Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Epithet

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-6

In 1928, the young Eric Blair, later known as George Orwell, moved to Paris to begin his career as a writer and to improve his French. He first set up quarters at the home of his bohemian aunt Nellie Limouzin and her lover, Eugène Adam. Better known in revolutionary circles as Lanti, the man who is...

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1. The Emergence of Linguistic Conscience

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pp. 7-18

Social scientists use the term “critical junctures” to describe those historical periods when the power of standing institutions weakens and societies are forced to choose among new institutional trajectories.¹ In the recent history of the Europe an linguistic regime it is possible to identify two such critical...

Part I. Volapük

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2. A Language in Search of a Problem

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pp. 21-24

On the night Johann Martin Schleyer was born in 1831, and as he later claimed as an omen to his remarkable life, a new volcanic island, Ferdinandea, emerged from the Mediterranean Sea. Strategically located between Sicily, Malta, and Tunisia, the island soon became the source of a political dispute, when the..

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3. Who Were the Volapükists?

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pp. 25-33

The first Volapükists were the readers and collaborators of his Catholic poetry journal Sionsharfe, where Schleyer published a first draft of his language, mostly southern German Catholics interested in poetry.¹ In his first separate brochure on Volapük, Schleyer explained its grammar and vocabulary and...

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4. “Pandemonium in the Tower of Babel”: The Language Critics

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pp. 34-43

Kerckhoffs’s Association française pour la propagation du Volapük was established in 1886, three years aft er the Association nationale pour la propagation de la langue française, later called the Alliance Française. The Alliance was an or ga ni za tion “éminemment patriotique,” whose goal was to “propagate...

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5. “Strangled in the House of Its Friends”: Volapük’s Demise

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pp. 44-50

When Volapükists met at their First Congress in 1884, they agreed that they needed to spread the language and movement outside of the German-speaking world. They were successful. Two years after their First Congress the number of Volapükists had increased substantially, and more than 100 supporters...

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6. “My Troubled Child”: The Artist and the Kulturkampf

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pp. 51-56

What accounts for Volapük’s demise? In the battle of artificial languages that it initiated, Volapük had the incumbent’s advantage. In a short time it had kindled the enthusiasm of a large number of educated people, willing to endure criticism and mockery from their peers and firmly convinced that the...

Part II. Esperanto

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7. “The Purpose of My Whole Life”: Zamenhof and Esperanto

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pp. 59-64

In 1937, the Soviet Esperanto movement was liquidated. Some of its leaders were shot, and many others were sent to the Gulag. There is some evidence that Jews were overrepresented among the Russian Esperantists. One-third of the leading Esperantists of Petrograd who fell victim to the 1937 purge...

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8. “Let Us Work and Have Hope!”: Language and Democracy

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pp. 65-70

In a technological contest dominated by positive feedback mechanisms, it is important for a potential challenger to enter the contest as soon as possible to prevent the incumbent from gaining further ground. This was Zamenhof’s intention when he learned of Volapük, but he did not publish the first handbook...

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9. “The Menacing Thunderstorm of Reforms”: First Esperantists and First Crises

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pp. 71-76

It might seem that Esperanto entered the artificial language contest late, and at the wrong time. But the opposite is true: Had Zamenhof published his Unua Libro in 1885, as he intended, we would probably not be speaking about Esperanto today. In 1888, a window of opportunity opened, and Zamenhof happened...

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10. The French Resurgence

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pp. 77-83

In 1898, a year aft er Zamenhof turned to French Esperantists for help, Louis de Beaufront launched L’Espérantiste, a bilingual French and Esperanto journal. A man of humble origins, de Beaufront was very ambitious. He had managed to climb the social ladder and become the private tutor in a wealthy...

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11. “Bringing Together the Whole Human Race”: Esperanto’s Inner Idea

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pp. 84-92

Planning his participation in the Boulogne Congress, Zamenhof sent a letter to Michaux, also of Jewish origin. In this letter, Zamenhof explained his worldview and Esperanto’s role in it. As he told Michaux, it was precisely because of his Jewishness that he had committed to the idea of “bringing together...

Part III. The Esperanto Cluster: Same Language, Different Communities

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12. The Demographics of Esperantujo

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pp. 95-102

Since an international language such as Esperanto is a public good, rationality dictates free riding rather than volunteering to promote its success. Another factor that might discourage cooperation was personal reputation. Like the Volapükists before them, the Esperantists were harassed and ridiculed...

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13. Pacifists, Taylorists, and Feminists

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pp. 103-111

In a standardization battle where positivist feedback mechanisms operate, the number of adopters is critical: the more that people adopt technology A instead of B, the more likely next adopters will also choose A rather than B. But equally and perhaps more important than the number of adopters is the...

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14. “Hidden-World Seekers”: Esperanto in New Wave and Old Religions

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pp. 112-119

If the celebration of science and the search for organizational efficiency were part of the spirit of the times, equally characteristic was the reaction by some against the dehumanizing character of scientific and technological progress. For many, it looked like a new tyranny had triumphed: the tyranny of the...

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15. Freethinkers, Socialists, and Herderians

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pp. 120-128

The emergence of new lifestyles and “disguised” religions, as the journalist Carl Bry called them, was not the only front that the established churches had to contend with. Darwinism and, in general, the scientism of positivists and Monists also posed a serious threat to the privileged position that Catholic...

Part IV. Ido and Its Satellites

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16. “One Ideal International Language”: Ido

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pp. 131-143

In 1900, before the opening of the Paris Universal Exhibition, Leópold Leau, the ex-Volapükist and professor of mathematics at the University of Dijon, published Une langue universelle est-elle possible? In this brochure, the author did not position himself for Volapük, Esperanto, or any other language...

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17. “Linguistic Cannibalism”

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pp. 144-152

We have already met Edgar de Wahl (1867–1948), an enthusiast of artificial languages who had felt paralyzed by the success of Volapük. Probably de Wahl was the most restive mind in the already variegated and querulous tribe of artificial language supporters. A mathematician of Baltic German origins...

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Conclusion

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pp. 153-168

Figure 3 illustrates the number of Volapük, Esperanto, and Ido journals from 1880 to 1928. This is probably the best measure of each language movement’s strength. As the figure shows, by the time Ido entered the scene, Volapük had already exited, defeated by Esperanto and its own internal divisions. For its...

Notes

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pp. 169-198

Bibliography

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pp. 199-218

Index

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pp. 219-226

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 227-227

This book began as an article while I was benefiting from the friendly atmosphere of the Max-Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (Cologne). When the article kept growing, I was encouraged to transform it into a book. From the Max-Planck, I took the project to the Instituto Juan March and Universidad...