Today I translated a famous poem named "La Espero" into English, to e-mail to a friend of mine. After thinking about why I had done that, I decided it would make sense to share it with the whole Occupy movement. Well... I don't know how to go about doing that, but I can post it in a blog entry here so at least some of Occupy Los Angeles might see it.
Before posting the translation of this poem though, I would like to say a bit about it. The poem was created by L. L. Zamenhof, the inventor of the Esperanto language which was designed with the purpose of functioning as a secong language for anyone who wanted to help bring about a better and more peaceful world for all of humanity. You see, it's difficult enough to work on such things even with a shared first language, but not everyone in the world HAS a shared first language, and a second language generally taakes many decades of hard work to become fluent enough in that it may serve such a purpose well. In fact, much of the discussion time about any proposal brought before a General Assembly of any branch of the Occupy movement ends up being about the wording of the proposal and how it can be interpreted. This is a serious issue even when confining the scope of observation to local pockets of what we are trying to accomplish, but if we really wish to solve the big problems on a global scale then we need to recognize that imposing our first language on people from every other country is not going to work. Especially if that first language is one as complicated as English. As it turns out though, there is a 125 year old movement centered around the Esperanto language and shared asperations for world peace and a better future, and the Esperanto language was specifically invented as an intercultural communication tool which anyone can easily learn. Now, when I say that it can be easily learned, don't take that to mean effortlessly. There is still effort needed. It is afterall probably the most expressive human language which has ever been in common use by a large number of people, and as such it contains a large and diverse vocabulary. However, such an effort is going to be needed sooner or later and as it turns out the effort is already being made in many parts of the world for various reasons. The big question is whether we are going to choose to keep up or get left behind and have to catch up later. Personally, I have chosen to make the effort in advance, and would be happy to help teach others in the Occupy movement or in any other inclusive movement aimed at a better life and a better future for everyone.
So, in order to help other Occupiers get a little insight into the mind of the inventor of the Esperanto language, also known as the "international language" as it was originally named "La Lingvo Internacia", here is my translation of LLZ's poem, "La Espero":
En la mondon venis nova sento, = Into the world came a new sentiment,
tra la mondo iras forta voko; = through the world goes a strong calling;
per flugiloj de facila vento = by means of wings of an easy wind
nun de loko flugu ĝi al loko. = now from its location fly it to your place.
Ne al glavo sangon soifanta = Not to a sword thirsting for blood
ĝi la homan tiras familion: = it pulls the human family:
al la mond' eterne militanta = To the eternally militant world
ĝi promesas sanktan harmonion. = it promises a sacred harmony.
Sub la sankta signo de l' espero = Under the sacred sign of the hope
kolektiĝas pacaj batalantoj, = peaceful activists are becoming gathered,
kaj rapide kreskas la afero = and the matter grows rapidly
per laboro de la esperantoj. = by means of the work of the hopeful activists.
Forte staras muroj de miljaroj = Walls of millenia stand strongly
inter la popoloj dividitaj; = between the divided peoples;
sed dissaltos la obstinaj baroj, = But the stubborn barriers will jump out of the way,
per la sankta amo disbatitaj. = battered apart by means of healing love.
Sur neŭtrala lingva fundamento, = On a foundation of a neutral language,
komprenante unu la alian, = understanding one another,
la popoloj faros en konsento = the peoples will be in consensus
unu grandan rondon familian. = one great family circle.
Nia diligenta kolegaro = Our diligent group of colleagues
en laboro paca ne laciĝos, = in peaceful work will not become tired,
ĝis la bela sonĝo de l' homaro = until the beautiful dream of humanity
por eterna ben' efektiviĝos. = will become a blessing in effect for eternity.
It should be noted that I had particular difficulty in translating the full sentiment of the line "per laboro de la esperantoj" in context, since the context includes "pacaj batalantoj" which I translated as "peaceful activists" and literally means "peaceful battling ones" which has a sense of fighting hard for change but demonstrating the patience and dedication to do it peacefully. At the time this poem was written, I don't think the word "Esperantist" or the Esperanto equivalent of "esperantisto" (litterally indicating one who has made it their business to be hopeful, but recognized as a term for anyone serious about the ideas behind the Esperanto language and movement) had yet existed, and in today's world with all that is happening, it is obvious that there is no single group or movement with the full burden of this role, so I chose the translation that I did as feeling slightly more inclusive than the one which to me seemed to be rather obvious, which is "by means of the work of the Esperantists." This work, afterall, now depends on all of humanity working together. This is afterall the only way that any group or movement can rightfully claim to represent the 99%.
