William Shatner in Esperanto

I’m currently reading (and enjoying) William Shatner’s autobiography. In it, he talks about a low budget movie he made just before “Star Trek” called “Incubus”. He talks about getting the original script (in English) and signing on to the project. It was only after agreeing to do the film that the director told everyone that the film would be shot in the constructed language, Esperanto, a failed but noble attempt to introduce a universal language. Not only that, even when not filming, the cast and crew all had to speak Esperanto!

By his own admission, William Shatner is well-known for making up stories so I found this hard to believe.

But it’s true.

Here is a trailer for the DVD with Shatner taking on the Succubi Sisters. The trailer is ever-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek but reports are that the movie is actually not too bad despite its low budget status. And don’t worry – there are English sub-titles.

I’m tempted to get this one!

7 Responses to “William Shatner in Esperanto”

  1. May 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I’m afraid I cannot agree that Esperanto is “a failed but noble attempt”.

    Your readers may gain from your comment the idea that Esperanto is something historical or experimental. In fact this planned second language is spoken by a growing population of people across the world. Take a look at http://www.esperanto.net

  2. May 17, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Universal language? I think you mean more precisely ‘universal bilingualism’ [YOUR ethnic language + non-ethnic, non-territorial Esperanto for all], in other words a more eco-linguistically just and fair way of intercommunication than the linguistic depredations presently caused by the world hegemony of one ethnic language, and the privileged position its speakers thus have – almost ‘linguistic racism’ one might say.
    The Prague Manifesto:
    lists 7 good points about Esperanto worth taking a few moments to consider.

    Failed? Have you seen the very recent 728p. ‘Encyclopedia of Original Esperanto Literature’?:
    Do you know about daily Esperanto podcasts from Radio Polonia?:
    The Esperanto spoken here is normal, unlike the abominably awful attempt by Shatner et al.
    etc. etc. etc.

    You might not know any speakers of Esperanto in your part of the world, just as I know no speakers of Farsi, for example, but that doesn’t mean it has failed. True, pidgin English is presently pragmatically more useful. But the potential of Esperanto is enormous and well worth looking into more seriously:

  3. 3 twistinthedark
    May 18, 2009 at 12:48 am

    My comment about Esperanto relates to my understanding of the reason that it was introduced – as a universal language to foster peace and understanding. A noble reason indeed but I can’t see that that has happened which is why I said that it had failed.

    I acknowledge that the language itself has not failed. Esperanto is a lot more widely spread than I was previously aware but it is far from universal even as a second language.

    No offence was intended to Esperanto speakers.

  4. May 18, 2009 at 2:04 am

    Thanks for the clarification – but again I have to disagree. Among its now worldwide speakers it has certainly fostered a high level of understanding, if not always peace, as evidenced by the annual world Esperanto congresses, usually attended by around 2,000 people:
    Just how we communicate this info to all the non-Esperanto speakers, who are content to bumble along with an inadequate command of English from an uneven playing field after years of study, when all can communicate on the SAME linguistic level with much less effort, seems to be the problem. We have demonstrated that first class communication is possible, but people are content with third rate.

    And Esperanto as an ‘apprentice language’, introductory to other ethnic languages and for general language awareness in high school, is another of our aces people just don’t want to investigate:

  5. May 18, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    No offence taken 🙂 – just trying to clear up a couple of misconceptions.

    Effective communication is a necessary – but insufficient – step to achieving peace and understanding. Few if any Esperantists believe that Esperanto alone will usher in a new era of world peace. Nevertheless, within its (currently limited) sphere of influence, Esperanto has succeeded in fostering a degree of peace and understanding. It’s not quite as simple, of course, as “speak Esperanto -> get along with everyone” – the phenomenon is due at least in part to the culture of the Esperanto community that tends to value peace and understanding, which could arise in any community, language-based or not, although many Esperantists learn the language for reasons that would tend to reinforce such a culture. Because the Esperanto community is relatively small and scattered, it’s difficult to observe this phenomenon without actually being in the community. If you’re interested, I would suggest learning the language (it’s great fun as far as languages go, several times easier to learn than other languages, and website Lernu!) has many good self-learning resources), after which you would be able to observe through first-hand involvement.

    Another thing to consider is that “success” and “failure” are not always easy to quantify. The search for a cure for cancer, a worthwhile and long-standing goal, has saved many lives, but no one would say it has failed just because cancer has not yet been eradicated and that we should give up now and stop wasting our time. The operative word is “yet” – it’s a work in progress in which every step forward is a success. Same with Esperanto.

  6. 6 twistinthedark
    May 19, 2009 at 6:37 am

    A work in progress. You’re right, that’s a much better way of looking at it and it changes one’s whole perception.

    I have always been aware of Esperanto and intrigued by the concept although I guess I shared the misinformed view that Esperanto is, well, sorry to say it out loud, but something not to be taken seriously. I guess this is a prejudice that Esperantists must face all the time.

    I confess that I would be interested in learning Esperanto but since I am currently learning another language (Swedish), my brain would probably go into meltdown if I took on another language, however straightforward to learn. 🙂 Maybe something for later on.

    Thanks for all the comments about Esperanto. I guess that this is an advantage of the internet and blogging. It’s a great way to correct misconceptions and expand your knowledge.


  7. May 29, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Grant, the Esperanto Mafia are out to get you 😉 They’ll brook no babbling about their language 😉 Thank god you’re learning Swedish – they don’t get so hot under the collar 🙂 Can you hear the drums Esperanto? I remember long ago….

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