For / against Esperanto ?    

(#001) This page will help you understand some of the criticisms made against Esperanto. For the moment, it contains only a subset of those I have heard. I must acknowledge that the criticisms I had against the language vanished when I had a better knowledge of the language and the Eo culture.
Many new comers in the Esperanto movement are overenthusiastic; others are critical about some features of the language, and they attempt to "improve" it. To understand which attempts are bound to fail, and which might succeed requires a very good knowledge of Esperanto and of the evolution of languages. This is not something you acquire after reading the grammar and learning a thousand words.
It is difficult to have an objective view about Esperanto. It is easy to confuse the language, the culture, with the propaganda made to stir people's interest.

Please ignore the text in green: it's internal communication.

Mi esperas ke vi partoprenos al la plibonigo de la jena teksto per viaj remarkoj.

Vi povas sendi mesaĝon al Remuŝ


(#000) Contents of FOR/AGAINST ESPERANTO






(#277) Why Esperanto is not my favourite Artificial Language.

From: Terence Watts

There can be quite of bit of prejudice against Esperanto by the average man in the street. But since his views are not informed, they don't count for much.

The conlangers are largely harmless fantasists and have so far to go in turning their projects into languages with a serious body of speakers, a literature, usage-based dictionaries and analytical grammars like PAGE or PMEG, that there doesn't seem to be any way that they can catch Esperanto up.

The conlang-ists have, at least, accepted in principle that a constructed language could become an actual living language.

The true enemies of Esperanto are the pontificating polyglots and linguisticians who don't know Esperanto and who are wedded to the idea that they have some special insight into how languages must work - conveniently overlooking that Esperanto is a different animal to the national languages and that there is no established body of scientific evidence that supports their notion of Universal grammar, or provides a proven model of human Language.

These are the people who might seriously impede the introduction of Esperanto into the schools, or its adoption as a working language in an international organization.

These people experience some theoretical discomfort from the existence of Esperanto, because it may undermine their pet theories of language. Or its widespread adoption may make their hard-won mastery of the chaotic systems of natural languages less marketable.

This page was inspired by Geoff Allan Eddy's article: <http://www.cix.co.uk/%7Emorven/lang/esp.html>: Why Esperanto is not my favourite Artificial Language. Geoff collected a number of criticisms from various other sources. He removed his page, due to the unfair attacks he had to suffer from some fanatics. This is an attempt to moderate some extreme pretensions, in favor of or against the language, but chiefly against. His page is archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20030811165117/www.cix.co.uk/~morven/lang/esp.html
As the original article was written in English, I found it fair to reply in English (or American on occasions).
It would have been easier for me to write it in Esperanto or French.
Understand also that criticisms of Esperanto done by Esperantists or French speakers are different. I may include them later.

The same sort of arguments appear at http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/ranto. Claude Piron partly responded to that at http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/why.htm.
I am still wondering why people would spend so much time learning a language not to speak it.
I suspect that they have the pretension to be able to do what nobody can do alone, without a large community of speakers: create a better language than Esperanto, or even more pathetic, to create the perfect language for all...

However...

This text is not meant to convince the creator of an artificial language that his attempts will fail, that this language is clumsy, full of ambiguities and contradictions. Who knows, it could succeed. Don't laugh at a baby in front of his mother; in her mind, her baby is a work of art and the future is his. 




Esperanto is useless

(#247) It should be easy to PROVE that Esperanto is rubbish with a simple unbiased experiment.

Unfortunately, as soon as a group of opponents wants to set up such an experiment, they realize that they will fail to prove what they want to prove.
The consequence is that only experiments in favour of Esperanto are published.

Try and set up such experiment, you'll see.
My belief is that you'll publish nothing, not even an attempt to describe your methodology.
In the meantime, the best we can do is to rely on our own experience with the language.

... a satisfied customer...

(#259) Just bring facts and numbers from any (just one) independent research, not made by the UEA, Esperanto Associations, and the like.

Sorry, I am not qualified to provide reliable figures now that I speak Esperanto, am member of UEA and know something (not all) on the subject. All I could say would be partial, wouldn't it?
I couldn't have been of any help 20 years ago either, when I was as unqualified to have an opinion.

(#254) Chosing Esperanto is absurd.


From: Claude Piron:
In democracies, no decision is taken before the subject has been researched and objectively studied. So is it in science, and in law. No accused is convicted without the case being objectively examined. Why not do so in the field of language communication?

Maybe choosing Esperanto is absurd, but how can you know it before checking how it works? Comparing in practice, in the field, the various methods men apply to under stand one another over the language barriers is necessary, under the penalty of appearing subjective, prejudiced and thus undemocratic. Establishing facts is more important than discussing in the abstract. I've researched the problem in such a manner. My report has been published in French in the journal Language Problems and Language Planning . An English version (Linguistic Communication - A Comparative Field Study) can be read on the Internet.

My conclusion is the following:
For all criteria adopted -- savings, rapidity of acquisition, precision, spontaneity, richness of vocabulary, equality, cost-effectiveness, etc. Esperanto emerges as the best system. Moreover, Esperanto has been proved to be an excellent preparation to the acquisition of other languages and the discovery of foreign cultures. So why not try to see the facts before suggesting a solution which terribly lacks in realism? Mastering one foreign language (apart from Esperanto) is extremely difficult for the average citizen, mastering two is far above most people's capabilities.
Isn't it amazing that being objective and non-masochistic seems to be so difficult in a society wh ich claims to be civilized, scientific, and respectful of the citizens' welfare?

(#245) There are plenty of languages worthwhile learning, why do we need an invented one?

Compare the situation with computer languages: there are many of them. How come that new (an successful) ones were created? Because to solve a particular problem, you need the best adapted tool.
Esperanto is built for international communication; natural languages are built for internal communication, so they lack essential features outside this environment.

(#171) Esperanto isn't of much use . . . Is it?


Don Harlow: Personally, I've found it more useful than I would have originally suspected, thirty-odd years ago. I have used it to travel in Europe and China, and seen what sort of travelling I would have been doing had I been using only English; to put it as politely as possible, where I've been I've seen that Esperanto-speakers want to talk, and English-speakers want to take. (The exception, of course, is Great Britain; but even there, pace those who insist that there is no significant difference between British and American English, the question of language and accent sometimes intervenes, as I have posted elsewhere. By the way, in response to the suggestion that British TV programs and movies are widely viewed on American television, I would point out that British programs and movies are almost 100% restricted to public television channels, which in terms of number of viewers fall somewhere short of the religious channels and the Home Shopping Channel; and that almost all that are shown at all were originally made in Britain with the American market in mind -- the two exceptions that I can think of off hand being the old Monty Python and Dr. Who.)

I read books from all over the world in Esperanto, subscribe to magazines from all over the world in Esperanto (and get some that I never subscribed to -- my public thanks to the Yokohama Esperanto-Rondo for their excellent window on Japanese life, Novaĵoj Tamtamas), have friends all over the world through Esperanto, and have a much better idea of what goes on in the world than I would ever learn through my English-language newspapers, magazines, or news services. You may not consider this very useful. If not, then I can't argue the point, because your definition of  'useful' differs too much from my own.

One other indication of the usefulness or uselessness of Esperanto can be given by the experience of Radio Polonia (now on the Web at http://www.polskieradio.pl/eo/), whose Esperanto broadcasts for three decades brought in a level of listener response exceeded only by that of their German-language broadcasts -- and higher than that of English. This is why, when Radio Polonia had to cut services back for financial reasons after the fall of Communism, they merely reduced those for Esperanto, while those for some "languages of wider dissemination" -- Spanish comes immediately to mind -- were terminated completely.

(#153) Because Esperanto is an artificial language, it has no history, no culture, no literature, no jokes, no plays on words, no songs, no poetry...

From this point of view, even ancient Greek or Latin are much much more interesting than modern Esperanto.
You know, a language isn't only mere mean of communication.
Esperanto is only a mean of communication.
Because Esperanto is a language that has a history of more than 5 generations, and people speaking it are spread on the 5 continents, it has a very cosmopolitan culture. The language has a strong "internal idea" that I can resume as "striving to achieve fraternity and justice among all people". 95% of the words have an history that goes back to Indo-European (see http://remush.be/etimo/etimo.html). It has a huge literature, both original and translated. There are really too many valuable books to read in a lifetime, and the number is still growing fast. The most flourishing genre is poetry, but there are many refreshing books full of jokes and puns. You may buy lots of CD's with original songs or coming from many countries. In summary, Esperanto has everything one can find in any language called natural.
Of course, first of all, Esperanto is a mean of communication that foreigners find very comfortable to speak and write, as it was build for that purpose. After all, we all are foreigners on most of this world.
Do a Google search on Esperanto, you'll be amazed.

(#182) If you want to visit Israel, learn Hebrew. If you want to visit Japan, learn Japanese. If you want to visit Brazil, learn Brazilian Portuguese. Where would you go with Esperanto?

... If you want to visit West Africa, learn a few dozen local languages. However, if you are interested in more than just one foreign country's culture, if you want to experience lots of cultures, Esperanto provides easy access.

Even if you can't actually travel lots (though knowing Esperanto makes travelling cheaper), Esperanto organisations regularly organise international meetings. Every day of the year there is an Esperanto event somewhere, not counting clubs, and there is nothing that equals them in their celebration of diversity. See http://www.eventoj.hu/2007.htm.
For example the Internacia Seminario is an 7-day Esperanto New Year's party for youths taking place in a different German city every year. Even though it's always in Germany (unlike the biggest Esperanto arrangements, that switch country every year) and most of the participants are students, who traditionally don't have much money to spend on travelling to far-away countries, there are always more than 50 nations present, from all continents.
For the events happening near your place, contact the local Esperanto club (see your telephone directory) or send a message to an Esperanto newsgroup like http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.esperanto.

(#177) Esperantists use the language for nothing but to talk about Esperanto . . . Don't they?

Don Harlow: It's a good starting point for people from lots of different cultures who don't have anything in common except the language. But it's certainly not the end. If half the postings on soc.culture.esperanto are about Esperanto, half of them aren't -- there have been, among other things, postings about the Chechen War (from Russia, among other places), about the earthquake in Japan (from Japan, among other places), about the floods in the Netherlands (from the Netherlands, among other places), etc. Some Esperanto magazines are devoted entirely to Esperanto, as well as being written in it; others (El Popola Ĉinio from China, Monato from Belgium, Novaĵoj Tamtamas from Japan  as examples) definitely are not. And most books in Esperanto have nothing to do with Esperanto, except for being written in it (in nine volumes of the science-fiction almanac Sferoj, for instance, I doubt that the word has been mentioned once, except on the copyright page).





