Allan C. Boschen
In the material realm, technology brings us ever more fabulous inventions to better our lives. Yet in human relations we are ever at an impasse. How curious that here we do not have analyses comparable with that for design and development of material devices. Indeed, Dr. Albert Einstein, in numerous public lectures during the years following WW II, stressed that the underlying root of our greatest problems is that social evolution has not kept pace with technology.
Dr. Einstein was thinking primarily of the threat of nuclear war, and even the insanity of any war. However, this theme carries over into other concerns. One of these is the need for an international language which can bridge effectively among the many national languages. Scientific analysis would reveal that a language can be orders of magnitude less difficult to learn, if designed to be so. What an opportunity for capital investment! Within one generation it could eliminate the need for translation at the upper levels of all commercial and intergovernmental activities. This is another issue, however. The thrust of this paper is for the application of this same language in education, to simplify and enhance the learning process-in the introduction to reading, the introduction to grammatical concepts, the extension of personal relationships with children of other cultures in social studies, the study of the great literatures of other lands, the study of foreign languages, and in engineering education, at home and abroad.
In Massachusetts' new Education Reform, language is recognized as a central and vital element to a degree heretofore unimagined. Yet this has not engaged an analysis commensurate with that of Hi Tek, to which engineers regularly commit themselves-suggesting the need for a new field, ``Educational Engineering''. It does not consider at all the fact that everyday language, essential to everything that we do, is a mish-mash of illogic and confusion. It does not ask what this does to the natural logic base with which every child is born (as demonstrated in the `analogizing' that babies do as they begin to talk), nor does it ponder the added difficulty of mastering the language itself due to its illogic.
The Education Reform suggests the introduction of a second language in preschool. Should this be just any language? The superposition of one mish-mash upon another? Too lightly do we observe how `easily' a small child `learns' a language, but how much of value is assimilated, beyond making various sounds, undistortedly? And when a child is effectively exposed to one foreign medium, will this significantly enhance its later development in others? Or will the results in those others still sound just as sloppy or humorous to native speakers? (15)
An in-depth technical analysis is suggested, which begins not by swooning over the child's immense intellectual power and fantastic amounts that the human mind can assimilate and organize, but by noting that organized material is far more readily accepted in comprehension by the child than is a mass of unrelated facts, just as with adults. As a simple example for reference, consider data compiled into tables, and pages of tables, portraying their interrelationships by use of an additional dimension for each relationship. How well could we handle a complex mass of data on an engineering project if it were not so organized, but scattered about? We first would organize it! Thus also with the small child. It observes relationships among words, the usual form for the past tense or plurality, for instance, and applies these forms across the board. We dismiss this `baby talk' as `cute'. However, the need to correct and recorrect gross errors certainly slows the child's progress. Also, it discourages and inhibits its further adventure from time to time. Of course we cannot rebuild the language from the base up to simplify the baby's early development. Perhaps these impediments are of little account anyway, but as the child goes another big step, learning to read, the confusion and inconsistency is not merely continued, but magnified. Some children are able to master this quite readily, but others are deeply frustrated. Some lock into it as a challenge, others find that other matters are more enjoyable. So serious is this confusion factor that controversy over the value of phonics rages on and on. Thus the great invention of the Phoenicians (to write words according to their sounds) is so corrupted that many people would disregard it completely, to make learning to read even worse than it was by the use of pictographs, in ancient times. The look-say advocate readily acknowledges, however, that his case would dissolve completely if the phonics were consistent. (14)
The merits of spelling reform, or an initial teaching alphabet (ITA) could now be addressed. This would be redundant, however, in the context of introducing another language at preschool. For Esperanto, as that language, would also introduce the art of reading just incidental to learning the language itself. It would serve this purpose even better than would an ITA, furthermore, for there is nothing here to learn and then unlearn and cast aside, but a second language to be further built upon and applied to good purpose throughout the school years and thereafter.
Esperanto is 4-to-10 times less difficult to learn and will, as one of the languages offered, reduce the expense and increase the practicality of language programs at all levels. What makes Esp-o so easy to learn? (Compared to other languages, of course!) Its logical and consistent structure and absence of redundant complexities: spelled the way it sounds, no irregular verbs, consistent use of affixes, and more. In English, for instance, `un-', `in-', `ir-', `im-', ... mean ``the opposite'', and you must select the proper prefix from among these for each word to which it would be applied. If you are `unable' ... (not `inable'), then you have an `inability', (never an `unability'). In Esp-o, on the other hand, there is only one prefix to mean the opposite, and it can be applied to any word where the result makes sense. Likewise for all the many other affixes. (See Figure 3.)
