Yesterday I had a talk at ETI, the school of interpretation and translation of the University of Geneva, thanks to the invitation by my colleagues and friends François Grin and Michele Gazzola who work there, about the relations between Esperanto and translation (here the presentation).
People there were deeply involved in the subject of translation, so a lot of interesting and challenging questions arose, in particular about the establishment of a standard variety of a language whose native speakers (or family speakers, if you prefer) are always bilingual and Esperanto is never the strongest language. What still surprizes me is the emotional feelings that Esperanto rises among specialists of languages, who it’s supposed to conduct more rationally about the subject. In reality, the reverse is true.
In particular, some people can’t accept that a living language is such even without an ethnos and its consequences (territory, government, army) even if there are a lot of examples of strong language planning in the literature, besides Esperanto. Furthermore, I was questioned about the existence of an Esperanto culture; it’s not a matter of questioning; it’s a matter of fact. Esperanto is not based on an ethnos, instead it is based on an ethos. But that’s all. There are myths, symbols, products, artifacts, that sign the Esperanto identity exactly as in any other culture, and they are worth studying. Of course, if you bound “culture” to an ethnos (anthropology = ethnography) you can deny facts to save your theory.
Personally, I prefer to revise my theory…