Talk:L. L. Zamenhof

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Missing link[edit]

Jun 04, 2006 - Missing link! The link at the end of this article is a deadlock - Error 404


Feb 25, 2002 - According to, his Jewish name was Lazar Markovitch Zamenhof, but Russian Imperial laws at the time required everyone to have a Christian name, hence Ludovic Lazarus.

Does anyone know what Zamenhof's first two names actually were? They seem usually to be given in different forms, depending on the language being used. E.g., Ludoviko Lazaro in Esperanto, Louis-Lazare in French, etc. But what is the correct form? I've heard he was called Lazar as a child. --Zundark, 2001 Sep 14

He's name was Elizer Lazar Samenhof. His father was known like Zamenhof. Elizer was writting whith his grandfather from Lithuania. Grandfather ask him which name will he choose if he will be Polish (his family had very strong polish character, their writting in Polish and propably talking in Polish). Elizer answer that Ludwik. In "Internacia Lingvo" from 1887 he sign himself "Dr. Ludoviko Lazar Zamenhof" or "Dr.Esperanto".

My resources claim he is Polish, and his name is Lazarus Ludwig Zamenhof and he was born on Roberts birthday!! Way before he existed though.

Britannica says Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, so I think I'll use that. However, his surname wasn't really spelt Zamenhof either, that's just how he preferred to write it. It's often stated that he was Polish, but this is meaningless. Ethnically he was a Jew. The places he lived in (Białystok and Warsaw) are now in Poland, but at the time they were in the Russian Empire. His family were Russian-speaking. He called his homeland -- the area around Białystok -- Litovujo (that is, Lithuania). --Zundark, 2001 Sep 15.

Do not forget that Russian as the invaders, forced Poles to speak Russian at home. IT was illegal at jom to speak a langueage different than Russian, despite the fact they were Polish. They wanted to Rusinaze Poles and all the other ethnic groups around them.

Norum 13 jan 2007.

Ethnically Jew? THis is meaningless. Does he describe himself as Jew? A lot of Jews were Poles, as prove statistcis from Pre-War Poland (difference between number of citizens with Jewish religion and Jewish nationality is stunning). i noticed that some people think that you can be Jew and American, Jew and German, but if you are Jew in Poland, it seems that you just can't be Pole??
In time Zamenhof live there was no Poland, as it was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria. Warsaw was however part of Russia Empire called first Polish kingdom, and then ,,Privinslanskij kraj" (when Russia tried to destroy any memory about Poland). He died in Warsaw and for whoel his life he constantly returned to it. One of his first text translated was Pater Noster. OTOH he was buried on Jewish cemetery.
I first time that he created Esperanto to unite Jewish Diaspora. I always read that he (as he few times told) created this language, so every people could communicate with each other no matter of nationality or race.
Adolf Hitler wrote this in Mein Kampf. --Chuck SMITH
I don't know if he was Russian, Pole or whatever, but if you will put equation Jew(someone)=>!Pole(someone), then you will join army of endecja, who think the same, and for whom Korczak, Slonimski, Lesmian, Schulz etc were not Poles just because of their Jewish roots.
If you think that "ethnically a Jew" is meaningless, then you should do something about the Jews article, which starts "Jews are both a religion and an ethnicity". As far as I know, Zamenhof considered himself a Jew, and not a Pole. But, like his father, he didn't really believe in the Jewish religion. Jews can, of course, be Poles, but that doesn't mean Zamenhof was, especially as he was born in what he considered to be Lithuania. --Zundark, 2001 Dec 17
Most Jews in Poland have German or Russian names; I think this contributes to the way they have been alienated from the general Polish population, the name "Zamenhof" furthers this point.
There is an important fact that you have to bear in mind. Jewish family names sound German, because they were given by Austrian and Prussian state officials. It was done to force acculturation and facilitate administration, AFTER Polish state had lost some of its provinces to those countries (and finally independence). Sometimes, a spiteful clerk was giving names that sounded silly. I guess nobody would call himself: "Kanalgeruch" (smell-of-a-canal), or "Wanzenknicker" (bedbug-miser) - authentic names given to the Jews by E.T.A. Hoffman, a known writer of fables and a Prussian official. All a Jewish person could do in a case like this, was to bribe the clerk. So this is rather a story about German-Jewish lack of tolerance and alienation. --Oronárë (talk) 23:33, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
If he indeed considered himself Jew while ont considering himself Pole at the same time, (there are numerous examples when people did that), then you are right.
Sorry, but could someone just check whether he was or not considering himself a Jew/Pole/Lithuanian/Russian or whatever? And to what you've said, despite strict definitions, being a Jew may mean one of two: being a Judaist, being a Judaist AND a part of Jewish community. And I'm not going to check which one is strictly correct, cos until I stay confused it should explicitly said.


I removed the following sentence "He was also known as Dr. Esperanto, a pseudonym he used, meaning in the soon-to-be so-named language 'one who hopes', when publishing his work Lingvo Internacia, his first description of the language." because it says the same information that is already mentioned in the final paragraph "In 1887, the book titled as "D-ro Esperanto. Lingvo internacia. Antaŭparolo kaj plena lernolibro" (Dr. Hopeful. International Language. Foreword And Complete Textbook) was published." We don't need to repeat this fact twice. --Chuck SMITH

name & nationality (again)[edit]

The Vikipedio article [1] and discussion page state that LL Zamenhof was given the Hebrew name Eliezer, which in Russian was Lejzer [English Lazarus, Esperanto Lazaro]. Legally, he had to go by the Russian version of his name. This seems to have something to do with needing to have a "Christian" name, but of course Christian names are mostly Jewish in origin, so in effect the law required everyone to have a Russian-language name. Later, when he was at University in Moscow he chose a new name, Ludwik, to honor Francis Lodwick/Lodowyck, who published a conlang in 1652 that Zamenhof had read about. Only in 1901, when his brother Leon started signing "L Zamenhof", did he retrieve the name Lejzer/Lazaro and start signing LL Zamenhof. There seems to be some confusion as to which L was which, and Zamenhof himself didn't seem to place much importance on it.

