The Esperanto Antaŭen Promise Project
In 1887 when Esperanto was first introduced, it was introduced with the idea of collecting promises. The first books introducing the language contained a page with promise forms asking for the name, address and signature of people willing to promise to learn the proposed international language if ten million people made the same promise.
We do not know how many promises were collected. We do know that thousands of people decided to start learning and using the language without waiting for ten million others.
It could be argued that Esperanto and the promise collection were ideas introduced too early. In 1887 many people never travelled beyond the nearest city. Today sometimes with less effort, people travel half way around the world. In 1887, although people knew that other languages were spoken, many lived their entire lives without ever meeting someone who spoke a different language. Today the airplane, and the internet have turned the world into a global village where meeting people who speak a different language is an everyday occurrence. In 1887, if someone was inclined to promise to learn the proposed international language, they had to find and fill out a paper form, put it in an envelope, go to the post office and buy the postage necessary to mail the form to Warsaw (then part of Russia – now Poland). Today, people can make such a promise in seconds using smart phones they routinely carry in their pockets.
Esperanto Antaŭen decided to relaunch the idea of collecting promises. The new Promise Project asks people to promise to learn Esperanto after one hundred million people make the same promise. There are about 6000 languages in the world, the vast majority are spoken by less than one million people. Calculating how many people speak a language is not an easy task and calculations vary; however, if one hundred million people spoke Esperanto, by many calculations it would be one of the top ten languages in the world. Because it would be by far the easiest of the top ten to learn, and the only one planned and intended for international use, it would really stand out, and we believe that many more people would choose to learn it. More people learning it will make it even more useful and worth learning, resulting in even more people learning it, and so on, until it becomes the most commonly spoken language on the planet.
On September 7, 2018, Esperanto Antaŭen collected the first promises. The first milestone was reached on October 16 when the 100th promise was collected. The second milestone was reached on March 14, 2019 when the 1000th promise was collected. We now (August 13, 2019) have 2270 – just 99 997 730 to go! If you have not already done so, you can add your promise to our growing list on our Promise Page.
Most (more than 2000) of the promises so far have been collected one at a time by a single promise collector working part time. On at least four days he collected more than 50 promises, and he is confident that if he worked as a full time promise collector, he could collect 10 000 promises in a year. At that rate, 10 000 full time promise collectors could collect 100 000 000 promises in one year. Promise collectors are basically salespeople for the Esperanto movement. Although we hope to collect promises as a result of social and mainstream media campaigns as well as through other channels, Esperanto Antaŭen’s is also aiming to raise $300 000 000 CAD (about 200 000 000 Euros) to hire 10 000 Esperanto salespeople within five years.
Esperanto activists can be found throughout the world (917 people from 57 countries registered for the 2019 World Esperanto Congress in Lahti Finland). After a presentation about the project made during the Congress in Finland, visitors to this website have submitted promises from as far away as Iran and New Zealand. Many thousands of people are prepared to work to turn the dream that inspired the creation of Esperanto into a reality. Billions of dollars have been raised to fund projects with far less impact. We conclude that 100 000 000 promises can be collected, and that Esperanto will become the most commonly spoken language on the planet within 10 years.