Other events


Soros Lectures in New York, NY, December 2016 – Fall 2017

SESSION 1: Tivadar Soros and the International Language Esperanto

12/16/2017, 4:00pm-6:00pm
The Graduate Center, CUNY, Room C198

INTRODUCTION: Tivadar Soros: Writer, Survivor, Internationalist
by Humphrey Tonkin

As an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army, Tivadar Soros spent most of World War I in prison camp in Siberia. As a Hungarian Jew he spent World War II working to assure the survival of his family. He wrote about these experiences in his two autobiographical works. Along the way he learned Esperanto (and wrote in that language) and imbued in his two sons, Paul and George Soros, an enduring and immensely influential sense of internationalism. This lecture series is dedicated to his memory.

Humphrey Tonkin (MA Cambridge, PhD Harvard), translator of Soros’s two books into English (Masquerade 2000, Crusoes in Siberia 2010), is University Professor of Humanities and President Emeritus at the University of Hartford. He is also translator of Ulrich Lins’s forthcoming Dangerous Language.

How (not) to Plan a Language: The Endurance of Esperanto

Speaker: Esther Schor

Esther Schor will discuss her new book, Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language, which argues that while Esperanto is known as a “planned” language, Zamenhof deliberately resisted the exhaustive planning of the language, leaving the users of the language to create it over time. Her book surveys the results of his canny choice both in the subsequent history of the movement, and in the conversations that continue to the present day.

Esther Schor, Professor of English at Princeton University, is the author of Emma Lazarus, which received a 2006 National Jewish Book Award, and Bearing the Dead: The British Culture of Mourning from the Enlightenment to Victoria. Her essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and The New Republic,among other publications.


The Einstein Language: Finding and Losing Gloro
2/10/2017, 4:00pm-6:00pm
The Graduate Center, CUNY, Room 9205
Speaker: Michael Gordin

Max Talmey was one of the most persistent artificers of “model languages” in the early twentieth century, fashioning his final creation, “Gloro”, in part to enable better comprehension of Albert Einstein’s physics. The linkages between Einstein and Talmey illuminate surprising aspects of the revolutions in physics and interlinguistics.

Michael D. Gordin is Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University, where he specializes in the history of modern science. He has published extensively on the history of Russian and Soviet science, and the history of nuclear weapons. His most recent book is Scientific Babel: How Science Was Done before and after Global English (2015).


Conversations in the Socialist Future: Esperantist Delegations to the Early Soviet Union
3/10/2017, 4:00pm-6:00pm
The Graduate Center, CUNY, Room 9205
Speaker: Brigid O’Keeffe

In the 1920s, the Soviet Union welcomed foreign Esperantists to visit the socialist future-in-the-making. As grateful tourists, these guests were expected to spread the good word about Soviet socialism in Esperanto and their national languages. This lecture explores the triumphs and disappointments of this Soviet experiment in Esperantist citizen diplomacy.

Brigid O’Keeffe is an associate professor of history at Brooklyn College (CUNY) and the author of New Soviet Gypsies: Nationality, Performance, and Selfhood in the Early Soviet Union. She is currently at work on a book project about Esperanto and internationalism in late imperial Russia and the interwar Soviet Union.


Is Esperanto dangerous?
4/27/2017, 4:00pm-6:00pm
777 UN Plaza, Second Floor
Speaker: Ulrich Lins

As speakers of a ‘dangerous language’, the adepts of Esperanto were harassed and persecuted. The fate of Esperanto can be seen as a barometer to measure the degree to which regimes tolerate the desire for direct person-to-person international communication. After the fall of Fascism and Stalinism, conditions were becoming favourable for Esperanto. But the language still is in a very weak position compared to national languages, because it relies on a sentiment that is itself weak: spontaneous internationalism.

Ulrich Lins received his doctorate at the University of Cologne, Germany, with a dissertation on Japanese nationalism. For thirty years he worked for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). His book Dangerous Language (2016), written originally in Esperanto, has also appeared in German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Lithuanian translation.