As for the "Markovich", that's a patronymic, not a given name. His father's Hebrew name was Mordechai, but he prefered Mark among Russians, so in Russian, LL Zamenhof would be called Markovich. (It's polite in Russian to refer to someone by their patronymic rather than their given name.)

Sorry for repeating the info from the link, but I don't know if everyone here controls Esperanto. Also, the Vikipedio page makes an error in not recognizing that Lejzer is simply the Russian form of Eliezer.

In Zamenhof's own words he was not Polish, but a Russian Jew (ruslanda hebreo). His home languages were Russian (father) and Yiddish (mother). I don't know about the Lithuanian stuff; the Vikipedio page claims his family was Latvian, not Lithuanian. I don't know the justification for that. It could be that his family traced its origins to the Baltics, but just as possible that Zamenhof saw his homeland of Bialistok as historically part of the Lithuanian (= Polish!) Empire rather than the Russian.

Regardless, Zamenhof is a national figure today in Poland, with a Zamenhof Park, several Zamenhof Streets, etc. Esperanto is quite popular in Poland, and a point of pride, and Poles have a correspondingly strong influence on the Esperanto movement. Perhaps that's why Zamenhof's most often said to have been Polish. --kwami 05:14, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

He says he spoke "Russian, Polish, and German" fluently. kwami 23:41, 2005 July 9 (UTC)
Is it necessary to state this at all? Why not just start off with "Zamenhof ... was a Jewish ophthalmologist", or better yet just "Zamenhof .. was an ophthalmologist." The information on his ethnicity, language and place of birth all appear in the next few paragraphs. Why not just remove this bone of contention? MFNickster 04:09, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
Go for it! kwami 05:37, 2005 August 26 (UTC)

The Esperanot wiki's been expanded with a link to "litva". Litova is 'Lithuanian' in the ethnic sense; litva is Lithuanian in the historical Grand Duchy of Lithuania (modern Lithuania, Belarus, & Ukraine) sense. The article says that Z's family was litva. kwami 21:33, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

His family name was written Samenhof in German orthography; Zamenhof is an Esperantized spelling.

Yes, but which way did he write it? in Russian, Yiddish, and Polish? In different Cyrillic-written languages, you see it as both Заменгоф and Заменхоф, and in Yiddish Wikipedia it’s זאמענהאף. I’m inclined to think that’s somehow “right,” as ה isn’t typically a Yiddish letter —Wiki Wikardo 09:39, 17 March 2010 (UTC)


He was polish-russian of Jewish roots.

Thank you for joining us!
Do you have any evidence that Zamenhof was either ethnically Polish or identified himself as being Polish? He is commonly said to be Polish, but that is perhaps because he was born and lived much of his life in what is now Poland. However, it seems that his native languages were Russian and Yiddish, and that he identified as being Russian and Jewish, and of having Latvian ancestry. I have yet to see any evidence that he saw himself or his family as being Polish, that Polish was his native language, or that he ever had Polish nationality or citizenship. Since Białystok was part of Russia, not Poland, while he lived; his main language was Russian, not Polish; and he never seems to have claimed to be Polish, I doubt that "Polish" is an appropriate ethnic description.
As you can see from the previous discussion, we decided to not explicitly describe him as any ethnicity, chiefly because people keep insisting that he is Polish without providing any direct evidence. kwami 19:25, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
Ironically Zamenhof wanted to transcend nationalism. So the question how did he identify himself is beside the point. He was a citizen of the world. As he lived in an area which is now Poland and which was predominantly Polish at the time (there being no independent Poland), it is not wrong to call him Polish. Arguably the Yiddish-speaking Jews of Eastern Europe formed a distinct ethnic group, and anti-semites should not deter us from identifying someone as ethnically Jewish. To describe him as "Russian" is misleading as, though he was a subject (not citizen) of the Russian Empire, he would not have been seen as a Russian ("Great Russian") at the time. Internationalism forever!--Jack Upland 01:16, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
So, if he'd lived on the Navajo reservation, it wouldn't be wrong to call him Navajo? Regardless of whether he considered himself a citizen of the world, ethnicity is one of those tidbits of trivia that people come to encyclopedias for. He called himself a "Russian Jew", was a Jew and spoke Russian natively, so I guess that makes him, what, a Russian Jew? kwami 02:58, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Don't forget Zamenhof talking also that "he lives and works at Poland and he will die there like his parents" so he is "son of Polish land". He wrote that words on Esperanto just like this telegram where he wrote that people can talk about him he is "Russian Jew". See that "Russian Jew" he wrote "Judo el Ruslando" so Rusa (russian) lando (country). If he wrote that "la Rusa Judo" it could be translate "Russian Jew". He sad also he is from Lithuania, which was for 1939 a Polish state. (pardonu pro miaj eraroj).
Ludwik Łazarz Zamenhof estis la Polulo. Certe kelkaj biografistoj parolas ke lia unua lingvo, kaj same la lingvo de lia hejmo estis rusa. Gxi ne estas la vero cxar Elizer (lia juda nomo) skribis al sia familio unue en pola lingvo. Malgraux li estis Judo li parolis pri sin ke li estas la "judo el Ruslando" kaj "filo de pola tero". Lois Christophe Zamenhof la nepo de Ludwik Łazarz interpretas en "La Zamenhofa Strato" gxin rimarkante ke vorto "Ruslando" intencas al la lando kaj la frazo "filo de pola tero" devas tial esti komprenata kiel opiniado sin kiel Polo. Lois primemorigxas ke en la hejmo de lia familio oni parolis en pola lingvo. Ludwik Łazarz Zamenhof parolis do ke li estas la filo de pola tero, ke lia gepatroj laboris por tiu lando kaj por tiu lando mortis kaj ke li ankaux laboris kaj mortos en Pollando. Li parolis ankaux pri si ke li devenas el Litvo. Litvo estis antaux la okupacioj de Pruslando, Auxstralno kaj Ruslando la unu lando kun Pollando. Ankaux post 1918 jaro Litvo, Ukraino kaj Bjaloruslando estis la sferoj de la Pollando. Pollando havis la karakteron internacian cxar certe tie forkuris la judoj, tataroj kaj multuloj- tial la Pollando estas nomata Rzeczpospolita (respubliko, la "gxeneralajxo", "universalajxo"). Tial multuloj pri gxin batalas gxis 1918 jaro kaj poste.
Here's what I've seen on this: He identified his family as Lithuanian Jews; he was a Jew from Russia. Russian was his native language, and it was the language he preferred when a young man. He was quite proud of the Russian language. However, Polish was the language of his neighborhood, and as he grew older he spoke more Polish than Russian. When he married and had children, his family spoke Polish, and Polish was the native language of his children. That's rather like a Russian immigrant family in Poland becoming assimilated to being Polish, but while politically still being in Russia - how do we give a simple answer to that? Someone just repeated the simplistic claim that he was Polish, just because it said so in the EB. kwami (talk) 17:59, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
In a situation like this where someone's ethnic designation seems to be controversial, it might be best just to give information, as we do now, about residence, languages spoken, religion, etc. without saying "he was x." --Cam (talk) 18:17, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Here's from the 1911 EB: "Its author was a Russian physician, Dr L. Zamenhof, born in 1859 at Bielostok ..." kwami (talk) 04:22, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Kwami is correct. Zamenhof was a Russian Jew. Please read the section 3. Persona deveno. Please do not change his nationality to Polish unless unless you have evidence. Klivo (talk) 06:56, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

