The article "Esperanto a Language of Peace", which was published a few months ago, gave us a general idea of this unique language and its aspects and characteristics. The following interview with Lasha Chakhunashvili, an Esperanto speaker from Georgia, tells us how it is like to be able to speak Esperanto and gives us more information about the language, its possible uses and the best way to learn it.
Could you shortly introduce yourself to our readers and briefly talk about your academic and professional background?
My name is Lasha Chakhunashvili, I am a 21-year-old student from Georgia. Now I study and live in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, this year is my last Bachelor year at Tbilisi State University, the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Department of Human Geography.
When were you first exposed to Esperanto and how did you first hear about it?
My very first discovery of Esperanto took place in early 2011 when I was a 17-year-old secondary school student, preparing for my university entrance examinations in my little hometown of Vani, western Georgia; I remember that I quite accidentally came across on the internet a ‘’strange’’ human-made language of the 19th century, for the cosmopolitan and pacifist idea of uniting mankind through international understanding and friendship; and this really caught my interest. I immediately began collecting all the necessary information about this fascinating language, studying its history, roots, development and current state. Later I decided to learn the language myself online. Thus, in the following months I became entirely immersed into this unique linguistic adventure.
How many years have you been speaking this language?
Well, I didn’t actually start learning it right after I first knew about it. It happened a bit later. Now it has been a bit less than four year that I have been speaking Esperanto.
What motivated you to be part of the Esperanto movement at such a young age? And is it widely spoken in Georgia?
I extremely loved the philosophical idea of the language which calls worldwide understanding and friendship of all people. This is called ‘’Internal Idea of Esperanto’’ (La Interna Ideo), and that is exactly what makes it much more than just a language. Unfortunately, Georgia doesn’t nowadays host many speakers of Esperanto, even though the language has a long history in the Caucasus region where Georgia was a center of the Esperanto movement more than a century ago (that is why the country’s name in Esperanto is ‘’Kartvelio’’ (derived from the Georgian ethnonym ‘’Sakartvelo’’) instead of European-style ‘’Georgio’’ or Russian-style ‘’Gruzio’’).
Frankly speaking, I am probably the sole young speaker of Esperanto in the country. There are a couple of other young people who now try to be actively involved in our reemerging Esperanto movement and hopefully the language will gradually gain more popularity. Besides, there are a few other old Esperantists who learned the language long time ago and now we are trying to cooperate in planning the future of Esperanto in Georgia.
Do you consider yourself fluent? When do you get the chance to practice it and speak it with other Esperanto users?
Despite the fact that I speak the language quite well I can actually call myself ‘’fluent’’, there is still much to learn and improve. I think learning a language is a constant process of acquiring new skills and that also refers to Esperanto.
Stay tuned for the Part II of Interview with an Esperantist series.