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One of the definition questions was

Why are people not heavily investing in an international language e.g. Esperanto?

In the context of the Esperanto community and Esperanto advocacy, what does the term "International" mean? Do non-constructed languages spoken in more than one country, such as English, Korean (spoken in North and South Korea, possibly elsewhere), and Mongolian (spoken in Mongolia and by some Chinese) count as international?

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An international language is one that is spoken in more than one country, I would say even in more than a few countries. As you said, English is such. And so are Spanish, Russian and Arabic, at least in my opinion.

But what makes Esperanto different, and truly international, is that it's also politically neutral and fair. It gives a clear solution to the language injustice problem that many people in the world are facing: "Why must I learn English, and the English people don't learn any language?". Esperanto could make the international communication a more level field, where noone has the advantage of being a native speaker, and believe me, that is a huge advantage, that native English speakers don't even realise they have.

  • But what happens if the number of native Esperanto speakers increases over time...? Though I do agree with your point in general, that Eo is still predominantly a second language. – Oliver Mason Aug 24 '16 at 8:53
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    I've thought abot that. Still, a natively billingual Esperantist (because I doubt anyone in the foreseeable future will be able to speak only Esperanto) will probably be more fluent in his/her other native language because likely that would be the language he/she uses daily in his/her life. And even if we do come to a point where Esperanto becomes a national language, it will still be fairer than for example English because it started as neutral, and because it's basic principles that make it easy to learn will still apply. – Lyubomir Vasilev Aug 24 '16 at 9:16
  • Agreed. Especially since I would guess the number of native Esperantists is very very small. And they would indeed have one or two other languages as well from their parents or their environment. – Oliver Mason Aug 24 '16 at 9:18
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I believe an international language to be one shared between disparate widespread groups of people that have few other cultural features in common.

Korean and Mongolian wouldn't be international languages because they're very narrowly focused in one geographical location, between groups of similar people.

English is an international language, as is Esperanto. In many ways, English is becoming what Esperanto always wanted to be - a second auxilliary language spoken by many people in cultures very different from the traditional "English" one.

I've had conversations with people from Russia and Brazil who did not speak English; Esperanto was the only language we had in common. It was an exciting time! That is the sign of a true international language - one that transcends ethnic groups, geographic regions, and any other boundaries.

  • Your answer is very logical, but I suspect the second paragraph of Lyubomir's answer talks about what the Esperantists really mean when they use the "international" shibboleth. – Andrew Grimm Sep 17 '16 at 23:21

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