Relative easiness of Esperanto 

(#268) Esperanto is artificial language. It means it's not easy for human to learn it. I need Chomsky's theory to verify my opinion.

Esperanto is a constructed language build to be easier to learn than natural languages. Chomsky is not more competent than you are to decide what you are able to learn easier or not.
However, if you seriously examine the grammar of the language, and evaluate the amount of words you need to know to have a simple conversation in Esperanto, it is very probable that you will underestimate the time to reach your objectives. (see #116)
This will cause frustration and doubt at you own intellectual capabilities. You might conclude that you are not talented for any language. You are probably setting your standards too high.

(#116) Esperanto is not particularly easy to learn.

Some key persons within the Esperanto movement have lamented how few of the speakers then progress to a high level of fluency.
Most notably, the author Julio Baghy (1891-1967) critiqued mediocre Esperantists in his ironic poem Estas mi Esperantisto ("I am an Esperantist"). Also the author Kazimierz Bein (1872-1959), while attending a conference at which it was generally agreed that everyone should learn Esperanto, remarked that the first who ought to learn it were the Esperantists themselves.


Easy is a relative term. People mistake the word easy for the word easier.
It's like saying that going to the moon is easier than going to mars. It's true, but that doesn't mean that going to the moon is easy.


Sometimes Esperanto's supporters make it sound like learning Esperanto is effortless. That's unfortunate.

It's a full language, and like any full language there's a huge volume to learn.   I certainly struggled with some aspects of Esperanto when I was learning it (and even now I still make mistakes sometimes...though I do that in my native tongue too).

Indeed, to learn the grammar (La Fundamento) takes a maximum of one hour, the basic vocabulary: 2 hours (for English-speaking people), the pronunciation and spelling: half an hour.

In theory, the student has now a vocabulary equivalent to 7000 words in English because he can build new words combining the 1000 roots he knows.

Unfortunately this is hardly enough to be able to speak.

Speaking requires skills that are not really identified and taught. Many are disappointed when they realise they are incapable of overcoming the last hurdle, and give up too soon, blaming Zamenhof's ill-formed creation, or simply feeling stupid.


Esperanto is a good tool to identify the real difficulties in speaking a foreign language; those difficulties would apply to any language.

It's a great second language to learn, because it teaches you so much about how languages are put together, it helps you greatly when you want to learn future languages (especially those that contain all those sounds that are difficult for Asian people), and though this is only my opinion, it's a very beautiful and useful language.  

Don Harlow: re Baghy and Bein: Baghy's poem was addressing not those who could not learn to speak Esperanto at a higher level, but those who would not. Bein's comment was made at, I believe, the very first international Esperanto Congress in 1905 (almost the first international conference ever held in Esperanto), at which it was not surprising to find a large number of people who had never actually tried to speak the language before.

The difference between Esperanto and (let us say) English is like the difference between a Latin-alphabet keyboard and a Chinese keyboard. An expert on a Latin-alphabet keyboard and an expert on a Chinese keyboard are comparable in their abilities. On the other hand, a beginner on a Chinese keyboard has a long way to go before he will be able to do much of anything, while a beginner on a Latin-alphabet keyboard is already able to do useful work, if somewhat slowly by expert standards. Similarly, the beginner in Esperanto is far more able to at least read and write in the language than the beginner who has put in a similar amount of time in English; I don't know how many postcards and e-mail messages I've seen from people who've said (in Esperanto): "Pardon my Esperanto, I just started learning it two weeks (two days, two hours) ago."

This raises its own problems, of course. For many people, it's enough to be able to communicate in basic Esperanto two or three times a year; why should they devote any amount of time to advancing their capabilities?
Hence we have the "eterna komencanto", about whom the critic is complaining. This is not a problem with the language, but a matter of choice on the part of the individual.

(#170) Esperanto can't be as easy to learn as Esperantists claim . . . Can it? 


Don Harlow: Most Esperantists today go easy on such claims, fearing (rightly) that they will be laughed at by those who know nothing about Esperanto. When Count Leo Tolstoy claimed that he learned Esperanto "in three or four hours" we must assume -- and probably correctly -- that this meant that the polyglot Tolstoy learned, in 3-4 hours, to read Esperanto texts with the help of a dictionary.

On the other hand, I've run into far too many cases of people who, in a very, very short period of self-study (usually months, sometimes weeks, rarely -- but not never -rience I shared -- found that the first time they were actually exposed to spoken Esperanto they had no trouble in understanding it, nor in participating in conversation. Why do you think so many people who speak Esperanto are so enthusiastic about it? Because they think it's going to save the world? See below.

Why should Esperanto be easier to learn? First, because the grammar has been cleansed of irregularities. The student of English, for instance, is faced with at least two totally irregular verbs and around three hundred "strong" or "radical-changing" verbs, each of which has three components that have to be learned separately; the student of Esperanto has to learn one simple paradigm, six endings, applicable to all verbs. The student of English has to learn the irregular plural endings of a large number of nouns (and, consequently, has to pay attention to every noun so that he will know whether or not it uses one of these unusual endings); the student of Esperanto has to learn one plural ending for all nouns. Etc.

Second, because Esperanto has a productive system of word-formation. Once you have memorised a relatively small vocabulary (eleven grammatical endings, nine pronouns, a dozen numerals, a correlative system consisting of fourteen parts, about forty affixes, a hundred or so particles, and maybe three hundred word roots) you can leverage this yourself into all the vocabulary you need to carry on a conversation in the language, or read most of the material written in the language with about 90% comprehension. The rest you can pick up as you need it.

Third, Esperanto doesn't force you to learn contexts as well as words. When do you use the root "profund''? Anytime you're talking about depth, whether physical or metaphorical. When do you use 'deep' in English, and when 'profound'? Hint: you'd never use the latter in discussing a physical situation; but in metaphorical situations, the two may be u- days) have taught themselves to read and write Esperanto better than any language that they learned in school for a period of years, and who -- this latter is an expesed (mostly) interchangeably. In Esperanto, a root has a meaning, and may be used metaphorically as well; but nowhere is there any rule to say, "You may not use this particular root here, because you have to use this other root with the same meaning under these conditions."

I cite my best friend: She studied English for nine years (high school and university) in her home country. She studied Esperanto for one semester in her last year of university. At the end of that semester she felt more competent and confident reading and writing in Esperanto than she did in English. (My friend's native language, for the record, is Shanghainese, not one of the European tongues; and she did not learn Esperanto out of a hobbyist's interest, or to save the world, but because the authorities in her university ordered her to do so, against her own wishes. Not that she regrets it!)

(#260) Prove that Esperanto is easy

I can't prove it to you; I can prove it to myself and you could prove it to yourself, but you refuse to experiment yourself and prefer to rely on some external body, preferably one that would say it's more difficult (I did not find any).

  1. When people don't have a good motivation, they have a hard time learning anything (do you need a proof on that as well?). For some, Esperanto would be very very difficult, not to say completely unlearnable (do you need a further proof of that?). However, many learned Esperanto with a weak motivation.
  2. Easy is a relative term. People mistake the word easy for the word easier. Read answer #116.
  3. To measure easiness one needs to consider the source and the target language pair: in principle a German would learn English easier than a Spaniard, but the disturbing factor "motivation" could false the results.
  4. English speakers are very lousy learners of languages probably due to their education system (like in France 100 years ago: "French is the world language, who needs another one?"). For an English all languages are difficult. I never met an English speaking French correctly, but I met several speaking Esperanto perfectly (but this is no proof because they had a very high IQ as well).

In summary, I've proved to myself that Esperanto required less learning time than French, English, Dutch, German, Polish, Latin, Greek, Chinese and even Java.
Set up your own experiment, but don't bet your life on the outcome.
My question when I started was : does it work or not?
At the time, my answer was, may-be: it's readable but probably not speakable.
As I am a hard believer, I did not rely on the rubbish published in blogs and experimented myself.
BTW. The big majority of Esperantists are very very hard believers. Publish anything in Esperanto, you'll see.

This is the normal result of diversity.

(#269) So far as China is concerned, only those Chinese who have already learnt English or French are able to learn Esperanto easily.

Professor Liu Xiaojun
I may add that those who already learnt Russian, French and German, will find Esperanto really easy. Not only Esperanto, but also Italian, and English.
Nevertheless, if they first start learning Esperanto, and thereafter another european language, they will notice that they are progressing much faster in this language that those who started immediately with any other european language. The right question now is : how long must one study Esperanto to get the most benefit from it while studying another European language? My guesstimate: 100 hours total study time (classroom + individual study).


(#019) The more European languages you speak, the easier you will find Esperanto;

but the less you will then actually need it!
Unless you are familiar with at least two or three European languages, Esperanto will clearly contain many unnecessarily complicated and awkward features.

A good experiment conducted by Professor Helmar G. Frank in Paderborn (Germany) compared a group learning English for six years with a control group learning first Esperanto then English for 5 years, surprisingly showed that the control group had a significantly better level in English. In another study (Williams 1965 ), a group of high school English-speaking students studied Esperanto for one year, then French for three years, and ended up with a better command of French than the group, who studied French without Esperanto during all four years.

Even if this argument looks quite obvious in theory, it is false. Let's imagine that somebody knows all the languages in the world and reads an Esperanto novel. He will be able to guess most of it - provided that he has spent roughly one hour in learning the grammar (La Fundamento). However to say anything, he will have to learn at least 1000 basic roots. He would then have a vocabulary equivalent to 7000 words in English because he could build new words combining the 1000 roots he knew. Passive and active knowledge must be distinguished from each other.In reality, very few people are capable of speaking several languages without mixing words from all of them. The more similar the languages are, the more difficult it is. For me, Esperanto is difficult because I find it too close to French. A Chinese will have another perception of where the difficulties lies.

The audience is also important to consider. You can know the twenty languages used by people in your audience, but you will still need 19 simultaneous interpreters to translate your speech, unless you speak for 20 hours, one in each language.

It is true that most of the people who have learned Esperanto have learned the language through choice and conscious effort (This is not the case for the experiments related previously). Many start with this language because they don't find themselves particularly skilled at language learning.

(#048) Book to learn Esperanto are not available on the market

After three years of searching for a copy, I finally found one in a local charity shop; in a city in which self-teaching texts for languages as little-used as Albanian are routinely on sale in bookshops, this is a remarkable indication of the lack of demand for Esperant
Don Harlow: I picture this poor guy, spending three years doggedly traipsing from bookstore to bookstore searching for a book in or about Esperanto, while his hair grows long, his teeth rot, his clothes disintegrate, and the look in his eyes gets wilder and wilder. Finally, just as he is about to leap off a bridge and end it all, he enters a little charity shop and finally finds an Esperanto textbook, probably dating from 1905, its cover battered and its pages brown with age.

