Psychological Aspects of the World Language Problem and of Esperanto

by Claude Piron

translated from the Esperanto by Sylvan Zaft

(A talk presented by Claude Piron in Basel during the Trilanda Renkontigho on March 21, 1998.)


We can approach the world language problem in many different ways; for example, politically, linguistically, financially and economically and so on. Probably because of the distortions of my professional training I approach it from a psychological point of view. I believe that the importance of this point of view has not been correctly understood.

Esperantists often complain that the world does not understand their point of view or that it is not interested in it, or that Esperanto is not making good enough progress. It is very easy for Esperantists to blame each other for this. In my opinion, these kinds of negative feelings are not at all justified when you take into account the psychological aspects of the situation. In other words, as I see it, Esperanto is progressing at a normal rate even though it may actually regress for, let us say, ten years at a time. In addition to this, awareness of the world language problem is also progressing at a normal rhythm, the rhythm of history.

The widespread idea that Esperantists have, that their cause is not going forward fast enough, has its source in one of the most important parts of the human psyche, that is: desire. We want Esperanto to go forward, and we react to that desire like a little child; we do not want to see all of the obstacles that stand like great walls between our desires and their fulfillment. So we feel frustrated. When we feel frustrated, instead of facing the fact that we were not realistic in the first place and, because of that, that the mistake was our own, we look outside of ourselves for people to blame; those will be the outside world which does not pay attention to us or in those bunglers in the Esperanto world who fail to act effectively and purposefully.

This is childish. When I say this I am not being critical. I am only expressing something about the way the human psyche normally works; when strong desires emerge, we tend to act like little children. Impatience because Esperanto is not making enough progress and looking around for guilty parties to blame is completely normal and natural. This is how normal adults react in most areas of their lives. We are really mature only in some aspects of our lives. In many areas, such as politics, metaphysics and human relations, we continually react like little children.


Society does not understand

Back when I said that the world does not understand us, I was touching on a psychological aspect of the situation. Why doesn't the world understand us? Because society in general does not understand the language situation. But why? There are plenty of reasons. One of them is because linguistic relations are complex, and it is not easy to understand something that is complex. When something is very complicated, simplification is the natural way of dealing with it. Consequently, society in general has a very simplified picture of the world language situation. A picture that is really a sketch.

Another psychological reason why the world does not understand the language problem is fear. This might surprise you. And, in fact, if you were to tell a politician or a linguist or the man in the street that one of the reasons why the world does not solve its language problem is fear, they will look at you as though you are crazy. First of all, because for them the language problem simply does not exist. "English takes care of it, or the translators do." And, besides, on the whole, if there were a problem, it is absolutely clear that it has nothing to do with fear. "Nobody feels fear about a language. What is this nonsense?" That is what they will tell you.

However, many fears are unconscious. We are not aware of them, which is a good thing because otherwise because otherwise we would not be able to live comfortably. But the fact remains that these fears create a lot of distortions, misleading us about our way of understanding reality.

Why does a language evoke fear? Again, there are many reasons. For example, our language is closely linked to our identity. One day, during childhood, we suddenly realize that the people around us are speaking a particular language, and that language defines us in relation to the rest of the world. I, myself, as a native French-speaker from Switzerland, belong to a group that is defined by the language that it speaks. So, in the depths of the psyche, my language is me. The widespread use of the Swiss-German dialect is a way of saying: this is who we are; we are not Germans. Or look at how the Flemish or the Catalans react: "If they persecute or criticize my language, they are persecuting or criticizing me."

Many people tend to reject Esperanto because they sense that it is a language without a particular people and because of this a language without human identity, and so, perhaps, not a language at all, or a language which is some kind of a fabrication without a human quality, a language which is to real languages as a robot is to real people. And that scares them. The fear is that this robot, which, people say, wants to become universal, is going to trample underfoot all other languages, all the peoples of the world, everything that is individual and alive, destroying everything as it goes. This might seem fantastic to you. However, it is the truth. The existence of this unconscious fear, which a great many people have, is uncovered by the psychological method called clinical free association in which you investigate the ideas or pictures that are associated with each other when you ask a person to tell what is going through their mind when they hear a particular word (in this case, "Esperanto".)


