Arika Okrent answers questions in the NYTimes
Recently, the NYTimes offered a forum where people could ask questions that were then submitted to several experts in artificial languages, including Arika Okrent. (Arika Okrent is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages and will be speaking at the Landa Kongreso)
Today the answers have been posted and, if you want a warm and fuzzy feeling, go to the article, search for Esperanto in the text, and read the answers that Arika wrote -- almost all of the answers that address Esperanto were written by her. She has really hit a home run. You would be hard pressed to find a more thoughtful and nuanced presentation of Esperanto anywhere. Read more for some of choicer pieces.
People from various countries get together and talk, sing, tease and argue in Esperanto. In other words, it works. As for convincing the whole world to get on board with it? That’s most certainly futile. But it’s not seen as a reason not to try and expand the circle a bit.
A standardized, watered-down world would be no fun to live in, and I expected to find this kind of dour scenario when I went to investigate the Esperantists. But what I found was an almost exhausting celebration of world cultures (Seriously, attend a 3-hour “international night” at an Esperanto conference and see if you don’t long for a little culture break.) The idea is that everyone speaks this neutral language together so that nobody’s culture gets trampled on. But then Esperanto itself is not really neutral, because it has developed a culture of its own (albeit, a culture that everyone is invited to join). This culture is hard to describe briefly, but believe me, spend some time among the Esperantists and you will have no doubt you are in Esperantoland.
Esperanto has developed a role for itself quite different from a general lingua franca. It’s an international community of like-minded people who place great importance on no one having an unfair linguistic advantage while they socialize and talk about the world’s problems. If that sounds like a community you’d like to join, then Esperanto is for you. If you want to open a bank in Mumbai, then, of course, learn English.