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Federico Gobbo, professor by special appointment of Interlinguistics and Esperanto, will deliver his inaugural lecture simultaneously in Esperanto, English and Dutch. This will be the first time an inaugural lecture is given in these three languages in the Netherlands, or perhaps anywhere for that matter.


The inaugural lecture, titled ‘Interlinguistics, a subject for multilingualism’ (Interlinguïstiek, een vak voor meertaligheid), will be given in three languages: Esperanto, English and Dutch. Depending on the language being spoken, a separate screen will display the translation in one of the other two languages (e.g., when Gobbo speaks in Esperanto or Dutch, the English translation will be shown on the screen and vice versa). 

Esperanto is often considered a relic of the past, especially now that English has become the global language of our time. And yet it remains a living language, one whose use is growing thanks to ICT technology. In his lecture, Gobbo will explain why Esperanto is still of interest in the 21st century.

Three languages at once

This will be first time that an inaugural lecture will simultaneously be given in Esperanto, English and Dutch at the UvA – or perhaps anywhere on earth. Gobbo: ‘I chose to deliver my inaugural lecture in three languages because it became evident that a single language wouldn’t suffice. Naturally, I have to give a part in Esperanto, but if I were only to do it in this language, I would probably fail to keep some of the audience members engaged. Dutch because I am a professor in the Netherlands; English because it is the language of academia. I want the UvA to become a truly multilingual university, because that is the essence of Europe: multilingualism.’

Esperanto’s reach

Esperanto is the most spoken constructed language on earth. Introduced in 1887, Esperanto rapidly became a living language supported by a community of speakers scattered across the planet. This in turn enabled it to survive the ravages of two world wars. Gobbo: ‘The question I’m most often asked about Esperanto concerns the amount of speakers of this language. An answer is difficult to give because of a lack of precise estimates. Esperanto is not an official language in any state and there are no surveys with exact numbers.’


According to Gobbo, we live in a ‘glocalised’ world. This means that, as opposed to twenty years ago, we can now more easily access different languages. In this ‘glocalised’ society, local is linked to global, and global trends have to adapt to be able to fit within a local context. Gobbo explains: ‘Esperanto is a lesser-known language, but nonetheless remains relevant. From a theoretical perspective, it is an extraordinary source for learning. Never before in human history has a community been built around a language created from nothing, without a tradition previously existing. Esperanto is a non-ethnic language based on the ethics of fraternity and mutual understanding – it is a language without borders.’ 


Federico Gobbo, professor by special appointment of Interlinguistics and Esperanto: ‘Interlinguistics, a subject for multilingualism’ (Interlinguïstiek, een vak voor meertaligheid).

Time and place 

Date: Friday, 13 March at 16:00
Address: Aula, Singel 411, Amsterdam