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*Esperanto


The easiest language you can ever learn.

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 not work?

Well, that is what I heard before I got to know Esperanto back in 2001.


Happy and alive

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.


No exceptions

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 conformism

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 seems.
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"


Future history

The great 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 them.

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 learn Chinese

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 years.
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.


Cultural beauty

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.

I have the total opposite to be true:

All the big works of literature have been translated, check out Don Harlows website and lots of books that can be downloaded free of charge in Esperanto:
http://donh.best.vwh.net/Esperanto/Literaturo/literaturo.html

There are also works exclusively available in Esperanto.


Every nationality loves to contribute and express itself in Esperanto. If you check out the large selection of music from all states of this planet, you will see what I mean.

And finally, there is even a television channel, worldwide, independent or nation, for the whole globe that can be received with just a high speed internet connection:

http://www.internacia.tv

Compared with CNN, which excludes all non english speakers, it is truly worldwide.

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 past.


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 best
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasporta_Servo
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:

warmo           the warmth (noun)
warma           warm (adjective)
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:

la hundo            the dog
li hundas           He behaves like a dog
hunda                Doglike, being like a dog

Warmu la hundo!    Warm the dog (make sure it is warm).

Everybody will understand what you are meaning, eventhough it might be unconventional.



Glue together a word

Words can be assembled with prefixes and suffixes, one of the simplest being "mal" (opposite)

warma            warm
malwarma      cool

Cool enough, you can also just make the prefix itself a word:

malo                the opposite
male                on the contrary


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 right:

dekstra            right
maldekstra      left

ej (location of)

infano        child
infanejo        children room


ul (person of)

eterno           forever
eternulo        God
juna                young (adj)
junulo             young one (person)


eg (make larger)

hundo        the dog
hundego    huge dog
ego             greatness, grandness

et (make smaller)

kato           cat
kateto        small cat
eta              tiny (adj.)

fi (to indicate moral badness)

fiauto        wreck car
viro           man
fiviro         crook, fraudster

fia!            How ugly, how nasty!


Now there is no holding back to combine several of these sufixes and prefixes. Like in

malsanulejo

Do you get it?

sano (heath)
malsano (sickness)
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