Instead of a hello, the head of the Esperanto association in the Polish city of Bialystok opts for “saluton”, a sign that the universal language created by Ludwik Zamenhof is alive and well a century after the Jewish doctor’s death.
“Zamenhof created Esperanto as a counterweight to national languages, which he believed divided people and were a source of conflict,” says association president Przemyslaw Wierzbowski.
“Today, we know that it’s economic, ethnic or religious differences that divide people, but Esperanto still has the goal of uniting us, helping us communicate,” the 30-year-old added.
Wierzbowski spoke from a table at Esperanto Cafe, which is located in a tower within the eastern city’s market square, just steps away from where Zamenhof was born in 1859.
During the 19th century, the tower was at the heart of a market packed with stalls manned by German, Jewish, Lithuanian and Polish merchants. Bialystok belonged to the Russian empire at the time and was the scene of ethnic tensions.
This local Tower of Babel is said to have inspired Zamenhof to construct his universal language to promote exchanges between people and bring peace to the world.
Zamenhof left Bialystok to study medicine in Moscow and Warsaw. Then, in 1887, he published his first book on the international language under the pseudonym Doktoro Esperanto (the one who hopes).
Read more: Yahoo! News