Friday, August 8, 2014

Waving the Green Flag

It’s not clear why the Sun expected Colonel John Pollen to speak anything but English to reporters when he arrived in New York City on August 7, 1909. They reported on this the next day, making him a more prominent New York arrival than a Russian prince.

The Sun was clearly watching Colonel Pollen for any indication that he might slip in some Esperanto on the sly, as they noted that he “was not observed to prattle in the new tongue with acquaintances.” Of course, Pollen didn’t exactly travel anonymously, since the point of the article was that he was waving the green flag.
It’s a White Star on a Green Field and Stands for Brotherhood.
Col. John Pollen, former president of the British Esperanto Association, arrived yesterday from Liverpool by the Cunarder Campania carrying a small green flag with a white star, which is the emblem of the association and stands for the brotherhood of nations. He will be the guest of Esperantists while in this city. He talked only English to the reporters and was not observed to prattle in the new tongue with acquaintances who greeted him.
The remainder of the article is about the other passengers, Prince Lwoff (the Sun mangles his name as “Prince L. Woff”), who would appear to be Georgy Lvov. There are also two people who had trained for opera with Edouard de Reszke, Cora Belle Knight (soprano) and George W. Piner (tenor).

It’s not clear why the Sun expected Pollard to talk to the reporters in Esperanto. It’s not a terribly useful language for communicating with people who don’t speak it. Further, Pollard could be reasonably certain that New York reporters might possibly be able to decipher his native tongue.

Also, unless Pollen was waving a flag of his own creation, since 1905, the Esperanto flag has been a green star on a white square that is in the upper-left corner of a green field. Oh, let's just cut to the chase. It looks like this:

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