas studenda fako en lernejoj. Se Esperanto estus en la hodiaŭa pozicio de la angla, homoj ne lernus la lingvon pro volo, sed pro devo. Tio estas malgranda sed potenca ŝanĝo kiu nepre malplaĉus al almenaŭ kelkaj homoj.

Sed homoj ja sentus premon lerni la tutmondlingvon eĉ post diplomiĝo ĉar ne scipovi paroli ĝin kondukus al pluraj baroj. En mondo kun tutmondlingvo, oni atendas ke ĉiu parolas ĝin, do homoj kiuj elektas ne lerni ĝin kaj homoj sen aliro al lerniloj estos forlasitaj. Tiuj homoj neniam estus dungitaj ("Kial ni dungu homon kiu ne povas komuniki?"), tiuj homoj ne povus uzi novajn teknologiojn ĉar ili estos nur haveblaj tutmondlingve (imagu ke ĉiuj retpaĝoj estus en Eo kaj nur en Eo), ktp. Tiuj homoj ĉiutage sentas la senton kiun oni sentas kiam oni estas en fremda lando, ĉirkaŭigita de lingvo kiun oni ne komprenas, sed por tiuj homoj, "tiu lando" estus la tuta mondo. Do jes, la ekzisto de vera tutmondlingvo nepre forcus al ĉiu lerni ĝin (alie, ĝi ne estus tutmondlingvo).

Do, se ĉiuj sentas ke ri absolute devas lerni la lingvon, ne plu estus kialo por paroli aliajn lingvojn. Perdante identecon, homoj feliĉe forĵetus iliajn denaskajn lingvojn por rikolti la avantaĝoj de tiu nova lingvo de mono kaj potenco. Mi ŝatus ke tiu fakto ne estu vera, sed en Usono, mia lando, estas ofta afero ke gefiloj de enmigrantoj ne povas komuniki kun iliaj geavoj ĉar ili lernis nur la anglan kaj ne la lingvon de iliaj prauloj. Tiel lingvoj mortas (kaj eĉ kulturoj, se oni taksas lingvojn kulturaĵoj). Kompreneble, se pli da homoj forĵetos sian heredan lingvon por adopti la tutmondlingvon, pli granda elcento de homoj parolus nur la tutmondlingvon kaj la konsekvencoj de ne scipovi paroli ĝin altiĝus.

Ne gravas ĉu tutmondlingvo estas la angla, la ĉina, esperanto, aŭ iu lingvo ajn - havi tutmondlingvon estas problemoplena ideo. Kompreneble Esperanto estus pli logika elekto ol la angla aŭ la ĉina, kaj se iu mondvenkanta tutmondlingvo ial estus neevitebla afero, mi preferus ke ĝi estu Esperanto anstataŭ ia nacia lingvo. Tamen, en tiu kazo, Esperanto fariĝus lingvo de subpremo kiu mortigus aliajn lingvojn per glavo lingvojn soifanta.

Edit: If learners are interested, I can translate this into English.


Mi eklernis Esperanton antaŭ ses monatoj, ĉar mi kredis, ke havi oficialan tutmondlingvon estus bona afero, kaj mi esperis ke Esperanto disvastiĝu tra la mondo. Nuntempe, pro tiuj kialoj, mi ne plu kredas tion. Laŭ mi, estus pli bone, ke Esperanto restu kiel neoficiala lingvo por homoj, kiuj volas facile transiri lingvajn murojn kaj paroli libere pri io ajn, kun iu ajn.


I feel like 80% of the students these days are forced to learn a second language at school. More often than not, it is english, which is not a particularly easy language to learn, thus many students end up coming out of secondary school unable to communicate effectively. If this one language that everybody studies from primary school to the end of university(optionally) was esperanto, everyone would be able to communicate effectively and with ease, due to the simplicity of esperanto. Keep in mind that this is only my theory and I would not like to force anyone to learn esperanto.


Yes, it would be a good idea, and it makes sense to use Esperanto. While some other easy-to-learn planned language might work just as well, or even better, the fact is that after 130 years of Esperanto, no other IAL has even come close to reaching its success. Attempts to "improve" it haven't worked out at all. I think that's because fundamentally, everyone would have a different idea of what would make a perfect IAL, and Esperanto is already good enough to serve the purpose.

Pros: you could go to any country in the world and be able to freely and easily communicate with people. (You can of course already do that with Esperanto, you just have to find the right people)

Cons: If Esperanto^ were to become a high status language, people might abandon their mother tongue(s) in favour of just using it. I hope that will never happen. (^Or whichever IAL found worldwide use)

How would we go about implementing it? By translating everything that's important (educational materials, tourism materials, entertainment, ...) into Esperanto, so that people see it as useful and worthwhile, rather than a misguided hobby. Also by introducing Esperanto in primary schools around the globe, and setting up sister-school relationships, or better yet groups of schools from widely different cultural and linguistic backgrounds that can communicate together.


