La skribma?ina insurekcio: The Esperanto typewriter insurgency

by | Nov 14, 2022 | Insurgency, Manifesto | 6 comments

The latest version of The Typewriter Insurgency Manifesto is in Esperanto. Dankegon, Toni E! La Revolucio estos tajpiligita!

This seems like a good moment to republish Norbert Schwarz’s article “Is There an Esperanto Typewriter?” from ETCetera no. 100.


  1. Michael Höhne

    It's nice to increase the reach of rational evaluation of technology, but I am dismayed by every invented orthography that uses or even allows diacritical marks. Have we learned nothing? In handwriting, I even resent having to GO BACK to add dots and crosses to the "i" and the "t". English typewriters avoid that hassle, but in other languages having to keep track of dead keys slows down the process. Computers sometimes avoid dead keys by introducing obscure, contortuous key combinations but other times carry on with dead keys.
    There are a few writing systems that avoid that old failure to think ahead which ends up necessitating diacritics, though, of course, they have their own problems. Gregg's Shorthand and G.B. Shaw's alphabet come to mind quickly. (I have seen pictures of a Shavian typewriter.)
    Esperanto was (is?) a noble concept, but sheesh! For more modern attempts incorporating advances in linguistics, see Loglan and Lojban. As you see them, note how difficult it is to simplify language beyond a handful of like-minded individuals. But at least their alphabets and orthography can be straightforward.
    Well, Onward!

  2. Schmasch

    The picture shows an Adler 7, which seems to make some sense. Since the type slugs had 3 instead of 2 different letters, more options were possible compared to a normal 4-bank typewriter. The 6 additional (or 12 if you add upper case) letters would fit and still leave enough room for numbers 1-9 and the usual characters like dot, comma, etc. That way, the typewriter could have the full set of roman letters plus the additional Esperanto letters. Only this way, I would consider a typewriter built for Esperanto. Just having ^ and ? would not qualify for that imho.
    I quickly scanned over some 40 or 50 Adler 7 photos available for sale in Germany, but they all have normal German Adler 7 keyboards, of course without any signs of Esperanto letters.

  3. Richard P

    I agree: Zamenhof missed a good opportunity for simple spelling. The Roman alphabet is suited to Latin, but not to many other languages; Esperanto had no need to use sounds that weren't in Latin, so why the "little hats"?

    The Latin alphabet was expanded to create W and J, but many languages that use the alphabet have resorted to diacritics. Maybe the most extreme is Vietnamese: ?ây là m?t ví d? v? ti?ng Vi?t.

    I wasn't aware of Loglan or Lojban; I have my doubts about their use beyond amusement!

  4. Richard P

    I've never heard of an actual Esperanto typewriter in a collector's hands. I hope it happens for you!

  5. Michael Höhne

    Oh, the people working in Loglan and Lojban are definitely not amusing nor amused! They are very serious. More to the point, their aims are very high. And their disagreements all the more disappointing because of that. I suppose you have looked into them on Wikipedia. "Loglan" comes from the name of the first project, Logical Language, which should give an idea of the plan.

  6. Richard P

    I looked briefly at Wikipedia, yes. I confess that my dismissive attitude is mostly based on preexisting philosophical convictions. I think that meaningful language is riddled with fruitful ambiguities and historical sedimentations; purified, artificial languages pretend to transcend all that messiness, but succeed only in codifying a few dogmatic assumptions. This may be very unfair, though!


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