Esperanto was created in the late 1870s and early 1880s by L. L. Zamenhof, a Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist from Białystok, then part of the Russian Empire, but now part of Poland.
According to Zamenhof, he created the language to reduce the “time and labour we spend in learning foreign tongues” and to foster harmony between people from different countries: “Were there but an international language, all translations would be made into it alone … and all nations would be united in a common brotherhood.” His feelings and the situation in Białystok may be gleaned from an extract from his letter to Nikolai Borovko:
“The place where I was born and spent my childhood gave direction to all my future struggles. In Białystok the inhabitants were divided into four distinct elements: Russians, Poles, Germans and Jews; each of these spoke their own language and looked on all the others as enemies. In such a town a sensitive nature…
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