If anyone would like to see a different translation of that poem, check the following two web addresses...
For anyone who might like to work on understanding the International Language of Esperanto, try the web site http://en.lernu.net for starters and click the "How to Begin" link to find some introductory lessons and even a free tutor if you like. For those who feel like being a little more daring or would like to better understand this poem and the sentiments behind it, here are a few details about my translation of "La Espero" as a lesson in the Esperanto language. Keep in mind though that this poem is notoreously difficult to translate into English, so if you want a simple introduction to the language, this is not the place to get it. Let me say though before I start that the Esperanto language is extremely regular and predictable, so if you do decide to study this analysis and are able to set aside the mistrust that you have learned from complicated language features in haphazardly evolved languages, you will find that what you learn will be amazingly applicable in further studies. For example, all simple future tense verbs in Esperanto take the "os" ending, much like MOST simple future tense verbs in English are formed by replacing the word "to" in the infinitive form with the word "will" to form things like "will run" or "will can"... oh, I mean, um... "will be able". Anyway, my point is... trust what you learn about forms and uses of one Esperanto word to work with other Esperanto words and you will learn much more rapiidly. Prepositions and conjunctions tend to be short simple words with nothing attached to them, much like the definite article in that sense, and pretty much everything else tends to be formed by attaching affixes and endings to a stem that never changes spelling or pronunciation and has a meaning you can count on to be retained in a different context much more than you generally can with English words. In fact, it is the translation into English (or any such untrustworthy language) where things get a little sticky, much more than the actual interpretation of the Esperanto words into raw meanings.
"En la mondon"
The Esperanto word "en" is much like the English word "in" but notice the "n" ending on the word "mondon" which would normally indicate the direct object of the verb. However, in this case, "la mondo" meaning "the world" is the object of the preposition "en" and therefore CAN NOT be the direct object of the verb, so would not take the "n" ending for such a purpose. However, this ending is also used to indicate a change of state or a change of location. In other words, because of the word "mondo" meaning world, having been expressed in the accusative form "mondon" as the object of the preposition, that causes the preposition "en" to take on the meaning of "into" as a change of state or location to "in the world" is being indicated.
"venis nova sento"
This is pretty straight forward as "venis" is the simple past tense of "veni" meaning "to come" and the adjective "nova" simply means "new", but the noun "sento" could easily be translated as a "feeling" or "sense" or even a "sensation" as there is generally no one-to-one correspondence between words in different languages and this one has a meaning which is similar to a particular way of understanding each of those English words.
"tra la mondo"
Very simply, "through the world" although ovbiously meaning the world of humanity which so far is pretty well confined to the surface of the roughly spherical planet Earth, and so "around the world" would also be a fair translation, as could "throughout the world" which may actually be closer to what was originally meant, but I went with a rather literal interpretation in this case for lask of any concrete evidence within the poem itself to suggest that the litteral interpretation might be inaccurate.
"iras forta voko"
The word "iras" is the present tense form of "iri" meaning "to go" and the adjective "forta" roughly means "strong", "solid", or "sturdy" like a fortress, or course. The noun "voko" indicates an appeal or a calling, such as a call to action.
The preposition "per" indicates "by means of" or "by use of" and the word "flugiloj" is actually a composite made up of the root "flug" which encompases meanings like "flight" (in the noun form "flugo") or "to fly" (in the infinitive verb form "flugi") plus the "il" suffix indicating a tool, and the "oj" ending indicating a plural noun. In other words, "flugiloj" litterally means "tools of flight" or "to fly" tools.
"de facila vento"
I'm not exactly sure what the author had in mind here, but I figure it was something like saying it's a breeze... only with a sentiment of having more power than such would imply. The preposition "de" means "of" and the noun "vento" simply means "wind" with the adjective "facila" here describing it as "easy" which could also be taken to mean a "light wind" although the surrounding context seems to indicate that this is not the sense in which it was intended.
"nun de loko"
Literally "now of place" or in other words, "now, from a place".
"flugu ĝi al loko"
Literally "fly it to a place" or "should fly to a place". The imperative verb "flugu" means "should fly" or can be used as a command to "fly". The personal pronoun "ĝi" basically means "it" and the noun "loko" means a "place" or "location". In this case I interpreted the phrase as basically "fly it to your place" or "you should fly it to your location" in recognition of the context being one of a spreading movement or sentiment, wich comes to your location from somewhere else when you take it upon yourself to join the movement or when you begin to sense the feeling.