A and א[edit]

א does not represent the sound "A" at all in Hebrew. It is a silent letter, which can represent any vowel. The sentance about Zamenhof's name in Hebrew is very confusing, and even gratuitous if it is modified to be correct.

The article doesn't say that א represents the Hebrew sound [a], it says that א is the Hebrew letter A. I presume from the article that the signs are bilingual, with Hebrew א. זמנהוף transliterated as English A. Zamenhof. kwami 05:17, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
The reason I put it there was because there was a paragraph earlier about how Jerusalem street signs 'mistakenly' wrote A. Zamenhof, which is misleading/incorrect - this is not a mistake, it's intentional, and with the א/A I explained why. Feel free to re-word the sentence to explain it better, but the core idea should remain. -- Ynhockey 10:21, 17 December 2005 (UTC)
The Hebrew concept of letters is quite different to that of English. Many people mistakenly say that א is the Hebrew version of A. This is plainly wrong. Also, א is not a silent letter (although it is silent in certain circumstances, and although not all speakers are careful enough to always pronounce it even when it is not supposed to be silent): it represents a glottal stop. The writing A. Zamenhof is indeed a mistake - and it's not even remotely the worst one one can find on Zamenhof St. signs throughout Israel! (talk) 00:04, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Belorusian Langue[edit]

My little NON orginal research, throught wikipedia pages: "The largest centre of Belarusian cultural activity, in the Belarusian language, outside Belarus is in the Polish province of Białystok (Беласток in Belarusian), which is home to a long-established Belarusian minority." "This inventory is rather similar to that of Polish, but is especially close to Belarusian, which was historically important to the creator of Esperanto.

The main innovations, compared to Belarusian, are,

the absence of palatalization in Esperanto, although this was present in Proto-Esperanto (nacjes, now nacioj "nations"; familje, now familio "family") and arguably survives marginally in the affectionate suffixes -njo and -ĉjo, and in the interjection tju!; the lack of a phonemic affricate /dz/, although again there are remnants in words such as edzo "a husband". " ŭ = belorusian cyrillic ў "Zamenhof was born on December 15, 1859 in the town of Białystok (in Poland, then part of the Russian Empire) to parents of Lithuanian Jewish descent. The town's population was made up of three major ethnic groups: Poles, Belarusians, and a large group of Yiddish-speaking Jews."

You can't say that his biographers said that he spoke Belorussian just because it's reasonable to think he did. That's fraud. kwami (talk) 00:33, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

There's a statement about Belorussian language not being considered as different from Russian. This is incorrect. Belorussian language is ( and was at that time) quite different from Russian although they share the same alphabet. Phonetically it is somewhat in the middle between Russian and Polish. I speak all three, so I can tell, this statement is quite strong. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:17, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Place of his death[edit]

I have changed the flag icon for the place of his death. At that point, as someone has noted, Bialystok was part of the Regency Kingdom of Poland, but it was not an independent country yet. It was a satellite state of the German Empire. The flag used here was called Kongresowka which was a flag of the Congress Poland which ceased to exist in 1915. I have changed it to the flag of the German Empire.

Norum 25 Jan 2007.


It seems the genus name Zamenhofia (named by Claude Roux) is now considered a junior synonym to Porina by the British Lichen Society.[2], i.e. they use Porina instead of Zamenhofia. --Cam 02:46, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Aided by a Poor Knowledge?[edit]

Read the following sentence (from the article) carefully: "Apart from his parents' native languages Russian and Yiddish and his adopted language Polish, his lingustics attempts were also aided by his mastering of German, a good passive understanding of Latin, Hebrew and French, and a rather poor knowledge of Greek, English and Italian."

