Thursday, November 3, 2011

51. English Comedian Discusses Esperanto at UN

Gxisdatigo MARTO 2012:

[Update: after writing this article I was able to give a copy of it to Stephen Fry in New York City in 2011---Here is a photo report about my direct contact with him:

Comedian, documentarian, Stephen Fry mentions Esperanto in his recent show "Planet Word" (links below), at first as something idealistic. At the end of the program he asks a UN translator/interpreter, Zaha Bustemi, if the world would be a better place if everybody were to speak Esperanto (He didn't say "only" Esperanto.) The translator responds. "Nooo---it is the beauty of languages, every language has its own beauty, its own music" and " it would be a great loss if all languages didn't exist". This is of course the opposite of the intention of most Esperanto speakers. Sadly, the tranlator is probably middle eastern, probably perpetuating the weak Esperanto movement in Arab countries in particular and negatively influencing the spread of Esperanto in Islamic countries generally. As a side-bar it may be noted that Fry is an openly gay secular Jew.

(Here is a link I found for BABEL in December 2013: Jen la segmento (lasta kvarono, speciale cxe UNO) pri E-o: Kelkaj partoj cxe la fino (lasta kvarono) traktas Indo-europa Lingvo kaj Esperanto. )

Fry menciis Esperanton. Unue kiel idealisma ideo... Je la fino de la programo, li demandas al tradukistino de la UN se la mondo estus pli bone se chiuj parolu Esperanto... La tradukistino respondas: "Neee! estas beleco en lingvoj, ĉiu lingvo havas sian propran belecon, propran muzikon" kaj "estos granda perdo se tiu lingvoj ne ekzistus!"

Mi vidis la tutan horan programon, rekomendas gxin ekster tiu lasta komento pri Esperanto. Mi aldonas precizajn minutoj de interesaj partoj. 

Mi korespondis kelk-foje kun la asocia produktorino/enscenigistino, Annie Macnee, antau' jaro kaj antau' monato, originale cxar sxi sugestis pretecon intervjui novjorkajn esperantistojn por la programo. Tiu ne realigxis. Mi petis gxisdatigon pri mencioj de Esperanto, sed sxi ne certis antau' monato.

I corresponded a few times with the documentary producer, Annie Macnee, a year ago and month before writing this letter (in September?). Annie had considered interviewing New York Esperanto speakers but that couldn't happen. Recently I requested updates from her but she still didn't have information at her writing a month before my writing this.

Mi skribis al sxi antau' kelkaj minutoj denove pri tiu-cxi/nia diskuto. Kelkaj aktivaj esperantistoj ankau' havis kontaktojn kun sxi.

Mi sugestas ke ni disvastigu la precizajn minutojn de la traktitaj temoj de intereso de pluraj esperantistoj:

56:30-gxis la fino la esprimoj de la interpretistino.
55:00 Pri UNO lingva politiko
38:40-42:39 Pri plan-lingvoj/Klingon
43:00-49:00 Internacieco de gesto-lingvoj
49:00-55:00 La indo-europa familio de lingvoj

