Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Professor Claimed Esperanto Would Be Important to Radio (1922)

Radio days
While there is a Columbus State University, this June 10, 1922 article from the Washington Herald is probably referring to Columbia University, as Professor A. Christen gave both a summer course and a public lecture there based on his book From Babel to Esperanto. I have not been able to find anything further (like his name) about Professor Christen. It does seem that he was legitimately a professor, specializing in linguistics (and I feel obligated to point out that the discipline was much different in 1922).

They seem to have got the professor's contention backwards though, since they titled the article "Believes Radio Aid to Esperanto." But Christen's opinion seems to work in the other direction. It's not that Esperanto needs radio, but that if we're going to communicate by radio, we need Esperanto.
For hundreds of years people have wanted a universal language. They wanted it when it took three months to cross the Atlantic; how much more so now that the voyage takes only five days? They wanted it when there was no telephone nor telegraph; how much more do they want it now that they have radio. Radio has clinched the matter.
This, of course, was written in an era when radio was the transformative technology of its day. Popular fiction of the era made much of the potential future for radio.
The international language will, in his opinion, be Esperanto. No living language could be adopted, because every one of the existing languages is far too difficult to be learned by the great mass of people, and because agreement would never be reached as to what living language should be adopted.
This in sharp contrast to the efforts for an international language, in which agreement on which constructed language should be adopted has never been reached. At the time Professor Christen was talking to the Washington Herald, the Esperanto movement had already been split by the Ido-schism, in which a number of prominent Esperantists determined that major reforms should be made.
The French would not want to learn English, nor the English speaking people German or Russian. The professor’s solution is that every child should be taught its mother tongue and the neutral version of Esperanto.
Professor Christen was probably right; if Esperanto had been used for radio broadcasts, people would have been able to listen to these around the world and understand what was being said. Of course, sitting in New York, just whose radio broadcasts are you picking up anyway?

Update: A little more work and I did find things. Professor Arnold Christen was prominent in the early Esperanto movement, at what seemed to be the end of his academic career.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...