Of course, from the point of proponents the argument is already won. As they see it the language or community makes clear, rational sense and the only question is how long will it take everyone else to see this too.
So the question becomes, what means are acceptable to push their argument?
Consider these statements:
- It is a good thing to learn the common language of the country where you live, therefore the government should fund and make mandatory language courses in that common language.
- It is a good thing to learn a second language, therefore the government should fund education in a number of second languages, leaving the choice of whether students learn any of these languages up to them and their parents.
- It is a good thing to learn a second language, therefore the government should fund education in a number of second languages and it should be mandatory that all students learn at least one second language.
- It is a good thing to learn a second language and X, Y and Z are the languages spoken by the most people, therefore the government should fund education in a number of second languages and it should be mandatory that all students learn at least one of these three as a second language.
From that moment on, the argument becomes one of utility. I can't challenge the government's right to make language studies mandatory anymore so I can only argue about whether it should be this language or that one. So imagine that a government is elected on a platform of promoting tolerance between citizens of different cultures and one means they propose to achieve this is that all schoolchildren will learn to speak, read and write in Esperanto.
As it stands, speaking Esperanto is an oddball enthusiasm not unlike being a nudist, following the Playboy philosophy or joining the Unitarian-Universalist church. None of these are likely to gain much support beyond there current marginal status. But all four share universal aspirations. And all are born of the same Enlightenment ideal. Which is to say, the proponents of all these enthusiasms believe that you will be happier and more fulfilled as a human being if you take up their beliefs too. The negative also applies, they believe that failing to do so will make you less happy than you could be.
Why? Because they all stem from an Enlightenment notion that our lives are cluttered up by a lot of merely contingent factors that stand in the way of our being what we really can be. Take these barriers away and we can be truly free of cultural barriers to brotherhood of all humanity, hangups about our bodies, hangups about sex, or specific religious traditions that exclude others.
And that changes the nature of the argument. To argue for Spanish is to make a series of comparisons with other choices. To argue for Esperanto is to argue that the other choices aren't really legitimate choices. Don't believe me? Well, a defender of Esperanto chimed in on my last post and give a link to a website where we can learn the truth about the language. And one of the things we learn is that it has an ideal behind it:
The basic idea of Esperanto is about tolerance and respect for people of diverse nations and cultures. Communication is indeed the essential part of understanding each other, and if that communication happens through a neutral language, that can help the feeling that we 'meet' on equal grounds and help create respect for one another.A "neutral language" is one that is free of merely contingent aspects particular to one culture or people. Natural languages don't make that claim. They are the languages of particular peoples. To learn Spanish is to some extent to become more like the Spanish. Esperanto claims to be a language for all humanity and bases its claim on its purported ability to make us all happier because we will be able to get along together better.
Does New Urbanism warrant comparison with these Enlightenment projects with their universal aspirations? Yes, it does.