George Soros visits Esperanto symposium in New York
“From Zamenhof to Soros” was the title of this year’s symposium organized by the New York Office of the Universal Esperanto-Association. This office, whose main task is fostering relations between UEA and the headquarters of the UN, organizes an annual public event on Zamenhof Day, the 15th of December.
The symposium was a historical overview of the beginning period of Esperanto, organized in order to recognize two new books: the English language biography of Zamenhof—a short version of the large biography written by A. Korĵenkov two years ago – and the newly translated book by Tivadar Soros that was originally published in 1923.
Renowned scholar Esther Schor, professor at Princeton University, recognized the link with Zamenhof in her discourse “Zamenhof and the Future” (“Zamenhof kaj Estonteco”), where she examined the concept of the creator of Esperanto regarding the future of humanity and the role of Esperanto in this context.
The final phase of the period 1887-1923 was presented by Humphrey Tonkin, translator of Soros’s book Modernaj Robinzonoj which was launched during the symposium. This work entitled Crusoes in Siberia in its English version, recounts the adventures of young army officerTivadar Soros in a military prison camp in Siberia during World War I, and his future escape. The book was published by the publishing house Mondial, with the translator’s foreword. Dr. Tonkin also translated the Soros book about World War II, Maskerado (Masquerade). He met Tivadar Soros personally in the auditorium of the UN library in 1966, during a discourse presented by Ivo Lapenna. “At that time I hadn’t read his book yet,” he confessed, nor could he have foreseen that Tivadar’s son would become famous. If this were the case, he jokes, “the conversation would have been quite different.”
The middle part of the symposium was occupied by two program items. The historian Ralph Dumain examined the heavy publicity Zamenhof received from the press during his visit to the World Esperanto Congress in Washington, DC, in 1910, and the film maker Sam Green showed a draft version of his documentary about Esperanto. Sam Green is known among Esperanto speakers for his movie Utopia in Four Movements. The new, 25 minute, film is dedicated exclusively to Esperanto and is mainly a product of filming he did during several recent World Esperanto Congresses.
But the biggest surprise was the speech (not included in the announced symposium program) of the famous financier George Soros, who, with a number of his staff members (and also with his son Jonathan), came to the final part of the symposium to celebrate the launch of the English translation of his father Tivadar’s book. Soros, who is not himself an Esperanto supporter, but who emphasizes with passion his father’s influence in his personal education, spoke for about 10 minutes about Tivadar Soros and the role Esperanto played in his life. When he arrived to Great Britain in 1947, Soros immediately contacted the local Esperantists who helped him greatly. He also remembers the meeting with Esperanto literary figures in his early childhood.
George Soros and his brother Paul contributed a foreword to the new edition of the book by his father. As the publisher, Ulrich Becker presented a copy of the book to Soros; and Tonkin read aloud a part from a chapter of Masquerade in its English translation.
In fact, the new edition of the book already appeared a few months ago, in the Italian translation by Margherita Denti, under the titleRobinson in Siberia. That edition also has the foreword by the Soros brothers and the introduction and notes by Tonkin.
About 70 people participated in the symposium: Esperantists, representatives of NGO’s, UN officers, diplomats, journalists and scholars. Also, a team of student filmmakers participated in the event. A reporter from The New York Times published a positive report in the journal’s blog—with a photo of Soros at the podium, accompanied by Zamenhof’s portrait.
Just before the symposium, the event’s organizers had a meeting in the conference room of the NGO Branch in the UN building.
After the symposium, a journalist asked Soros if he still remembers any Esperanto phrases. Without hesitation, he quoted “Eĉ guto malgranda, konstante frapante, traboras la monton granitan.” Well, of course!
Modern technologies for Esperanto
Esperantic Studies Foundation (ESF) was a sponsor of the Conference on the Application of Esperanto in Science and Technology(Konferenco pri Apliko de Esperanto en Scienco kaj Tekniko, KAEST) that was held 18th-21st of November 2010 in Modra-Harmónia (Slovakia) and gathered 52 specialists from 15 countries. The topic of the Conference was “Modern technologies for Esperanto”.
