(I sent the link to this to several people yesterday and not a single solitary soul clicked on the link. See, that is why I post non-art articles here. I’d rather target different reading audiences in different places, but…)
When we speak English as a common vehicle of comprehension among different language speakers, we’re always standing in the cast shadow of the nation that made it a lingua franca. Somewhere deep in every speaker’s mind, is registered this historical fact: that a superpower can impose a supernational language on all peoples.
English as the lingua franca is acknowledgement, even subconscious acknowledgement, of the most successful tribe. It’s a furthering of tribalism.
When we choose to speak a nationless language such as Esperanto, we enter into a contract of choice. Tribalism shrinks in importance and we can more successfully enter the skin of ‘the other’.
Do we want to speak from a position of power? Do we want others in the world to live in our empire?
Or do we want to enter into a communication contract in which we and ‘the other’ can be inherently at the same level?
Native English speakers don’t need to make a choice of common language, but we can make a choice, unlike students around the world who have had the study of a foreign language — English — imposed upon them. The dominant lingua franca is a long and cold cast shadow.
Someday the shadow may be Mandarin. It will still be cast by power onto the less influential.
Ending note: Esperanto is based upon European languages, but European colonialism never spread the language. It has not been a language of conquerors, but of stubborn freedom lovers.
Feel free to explore other auxiliary languages. Esperanto has the largest user base, but don’t let that limit you. In this internet age, a little-known language can rapidly take off.