02 October 2014
Using language to foster peace
In the late 19th century, a young Jewish physician named Ludwik Zamenhof became deeply troubled by fractions between people in his home city of Bialystok, Poland.
Zamenhof noted that Bialystok was populated by four distinct ethnic groups at the time: Russians, Poles, Germans and Jews. He attributed much of the unrest between these groups to their inability to understand each other. He felt language diversity was the greatest cause of separation between groups of people.
So what did this peace seeking idealist do? He constructed a new language. Zamenhof used his own linguistic talent to create a neutral communication tool that’s easy to learn, with an underlying goal of fostering peace and international understanding.
Zamenhof’s language, known as Esperanto, now has an estimated 2 million users in around 115 countries.
Find out more about Esperanto at www.uea.org.