Michael Jackson “esperantista”
The Sunday Telegraph, 6.11.1994
Redeemer: Michael Jackson (right foto 8,5×9,5 cm) in his video featuring Esperanto, invented by Ludovic Zamenhof (left foto 8,5×9,5 cm)
POP STAR’S WORDS OF COMFORT FOR ESPERANTO
by Joe Saumarez Smith
SUPPORTERS of Esperanto, the international language which claims to have more than eight million speakers worldwide, have turned to the pop star Michael Jackson to rescue it from obscurity in Britain.
Jackson uses Esperanto in a œ4 million promotional video for his forth coming album “History”, a collection of his greatest hits and new material planned for release early next year. The video, which will be released next month, is provisionally titled “Redeeming Eastern Europe” and shows Jackson saving that part of the world from the Red Army.
“We are hoping that it will produce some sort of upsurge of interest in Esperanto,” says Brian Barker, of the Esperanto Association of Britain.
“Anything like this can only be good for getting people involved.”
Given that the Esperanto Association claims that there are between 4,000 and 10,000 speakers of the language in the country, of whom only 1,000 are members, it will be a welcome boost. The pop singer’s involvement will be particularly welcomed at the beginners’ level where its popularity can be assessed by the number of entrants in this summer’s Northern Examining Board Esperanto GCSE examinations – 25.
For those with a deeper knowledge of Esperanto, it may seem strange that they are happy to support a representation of the crushing of Soviet might as Esperanto has long been associated with Marxism and anticlericalism.
It was not until 1991 that the Vatican allowed the celebration of Mass in Esperanto and only “on the occasion of international, multinational and national congresses”.
It is still forbidden for the language to be used in the confessional.
The unlikely alliance is not to everybody’s liking. Jonathan Morrish director of European public affairs for Sony Music, is concerned that Esperanto speakers were seeking to have their product endorsed by the world’s richest pop star.
“The video has not yet been released and very few people here have seen it,” he said.
“For all they know, it may only be a fractional use of Esperanto in the background. As far as I know, Michael Jackson is not particularly keen on Esperanto.”
Bernice Garrett, of the Esperanto League for North America, said she had been involved in extensive translation services for Jackson.
“I can confirm that Esperanto is widely used in the video,” she said. “Kids are already chanting ‘Mi amas vin Michael Jackson, mi amas vin I love you Michael Jackson, I love you’.”
Esperanto was invented in 1887 by Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Pole, who believed it would lead to world peace.
It enjoyed peak popularity in the 1920s and 1930s but in recent years has lost many devotees to Interglosa, a rival language with an easier grammatical structure and a smaller vocabulary.