Monday, June 22, 2015

Limericks in Esperanto

Ŝi havas grandegan kapon.
Here, once again, I’m complaining about journalists not doing their job. Even for a joke, you need to stick to the facts. The first cartoon with joking caption in the “Our Funny Man’s Column” in the Whitefish Pilot of June 22, 1911 makes a completely untrue statement about Esperanto. Where were the outraged letters to the editor noting that the Pilot had been complicit in spreading a scurrilous lie about the noble language Esperanto?

This was (at least as indexed at Chronicling America) the final time that the Pilot made any reference to Esperanto (Chronicling America only has it for 1908 through 1912, though the paper started in 1904 and is still published). The early press on Esperanto is filled inaccurate statements, including odd claims that the inventor of Esperanto was a Spaniard, or that he created the language while serving a long prison term. Not true. Not true.

The humor column of the Pilot made the claim that you couldn’t write limericks in Esperanto. Not true!
One Advantage of Esperanto.

“There’s one good thing about Esperanto.”

“Yes?” (Rising inflection.)

“Yes; you can’t build a limerick in that language.”
The same text appeared (without illlustration) in the December 1910 Every Where, which was described as “conducted by Will Carleton.” Carleton’s name appeared several times per issue, with large advertisements in each issue for his other works.

Years before, the Chicago Tribune humor column, “A Line-O’-Type or Two” tried to make an Esperanto limerick and failed (there were many Esperanto errors crammed into five short lines). Nevertheless, this 1903 failed attempt did not mean that no one could write a limerick in Esperanto. The problem with finding Esperanto limericks, is that the surrounding text isn’t necessarily going to use the word “limerick” (or the Esperanto “limeriko”). They could be just five-line poems tucked into the flow of things without comment.

Though there were some difficulties, I did find a few examples of limericks in Esperanto.

From The Esperantist, February 1904:
Limerick In Esperanto.
Estis foje junul’ de Armagh
Kiun glutis grandega boa’
Oni lin tuj eltiris
Kai li poste dirsi:
“Estas varmege en la boa’!”
—Esperantist 7891
From The Esperantist, November 1905:
Estis iatempe fraŭlino
Troe bongustamulino;
Per spicaj manĝaĵoj
Kaj multaj frandaĵaj,
Ŝi iĝis internpeklitino.
—G. D. Lewis
Although this one does not precede the jest, here’s another example. The Esperanto Monthly, in its October–November 1916 issue (they seem to not quite understood the word “monthly”). On the other hand, they complained that their readers didn’t quite understand “limerick.”
Karulino kun ŝia finaĉo
Amindumis je ia dimanĉo.
Frateto sub tablo
Ekternis! “Diablo!”
De l’ betulo uziĝis la branĉo!
—Miss C. O. Taylor
I don’t think that they’re great limericks, but it does show that you can write limericks in Esperanto.

Ĝisdatigo: Oni povas trovi pli da limerikoj en Esperanto sur la reto. Ĉi-tie, ĉi-tie, kaj ĉi-tie. Kaj multaj ĉi-tie.
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