I wrote this a few weeks ago and distrubuted it to a few Yahoo groups:
Since I recently had contacts with several translators/interpreters (French dep.) at the UN this past Thursday and believe that I will eventually speak with the translator, Zaha Bustemi from the T.V. program, "Planet Word", I wanted to analyse better the words of the interviewer, Stephen Fry, a minute before and after the misrepresentation of Esperanto in front of possibly milions of people.
Cxar mi sukcese havis kontaktojn kun pluraj tradukistoj/interpretistoj (franca fako) cxe UNO (pasint-jaud'e) kaj mi kredas ke mi devas eventuale paroli kun la tradukistino, Zaha Bustemi, en televida programo "Planet Word" (Planedo-Vorto)
mi volis analizi pli bone la vortojn de la intervjuanto, Stephen Fry, minuton antau' kaj post la misreprezento de Esperanto antau' eble milionoj da homoj.
Mi prezentas la anglan dialogon pli detale cxi-tie kaj eventuale volas akiri tradukon/mem traduki gxin. Cxar ili parolis iom rapide kun akcento/akcxento (ne mia usona) mi eble devis au'skulti 30 fojojn la celatajn frazojn.
(Inter malmultaj // brakoj // mi aldonas klarigajn vortojn)
Minuto. 54:53
(Post 2 minutoj pri infan-lernado de patrino-lingvoj)
Somechildren do not stop learning one language... and there are plenty of other languages to choose from.
(Stephen Fry, enirante UNO-n)
There are currently 194 member states belonging to the United Nations with over 6,000 languages spoken in them.
Maybe many of our species troubles could be avoided if we understood each other better? Would having one world language--be it Esperanto, English or to be utterly neutral and positively perverse--Klingon, even be an advantage?
Perhaps in World Forums like here in the UN Security Council, which is currently in session discussing the Libyan Crisis it would.
But then it would also put /translator's like/ Zaha Bustemi out of a job.
Stephen Fry: How many working languages are there?
Zaha Bustemi: Two: English and French
S. F. Ony two...I see. And then there are the official languages?
Z. B. Six of them
S. F. Only Six!
Z. B The official language are English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic, which is the most recent addition to the official languages.
S. F. "'s rather wonderful watching you translate seems to us like a conductor able to read a music score..its an incredible thing that a human brain can do. I look down here //while in a UN tranlating booth// it's almost like a living symbol of the Tower of Babel...of the fact that mankind split into so many languages.
Stephen Fry: Do you sometimes think of...//that// the world would be better if everybody spoke Esperanto?
Zaha: 56:57
//Emotionally speaking//
No...there is a beauty to languages... every language has it's own beauty, its own music, it's own imagery, it's way of expressing the sentiments and the nature of the people who speak that would be a loss if that language did not exist // and if everybody spoke Esperanto //
Oh...I'm very much in favor of the Tower of Babel.
//Malrapida klasika muziko au'digxas//
Stephen Fry paroladistas/narrates.
This building where the General Assembly of the United Nations meets perhaps symbolizes more than any other what happened to humankind after Babel:
Thousands of voices upraised in different mutually different, mutually incomprehensible tongues trying to comprehend to understand eachother, trying to build some kind of peace after the wreckage //li ridas iom moke al historio// of the 20th century. Well they sought to solve their problem by reducing all those lanugages to the 6 working languages of the UN in that way people do understand eachother. They understand how they think.. perhaps how they communicate a little bit of the history of each other.
Languages do so much more than that. Languages, in many respects define our identity.. who we are. And that's what I'll be looking at in our next time.
From Kenya to Israel, Ireland to Occitan, New Castle to (Brownsville (ne klare au'debla loko) I'll be looking how our 6,000 plus languges and myriad ---(actions--ne-klara vorto) are threatened with extinction as our global village becomes a reality.
Ni ne volas ataki la dialogantoj--ni konsideras ecx- inviti ilin al nia decembra programo.
Viaj opinioj estas bonvenaj.
Sincere, Nijl Blonstein

Other comedians who discuss or used Esperanto are the duo: Penn and Teller (Raymond Joseph Teller and Jillette Penn):
and Charlie Chaplin

The transliteration of Stephen Fry's Youtube clip named Esperanto is as follows:
I'm setting myself to task, of trying to learn Esperanto, for the purposes, because that's another interesting thing, is a universal language, a made-up language, that's to say. 

They're a bit like Brazilia, or Milton Keanes, made up cities. Instead of organically growing the way you feel a community should they've been actually planned, and the most famous of those is Esperanto. Though of course there are fictional ones, that had become quite successful, the most successful at the moment is Klingon, of course, where there is a degree and course as you probably know, and I think someone is doing a musical in Las Vegas, all in Klingon. Linguists genuinely go into it, it has the full range of verbal structure and prepositional/pronominal structure, that languages must have substansives and all of those extraordinary things that languages need in order to express ideas, and sounds quiet complex. 

And the new one is the one used in Avatar, by the people of that planet, and actually speaking to the person who devised that language, because is a very interesting thing to do. If he only lived around the corner from here. If only Anthony Burgess was still alive, because, of course, he devised a language too for a film called "Quest for Fire". Do you remember that? He sort of devised a very early sort of caveman language, a sort of "Ugh" as it were, which is sort of exciting.

