I was fooling with my Google search preferences.
One of the options under "Search Languages" is Esperanto.
For those of you not familiar with this, Esperanto is a constructed international “auxiliary” language, created in the 1870’s by one Dr. Ludovic L. Zamenhof, a Russian Jewish doctor and ophthalmologist. He intended the language to foster harmony between people of different countries – reasoning that if they could all speak a common language they’d understand each other better and therefore be less likely to go to war. Dr. Zamenhof grew up and lived in Bialystok, a city in what is now Poland on the Belarus border, but during Zamenhof’s time was part of the Russian Empire. The city was divided into four distinct cultures, Russians, Poles, Germans, and the Jews. They each spoke their own language and had their own traditions and they, in large part, didn’t mix. There were problems, as you might guess. Zamenhof thought those conflicts could be fixed, if everybody could at least speak to each other in a common language. He spent ten years developing Esperanto as a result. The final product was a artificial language constructed from the basic elements of predominately Romanic natural languages. It was easy to learn and speak (for people of European extraction, not so much for non-Latin derived native language speakers such as those from Central Africa or Asia). Zamenhof spent the next couple of decades promoting it – there were congresses held in different countries every year and the number of speakers grew rapidly – right up until the the Second World War. Esperanto was seen as the “language of the Jews” under Hitler who specifically condemned it in Mein Kampf and it was ruthlessly stamped out. Zamenhof’s own family was sent off to the death camps specifically because of it. In what was now Soviet Russia, Esperanto was called the “language of the spies” by Stalin and made illegal. By the time the war was over, so was Esperanto for the most part.
So, seriously now, who the hell actually speaks and reads and writes Esperanto today? I mean, speaks it on such a regular basis that they publish web pages in it?
OK, I do know people who understand Esperanto. They have little clubs where they get together and trade the few books that were ever published in it. They chatter back and forth in Esperanto at the meetings, trying to sound clever - it's a lot like those nerds who speak fluent Klingon and recite poetry in it. The difference being that there are probably a lot more people who speak Klingon than there are people who speak or even give a shit about Esperanto.
OK, Esperanto people, don’t beat me up.
I know there’s maybe as many as a couple million people worldwide who speak the language (but it may be as low a 10,000 too, nobody is really sure). You’ve got your own Wiki and a radio station or two and some newspapers and such. There’s even a college that uses Esperanto as its primary teaching language, the Akademio Internacia de la Sciencoj in San Marino
Hell, full disclosure here, I studied it myself, briefly, and speak a few words, I even have a couple of books published in Esperanto, somewhere in a box downstairs. We used to use it as the “adversary language” during certain military simulations, which is how I happen to know a couple of Esperanto speakers.
I realize that there is a fanatical core group of you who still believe that Esperanto is the key to hope and understanding and universal peace and enlightenment. Good luck with that. Really.
But, is Esperanto such a big deal that Google offers it as a search language option?
So how come Google doesn’t offer Klingon?