Wednesday 26 July is Esperanto Day and people scattered over the globe will celebrate a language first published 130 years ago and now spoken on every continent.
Esperanto started life with one speaker. Its inventor, Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof (1859–1917), was born in the multilingual city of Bialystok, in Russian-controlled Poland, where Jews, Poles, Germans, and Russians lived in ethnic enclaves and mutual hostility. From his teenage years the Jewish Zamenhof dreamed of inventing a new language that would bridge ethnic and national differences — not by replacing native languages, but by becoming a universally shared common language for people around the world to use with each other if they were from different linguistic backgrounds. Esperanto was the result, designed specifically to be simple to learn yet fully expressive.