The people at Wolfram|Alpha certainly seem to know how to kick up a hype storm, so I mosied over to see what it was all about.
To start with, I had trouble getting any response at all other than Wolfram|Alpha isn’t sure what to do with your input, but finally I got somewhere when I entered “Esperanto”.
So, Wolfram|Alpha gives me concrete information rather than just pointers to pages for me to sift through, and it’s beautifully presented too. Trouble is, it’s complete bollocks.
In July, I’ll be attending this year’s World Congress of Esperanto, to which 1700 people have currently signed up. At the last one I attended, in 2005, I was joined by 2300 Esperanto speakers from 62 countries (out of a total of 2000 in the world, don’t forget); this is actually reckoned to be, in round figures, about 1% of the number of fluent speakers. There will be several dozen native speakers there too; I’ll be having a few beers with two of them the week before. And this year, 150 years since the birth of a certain Ludwik Łazarz Zamenhof, the Congress is to be held in Białystok, the hometown of both Dr Zamenhof and the international language that he initiated. Białystok is not in France.
I’m sure there’s some very clever computational wizardry going on at Wolfram|Alpha, but the traditional garbage in, garbage out rule clearly still applies.