For my second article on Esperanto, we go to Poland.
Zamenhof was born in Białystok, now a polish city, but in that time (he was born in 1859), still a part of the Lithuanian province of the Russian Empire unter the Tsar Nicolas II.
Zamenhof spoke of Lithuania as his 'beloved homeland', but never had problems with his mixed background, as being russian, polish, lithuanian and jewish. Near the end of the 19th century lots of conflicts between ethnic groups made living together not easy.
Białystok had only 30.000 habitants that time, 10% was Polish, 17% German, 13% Russian and 60 % had jewish roots. This resulted of course in a babylonic mixture of languages, slangs, dialects. German was mainly used in open areas, where Polish rather was used in intellectual circles. Hebrew, or rather Yiddish was used in commerce and trade, and peasants mainly spoke Belarussian. But after all, the official language of the region was Russian.
Zamenhofs father spoke Russian, but was teaching German, his mother Yiddish, and as he grew up, he used Polish more and more. Polish was also the language he thought his children.
In his studies to become a doctor, he learned French, Latin and Greek. Also Hebrew en English he spoke.
Finally he had a strong interest in learning Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian.
No wonder he concluded that miscommunicuation was the course of much of the misery he encountered in his town, and that there was a urgent need of a language that could be understood in every part of the city...
Two polish issues, to remeber and honour Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof (born : Leyzer Leyvi Zamengov).