Now, first of all: Esperanto is not dead. That is what you assumed. You
heard about it, right? What did you hear? That it is an idea that did
Well, that is what I heard before I got to know Esperanto back in 2001.
I don't know why people are so ready to accept and herald failure of an
idea or concept. Is it disdain and frustration of our own concepts and
dreams that did not reach fruition, projected outwards?
In and case, Esperanto is alive and kicking.
So what is so great about it you might ask?
Well, it's the easiest language that anyone can learn currently.
Estimations go from being able to learn 10 times faster than any other
language on earth.
Children can go from not knowing a word in Esperanto to speaking it
fluently in just one year with one hour of education in school per week.
It is a dream come true to anybody that ever spent serious time in a
classroom struggling to learn a foreign language.
Esperanto has rules, with NO EXCEPTIONS!!! None at all...
Now if you ever learned another language, you know that they are full
of them... Just after mentioning a rule, the teacher will go
"except...." and quotes all the exceptions, which are horrendous many
and make any language a total pain to learn. Instead of being logical,
languages are chaotic and disorganized.
Sometimes you find one that seems to be straighforward and easy to
learn, just to rear it's ugly face afterwards. English for example is
pretty easy many students say, compared to French or Russian. But when
it comes to pronunciation, it is a awefull mess... No rules seem to
hold water... Instead of using them, I just resorted to memorize
everything, which is very inefficient of course.
Now Esperanto is really really easy to pronounce: every letter is
pronounced as it is written, no exceptions.
One letter, one sound.
Esperanto is the only plan language that has come to some distribution
around the planet and since we had thousands of years to see what was
wrong with other languages, it was planed right. As simple as possible,
but not simpler.
Take out all the mess and chaos and what you are left is an elegant,
totally efficient language that can still express all the nuances and
emotions of the human condition.
It is the assumption of an uneducated to assume that planed and
organized is cold and impersonal. In the same token, one would
automatically assume that chaos and disorganized mess is cozy and warm.
Now why don't I hear anything about Esperanto, you might ask. Good
question there. And the answer is simple:
Esperanto is not that big yet, there are no official numbers, but it is
assumed that there are about 4 million speakers worldwide, distributed
all around. Now considering the size of the earth, that does not put
large groups of people together in one place.
It has been growing slowly and when most people declare Esperanto as
failed, they usually forget the importance of time. Esperanto is just a
little older than a hundred years. No other language is that young.
Most are at least a thousand years old.
The cosy warm womb of
Another factor is the boom effect: For some strange reason, which I
cannot understand, people seem to work in booms. They love to do what
everybody else does, for... no apparent reason.
Just saying that everybody else has bought a product, makes it dear it
I usualy make up my own mind and it can pay to think independently. It
can be wise to follow the crowd when there is a loud explosion noise or
a fire and people are coming from one direction, running to another.
But in our complex world, this old concept does not hold water anymore.
How come only a small percentage of people are financially secure,
sucessfull and lead a happy and satisfied life?
Can it be considered smart to hide in the crowd of conformalists,
instead to take the risk of being an individual and walk the unbeaten
path alone or in small groups?
So if there would be a boom in Esperanto, people would start learning
it... because it is IN and everybody else is doing it.
But currently, it has not reached the critical mass and so there is
kind of a "anti-boom", meaning that people reject it out of hand, since
nobody else is talking about it, without even analyzing its merrits.
The large masses is therefore defending the status quo, how things are
right now and saying "it will never change" and "don't take the risk"
French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a
tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would
not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, 'In that case,
there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!'
Now it takes a little vision to imagine the now of what it could be in
the future as clear as day, so my definition of vision.
And it has been the visionaries that have been inventing and
progressing the world. The light bulb?
Was a most unwelcome idea at first, the idea seemed ridiculous and many
said that I would not ever take hold. Why, it was not so then, how
could it be in the future?
Or the horseless carriage. Most people rejected the idea of a
automobile at first, but were quick to change oppinions when it suited
Now I am not a dreamer that says: Esperanto will work, no matter what.
It might fail, yes. Esperanto, in it self means "the one that hopes".
But it is too early to decide now. And sooner or later we will need an
organized, a planed language. As messed up, yet quaint town centers
badly scaled into huge cities and intelligent organisation replaced
chaos for the good of the many users.
When you try to find your way in an old style "organized",
grown-over-millenia-city without a map, you are lost. The streets are
put together in no sensible organized manner. If you are a tourist, you
might enjoy exploring, but if you are there to do business, the same
quaintness will be a big problem.