Now, do you think he was actually aided by a poor knowledge of Greek, English and Italian? I think not. It seems what someone is trying to say, is that he was aided by his knowledge of languages; and that his knowledge of these languages was poor in comparison to the others which he spoke well. I do not know, as I am not an expert on Esperanto, but many of the contributors seem to have done some good research, and someone who knows more would do well to re-word this. (Sbutler (talk) 08:09, 21 April 2008 (UTC))


If Belorussian was not considered a separate language from Russian at the time, could his father's native language actually have been Belorussian? That might explain the strong influence of Belarussian on Eo phonology. kwami (talk) 09:00, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Belorussian WAS considered as a separate language from Russian, and it is a quite different language.
Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof is a traditional Jewish name, and Belostok was a jewish town at that time. Most population was Jewish and spoke Yiddish.
Jews on that territory had more tendency to mix Yiddish with Polish and /or Belorussian than Russian.
It is unlikely that Russian was his first language. Most likely it was Yiddish. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:28, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
The preceding unsigned comment was mis-indented with spaces, making it preformatted with each paragraph on a single line running off the right margin. I've inserted colons for proper Wikipedia indentation. --Thnidu (talk) 06:48, 31 May 2014 (UTC)


I just noticed we've had the odd spelling "Ludvic" at the top of the article for a year or so. Does anyone have a cite for that spelling? If not what should we change it to? --Cam (talk) 20:00, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for catching that. "Lazarus" is of course the English form, and AFAIK the most common English form for the other name is "Ludwig", so I changed it to that. The official form early on would've been Russian Ljud(o)vik, later on Polish Ludwik, and we could also use the German, so I think "translating" into English is not a bad idea. kwami (talk) 20:58, 28 June 2008 (UTC)
OK, cool, thanks. I fixed the name over the photo, too. --Cam (talk) 01:20, 29 June 2008 (UTC)


A user just removed Zamenhof's designation as a Zionist. While I'm not an expert on the subject, there's this article in Esperanto which may shed light on the issue. Does anyone here care to at least partially translate? -- Ynhockey (Talk) 21:41, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

I've been looking at the article by N.Z. Maimon in Esperanto, and have added a couple of paragraphs based on info from it. The title of that article refers, correctly, to a Zionist period in Zamenhof's life. In view of the reservations Zamenhof later expressed about Zionism or anything resembling it, I agree that it's not appropriate to begin our artcle by describing him without qualification as a Zionist. Kalidasa 777 (talk) 03:23, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Lejzer or Łazarz?[edit]

Hi there, I've always read about the second name of Zamenhof being Lejzer, not Łazarz. I couldn't find an appropriate footnote (nor any discussion item in this page) which clarifies to me the reasons of this choice. Can anybody explain from where the spelling Łazarz was taken?

I would also support renaming the article to match the full name of Zamenhof, whichever it is. He used to call himself L. L., but he is equally famous with his full name, which for that reason (I think) is the most used in the other linguistic versions of Wikipedia. --WinstonSmith (talk) 10:22, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Polishness redux[edit]

The article in the Esperanto wikipedia puts it quite nicely at one point. Let me paraphrase what it says:

Zamenhof was ethnically Polish (he lived among (other) Poles, spoke mostly Polish, read and translated Polish literature, was friends with Poles - and, to add another thing, spoke Polish with his children); this does not prove that he was inwardly Polish. His perspective was almost completely cosmopolitan. Calling him a "Polish oculist" or a "Polish linguist" is very reductive, but not incorrect.

So far This seems to be a much more nuanced (and non-nationalistic) discussion than the wrangling about labels that sometimes goes around in en.wikipedia. Perhaps we can take that as a starting point if the issue arises again?

Let me offer my own commentary on the above. The description of Zamenhof's life will do for the second half or last two thirds of his life; his initial environment was less Polish than the manner he lived his life in. Second, from all we can tell about his actual feelings on Polish matters, his national sentiments - in so far as, given that he was an internationalist, one can call his feelings something of the sort - were attached to Litwo, rather than to the notion of Poland that became dominant with time in the twentieth century. See, again, the article in the Esperanto wikipedia.

Litwo was the eastern part of pre-partition Poland (properly called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). It isn't just that an attachment to Litwo in particular was common in people born there - it is also a matter of two different conceptions of Poland. Here Zamenhof was not alone, but, rather, in line with a nineteenth-century and early-twentieth century strain of Polish(-Lithuanian) patriotism that was actually opposed to what most people would call Polish nationalism. Thus, the Polish national poem starts with the line "Lithuania! My fatherland!", and Piłsudski called himself a Lithuanian of Polish culture. Some English speakers should be familiar with Czesław Miłosz as a late representative of this strain of thought. Feketekave (talk) 16:30, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Yiddish Language[edit]

People today mostly think in imaginations of today. According to all reports, I've heard from my ancestors, before WW2 allmost all Jews in Poland felt as members of an own Jew nation and their spoken language in the most part of Eastern Europe was Yiddish. Yiddish is not to confuse with the today in Israel spoken Hebrew. Germans can understand the most of the Yiddish language, but they can't understand Hebrew. But Germans couldn't read Yiddish newspapers at all, for they were printed with Hebrew letters.