The program was very dense and rich: it consisted of around thirty presentations, numerous practical trainings and discussion sessions. Among others, presentations were delivered by Detlev and Wera Blanke, Ilona Koutny, Petr Chrdle, Peter Baláž, Toon Witkam, Eckhard Bick, Barbara Pietrzak and Sonja Petrović Lundberg (click here for the complete list of presentations). The topics were very diverse, but mostly associated with interlinguistics and language technology: terminology, spellchecking and automated translation, corpora, Wikipedias, internet dictionaries etc.
The conference was a great and stimulating forum also for future projects—for example, wiki pages about computer interlinguistics and Esperanto and an all-inclusive interactive portal about words (dictionaries, corpora, automated translation, terminology, word learning etc.). The whole day session about computer linguistics had a special meaning both for the conference itself and for future developments in that field. ESF commissions research on the current state of computer linguistics in Esperanto for possible investments and grants.
Conference materials: Publication of conference materials is planned for spring 2011. You can order them in paper format from E@I directly or from other book services (UEA, FEL etc.); please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for advance orders. The electronic versions will be available as well.
For more information about the event, please go to http://www.ikso.net/kaest (Esperanto only).
Background: KAEST is a series of seminars on science and technology in Esperanto. Between 1978 and 1989, KAEST was organized by the science and technology section of the Czechoslovakian Esperantists. After a 10 year break, its organization continued the Czech Esperanto Association, in cooperation with the agency KAVA-PECH. In 2010 the organization of KAEST was taken over by the youth organization E@I.
Click here to learn how you can help ESF continue to sponsor various activities aiming at the advancement of Esperanto.
From Zamenhof to Soros: A Symposium
When and where:
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 2:30-5:00 p.m.; the Church Center, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, 2nd floor (entrance on 44th Street between First and Second Avenue).
RSVP by December 10, 2010. 212-687-7041 or infoesperanto-un.org; you can also fill out our online form: https://sites.google.com/site/zamenhofsymposium2010/
In the program: a celebration of a new biography of L. L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, and the launch of a memoir by Tivadar Soros, translated from Esperanto.
- L. Zamenhof, born just over 150 years ago, published the first book on Esperanto in 1887 in Warsaw, and attended a World Congress of Esperanto in Washington exactly 100 years ago.
In 1924, Tivadar Soros, father of Paul and George Soros, published his memoir of escape from a Siberian prisoner-of-war camp. He wrote it in Esperanto.
The program will feature the following presentations:
- Zamenhof’s Future (by Esther Schor, award winning author, poet and professor at Princeton University);
- Esperanto, Washington, and the World in 1910 (by Ralph Dumain, independent scholar and Esperantist for over 40 years);
- Filming Esperanto (by Sam Green, Academy Award nominee and the director of Utopia in Four Movements—a documentary that premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and featured Esperanto);
- Soros in Siberia (by Humphrey Tonkin, professor and president emeritus of the University of Hartford, former president of the Universal Esperanto Association and the president of the Esperantic Studies Foundation).
For more information, click here.
Seminar on the Literature of Esperanto
Come to the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, to take part in a unique Seminar on the Literature of Esperanto!
When: Saturday-Sunday, 26-27 February 2011
Under the leadership of:
Ulrich Becker, poet and publisher
Duncan Charters, linguist
Humphrey Tonkin, critic
Tim Westover, author
Duration: The seminar will begin on the morning of February 26, and end at noon on February 27. It will partly coincide with the 39th Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900, organized by the University (http://www.thelouisvilleconference.com/), for which visitors can register at a daily rate of $10.
Location: Meeting rooms of the University of Louisville.
Languages: Seminar languages will be Esperanto and English.