"Ne al glavo sangon soifanta"
Here we have a rather complex piece of grammar that I can't just break in half for you like I have been doing with others. The word "ne" simply means "no" or "not" so put that aside until you understand the rest of the phrase. The preposition "al" means "to" or "in the direction of" and the object of the preposition is the noun "glavo" meaning modified by the active present participle "soifanta" which is the adjectival form of the verb for "thirsting" and as such can have a direct object of its own, which in this case is indicated by the accusative case form "sangon" of the noun "sango" meaning "blood" and indicating what is being "thirsted" by the sword. Okay, so the prepositional phrase "al glavo sangon soifanta" means roughly "to a blood thirsting sword" and the "ne" in front of it means "not" that. This phrase can then, by lack of punctuation to indicate otherwise, be thought of as subject to the following phrase which contains the main verb and subject of the complete thought.
"ĝi la homan tiras familion"
I'm not sure why the author chose to arrange the words this way here. Best I can tell, it was strictly for artistic style, although it could be that I'm missing something. Anyway, it looks to me as this would mean the same thing as "ĝi tiras la homan familion" which is simply the subject "ĝi" and the verb "tiras" together indicating "it pulls", along with a direct object of "la homan familion" which is simply "la" (the) "homo" (human) "familia" (family) in the accusative case. Of course, this all refers back to the previous phrase making a combined meaning of something like "it pulls the human family not to the blood thirsting sword".
"al la mond' eterne militanta"
Now, there's not much use in me defining words here that I already defined earlier, so I'll skip the first two words, but it deserves special mention that the noun "mondo" is used here in an alternative form which basically means exactly the same thing but lacks the direct indication of what part of speech it represents. This was defined by LLZ as a way of allowing more flexibility for poets and song writers and anyone else wishing to make their writing a little more "artistic" at the potential risk of being slightly more difficult to understand or having an added chance of being misunderstood. Obviously it is not intended to be done excessively, and you are not likely to see or hear it often, but it does get used. Here with the word "militanta" we once again encounter an adjectival active present participle. In this case, the root word "milit" should be pretty easily recognized, and can be used to form words such as the adjective "milita" meaning "military", the noun "milito" indicating war, the military, or warfare, and of course the verb "militi" meaning to fight or to wage war, from which "militanta" is derived to mean basically "fighting" or "war waging", Finally, that adjective is modified by the adverb "eterne" which comes from the stem "etern" and basically means "ever" or "eternally".
Simply "it promises" as you probably guessed if you've read this far.
This is the accusative case form of "sankta" (sacred) "harmonio" (harmony) as it is what is being promised, as indicated in the preceding phrase fragment.
"Sub la sankta signo de l' espero"
Okay, now before I start explaining this line let me just point out that here again there is a word with an apostrophe in place of it's final vowel. This is the article "la" in it's only alternatve form, which is never required but may be used for artistic purposes, such as lyrics or poetry or simply to adject the timing of a public speech, but should be used sparingly and with caution in consideration of the increased risk of failed or incorrect understanding. This is of course less a worrysome in the writen form where the apostrophe can be seen than it is in the spoken form which has no such indication of what happened to the rest of the word, and can potentially lead to the listener mistaking the truncated word for part of the word that follows it. The preposition "sub" simply means "under" or "below" or "beneath" or "underneath" and one should be thankful that Esperanto tends not to have so many ways of saying the same exact thing. The word "signo" is a noun meaning "sign" and the rest of the words should already be familliar by now if you didn't skip down to here or come across this paragraph out of context. "la espero" literally translatess to "the hope" which is not a common way of thinking of the concept of "hope" in the English language, although Spanish speakers may recognize it as "la esperanza" and not think the use of the definite article before the word for "hope" is anything out of the ordinary. My interpretation of the intended meaning here is that the author was speaking of a specific hope and not just hope in general. Similar to the stickers I've seen which say something like "we are the hope".
Here is a lesson in word building which can shine a bit of light on a concept which allows a single word learned in the Esperanto language to become an army of related words derived from the word's unchanging stem. In this case, the stem is "kolekt" and the verb form "kolekti" means "to collect" so the simple present tense form "kolektas" means "collects" or "collect" as in "you collect" or "he collects" but does not need to change form for different subjects as the English word "collect" does. The suffix "iĝ" indicating a change into something, or to become, transforms this present tense verb into "kolektiĝas" meaning roughly "becomes collected" or "becoming collected" or "becoming a collection" or "collecting itself" which is a bit hard to express in English, but that same suffix works with any verb stem in the same way so once you have learned to understand it, you can apply it to any verb or comprehend its effecton any verb you know the meaning of.
