In his Sept 14 column, William F. Buckley tries to score some cheap shots on the language Esperanto, saying that the only ones who learned it were "Mrs. Esperanto, and perhaps the children who didn't get out of the way". Actually, they all learned Esperanto. "Mrs. Esperanto" was Klara Zamenhof and her children were Adam, Sofia, and Lydia. Mr. Buckley's remarks are particularly unfortunate as all of the Zamenhof's children, and many other relatives, died in the Holocaust -- Adam was shot while being deported while Sofia and Lydia were killed in the Nazi concentration camp Treblinka. They were targeted for speaking Esperanto, as well as being Jewish or Bahai -- Lydia was actually well-known in the US for travelling around the world teaching Esperanto and Bahaism. Adam's wife and infant son had a narrow escape and Louis-Christophe Zaleski-Zamenhof still speaks Esperanto to this day. Indeed, today there is a lively community of Esperanto speakers all over the world. No-one knows exactly how many there are, although more than 2,200 made the trek to Yokohama, Japan for the World Esperanto Congress this year. Maybe most people "ain't gonna do it", but if you want a universal language, you can learn Esperanto easily enough and it still works today as it always has.
There are two local Esperanto groups in the Pioneer Valley: Amherst Esperanto (www.amherstesperanto.org) has weekly meetings for people who want to study and practice speaking Esperanto. The group is led by Steven Brewer, Assistant Professor of Biology and Director of the Biology Computer Research Center, who is also President of the Esperanto Society of New England. Sally Lawton, of Westhampton, coordinates another local group that meets weekly in Northampton.