Accommodation: For hotels, see the conference website (above).
Registration: $35 ($15 for students). Please announce your wish to attend by writing to one of the organizers:
ESF’s Annual Report and Tax Return For 2009 Are Now Available Online
June 23, 2010 — The Esperantic Studies Foundation (ESF) announced today that its Annual Report and Tax Return for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2009 is now available on its website (esperantic.org/en/about/finreports).
Dr. Humphrey Tonkin, President of ESF, commented that the year 2009 was a year of choices for the Foundation: “Unable to sustain the rate of spending to which it had become accustomed in previous years, the Foundation, responding to the sharp decline in the stock market, was forced to decide on its priorities, dropping funding for lower-priority activities and concentrating its diminished resources on its highest priorities. In several cases these high-priority items were programs in which the Foundation had already made significant investments in previous years and which it needed to maintain. As a result, there were few resources for new initiatives. These developments make it doubly imperative that we find new resources to supplement those currently available, so that we can continue to support more of the many meritorious new initiatives in research and teaching that we are made aware of. Fortunately we have been able to maintain our program of small short-term grants and will continue to look for ways of supplementing and expanding it.”
Despite the challenges presented in 2009, the Annual Report shows that the Foundation remained committed to supporting a broad range of worthwhile initiatives within the framework of its core operating objectives. These objectives include: (1) improving the visibility and prestige of Esperanto as a research topic and teaching subject, (2) focusing attention andacademic resources on the study of Esperanto and of interlingual communication generally, (3) establishing an intellectual community of teachers and researchers in higher education committed to the above goals, and (4) improving and expanding the operational capacity of the foundation itself.
Looking ahead through 2010, the ESF board remains committed to exercising fiscal discipline throughout the year but, at the same time, it will continue to marshal available resources to increase the foundation’s supporter base and raise funds for educational and research initiatives.
For more information about the contents of this news release, contact ESF by email at email@example.com.
Google Doodle = Worldwide Exposure For Esperanto
The following is an excerpt from an article by Marek Blahuš:
Some people have called it “the biggest mass recruitment in the entire history of Esperanto.” But it was not a campaign by an Esperantist organization, nor did it involve printing huge numbers of posters or spending thousands of euros. All that was needed was a suitable occasion, a little planning, and the favorable attention of a single somewhat large company. Thus it was that on December 15, 2009, almost two million people across the entire world, driven simply by their own desire to know, sought out information about Zamenhof and Esperanto. The extraordinary result of this Zamenhof Day was due largely to a single event: the appearance of the Esperanto flag on the front page of the most popular internet search engine, Google. On the occasion of Zamenhof’s 150th anniversary it featured Esperanto. For free…
In the Zamenhof Day emblem, instead of the letter “l” of “Google” an Esperanto flag appeared. According to the service Doodlewatch, it appeared in some 33 of Google’s national websites: Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and the United States…
Utopia In Four Movements World Premiere At The Sundance Film Festival
ESF is pleased to report the world premiere of Utopia In Four Movements at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. This unique documentary film performance was funded in part from a grant provided by ESF.
Directed by the Academy Award-nominated film maker Sam Green, Utopia attempts to document the history of the utopian impulse in modern times. Its first case study, or movement, is an exploration of the history, values and ideals of the planned language Esperanto. Subsequent movements focus on the undying optimism of an American exile in Cuba, the current economic boom in China and its effects on that country’s populace, and people’s desire to give human remains in mass graves a dignified burial.
The work is unique in the documentary film genre in that it features live narration from the director himself as well as a musical soundtrack that is also performed live.
The Huffington Post news website commented that Utopia was “the most compelling screening of the entire [Sundance 2010] festival…[it was] utterly moving.”
Further information about the film can be found on the following websites:
Sundance Film Festival 2010:
Film event trailer:
Sam Green, Director:
For more information about the contents of this news release, contact ESF by email at admin esperantic.org.