The word "pacaj" is the plural form of the adjective "paca" meaning "peaceful" and is plural only because it modifies a plural noun. This is called noun-adjective agreement, and by now you probably have already noticed it in other cases where a noun is modified by an adjective and that adjective inherits an ending from the noun. Specifically, in Esperanto the adjective is expected to agree with the noun in wherer it is singular or plural and whether or not it is part of the direct object of a verb. The plural noun being modified in this case is the plural form of "batalanto" which in turn is the noun form of the present participle of the stem "batal" indicating the basic concept of "fight" or "battle" so that "batalantoj" basically means "fighters" and the term "pacaj batalantoj" carries the general feeling of "peaceful protesters" or "peaceful activists" indicating people who are willing to fight for a cause, but as peacefully as reasonably possible.
Just a conjunction meaning "and".
The stem "rapid" should be obvious enough to English speakers once recognized. As for the word stem "kresk", it indicates "growing" so for example "kreski" means "to grow" and the noun "kresko" would mean basically "a growth". This sequence of words therefore means "rapidly grows" or "rapidly grow" or "quickly grow" or "quickly grows" and again the massive number of possible translations is mainly because of the language it's being translated into, but I hope you get the idea of the meaning rather than just the "translations into English" that I'm using to attempt to express that meaning for people reading this to learn from.
Simply "the affair" or "the thing" or "the matter".
"per laboro de la esperantoj"
The noun "laboro" means "labor" or "work" and I think I've said enough to explain the rest of this phrase already. I'm pretty sure that if you've read this far you should also be able to see how to form the infinitive verb for "to work" or an adjective meaning something like "workingly" or to break down "esperantoj" into it's component parts and analyze it. If I'm mistaken about that, sorry... but I know you'll pick it up quickly if you choose to put your mind to it, and my main goal in writing this is not to teach the Esperanto language, since there are plenty of resources available for that, but rather to make the case for recognizing the work that was put into the creation of the Esperanto language, the reasons that work was done, and the value it offers to the world we live in, because I am hoping to see in my lifetime a merging of these many movements for the betterment of our combined future.
"Forte staras muroj de miljaroj"
The word "forte" could literally be thought of a "fortly" if English was regular enough to count on forming such a construct from the word "fort" which basically indicates a place of strength, but it is more of an abstract concept than that. The present tense verb "staras" means "stands" or "stand" or "is standing" or "am standing" or "are standing" or presently stand" or "presently stands" ... okay, enough of that. The plural noun "muroj" simply means walls. Think of the English word "mural" for a connection to remember it by. The word "miljaroj" is derived from the stem "jar" meaning "year" with a prefix meaning "thousand" and a plural noun ending.
"inter la popoloj dividitaj"
The preposition "inter" means "between". The noun "popolo" means "people". The adjectival present participle "dividitaj" has the "j" on the end making it plural only to agree in number with the plural noun that it modifies. Otherwise it would be "dividita" which is simply the passive present participle of "divida" which to my knowledge has no translation itself into English but indicates a trait of division, and so the passive past participle means "divided".
Simply a conjunction meaning "but".
"dissaltos la obstinaj baroj"
The prefix "dis" indicates separation, parting ways, or moving away from a hunfied location. The stem "salt" means to jump. The adjective "obstina" simply means "obstinate" or "stubborn" and the stem "bar" can be used to form the adjective "bara" meaning "bound", or to form the infinitive verb "bari" meaning "to ban" or "to bar" (obviously) or "to fence in" or "to obstruct", or to form the adverb "bare" which basically means "obstructingly", as well as the noun "baro", the plural of which is used here. Note that while "bars" like in a confinement cell can be barriers and could therefore be called "baroj" it would be more descriptive to call them "stangoj" which basically means "poles" or "rods".
"per la sankta amo disbatitaj"
Here you find two new words. The noun "amo" means "love" and the plural present passive participle "disbatataj" starts with the prefix "dis" which indicates something coming apart or scattering, and contains the stem "bat" which carries the meaning for words like "beat" and strike" so "batata" litterally means "beaten" or "battered".
"Sur neŭtrala lingva fundamento"
The preposition "sur" means "on top of".as in "sur la tablo" which means "on the table". The adjective "neŭtrala" means "neutral and in this case is modifying the noun "fundamento" which means "foundation". Note that the word "lingva" is also an adjective, rather than a noun, so although I thought such a translation might be more difficult to understand, if would have perhaps been more accurate to translate the phrase as "On a neutral linguistic foundation."
