Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Doctor Praises Esperanto Congress

H.W. Yemans, another
doctor in the Esperanto
During the build-up to the 1910 Universala Kongreso, its organizers kept saying that it was going to be the largest ever, although when it actually occurred, it was the smallest yet, and the only smaller was a hastily planned congress at a great remove from most Esperanto speakers and held during a war.[1] The high hopes that the Esperanto movement had for the 1910 congress did not bear fruit. Yet in the aftermath, Dr. H. W. Yemans it touting that it was the largest ever held in the United States. Well, there’s that.

The Esperanto movement was probably at its height in the United States during this period, and yet it wasn’t enough. Though the piece was titled “Says Esperanto Is Coming Talk” (“an up-and-coming language”), its day hasn’t arrived yet. In 1910, there were more than 2,300 subscribers to Amerika Esperantisto. The 2013 membership directory of Esperanto-USA has about 500 members in it.[2] On the other hand, a Facebook search for “Esperanto members who live in the United States” returns “more than 1,000 people.”[3] Esperanto might be doing well in the United States, but it’s hard to tell. It, alas, was never the “coming talk” that the Yale Expositor said it was on September 2, 1910.
Says Esperanto Is Coming Talk.
Dr. H. W. Yemans, of the Fort Wayne post, who presided at the international congress of Esperantists held in Washington, D. C., last week, returned to Detroit.

”The congress, which is the sixth annual meeting of World Esperantists, was not only the largest of its kind yet held, but was the most representative meeting, I will venture to say, ever held in the United States,” said Dr. Yemans. “We had delegates from the shah of Persia, the emperor of Russia, the president of France, and other European powers, South America is with us heart and soul. While we make it a rule to limit our discussion to educational matters, there is no question but that Esperanto will do more than any other thing to preserve peace among the nations. Our next international congress will be held at Antwerp, Belgium. The question of holding the next peace conference in Esperanto will be discussed more fully at that time.

”The educational value of Esperanto keeps pace with its political importance. It is an excellent corrective for slovenly English. There are no irregularities in it.”
Yemans had presided over the 1910 conference as he was vice-president, at the time, of the Esperanto Association for North America. John Barrett, the president of the group, was not able to attend due to illness. Barret was widely criticized for a support of Esperanto that did not extend so far as to master the language, as noted in the official part of the November 1910 Amerika Esperantisto.
The Hon. John Barrett, director of the International Bureau of American Republics, and one of the busiest men in the United States, so busy that he has had time to learn only enough Esperanto to carry on a very elementary conversation…
So maybe it wasn’t just illness that kept him away.

Dr. Yemans was certainly right that there are no irregularities in Esperanto, but I’m not certain how this becomes “an excellent corruptive for slovenly English.“ I suppose someone could speak perfectly good Esperanto yet be completely lackadaisical in their use of English.

Dr. Yemans was 53 at the time. He and his wife, Bina, lived in the Detroit area. He would die in California a decade later. His wife had died in 1913 while the couple was in Manila.

  1. San Francisco, 1915.  ↩
  2. Including me.  ↩
  3. It would be convenient if Facebook would give me actual numbers, but that’s not actually in their interest. As a note thought, the search “Esperanto members who live in Massachusetts” returns 38 people (in Facebook terms “Fewer than 100 people”), and does not include people whom I know speak Esperanto and live in Massachusetts. I understand the difficulty of figuring out just how many people speak Esperanto. I do know that every person who lists Esperanto among their more-than–100 languages is fibbing about Esperanto.  ↩

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