Identity with the international language

One of the problems that Esperantists have stems from that fact that Esperanto has certain characteristics which makes it different from all other foreign languages, namely, that it favors identification with itself. A Swede who speaks English with a Korean and a Brazilian feels that he is a Swede who is using English; he does not assume a special identity as "a speaker of English". On the other hand, a Swede who speaks Esperanto with a Korean and a Brazilian feels that he is an Esperantist and that the other two are also Esperantists, and that the three of them belong to a special cultural group. Even if non-native-speakers speak English very well, they do not feel that this ability bestows an Anglo-Saxon identity on them. But with Esperanto something quite different occurs. Why?

As usually happens in the field we are examining today, many complex factors play a role. Perhaps the most important of these is that Esperanto becomes integrated into the human psyche integrates Esperanto at a deeper level than other foreign language. Not at once, not with beginners, but with those whom Janton calls "mature Esperantists", those who have enough experience with the language to feel at home in it. Why is it located deeper in the psyche? Because, more than any other human language, Esperanto follows the natural tendencies of the human brain when people want to express themselves.

Our most basic tendency, when we learn a language, is to generalize the traits of the language which we are learning. That is why every English-speaking young child says "foots" instead of "feet" and "he comed" instead of "he came". That is why every French-speaking young child expresses the idea of "horses" by saying "des cheval" before they learn the correct term, "des chevaux" and express the concept of "you're doing" by saying "vous faisez" before they learn "vous faites". In Esperanto you just cannot make these kinds of mistakes. Because of this, new Esperantists quickly attain a sense of security when they use the language.

Besides, in Esperanto people are much freer than in other languages. This is true about the way words are put together. In English you have to say "he helps me"; in French you say, literally, "he me helps"; in German, "he helps to me". In each of these languages there is one obligatory structure, only one. In Esperanto you can freely choose any one of the three.

The same is true about choosing the part of speech of a word in a sentence. You can often choose to use a word as any one of these parts of speech: noun, verb, adverb, or adjective. For example, you can use the word "automobilo" as a noun saying "Mi venis per automobilo" (I came by car). You can also, by changing the ending, turn "automobilo" into the adverb "automobile" (pronounced, automobil-eh) and say "Mi venis automobile" which means, literally, "I came automobiley". In Esperanto this sounds perfectly natural. You can also turn it into a verb by using a different ending and say: "Mi automobilis" which literally means "I automobiled", and, again, this sounds perfectly natural in Esperanto. You do not have to do this. You can if you want to.

Very few languages provide the means which makes this kind of freedom possible. Even when a language does so, in many cases the user of the language do not have the right to use them.

Besides in Esperanto circles people are very tolerant about mistakes in grammar and vocabulary, much more than people are when it comes to other languages. Forgetting to use the accusative ending or using it incorrectly is practically seen as a normal thing, maybe because it almost never gets in the way of understanding. Only a few purists make a scene over these kinds of mistakes. However, they do not really belong to normal Esperanto circles. (Attention: Please do not take these remarks about linguistic errors as a recommendation. I am acting here purely as an observer.) In other words, there is no connection between using the language perfectly and identifying with it. People can feel themselves to be Esperantists even though they always leave out the accusative ending.

All of this plus the freedom to put together word-elements to make up new words as you like (something that you cannot do in many languages) creates an atmosphere of freedom. This puts the language in the deepest part of the psyche, much closer to its core and its basis in instinct.

It is easier to be spontaneous in Esperanto than, for example, in English, because you have fewer arbitrary prohibitions to deal with. Because of this people more easily feel authentically themselves. Because of these kinds of traits, Esperanto roots itself more profoundly in the psyche than other foreign languages, and, because of this, people feel a much stronger tendency to identify with it. However, people who do not belong to the Esperanto world cannot understand this. They cannot understand this identification. That is why the attitude of many Esperantists seems to be crazy to them, or at least very strange. Because of this identification with the language, when others criticize Esperanto or even the very idea of an international language, Esperantists easily feel under attack. Attacking the language means attacking them, and their natural reaction is to counterattack, sometimes very sharply. This is something that non-Esperantists simply do not understand. So, in these normal reactions of Esperantists, non-Esperantists see something overly intense, too strong, proof of a sort of fanaticism which to them seems to be the only possible explanation of such exaggerated reactions.


