Wednesday, October 14, 2015

An Esperanto Marriage, But Not the First

S-ino kaj S-ro Parrish
Despite the belief expressed by the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, the September 12, 1912 marriage of Donald Evans Parrish of Los Angeles, California to Paula Louise Elisabeth Alexandra Christiana Grawe (or Paula Graves, as the articles had it) was not the first marriage of two Esperanto speakers. Even earlier accounts make it clear that other congress participants realized that—through Esperanto—they had found their soul mates. In 1908, the Esperantists Herman Sexauer and Frida Niedermuller married (in San Francisco). He was a German, she was an American.

Still, it is certainly an early such marriage, and marriages between Esperantists whose only common language is Esperanto are fairly rare, given the general rarity of Esperanto speakers in the world population (there are certainly Esperantist couples in which both individuals share a native tongue and speak Esperanto).

The San Francisco Chronicle ran the shorter article, which seems to be a summary of the longer article in the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Man and Danish Girl Find Universal Love Language
Special Dispatch to the “Chronicle.”
LOS ANGELES, October 13.—What is declared to be the first marriage ever consummated though the medium of Esperanto, the so-called universal tongue, came to light today, when it became known that D. E. Parrish of this city, a delegate to the International Congress of Esperantists at Copenhagen, has acquired a bride in the person of Paula Graves, a native Dane and also a delegate to the congress.

Parrish could speak no Danish and Miss Graves no English. But that did not bother them in the least. They were introduced in Esperanto, went to the lectures and discussed them in Esperanto, whispered foolish nothings in that tongue, plighted their troth and were married in Esperanto. Whether or not they will continue to use the tongue between themselves for the rest of their lives remains to be seen. Parrish is the son of H. H. Parrish of this city. He went abroad, commissioned by the Chamber ofCommerce to deliver lectures on California. He and his Esperanto-Danish bridge landed in New York Wednesday and will be here next week.
I would like to note, should anyone be concerned about Danish child brides yanked from their native lands after being married off to Americans, that Mrs. Parrish was just over a year older than her husband. Donald Parrish was twenty-two when he married, and Paula Parrish was twenty-four. He was born in December 1889, and she in March 1888.

The Los Angeles Times, as it was the hometown story, give a much longer treatment, with even some Esperanto, starting out with a meaningless “Jeu!” which seems to be an error for “Jesu!” (affirm). And, of course, the superscripts vanish.

“Hand in Hand and Heart to Heart in Esperanto.”
International Language Wins Angelino Bride.
Fame of City Sent Broadcast in Strange Tongue.
Love’s Tongue the Universal Language.
I’m going to stop here just to nitpick. “Koro ĉe koro” is “heart at heart.” Don’t they mean koro al koro? The compression of newspaper subheads often makes no sense. There was plenty of room to write “International Language Wins Bride for Angelino,” since it wasn’t the bride who was the Los Angeles resident.
“Miaflanke, via sincere!”

(“For my part, I am yours sincerely!”)

Thus pretty Paula Graves, secretary of the Esperanto Society of Denmark, answered the age-old query of a man to a maid, propounded by D. E. Parrish of Los Angeles, when the two met in Copenhagen and learned that the so-called universal language has uses far more pertinent than the texts books wot of. So far as known, it is the first marriage ever consummated by that medium.

Parrish was presented to Miss Graves by mutual friends. “Do you speak Danish?” she asked in that language.

The Los Angeles shook his head. “I don’t understand,” he said, falling disappointedly into his native tongue. “Do you speak English?”

“No,” she said in vigorous Danish, divining his question. Then forgetting herself and dropping into Esperanto. “Ho ve, kia domaĝo!” (“Alas, what a pity!”)

After that it was easy. Each found that the other was a delegate to the International Congress of Esperantists. It is probable that the romance could have gone forward in what poets and sentimental persons are pleased to call the true world language—that of the eyes. But now why should it?

The two were married September 21 and arrived at New York last Wednesday on the Scandinavian-American liner Tietjen. Parrish returns after eighteen months in Europe as an emissary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, in whose interest he delivered 150 lectures in twenty countries, all in the language he believes will become universal.
The friends likely knew they were introducing one Esperantist to another, just to have to fun of seeing them fumbling with their native tongues. The article continues (I’ve transcribed about half of it). It does conclude by noting the Mr. Parrish’s clothing in the illustration is something he wore in Russia as part of a village festival.

Parrish was active in the Esperanto movement from its earliest moments in the United States until his death in 1969, including involvement in the 1915 Universala Kongreso. Esperanto Wikipedia notes that Mr. Parrish died when a neighbor, irritated by Parrish’s gas lawnmower, shot him. Paula Parrish died in 1976.
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  1. “Mr. Parrish died when a neighbor, irritated by Parrish’s gas lawnmower, shot him.” I had to shake my head, as a non-American, when I read this.

  2. "Koro ĉe koro" is correct to me, since the "to" in "heart to heart" is not expressing a movement of toward, but rather saying that the two hearts are very near on another, as ĉe implies. It also solves the problem that "al" might present, which has one heart going to the location of the other, rather than having them both pressed together mutually (if that makes sense).

    1. That's quite clear, and makes sense.
      Vi tute pravas.


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