Meanwhile I, who already know Esperanto, having finished lunch at the Emeryville Marketplace, wander into the adjoining "Borders" bookstore, look at their foreign language shelf in a search for something about Indonesian, and find the spine of a copy of Joseph Conroy's "Beginner's Esperanto" staring me in the face.

There is no justice in this world.


The  Esperanto language chief resource is the selling of books to Esperantists. They have their own libraries with only Esperanto books. No library has all the books on display: this would require several stores. The best way to buy a book is to order it through Internet. In the Esperanto monthly review "Monato" you'll find a review of most recent and valuable books.
Those who do not have access to Internet, usually have a telephone directory. All they have to do is dial any number under Esperanto and ask for advice.

Amusingly, 20 years after hearing  about Esperanto on the radio, and finding it a language worth learning (more or less like the sign language), I happened to find a "Teach Yourself Esperanto" in a large store in the states, looking for something else. This only shows how eager I was to learn this language, and how often I open a telephone directory under letter E.


Nowadays you can open http://www.google.com/ and search "Esperanto" or subscribe to soc.culture.esperanto and mail your question to everybody. The recommended language in this newsgroup is Esperanto but one quick question in English (or any other language) will not hurt. You will probably get an answer within hours.

(#049) Why is it that the book Teach yourself Esperanto is as thick as any other Teach Yourself?

The Teach Yourself Esperanto book is roughly the same length as many other books in the series, with about the same amount of material, for which reason it's hard to see how Esperanto can be described as "much easier to learn than any natural language"  (back cover).


It could have something to do with marketing. Perhaps 10 page books could not be sold for the same price as hundred page books. This is why you see so few 10 pages books.
(I was joking    - I was ignoring "with the same amount of material" because I have no objective way to compare the amount of material in Russian, Chinese, Albanian, etc... Teach Yourself).

Don Harlow: Book companies do not like to sell "Esperanto en 24 paĝoj" (name of an actual book) or similar pamphlets such as Montague C. Butler's "Esperanto for Beginners" (or, for that matter, the Esperanto "Key", from which you can learn enough Esperanto to read and write the language, and which you can slip into an international envelope with a one-page letter and not have to pay extra postage).

TYE discusses many points in more detail than is necessary. It also has a lot more pictures than any other book in the series that I have on my shelf.

After 5 lessons, the author says :

Having mastered lessons 1-5, you are already an Esperantist. To a limited degree, no doubt; but as Zamenhof truly said, if only a limited number of people in each country knew the international language, and if even they knew it only partially, the language problem would be essentially solved. The barriers which have always separated the nations would be breached.

And I believed him! I stopped there.
Three years later, I had to ask something to a Hungarian who could only speak Esperanto. I had a hard time, but managed it, sweating a lot. It's true that I am not very skillful in languages, according to my school evaluations.
Fortunately understanding his answer was easy.

When I first went to England, I could ask questions to people on the street, but could not understand their answer. They seemed to understand me.

Esperantists supporters pretend that Esperanto is 10 times easier than English. They lie. They don't dare to say how much, because 10 is already unbelievable. My recommendation: say 2 times, otherwise the guy who does not succeed feels really stupid.

Don Harlow: My recommendation: Skip the textbooks, read a couple of descriptive pages about Esperanto on the net (I have three -- "grammar", "affixes" and "correlatives", and then start using the language. If you're going to buy a book, get a dictionary.

(#050) "Teach yourself Esperanto" is very confusing. It looks more like a propaganda book than a course guide.

Don Harlow: Compared to an average textbook (which devotes a quarter of its content to telling you how wonderful things are in France, China, Romania, or wherever the language in the book comes from) TYE is remarkably reticent about pushing Esperanto. Its main failing is that it devotes too much space to relatively unimportant items (padding again).
When I decided to learn C++, I went to a specialised bookstore, and spend some time to find the best book for me. Unfortunately, after a few chapters I was stuck. So I went back to the bookstore and choose another one, the best one for me (I didn't evaluate this book rightly during my first visit). Guess what? I had to go to the bookshop a third time. I was well motivated to learn C++ of course and to spend some money. Then a miracle occur: this was the best book for me. But I wouldn't recommend it to you.
It won't be good for you, any more than is would have been good for me as a first book. Surprisingly, when I came back to the first book I bought, I could not understand why I was stuck there: it was very clear as well!
The same story occurred for JAVA, and again and again with other subjects.
Three books looks a reasonable number.
Also think to use http://en.lernu.net/


Table of Contents


World Peace

(#183) Esperantists believe that a new world order of harmony and cooperation will be ushered in through the adoption of their made-up, one-world language.  They see language as the vehicle that will enable them to re-create the world according to their own specifications.

Indeed Esperantists think that living in harmony is a good objective, and that all cultures have their value.
There are many ways to achieve the objective, and the way will be long. Esperantists only hope to remove one obstacle: the language.
Multiculturalism, diversity of opinions, are essential features of Esperanto.
The world is created as it is, and it's better to understand it in its diversity instead of forcing people to adjust to one model.

(#229) Remember how Esperanto was going to unite the world. It failed completely.

This is the short way to say "People of good will, who want to work together to improve the living conditions in the world, could better achieve their goal using a neutral language, and feel part of the same human community."
So the prerequisite is to find people of good will. This is the reason why many Esperantists are reluctant to see Esperanto becoming a mandatory course.
But... one never knows... There are ways to preserve this ideal.
Esperanto would at least give everybody more time to invest in his own cultural values and in finding a practical solutions that are widely acceptable.
Latin did not succeed, French neither. English seemed to be in a better position, but the opposition is growing with the arrogance of people in power (not only native English speakers).
The perceived arrogance of people speaking French, the dominating language a while ago  was, according to me, the chief obstacle to a common language.
English will suffer the same problem - I insist - not because of the native speakers.
Can we avoid that with Esperanto? This is the question.

(#029) It is silly to think that Esperanto can bring world peace.

Unfortunately. It's only a small step in the right direction. Esperanto was originally motivated by peaceful intentions. In fact it can be used for any purpose. Esperantists were once handled as anarchists plotting against the state and ended up in concentration camps or Gullahs.

Don Harlow: Z believed that Esperanto (or something very like it) was a necessary component of a process leading to peace. Many Esperanto speakers agree with this, and I think that history helps support the idea. Far too many critics have misrepresented this assumption as supposing that Esperanto (or something very like it) will be sufficient to ensure peace.
(Any mathematician can explain the difference between necessity and sufficiency.)

(#175) Esperantists all believe that if everybody learned Esperanto, War and Death in the world would end . . . Don't they?

Don Harlow: If you put six Esperantists together in a room, the only thing you will get them to agree on is that Esperanto is good. If you put twelve together, chances are that you'll find one who won't even agree on that.
Very likely, though, you could geEsperantists to agree that if everybody in the world learned Esperanto, everybody in the world would be able to speak Esperanto. But as to whether this was desirable or not -- you wouldn't find any agreement on that...at all

(#188) How was speaking one language going to stop war? Hadn't Zamenhof heard of civil wars?

Esperanto won't stop wars, but it's unlikely it will increase the danger. Esperanto was meant to give the people a tool to communicate. Lack of communication is a source of misunderstandings.

(#252) If Esperanto was any use, don't you think it would have been in the mainstream by now, doesn't its age of 120 years of failure mean anything to you?

English really started to compete with French as a international language on June 28th, 1919, that is long ago. Since then, England has used a lot of resources to increase the influence of its language, that was thought ill-suited for international diplomacy.
The return on investment is poor. We can't say the world diplomacy improved. Must we consider this as a failure?

English is far from having achieved its goal as international language. Must we keep trying or quit?
Anyway, by 2039 it will be supplanted by Spanish or Chinese, if nothing more is done.
A shortcut to multilingualism could be Esperanto, the springboard to other languages.



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Esperanto is a costly replacement for "natural" languages

(#199) When it comes to Esperanto, I consider it a waste of time, as it would take too much effort to bring 99.9ish% of Europe to learn a complete new language, not even taking into account the amount of work to create the needed educational infrastructure

(with 500 million citizens in Europe one would need at least 1 Million certified teachers dropping out of nowhere - more than there are even marginally suitable Esperantists worldwide).

To be qualified Esperanto teacher, you do not need much more than being a qualified teacher in some other foreign language. A teacher of Latin would be an excellent choice as he would already be familiar with the etymology of most words and could point out the similarities with the mother tongue of the students, and with a lot of other languages he would happen to know.

I am not a certified teacher of Esperanto (however I taught C++, JAVA and some others) but I could give you the help you need to learn the language.
All you need is Skype and access to newsgroup soc.culture.esperanto to ask your questions to the community.
Have already a look at lernu.net ?
And there is much much more. You do not realize what amount of work was done already to create the needed educational infrastructure on internet.
See http://www.edukado.net/
Challenge yourself!

Learning Esperanto will spare a student several years compared to the study of English. After 5 weeks of Esperanto (on my own, with Teach yourself Esperanto) I have reached a level that I did not reach in English after 5 years of school study 2 hours a week. Of course I could have done better with a qualified teacher.
Esperanto is not a completely new language. Knowing German and English, you would already know more than 90% of the essential vocabulary.  See Etymology.
The grammar is not a big problem as it has no exception.

(#200) There are countless English teachers around the world, but very few Esperanto teachers.

I did not need a teacher to learn Esperanto, but I agree, it would have been even faster with one.
How long would it take you to become a teacher of Esperanto, assuming you already taught something?
Any guess?

(#201) To adopt Esperanto would make no sense whatsoever, mind you given the EU's track record they would probably jump on that particular bandwagon with no thought of the outcome, or costs entailed in changing the various educational systems throughout the EU nation states.

Indeed the change would be enormous... for Britain. The magnitude of the problem can be better understood by the time it took (takes!) to adjust to liters, kilometers and degree Celsius. However, using a system that is more logical is very profitable.
Obviously you read nothing about the cost of learning English.
Please read http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/communication.htm.

(#202) It would be extremely costly to impose this language, and generally would not be able to reach the dizzy heights of uptake that seems to be the rather positive claims from this minor minority grouping.