As well as the Jews, Russians, Polish and Germans felt as members of their own nation in Bialystok too. In the time of Ludwig Zamenhof there were four main ethnic groups there. In the economic crisis after WW1 the Germans predominantly - except for a few thousands - left the city. Before WW2 Yiddish was the most spoken language in Bialystok, spoken by about the half of the population there.--Henrig (talk) 13:44, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

People today think in the imaginations of today; however, these imaginations have not only a tendency to project the present onto the past, but also a tendency to project the more distant past - idealised and simplified - onto the more recent past.
I would support what you just said about "almost all Jews" at the time "before WW2" if you were referring to the first half of the nineteenth century. As a statement about the time of Zamenhof's birth, it is certainly truer than as a statement about, say, the time of Zamenhof's death. At the same time, even in 1859, the process of integration - with its shifts and ambiguities in culture and the notion of self - had already started. In particular, it had already started in the case of Zamenhof's family: the household he grew up in was at least bilingual, and his early environment was apparently trilingual. It may be that this was not an average situation for families in Bialystok having Yiddish as their language or one of their languages: Zamenhof's father can probably best be described as a Belorussian schoolteacher. It would be interesting to see what has been written on the matter of how different Zamenhof's background was from other people in various groups in his own city.
There is a report by a patient in which Zamenhof worked in his later years. He states that Zamenhof tried to speak to him in Yiddish, but that it came out without any specifically Yiddish words. This is not surprising, as it is my impression that Zamenhof read (and translated) a great deal of German literature, and seems not to have demonstrated a strong interest in the Yiddish language after his early twenties. Here's the link:

Feketekave (talk) 10:10, 22 July 2009 (UTC)


The Polish version of VI High School - King Sigismund Augustus says that he attended that school whereas here it says Warsaw. Can it be confirmed or denied that he went here? Victuallers (talk) 15:05, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

The article says the school was founded in 1915 so unless they are referring to a predecessor of the school it isn't possible. In a letter to Alfred Michaux in 1905, Zamenhof said he attended "la Bialistokan realan gimnazion" (the Bialystok Realschule) from 1869 until his family moved to Warsaw in 1873. --Cam (talk) 16:01, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
OK, I found this page which explains that the old Realschule was in the building that is now High School VI, so it is true that Zamenhof attended school there. --Cam (talk) 16:16, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
Thats brilliant ... there appear to be three dates I can find from 1805 to 1915 depending on the source. Unfortunately I don't speak Polish and the auto translations are ambiguous. I think that they say 1915, but the former school was here too and that started in 1805. However I'm much closer with your help

! Victuallers (talk) 16:23, 9 August 2009 (UTC)


There seems to be a conflict between users User:Jacurek and User:Gilisa as to whether Zamenhof's should be said to have been born "to parents of Jewish descent" or "in a Jewish family". To judge from his comments to edits in this and other pages, it seems that User:Gilisa believes that a person cannot be said to be of Jewish descent unless he belongs to another religion.

This seems odd to me. It also seems to me that we shouldn't have a dispute about the opening sentence at all, given that his background is described in much more detail in the rest of the opening paragraph. The point is not that Zamenhof was not in many ways from some sort of archetypical X family (probably nobody ever was, for any value of X). The issue is that our principal aim should be to describe the subjects of our articles, not claim them for one category or the other. This principle alone, if clearly stated, could avoid many (edit) wars here and elsewhere. (Fortunately there is no war here yet.) Feketekave (talk) 14:37, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Just a quick note: User:Jacurek merely changed the original wording from "of Lithuanian-Jewish descent" to "of Jewish descent". See further up in this talk page for Polish-Lithuanian issues. Feketekave (talk) 14:45, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

And user Feketekave delete any mention to Zamenhof Jewish backgroud in the article-an action that was not taken by User: Jacurek, nor by me. As I was involved in several discussion on this matter I can tell for sure that to many editors the wording "Jewish descent" refers to one whose parents have converted from Judaism to some other religion. "Into a Jewish family" is farily neutral and correct here. In fact, in a discussion you had with Avi and John you was exposed to similar line of arguments[3], so I cant see why mine is "odd". Feketekave, you absolutely have no reason to revert this.--Gilisa (talk) 20:04, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
User:Gilisa has evidently not bothered to read what I or others have had to say. He should not have reverted while his behaviour was being reported and dealt with here [4]. As is typical for him, he starts his paragraph with an untrue description of other people's edits. (No mention of Jewish background? What is Yiddish, then?) Feketekave (talk) 14:03, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Youre using dishonest tactic, and ad hominum attacks instead of dealing with the facts. Yiddish is not deirctly equal to being born to a Jewish family and I guess that it's common sense that when one live in a city that 30% of its people are Jews who speak Yiddish, he may at the least know few words (or may if he is gifted as Zamanhof). You are letting yourself too much I must say, Implying that I'm no less than a liar -it won't work for you. Your behavior was reported as well, and if so you are not allowed to revert as well--Gilisa (talk) 17:51, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
This has been reported as well; the fact that you answer charges with charges means nothing. The text as it stood and stands says: "[he] also spoke his mother's Yiddish natively". Not picked up from the neighbours, then. Feketekave (talk) 18:18, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Feketekave, I realy don't care waht you report on. You are using other conflicts I had with other editors to make yourself "naturally right". I realy careless about your baseless accusations and I have no intention to be dragged to further fruitless discussions with you. If you want to start from the begininng than I've also no problem with that. How ever you may look on it Zamenhof was born into Jewish family, it doesn't mean that he was religious or even saw himself as Jewish (which he did) and it have strong relevance for his life and work. I realy get it hard to undersatnd what is that so bothring you with simple uninterpretated reference that he was born into Jewish family (it is a very common reference on most wikipedia articles) -if you give satisfying explenation than I will have no problem to revert it myself. Trust me on that.--Gilisa (talk) 18:37, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
I found this discussion to be overly aggressive, I'm willing to start a disscussion. I don't think that your last edit was right but I'm willing to discuss it from the begininng, with clean hands and mind, just to give my cease fire offer validity.--Gilisa (talk) 18:58, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

He is a wonderful man —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:50, 15 December 2009 (UTC)


Dates here, are in the Julian calendar of Russia or the Gregorian calendar? --Error (talk) 01:42, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Dates are in the Gregorian calendar. He was born on 3 December in the Julian calendar (source: 1933-34 Enciklopedio de Esperanto). --Cam (talk) 04:45, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Name inconsistences (again!)[edit]

Above his picture, you can read the name Ludwik Łazarz Zamenhof, which I think is also the one the polish article uses (cf. pl:Ludwik Zamenhof, and since he was born in Poland, the Polish should know it best, shouldn't they!? BUT in the English article you read Lazar Ludwik Zamenhof. Ah so Ludwik turned out to be his second name? Confusion, confusion... -andy (talk) 09:52, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

There is an effort by several groups to claim him as one of their own. But ethnicity and nationality can be slippery concepts.
He called himself "L. L. Zamenhof". No-one knows which L was which. If he'd used the Polish form with Ł, that would solve the problem, but he didn't. — kwami (talk) 19:59, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
That, and he wasn't born in Poland, but in the Russian Empire (there wasn't even a country named Poland at the time). --JorisvS (talk) 20:09, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: No consensus to move. Jafeluv (talk) 07:13, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

L. L. ZamenhofLudwik Zamenhof — Google Book results:


Lazar(us) variant is o less popular, only yielding about a third of results.

