|"That well-worn fad"|
Although this is one of the earliest articles in the American press on Esperanto, it disagrees with a slightly earlier piece that continued to run in newspapers later. The other piece, originally from the New York World, correctly identified Esperanto as a rival to Volapuk, although it does place Zamenhof in Warsaw, although he was living in Grodno in 1897.
I've transcribed the piece below, including that it spelled Zamenhof two ways; S at the beginning and one or two f's at the end. Ironically, Zamenhof hadn't heard of Volapuk until after he was nearly done with Esperanto. He looked into it and decided that his own creation was a better idea (as countless others with ideas for international languages have done).
The supporters of that well-worn fad, an international language, have determined to make a last and desperate attempt to persuade an unsympathetic world to listen to the claims of Volapuk. Mr. Samenhof, the Russian linguist, who started an improved form of Volapuk in a language of his own invention, called Esperanto, has hit upon a happy plan of a congress of intellects to settle the question. Circular letters are being sent from the headquarters of the Volapuk committee to all the principal newspapers of the world asking for an opinion from the vast army of many tongued readers in the form of an essay on the question of an international language. All these essays are to be carefully considered and finally, without exception, printed and published in book form. But that is not the end of this novel convention by post. Every one who has written on the subject will be asked to vote on the principal solutions for the creation of an international language. And after that? Those who need further information had better apply to Mr. Samenoff, Grodno, Russia.I'm not sure if a vote was ever taken. Of course, even if it had, it wasn't binding on anyone. Nor do I know if the book was ever produced.
The San Francisco Call would go on to produce articles that were much more sympathetic to Esperanto. Their first time covering the language, however, they saw it as "a last and desperate attempt."
Update: The original news item appeared in the San Francisco Call on August 29, 1897. At the time I wrote this post, I had not yet hit upon the idea of publishing a blog post on (or at least near) the anniversary of the event or article.
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