Progress in the application of Esperanto has been seriously impeded by a number of misconceptions.
Let us put the record straight!
(1) Esperanto is not intended to replace other languages, but to bridge among them, to serve as the second language for everybody.
(2) It will not wipe out the languages of smaller nations, but will protect them from further encroachment by the larger nations.
(3) Artificial/natural (2). `Artificial' suggests `inferior'. The only thing artificial about Esperanto is that it was artificially designed-a `work of art'. It is in no way inferior, but rather, for its intended purpose is far superior. On the other hand, how `natural' do most people feel as they (try to) use a foreign language? One could feel far more natural with Esperanto than any national language, after a given period of study.
(4) ``...not based in a national culture.'' This is often heard in tones that suggest a deficiency. However, for its intended role this is a definite advantage. When using Esperanto, one does not have to divest himself of patterns of expression that would produce a `foreign' aura in national languages other than his own. This feature is particularly apparent in translated literature. Thus Esperanto is said to be ``the natural translation language''. (3) Then too, Esperanto has now grown its own international culture. (2)
(5) Nuance. The idea of a `simplified language' suggests a sacrifice of nuance. To the contrary, Esperanto has shades of nuance that speakers of English wouldn't dream existed. Simplification, here, is not a matter of stripping anything away, but one of organization. The more important consideration on this is that nuance, in Esperanto, is far more readily available to its speakers and writers because it is not so much a matter of the subtle choice of words as it is organizational design. The result, moreover, is not a `tinny', or `mechanical' sounding language, but one that is elegantly beautiful! The most vivid example of nuance in Esperanto, perhaps, is the compound verb.
The Compound Verb. The compound verb corresponds roughly to the perfect tenses of English, which, however, has only three: the past-, present-, and future-perfect. In Esperanto, on the other hand, there are a total of 54 possibilities, derived by use of only three structural elements in addition to the six endings of the simple verb. In addition, 24 unique kinds of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs can be derived from the same verbal structures. The compound verb is not often used; as in English, the simple verb usually suffices. However, the added definition is there, readily available and easily derived, when needed.
(6) The Practical Use of Esperanto. The most prominent application of spoken Esperanto at this time is in tourism. There is a worldwide league of speakers of Esperanto, and it has delegates in hundreds of cities, all over the world, who are listed in its `Jarlibro' (Yearbook). Thus Esperanto people easily can find each other for foreign travels or correspondence. They have friends to visit wherever they go, friends with whom they can converse, in depth. There are resorts run by Esperanto people, for Esperanto people.
The Chinese Academy of Science conducts a biannual international conference on Science and Technology (in Esperanto) and publishes a quarterly journal, ``Tutmondaj Sciencoj kaj Teknikoj''.
A great potential for the further application of Esperanto is technical education in third world countries, where students are `locked out' because appropriate textbooks do not exist in their languages. (6, 7) Before they can begin a technical education they must learn another language. - Yet another potential is the publication of technical literature for the installation and maintenance of complex industrial systems, as well as consumer products, in third world countries. Maintenance manuals must be translated to an appropriate language, sometimes not the language itself of the people who will use them, as in the case of former French colonies in Africa (8). Then the maintenance people must learn that language well enough to use the manuals, but still serious and expensive mistakes will be made because of misunderstandings. With Esperanto, the manuals would be far less expensive to translate, the language would be far easier to learn and would be learned better, fewer mistakes would be made from misunderstandings, and the same translations would be appropriate for many different countries.
The greatest potential in this country for application of Esperanto is in the direct enhancement of education, the subject of this paper.
(1) Esperanto is completely regular: one-letter/one-sound; no irregular verbs; well defined, consistent, and extensive use of affixes. Thus it is 4-to-10 times less difficult to learn than any ethnic language. Therefore it is ideal as the introductory foreign language. It is also the language from which more students could gain a useful and meaningful exposure and which all students could learn better and more quickly.
(2) Esperanto has elegant literature in prose, poetry, song, and technology, both original and translated, with a worldwide base in over a hundred periodicals and many thousands of books; also a worldwide body of users. Thus it is a very useful educational tool for social studies and for general international information gathering.
(3) Esperanto is an excellent tool to reinforce a small child's natural tendency toward logical thinking; also to introduce reading in preschool, as detailed earlier in this paper.
(4) Esperanto is `grammar coded', see Figure 3. This is a great asset for Esperanto as an international language. It also makes Esperanto a most excellent base for introducing grammatical concepts in school.
