In my post of last Thursday (“One step only for a successful EU”, 12 October) I made the whimsical suggestion that the EU should have adopted one language only from the start (Euro-Esperanto!) — just like any other self-respecting government. In that way it could develop a unifying culture of its very own and not remain the fractured mess that the 28 nations are today.
One correspondent has written to me and told me that in her opinion this wasn’t such a silly suggestion. She had learned Esperanto when young and it took her no time at all. A sophisticated Euro-E language could have developed quickly — as indeed did modern Hebrew when Israel was founded in 1947.
At that time most Jewish people in the Mediterranean region spoke Greek or Aramaic but they decided to reach back well over 1,500 years to when Hebrew was previously spoken. This meant that everybody who migrated to Israel had to learn the language from new. That was real commitment!
However, further research (Wikipedia) tells me that the new Israel also allowed Arabic as an official language for those original Arab house-owners who elected to stay there. Perhaps that was a mistake. Oppressive though the exclusion of all languages save one has always been when a new nation-state has been founded, perhaps Israel would not have its present Palestinian problems if there’d been one language only. It’s a moot point.