Je 02.21 atm 2003.05.23 -0400, vi skribis
> > Couldn't say, but the largest number of Esperanto speakers
> > (and consequently the largest number of speakers of any "conlingua")
> > are found in China. (And what is the Chinese word for "India"?)
>  That is the greatest lie !
>  Mr Thierry, the author of the Method ASSIMIL in Esperanto,
>  my former teacher, had explained to me that the famous
>  publication 'La Popola Cxinio'was exclusively for external use,
>  not for an esperantist propaganda or practise in China,
>  but for a Chinese Communist propaganda by the way of Esperanto
>  in Occident.
>  Except for the state linguists who are paid to write
>  in this publication destined to Occident, the Chinese people
>  are not allowed to practise esperanto and are not interested
>  neither.
>  You know it perfectly and that is why Esperanto rejects
>  any evolution towards the Chinese language.

Jacques, didn't anybody ever teach you that saying something is a "lie" is
very, very impolite? Especially when you are only demonstrating your
ignorance by making such a statement.

Nobody every argued that "El Popola Cxinio" was not aimed primarily at the
West (though it did circulate, in a small way, in China -- Sandy Gilmour of
NBC did a feature on Esperanto, back in the mid-eighties, after he found a
copy lying on a table in a Beijing train station). But "El Popola Cxinio"
-- and Radio Beijing's Esperanto section -- are not the entire Esperanto
movement in China. Far from it. Evidently, Mr. Thierry never saw a copy of
"La Mondo", the Chinese Esperanto League's magazine (also on slick paper,
with color illustrations) for internal distribution only (very few
foreigners ever got a look at it). Nor the various other Esperanto
bulletins published in China, even though a couple of the
privately-published ones (e.g. the literary bulletin "Penseo") were also
aimed at an international audience.

As to lack of interest, I can only say that my friend Mingqi, after she
moved to the United States and started teaching Esperanto at the University
of California (Berkeley), was very, very distressed by the tiny number of
students she managed to acquire here; in China, she generally had to
_reject_ students at her university Esperanto courses (Huadong University,
Shanghai) -- not because the State told her that they were not allowed to
practice Esperanto, but because the room in which she taught would only
hold forty-five students, and they would show up to register in much larger

In 1986 I was invited to give two back-to-back talks in Esperanto in
Shanghai. The audience consisted of some 400+ people, mostly young (I
estimate the figure from the seating layout and from the fact that a dozen
or so people were forced to stand around the walls of the hall). Now it may
be that they only came to see the occidental face, and did not themselves
understand Esperanto. I did not talk personally with every one of them, or
even a majority, so can't say. What I can say is that, in the twenty-minute
pause after my first talk, none of them took the opportunity to slide out
the hall door before they were stuck through yet another soporific
presentation in a language they couldn't understsand, so I think that the
_signs_ at least were good.

Traveling through Jiangsu Province in the same year, our group was met by
Esperanto speakers in every town in which we stopped. In Yangzhou (a
village north of the Yangzi river, an hour's drive from Nanjing), it was
only the secretary of the local Esperanto group, who took us to visit the
village's most famous formal garden. In Nanjing, about a dozen people
showed up to pair off with individuals as we toured; one of them turned out
to be an old letter-friend of one of our Esperanto-speaking tourists, and
you should have seen him and Mrs. Kamakura cry when the time came for us to
leave. In Suzhou there were about forty people waiting for us at the train
station; there would have been more, we were told, but the train was
several hours late and a lot of them had gone home. We had a similar number
at a party in Shanghai, where also, when Mingqi and I went to visit the
hospital where her husband worked, the secretary of the hospital Esperanto
club took the opportunity to come into his office to meet the foreign
Esperantist. (*)

Unfortunately, the _official_ Chinese Esperanto movement has always been
exclusive, as Mr. Thierry told you, and only a relatively small number of
Chinese Esperanto speakers attended the congress in Beijing that year,
fewer in fact than packed that hall in Shanghai (they were far outnumbered
by the Japanese and Korean contingents). Never, however, underestimate the
resourcefulness and staying power of the average Chinese. Aside from the
one guy I met in an elevator, who was not part of the congress but who had
travelled hundreds of miles (with his knapsack) to meet his Esperanto
pen-friend "Sinjorino Ruth", I also met a whole batch of kids who had
either gotten themselves hired by Guozi Shudian (the national book
distributor) to sell books at the congress or by the China International
Travel Service to serve as tour guides, and so were able to come to the
congress. All of those with whom I spoke, spoke in excellent Esperanto.
Even Mrs. Zhang, the number-two person in the Shanghai office of CITS,
spoke fair Esperanto (though she'd only started studying a couple of weeks
before), but I must admit that this did not make her very happy, as she
firmly believed that we should all speak English (all us Americans in our
tour group, the Canadian there, the half dozen Japanese members, and the
several Europeans), since, after all, she had spent many years studying
that "foreign language", and therefore it must be superior.

Oh, and if you wanted to learn Esperanto in China all you had to do was
wander into your local bookstore and buy a textbook. At a hole-in-the-wall
shop I walked into in Nanjing, I found half a dozen different Chinese
textbooks (and bought a copy of each, though they were of little use to
me!), as well as a special Chinese edition of Auld's advanced text "Pas^oj
al plena posedo", on really cheap paper and at a really cheap price, with a
note inside telling me that if I bought it I was not allowed to take it out
of China.

As far as the figure of "one million" is concerned, I will cite two sources:

(1) Prof. Sidney Culbert, who did the "Table of Languages" for the World
Almanac and Book of Facts for many years, estimated the number of speakers
of Esperanto, based on his researches, at about one million up through
1986. It was after his trip to China and his research there in that year
that he kicked up the figure to two million.

(2) One evening in 1988, while my friend Mingqi was sitting in her
apartment writing me a letter, her son called her attention to a one-hour
program on the radio (whether local or national, I don't know) presenting
music with Esperanto lyrics. She reported to me that, during a break in the
broadcast, the announcer reported that figure of a million.

I have been told, by a Chinese teacher of English, that Esperanto is the
third most popular foreign language in Chinese schools (after English and
Japanese). A nationally televised Esperanto course some years ago had a
number of people registered to officially take the course that was about
half as many as signed up for a similar course in English -- and twice as
many as signed up for a similar course in French!

As to the Chinese not being allowed to use Esperanto -- son, you're a
quarter of a century out of date. That hasn't been true since the demise of
the Cultural Revolution (during which, admittedly, though it was hardly
against the rules to _know_ Esperanto, _using_ it for international
communications could get you thrown into prison for twenty years, as
happened to the Esperanto poet Armand Su of Tianjin; you can read his
thoughts about this in the book _Poemoj de Armand Su_).

Check out my page, in which
you'll find links to a number of photo-reports of recent Chinese Esperanto
congresses and seminars. After all, as the Chinese say, one picture is
worth a thousand words.

>  Furthermore, I am realist enough to conceive my language
>  for people that are free and really interested in conlangs.
>  Regards


(*) Not being able to remember her name, I baptized her "Red Water" --
"Red" for her Party affiliation, "Water" for a passage my wife quoted to me
before I left for China, from Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient
Mariner", metaphorically referring to all the nubile young Chinese women
she was sure I was going to meet. For the younger lads among you, the
passage was definitely appropriate in 1986. Two days ago, I saw a set of
six pictures sent to us from China by a Nigerian Esperanto speaker
currently resident there; from the people surrounding him, I would guess
that Coleridge has become no less of a prophet in 2003.


Pasis longa voj'
Iri ĉi tien de for;
Pasis longa temp',
Sed alvenas mia hor' ...