As such I'd like to propose to move this article to Ludwik Zamenhof. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 03:19, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose This is not the right way to do a hit count. Here is an (ultrasmoothed) ngram. There are many more hits for "LL" than for "Ludwik". There are also more hits for "Ludwig" than for "Ludwik". "Ludwik" gives him a Polish identity that he didn't have. Esperanto is what he is famous for, so I'd call him "Ludoviko Zamenhof", which is his Esperanto name. Kauffner (talk) 04:10, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Ngram is interesting, but I wonder about smoothing. Using 9 instead of 50 gives a rather different version. The default somoothing of 3 seems consistent with the 50, but I wonder why are the general results different from those with keywords above. It is possible that the general (ngram results) are influenced by spurious hits. And indeed, following the link the the "LL Zamenhof" English search from ngrams reveals some problems (I cannot link it here as mediawiki breaks Google links with quotations in them, you'll have to do so from an ngram page). But in the first 10 results I see two worrying trends: citations (often using abbreviated form of the name) and worse, non-English works. Google had always had issues with determining the language of the work; this is why my search above used keywords for control. On the 10 results page I see 5 (!) non English, I am guessing Esperanto. Unless you revise the ngram results to incorporate the control words, I'd suggest we treat the graph with caution. Lastly, I don't understand why you argue that Zamenhof didn't have a Polish identity. He had a multicultural identity, certainly, but the two most importants parts of it were Polish and Jewish (do a Google Book search on Zamenhof + ("Polish Jew" vs "Russian Jew" vs "Lithuanian Jew/Litvak"). I did so a few days ago, and Polish Jew outnumbers the others by 4:1 or more. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 17:41, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Ngram doesn't use the entire Google books archive. The foreign language stuff, periodicals, and low quality OCR material are taken out.[5] Google Books was designed to find results, not create hit counts. There doesn't seem to be another "LL Zamenhof" who turns up in the results, so no real need for control terms. Besides Zamenhof Esperanto is already unambiguous. Putting in "Jew" is obviously messing up the count. Kauffner (talk) 09:44, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as Polish [6] other either Polish or Polish Jew as well. This is who he was, a Polish Jew, living on the territory of the partitioned Commonwealth. I also don't understand the "Polish identity" issue. If not Polish Jews then who? I'm sure he was aware of the history of his of the lands he lived in. He could gain that knowledge at the Warsaw University where he graduated from.--Jacurek (talk) 18:24, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
He was a Russian Jew, as he said himself. AFAIK his kids were raised Polish.
BTW, we've been over the nationality thing many times. Pls discuss here before making wholesale changes to the article. — kwami (talk) 19:45, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

B-Class Review[edit]

Needs more in-line references, some grammar checking. Otherwise close to B-class. Ajh1492 (talk) 17:37, 18 April 2011 (UTC)


The current version states: "His father was a teacher of German, and he also spoke that language fluently, though not as comfortably as Yiddish." (the statement is unsourced)

This is possibly dubious. The following is a discussion in the archives of a mailing list of what are apparently Yiddish enthusiasts or scholars:

See, in particular, the second message, which implies that the situation is the exact opposite. A Yiddish speaker who had seen Zamenhof as a patient expressed surprise that Zamenhof had ever worked on a Yiddish grammar (as he indeed did, in his youth). The quotes from the patient say (note - I speak German but no Yiddish; I am however pretty confident that I am getting this right) that Zamenhof had spoken what he meant to be Yiddish to him (the patient spoke little Polish), but that he really spoke a "German" Yiddish; "not one time did he speak a really Yiddish word."

Other bibliographical details suggest some Yiddish spoken at home (by his mother), German learned in town and/or in school, and a constant contact with German literature.

Thus, it would seem better to say simply "His father was a teacher of German, and he also spoke that language fluently." or even "His father was a teacher of German, and he also spoke that language fluently, to the extent that it may have affected his command of Yiddish as a separate linguistic variety. [source as above]".

(Note to people who have not spent too much time reading up on Central-European language issues: "Yiddish" is really one of several labels to cover a large spectrum of Germanic dialects spoken in the nineteenth century (and before, and partly after) mainly by traditional followers of the Jewish religion in Slavic countries. (Other common labels included what translates as "German" and, sadly, "jargon".) These dialects had some Slavic influences (sometimes significant) and, if I understand correctly, a few Hebrew words (with a much higher proportion in some registers). There were efforts to standardize it in the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century, sometimes involving efforts to increase the distance from standard German or remove Slavic or Hebrew words (depending on the political inclination of the people involved).) Feketekave (talk) 10:32, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

Infobox entries[edit]

With all due respect to everybody involved in identity politics in any form: it would be best if both the (uncommon) "Ethnicity" entry and the "Nationality" entry were removed. These are just too controversial, especially in this case, given the intersection of Polish, Russian, and (post)-"Jewish" categories.

The issues are already partially dealt with in the article, in what is now approaching some level of objectivity. (As for the quotation marks above: Zamenhof does not seem to have been a supporter of the Jewish religion (proposing to replace it by something else, twice), and he stated that "the Jewish people" had long ceased to exist [[7]].)