SESSION 5 and 6:

Fall 2017 (Location and dates TBD):

Nico Israel (Hunter College) on James Joyce & Esperanto.
Ulrich Becker (Mondial) on Esperanto as a Language of Culture.

Winter 2017

New Course at UC Santa Cruz, Linguistics Department: Invented Languages, from Elvish to Esperanto
More information: here

Anton Ginzburg. Blue Flame: Constructions and Initiatives
Art Exhibit at Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Anton Ginzburg “employs Esperanto – a language devised as an international medium of communication – to guide the viewer through each chapter of this “fictionalized non-fiction.””
Exhibit Open: December 3, 2016 – February 5, 2017
Opening Reception: Saturday, December 3
For more information: here


Talk: ‘Writing in Esperanto: Esperanto Literature and the Book Trade’

Topic: the Allan C. Boschen Esperanto Collection at the UMass Library

Date: November 9, 2016

Venue: Library, W.E.B. Du Bois, Room: 2601, UMass Amherst Campus

Additional information can be found here.


Universal Esperanto Association seminar on United Nations and UNESCO

Topic: United Nations and UNESCO

Date: July 28 – August 4, 2012

Venue: Hanoi, Vietnam.

The Universal Esperanto Association’s 97th World Congress of Esperanto in Hanoi, Vietnam, July 28 – August 4, 2012, was the setting for a seminar (conducted in Esperanto) on the work of the United Nations and UNESCO. The seminar, conducted by Humphrey Tonkin and Neil Blonstein, representatives of UEA at UN-New York, and Renée Triolle, representative of UEA at UNESCO, provided an overview of the structure of the two organizations and particularly their humanitarian and human rights activities. The seminar’s purpose was to promote the UN in the Esperanto-speaking community. Some forty people participated in the seminar from a wide range of countries and representing a wide range of professions, including teachers. Materials from the seminar are available on the website of Esperanto por UN, at www.esperanto-un.org, where Esperanto translations of important UN documents are available, along with a glossary of UN terms in Esperanto and a description of the structure of the UN.


Seminar on the Literature of Esperanto

Dates: February 26-27, 2011

Venue: University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. Under the leadership of Ulrich Becker (poet and publisher), Duncan Charters (linguist), Humphrey Tonkin (critic), Tim Westover (author).


NASK 40th Anniversary Symposium 

Dates: July 11, 2009

Venue: University of California, San Diego

ESF directors and advisory board members recently participated in a symposium marking the 40th anniversary of the NASK program held at the University of California, San Diego. NASK is an intensive three-week, university-credit immersion program in the international language. ESF directors included Dr. Humphrey Tonkin (President) and Dr. Mark Fettes (Vice-President). Presentations were also made by ESF advisory board member, Dr. David Jordan (UCSD) and Ms. Spomenka Štimec, a leading Esperanto author, teacher, and cultural activist from Croatia.

Click here to view the symposium presentations.

International Society for Language Studies Conference

Dates: June 11 – 13, 2009

Venue: Orlando, Florida

ESF directors participated in two panel discussions at the International Society for Language Studies (ISLS) Conference in Orlando, Florida on June 11 – 13, 2009. Session I focused on interlinguistics and critical linguistics, and included not only an overview of interlinguistics as a field of study, but also an examination of why the planned language Esperanto merits the serious attention of language scholars. Session II focused on contemporary issues of Esperanto and education, and included presentations about Esperanto and foreign language education in the U.S. and consideration of the empirically demonstrated propaedeutic value of Esperanto in promoting further and additional language learning by students. The session abstracts can be accessed here.