Two Categories

As I see it, psychologically Esperantists fall into one of two categories. On the one hand there are people who are not well adapted to communal life, who feel themselves somewhat isolated from what is currently fashionable, from society, from the prevailing ideas and ways of acting. They are individuals who have gotten used to the fact that they are different from most people or who feel themselves rejected by most people. It is not easy to take on the burden of the fundamental solitude of human existence. That is why people who feel themselves different from the majority tend to group together and, with others like themselves, form a community in which they can feel at home. They then get together and keep on telling each other how right they are and how wrong the exterior world is. This is perfectly normal and human. Esperanto gives many who are not well adapted to society a place where they can find others like themselves who are also not well adapted, a place where it is possible to find the consolations and the strengths they need in order to make life more bearable. This was especially true in the period after the first hopes for an immediate world-wide adoption of Esperanto were shown to be illusory and before the body of arguments favorable to Esperanto became sufficiently strong and factual; in other words, between the First World War and the seventies and eighties. A large percentage of the Esperantists of that period consisted of neurotics, that is, individuals who had either more emotional problems or greater emotional problems than you find in an ordinary person.

We owe an enormous debt to those neurotics, to those individuals who suffered from crippling emotional problems, because without their efforts the language would have simply died off. It is naive and unjust to look down on them, as some proponents of the "Manifesto of Rauma" do. In the historical circumstances in which they found themselves, those rather sectarian wearers of the Green Star were needed so that the language might develop. Normal people could not get interested in Esperanto and use it and keep it alive. If the language were not in constant use, if nobody wrote in it, if it were not utilized in correspondence, meetings, and congresses (even if these consisted mainly of eccentrics) it would not have been able to develop its linguistic and literary strengths, it would not have been able to enrich itself, it would not have been able to gradually lead to a deeper analysis of the world language problem. I am convinced that after some centuries historians will consider these people to have rendered an enormous service to mankind by keeping the language alive and developing it, even though their motives in part lay in a kind of psychological pathology.

Besides the neurotics, the eccentrics about whom I have just spoken, Esperanto attracted people whose personalities were especially strong. People who enjoy full mental health can be part of a nonconforming group only if their personalities are so healthy that they can face the great majority basing their positions on foundations that are so clear, so well-tested, of such consequence that they can feel that they are right without being arrogant about it. Happily, many people of this sort were found in the Esperanto world from the very beginning. One of them, for example, was Edmond Privat. We owe a great debt to them too, because they helped things go forward and because, in various circles, they gradually demonstrated that Esperantists were not only a bunch of fanatic oddballs.

Clearly, the two categories have an intersection, people who have more or more serious neurotic traits than the average man does but who also possess personalities that are especially strong, personalities that are often strengthened by the ongoing need that these individuals have to train themselves to live in environments to which they do not conform or are not fully adapted.


A Paradox: Where lies Mental Health

Here we confront a paradox: for a long time the Esperanto world consisted in large part of people who suffered from a psychological pathology but who had an entirely healthy mental attitude regarding linguistic communication while society in general consisted of people who were maybe, relatively, more normal psychologically, but who held to a completely neurotic, pathological I might even say crazy position about linguistic communication.

What makes it possible for us to make such a drastic assertion? It is the fact that society in general presents all of the symptoms of a psychopathology in its relation to linguistic communication.

What do normal people do when they feel a need? They act to satisfy that need by using the most effective, agreeable and timely means available. Imagine someone who is hungry. He has a wallet in his pocket filled with money. He finds himself in a neighborhood with a lot of food stores and restaurants. If he is normal, he steps into one of these and buys some food or orders a meal and he quickly satisfies his hunger. What would you think of a person who, instead of acting like this, goes to the train station, buys a ticket for a place two hundred miles away, and after arriving walks a long way through the countryside to a small restaurant that has mediocre food? What would you think about that kind of person who, because of his strange approach to his problem, continues to go hungry for hours and winds up in the end with something that is not very satisfying, spending a hundred times more money than was necessary? Everybody would diagnose this particular behavior as neurotic, as pathological. Why act in such a complicated way that does nobody any good when it was possible to easily and straightforwardly satisfy the hunger. In the field of linguistic communication Esperantists act like the first person, the rest of the world, like the second person.


The existence of resistance confirms the diagnosis

Maybe you have some doubts about whether this behavior is really pathological and you need confirmation of the diagnosis. Well, we know that one of the characteristics of these kinds of pathology is resistance. A person who has these kinds of pathological traits will do anything in order to not become conscious of the fact that they are not behaving sanely, that they could act in an entirely different way that would be much more agreeable and useful. Sometimes, it is true, the individual recognizes that the behavior is abnormal but claims, "Yes, I know that acting in this way is strange, not normal, even pathological, but I can't help it." This refusal to accept the fact that the behavior is abnormal, or maintaining that it cannot be changed is called "resistance".