Once this article starts including more content, it would seem fair to have a section on his complex relation to Polish issues, just as there is now a section on his complex relation to Judaic issues. Zamenhof's Polishness (to the extent that such a thing exists) was perhaps not completely unambiguous, but the article now goes arguably too far by avoiding the issue entirely. Feketekave (talk) 10:44, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

On "including more content" - the articles in Esperanto- and French-language Wikipedia are far more complete than this one, and provide a better balance of issues. Feketekave (talk) 10:51, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

Nationality (again again)[edit]

Sources do in fact refer to him as Polish:

"asked the congress organisers to refer to him as a "son of the Polish land""

"Polish linguist and creator of Esperanto"

"Zamenhof's mother-tongue was Russian, but his ordinary personal language was Polish."

"Although educated in a Russian school, Zamenhof predominately used polish in daily conversation."

"When he conceived Esperanto in the 1870s, Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Polish ophthalmologist..."

"Ludwik Lazar Zamenhof, Polish physician, philologist, and creator of Esperanto."

"Dr. LL Zamenhof was a Polish physician who spent most of his life in Warsaw, Poland"

"Dr. Lazarus Ludwig Zamenhof, Polish linguist and physician, who created Esperanto"

"Zamenhof, Ludwig Lazar (1859-1917). Polish linguist and creator of Esperanto."

... and I could keep going... VolunteerMarek 05:05, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Nationality is a product of identity. Z identified himself as a Russian Jew. We can certainly note that Poland claims him as one of their own. — kwami (talk) 20:49, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
The above sources don't state that "Poland claims him as one of their own". They state that he was Polish and that he referred to himself as "son of the Polish land".VolunteerMarek 23:47, 15 July 2012 (UTC)
If there is something we can all agree on, it is that he called himself different things at different times, not just because (as he himself described at times) his attitudes evolved, but also because the meaning of "Russian", "Jew" (or "Hebrew") and "Pole" tended to shift during his lifetime. On the last issue - there's a can of worms coming out of the Litwo/Poland ambiguity - it's familiar to any student of Polish history, even if it seems quaint or odd to other people.
I think it would be constructive not to attach any national labels to somebody who was an archetypical internationalist, and to discuss, if anything, his (very mixed) cultural background instead, as exactly that - a background, not a foreground. Feketekave (talk) 14:47, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Details about the name[edit]

There are quite a few details provided on the Zamenhof page:

  • Dr. L. L. Zamenhof, aka Ludvic Lazarus (Ludwik Lejzer, Ludwik Łazarz) Zamenhof (born Yiddish: אֱלִיעֶזֶר "לײזער" לֵוִי זאַמענהאָף, Eliezer "Leyzer" Levi Zamenhof‎, German: Ludwig (aka Levi) Lazarus Samenhof, Hebrew: אליעזר לודוויג (לייזער) (לאזארו לודוביקו) זמנהוף‎‎, Russian: Лю́двик Ла́зарь "Лейзер" Маркович Заменго́ф; 1859, Białystok, Russian Poland - 1917, Warszawa), eye doctor, philologist, and the inventor of Esperanto

I think it would be good to incorporate them in this article as well! (talk) 00:18, 22 February 2013 (UTC)


Dear Klivo

These are my references:

If you would like I can include 50 other sources that ALL state he was Polish. Even Russian Wikipedia states that he was not Russian only a Jew working on Russian territory. Therefore we can consider him as Polish-Jewish with Russian citizenship!

Oliszydlowski, User talk:Oliszydlowski 17 December, 2013 (UTC)

Well, it's really more complicated than that. Zamenhof himself stated that his native language was "Russian" (which would mean Belarusian because the two were not distinguished at the time). Later he gravitated more and more to using Polish, which became the native language of his children. So, was he Polish? Not by ancestry nor by his native language. But he did acquire Polish nationality later. --JorisvS (talk) 09:59, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
First of all, the source cited to establish Zamenhof as Polish is:
At the bottom of that page you will see:
"This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article L. L. Zamenhof."
Secondly, here is Zamenhof's birth certificate, in Russian, of course:
In a letter to Thorsteinsson in 1901, he wrote (my translation):
"Mi father language is Russian; but now I speak more Polish, and I call myself not [ethnically] Russian, but a citizen of the Russian state."
(Mia gepatra lingvo estas la rusa; sed nun mi parolas pli pole, kaj mi nomas min ne ruso sed Rusujano.)
(Letero 1901 03 08 al Th. Thorsteinsson, Kopenhago, ˆci tie citita lau ̆ Zamenhof 1929:523)
In a letter to the congress committee for the Cracow Esperanto Congress (1912), he wrote (my translation):
"In case you absolutely must speak about my person, you can call me a son of a Polish land (because no one can deny, that the land in which both my parents lie, and in which I constantly work and intend to work until my death, is my home, although I'm not a nationalist), but don't call me a Pole, so that no one may say, that in order to accept honours, I put on the mask of a people to which I do not belong."
"En la okazo, se Vi nepre bezonas paroli pri mia persono, Vi povas min nomi filo de pola lando (ĉar neniu povas nei, ke la tero, en kiu kuŝas ambaŭ miaj gepatroj 1kaj sur kiu mi konstante laboras kaj intencas labori ĝis mia morto, estas mia hejmo, kvankam mi ne estas naciisto), sed ne nomu min polo por ke oni ne diru, ke mi - por akcepti honorojn - metis sur min maskon de popolo, al kiu mi ne apartenas."
(Letero al la Loka Kongresa Komitato de la Krakova Kongreso (1912); ĉi tie citita laŭ Maimon 1978:203.)
Is there any evidence that Zamenhof acquired Polish nationality?
Klivo (talk) 17:31, 17 December 2013 (UTC)

