International Language Created by Chinese

by David Curtis

It was in December 2002, in England, having campaigned for Esperanto for almost thirty years, that I first read, on Internet, that Mondlango had been launched in China. Its two main features strongly attracted me: it was based upon English and Esperanto; and it had no diacritical marks. English is obviously the most popular international language, but it is very difficult to learn. Esperanto is relatively easy to learn, but is largely ignored by the international community. Esperanto is hampered by its diacritical marks, whereas English has none and is therefore easily typed for e-mail.

I was also attracted by another factor. China has the world's biggest population, and Esperanto-enthusiasts have always yearned for the development of Esperanto to reach the stage of critical mass, whereby a situation suddenly changes because of pressure. The teaching of English in China is a very expensive drain upon the resources of the Chinese government to improve the lives of its citizens: yet there seemed, until last year, no alternative. I was the only member from Britain at the First Asian Esperanto Congress, held in August, 1996, in Shanghai. Because of the many discussions I had there with Asians from many different countries, I learned that there was a great desire to be free from linguistic imperialism in the form of the necessity to learn English. As Esperanto-speakers, my fellow-members of the Congress and I hoped that the Zamenhof's aim, of providing the world with a neutral second language, would soon be achieved.

Since that Congress, "El Popola Cxinio", the world's most popular Esperanto magazine, has ceased publication, and Monato is in difficulties. Whatever popularity Esperanto has enjoyed is now on the wane. In Europe, even the looming problem of communication between the 25 countries of the European Union does not offer Esperanto-speakers any hope. In a personal letter to me, published in "Heroldo" last December, Neil Kinnock, the European Commissioner responsible for language-diversity, declined to accept that Esperanto should be taught in the schools of member-states. To me, such teaching would obviously solve the problem of communication, but there is no likelihood of it happening.

So, when I read that Mondlango had been launched in China, I could see that there was a real possibility of reaching Zamenhof's great goal, though not entirely because of his admirable invention. The power of American wealth and the former British Empire could be overcome if huge numbers of Chinese learned the new language and insisted upon using it internationally.