Could you come up with some figures, so that we can really compare the two options?
There is about nothing published in English about the costs. It's indeed better to keep silent about that.
Maybe we'll have to translate the excellent study of a Swiss Professor : http://cisad.adc.education.fr/hcee/documents/rapport_Grin.pdf

Esperantists don't just theorize about Esperanto, they experience it by using it, noting that it is indeed easy to learn and use and capable of expressing anything and everything. Knowing at least one other language (in many cases, two or more others), they compare, discuss and conclude that Esperanto is much easier to learn and use than any national language, including English, which translates into a much lower cost of acquisition and a much greater likelihood for the average learner to achieve competence. They are aware that there is a language barrier that people desire to overcome for various reasons, but observe their struggles and their overall modest success in learning national languages, including English, and the problems that result when they serve as international auxiliary languages. The conclusion - not the premise - is that Esperanto is an excellent proven solution to the language problem, certainly a worthwhile alternative to existing solutions, and therefore worth promoting. Esperantists who make these claims are very sincere about them, and anyone can check them by learning Esperanto and getting involved in the community.

(#155) Giving Esperanto lessons at University for all the students who want to be a foreign language teacher sounds like a waste of money.

Not only would large-scale introduction of Esperanto be hugely expensive, but there are inherent problems with wide adoption of an artificial language and such inherent problems will never disappear regardless of the amount of billions or trillions of euros that any government pours into such project.


Obviously, you have not read the "Grin Report": http://lingvo.org/grin/
You also forget that Esperanto is mostly self-taught.
There are lots of courses available on the Internet.
The first course written in 1905 is still recommended : http://www.akademio-de-esperanto.org/fundamento/

Also remember that those who speak Esperanto, usually also speak a few more languages on top of their mother tongue. It would be wise to listen to them.
Esperanto can be taught by any teacher qualified to teach a foreign language, with very acceptable results, as it was already shown in some experiments.
In case of doubt, the teacher (or any student) can get a quick answer from the newsgroup: http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.esperanto/topics?lnk=lr&hl=eo
You can post your questions in English (or in any other language you fancy).

Introduction of Esperanto will be much cheaper than any other current solution.
Additionally, foreign language courses could be given by native speakers all over the world. So the level of those who care learning a foreign language, would be much higher.
We can anticipate that the interest in learning exotic languages will increase.
English will probably remain one of the favourite for the time being.

More than money, Esperanto needs a small push from the EU to reach the critical mass to trigger a chain reaction.

BTW, who read Propedeutic value of Esperanto ?

(#160)  To adopt Esperanto would make no sense whatsoever, mind you given the EU's track record they would probably jump on that particular bandwagon with no thought of the outcome, or costs entailed in changing the various educational systems throughout the EU nation states.

Indeed the change would be enormous... for Britain. The magnitude of the problem can be better understood by the time it took (takes!) to adjust to litters, kilometres and degree Celsius. However, using a system that is more logical is very profitable.

Obviously you read nothing about the cost of learning English. Visit http://lingvo.org/grin/

(#158) Teaching Esperanto would also place the EU at a serious competitive disadvantage in the world.

Similar objections apply to Latin as well.

So, you think that if Esperanto is taught worldwide in all schools, it would harm our competitiveness. You might be right, but more study is necessary to prove that.

Let us assume that it is only taught in Europe. How long would it last until China decides to teach it? And vise-verso?
Esperanto needs only a small boost to take off, like a recommendation from the EU commission, instead of a blunt rejection on the false pretext that "Esperanto has no culture", while the truth is that is multicultural by construction.

(#173) Latin would be a better choice for a common European language . . . Wouldn't it?

Don Harlow: Zamenhof, who was later to invent Esperanto, decided when he still wrote his age with a single digit that the solution to the language problem that he saw every day around him was to convince everybody in the world to learn Latin or Classic Greek; and he vowed to devote his adult life to this cause.

Around puberty, Zamenhof entered high school (gymnasium) on the language track, where he had the privilege of studying both Latin and Classic Greek. I don't know how many weeks into the courses he was before he decided that inventing his own language would probably be more realistic.

I took three years of Latin in high school, and have good reason to suppose that few American contemporaries of mine were as adept at wrangling the language as I was. At the end of three years I could, with the aid of the Cassell's I won in a contest, plow my way through -- though not enjoy very much -- Vergil and Cicero. I can safely say that, had Selma Lagerlof's Gosta Berling's Saga and Ivan Vazov's Under the Yoke been translated into Latin rather than Esperanto, I would never have devoted hours to reading those two multi-hundred-page classics the year after I got out of high school. Let's face it -- the number of grown people who are going to learn Latin as an auxiliary language well enough to use it in free-flowing conversation, or even for light reading, is at least as minuscule as the number of grown people who are going to learn any other ethnic language to the same level.

(#024) Esperanto will never be able to replace other natural languages.

It was once a dream of Zamenhof and the earlier Esperantists to have Esperanto as first (and possibly only) language in the world. In those days, French was the dominant language.
Little by little this attitude has changed.
Nowadays the majority of Esperantists believe that Esperanto is the best ally of the small languages and dialects. It can keep them alive by granting people more time to revive their ancestor's dialects instead of learning some dominant natural language.
Esperantists hope to help the revival of dying languages or dialects.

The document named "La Manifesto de Prago de la movado por la internacia lingvo Esperanto (1996)" clarifies this position
Here is an extract:
6. LANGUAGE DIVERSITY
National governments tend to treat the great diversity of languages in the world as a barrier to communication and development. In the Esperanto community, however, language diversity is experienced as a constant and indispensable source of enrichment. Consequently every language, like every biological species, is inherently valuable and worthy of protection and support.

We maintain that communication and development policies which are not based on respect and support for all languages amount to a death sentence for the majority of languages in the world. We are a movement for language diversity.

(#161) English is the recognised international language.

"recognized" is probably more international.
The different meanings of "to recognise" could be translated in Esperanto by "rekognoski, rekoni, agnoski, aprobi, akcepti.". In this case "accepted" is what you mean, but  "imposed"  is closer to reality.
"rekognoski" is used for scouts; a synonym is "skolti".Search the meaning of the other words in http://reta-vortaro.de/revo/.
 


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Which language will dominate the world?

(#028) Why do Esperantists try to impose their language as first language for the world?

Most Esperanto speakers actually don't have a problem with the existence of national languages functioning as such. What tends to bother them is when they become mandatory - de jure or de facto - without adequately addressing the problems they were thought to solve, especially when a better alternative is available.

Esperanto is "in no way opposed to the national languages" and is intended for use alongside them. The first language you learn would be the dialect your parents are speaking. The second one would be the cultural language of which the dialect is part. The next language should be Esperanto to communicate with the rest of the world. As this language can be learned much more quickly, people will have time, if interested, to learn the language of their choice. You would observe a larger diversity in the languages studied. You would probably notice a larger interest in languages and find out that more teachers are necessary. All this is speculation.

Most Esperantists I spoke to are defending their dialects and cultural language. Detractors say Esperanto will kill all languages, though present no evidence of this.

Also read the Prague Manifesto for other arguments in favour of learning the language

  1. DEMOCRACY,
  2. GLOBAL EDUCATION
  3. EFFECTIVE EDUCATION
  4. MULTILINGUALISM,
  5. LANGUAGE RIGHTS
  6.  LANGUAGE DIVERSITY
  7.  HUMAN EMANCIPATION

(#261) Esperanto cannot compete with english.

Because we don't even have an elementary knowledge of what can be achieved with such a language.
Because we prefer others to spend 1000 hours of study so that we can avoid spending 100 hours of our own precious time to reach the same level with Esperanto.
Because a language like Esperanto is too good to be true.
Because English is the best language in the world... for us!

(#241) As for dominating languages, I am yet to see any evidence that Esperanto would not have exactly the same effects if it were a dominating language.

Difficult to foresee... There are ways to avoid that this happens. What is sure is that French killed local languages south of Belgium, because parents were asked to speak French at home, and English killed local dialects in Scotland and Ireland, for the same reason. Now one tries to revive those languages, but it is probably too late.

The "natural" languages (better said the "savage" languages) are too difficult to master. The proof is the small amount of truly bilingual persons. I have not met one in Belgium yet.
To master a natural language one must start using it very early, probably even before one masters one's mother language.

Esperanto, on the other hand, can be learned very late, when the structures of the mother language are well in place.
Interesting studies are made using magnetic resonance imagery to try and understand what parts of the brain are active when one uses one's mother language, and which are active when one uses a foreign language. It's too early to draw conclusions from what is observed, but what is sure is that several different regions are used more or less intensively depending of the fluency. (The more fluent a person is, the less activity there is !)

To say that Esperantists desire Esperanto to prevail as THE world language is only partly true - not because there is no desire to promote Esperanto, but because of the qualifier "as the world language". This expression can be interpreted at least two ways: as a unique replacement for other languages, and as the sole international auxiliary language.

 I'm guessing you didn't mean "unique replacement for other languages", but in case you did, most Esperantists see Esperanto's vocation as a common second language, not a replacement for national languages. I think you probably meant "sole international auxiliary language", and if you did,

(#242) I find it rather surprising that you insist that Esperantists are proud of their mother tongues, whilst wanting to replace them with a language that has never been anyones mother tongue.

Esperantists do not want to replace their mother tongue.
Most of them agree to propose Esperanto as the third language, after the local language and the country educational and cultural language. The problem with English (and French) is that those languages are "exterminators". To use them well at a high level, one has to invest a tremendous amount of time in their study. See what happened in Ireland and Scotland: the parents had to agree to speak English at home to give their children a better chance to get to a higher social position.
The same happened in Belgium with French : the local dialect was forbidden. The Flemish were luckier with Dutch (the two languages are close to each other), so local dialects are better preserved North than South of the country.
You want the whole world to learn English: Do you realize you ask the world to drop not only their local languages, but their cultural national languages as well?
This will never happen.

(#243) What if English is chosen?

The biggest problem with a national language used in multinational meetings is that the floor is taken by the natives, and the other participants get frustrated.
Of course, between persons of good will English, French or Esperanto function well. But in conflicting situations, the one with better language skills gets the upper hand.
The long term result is that the nation speaking the "dominant" language gets the reputation of being arrogant.
Are you happy with that? Hoping it will not happen tomorrow...

(#263) Esperanto was created to take the place of English as the lingua franca.

Note that in 1887, the “lingua franca” was French.
Esperanto was not really built to “take the place” of French, but to help solving the language problem that French was not able to solve.
Remember that in those days French was the language everybody had to know to look smart. Before that, there was Latin.
And after English , there will be Chinese, Hindi, Portugese, Swahili …

(#264) Esperanto will not reach a "critical mass" relative to English in the organic manner. The English language's ascendancy is only going to gather speed in the future. Because of this, Esperanto is going to become less relevant.