Now there is so much to think about the language, I mean there is language in art, of course, in poetry, in persuasion, in advertising and in rhetoric, that's the way languages develops and I'm afraid there is language extinctions, as you probably know, almost the sort of similar rate to the extinction of species, and the bio-diversity of the world languages is under a terrible threat.

I was in Australia talking to a linguist there, as well as to a member of an aboriginal community about the disappearances of their languages. I mean there is a huge number of discrete, individual languages in Australian learners.

And then you get real mystery like in New Guinea there are thousands of languages, and you can literally have a valley where one side speak one and on the other another, and those languages are not in any way related. They have no common ancestor. Philologists studied it. And seen that they are utterly separate.

Language also tells you an enormous amount about the human mind. For example, color theory is mentally important to in trying to understand; one of the most important questions linguists have faced over the past hundred years is whether growing up with one language, that is your native tongue, your lingua materna as they say, whether that alters the ways you think, whether it does affect the way you see, the way you see the world, the way you apprehend the world. It's called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which has been hugely rubbished over the last 30 years, almost as fraudulent. But, a man, a great linguist in his own way, but who by our standards would be considered an amateur, who claimed the Hopi Indians have no sense of time or no sense of distance or differences of this or differences of that, and that it alters, entirely the way they saw the world, because of their language. And this became a popular idea, and this is a sort of Orwellian idea, if you take away freedom out of the language then you take the concepts out of the language.

Most linguists now don't believe that, there is no evidence to suggest that if you are a German you are better able to express abstract ideas of philosophical thoughts then if you are Finnish let's say. 

All the works of Wittgenstein or Voltaire can be translated into any language an intelligent person can understand, I mean there are of course; you see this idea of the primitive language not having the same mechanics, not been able to express things. It's certainly true that we in English have a massive vocabulary, way larger than any other language. Just that because we're most sophisticated complex people than Norse or Sicilians or any… *whispers* I don't think so to be honest, I think, the culture which we live, the speed in which we demand communication, which is a factor of technology certainly. 
That's another thing that interest people enormously, is what technology has done to languages, whether is dumbing us down, or the abbreviations, and the things you referred to earlier are somehow cheap and coarsening the language. I don't believe that, and I urge people to look at some of the greatest letters ever written in the English language were written by Lord Byron. And partly through the economy, he was not necessarily the most economical person, but letters were crossed, and since they were very expensive to send, especially because he was, a lot of the time, in Italy and Greece, and sending them to England cost a fortune by courier. And they went by the number of pages. So he would abbreviate in exactly the same way, and for the same reason. There was a lack of bandwidth, with bandwidth being the amount of paper you could send. So, he filled it with as much as he could, crossing it so you write like that, and crossing so you write the other way like that. And "your" would become "yr", and so on. And just the same sort of thing-- abbreviating. Now, was Byron illiterate? I really don't think so. Hard to find anyone more literate, in fact. 
The point is, we can change our discourses as we change our clothes. You can't judge someone by the way they're speaking when they're speaking with their friends. Sensible people have a different language for different people and different circumstances. I swear in front of my friends. I wouldn't swear in front of my great-aunt. It would upset her. It would just be rude! And, similarly, you know, people who moan about political correctness, I don't think they'd use some of the words they'd use that are politically incorrect when in the presence of the minority were it to offend them because it's just bad manners. And that's actually what it comes down to, this whole thing about political correctness, or swearing. It's just good manners, it's considering your interlocutor, thinking about their feelings. That's what being a decent person's about.

Resumo de la granda programo pri Lingvoj en Planet Word:

In this summery inteview of Planet Word (with the author of a related book) Fry mentions Esperanto at minute 2:46.

Famulo, brito, Stephen Fry, foje traktas Esperanton i.a. en intervjuo pri pli granda programo, Planet Word (Planedo de la Vorto). Li komencas trakti Esperanton cxe minuto 2:46: Malnovaj ligiloj de Planet Word ne funkcias.

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