Conference of Universities Teaching Esperanto and Interlinguistics

Dates: July 17 – 18, 2008

Venue: University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

ESF underwrote the costs associated with a conference on this subject held in July 2008, hosted by the University of Amsterdam and organized by CED (The Center for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems). Objectives of the conference included the exchange of information and ideas, planning for the exchange of personnel, and cooperation in curriculum, libraries, etc. The conference, chaired by Prof. Wim Jansen of the University of Amsterdam and Dr. Humphrey Tonkin of ESF, brought together some 50 academics from 30 universities in 23 countries: Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK, USA, and Venezuela. Its concluding document contained 24 recommendations grouped under the above three headings: programs of study, exchanges, and administration. Many of these recommendations are now being pursued, in part by ESF, in part by CED (which is affiliated with the Universal Esperanto Association), and in part by other individuals. The website Edukado.net has established web pages for the exchange of information and the initiation of activities. This is the first time such an effort of this kind has ever been attempted, and it bodes well for what has hitherto been a fragmented field largely lacking in coordination. Follow-up events were held in 2009 in Krakow and Bialystok, Poland.

53rd Annual International Linguistic Association Conference

Dates: April 11 – 13, 2008

Venue: SUNY College at Old Westbury, NY

ESF Board and Advisory Board members presented several papers at this conference.

Timothy Reagan:

  1. Good intentions and the road to hell: Language policy and language planning for sign languages.
  2. Globalization and language policy at the international level: The role of foreign language education in promoting multiculturalism.

Humphrey Tonkin: Language policy at the international level: Toward a research agenda.

Mark Fettes: Language policy and social imaginaries in a globalizing age.

Nancy Schweda Nicholson (Advisory Board member): Language planning and policy development for European Union (EU) law: Efforts to establish uniform standards for interpreter services in criminal matters.

Conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dates: February 15 – 18, 2008

Venue: Boston, MA

ESF provided funding to support a symposium organized by former board member and ESF co-founder Dr. E. James Lieberman at the 2008 conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February 2008 in Boston.  The symposium addressed linguistic inequality in the scientific community and featured three speakers: Jose Antonio Vergara (Chile), Ulrich Ammon (Germany) and Humphrey Tonkin (USA).  The symposium caused a considerable stir among scientists who had hitherto failed to recognize such language discrimination in their ranks, and reports appeared in newspapers across the world, including Die Welt in Germany and newspapers in Belgium and Pakistan.  The US periodical The Scientist ran an editorial on the subject stimulated by the symposium.


PDK Summit on Global Education

Dates: October 18 – 20, 2007

Venue: Vancouver, B.C.

ESF Board members Humphrey Tonkin, Mark Fettes, Ian Richmond, Grant Goodall, and Bonnie Fonseca-Greber presented at PDK’s 2007 Conference in Vancouver, B.C. in a session entitled “Getting Hooked on Language: Beginning the Process of Language Learning.” Programme summary: “We are inclined to put language learning in a separate category from global studies, but the reality is that learning another language is the quickest way to an understanding of human difference, and the best way to understand cultural diversity – both fundamental elements in global studies. But many students stumble as they tackle a second language, and many educators tend to downplay the importance of language as a factor in international education. While it is true that English is growing in popularity around the world, most people do not speak it, and many of those who do are at a disadvantage when dealing with native speakers. One goal of international education is the pursuit of equality of communication, leading to awareness that speaking more than one language is not just a good thing, but a necessity for a truly globalized world. Two of our panelists are from the US and two are from Canada. Two are language teachers and two are specialists in international studies. All have a history of thinking out of the box when it comes to language in an international setting.”


The Translator as Mediator of Cultures University of Hartford Translation Conference

Dates: October 20 – 21, 2006

Venue: Hartford, CT

ESF co-sponsored a conference on “The Translator as Mediator of Cultures” at the University of Hartford in October 2006. Several members of the ESF board and advisory board participated, and a planning meeting of the advisory board was held following the conference. Several of the papers were subsequently published in Humphrey Tonkin & Maria Esposito Frank, eds., The Translator as Mediator of Cultures (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2010) . Additional information from the conference program can be found here.

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