Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof usually credited as L. L. Zamenhof, was a Polish physician, inventor, and writer. He is most widely known for creating Esperanto, the most successful constructed language in the world,as well as Homaranismo, a philosophy based on the teachings of Hillel the Elder. He grew up fascinated by the idea of a world without war and believed that this could happen with the help of a new international auxiliary language, which he first developed in 1873 while still in school.
A Jew whose family spoke Russian and lived in an environment of racial and national conflict on the Polish-Russian borderland, Zamenhof dedicated himself to promoting tolerance, mainly through the development of an international language. After years of experiment in devising such a tongue, working under the pseudonym of Doktoro Esperanto, he published an expository textbook, Lingvo Internacia (1887; Dr. Esperanto’s International Language). His pseudonym, Esperanto (“[one] who hopes”), was to become the language’s name.
In addition to continuing his medical career, Zamenhof worked to develop Esperanto and organize its adherents. The first Esperanto magazine appeared in 1889, the beginnings of formal organization in 1893. With some literary and linguistic skill, Zamenhof developed and tested his new language by translating a large number of works, including the Old Testament, Hamlet, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, and plays of Molière, Goethe, and Nikolay Gogol. At the first international Esperanto congress at Boulogne, France (1905), and at successive annual congresses in various European cities, Zamenhof delivered a number of memorable addresses, but he renounced formal leadership of the Esperanto movement at Kraków, Poland, in 1912. His Fundamento de Esperanto (1905; 17th ed., 1979; “Basis of Esperanto”) established the principles of Esperanto structure and formation.
In 1905 Zamenhof received the Légion d'honneur for creating Esperanto.In 1910, Zamenhof was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, by four British Members of Parliament (including James O'Grady, Philip Snowden) and Professor Stanley Lane Poole.(The Prize was instead awarded to the International Peace Bureau.) On the occasion of the 5th Universala Kongreso de Esperanto in Barcelona, Zamenhof was made a Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic by King Alfonso XIII of Spain.
The minor planet 1462 Zamenhof is named in his honor. It was discovered on 6 February 1938, by Yrjö Väisälä. Also, hundreds of city streets, parks, and bridges worldwide have been named after Zamenhof.In Lithuania, the best-known Zamenhof Street is in Kaunas, where he lived and owned a house for some time. There are others in Poland, England, France, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Spain (mostly in Catalonia), Italy, Israel, Belgium and Brazil. There are Zamenhof Hills in Hungary and Brazil, and a Zamenhof Island in the Danube River.
In some Israeli cities, street signs identify Esperanto's creator and give his birth and death dates, but refer to him solely by his Jewish name Eliezer (a variant of which, El'azar, is the origin of Lazarus). Zamenhof is honored as a deity by the Japanese religion Oomoto, which encourages the use of Esperanto among its followers. Also, a genus of lichen has been named Zamenhofia rosei in his honour.
His birthday, 15 December, is celebrated annually as Zamenhof Day by users of Esperanto. On 15 December 2009, Esperanto's green-starred flag flew on the Google search web page, in a commemorative Google Doodle to mark Zamenhof's 150th birthday.
The house of the Zamenhof family, dedicated to Ludwik Zamenhof, and the Bia?ystok Esperanto Centre, are sites of the Jewish Heritage Trail in Bia?ystok, which was opened in June 2008 by volunteers at The University of Bia?ystok Foundation.