Actually, Esperanto is already growing organically, not by leaps and bounds, but slowly and surely - with notable hotspots in places like Brazil, China and parts of Africa - almost certainly faster (percentagewise) than the Earth's population. It does so with almost no governmental or commercial backing. There is some publicity for Esperanto, more so with the advent of the Internet, but it is decidedly low-key and low-pressure. Most people who go on to learn Esperanto find out about it because they stumble upon it, not because it was shoved in their faces, then learn it, not because they have to, but because they want to, in spite of the concurrent growth of English.


The real question is whether current trends will extend into the future. I see no reason why Esperanto's plodding forward should not continue. With the world's population expected to peak at around 10 billion, in some decades, perhaps in 100 years, Esperanto could reach a size large enough to start a domino effect, provided English does not supplant too many other languages by then as a native language. However, should Esperanto be made a subject in primary and secondary schools, that could all change very quickly, as a contingent of competent Esperanto speakers rises and reaches adulthood.

(#265) The Esperanto camp is flogging a dead horse. In most countries around the world, the educated elite recognise the necessity of learning English, and insist their children do so. And this practice is trickling down as we speak. In two or three decades, the process will largely be complete.

The educated elite see English in that manner. But at what cost? If English replaces the local language by becoming the native language, the local language will have been lost, a tragedy decried in many fora. If not, even if started early, the total time required to reach an adequate level of competency will be enormous, taking valuable time from other subjects, including the students' native languages, for results that are, in most cases, only mediocre.
What Esperantists point out is that if students everywhere learned Esperanto first, they would, after only a year of serious, applied study, have a language with which they could communicate with the world. The time saved could be spent on other endeavours, and if those other endeavours should include learning English, it would be considerably easier to pick up.


(#266) Esperantist zelots are overdoing it a bit - especially their contention that English is impractically difficult to learn. I disagree. It is not critical for non-native English speakers to have a grasp of the nuances of the language that native speakers wield, as the Esperanto acolytes would have us believe.

All the nuances wielded by native speakers, no. But some are unavoidable, enough to make English difficult beyond a very basic level, and increasingly difficult at progressively higher levels. Phrasal verbs, for example, are highly idiomatic but extensively used. The idiomatic and somewhat messy Latinate/Germanic vocabulary dichotomy is an issue even at a basic level. Polysemy is high in a number of very frequent words to which even beginners are exposed and which tend to enter into idiomatic expressions. There is a marked tendency to use simple juxtaposition of nouns to express relationships between them, but the relationship is often hazy and often idiomatic.


Intonation is not as common an issue as some of the others I mentioned. However, it is one of many that have smaller impact individually, but collectively make English hard. An example of intonation that would be very difficult for a non-native speaker to distinguish: a French book vs. a French book. The former, with both "French" and "book" stressed, is a book from France, with "French" as an adjective. The latter, with only "French" stressed, is a textbook for learning French, with "French" as a noun. Subtle, idiomatic, and typical of the intonation patterns of English.


For those who learn English solely to use it in places like airports, banks, hotels and restaurants, or only where they will interact with other non-native speakers, I would tend to agree. However, for everyone else, involvement with or exposure to natives becomes unavoidable. You want to use it passively, just to enjoy movies, books, and so forth? The vast majority are produced by native speakers for native-speaker audiences, with the full force of all the difficulties I mentioned earleir; unless you master them, you will miss out on a great deal. You want to learn it to get ahead at work? Just to understand documentation? Written mostly by native speakers. To function in a multi-national workplace?
You will eventually have to interact and/or compete with native English speakers in an environment where the ability to communicate, demonstrate and negotiate is of great and ever-increasing value.



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Artificial/Constructed 

(#168) Esperanto is not a real language . . . Is it? 

Don Harlow: People use Esperanto to talk to each other, make love, argue politics, write poetry (both good and bad), write novels (allegories, thrillers, science-fiction...), write scientific papers, do their jobs, etc., etc., etc -- in short, to communicate with other people under all possible circumstances. To me, this means that it's a real language. You may exclude it from this category, if you wish, by redefining the term "real language", but this is a trivial way of getting rid of it, and would be an indication more of meanness of spirit than of any problem with the language.


It's said that Umberco Eco, before he started supporting Esperanto, once said in class that Esperanto isn't a real language "because you can't make love in Esperanto". A girl stood up and said, with some embarrassment, "I'm sorry, Professor, but it is possible to make love in Esperanto. I've done it."
Personally, I don't believe it.
I mean, I don't believe she actually said it.

I should warn you that the chance you'll fall in love with a foreigner is really high if you speak Esperanto...

There's a good book examining Esperanto called "Esperanto: A Language for the Global Village". It's by Sylvan Zaft (quote: "Esperanto is an artificial language just like a car is an artificial horse"). It looks at various interesting issues, such as how English compares to Esperanto as a language of international communication, how natural Esperanto is, how good it is for literature, whether a yet easier language wouldn't be better, the Raumist movement and so on. Btw, Esperanto translations of literature are usually done by a native speaker of the source language, ensuring that every tiny nuance and every cultural reference is understood.

(#156) Esperanto is not a living language.

You seem to have very strange criteria to define what a living language is. It is however true that the life of English is hardly influenced by foreigners... compared to Esperanto.
Search the internet with http://www.google.be/search?num=100&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&hs=6Im&q=kaj+estas+la&btnG=Search&meta= and check the date of creation.

(#184) More people probably speak Klingon than Esperanto these days.

This could be true in the whole universe, but hardly in our local cluster. Perhaps in a zillion generations...

(#249) Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, refused to admit that his creation could actually be modified by its speakers.

Zamenhof, the initiator of Esperanto, never refused that. On the contrary, he himself proposed a certain number of possible modifications, that were rejected by the early community of speakers.
He explicitly said that the language could be modified, if needed, by a future Academy.
What is protected in Esperanto by this "Academy" (not by Z.) is the kernel of the language, named "La Fundamento".
Compare that to the basic grammar of English.
The success of Esperanto is due to the fact that it functions like any "natural" language. It is flexible enough to allow creative people to express themselves as well as in any natural language.

(#032) Esperanto needs a good deal of improvements.

Zamenhof wisely never claimed that Esperanto was perfect, and he was initially keen to receive criticism and suggestions for improvements.

Yet the language has been criticised ever since it first appeared. Most of the criticism was not justified. If you are an English speaker, and start learning Esperanto, you could be dissatisfied with a few words or rules.

Let's say you improve the language by 1%. I speak French and I can improve the language by 1% as well, but not with the same improvements. Now one has to solve clashes between the two sets of improvements, and generate more problems than one solves. How many languages are there in the world? A few thousand. Then you realise that Z did not do a bad job at all to solve all these clashes in his project. You see why I gave up on my 1% improvement.
When I mastered the language, I even found my improvements insignificant. 

Improving Esperanto nowadays, is done like in other languages. If you a are a famous writer, what you write gets a lot of attention. Your example may be followed by many. You want to improve Esperanto? Good : publish in Esperanto!

If you are a language genius, create a new language. It's easy with nowadays technology. And write in it. After a hundred years we'll check whether you succeeded.
Unless you want to look pathetic, leave the task of "improving" the language to those who speak it fluently.

(198) Europanto, eine lingua por spiel

Por speak Europanto tu basta mix parolas from differente linguas. Keine study, keine grammatica, just improviste, und voilà que tu esse perfecte Europanto speakante.
Erodant habe keine grammatica. Better dixit, grammatica habe, aber tu can liberamente und instinctivamente invente.
Aquì tambien, der gutte rezipe esse de mix maxime common grammaticale elementos from differente linguas.

The author of Europanto, Fiego Marani, created this language for fun, I suppose to mock Esperanto.
Indeed Esperanto can give the same impression to a newcomer. This is probably the reason why a lot of potential learners stop right after the first sentences, choking after laughing too much.

A precursor of that idea is Boris Vian, who only mixed French and English

In Frenglish:
Dispeech yourself to ferm the feneeter, Jojo, it geals to pierfend! But ferm it quick! We shall be enrhumed! I stern already!
En Franglais:
Maque aste et chute le vindeau, Jojo, il frise à splitter les stones. Mais chute le donc vite! Nous catcherons cauld! Je snize déjà.

En Esperanto:
Hastu fermi la fenestron, Joĉjo, frostas ĝis ŝtonfendiĝo! Fermu ĝin tuj, do! Ni malvarmumos! Mi jam ternas.

The first two versions make me laugh, not the third one. Strange isn't it? When the language is mastered, the funnny side of it disappears.

Conclusion: Europanto will make you laugh if it is not used.
And nothing prevents those who don't know Esperanto yet to laugh out loud at it.
Try and keep the spirit.

(#193) Glosperanto: a language combining Glosa and Esperanto and superior to both

May-be, as there are thousands which, according to their authors, are still better.
While every Esperantist would agree that Esperanto is not the best language in absolute, they tend to think it is quite acceptable as it is.
There is no best language, even for computers.
See http://remush.be/rebuttal/index.html#011

(#011) Other constructed languages are much better than Esperanto.

With today's technology, it is very easy to create a new language. Even if your newly created language is better than Esperanto, according to your own criteria, it is unlikely (but possible) that your creation will survive you.

Many attempts were made to build a new language (about 2000 constructed languages exist). You can probably name 3 such languages. If you can't, don't worry: compared to Esperanto they are insignificant in number of speakers. That does not mean that they are uninteresting or stupid aborted attempts.

If you are interested in the subject of constructed languages, read  In the Land of Constructed Languages from Arilka Okrent (ISBN 978-0-385-52788-0 published by Spiegel & Grau)

A fairly complete list may be found at http://www.langmaker.com/db/Category:Conlangs
Have also a look at http://www.rickharrison.com/language/index.html or http://www2.cmp.uea.ac.uk/~jrk/conlang.html .

Don Harlow's (1946-06-08 +2008-01-27) has a good account of the history of less known auxiliary languages that once were thought (often by the author alone) to be able to compete with Esperanto.
A recent try:  http://eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasilo about the new language even easier than Esperanto. See what easy means at (#116 ) Esperanto is not particularly easy to learn.

(#237) Esperanto is already being eclipsed by Interlingua.

