Friday, August 15, 2014

Esperanto in the News, Literally

Yeah, I fix up a lot of errors,
and try to to introduce too many.
On August 15, 1910, with the sixth Universala Kongreso taking place in Washington, D.C., the Washington Herald showed its enthusiasm by printing a greeting to the congress members. Unfortunately, the compositor clearly didn’t know what was being set and managed to to misspell a word in the very first line, introducing the character x into Esperanto.

Their word, “sentuxiasmuloj” is not an early usage of the “x-system,” a means of typing Esperanto without the accented letters in which sort order can be preserved.[1] It’s a typo, and that x isn’t the only problem. The word they were hoping for is entuziasmuloj, “enthusiasts,” (the compositor clearly misread the z for an impossible x). Where did the s come from? It made me think of a compressed form of senentuziasmuloj, “non-enthusiasts.”

I sure someone threw up his hands and wondered how you even proofread this stuff. So will be forgiving of the Washington Herald’s errors, and sympathetic to whoever had to set this piece into type. As is my usual practice, I’ll substitute accented letters where they might have done if they had the ability to do so.
Al vi, entuziasmuloj el multaj landoj kaj diversaj statoj kaj urboj, kiuj estas venintaj al la ĉefurbo de nia nacio por kunveni pro la espereble monda lingvo, Esperanton, la Washington Herald donas koran bonvenon.

Sen ia dubo, via afero faris grandan progreson dum la lastaj jaroj, kaj ni rimarkas ke homoj de multaj lingvoj kaj nacioj deklaras ke per tiu internacia lingvo la tuta mondo estos unuigita en pli bona Amikeco—en “unu grandan rondon familian.”

Se Esperanto efektivigos tion, ĝi rajtigos sian ekziston, kaj vian fidon kaj kredon je la lingvo.

Efektive, ni atendas, por decidi nian opinion pri vi. Ni ne scias! Sed ni estas certaj ke vi kunvenas en nia urbo por pruvi al la dubantoj; post viaj diskutadoj kaj paroladoj ni eble estos inter viaj konvertitoj.

Belaj urboj estas konstruitaj, kaj falintaj en ruinoj, de post tiu tempo kiam la Turo de Babelo kaŭzis tiun konfuzon de lingvoj kiu dividis la homan frataron en diversan naciojn.

Povas esti ke la tempo estas alvenita kiam, per la helpo de internacia lingvo, kiun la tuta mondo povas kompreni, la bariloj disfalos; kaj eble estos via glora privilegio, membroj de la Esperantista Kongreso, esti pioniroj en movado kio helpos al la homa raso.

Povas esti ke la tempo estas alvenita kiam, per la helpo de internacia lingvo, kiun la tuta mondo povas kompreni, la bariloj disfalos; kaj eble estos via glora privilegio, membroj de la Esperantista Kongreso, esti pioniroj en movado kiu helpos al la homa raso.

Ni ĝoje akceptas vin ĉe ni, en la plej bela nordamerika urbo—en nia urbo, kaj en la urbo de la nacio. Nia gastameco estas senlima; niaj pordoj estas malfermitaj por vi, kaj niaj mensoj estas pretaj por esti konvinkitaj.

Niaj noblaj konstruaĵoj vin inspiru! Iliaj historiaj rememoroj vin tuŝu je la koro! Niaj herbe borderitaj stratoj estu agrablaj al viaj piedoj! Nia somera ĉielo ridetu afable sur vi! Kaj egale ĉu ni skribas en Esperanto aŭ en la angla lingvo, la sento venas el la koro, dum ni diras al vi nian plej koran bonvenon!
I am not certain, but that might be the longest passage in Esperanto in an American newspaper, to that date. And here, for the benefit of anyone who read past that who doesn’t read Esperanto, my translation of the passage:
To you, enthusiasts from many countries and various states and cities, who are coming to the capital of our nation to meet because of the hopeful global language, Esperanto, the Washington Herald gives a heartfelt welcome.

There is no doubt, your cause has made great progress in recent years, and we noticed that people of many languages ​​and nations declare that by this international language the whole world will be united in a better Friendship-in “one big family circle.” blank
If Esperanto achieves this, it will deserve its existence, and your faith and belief in the language.

Indeed, we wait, to decide our opinion about you. We do not know! But we are sure that you meet in our city to show the doubters; after your discussions and speeches we may be among your converts.

Beautiful cities are built, and fallen into ruins, since the time when the Tower of Babel caused this confusion of tongues which divided the human brotherhood in diverse nations.

It may be that the time has arrived when, with the help of an international language, that the whole world can understand, the barriers will fall; and it may be your glorious privilege, members of the Esperanto Congress, to be pioneers in a movement that will help the human race.

We gladly accept you to our place, in the most beautiful North American city—in our city, and the city of the nation. Our hospitality is unlimited; Our doors are open for you, and our minds are ready to be convinced.

May our noble buildings inspire you! May their historical memories you touch to the heart! May our grass-edged streets be pleasant to your feet! May our summer sky smile kindly upon you! And whether we write in Esperanto or in the English language, the feeling comes from the heart, when we say to you our most cordial welcome!
This time, I did what I should have done yesterday and sent the whole thing through Google Translate. Not for the translation, but because the translation gets hopeless when there’s a typo.[2] The Herald made those about once every paragraph. A couple had two. Every time the translation went sour, I would check first if I had transcribed accurately, and then I would actually pay attention to what I had typed. One stumped me for a moment. The final paragraph had
nian ulej koran bonvenon
I had to rack my brains on that one, before I realized it was the common word plej, “most.”
When I transcribe these, I try to fix up any typographical errors, on the assumption that these are not part of the intention of the original writer. There’s no sense in just repeating century-old typographic errors. Even if they were bad Esperanto writers, their intention wouldn’t be to misspell words.[3]

I probably should have kept track of how many typos the Herald actually made. I'm sure there was some shaking of heads at the Kongreso, and much muttering of "ni havas multan laboron" (we have much work).

Bad word choice is another matter altogether. There, my hands are tied. If I feel that the Esperanto is really clunky and that I could freshen it up with a bit of editing… my hands are as tied as they are with the English. If I say “the Washington Herald said,” then you can assume (other than correcting typos), I’m quoting them accurately.

  1. Although it should be noted that Zamenhof didn’t separate the accented letters from their non-accented counterparts. In the Fundamento de Esperanto, “ĉiu” comes between “citron/” and “civiliz/” (in the Universala Vortaro section, words were given by their roots, so all nouns, verbs, adjectives, and most adverbs were stripped of their endings, the exception being the adverbs ending in -aŭ). By Zamenhof’s standards, the x-system people (and just about everyone who makes modern Esperanto dictionaries) is doing it wrong, though personally I like having words beginning with C separate from words beginning with Ĉ.  ↩

  2. Google Translate also has no understanding of the Esperanto use of the -u ending as an expression of hope or desire. “Niaj noblaj konstruaĵoj vin inspiru!” does not mean (as per Google) “Our noble buildings inspire you!” but “May our noble buildings inspire you!” When the subject is omitted, it’s an imperative.  ↩

  3. Just as it isn’t my intention to mangle the English language, but occasionally in these blog posts I find I have skipped a word, mistyped something, or fallen prey to autocorrect. You do not want to have autocorrect on when you’re typing in Esperanto.  ↩

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