“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” debuted in a worldwide 1971 television commercial for Coca-Cola. Also known as “the Hilltop Song,” the commercial featured an assembly of multicultural teenagers walking up to the crest at the top of a hill, earnestly raising their voices to say how they would also like to buy the world a Coke. The jingle was so successful that the lyrics to the song were rewritten (minus the Coke ad). The ”de-commercialized” version of I’d Like to Teach the World was then recorded by The New Seekers, a very upbeat, American evangelical sort of group, and the song instantly became a number one hit.
Teaching the world to sing let alone work together in harmony is a persistent utopian vision which has met, especially in the past few centuries, with marginal success. Utopian communities – many based on religious principles of one sort or another – have been so numerous that they rate their own lengthy Wikipedia entry. Then there are the obvious experiments like the United Nations which, like its predecessor the League of Nations, was designed to prevent future wars, and the European Union which is being reinvented (again) this very week.
Apart from religious or cultural practices, there has been until recently only one utopian ideal which involved building a universal language. That was Esperanto, a “nation-free” tongue created in 1877 by Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof.
Zamenhof was born in Bialystok, once part of the Russian Empire, now a part of modern Poland. His Father spoke Russian, as did his Mother. She also spoke Yiddish. Yiddish derives from a blend of High German dialects, Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic and a smattering of other romance languages. The creation of Yiddish is credited to the Ashkenazi Jews. Written Yiddish uses the Hebrew alphabet. Zamenhof’s Father taught German. The family learned and spoke Polish. Zamenhof also acquired fluencies in French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and English. He dabbled in Italian, Lithuanian and Spanish. He was a self contained embodiment of the Tower of Babel.
Zamenhof chose the name Esperanto for his new language: it translates as “one who hopes.” His goal was simple and yet incredibly complex. He wanted to teach the world to speak in a politically neutral language not tied to any nation. His utopian dream was that Esperanto would bring peace and international understanding as soon as enough people learned how to speak it well enough to sit down and broker the end to wars. Esperanto was not meant to function, therefore, as a means of conducting commercial enterprises. It was meant to promote peace on earth.
Read More at Official Wire By Susan Easton, Official Wire
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