It must be a partial eclipse (of about 6%).
Some are claiming that Klingon is the fastest growing language in the galaxy: it would have 20 fluent speakers capable of being rude with each other.
To have an estimation somewhat closer to reality, visit http://www.freewebs.com/international-languages/
You can see the results at poll.spark
The question was: Which language should be the world's official common language?
On 2013-03-07 the situation was:
   3588 people answered the question
466 chose English less than 13%)
2131 Esperanto (59%)
136 Interlingua
34 occidental
165 ido

Surprisingly, ido, the only real contender to Esperanto is based on Esperanto.
Note that the survey is in English, not in Esperanto.
Of course this estimation is also wrong.
If the people better knew what esperanto is, the figure would be well over 80%.

There are other polls that were done in many places with an overwhelming advantage for Esperanto.
Some sites against it rapidly discontinued there page, so it's impossible to link to them now.
A recent poll was made by a Austrian newspaper with the same results in favor of Esperanto.

(#239) I know all about Esperanto. I liken it to learning Klingon, or Elvish, or JavaScript.

  I bet you don't know much about Esperanto, and even less about Klingon or Elvish to make this comparision.
  More likely, the language you know best among them is JavaScript.

(#262) If an official body chose a conlang for easy of learning and intergroup pronunciation, it'd behoove them to use the best they could find or design, which is unlikely to be one of the first conlangs ever designed.

I do not believe in official bodies, nor in intergroup pronunciation, nor in designing perfect languages, nor in conlangs in general.

(#168) Esperanto is not a real language . . . Is it?

The best language for all is a myth.
Some difficult choices will have to be made.
Once a choice is made, it is important is to stick to it.
Esperantists have well understood this. Their motto could have been:
"Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien".

(#271) What qualities do you think would be important in an ideal second language for people all over the world?

 Regular grammar and phonetic simplicity are a given, but specifically what systems are particularly conducive to easy learning and clear understanding?
The question is not the right one to ask first. There are over a thousand auxlangs which claim to be better than others for that or that

(#168) Esperanto is not a real language . . . Is it?

Whatever language is created, there will be a better one for some group of people.
While people are quite willing to learn a natural language, they are reluctant to spend their time in what they consider a project that can be improved.
The questions is: 
What are the objectives of this language?
What should people be capable of doing with this language?
Is it necessary that the language could be used in all circumstances, like Esperanto?
Must the language be mandatory for the whole world or should it be taught only in Europe or in a limited number of states?
What political decision is needed to motivate people to learn the language?

Esperantists are generally of the opinion that the construction of the perfect auxiliary language is impractical.
So they keep using one that works well enough for all purposes, and is allowed to grow with the new needs and techniques.

(#257) Why does Esperanto have the status of the most famous auxiliary language?

Michjo:

The real reason is that it works.
As mentioned already, it was good enough – good enough to become accepted by a world-spanning community, good enough to be used comfortably, good enough to please, good enough to vehicle every thought and feeling accurately, good enough to give free rein to creativity, good enough to be learned easily by everyone.


In one way or another, all other constructed languages failed the “good enough” test, and their growth (or lack thereof) shows it. Esperanto may not have taken the world by storm, but it is making headway, growing faster than the world’s population (year-to-year percentagewise) through little more than word-of-mouth. Considering it’s been around for just over 120 years, that’s quite an achievement.

Perhaps the best way to see for yourself what Esperanto is really like is to learn it. Lernu.net contains loads of free self-study resources.


Short answer: because all other attempts failed: their users teared the project apart trying to impose their own short-sighted improvements.
Esperanto resisted to the “Ido” schism and was never seriously attacked thereafter.
Nowadays the community has grown to a size such that no individual may impose his view any more, against the will of the community.

(#012) Esperanto is a failure. An "artificial" language will never work for human beings.

The word artificial should be understood as "constructed". All languages, French, English, German, and any other you may care to name yourself, were partially constructed.
 
Zamenhof did not "create" the language from scratch. He "choose" the essential feature from existing languages he knew (nothing like Klingon). The grammar of the language was described in a tiny booklet (with very useful exercises) you can find at http://www.akademio-de-esperanto.org/fundamento/. The grammar remained quite stable across the years, but the vocabulary was extended a lot by several generations of speakers, following a "natural" process still going on.

Nobody knows anymore which part is natural, and which was added . Esperanto has reached a level at which it looks like a natural language, for the users of the language.

 Whether it's a failure or not, depends on the measuring criteria. The whole world does not speak Esperanto yet. This is a fact. On the other hand if somebody is able to call a guy in the antipodes and speak to him in Esperanto, it can be seen as a success. This is the proof of the pudding. It works.
If it's true that Esperanto is a failure, then it's hopeless to try to invent another language that is bound to fail as well, according to the same criteria.

(#255) We can fly to the moon or build submarines, but we can’t build a better language.


This is what people have been trying for centuries.
It is believed that 900 known invented languages have been created over the past 1000 years.
Creating a better language is not a superhuman task.
However, creating the perfect language for all is another challenge.
Up to now, the most successful attempt was Esperanto.
Esperantists have long understood that most improvements to the language were superfluous.
And with the practice, one ends up liking the imperfections that one despised at the outset.

(#009) The creator of this language has made a mess out of it, that is impossible to clean-up. You'd better restart everything from scratch.

Let's rephrase that: "The creator of the French language has made a mess out of it". Tell that to a Frenchman, and see what happens.
Probably nothing. You would be classified as ignorant beyond redemption, even if you give a thousand examples to make your point clear that French is illogical.
  • First because the language works, and the French look very happy. They like to play with words, but it might have nothing to do with the language.
  • Second, because there is a logical explanation for all rules, but it requires some study.
  • Third, because there is no creator of the language. Nobody can create a full language!
Zamenhof is the initiator. The large community of speakers have made the language what it is today. Zamenhof became an important member of this community, and that's it.
You should say:
I fail to understand how this rule or word is used.
What is the best way to say this?
They did not teach me that in school.
I didn't find a satisfactory book on that subject,
But certainly never: change this stupid rule! There is enough room inside the language (any language) to express yourself clearly or vaguely if you so wish.

(#033) Esperantists claim that the language is perfect. So the most obvious mistakes can never be corrected.

Zamenhof declared that no changes could be made to the language; many Esperantists consequently like to claim that this proves that Esperanto was (and still is) perfect and has never needed changes of any sort at all. Ever since then, the desire to reform Esperanto has often been regarded as some sort of heresy, and any attempt to fix even the more obviously broken parts is doomed to failure.


I have never heard anyone claim that the language is perfect.

Zamenhof himself never claimed to be the owner of the language. He wanted to be considered as one of the many users and nothing else. But as the initiator, and the best user at the time, his advice was very valuable. He later published under the pseudonym "Unuel", which means "One among others". There are records of Zamenhof's speeches and by nowadays standards, he would probably not be classified among the best speakers. His Russian accent was recognisable.

During the first Esperanto congress in Boulogne sur mer, August 9, 1905, the language labor group (not Zamenhof) declared that the only valid reference for the language was "La Fundamento" of Zamenhof, in which nobody had the right to change anything. In other words, anybody is able to modify anything, but he can never claim that his language is Esperanto, he has to call it Ido, Novial, E++, Eo-n or whatever.

About "fixing the obviously broken parts", refer to Esperanto needs a good deal of improvements.
Zamenhof left enough room for creativity, ensuring still good comprehension, if the fundamental grammatical rules were followed. I have little doubt that he would be disappointed looking at what became his baby. After its adolescence crisis, it became an imposing grown-up. Attack it at your own risk.

Don Harlow: The "desire to reform Esperanto" unfortunately is almost invariably a "desire to inform Esperanto by fiat"; i.e., my opinion about what needs changing is the one and only correct one, and everyone must bow before it.

The language has evolved over the past century (see e.g. the change from "polucio" to "polui", discussed elsewhere ), but usually not in a direction that those desiring to reform Esperanto would want.

(#047) Zamenhof was unaware of one of the principal features of all human language: redundancy.

Esperanto is sometimes lauded for its succinctness, whereby it can express things more economically than most other languages; however, this in practice equates to a greater density of information, with a correspondingly greater likelihood of misunderstanding as a result of mistakes - especially since much of the grammatical information is carried in the unstressed final syllables which mark the parts of speech. The best examples of this are the pronouns and the very similar verb tense endings, which in a properly designed language would be easier to distinguish.

In any case, the claims of succinctness work both ways: la hundo de la viro takes five words and seven syllables to say what Gaelic and English say in three of each: cù an fir, "the man's dog".


Strange to find a statement and it's contradiction in the same remark.
First statement: redundancy. As correctly noted, the -a -o -i -e (and other) suffixes are redundant when the root clearly indicates what it is 
For example:
grand' tabl' star' mez del' strat   (a big table is standing in the middle of the street = 14 syllables if pronounced without eating a few).
Zamenhof being well aware of this feature and just allowed the elision of -o and the a of the article la (in poems).
So in Esperanto you would say : granda tablo staras meze de la strato (12 syllables).
Try to understand English with just the stressed syllables.
The grammatical suffix is not stressed, but that does not mean it is mute. It is said exactly like any unstressed syllable.

Esperanto has other forms of redundancy lacking in English, most notably noun-adjective agreement, what can be used to be more concise.
About pronouns ending by -i and words ending by -u I answered already.

The failure of Vollapük was largely due to to size of  the words. As they were very short, it was necessary to introduce a few more sounds to avoid homonyms. Zamenhof could keep the number of consonants low, because the words in Esperanto are longer.

It is worthwhile noticing that a translation of an English text of some size is shorter than the original.

Don Harlow: This is really sort of unfair to Volapuk. Its failure was largely due to human, not linguistic, failings: most notably, Schleyer's insistence on maintaining authoritarian control over development of the language, a mistake that Zamenhof would not make. And, on the other side, we had Kerckhoffs and his followers insisting on making many fundamental "reforms" in the language at a time when the language was already well-known and stable but simply had no genuine institutions to protect it against such things -- a problem Esperanto also had to face, but, fortunately, a bit later in its development, which such independent institutions as UEA were already coming into being.

This is also because of this that Esperanto is easier to understand than English. Believe me, I know from experience.
The succinctness of  Esperanto is chiefly due to the use of suffix and the word composition (as in Dutch, German, Chinese, etc...)

If you can pronounce nsd (as in man's dog) you can probably pronounce l'hund' del' vir' as well, but it will not be clearer than in English or Gaelic; la hundo de la viro is better.
There is much more to say about: one of the principal features of all human language, but I'll keep my big mouth shut.

(#125) Undoubtedly, a properly usable international auxiliary language, designed with modern-day linguistic knowledge in mind, would be totally different from Esperanto - assuming one is actually possible, of course.

