30 January 2009

Imposing Esperanto and English

There is undoubtedly an assumption on the part of many Esperantists to the effect that not only is Esperanto the best choice for communication across language boundaries, but also that everybody else should endorse that opinion. Given the peripheral status of Esperanto, that view is liable to cause annoyance as it clearly has done here.

The imperialism of English works differently. Everyone is free not to learn it and take the consequences.

Children are not often free to choose what is best for them, so when their schools and parents compel them to learn English, that is no different from forcing the child to learn his or her multiplication tables.

Across Europe, at any rate, the English language is imposed, not with police, courts and prisons, but through capitalist economic power. If the citizen wants a better job or to sell the firm’s product, English is often required. The more people who learn English as a lingua franca, the more powerful the lingua franca becomes.

Is that fair? Of course not, but life is seldom fair.

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