South East Wales

The Automatic's Rob Hawkins on learning Esperanto

Rob Hawkins onstage with The Automatic
Image caption The singer said the language was easier to learn than other languages

A Welsh rock singer has spoken of his love of Esperanto, the language created with the aim of bringing equality to international communications.

Rob Hawkins, vocalist with south Wales-based The Automatic, said he learned it a year out of curiosity.

Esperanto speakers are meeting in Cardiff on Tuesday to discuss the future of the language.

"There are a lot of Esperanto speakers using Twitter," said Hawkins, whose band's biggest hit was Monster.

Esperanto is now regarded as one of the top 100 languages, with about two million speakers worldwide.

"It's not a difficult language," said Hawkins, a former Cowbridge comprehensive school pupil.

"A couple of years ago I was just trying a few self-improvement things and out of academic curiosity I decided to have a go at Esperanto.

"I've never learnt another language successfully so I thought I'd try that one because it was meant to be very easy and I kind of got sucked in."

The bass player said he supported the idea that everyone should speak a second language.

"The rewards were very great very quickly because it doesn't have a lot of the difficulties that natural languages do."

Hawkins told BBC Radio Wales he first heard of the language when it was used in a long-running BBC sitcom.

"Red Dwarf was how I first heard of it, actually, years and years ago. I was aware of it for a long time before I ever did anything about learning it."

He said Esperanto had gone through peaks and troughs in terms of its popularity but the advent of internet social media sites had given it a great boost.

"The internet has done masses for it and has popularised it in a way that could never have happened before," he said.

"Even people who spoke it fluently 20 years ago would have had to have gone to a meeting to speak to someone, or phoned them up and made time for it.

"Whereas now there are a lot of Esperanto speakers using Twitter, and so daily you can use it for casual conversations in a way that was never possible anymore."

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