Yes it would, but you are speaking of  an improvement of how many percent? Is it worth it?
And you promise a success in how many years?
Why not use something that works now?













Table of Contents

 

English, Esperanto and Evolution

(#214) We may well be retarding our development as a species if we all start speaking the same language.

More likely, mankind would certainly profit from a language that enhances its creative capabilities.

Esperanto is on the right track. You can very easily find out why by yourself.

People and languages are evolving
                            together

(#211) So far evolution has proved to be one of the most successful predictive theories in science.

Absolutely. It is certain that only a few centuries will be needed to see the human race split in two different species: one with a IQ under 80 watching television and one above 150.
These highly intelligent new race will owe its capacity to a new constructed language that will boost its thinking power even further later on.
It's a pity that we shall not be there to verify this :-(

(#217) The development of conceptual thinking and fluency in one's mother tongue occurs at roughly the same time. The brain development, the way the neurons are actually wired together, of a Mandarin speaker is different in some quantifiable way from that of an English speaker. Should the entire world switch to a common language, any language, we'll be losing out on the whatever advantages that differentiation provides.

According to the latest findings, the brain areas related to the "mother" language are disjointed from those related to later acquired languages.

As English is a language much more difficult to learn than Esperanto, so to reach proficiency, one has to start learning it very soon, what interferes with the learning process of the mother tongue.
Entire populations have been "converted" to English after a few generations.

Esperanto is not meant to replace any existing language. This would be resented by the majority of Esperantists as a disaster.
I believe the systematic study of Esperanto should not start before 12 but everybody do not agree.

The risk you describe could (theoretically) exist if one language becomes the planetary language. It's quite another matter to prove Esperanto is a greater thread than English (among other candidates).

It is also difficult to measure the differences in a Chinese brain and an English one.
I may only tell that I understand them both when they speak Esperanto. So their brain should not be that different from mine.


(196) Let's face it, all languages evolve or they're dismissed by their users or potential users

Languages do not disappear because they cannot evolve. All can.

The main reason for the "evolution" of languages in the past was illiteracy.
Nowadays, cultural languages are changing differently, not that differently from Esperanto.

(#204) Some would speak of "linguistic Darwinian evolution". It is only natural that some "unfit" languages disappear, like Gaelic or Welsh, and only remains the supreme language to express to whole range of human thoughts. And that can only be English of course!

Anyway we can expect a big mutation of the English language. Native speakers are already a minority that will soon disappear from lack of sufficient reproduction.
It's too late already to fight for the survival of "Pure Oxford English".
But who cares? Read Shakespeare lately?

(#212) Esperanto didn't catch on as a major language because the languages we already spoke, however imperfect, had evolved to meet the needs of our everyday lives.

That's the problem. They evolved in a closed environment.
Now we need to think globaly. The new media where Esperanto is evolving is Internet.

(273) The same way English has evolved naturally to become the international language, the dollar has become the world’s reserve currency.
Trying to come up with an alternative to the dollar today is like trying to impose Esperanto as an international language. It doesn’t work like that.

The dollar undoubtedly contributed to the spreading of English. It was probably the most critical factor after WWII. Previously, it was gun powder. English has not evolved to become international. It evolved without any consideration for the needs of the international community. Even the foreign words that were incorporated in English are often not recognizable in speech, due the particular phonology of this language. But you are right, it doesn't work like that. Common sense is not relevant when choosing a common second language for humanity, no more than the first one.
The green bill is paling. English will fade as did French and Latin previously.

(#213) I can not imagine that an artificial language as Esperanto can develop in the way a natural language can do.

Forget about "artificial". The speed at which a language as Esperanto evolves cannot be compared with normal languages which are laming in comparison.
Other "constructed" languages could have done the same, had they had the same number of speakers spread on all continents.

If on some Rosette stone in the future one finds a text in English with its translation in Esperanto, linguists would have a hard time determining what appeared first. English could be seen as a deteriorated form of Esperanto that “evolved” anarchically among illiterates after a global cataclysm.

(#205) Esperanto is a "constructed language" which means it is a language that has been consciously developed as opposed to one that has evolved naturally by regular speech.

Almost right...
Esperanto has also evolved by regular speech, but the difference is that it was skilfully developed by literate people as opposed to those which evolved savagely in the mouth of illiterate.

(#215) Esperanto is not a living language.

You seem to have very strange criteria to define what a living language is. It is however true that the life of English is hardly influenced by foreigners, contrarily to Esperanto.

(#210) The grammar of Esperanto is entirely constructed to be optimal and minimal. Whereas English grammar is suboptimal and full of exceptions. This is a direct analogy to life.

To correct your believe, the grammar of Esperanto is neither entirely constructed, nor optimal, nor minimal. Optimality depends of the native language of the speaker, and some might object to some rules (and they do).
It's true there are 16 rules  that are sufficient to make oneself understood, but there is a lot of unspoken rules that most of us would follow unconsciously because it seems logical to do so. Occasionally some foreigner would use an unusual way to say something, and you could doubt whether it's correct or not. You could usually find the solution in PMEG. You'll see that PMEG is far to be minimal, as it attempts to take into account all situations of all people speaking most different languages quite foreign to ours.

(#206) Evolutionary theory also predicts that living species will display signs of their history. Life will look like English, not Esperanto.

For instance to a word like "knight" has an history that can be traced back to the middle-ages.
The evolution theory and etymology share a common characteristic: they explain the past more or less successfully. There are a few gray areas, but one can usually find the origin of a Esperanto word back in some Hindo-European root. There are more grey area in English than in Esperanto, and there is some overlap of grey/gray/grizaj areas/areoj between English and Esperanto, precisely those words coming from an old English tongue, like “birdo” (bird), thought to come from “brid” or whatever lost word.

In http://remush.be/etimo/etimo.html#GEN_1 you'll see that “knight” very probably comes from the same root that produced the Dutch word “knecht” (servant), knaap (meaning: jong man). In Esperanto you’ll find both “knabo” (= German Knabe) and Knapo (= English knight). You don’t need IQ 150 to guess the origin of these words.

For the rest, I maintain that the comparison of the evolution of languages with life remains questionable until the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is proven.

(#207) Multi-lingual people are in effect, smarter than mono-lingual people.

And if they learn to play chess at a high level, they become even smarter. But it's difficult to tell why. Is it because they learned Russian, or because they were born smart.
The truth is that any activity is beneficial to the brain, and the skills one develops are useful for that type of activity.

Most important is to acquire enough confidence and motivation to persist in learning.
Those who learned Esperanto acquired that confidence,  and though contacts with foreigners, the motivation to learn the language of their new friends. Consequently, Esperantists are more multilingual than the rest of the population. OK, but did they  get smarter, or were they already smart at the outset?


(#208) Yet the English language, unlike artificial creations such as Esperanto, is not the product of a single (if tidy) mind.

Esperanto (nor any language spoken by a community of millions of speakers) didn't appear suddenly as it is now from Jupiter's thigh nor from the brain of one single man.
There was one skillful initiator of the language, hundreds of collaborators and millions of users who also played their normal role in stabilizing the language.
An impartial examination of Esperanto will show that it's not more artificial than any other human language. Refer to German and the influence of Luther.
However it is clearly more regular and has a natural tendency towards more regularity.

(#209)  Simplification of a vehicle for communication (namely via an artificial language) would simply undermine our own selves. I thus vehemently oppose any talk of Esperanto.

Some experiments indicate that the brain has some sort of switch to work either in mother tongue or in foreign tongue mode. Magnetic Imagery shows that the brain activity is located in quite different areas.
In foreign tongue mode many brain areas are activated, all languages are mixed and confused, and surprisingly one loses the reflexes of mother tongue mode.

There might be a third mode, more basic: "child mode", closer to the natural mode of operation of the mind. It has not been studied yet, because few are seriously looking for it. Linguists are the only ones searching for more basic rules common for all speaking beings, in their search for the primitive grammar. Claude Piron wrote interesting articles about that. Also read Chomsky'zs Universal Grammar.
You'll rediscover this mode when you'll speak Esperanto.
It's an interesting sensation. This explains why people speaking Esperanto share a common experience that cannot be that simply expressed in words.
You do not undermine your own self while learning Esperanto. On the contrary, you go back to your own roots.
I could give more explanation, but it would be faster to convince yourself by learning Esperanto, but without prejudice against the language.
My guess is that if one analysis by MI the brain activity of the brain of an Esperantist speaking Esperanto, one will find much less activity than if he (or somebody else) is speaking another foreign language, and possibly even less than when he is speaking his mother tongue.

You probably already know that experts are using fewer cells than non-experts in all activities, even physical.
The more expert you are, the fewer cells you use!

(#169) Real languages evolve, and Esperanto hasn't . . . Has it?

Don Harlow: If you don't count going from a vocabulary of 800 roots (1887) to one of 9000 official roots and at least 9000 unofficial ones (size of Zhang Honfan's Esperanto-Chinese Dictionary) as evolution, then maybe it hasn't.
If you don't count the gradual spread of the use of the -N ending (Zamenhof would have said "paŝo post paŝo" for "step by step"; most people today would say "paŝon post paŝo"), then maybe it hasn't.
If you don't count the gradual disappearance of -CIO object roots in favor of truncated action roots ('abolicio' -> 'aboli', 'navigacio' -> 'navigi', 'administracio' -> 'administri', 'federacio' -> 'federi'), then maybe it hasn't.
If you don't count the gradual conversion of country names in -UJO to country names in -IO, then maybe it hasn't.
If you don't count the growing treatment of 'anstataŭ' and 'krom' as coordinating conjunctions rather than prepositions (with consequent further use of -N for disambiguation), then maybe it hasn't.
If you don't count the increase in the number of the body of official affixes by about eight percent, then maybe it hasn't.
If you don't count the appearance of a number of unofficial affixes, then maybe it hasn't.
If you don't count the appearance of short prepositional phrases concatenated into adverbs, then maybe it hasn't.
If you don't count the development of dozens of different writing styles, then maybe it hasn't.
Etc...

Of course, you can always fall back on the argument that Esperanto's basic structure and grammar have not 'evolved' in the past 100 years. But then neither have those of English. What do you want? They work just fine as they are.
In fact people and languages are evolving together. Man evolves and add new words about new techniques, and the language gives man new concepts to manipulate.

(#216) As English becomes an international language will we find our nuances and slang terms gradually lost?

French already went through that problem 70 years ago when it was considered the international language, the language of diplomacy, etc...
Slang was not only avoided when speaking to foreigners, but even between friends. It was considered "bad education".

(#181) Natural languages changed during centuries. Esperanto will also split in different dialects.

