Welcome to part two of our series showcasing some of the fascinating Esperantists we have met during our journey! Today we talked to Romain, another IJK participant. Romain is a denaskulo, or native speaker of Esperanto, who hails from Switzerland. He was kind enough to let us interview him about his hobbies, his experiences, and his hopes as an Esperantist. (Note to English speakers: all quotes translated by Angelica from the Esperanto).
First of all, as you might expect, we were curious to learn about Romain’s experiences as a denaskulo. He told us that people frequently ask him about being a native speaker, but usually only beginners, particularly with the recent influx of learners from Duolingo – there are enough native speakers in the movement that more experienced Esperantists generally know a few already and aren’t as impressed. Romain himself knows a family of three generations of denaskuloj – grandparents, parents, and children (though only a few from each generation).
Romain has a strong family connection to Esperanto. When asked about his native languages, he mentioned the interesting concept of a “mother language” versus a “father language”. As a child he learned Esperanto mostly from his mother, French mostly from his father. He also grew up as a part of the Esperantist community; he recalled yearly REF (Renkontiĝo de Esperanto-Familioj, Meeting of Esperanto Families) meetups fondly, saying that he made close friends there – though he also mentioned the confusion that can arise from so many Esperantist children in one place. “Normally in a crowd there’s only one child saying ‘Paĉjo’ [the affectionate term for a father], but at REF you hear it everywhere: ‘Paĉjo, Paĉjo!’”, he said, laughing.
Finally, we asked Romain about what esperanto (one who hopes) means to him – what he hopes for the Esperanto movement. After a pause for thought, he said that the movement would benefit from more denaskuloj. He doesn’t believe that the fina venko, the point at which everyone will speak Esperanto as an auxiliary language, is a necessary goal, but he thinks that raising more children as Esperanto speakers is important. Children who speak Esperanto natively revitalize the movement, increase the number of young speakers, and help to prove that Esperanto is a living language, usable for everyday family settings as well as conferences.