Sunday, May 27, 2012


Esperanto by John Cresswell and John Hartley (Teach Yourself Books).  Hardcover book published by Teach Yourself Books 1970, 205 pages.

Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, created the constructed language of Esperanto in the 1870s and 1880s with the intention of creating harmony between people from different countries.  The idea was that if people can talk easily to each other, this creates harmony*.  What a great idea.  If the whole world spoke the same language all our problems would disappear and websites like Babel Fish would close down  (can’t help but notice that Babel Fish doesn’t translate into or out of Esperanto).  Obviously the idea caught on like a house on fire and that is why the interwebs lingua franca is Esperanto… Sorry Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, this didn’t happen… and this is probably why the world is fairly void of harmony.

But if you do want some harmony this book will teach you how to be fluent in Esperanto in sixteen “simple” lessons.  The interwebs has some clips to help you as well… a way of keeping it fresh, particularly if you're a sock loving Esperanto fan.

I originally found a copy of this book a few years ago.  Picked it up, considered it and replaced it on the shelf and continued thinking about it deciding that… well maybe I should pick it up.  As I went to grab it someone else snatched it from under my nose.  I’ve been looking for a copy ever since as I genuinely believe that this book could be of some interest to someone out there… and here it is, finally, after all these years. 

The sad thing is that this is not really that exciting a book.  It’s probably very exciting for all those people out there wanting to learn Esperanto but wish to avoid the sock method (see you tube clip above) and it is exciting that I have found this book after all these years.  But overall, other than my passing interest in this subject, excitement is not really what most of us would associate with Esperanto. 

*What about the Russian revolution?  From what I know both sides spoke the same language. Maybe the fact that one side spoke communism was the issue.   

"[Esperanto is] the language of spies."  Stalin 


Brian Barker (a reader of this blog entry) has sent me the following links for anyone who is interested in knowing more about Esperanto than my brief and ill informed blog entry.

Esperanto is a living language - see

Their online course has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per month. That can't be bad :)


  1. Esperanto is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, having survived wars and revolutions and economic crises.

    This language has some remarkable practical benefits. Personally, I’ve made friends around the world through Esperanto that I would never have been able to communicate with otherwise. And then there’s the Pasporta Servo, which provides free lodging and local information to Esperanto-speaking travellers in over 90 countries. Over recent years I have had guided tours of Berlin, Douala and Milan in this planned language. I have discussed philosophy with a Slovene poet, humour on television with a Bulgarian TV producer. I’ve discussed what life was like in East Berlin before the wall came down, how to cook perfect spaghetti, the advantages and disadvantages of monarchy, and so on. I recommend it, not just as an ideal but as a very practical way to overcome language barriers and get to know people from a very different cultural background. It might not be exciting to you, but Esperanto has given me plenty of excitement.

    The book is a little old-fashioned, and far from exciting, but it suits the learning style of some people.

    Babel Fish doesn’t translate into or out of Esperanto (yet), but Google Transl;ate does.

    By the way, I've met a number of people who have found love thanks to Esperanto. There are international couples who use it as their home language.

    1. Hi Bill,

      Thank you so much for your comments. I think Esperanto was a great idea and is obviously an idea that still has pockets of interest, yourself being a fine and obviously passionate example. Unfortunately these pockets, whilst being resilient, have not managed to get much further than pockets. I was genuinely pleased to find this book and interestingly in the last 6 years, this was the only book i have found on Esperanto. This might be an Australia only lack of readily available secondhand books on the subject. Something i didn't mention in my blog entry was that my East German grandmother very proudly informed me that she took Esperanto lessons and from memory this was before WWII. When i asked her if she remembered any of it, she answered in the negative.

      I'm happy to include a link to any websites promoting Esperanto at the end of the blog entry if you wish to send me some.

      All the best


      All the best and thanks again.

  2. Hello Robin

    I think also that many ill-informed people describe Esperanto as "failed" - others say that if human beings were meant to fly, God would have given them wings.

    Esperanto is neither artificial nor a failure however. Now that the British Government now employs Esperanto translators it has ceased to be a hobby. More recently this international language was used to address the United Nations in Bonn.

    During a short period of 125 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide. It is the 22nd most used language in Wikipedia, ahead of Danish and Arabic. It is a language choice of, Skype, Firefox, Ubuntu and Facebook and Google translate recently added to its prestigious list of 64 languages.

    Native Esperanto speakers, (people who have used the language from birth), include World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet. Financier George Soros learnt Esperanto as a child.

    Esperanto is a living language - see

    Their online course has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per month. That can't be bad :)