One, easy language for the whole world? Meet the man who tried to make it happen.


If humankind can create airplanes, cellphones, and penicilin, surely we can tackle the hassle of language. Why doesn’t some brainiac come up with the perfect language that everyone can learn?

Before you get all riled up, be assured this question is rhetorical. To start, this is not a new idea.

In the late nineteenth century, a Polish oculist and linguist named Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof set out to create a universal language that would promote peace and harmony among all the world’s inhabitants.

Dr. Zamenhof published guides to his invented language under the pseudonym “Doktoro Esperanto,” which means “Dr. Hopeful.” The name of the language, Esperanto, was derived from this pseudonym. (Esperance is an archaic word for “hope.”)

Dr. Zamenhof intended for Esperanto to be easy to learn and speak. The words are spelled as they are pronounced, and the grammar is simple. But the language is based on word roots in major European languages, and for non Indo-European speakers, the mechanics of the language are quite unfamiliar.

While Esperanto failed to gain the international acceptance that Dr. Zamenhof had hoped for, the artificial language has been taught throughout the world. Some estimates claim that there are up to several million Esperantists, or Esperanto speakers.

Curious? Here are a few words in Esperanto to get you started:

• Hello – Saluton

• Yes – Jes

• No – Ne

• Peace – Pacon

On a sillier note, what’s the deal with Pig Latin? Why isn’t it called “Sheep Latin,” and how does it work exactly? Here’s our answer.

Let us know if you think the notion of a universal language is a good idea, or even possible, below.

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