Monday, March 8, 2010

Obama, introduce Esperanto as a foreign language subject in schools

I have voted for

and urge you to do so as well, because through Esperanto children (and adults) can be directly in touch with children (and adults) from non-Anglo settings.

My wife Malasree and I have taken action on this front – we took part in a project, sponsored by the European Commission, involving Croatia, Italy, Slovenia and India. Malasree translated a Bengali children’s book by Trailokyanath Gangopadhyay into Esperanto, which partners in the three European countries then translated into their respective languages. In the other direction, they translated one children’s book each from their culture into Esperanto, which Malasree then translated into Bangla (the authors are Horvat, Partljic and Vamba). Because of Esperanto’s textured and elastic repertory, and constant networking in the Esperanto community, it was possible to ensure maximally accurate and vivid translations in both directions. Publishers in the four countries – who had teamed up to launch the project – then published these books. The public in these countries was pleased to have access to major works of children’s literature that cannot be reached through English. I was the coordinator handling the Indian component of the project.

Esperanto opens more doors than most of us are aware of; what I am mentioning here is only a tiny example. The point is not to force it down everybody’s throats, but to make it available. The current system, which excludes it from the range of choices, is preventing the public from finding out one of the fun places. We are backing a proposal that will expand the range of choice open to children as they grow into world citizens.

Probal Dasgupta
Professor of Linguistics
Indian Statistical Institute
Kolkata 700108, India