Further, Poland gained independence on November 11th, 1918, nineteeen months after Zamenhof's death.
In summary: Zamenhof was born into a Jewish family, in an area which was in Russian territory. He was a citizen of the Russian state ( His home languages were Russian and Yiddish. He identified himself as a Russian Jew. He could not have become a citizen of Poland, because there was no Polish state before his death.
If you are wondering why Zamenhof is often identified as Polish, even by encyclopedias, please read the paper by RÁTKAI Árpád:
"Abstract Lazar Markovich Zamenhof (1859-1917), a Russian Jew Lazar Markovich Zamenhof (1859-1917) born in Bielostock (Grodno governorate, Russia), in 1887 initiatiated the International Language under the pen-name Dr. Esperanto. In the 20th century his name, pen- names, birthplace, etnic identity and his initiative were changed for various reasons, resulting in false information beeing published in [many] encyclopedias and other media. In the article we exhhibit the false assertions and compare them with facts."
RÁTKAI Árpád (
May I now correct the article without having my changes reverted?
Klivo (talk) 04:42, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Who's Árpád RÁTKAI? I know who Britannica and National Geographic are.
Anyways. My preference is to simply omit any mention of nationality/ethnicity etc. all together. Volunteer Marek  05:05, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Please refer to the section 'Pri la aŭtoro' in this paper . The paper discusses errors in Britannica and other encyclopedias. National Geographic seems to have gotten their information from a Google Doodle.
Zamenhof was ethnically Jewish, and a Russian speaking citizen of Russia. I see no reason to not include this information in Wikipedia.
Klivo (talk) 06:12, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Hmm. High school teacher, though at one point taught at a university apparently, and apparently a "political party school". Still not clear on why we should take his word over Britannica or National Geographic or treat his opinions about NG as viable.  Volunteer Marek  07:35, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
No one is asking you to take RÁTKAI's word. Britannica is not the word of God; and as for Nat Geo, please be serious. I have provided good evidence, including the words of Zamenhof himself. May I now update the page without having my changes reverted? (talk) 14:06, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
Above comment is by Klivo (talk) 14:09, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
The article is much improved. Thanks for listening. Klivo (talk) 04:51, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Nationality issue[edit]

Well perhaps he did not, but he never stated that he was Russian. Don't call me a Pole doesn't necessarily mean that he wasn't one. I do believe that he never acquired Polish nationality and you are right that he wasn't fully a Pole, but I will have to disagree with Russian nationality.

Oliszydlowski, talk 18 December 2012 (UTC)

This article probably needs a nationality section, discussing this topic in detail with reliable references. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 04:18, 19 December 2013 (UTC)
He actually did say he was Russian: he was, in his words, a ruslanda judo. — kwami (talk) 06:12, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
Which is certainly important enough to discuss in the article, but it doesn't mean it's the only applicable qualification. He was a Jew, too, for example. The currently unreferenced claim that "His parents were of Lithuanian Jewish descent" could make him a Litvak, specifically. Yet his identification as a Russian - did it mean a Russian Jew? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 04:58, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
"Ruslanda judo" means 'Russian Jew', so yes, it means just that. --JorisvS (talk) 19:03, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
In what language is that? "Ruslanda judo" in Esperanto means "Ruslandia Jew" and "Ruslandia" was everywhere across occupied "landias" of the Russian Empire inhabited by peoples of a multitude of languages. Face-smile.svg Poeticbent talk 19:51, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
The English word is "Russian". — kwami (talk) 21:15, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
Actually it's "Russian land", obviously. Which would include all the territory of the Russian empire, including the non-Russian parts. Volunteer Marek  23:38, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
No, it's "Russian". English does not have separate words for rusa and ruslanda. Both are "Russian". If we want to make the distinction, we need to paraphrase, e.g. 'ethnic Russian' vs 'Russian citizen'. — kwami (talk) 23:52, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

I must be missing something, because I don't understand the quarrels about his nationality over here. In English, "nationality" means something similar to citizenship, but not quite. In English if you say "Polish national", it means "Polish citizen." Zamenhof was not a Polish citizen, because Poland didn't exist at any point of his life. He also wasn't ethnically Polish, he was an ethnic Jew who spoke Yiddish and Russian. There was no connection between him and Poland, except for the fact he lived in Congress Poland, a Russian province. Therefore, his nationality was Russian, while his ethnicity was Jewish.-- (talk) 10:08, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

The difference is between what we define as territories occupied by an alien military force, versus their actual social fabric as well as democratic institutions in a time of peace. For example, ethnic Russians never lived en masse in Prague, Czechoslovakia, that's why we don't call Prague a Russian city. Poeticbent talk 14:55, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Humans -

Can we transcend this dispute? As I suggested above, we are probably best off simply omitting the Infobox entries under dispute, and to put more text in the article on his (complex) attitudes to Polish and Russian (and not just Judaic) issues. Feketekave (talk) 12:10, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

among his works are such diverse elements as[edit]

Among the many works of Zamenhof, translated into Esperanto is the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.

From what language was this sentence translated? It seems to say that Z wrote the Hebrew Bible and someone else translated it to Esperanto! More natural ways to say it in English:

Among Zamenhof's many works is a translation into Esperanto of the Hebrew Bible.
Zamenhof's many works include an Esperanta translation of the Hebrew Bible.
Among many other works, Zamenhof translated the Hebrew Bible into Esperanto. (This, though, implies that he translated many other works; did he?)

Tamfang (talk) 21:21, 26 January 2016 (UTC)



I see Z referenced as a Omoto deity, but no mention of this here on his page. Any info on this? Ze Germans have it ("Die japanische Ōmoto-kyō-Religion sieht in Zamenhof einen Aspekt ihres Gottes."), but unreferenced.

T (talk) 14:43, 15 February 2016 (UTC)