Now find your way in a organized planed city, where streets are
numbered. Even without a map you have no problems finding where you
need to go.
We'll likely all have to
Another reason Esperanto has not taken hold in a large way is that it
has been a bottom up approach. The big and powerful have not so far
supported it much. And efforts to propose Esperanto as the official
language for the EU have been ridiculed, although the status quo is
currently even sillier:
Everything is maintained in many languages, translated and converted.
This overhead is supposed to be several billions, just that everybody
can speak his motherlanguage.
Esperanto does not try to replace your mother language, heck no, it is
a second language for international communication, for interaction with
others around the globe.
While English is taking hold big time in Europe and many call it the
international language already, it is still painfully hard to learn for
asians, and with the rise of China, not proposing a neutral middle
ground, we might find ourselves having to learn chinese in about 30
Because when it comes to numbers, chinese wins.
Needlessly to mention that Australia, the UK and USA are not really
fond of Esperanto, since it can just get worse for them, having to put
extra effort to learn a second language, instead of convincing the rest
of the world to learn English.
A thing that I hear again and again is that Esperanto has no
culture, since it is not spoken in any nation of the world natively.
And this again is a prejudism of people that really don't know better.
Compared with CNN, which excludes all non english speakers, it is truly
I find he idea really amazing. Unfortunately, the channel is always
having financial trouble and I hope a support scheme can be deviced. If
everybody would just contribute 3 dollars per month, which is truly
nothing, I think the channels money problems would be a thing of the
How to learn it?
There are several ways:
One of them is Esperanto kurso, which is a marvelous language learning
tool that speaks your language (can be switched). They could sell this,
it is that good, but it is free. Get it XXXhereXXX
[how I learned it]
A stroll around a foreign
neighbourhood with an insider
Now a really cool reason to learn Esperanto is if you want to travel in
Asia and break the language barrier and directly communication with
people, without the dreadfull misunderstandings and flabergasted
moments that follow when you don't even realized that communication is
not working properly.
There is a thing called Pasporta Servo, as always wikipedia tells it
It is a service for travelers that let's them stay with with one
participant of the service, for free or a fee for reimbursement of cost
of staying. The only condition is that the traveler speaks Esperanto.
I have not done this yet, but am eager to try it, especially in Asia.
If you are an English speaker, the people you get to talk to in a
flawless English having a misunderstaning free conversation are
linguist and language professors that have been practising it for more
than 10 years.
In Esperanto, although harder than for an westener, even asians can
talk free and unencumbered.
Going to China and seeing the life there through the eyes of a local,
seeing the way people really live there is a marvelous thing indeed.
Now there has been stories of abuse of the service. People traveling
around and using the service as a free way to get accommodations. Many
countries have an iron clad tradition of hospitality, not refusing a
guest, no matter what. Taking good care of the host and honoring them
by speaking Esperanto, sharing their cultural background with them and
paying for staying over is just common sense and a sense of honor.
For people that love math because it is so logic and hate languages
because they are an irrational mess, Esperanto has some pleasant
suprises in store:
The end says it all
The end of a word will always tell you what type it is.
O stands for nouns
A stands for adjectives
I stands for infinitive
AS for present tense verb
OS for future tense verb
IS for past tense verb
U for imperative
Now knowing that, you can do some nifty things, example:
the warmth (noun)
mi warmas I warm (verb)
All I need to know is one form, to be able to use them all. Things can
be said in Esperanto more simply than you would have real difficulties
in a ordinary language:
He behaves like a dog
Doglike, being like
Warmu la hundo! Warm the dog (make sure it is
Everybody will understand what you are meaning, eventhough it might be
Glue together a word
Words can be assembled with prefixes and suffixes, one of the simplest
being "mal" (opposite)
Cool enough, you can also just make the prefix itself a word:
Now I don't have to mention how that reduces the vocabulary that one
has to memorize. There is for example no word for left, just one for
ej (location of)
ul (person of)
young one (person)
eg (make larger)
hundego huge dog
et (make smaller)
fi (to indicate moral badness)
How ugly, how nasty!
Now there is no holding back to combine several of these sufixes and
prefixes. Like in
Do you get it?
malsanulo (sick person)
malsanulejo (location of the sick people)
hence, hospital... ;-)
You are free to invent new words and the cool thing is that others that
know these simple rules will understand you perfectly.
This is much more logical than any other language (look maa, no
exceptions!) and while speaking and listening to it, your mind works
more like a compiler than a library to look up stuff...
this document was created on: 20. Oct. 2006 updated on: 20. Nov. 2006