Well, it is interesting to see that the way in which linguistic communication is organized in our world has all of the characterizations of pathological behavior. Esperanto exists. It makes it possible for people to communicate in a way that is much less expensive than simultaneous interpretation, that is much fairer than just using English, that is much more comfortable than using any other language, and all this comes after a considerably smaller investment of time, money and energy on the part of the people and on the part of the state. In other words it is a direct way of satisfying the need. But instead of using it, society opts for a very complicated and extremely expensive path. It forces millions of children to spend year after year studying foreign languages that are so difficult that only one out of a hundred, on the average, in Europe and one out of a thousand in Asia are able to effectively use the language after all their studies. After the investment of so much effort and nervous energy and time and money teaching languages, the outcome is that the problem of inequality is not solved and the linguistic barriers have been so poorly dealt with that it is necessary to invest yet more millions and millions of dollars in order to create translations in dozens of languages and to bring about simultaneous interpretation without which the people would not be able to understand each other at all. This is crazy. It is crazy to use people's time, money, effort in such a bungling ineffective manner when it is possible to avoid all of this. By behaving in this way, society shows itself to be pathological.

But what confirms that we are dealing with an authentic case of psychopathology is this: if you draw the attention of journalists, decision-makers, public figures, people in authority to the way that social life is organized and try to get them to see that the system is crazy and that there is a mentally sane manner in which people can communicate, a way that is much more easily reached, then you discover that you have provoked resistance. The people refuse to consider what you are trying to draw their attention to, they refuse to investigate the matter, they brush the testimonials and the proofs before they get to know them. This word "before" is important, because it provides the proof that the diagnosis is correct; it bears witness to the resistance. Those in authority prefer to not know that there is another way of communicating between peoples than that which they have foisted upon billions of men and women. They are afraid to confront the truth. And because they do not want to see that they are afraid, which itself provides further proof about the neurotic, pathological character of their conduct, they employ every pretext to not open up an inquiry. So these public figures refuse something not knowing that they are refusing; they fear, not knowing that they are afraid; they cause embarrassment, injustice, frustration, and needless striving, expense, taxes, all kinds of complications and a considerable amount of suffering (I allude, among others, to refugees for whom the lack of a means of linguistic communication is often the cause of very specific suffering), they cause all of this not knowing that they are causing all of this. This is a very serious social pathology. But very few people notice this and understand it.


A Taboo

In fact, the entire field of linguistic communication between peoples and between states is touched by a taboo. If you study the documents which are produced about this area, you find out that far more than 99 percent of them were written as though Esperanto simply did not exist, as though mankind had no experience of a means of international communication other than the usual ones of translation, interpretation or the use of a prestigious national language such as English. Esperanto is taboo. This was repeatedly seen a little while ago in Brussels, in the European Parliament, during a session of the so-called International Commission which dealt with the question of (mis)communication in the European Union. What proves that we are dealing with something taboo is that they refused to make a comparison.

In science, when investigators want to ascertain the value of something, they always make a comparison with a reference. Before making a decision about a new medication, scientists compare its efficacy with others that are already well known. And when a decision is to be made about a major piece of construction, such as building a new stadium, what do people do? They put out a call for bids. They invite the various firms to submit proposals, and then they compare the various proposals so they can choose the one that is best according to its cost-benefit ratio as well as other criteria which must be considered. This is the normal procedure. In fact there exists a particular scientific method about the art of decision-making involving the selection of the best way possible of reaching a particular goal. This scientific method is called "operational research". It was born during the Second World War as a means of choosing the best way to transport goods or people with the greatest speed and the least risk. Well, if the rules of operational research are applied to the language problem, it will be found that of all of the methods which can be presently observed in practice, the optimum one for attaining the goal is Esperanto. But in order to discover this, you have to compare the various systems with each other and so see objectively, in practice ("on the ground", as they say today) how effective Esperanto is compared to using gestures, to trying to talk in a language which has not been mastered, to using English, to translating documents and interpreting speeches either simultaneously or afterwards, to the use of Latin etc. Only when you make this kind of comparison can you figure out which is the best system.

But, although many thousands of pages can be found in documents that deal with the language situation, some in the UN, others in the European Union, others in the linguistics departments of universities, and so on, the documents which approach the problem by making comparisons, including Esperanto, number less than your fingers. Because comparing the various possible solutions to the problem is something that is so common in other fields, its absence in the field of international linguistic communication demonstrates that a taboo is working.


