JSLX Conversations, the Journal of Sociolinguistics Podcast: Monica Heller interviews Guilherme Fians on the book Esperanto Revolutionaries and Geeks

Press/Media: Relating to Research

Period27 Oct 2022

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleJSLX Conversations, the Journal of Sociolinguistics Podcast: Monica Heller interviews Guilherme Fians on the book Esperanto Revolutionaries and Geeks
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletJSLX Conversations, the Journal of Sociolinguistics Podcast
    Media typeWeb
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    DescriptionIn this inaugural episode of JSLX Conversations, Prof. Monica Heller (U. Toronto) meets Dr. Guilherme Fians (U. of St. Andrews & Centre for Research and Documentation on World Language Problems) to talk about Guilherme’s recent book “Esperanto Revolutionaries and Geeks: Language Politics, Digital Media and the Making of an International Community” published by Palgrave Macmillan.
    They discuss how Guilherme became interested in Esperanto in Rio de Janeiro and the research questions about learning motivations that emerged out of his initial contact with Esperantists. This interest took him to Paris (France), with a long history in the Esperanto movement, to look into the changing profiles of Esperanto speakers and the political relevance of Esperanto in the 21st century. In Paris, Guilherme found out that the Esperanto community was still quite active with four associations in Paris, peopled by “revolutionaries” linked with political movements like socialism and communism, and online communities of “geeks” with an interest in open-access software that do not typically participate in face-to-face classes and meetings. For both these groups, language is conceived as a way of building the commons in an egalitarian space and Esperanto is a way of materializing their political stances. Another major finding in the book is the generational cleavage among Esperanto speakers, partly because they don’t share a discursive space. The older generation is disheartened by the decline in meeting and congress participation by younger generations.
    The broader sociolinguistic questions that this study examines include language ideologies and unequal access to socialization spaces. To exemplify the latter, Monica and Guilherme discuss the latest Universal Esperanto Congress in Montréal. They discuss future research into conlangs and the commons, alternatives and utopia. Guilherme calls for more research into conlang language variation as well as linguistic authority and legitimacy. In addition to these classic sociolinguistic issues, Monica claims that this research field addresses a topic of contemporary interest, namely how people deal with inequality and unequal distribution of linguistic capital by trying to create a linguistic commons. To close this episode, Guilherme adds the intersection of nationalism and Esperanto as another relevant research direction.
    Link to Fians' book: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-84230-7
    Producer/AuthorJournal of Sociolinguistics
    PersonsGuilherme Moreira Fians, Monica Heller