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Esperanto's Home - in Staffordshire
How many people realise that, tucked away in Barlaston, a village outside Stoke on Trent, is the headquarters of a language association, with links all round the world? Paul Gubbins talks Esperanto....
I'm not talking about Barlaston housing the headquarters of some pottery company employing hundreds of people or, come to that, any other vast industrial concern.
What I'm referring to is the office and administrative centre of Esperanto-Asocio de Britio which, in English, is the 'Esperanto Association of Britain'.
Each year, in August, the Esperanto Summer Festival is held here. To find out more, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hold on. What's Esperanto … and why's it in Barlaston (in the grounds of Wedgwood Memorial College there)?
Well, quite simply, Esperanto is a language. Actually, it's the international language … and much easier to learn than Spanish, French, German or even English.
And it's easier because it was designed to be easier (no irregular verbs or having to think if a word is masculine or feminine - remember all that nonsense from school?)
Why North Staffordshire?
Okay. So what's Esperanto doing in Barlaston?
Well, the Esperanto-Asocio de Britio was based for many years in London.
The college was chosen because it has a long history - since 1960 - of running Esperanto courses.
In addition, the late Alderman Horace Barks, former Stoke 'lord-urbestro' (lord mayor to you and me) set up not only the Wedgwood College 'somer-lernejo' (summer-school) but also the 'trinkejo' (pub - vital word!) La Verda Stelo (The Green Star) on Esperanto Way, Smallthorne in the northern end of Stoke on Trent.
Now the association has a bright and cheerful office, with a bookshop, and a modern home for its large Esperanto library.
The library also doubles as a conference room, and above the office and library are three bedrooms bearing the names of eminent Esperantists associated with the college (including Horace Barks, former lord mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, who helped set up the first Esperanto courses at Wedgwood Memorial College).
That's why Barlaston - at least for British Esperantists - is the centre of the world.
It's at the centre because, by joining Esperanto-Asocio de Britio, they have links to other Esperanto associations, including the international 'umbrella' organisation Universala Esperanto-Asocio which, among other things, arranges a major Esperanto gathering held each year in different country.
If you're ever in Barlaston, call in at Esperanto House (it's next to the part of the Wedgwood College known as "Estoril).
You'll receive a great welcome from the office manager, who will tell you about Esperanto and give you details of courses and other information.
And, who knows, you might soon be exchanging emails with other Esperanto speakers in Austria, Hungary or Poland, or even further afield, such as Brazil or China, and making arrangements to go and visit them. Because, with Esperanto, you've got the world at your fingertips.
But wait a moment. I bet you believe that no-one speaks this language … and that it died the death, along with coal fires, black-and-white TV and soggy railway sandwiches… etc etc.
Wrong. Type the word 'Esperanto' into any computer search-engine and see how many sites come up.
I got over two and a half million when I tried … not bad for a language supposedly no-one uses.
And, talking of the internet, it's entirely possible to learn Esperanto online (many new esperantists have discovered and mastered Esperanto in this way).
Check out a language course to get started or, for more information, try a site which will answer all your questions (and don't miss the fun introduction)!
last updated: 10/08/2009 at 14:59
Esperanto is a constructed language which was developed about 100 years ago as a second language for all peoples.
It is considered politically neutral, belonging to no nation or political movement.
The language is apparently quickly learned - possibly 4 to 10 times faster than a typical national language.
Esperanto is spoken in almost every nation in the world.