Teaching and research on Esperanto and interlinguistics are flourishing in universities across the world, but there is a need for more coordination and more integration into mainstream courses. This was the general conclusion of the recent Nitobe Symposium organized by ESF in Lisbon, Portugal, on August 4 and 5. The Symposium, which brought together 50 invited professors and researchers from some 20 countries around the world, offered particular insights into courses and programs in universities in Poland, Germany, the USA, Spain, Costa Rica, and India, and addressed such problems as the need for more, and more comprehensive, textbooks, the importance of developing continuity in existing programs, and ways of expanding the offering of courses to additional institutions.
The field of interlinguistics is concerned with planned languages such as Esperanto, and with the relationship between planned language and language planning. Increasingly, undergraduate courses in planned languages are expanding to embrace not only the history of languages planned for international use, but also the field of imaginary and fictional languages. A repeated emphasis of the symposium was that the phenomenon of planned languages offers important insights into general linguistics and into planning language use at the international level.
ESF convenes Nitobe Symposia every few years. The immediately previous symposium was in Reykjavik in 2013 and the next is planned for Montreal in 2020. The Symposia are named after the Japanese diplomat Nitobe Inazo, deputy secretary general of the League of Nations in the 1920s and an advocate of Esperanto.
A report on the Lisbon symposium is now being prepared and will be available on the ESF website, esperantic.org, shortly.