Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Estimates of Esperanto speakers range from 10,000 to 2,000,000 active or fluent speakers, as well as perhaps a thousand native speakers, that is, people who learned Esperanto from birth as one of their native languages.
Esperanto’s marvelous successes and achievements are “invisible” because there is no palpable “homeland” or powerful patron to provide material rewards. In 1986, the 99th anniversary of the language was celebrated by a massive World Congress in Beijing, China and a year later the centennial celebration was held in Warsaw. Both events resulted in major feature stories on the cover pages of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report that all objectively and favorably reviewed its achievements and quite rightly wondered why the language has not received more support from international organizations that continue to waste enormous sums of money on multiple and simultaneous translations and interpreting.
The basic instinct of critics in the English speaking world is that no matter what Esperanto is doomed... All of them make the same initial assumption that there is no need for an international auxiliary language. They refuse to look at the accumulated experience and evidence of the international community of Esperanto speakers over the past one hundred and twenty years. The evidence does not interest them for they have pronounced their guilty verdict that Esperanto has “failed.”
Esperanto has just as much literature (original, not just translated) as any other language of a similar number of speakers. Just because you haven't heard of it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Have you heard of Auld, Szathmari, Kalocsay? Galloway, Gray, Kelman? None of them, probably, but you would probably not be as quick to claim that Scotland did not have a literary culture.
In some countries Esperanto is allowed as an elective subject in schools. The University of Budapest has an Esperanto department, and other universities offer courses in and about Esperanto. Local authorities in a few countries publish tourist and other information in Esperanto, while international broadcasting services in several countries broadcast daily or weekly Esperanto programs on short-wave and by satellite.
The names read like the product of the perverted etymological strategies of the modern-day pharmaceutical industry: Interlingua, Ido, Glosa, Globaqo, Novial, Hom-Idyomo. These are just a few of the many languages proclaimed by their advocates to be simpler, more logical, and more beautiful than Esperanto. But Esperanto can afford to be smug. It's the only one you've heard of.
It's easier to create a "logical" language, and desirable if you want to create an auxiliary interlanguage, a la Esperanto. The danger here is a) creating a system so pristine, so abstract, that it's also impossible to learn; or b) not noticing when you reproduce some illogicality present in the models you're using. (Esperanto actually contains an embarrassing number of irregularities.)
Esperanto can be learned in around a third of the time needed to learn the most commonly studied foreign languages. It is written phonemically (one sound = one letter) and has a very regular grammar. Its phonology is as international as possible. Spoken Esperanto sounds a little like Spanish or Italian.
"People who learn it tend to be idealistic. There's a vast number of poets in Esperanto and there's a lot of vegetarians, a high ratio of pacifists and Quakers." Politically, he says, they tend to be left-of-centre.
Lazar Zamenhof created the language in 1887, in response to the ethnic divisions in his native Bialystok in Poland. He believed that language barriers fostered conflict and therefore set about promoting a "neutral" second language that had no political baggage.
The official birth of Esperanto occurred in 1887, the year that Zamenhof, using Klara's dowry, self-published a small book titled 'Lingvo internacia'. He modestly declined to attach his own name to it, signing it instead Dr. Esperanto, meaning "one who hopes."