Monday, March 15, 2010

35. The Agressor Language: Esperanto 1953

Many long-time Esperantists know that in a rare misuse of Esperanto, the United States Army prepared an instructional manual: Esperanto, the Agressor Language. It is now available for view on-line at:



Esperanto As A Second Language - The Smoking Gun: Archive
Well, there was a time U.S. military commanders thought that was a good idea, as these excerpts from an Army field manual ...
www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/esperanto1.html

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/esperanto-second-language

Don Shelton, a long-time friend of my partner, Melinda Schroeder, is the only ex-soldier I've met, of many soldiers who took the introductory Esperanto course, around 1953 while serving in the army. I have asked him to say a few words about the experience. Here is his comments in English with my translation into Esperanto. An English Esperantist, Ian Fantom, encouraged me to keep the memory of this misunderstanding of the goals of most Esperantists alive.
Thanks also to Don's wife, Barbara.

> Dear Neil,
>
> Sorry this has taken so long to answer but we had a little set
> back here
> - Barbara will explain in her e-mail to you.
>
> However I have racked my brain to try to remember when I last used
> Esperanto .
>MI LUKTAS CERBUMI MEMORI KIAM MI LASTE UZIS ESPERANTON.
> So here goes -- When I was in the Army in basic training, the
> Korean war
JEN MI EKPROVOS-KIAM MI ESTIS EN LA ARMEO EN BAZA TREJNADO, LA KOREA MILITO FINIGXIS.
> got over. We were slated to go to Korea as part of an
ONI SKRIBE INFORMIS NIN KE NI IROS AL KOREO PARTOPRENI EN INTELIGENTEC-KAJ-REKON-SPIONADO SEKCIO, SED LA ARMEO SXANGXIS LA PLANOJN KAJ TROVIS NOVAN TASKON/DEVIGON.> intelligence and
> recon section. The army then changed their plans and found us a new
> assignment. We became part of a training section for new recruits.
NI IGXIS PARTO DE TREJNAD-SEKCIO POR NOVAJ REKRUTITULOJ. NIA LABORO ESTIS LUDI PARTON DE MALAMIKO DUM KELKAJ NOKTOJ PO SEMAJNO.
Our
> job was to play the part of the enemy a couple nights a week. We had
> special uniforms and learned a few words in Esperanto.
NI HAVIS SPECIALAJN UNIFORMOJN KAJ LERNIS KELKAJ VORTOJN EN ESPERANTO.

We
> used the limited knowledge of the language to communicate with each
> other.
NI UZIS LIMIGITAN KONON DE LA LINGVO KOMUNIKI UNU KUN LA ALIA.
The job was a little depressing because each time we went into
> action,
LA TASKO ESTIS IOM DEPREMIGA CXAR CXIAM KIAM NI EKMANOVRIS, NI ESTIS MORTIGITAJ, VUNDITAJ KAJ KAPTITAJ.

we were either killed, wounded, or captured. In any case the
> U.S. Army personnel *acquired our cigarettes*.
CXIU-OKAZE LA USONA ARMEA PERSONARO *AKIRIS NIAJN CIGAREDOJN*
The trainers said that this was the way they handled captured enemy troops in the real wars.

LA TREJNISTOJ DIRIS KE TIEL ESTIS MANIERO TRAKTI KAPTITAJN MALAMIKAJN TRUPOJN EN LA VERAJ MILITOJ.
>
> While going thru this program I had a roommate whose first
> name was Phil.

DUM LA SPERTO DE LA PROGRAMO MI HAVIS KUN-CXAMBRANO KIES UNUA NOMO ESTIS PHIL. MI NE MEMORAS FAMILIAN NOMON.> I do not remember his last name. Remember this was back in 1953.

GXI OKAZIS EN LA JARO 1953.

> Phil's father was a language professor in a Mid West University.
PHIL ESTIS LINGVO PROFESORO EN MEZ-OKCIDENT-USONA UNIVERSITATO. LI SUBTENIS LA UZON DE ESPERANTO KIEL UNIVERSALA LINGVO

> He advocated the use of Esperanto as the universal international
> language


> and had written a book to advocate making Esperanto the
> International language.
KAJ SKRIBIS LIBRON PRI LA UNIVERSALIGO DE ESPERANTO KIEL INTERNACIA LINGVO.

>
> Shortly after having this assignment, I was transferred to the Regimental
> Headquarters to act as the S2 (intelligence) section as acting Master

MALLONGE POST TIU-CXI TASKO, MI ESTIS TRANSFERITA LA LA REGXIMENTA CXEF-SIDEJO AGI KIEL S2 (INTELIGENTECO) SEKCIO KIEL ESTRO KVANKAM MI ESTIS NUR KORPORALO.> Sergeant even though I was just a Corporal.
>
> Hope this gives you a background on my experience with your
> favorite language.
MI ESPERAS KE TIO-CXI DONAS LA FONON DE MIA SPERTO PRI VIA FAVORITA LINGVO.
>
> If you have any questions please e-mail or call.
>
> Best Regards, Don

An on-line course is based on the Aggressor Language:
Cifera kurso de Esperanto bazita de la usona milita kurso "Agressor Language". http://www.memrise.com/course/111332/aggressor-language-sample/

The founder of the biggest chain of language schools, David Berlitzheimer (Berlitz), produced the most famous polyglot, his grandson, Charles Berlitz. Charles Berlitz spent 13 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, mostly in intelligence. I suspect this included the Korean war.
In 1950, he married Valerie Seary, with whom he had a daughter, Lynn.
Charles died in 2003 at the age of 89 at University Hospital in Tamarac, Florida, not far from my home in Sunrise.

Mario Pei, the most famous linguist-supporter of Esperanto in the USA in my lifetime, (mentioned in an earlier article here) worked for a time at the US military's most famous language-training school in Monterey, California. His facility with languages was in demand during World War II, and Pei served as a language consultant with two agencies of the Department of War. In this role, he wrote language textbooks, developed language courses and wrote language guidebooks (Wikipedia). His writings in favor of Esperanto date from the 1930's through the 1960's, several which I first saw at the UEA/New York Office.

It is, for now, unknown if either Berlitz or Pei had anything to do with Esperanto's usage for military purposes.

In early December 2011 a government video on the Aggressor Language Program spread on Facebook. Dozens of Esperanto speakers expressed interest in the history of this video.

http://kafejo.com/lingvoj/auxlangs/eo/maneuver also has good coverage on the subject.

6 comments:

Elinjo said...

'Many long-time Esperantists know that in a rare misuse of Esperanto, the United States Army prepared an instructional manual.'

As a pacifist I too would prefer that Esperanto's role be reserved for peaceful purposes. On the other hand it is a language that was and is meant for everybody and every conceivable kind of communication.

Thank you for posting this interesting information.

Brian Barker said...

I agree that everyone has a right to use Esperanto.

Even pacifists ;)

Viĉjo said...

pli da informoj troviĝas ĉe http://kafejo.com/eo/maneuver. (for those not familiar with my website (i know, i know, almost everybody in the universe!), and/or esperanto (not quite as many), be sure to click all the navigation links to the left of and including the 2! (supren takes you to the parent directory, hejmen to the home directory))

wangzi said...
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wangzi said...
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Koba Malvado said...

Esperanto is a "neutral language" so that means it can be used by pacifists, war-hawks, etc. The idea of someone saying it should only be used for this or that purpose is silly.

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I have lived 16 years in other countries, notably, Israel and Brazil, among another 30 countries.