I think it's clear that constructing an "international second language" won't work. Esperanto was far and away the best candidate for this and it pretty much failed at it. I'm not saying Esperanto is a failed language, far from it, I'm simply saying that as an international second language it had the best chance of succeeding and yet did not.

What succeeds are the languages of the (known-)world powers of their era. I mean how else would you explain the ascendancy of English -- which is really just a mutt language and terribly confusing?

So I don't think a constructed international second language can really be done.


Have you seen my videos on "Which conlang should be the International Auxiliary Language"? I think I said basically the same thing -- it can't be done, so a lot of these discussions are pointless. That said, I should really continue the series. :-)


Of course English already/still functions as the main global lingua franca. Compared to it almost all other regularly spoken languages would be vernacular ones.


Exactly. English already accomplished what Esperanto was trying to do.


I disagree. Esperanto has two intertwined goals: to be easy to learn, and to be available as a spoken language everywhere. Of the first goal, English fails miserably. Of the second, Ethnologue says 1.1 billion people speak English, which is about 15% of the world's population. Of course that's the widest spread of any language (but not by much, Mandarin isn't far behind at all), but it's still far from universal. And there's no measure of how well those 1.1 billion speak English.


It is a great idea. Yes, forcing a language causes people to hate the language, there are many examples of that throughout history. A better strategy instead would be to propose the positives of the language in the education system and let people choose to learn it for their own benefit. It could also begin to make its way into popular culture and relationships between people and groups to best understand one another.

The goal of Esperanto should be to bridge the language gap among people. Should we bridge the language gap for all human beings? Of course, we would understand ourselves better. We must though, intend on preserving ALL languages and proposing Esperanto as not just an auxiliary language but also an aid for other languages.

Esperanto is to native languages as Algebra is to Calculus. This is why starting with Esperanto puts one so ahead when one wants to learn other languages.

Esperanto is not just an ideal held by the optimistic, it is also a practical tool that many overlook.

[deactivated user]

    I think that Esperanto could be both beneficial and harmful, but thinking about if in the scenario it were truly the international language and spoken by the majority of Earth's population, it could have more cons.

    Pros: As its intended purpose, an easier to learn language that functions as the international language to combat language barriers. It would be easier + clearer to conduct international business/meetings without translators. It could be a way for people to connect with other culture without the language barrier.

    Cons: Would anyone bother to learn other languages after knowing a language everyone spoke? Languages could die off quicker and native speakers would decrease. I mean, we do have English, which from what I know is pretty much pushed upon students in other countries to learn and has been pretty much considered the international language (despite how hard it it, and I'M a native speaker of it and our high schools exchange students have better English grammar than I do sometimes) And monney30P is right, wouldn't we grow old of everyone in the world speaking the same language? Everyone would start to hate it.

    Esperanto is sort of neutral to me.

    I think it could be useful in international business and politics (even though a lot of those people probably have the common language of English), but not as a common language among everyday life.


    I think that until we have good, real time universal translators-at which point a global lingua franca becomes less important), English is it. Its already the language of absolutely anything and everything. It is the language of science and technology. It is the most spoken, by far, 2nd language on Earth.

    Why go to the effort of changing all that? Its like tearing down all the stone, steel, or wood buildings on earth just to replace them with carbon nanotubes, because they're light and strong. It would take something momentous and disruptive to change English's ever growing dominance as the language of Earth.

    Even if the geopolitical landscape were turned on its head and everyone bowed to some authoritarian regime like communist China or ISIS 2.0, English would still the language of choice.
    The only two countries with the population to match or exceed the US's influence in the future are China and India (but its another discussion why I think that will never happen). India has too many languages itself, and if that doesn't cause it to fracture under its growing weight, they can't seem to decide upon a local lingua franca themselves; sometimes its Hindi, sometimes its English. And China, should it survive its authoritarian regime and become a free country, still faces the difficulty that most of the world will not be willing to learn such a difficult language by choice.


    No, it is a bad idea. Only one international language is a bad idea. There should be many international languages so people could choose any that is suitable for their purposes. And such is the state of things nowadays. Apart of English, there is French, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Arabic and various creoles.


    It wouldn't start in everyday communication. It would have to start in science and government first and permeate out from there. I think Esperanto's value would be in government, and science. Most people will prefer their native languages over esperanto and it was intended to be that way. The U.N using it to teach diplomats, and science communities releasing papers in it would be the most valuable use of esperanto.

    Learn Esperanto in just 5 minutes a day. For free.