(redirected from Zamenhof, L. L.)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.


Esperanto (ĕspəränˈtō), an artificial language introduced in 1887 and intended by its inventor, Dr. Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof (1859–1917), a Polish oculist and linguist, to ease communication between speakers of different languages. In the 20th cent. it was taught in schools and universities throughout the world, but it has not received wide acceptance as an international language. Its grammar and lexicon are relatively unfamiliar to users who do not know other Indo-European languages; its syntax, spelling, and pronunciation are influenced especially by Slavonic. See international language.


See E. Schor, Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language (2016).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the most widely used of the artificial languages; an auxiliary means of international communication.

Esperanto was created in 1887 by L. Zamenhof, a physician who lived in Warsaw; the language derives its name from his pseudonym, Dr. Esperanto (literally, “one who hopes”). Esperanto makes use of roots from the European languages; when combined with any of several dozen affixes, the roots become designations for a wide variety of concepts. International Esperanto congresses, under the auspices of the Universala Esperanto-Asocio (Universal Esperanto Association), have been held annually since 1905; the organization Mondpaca Esperantista Movado (Movement of Esperantists for World Peace) also exists.

Literary works, translations, collections of original scholarly works, and several dozen journals are published in Esperanto. The many translations into Esperanto include the Bible, Vergil’s Aeneid, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Goethe’s Faust, A. S. Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, and V. V. Mayakovsky’s At the Top of My Voice.


Sergeev, I. V. Osnovy esperanto. Moscow, 1961.
Problemy interlingvistiki. Moscow, 1976.
Bokarev, E. A. Esperanto russkii slovar’. Moscow, 1974.
Manders, W. Interlingvistiko kaj esperantologio. Purmerend, 1950.
Zamenhof, L. L. Fundamenta kreslomatio de la lingvo Esperanto, 17th ed. Rickmansworth, 1954.
Esperanto anlologio: Poemoj 1887–1957. La Laguna, 1958.
Waringhier, G. Plena ilustrita vortaro de Esperanto. Paris, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


an international artificial language based on words common to the chief European languages, invented in 1887
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005