In 2020 the work of the Esperantic Studies Foundation (ESF) focused more particularly on international language issues, and especially the promotion of equality among languages, international communication on the basis of linguistic equality, and linguistic justice. Primarily a research organization, ESF also supports language teaching (particularly Esperanto and interlinguistics) when such teaching complements its research program, and the active promotion of solutions to language issues through the International Language Esperanto. It particularly seeks to raise the visibility of language as a policy issue in international affairs, specifically in the context of international organizations, such as the United Nations, where language issues are often taken for granted.

Accordingly, not only did ESF give grants, but it also engaged in its own research and coordination, and it encouraged others to do the same. It continued to publish a newsletter to link researchers and its Academic Coordinator worked to bring people of similar research and teaching interests together.

The Foundation’s annual report touches only on some of the highlights of ESF’s activities – a remarkable range of such activities, given the modesty of our annual budget. We are able to do so much both because of our dedicated staff and also because of the work of numerous volunteers, of our board and its committees, and of our advisory board.

As with so many other organizations, the year 2020 presented new and sometimes difficult challenges. The pandemic inevitably disrupted much of our work. We mention in the report the implications of going virtual with NASK, our summer program for the teaching of Esperanto, and the consequences of replacing the Universal Esperanto Association’s annual congress with a virtual Esperanto Festival. While there were obvious negatives, the reality is that such virtual events allowed for more outreach than ever before, with thousands of participants in various events where previously the numbers were in the hundreds. And while restrictions on travel and the closing of libraries meant that research projects were often put on hold, preparations for future activities went ahead. Even the board’s annual retreat, while convened by Zoom rather than in person, was as productive and disciplined as ever.

Please read the annual report and give us feedback. What areas of linguistic justice are we not addressing that we should be? Is there research that we should know about? Who do you know that should be applying for grants? Your help is vital to the work of ESF and we look forward to hearing from you. Please comment on the blog or write to admin@esperantic.org.

Chuck Mays – Executive Director ESF

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