"komprenante unu la alian"
The word "komprenante" is the adverbial form of the active present participle of "kompreni" meaning "to understand" or "to comprihend". The word "unu" is simply the number "one" and the word "alia" is an adjective meaning "other" obviously used here with an implied noun. This phrase "unu la alian" is common in Esperanto, and the "n" at the end indicates that "alia" is the direct object of the verb, or actually part of the direct object since a noun would be considered implied as the rest of the direct object in such a case. The indication is that "one" is the subject, although it does not specify one of what, but in this case "one person" would be a reasonable assumption. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the implied noun in the direct object is the same as that implied in the subject, since an indication of "another" or "the other" would imply "of the same thing".
"la popoloj faros en konsento"
"unu grandan rondon familian."
More litterally than I translated it above, "the peoples will make in consensus, one grand circle of family." as the word "faros" means "will do" or "will make". The idea being obviously that the author envisioned the various races and cultures of the world reaching a state of shared sense of being one big family instead of feeling like groups of one kind of people against groups of other kinds of people.
"Nia diligenta kolegaro"
"en laboro paca ne laciĝos,"
I'll let you try to figure part of this out yourself, from what you have learned so far. The adjective "laca" means "tired" and you can derive the stem by simply removing the "a" from the end. "ni" means "we" and "nia" forms an adjectival from the pronoun, basically identical to the English posessive pronoun "our". The noun "kolego" means "colleague" and the "ar" suffex indicates a group or collection of whatever the stem represents.
"ĝis la bela sonĝo de l' homaro"
"por eterna ben' efektiviĝos."
The word "ĝis" means "until" and is commonly used as a way of saying godbye, meaning roughly "until later" with the "later" part implied. The adjective "bela" roughly means "beautiful" and can be made into the less emphatic "beleta" meaning "pretty" or the extremely emphatic "belega" which I don't know of anything in English to express as a single word. The simple future tense verb "efektiviĝos" has the "iĝ" suffix in it, and basically means "will become effective". The phrase "por eterna" means roughly the same thing as the phrase "por ĉiam ajn" or basically "forever".
Here's the point I have been trying to make. These movements happening all over the world are not springing up as isolated entities. They share a common root system that connects them to movements which have been around for a much longer time. Many have come in the form of religions which unfortunately generally spend much more time and resources trying to discredit each other and validate their own doctrines than they do trying to unite the people in a common cause of peaceful and beneficial coexistence. Many have come in the form of political movements, which also tend to divide the people rather than unite them. This is what I like about the Occupy movement, and the "99%" idea, as they are much less prone to exclusivity than traditional movements to unite the people. The Esperanto movement unfortunately has a bit of exclusion that runs through it, mainly stemming from what happened with the Ido language which has a striking resemblance to the biblical account of the story of Lucifer taking a third of the angels and forming a new community with no real future... but Esperanto was created to be all inclusive and I know that sentiment still runs deep in the Esperanto community. It simply has to be re-awakened. We all have some waking up to do. This process of humanity making the transition from thinking individuals to a thinking society is just getting started, but the seeds were planted long ago in many cultures by many people and in many ways. The Esperanto movement is probably the most note-worthy example, as it was not started with any other motives or claims but rather was from the start strictly for the purpose of bringing about a better future for humanity. This is so important to recognize, in my opinion, and for everyone to learn from. Now if we can just use this common ground to connect all of the otherwise incompatible factions together worldwide in a concerted effort to bring about the best possible future for humanity, we may yet live to see the realization of prosperity beyond the most beautiful dreams of all but a few people who have ever lived on this planet.
I could be wrong about everything. Any of us could. We all could... but if that's the case there there's no hope for us anyway. Seems to me we are probably all wrong about some things and right about other things. We all have things that we can learn from each other, right or wrong, and it all adds up to being able to find solutions together that none of us could have found alone. This is what it means to be human. We can take advantage of it and benefit from our ability to share our thoughts and ideas in detail and to learn from the experiences of others, or we can let future generations wish we had, and wonder if they will. Sooner or later humanity needs to learn to think as a whole or it's probably going to end up making the only planet it's ever lived on into a place where it can't survive. We may be running out of time... or maybe we've got more time than some of us think we do. Either way, there's no reason I can think of to keep excluding people from our efforts to make things better. Occupy has the right idea in that sense, and so did Ludwig Lazarus Lamenhof when he invented the Esperanto language and released it to the public for everyone to benefit from. Are you going to turn this gift down? I'm not. This July is the 125th aniversary of the invention of the Esperanto langage. There will be events all over the world. If we worked on it, we could be ready in time to hold a joint event for the Occupy movement and the Esperanto movement, to bring together like minded people from all over the world to discuss where we all go from here and how best to get there.
Donald Arthur Kronos