Esperanto USA 2010 Congress (5): Arika Okrent on Esperanto & the 3 ages of invented languages

Arika Okrent was the keynote speaker on Saturday May 29. She commenced her speech in Esperanto and switched to English so as, in her terms, not to abuse the language. Rather than read a summary of mine, you can see and hear her talk for yourself:

OK, here are a few notes. Dr. Okrent claimed that the coverage of the 1910 Universal Congress set the tone for one approach to the journalistic coverage of Esperanto (bemused but not hostile), though in this case the extent of the press coverage is impressive. It seems that after a couple decades, "reform fatigue" set in in the public mind. The 3rd era of the conlang phenomenon, today's Klingon era, represents the coming out of J.R.R. Tolkein's "secret vice" of the pure pleasures of language creation, which now involve extrapolations of fictional scenarios or philosophical ideas, or incorporation of intriguing or "exotic" features of existing natural languages. The 2nd conlang era, dominated by Esperanto, is over. (The 1st was the era of philosophical languages that peaked in the 17th century), but the 2nd era shares with the 3rd a spirit of linguistic internationalism.

The Q & A period involved such varied questions, I won't attempt to summarize them this time around.


Brian Barker said...

Very impressive speach Ralph :)

Can I also suggest that http://ikso.net/broshuro/pdf/malkovru_esperanton_en.pdf should also be distributed in hard copy to the media.

If you have a moment please ask Esperanto-USA what plans they have to print and
distribute !

zooplah said...

I'd disagree with the markers. I think the history of invented languages would be:
1. Languages built out of necessity to communicate (the ancestors of the current national and ethnic languages).
2. Languages built for fun. These are the a priori languages like Solresol and also the neo languages like Elvish and Klingon.
3. The a posteriori languages for international communication. This started with Volapük and hit its climax with Esperanto (with its combination of a recognizable vocabulary and the simple, schematic grammar, it was much more successful than the earlier languages or the so-called "naturalistic languages" of the coming decades with their complicated grammar based on the Romance languages).