Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ro On the Go

Ro, it's the latest thing.
The Washington Times duly reported on the progress of the a priori (built from scratch) language Ro in its July 16, 1909 edition, although the reporter didn’t seem to be too convinced. Judging from the article, it does seem that some societies had been formed, although the people quoted in the article seem to all be former Esperantists who became Idists who decided that a philosophical language would be even better.

The reporter notes of of the problems that a variety of international language groups have faced: the newer ones tend to poach on the older ones. The Volapukists became Esperantists (though that time, it didn’t seem that the nascent Esperanto movement sought to poach the Volapük movement, which was already splitting apart). The Idists were recruited from the Esperantists, more heavily from the leadership than from the general body. And it looks like Ro was attracting Ido speakers.
Ho! For Ro, Remover of All Babelism

The birth of an empire or a republic is a moments thing. The creation of a new language is greater.

When the new language is one that is to replace all others the importance of the birth increases mightily. Hail, then, to Ro, successor to Volapuk and Esperanto, friend to world-wide diplomacy, maker of peace and uniter of peoples.

That Philadelphia is the center of Ro’s activity is something to that creditable city’s credit. Cincinnati, town of ambrosia and gutturals, is joined with it for the honors. Chicago is coming bravely forward, but Boston, effete Boston, lags far in the rear with New York and other unprogressive communities.
Boston was where the Esperanto Association for North America was headquartered at the time.
If we understand the principle of the new language it is much like baby talk. You take a syllable like Ro—which means language—and tack other syllables to it. Thus Roza means a society for the study of Ro.

That Ro is making formidable headway is seen by the following letter from Louis A. Orsatti, a prominent Rozer—hope that’s right—to the organ of the cult: blank
Inclosed you will find one year’s subscription to Ro from the Rev. George S. Gassner, 2127 Bainbridge street; Mrs. Mary H. Lee, 4022 Green street, and Miss Alice P. Ervin, 225 North College avenue, all of Philadelphia, whom I converted to the idea of a philosophic language. You may put the Rev. Mr. Gassner’s name on your editorial staff. All three were Esperantists and held offices in the Philadelphia Esperanto society, but resigned and are now holding the same offices in the Philadelphia Ido Society. Mrs. Lee and Miss Ervin have but recently been converted to Ido by the undersigned.
It will be observed that the Rozers prey upon the Esperantists just as the latter recruited from the Volapukers. Some day, one of these societies will convert a person who speaks English, and then there will be a tremendous celebration.
Of course, at this point, the Esperanto movement had plenty of members who had learned no other planned language than Esperanto, and possibly some for whom Esperanto was the only language they spoke besides English.
Here is an excerpt from a Ro editorial, which shows all is not harmony in the ranks of the language-harmonizers.
The Chicago Amerika Esperantisto calls these language leaders hard names because of their independence. More than a hundred years ago the Philadelphia Liberty Bell clamored against tyranny, speaking forth a tongue that was new to the world. Let the Esperantisto take warning from the fate of those who then tried to throttle liberty.
Not sure where the reference to Chicago comes from. The Amerika Esperantisto was published out of Boston.
Ha! Curse ye! Take that! blank
Ro is largely an arbitrary language. The Rozers add to it occasionally. The teething times of their children should be their harvest periods. Here is a bit of explanation taken form the society’s organ:
The word “oroza” will mean the work of the Roza, and the verb “aroza” will mean to hold a session or carry on the work of the society. The word “ruroza,” signifies a member of the society, and “hiroza” or “horoza” a male or female member of the society. The question “I wo du aroza?” means “At what place are the sessions of the Roza held?” The answer may be “Hatispi (I hear) uto teji Roza (that the next session of the Roza) nato (will not be) fyuqdu (in the same place) uteji (as the last) uyi (because) ruzo (the membership) atetici (has increased) luca (to such an extent) uteti hoiz agya (that they have been compelled) aqku (to remove) i deci (to a larger) du (place).”
Lucid, is it not?

It is not.
I have to agree with the reporter here. Not lucid, especially words like “fyuqdu.” I’m not even sure how to pronounce that (though there could be a typesetting error; I do feel sorry for the compositor who had to set that story up).

In her book, In the Land of Invented Languages, Arika Okrent noted how these desperate dreams of success crop up so often as examples of planned languages. Zamenhof seemed immune to this, and there are no predictions of great success for Esperanto in the Unua Libro, the first Esperanto book. But for Ro, it was
I hear that the next session of the Ro club will not be in the same place as the the last time because the membership has increased to such an extent that they have been compelled to remove to a larger place.
I suspect that actually never happened to any Ro societies.
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