The Esperanto flag
|Created by||L. L. Zamenhof|
|Setting and usage||International auxiliary language|
|Users||Native: 200 to 1,000 (1996)
L2 users: 10,000 to 2,000,000
|Writing system||Latin (Esperanto alphabet)|
|Sources||Vocabulary from Romance and Germanic languages; phonology from Slavic languages|
|Regulated by||Akademio de Esperanto|
Esperanto is a special language that was designed to be easy to learn. It was made in the nineteenth century by Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Polish eye doctor. He made it so people from different countries could talk to each other.
At first the language was named "La Internacia Lingvo," which means "The International Language." But people that learned the language wanted to call it Esperanto, which means "the one who hopes." The name comes from "Doktoro Esperanto," which is what Zamenhof called himself when he made the first book about Esperanto.
Esperanto culture[change | edit source]
People who speak Esperanto are often called Esperantists. No one knows exactly how many people now speak Esperanto. The most common guesses are between several hundred thousand and two million speakers around the world. It is estimated that 1000 people know Esperanto from birth (their parents taught them both Esperanto and a normal language, like English or Polish.) There are many couples from two different countries with two different languages, who both know Esperanto so they can understand each other.
There are many annual meetings. The largest is the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto (Universal Congress of Esperanto), held in a different country each year. In recent years it has had around 2000 people from 60 or more countries.
There are books and magazines written in Esperanto, and much literature translated into Esperanto from other languages. This includes famous works, such as the Bible and plays by Shakespeare, as well as less famous works which do not have English translations.
There are bands who sing in Esperanto, perform live concerts and sell recordings of their music.
Goals of the Esperanto movement[change | edit source]
Zamenhof wanted to make an easy language to increase international understanding. The goal was giving an international communication language, that is, as a universal (world) second language, not to replace national languages. This goal was widely shared with Esperanto speakers in the early years of the Esperanto movement. After that, Esperanto speakers began to see the language and the culture that was shared is owned by themselves, even if Esperanto is never chosen by the United Nations or other international organizations.
Those Esperanto speakers who want Esperanto to be chosen by organizations or used worldwide are commonly called finvenkistoj, from fina venko, meaning "final victory", or pracelistoj, from pracelo, meaning "original goal"."Esperanto" by Mark Feeney. The Boston Globe, 12 May 1999 Those who focus on the basic value of the language are commonly called raŭmistoj, from Rauma, Finland, where a statement on the near-term (not far from today) not believing in the "fina venko" and the value of Esperanto culture was made at the International Youth Congress (meeting) in 1980."Kion Signifas Raŭmismo", by Giorgio Silfer. These groups are, however, not from both sides exclusive.
The Prague Manifesto (1996) presents the ideas of the ordinary people of the Esperanto movement and of its main organization, the World Esperanto Association (UEA)."Prague Manifesto" (English version). Universala Esperanto-Asocio, updated 2003-03-26.
The language[change | edit source]
The Esperanto alphabet has 28 letters. These letters are:
A in Esperanto is like a in father, b is like b in book, c is like ts in lets, ĉ is like ch in chocolate, d is like d in dog, e is like e in met, f is like f in flower, g is like g in go, ĝ is like j and dg in judge, h is like h in honey, ĥ makes a sound that vibrates the throat (the sound does not exist in English; it is often written in English as kh or ch in foreign names and words, in Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Russian... ח خ χ х ), i is like ee in speed, j is like y in you, ĵ is like s in pleasure, k is like c and k in cook, l is like l in look, m is like m in moon, n is like n in can, o is like o in note, p is like p in pie, r is like r as in road but is rolled (trilled, as in Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Russian), s is like s in simple, ŝ is like sh in short, t is like t in tire, u is like oo in boot, ŭ is like w in cow, v is like v in cave, and z is like z in zipper.
There is no Q, W, X, or Y in the Esperanto language although they do have names.
Grammar[change | edit source]
The rules for using the language (grammar) are very simple. Rules in the Esperanto language never change and can always be used in the same way.