What are the roots of the taboo?

Why this pathological approach to the language problem? Again there are many causes. There are political causes. The idea that people who are among the least talented intellectually could freely communicate across national lines is repugnant to many states. There are societal reasons. This same possibility is repugnant to the privileged social classes. People who have a pretty good command of English or of some other important language enjoy many advantages over those who only speak some local languages; they certainly do not want to give up these advantages. This is particularly apparent in the so-called Third World.

However, I believe that the main causes of this taboo have to do with the psyche. The heart of the problem lies in the emotional weight, burden, aura of the concept of "language", in its ability to affect the deepest fibers of our soul. We think with concepts or words. And the words and concepts are not merely intellectual entities, they have certain emotional qualities to them. Not all of them, but a lot of them. If I say "war" or "money" or "mother" or "sex" or "atomic energy", something vibrates deeply in you, although you are normally not aware of it. In other words, we are not indifferent when we face most of our concepts, chiefly those which in some way are connected to our desires, needs, aspirations, pleasures, suffering, power etc.

Among these concepts with a strong emotional aura is the concept "language". Why? Because the language evokes the fact that we are able to make ourselves understand, and the being able to be understood is one of the deepest desires of each human being. When I am tormented by some worry or when I am hurting, if I can speak about it to someone who will hear me and react with understanding, then I will feel that I have been helped, that I will have shared my worry or suffering so that I no longer feel alone, and because of that I will feel better. When a baby is hurting and cries, very often adults do the wrong thing because they do not understand what is going on, or they do nothing except show by their expression how helpless they are. But when the small child acquires language and can say, "My ear hurts", then there is an altogether different reaction on the part of the grown-up. What takes place then is real communication, and that changes the child's life. Because this communication usually happens with the mother who then can do a better job of helping her child, the emotional aura of the concept of "language" takes on feelings about her. Because of this, most languages have an expression like "our mother tongue" when, in fact, it is the "parental tongue" or "the language of our environment".

Acquiring language is really a very ordinary thing. It happens like any other kind of learning. There is nothing more mystical about the acquisition of language than acquiring the ability to drive a car. Nevertheless, there is an enormous difference between the two. It is because of our age. When we learn how to drive, we know that we are learning, and we already know a great deal about the art of learning because we have already spent many years attending school where we learned a lot about learning. But when we acquire our parental language, we do not know in any way that we are learning. This is why the experience seems like a miracle to us. Before we could not communicate clearly. Now we can express ourselves. Here is a miracle which changes our whole life. Because of these circumstances in which we acquire language, learning without knowing that we are learning, without knowing that a perfectly ordinary process of learning is taking place, the language becomes something that is holy, magical, fabulous, mythical. Something which is located beyond the field of reason. Something about whose origins we know nothing. In the deepest part of our soul language is a gift of the gods, a supernatural gift. No person has the right to change it. No one has the right to freely and rationally meddle with something that is linguistic

Just see how upset people get when they hear of an attempt to change the spelling of words. Examine their arguments closely and you will see that there is nothing really rational about them. It is simply a matter of feelings, the feelings which the concept "language" always stirs up.


A hidden authoritarian message

This core feeling about language as mythic, bestowed by the Gods, and thus holy and not to be touched is the innermost part of the emotional aura that surrounds the concept of "language". To this core is added the fact that the concept "language" evokes our earliest connections in the family, mainly those with mother. To these two layers we can add a third: the relationship with authority. When language is handed down to children along with it comes a hidden message that is almost never made explicit. And this message is horribly dictatorial.

In fact it dictates the respective positions of the child and the adult in society. When a child speaks incorrectly, they correct the child almost from the very first day of school. If they do not correct the child, they laugh or make fun or smile meaningfully. Whatever the reaction, it makes little ones realize that when they use a form of language that differs from correct vocabulary or grammar, they are no longer within the bounds of what is normal. When little English-speakers say "more good," they are told, "We don't speak that way. We say better". Perhaps in German they don't have the right to say "mehr gut" or "guter" or "gueter" and yet, apparently, children use those forms. They are corrected: "Not like that. You say besser".

What does this mean for the depths of the psyche? It carries a hidden message: "Do not trust your spontaneous, natural tendencies which make you generalize those features of the language that you have recognized. Do not trust your own logic. Do not trust your reason. Do not trust your reflexes, your instincts. Do not trust yourself. Obey us, even if our system is absolutely irrational and foolish."

