AN INTERNATIONAL FRIVOLITY

The language reformers have their way. Esperanto is to be introduced into the public schools of Hungary. All pupils will be given two lessons a week, and although they will not find similar large groups in other countries with which to correspond, they will undoubtebly derive a virtuous pleasure from the realization that they are equipped for international communication.

Esperanto has long been the joke of the linguistic world. Its curious conglomeration of Germanic roots and Latin terminations, its complicated syntax depending upon an accurate inflexion, and above all its bizarre combination of the utterly strange and the too familiar seem to have fitted it peculiarly never to be used. A few pedagogical monstrosities might amuse themselves with translating the masterpieces of other literatures into its artificially simple rhetoric, but that so practically minded a person as a minister of education would try to plant it in schools already overburdened by the attempt to combine the useful and the beautiful, is hardly conceivable.

This experiment will be watched with interest. If, as its sponsors hope, it is crowned with success, and its students learn to use Esperanto with the spontaneity of a language of natural growth, it may find a field throughout western education. But if, as seems more likely, it is restored to the limbo of things unwanted and unused, the progenitors of this chimera will have to admit that an a priori language, like an automat-man, is feasible only in a rationalistic heaven or a mechanistic Utopia.