Nouns and adjectives[change | edit source]
Pronouns[change | edit source]
The basic words are: mi - I, vi - you, li - he, ŝi - she, ĝi - it, la - the, jes - yes, ne - no.
Mia means my, via means your, lia means his. So, to say how old is somebody in Esperanto, just say:
- Lia aĝo estas dudek = He is twenty (20) years old.
Verbs[change | edit source]
Verbs end in -as when they are in present tense. English uses I am, you are, he is. But in Esperanto, there is just one word for am, are, is - estas. Similarly, kuras can mean run or runs. Infinitives end in -i. For example, esti means to be, povi means can. It is easy to make past tense - always add -is ending. To make future tense, add -os For example:
- kuri - to run
- mi kuras - I run
- vi kuras - you run
- li kuris - he ran
- ĝi kuros - it will run
Many words can be made opposite by adding mal at the beginning.
- bona = good. malbona = bad
- bone = well, malbone = poorly
- granda = big, malgranda = small
- peza = heavy, malpeza = light
Examples of sentences which show the rules:
- Mi povas kuri rapide. = I can run fast.
- Vi ne povas kuri rapide. = You cannot run fast.
- Mi estas knabo. = I am a boy.
- Mi estas malbona Esperantisto. = I am a bad Esperantist.
Yes/No questions[change | edit source]
To make a yes-or-no question, add Ĉu at the beginning. For example:
- Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton? = Do you speak Esperanto?
- Jes, mi parolas Esperanton tre bone. = Yes, I speak Esperanto very well.
- Ne, mi estas komencanto. = No, I am a beginner.
Numbers[change | edit source]
The numbers are:
Prefixes and suffixes[change | edit source]
Esperanto has over 20 special words which can change meaning of another word. Some of them are:
- mal- (added before the word) makes the word opposite. Bona means good, and malbona means bad.
- bo- (added before the word) makes the word "in-law". Patro means father, and bopatro means father-in-law.
- -ej- (added after the word, but before the ending) means place. Lerni means to learn, and lernejo means school.
- -in- (added after the word, but before the ending) changes the gender of a word into female. Patro means father, and patrino means mother.
- -ar- (added after the word, but before the ending) means many things of the same kind. Arbo means tree, and arbaro means forest.
- -ist- (added after the word, but before the ending) means somebody who does something (perhaps as a job). Baki means bake and bakisto means baker; scienco means science, and sciencisto means scientist. Esperantisto means Esperanto speaker.
These words combined can make a very long word, such as malmultekosta (cheap), vendredviandmanĝmalpermeso (that meat cannot be eaten on Friday).
Technical problems[change | edit source]
The letters ĉ ĝ ĥ ĵ ŝ ŭ are usually not found on mobile phones or keyboards. Since x is not used in Esperanto, those letters can be written as: cx gx hx jx sx ux.
Normal sample: Ĉiuj homoj estas denaske liberaj kaj egalaj laŭ digno kaj rajtoj. Ili posedas racion kaj konsciencon, kaj devus konduti unu la alian en spirito de frateco.
Simple version: Cxiuj homoj estas denaske liberaj kaj egalaj laux digno kaj rajtoj. Ili posedas racion kaj konsciencon, kaj devus konduti unu la alian en spirito de frateco.
Translation: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Esperanto is meant to be an international language. Therefore it has awoken much fear and suspicion amongst nationalists. Adolf Hitler persecuted Esperantists, because he thought Esperanto was a secret plot. Likewise, Josif Stalin was paranoid on Esperanto. George Orwell hated and disliked Esperanto because he could not understand it, and he formed the Newspeak after Esperanto.
On the other hand, Esperanto has always been popular amongst internationally oriented people, who see it as a medium to help people understand each other.
Other websites[change | edit source]
|This language has its own Wikipedia project. See the Esperanto edition.|
- Lernu! A very good website to learn Esperanto.
- Mp3 files of Esperanto radio broadcasts.
- Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko.
- Music videos in Esperanto from Mauritius and Madagascar
- Learn Not To Speak Esperanto Critical opinion, and Why not to learn Esperanto Claude Piron's answer to it