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.
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I wonder how
many people realise that, tucked away in Barlaston, is the headquarters of a national
association with links all round the world.
I'm not talking about 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.
Hold on. What's
Esperanto … and why's it in Barlaston, in the grounds of Wedgwood Memorial College?
Well, quite simply, Esperanto is a language.
Actually, it's the international language … much easier to
learn than Spanish, French, German or even English.
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?).
People boast about designer jeans and designer shirts.
Esperanto speakers have a designer language … and are proud of it, because
it gives them friends and contacts all over the world.
wait a moment. No-one speaks this language… I thought it had died the death,
along with coal fires, black-and-white TV and soggy railway sandwiches?
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.
of the internet, it's entirely possible to learn Esperanto on-line (many new esperantists
have discovered and mastered Esperanto in this way).
So what's Esperanto doing in Barlaston?
Well, the Esperanto-Asocio
de Britio was based for many years in London.
A few years ago the association
decided to sell its premises (the building was costing a lot to maintain) and
use the money to convert an outhouse at Wedgwood Memorial College.
The college was chosen because it has a long history - since
1960 - of running Esperanto courses.
association has a new office, with a bookshop, and a modern home for the Esperanto
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.
Among them includes Horace Barks, the former
Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, who helped set up the first Esperanto courses at
Wedgwood Memorial College.
Centre of the world
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.
at Wedgwood Memorial College call in at Esperanto House (it's next to the part
of the college known as Estoril).
You'll receive a welcome from Viv
O'Dunne, the office manager, who will tell you about Esperanto and give you details
of courses and other information.
who knows, you might soon be exchanging emails with other Esperanto speakers in
Austria, Hungary or Poland.
Some may even come from further afield, such
as Brazil or China, and you might even make arrangements to go and visit them.
For more information about Esperanto, contact
either the Wedgwood Memorial College at firstname.lastname@example.org
or the Esperanto Centre at Wedgwood Memorial College at email@example.com.
Or telephone the Wedgwood Memorial College on 01782 372105.
The Wedgwood Memorial College address:
Wedgwood Memorial College