Try to imagine it: one universal language, spoken, written and understood by everyone everywhere on Earth.

To facilitate international commerce, communication, understanding and peace, the Baha’i Faith advocates the adoption of an international auxiliary language.

As the Baha’i teachings envision the process, such a language would be chosen through international consultation and agreement, thereby making the process itself an important bulwark of international harmony.

The intent is not to suppress, supplant or replace any existing languages, nor is it to allow any one cultural or linguistic approach to dominate others—the idea is to support international peace. Baha’u’llah explained:

Among the things which are conducive to unity and concord and will cause the whole earth to be regarded as one country is that the divers languages be reduced to one language and in like manner the scripts used in the world be confined to a single script. It is incumbent upon all nations to appoint some men of understanding and erudition to convene a gathering and through joint consultation choose one language from among the varied existing languages, or create a new one, to be taught to the children in all the schools of the world.

The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home. These things are obligatory and absolutely essential. It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action. – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, pp. 165-166.

Actually, the Baha’i teachings describe the adoption of this universal auxiliary language as one of the necessary precursors to planetary peace:

Today the greatest need of the world of humanity is discontinuance of the existing misunderstandings among nations. This can be accomplished through the unity of language. Unless the unity of languages is realized, the Most Great Peace and the oneness of the human world cannot be effectively organized and established because the function of language is to portray the mysteries and secrets of human hearts. The heart is like a box, and language is the key. Only by using the key can we open the box and observe the gems it contains. Therefore, the question of an auxiliary international tongue has the utmost importance. Through this means international education and training become possible; the evidence and history of the past can be acquired. The spread of the known facts of the human world depends upon language. The explanation of divine teachings can only be through this medium. As long as diversity of tongues and lack of comprehension of other languages continue, these glorious aims cannot be realized. Therefore, the very first service to the world of man is to establish this auxiliary international means of communication. It will become the cause of the tranquillity of the human commonwealth. Through it sciences and arts will be spread among the nations, and it will prove to be the means of the progress and development of all races. We must endeavor with all our powers to establish this international auxiliary language throughout the world. It is my hope that it may be perfected through the bounties of God and that intelligent men may be selected from the various countries of the world to organize an international congress whose chief aim will be the promotion of this universal medium of speech. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 60-61.

This one Baha’i principle, Abdu’l-Baha said, is “the greatest working basis for bringing about unity and harmony amongst the nations:”

We say “this man is a German, the other an Italian, a Frenchman, an Englishman,” etc. All belong to the great human family yet language is the barrier between them. The greatest working basis for bringing about unity and harmony amongst the nations is the teaching of a universal tongue. Writing on this subject fifty years ago, His Holiness Baha’u’llah declared that complete union between the various nations of the world would remain an unrealized dream until an international language was established. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 142.

Elsewhere the Baha’i writings envisage the adoption of a universal currency and a universal system of weights and measures. Again, the motivation is to facilitate harmony among all peoples.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

9 Comments

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  • Eddie Chen-Desailly
    Jul 20, 2017
    Dear Stephanie and Andrew
    Change gonna come!
    Contrary to the wishes of the beloved Master, of the one and only Guardian and the House itself in its official documents, Esperanto is virtually ignored by the Baha'i community
    Keep up your study and trust in the promises of Abdu'l-Baha given in authoritative texts and talks and trust in the advice provided by the Universal House of Justice in its preeminent address to the entire world - THE PROMISE OF WORLD PEACE
    This 30-year stasis in Declarations is linked directly to a failure on the part of most Baha'i ...leaders as individuals to live the principle of an auxiliary language as distinct from the institutional question of selecting it. Others will be called upon to spread the Faith!
    P
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  • Andrew Rose
    Jul 20, 2017
    How about Esperanto? Some good reasons why this international language fills the requirements of a unified world:- Its easy to learn (even for me and I am no linguist). Its free from any national or cultural group. Its all there - it works both written and spoken.
  • Liesma Vasbenter
    Jul 20, 2017
    Physically learning another (universal) language may be difficult; As one who has leared to think, write and speak in another than one's mother tongue I am frequently aware of the 'mismatch' between words and the meanings they try to convey. Language is not just a matter of grammar, words, pronunciation, and vocal nuance but of the perceptions, concepts, meanings and unique world views that lie behind it. Each different language offers a unique perspective to human thought and perception increasing its amplitude and scope - a colourful tapestry! The coming ability of telepathy (*the* universal language) in the near future, ...and loving, compassionate listening now will surely eliminate all barriers to understanding communication.
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  • Eddie Chen-Desailly
    Jul 18, 2017
    Kenneth's article opens by referencing a universal aux language. Then its center piece tangentially (if one seeks consultation on the Baha'i principle per se rather than the adopting of a solo planetary language aeons away) switches to Baha'u'llah's text citing a far distant time when a single planetary language will be used in all the world as the only language spoken by everyone.
    David's policy limiting consultation to a few sentences requires that I write separately to Kenneth. I'll stress that AB's words above address DC's Esperantists and ask that we ESTABLISH THIS AUXILIARY INTERNATIONAL MEANS OF COMMUNICATION ...which is (think Ruhi!) THE VERY FIRST SERVICE TO THE WORLD; That IT MAY BE PERFECTED implies that it was extant in 1912.
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  • Karen Mallory
    Jul 18, 2017
    Has anyone considered that the universally understand language might be mathematical or financial? Have you ever tried to negotiate with a vendor in a souk? Money talks.
  • Elizabeth Snyder
    Jul 18, 2017
    I've been a Baha'i for 48+ years, & I can attest to the difficulties presented in learning English as a second language. I have dear friends of many nations/languages who STILL struggle with the complications of it, & some who, though they've been in America for
    decades, have not had much success with their efforts. I'm from the southern part of the country, & sometimes I say things to my friends from the north, & they look at me like, "Huh???"
    This issue is getting more vital with every passing day. How amazing it is that His Holiness Baha'u'llah ...was expressing it more than a century ago...
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  • Jul 18, 2017
    I know that English is becoming the de facto "international language" but it remains difficult to learn for many people in the world, especially in the far east. Esperanto is gaining acceptance in these countries because there are simple rules and no exceptions. It is also a gateway to learning other languages. How can we get more of the Baha'i writings directly translated into Esperanto? I can now translate English to Esperanto easily using online translators, but I have no idea whether or not the resulting double translation is equivalent to a translation from the original ...Farsi or Arabic. Perhaps some nuances would be lost.
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  • Jul 18, 2017
    Mi ŝatus ĝin se ĉiuj homoj lernus paroli Esperanton. Facilas lerni sur Duolingo, nova lingvo retejo, kaj estas ankaŭ la aplicación por la inteligenta telefono. Google tradukas bone scipovas helpi difini la vortojn ke homoj ne komprenas. Facilas!
    • Elizabeth Snyder
      Jul 18, 2017
      I wish I'D said that. 😄😮🤓