(5) Esperanto is also appropriate for engineering education. At an orientation session the speaker, attempting to impart an appreciation for the humanities, was heard to say, ``We really ought to be offering a foreign language, but it would take so very much time that we couldn't possibly do it justice, our curriculum already so crowded.'' They could, with Esperanto! See also, ``What is ... this to IEEE ...'', below.
Esperanto estas la moderna kultura lingvo por la tuta mondo. Simpla, fleksebla, belsona, gi estas la praktika solvo por la problemo de universala interkompreno. Esperanto meritas vian seriozan konsideron. Mi estas instruisto. Mi instruas la internacian help-lingvon. Mi kampanjas inter studentoj, por instigi ilin lerni gin, por ke ili povus komuniki dum ciuj el siaj eksterlandaj vojagoj. - Ankau, mi portas mian kampanjon al internaciaj organizoj (ekzemple, la Instituto de Elelktraj kaj Elektronikaj Ingenieroj (IEEI)), kaj siaj membroj (ci tie la individuaj ingenieroj). Ili povus apliki Esperanton por plifaciligi siajn internaciajn aferojn, por pliguindigi siajn vojagojn, kaj finfine por helpi plipacigi la mondon. Ili povus helpi enkonduki Esperanton generale en la lernejojn. Mi multe guas instrui Esperanton. Inteligenta persono povas lerni Esperanton rapide kaj facile. Nu, cu vi? Estu mia studento! Lernu Esperanton per mia korespondkurso! Au almenau estu informita pri giaj potencialoj kaj helpu oportune.
IEEE is itself an international organization and has its own problems in international communication. Membership outside the United States is growing, for which demands for technical materials in other languages is growing. For each language this is very expensive. Translation to Esperanto would be easier, less expensive, less subject to error, and would reduce the demand from other-language groups, particularly in those areas where Esperanto is already being used increasingly.
IEEE and ASEE, as educational organizations, have an interest not only in the continuing education of members, but also the precollege education of future members and other people. Many members are professors in engineering colleges, where Esp-o is particularly appropriate for the curriculum, to reinforce communication skills, in English and beyond. (See also item 6 under ``...Application ...to Education.'') Also, members have occasion to travel abroad from time to time for their employers, for personal business and for recreation, as well as for IEEE and ASEE. The Esperanto network can be very helpful.
There has usually been a problem of logistics in trying to establish a formal course on Esperanto in a school. It is a matter of getting the school administration interested, having a qualified teacher available, and getting a group of students sufficiently interested. If the administration is sufficiently motivated to offer such a course and grant credit for it, it can probably get one of its teachers to take appropriate courses. A good foreign language teacher, on the other hand, could easily teach a beginning level course even as he/she began to learn the language, by using taped materials-it is that simple. A student body can easily be recruited, if a school is interested enough to grant credit and conduct an information campaign, and if teachers are sufficiently enthused. Then there is the hazard of a change in administration at some critical point.
The crucial problem has usually been that misinformed people tend to consider such a course to be of marginal benefit. (See the section on misconceptions, above.) They don't oppose it, but neither do they go out of their way to support it. Thus its success has rested upon the enthusiasm of one or a very few people. In the context of this Education Reform, perhaps all of this can change.
Courses are taught at a number of colleges, around the U.S. The most prominent program for teachers (and others) is at San Francisco State University, where people come from many countries every summer, for the three-week intensive program at four levels. Another is at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, a one-week summer program at three levels.
There are a great many textbooks and dictionaries on Esperanto, as well as books and magazines in the language. There are also many excellent taped courses. These materials, as well as catalogs listing and describing them, are readily available from:
The Esperanto League for North America
P.O. Box 1129
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Lesson One of a FREE ten-lesson postal introductory course can be had by sending a stamped self-addressed envelope (SASE) to the above address, or to:
E S P E R A N T O
585 Shaw Road
Windsor, MA 01270
585 Shaw Road, Windsor, MA 01270 General Electric Co., Field Doc - Engr, Wrtr (retired) Teacher of Esperanto, the International Language
Allan Boschen was born and grew up in Montana; served in the U.S. Air Force in India during WW II; BSEE from Newark College of Engrg (now NJIT); M Ed from North Adams State College; worked as digital systems engineer and writer for GE and other companies, traveled extensively in North America, Europe, and Asia on engineering and on Esperanto; active on PACE and on student activities in the Berkshire Section and Region 1 of IEEE; taught Electricity, Math, and Esperanto at Hoosac Valley High School; taught Esperanto at Berkshire Community College and at The Experiment in International Living; continues to teach Esperanto in formal and impromptu courses.