Tuesday, June 3, 2014

If We Don't Get the Golfers, We're Doomed!

Do you speak Golf?
A short item in the June 2, 1900 Evening Star of Washington D.C. points to a real problem for Esperanto, which had been released twelve years prior. You weren't going to nab the people playing games. It seems that what the Star is suggesting is that golf and whist terminology had become picked up as general expressions used by people who weren't playing either game.

Certainly Zamenhof would would have been happy to see Esperantists playing golf or whist, conversing in the language as they did so (is conversation in Esperanto or any other language permissible during a golf match?), although "visto" didn't become an official part of the language until 1909, and "golfo," means "gulf," though PIV, the large Esperanto dictionary also uses the word to mean the sport. (By the rules of Esperanto this is completely wrong, as the language is supposed to be free of homophones. The name of the game has nothing to do with the word "gulf," so even "golfludo" is incorrect, since that would mean "game of gulf.")

Zamenhof's expectation, however, would be that these golf or whist players would not be sharing a common native language. Technically, when I get together with friends who are native English speakers and we speak Esperanto, we're doing it wrong. But practice is good for those moments when the common language is Esperanto.

Here's what the Evening Star wrote:
A Russian has invented another new language called "Esperanto." But as there is no game definitely requiring its vocabulary it will not be picked up as generally as golf or whist talk.
"Whist talk" has undoubtably been replaced by "bridge talk." As I noted above about conversation during golf game, I am uncertain how much "whist talk" there would be, as the game takes its name from a word meaning "silent."

And a quibble on the Star's reporting: if "a Russian has has invented another new language called 'Esperanto.'" may we ask who created the previous new language called Esperanto?
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