Claude Piron

Lettre parue dans le Taipei Times

(le 20 juillet 2003, p.8 ; voir l'original ici :


Dear Editor,

Although the title "World reluctant to embrace Esperanto" does not do justice to the actual situation in today's world, I wish to congratulate you for David Newnham's article. As a speaker (and lover) of Esperanto since my teens, I've appreciated its rare accuracy. However, he's mistaken when he says that "Esperanto is probably the only language to have no irregular verbs". How could you, in Taipei, print such a sentence? Chinese has no irregular verb either ! It consists, just as Esperanto, of completely invariable blocks that combine without restriction.

Esperanto's Eurocentricity is less marked than Mr Newnham suggests. While the roots on which the vocabulary is based are European, they combine according to patterns you find in Asian languages. In both Chinese and Esperanto, you derive "first" from "one" and "my" from "I", something alien to European tongues. Or consider words like "foreigner" or "autonomous". The Chinese who learns English has to memorize them as new, separate entities. In Esperanto, eksterlandano, "foreigner", consists of the same three elements as its Chinese equivalent waiguoren : ekster, "outside" (Chinese wai), land, "country" (Ch. guo), and ano, "a human being (belonging to...)" (Ch. ren). Similarly, memstara, "autonomous", is an exact transposition of the Chinese zili (stara "who stands" = li, mem "by its own devices" = zi). Having had the good fortune to travel all over the world for professional reasons, I've realized that in many places Esperanto could put you in touch with ordinary people in a way that English couldn't. I've noticed also that my experience is shared by many people all over the world.

For many decades, Esperanto used to be derided in the press. The trend appears to be changing. More and more honest articles are being published. But David Newnham's stands out for its wealth of accurate information.

Claude Piron, 22 rue de l' Etraz, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland.

(Cette lettre est la réponse à l'article "World reluctant to embrace Esperanto" de David Newnham)