Esperanto World Congress | The 107th edition showcases Indigenous languages ​​in Montreal

(Montreal) “Hello Montrealo! »

The 107e World Esperanto Congress opened its doors on Saturday in Montreal, a first for the metropolis ― and for Quebec.

Esperanto, created in the 19e century and inspired by a multitude of languages, aims to be a global means of communication. Its followers maintain that Esperanto is politically and culturally neutral, as it is not the national language of any country. Its artificial construction, regularity, and often recognizable word root also make it relatively easy to learn.

With this year’s theme, “Language, Life, Land: The Decade of Indigenous Languages”, several expert speakers on the conservation and revitalization of these languages ​​are expected at the congress organized by the World Esperanto Association (WEA). , and which takes place in a pavilion of the University of Quebec in Montreal.

The Esperanto movement “has a particular sensitivity for all that is linguistic and cultural rights” of minorities, explained the vice-president of the local organizing committee, Nicolas Viau, in a telephone interview. It carries a message of “tolerance, equality between languages ​​and cultures”.

To highlight the recognition of Aboriginal cultures, the AME announced the symbolic sponsorship of Georges Sioui, Wendat historian and philosopher and professor at the University of Ottawa.

During the week, participants will also be able to take part in a multitude of activities, such as attending conferences on other subjects, an original play and a presentation of literary prizes. They will also have the opportunity to buy Esperanto books and talk to people from “a dozen countries”.

In all, “more than 800” people have registered, said Mr. Viau, but many may not be able to set foot in Canada due to delays in visa approvals from the federal government.

An international dream

Esperanto was invented by Louis-Lazare Zamenhof in 1887, in a region of the Russian Empire that would later become Poland.

“He lived in a world that was quite culturally divided” where different groups – Russians, Poles, Jews, etc. ― “communicated little or badly,” explained Mr. Viau. But with this language, “everyone is on an equal footing”.

On its website, the AME says it has “national associations in 70 countries and individual members in 120 countries”. The actual number of Esperanto speakers is more difficult to assess, as many people learn directly from the internet.

Although only a minority of the inhabitants of Earth know the language, the fact that they are scattered all over the place creates “a really different international experience”, especially when traveling and contacting local chapters, a pointed out Mr. Viau.

“Esperanto has built its own original culture over time”, with literary, musical and cinematographic works, he stressed.

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