Hokan Lundberg 5

Declaration of International Communication

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We, the undersigned:

1. Are delighted that there is more and more international communication in the world;

2. Recommend using interpretation and translation services in formal international communication, whenever needed and financially possible;

3. Are of the opinion that it is important to support multilingualism and language diversity, for example by protection of minority languages;

4. Think that a system for international communication that requires knowledge of several national languages is elitist; (1)

5. Know from experience that direct communication, i.e. without interpretation or translation, is essential to creating a sense of community and belonging between people from different countries and cultures;

6. Note that English is today a very important and useful language for international communication; (2)

7. Assume that English will continue to hold a very important role in international communication in the decades to come;

8. Emphasize that a large number of people do not succeed in reaching a high level of English despite many years of study and effort; (3)

9. Claim that the international language Esperanto is a particularly suitable language for international communication for several reasons; (4)

10. Propose the thesis that a communication model in which participants have a passive knowledge of both English and Esperanto and an active knowledge of one of those two languages would be relatively efficient and fair (compared to other models) for direct international communication; (5) (6)

11. Are aware that it is impossible to find a model for international communication that will please everyone, and that introducing a new model would require many years of discussion, debate, research, testing, planning and finally implementation (initially in education systems);



Additional notes:


For example, a Chinese, Finnish, Korean or Russian person has a realistic chance of learning one of English, Spanish, French or German. But, for very many people, to learn two or three of these languages well is simply too difficult or time-consuming.


"English is used as an official or semi-official language in over 60 countries, and has a prominent place in a further 20. It is either dominant or well established in all six continents. It is the main language of books, newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, international business and academic conferences, science, technology, medicine, diplomacy, sports, international competitions, pop music, and advertising. Over two-thirds of the world's scientists write in English. [...] Over 50 million children study English as an additional language at primary level; over 80 million study it at secondary level (these figures exclude China)." [Crystal, Encyclopedia of Language, 1997]


Generally, those who reach a high level of English proficiency tend to come from a language background that is fairly similar to English, such as Danish, Dutch or Swedish. For many others, for example Hungarian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean people, it is generally very difficult and time-consuming to reach a high level of English proficiency.


What makes Esperanto a particularly suitable language for international communication

i) It's easier...

Almost everybody who has learned both Esperanto and a national or ethnic language (other than their own native language) has found that Esperanto is easier to learn than national and ethnic languages.

ii) It's more neutral...

Because Esperanto doesn't belong to any particular nation or people, it's more neutral for international communication than national or ethnic languages.

iii) It's more fair...

Anybody who learns Esperanto has a good chance of reaching an advanced level in it, and then, from a linguistic point of view, communicating more or less on equal footing with people from other countries and cultures. (It's interesting that you can learn Esperanto as an adult and still feel it to be "your own".) Also, Esperanto does not promote any particular national or ethnic culture but "carries" its own international culture. For this reasons, Esperanto is fairer with regards to international communication compared to national or ethnic languages.

iv) It's more successful than any other constructed language...

The arguments above could also apply more or less to other so-called constructed languages, such as Interlingua and Ido. However, Esperanto has been more successful than other constructed languages in nearly all areas (see http://en.nitobe.info/ld/lingvoj/planlingvoj.php ). Esperanto is also less Eurocentric than for example Interlingua and Ido.


English is widely used today in many fields, and it is unrealistic to leave it out of the picture of international communication for the decades to come. On the other hand, reaching an advanced level of written and spoken English is very difficult and time-consuming for many people. It is however easier to reach an advanced passive knowledge (i.e. listening and reading ability) than it is to reach an equivalent active knowledge (i.e. speaking and writing).

If people who have difficulty reaching an advanced active knowledge of English could instead speak and write in Esperanto, they would have a much greater chance of participating in international communication on an equal footing with those who possess advanced proficiency in English. This would bring more fairness and also more democracy in the international community, regardless of whether it is in the political, scientific, business, NGO, or other sphere of international communication.


Other models for direct international communication:

* English only (or another national language only) - [more unfair than the model in point 10]

* Several major national languages - [more elitist than the model in point 10]

* Esperanto only (or another constructed language only) - [too much of a big step or change from the present system]

* Machine translation will solve everything - [has shown itself to be unrealistic]


Here is an example of such a research project:

- High school students from various countries, who already study English for several years, could also learn Esperanto for two years. It would then be possible to compare the proficiency of individual students in English and Esperanto. In addition, these students could get together and participate in various meetings and events, using the communication model in point 10, which researchers could follow, document and analyze from several perspectives.


Hokan LUNDBERG (hokan@ikso.net) - One of the founders of E@I and lernu.net.


La deklaro en Esperanto: http://vikio.ikso.net/HokanX/DeklaroEnEo
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