Promise Project

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 ahead of their time. 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. We think that the promise project could get us to the tipping point. With so many speakers, it would be useful enough that more and more people would learn it making it even more useful and worth learning, resulting in even more people learning it, until it becomes the most commonly spoken language on the planet.

The project got started and 2000 promises were collected before Covid. In January 2024, Esperanto Antaŭen began reaching out to Esperanto activists and other interested people. We are ready to make a fresh start collecting promises again. If you haven’t already done so, be one of the first to visit our promise page at Promise Page.

Before Covid, we developed an effective series of questions that anyone can use to collect promises. When talking to your friends and acquaintances (or even strangers) we encourage you to go to ea-mondo.org/e1 and ask the questions. When someone answers “yes” to the last question, collect their contact information on the next page.