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E S P E R A N T O:

A NEW FORM OF HUMANISM

by Claude Piron

A Universality of Linguistic Laws

But of most interest to us here is the observation that this childish language formation develops in accordance with the same laws all over the world. The forms differ according to the child, of course, but the manner in which they are produced is everywhere identical.

When you approach comparative linguistics, you at first marvel at the fantastic diversity of human languages. But if you delve further into its study, you'll soon notice that this superficial diversity of forms conceals a remarkable identity at the deepest level. What do a Malay, an Iranian, a German, a Japanese, and an Israeli of Moroccan descent have in common culturally? Not much. Yet, in each of their languages the word meaning "hospital" is formed in the same way with two elements, one of which means "house" and the other "sick persons." What is common, historically, to a Frenchman, a Chinese, and a native speaker of Swahili? Almost nothing. And still, in their languages, the word "invisible" consists of the same three elements: one for expressing negation, one for sight, and one for ability.

 

 

In making word formation explicit and transparent, Esperanto reveals something universal in the process by which the human mind analyzes reality. It captures the concept at the level where it is formed, and thus creates at the same time a deepening and a broadening of the mental experience: a deepening, because it goes down to a more primordial level than that of the forms used in ethnic languages; and a broadening, because it brings with it the discovery that our manner of expressing ourselves, if one scrapes away the external covering, extends to all peoples of our planet. In this respect, also, Esperanto proves to be perfectly humanistic: this dual expansion, vertical and horizontal, gives rise to a better knowledge and understanding of humanity at large.

Furthermore, if Esperanto attains a level more universal than the other languages, it is not in the abstract, but through a very concrete system. It uses words, not formless concepts, and each word has its own identity, musically, rhythmically, etymologically, and emotionally.

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