Ludwig L. ZamenhofOphthalmologist / Philologist
Born: 15 December 1859
Died: 14 April 1917
Birthplace: Bialystok, Poland
Best known as: The inventor of the language Esperanto
Name at birth: Eliezer Zamenhof
L.L. Zamenhof was a Polish eye doctor who spent his life constructing and promoting the Lingvo Internacia -- international language -- known as Esperanto. He first worked on the language as a teenager; biographers have traced his primary work to the period between 1877 and 1887. In 1905 he organized the first conference to promote the language as a way to world peace. Zamenhof's dedication to his avocation led him to write texts, dictionaries and translations of great literature while trying to raise a family as an ophthalmologist in a poor neighborhood. Esperanto features the use of words and wordroots common in European languages, but with a regular grammar and phonetic spellings. Today the language still has a small but loyal worldwide following. Three decades after Zamenhof's death Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union deemed Esperanto a dangerous part of some ill-defined Zionist conspiracy. During World War II Zamenhof's grown children, Adam, Zofia and Lidja, were all imprisoned and executed by Nazi Germany.
Extra credit: The name Esperanto comes from his 1887 pseudonym, Dr. Esperanto, meaning "one who hopes" ... He's mostly known as Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof or L.L. Zamenhof, but there are several variations. He grew up speaking Polish, Russian, Yiddish and German, and his name changes reflect the language variations in his home, his town, his school and his social stratum (for example, adopting Ludwig over Lazarus to hide his Jewish background)... Oomoto, a sect of the Shinto religion, adopted Esperanto as its universal language in 1923.
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