For children language is essentially a way to communicate. So the first step in their thinking is: "If they understand me, everything's OK. We have language so we can understand each other." However, the reactions of those around them keeps on sending this message: "Language is not something that was thought up so people could understand each other. Language is a field in which you learn to conform to the arbitrary, inexplicable demands of the big people." There are taboos in language which no one can justify. If a child who wants to express the idea "he came" says "he comed", "er kommte", "il a venu", they point out that the child must say, "he came, er kam, il est venue". Suppose the child then asks "Why?" No one can provide him with a rational answer. People can only say, "Because that's the way it is." And that implies that the language is something that is governed by incomprehensible laws that are never to be explained, that have their roots in the long ago. Respect for those who lived so long ago or for the gods who provided the language is more important than logic, than reason, than the tendency to act spontaneously, instinctively, and so more important than individual human nature.

Esperanto messes all of this up. It was born not so long ago. That is sacrilege. A language does not have the right to be young. A language is something that is holy and was handed down by our ancestors or by the gods, not something that could come into being now. And they say that this language does not have any exceptions. That is criminal! If you could follow your natural tendencies, your nature, your logic to express yourself, what remains of the authority of your ancestors? That is why Esperanto causes terrible fears in the depths of the psyche. It threatens to deprive our parental language of its mythical, holy, magical character. It relativizes it in spite of there being a powerful emotional need that the parental language be something absolute. We need to stop Esperanto's spread by all means possible. And we need to do everything we can to prevent serious scientific investigation of Esperanto. It might be seen that language is not what we thought, and then the foundations of social relations will be undermined. This subject is too emotional for calm, objective scientific study, and also for such study of the reactions to Esperanto.


A Monster

Besides, Esperanto seems to be a monster, because, they say, one man made it up. In other words, it has a father but no mother. It is the monstrous product of a single pervert. You can find many definitions which contribute to this idea in dictionaries, encyclopedias, books about language and materials put out by Esperantists. According to these "Esperanto was created by Zamenhof in 1887." Actually Esperanto was not created in 1887. In 1887 there appeared the seed of a language, a seed which had been growing and development in the mind and in the notebooks of Zamenhof for many years. After that long process, which can be compared to the process by which a seed is gradually created in a plant, the project became public. That means, the seed was sown. But the seed could become something that lives only if the soil accepted it. And that soil was the mother of Esperanto. It was the community of those first great-hearted idealists who accepted the seed and gave it an environment in which it could grow, could become transformed could become something that was viable independent of any particular individual.

Esperanto, as we use it today, is not the work of Zamenhof. It is a language which has developed on the foundation of Zamenhof's project through a century of constant use by very diverse people. It is a language which has developed in an entirely natural way through usage, literary creation, successive proposals and counter-proposals, usually unconsciously. It is not a monster which a single person brought into existence. It does have a father, certainly, a marvelous father who successfully endowed it with an incredibly powerful suitability for life, but it also has a mother who lovingly cared for it and who, much more than a single father could have, gave life to it.


Facts are more stubborn than words

You see, the psychological aspects of Esperanto, and of the world language problem, are much more complex than you would have first imagined. In the psyche of most individuals lies a terrible resistance to the very idea of an international language. Because of this resistance, almost no one in the political, social and intellectual elite will willingly and calmly investigate the matter. And yet it progresses. Similar cases of resistance to something that is an improvement, that is more suitable and more democratic occur very often throughout history. The most typical example is the resistance in Europe to the numerals which we now use, the Indian/Arabic numerals: the intellectual elite (and not only they) felt these numerals to be a sacrilege against the Roman numerals which had been in use. I am convinced that Esperanto will someday be generally accepted. The pathology will not always be more powerful than the healthy forces which are also active in society. Among these healthy forces is the greater and greater understanding of the phenomenon of Esperanto on the part of linguists and of many other people. There are also the demands of reality. As Lincoln said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." If you compare Esperanto with other means of communicating between peoples, you find it to be objectively the best method by far according to all the criteria. Facts are more stubborn than ideas. The resistance will go on and it will be intense, certainly, even if only because you can perceive something only when you ready to. Because of this, nowadays, many people simply will not hear what you are saying about Esperanto: their minds are not ready and so your phrases pass them and do not reach them. Yes, the resistance will continue to be powerful. But, believe me, it cannot win out. The facts will win out. The truth will win out. Esperanto will win out.


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