What keeps Esperanto from splitting is the fact that the very purpose of Esperanto is International communication. Changes that would hinder that purpose are generally rejected by the Esperanto community. As a result of this internal pressure, Esperanto has remained remarkably consistent over the past Century.   Sometimes people (usually who have only studied it a few weeks) propose reforms which they think will "fix" their perceived problems with Esperanto. Usually, those reforms are soundly rejected by the Esperanto community (for a variety of reasons).   That's not to say that Esperanto doesn't grow or evolve.   It's a living, growing language.   it's usage and vocabulary are constantly changing and growing.    But it tends to grow in an organic way that preserves its  nature rather than fractures it.
Also it is not spoken in any significant geographic cluster anywhere, which would permit large groups of speakers within a confined area to begin to develop their own unique pronunciations or grammars.
So long as Esperanto's speakers are scattered about in small numbers this will very likely remain the situation.
Anyway, the rate and ways languages are changing nowadays is different to what it was centuries ago. The stability is the consequence of the writing, education and media like television. The main reason for change has been illiteracy.
Esperanto will probably not split anytime soon, because everybody learns exactly the same, and there is little to learn.
Also, Esperanto's core was written down in the Fundamento and nothing in there may ever be changed - another influence towards stability that most natural languages don't have. Esperanto is chiefly evolving through addition of new terms, and a tendency to use more internal features of the language. Also see reply #169.



Table of Contents



English is the preferred language on the planet.

(#230) In Wales all road signs, etc. are in Welsh & English

In Scotland, I noticed that many road signs in English were painted and made unreadable.
Those in Gaelic were OK
Odd isn't it? So English is not the preferred language on the whole planet.
I dare to say that there are many more people opposed to English than to Esperanto.

(#225) English has far more speakers.

... Right. So what? Chinese has more.
What is important is the number of people who cannot speak to each other using any language they know (even in China).

(#013) English is better suited as international language. We don't need a constructed language.

People were once made to believe that Greek was the cultural language for the civilised world. The Romans themselves had to study Greek. Later, Latin became the most widespread language, used for scientific works. Then French was the most often used foreign language. Once, it was more influential than English is now. What shall we have to learn in the future: German, Chinese or maybe Russian or Arabic, who knows? Any language would be suitable as an international language. Why not Esperanto? It exists. It is widespread on all continents, it can be learned in a fraction of the time it takes to learn another language. And it is nowhere resented as the language of the hated conqueror.

(#224) If you compare how many people speak Esperanto and English in the world, English is still the most popular language I believe.

You believe well ... for the present time.
However there were many "most popular" languages in the past that didn't make it in the long run..
Esperanto offers an alternative which you will be happy to use when the fate of English has followed its predecessors.

If you don't want Esperanto, then prepare your children to spend their valuable time on ...(I let you guess which one).
I can assure you it will be much more difficult than Esperanto.

The French are now very sorry that they vetoed Esperanto in the League of Nations.

I recently went to Poland and I can assure you that the only place where I did better with my English than with my broken Polish was the Holiday Inn in Krakow, with exception of the time I spend with Esperanto friends.

The effort of learning Esperanto is so small, compared with any other language, that it's a sin to ridicule those who believe the choice of reason will prevail.
For me, the fastest way to learn a foreign language is first to start with Esperanto:
  1. because the grammar and vocabulary can be learned very quickly.
  2. all you must do is: train your mind to think fast in a foreign language, and get confidence in your ability of deprogramming your mother-tongue habits.
  3. visit (or at least call) your Esperanto friends in the country where they speak the language you want to learn and use the traditional ways of learning already described here-above.

(#159) English is a language that is much easier than any other on the planet.

It takes "only" 10,000 hours of study and practice to master it at a satisfactory level (I hope enough to write here).
Esperanto on the other hand, is not a "easy" language, because one still has to study it during 1,000 hours to reach the same level. This is a big waste if just the two of us are learning it.

English looks like an unstable operating system that requires updating just at the moment you are in a hurry.

(#203) I have noticed that English is one of the more efficient languages when it comes to expressing thoughts with few words.

If you look at any of the multilingual instruction sheets that come with the various appliances that we buy, you'll note that  only the glyph-based languages take up less space on the paper.
Translation in Esperanto:
Mi rimarkis ke la angla estas unu el la plej efikaj lingvoj kiam temas pri esprimado de pensoj malmultvorte.
Se oni rigardas ajnan multlingvan uznoticon kiu venas kun la diversaj aparatoj kiujn oni aĉetas, oni rimarkas ke nur la glifbazitaj lingvoj uzas malpli da papera spaco.

Original again, for easy comparison:
I have noticed that English is one of the more efficient languages when it comes to expressing thoughts with few words.
If you look at any of the multilingual instruction sheets that come with the various appliances that we buy, you'll note that only the glyph-based languages take up less space on the paper.

You can notice that Esperanto takes less space, even if some words are longer than in English. In fact, the idea could have been put even shorter, I just made a literal translation.
This is true for any text of some size, not just for this one.
For instance compare http://lingvo.org/en.php to http://lingvo.org/eo.php

I was unable to use a notice translated from Japanese to English, nor to French. Fortunately, a guy speaking Dutch, who actually had used the device, could explain in a few more sentences how it worked.

(#232) The new language for humanity is English already.


From: Rufus Grey:

I used to be of your mindset and see English as the new "language of humanity" in embryo, and believe me global English is something that I myself made a kind of sub-career years ago. I've been involved with overseas English teaching for many years and done international business and consulting for decades, so obviously having English as a widespread international tongue is something of both professional interest and personal longing for me!

Still, after having done this for decades, it's apparent to me especially now that it's never going to happen. In fact, if anything the trend these days is powerfully and rapidly away from global English, much more rapidly than I would have ever expected before. I've been on every continent but Antarctica, and to my surprise and dismay, in the past 5 years in particular, practical English proficiency has been plummeting not only in countries that have never been Anglophone (such as China and Korea), but even in countries with some connection to the British colonial past (India, Malaysia) or the American one (Philippines).

Some of the moas more or less the measure of a person's quality and the potential of their ideas. No more the case today-- international conferences and business in Malaysia really are more sre obvious examples are the way, for example, that South Korea and Thailand among other countries, are switching back to emphasizing Mandarin Chinese in their curricula, at the expense of English. Those are just the canaries in the coal mine here-- I've seen the beginnings of this process in other countries in the region and it's starting to spread even outside of East Asia. My own company for example, dealing with import-export licenses, has basically said that anyone who hopes to get even an entry-level position in E/SE Asia now needs to know at least basic Mandarin Chinese. This was unthinkable just a decade ago-- just knowing English would get you a post almost anywhere, since it was expected that this would be the lingua franca.

I've done a lot of business in Malaysia, and over a decade ago, it was just considered standard that anybody and everybody who wanted to do something internationally, would do it in fluent English. That wtratified based on language, and Chinese already is making rapid gains as a business language. Not just among ethnic Chinese in Malaysia, among Malay businesspeople as well.

And India-- this was the big shock for me. We always think of India as the big Anglophone country in Asia. Well, it's not. I've done a lot of business there, and even in many of the big cities and business centers where English would rule the offices and be the link to the outside world, even in those places Hindi is starting to predominate, everywhere except perhaps for Tamil Nadu and other places in the south.

The top newspapers in India now are all Hindi-language-- English used to dominate print and even broadcast media, let alone books, scholarly pursuits and the first stirrings of the Internet. Now, Hindi is dominating in all categories.

Even in the Philippines, which is probably the most pro-English country in Asia, Tagalog/Filipino is replacing English in almost all media. Furthermore, when you talk to the business-aspiring teenagers about which languages are most important to learn, increasingly they too are gravitating toward Chinese. If not, some lean toward Arabic (considering the millions of Filipino expats in Arab countries) or something like Spanish or German if they want to work in Europe.

Those small "bellwether city-states" such as Hong Kong and Singapore, once within the British Empire, are also tilting away from English. A decade ago, whenever I walked around in the malls and clubs, the kids would all generally be speaking in English with each other. Now, they're speaking Chinese, and e.g. the Singapore schools are starting to emphasize Chinese even more than English now. (Yes, the people in HK would use Cantonese more than Mandarin, but even there Mandarin is making big inroads.) I know you're writing from Taiwan, a place I love dearly myself, but if anything I've been finding a lot more caution in Taiwan toward English than I did a decade ago as well. Taiwan is still one of the few places in Asia that still really does almost hold English on a pedestal, but to be honest, the picture is diversifying even in Taiwan. Japanese was the language of an international session I was at recently in Taiwan, not English. (And it included many businesspeople from Korea and the Asian mainland, so it wasn't just geard toward the Japanese.) FWIW, for some weird reason, I run into countless mainland Chinese and even a few Taiwanese who speak very good German, occasionally even better than their English!

Outside of Asia, in southern Europe, it can feel like nobody speaks English! In Spain recently, the only English-speakers were British emigres who had migrated to Spain. The Spaniards themselves spoke not a lick. Same in Italy. France was variable but very little English spoken overall. Even in German-speaking Austria and Germany, where the similarity of German gives them a headstart and makes English easy, very few people were really proficient in English. And even in conferences, it wasn't much used, certainly not compared to 10 years ago.

As for why this is happening, I'd venture two guesses. One is the way Chinese has been advancing in such unbelievable leaps and bounds. For various reasons, the geography of China's advance has often been in cities and countries-- such as Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines-- where it is advancing at the expense of English imported by British or American officials.The second reason is more unpleasant to contemplate, and it's the decline that so many Anglophone countries have been experiencing, with an attendant loss of prestige of English. The USA looks weak right now. Not just morally weak or resented-- militarily, we're stuck in a quagmire in Iraq and with trouble in Afghanistan, whether one supports those wars or not, they haven't exactly been working out for us.

Worst of all though, our countries (especially the UK even more than USA) are deeply trapped in debt, and our economy is hitting the skids, with more debt being taken on to get us out. Whereas China is seen to be making useful products and working its way to prosperity.

This may sound deflating, but the truth is, our perception of English as "the language to unite humanity" is turning out to have been a myth, borne out of a unique and brief stretch in our own recent history that itself was exaggerated. English as a language of high-level proficiency, even at the height of American power a few decades after WWII and after the fall of the USSR, has never broken perhaps 10% of the world population.

I think it could have, had the USA been stronger and not made some of the recent mistakes that are damaging us so much, and had China perhaps remained weaker for a while. I suspect that, had we had more durability and been able to just hold our lead as a dominant superpower-- or, in an alternate history, had the British just stayed out of WWI perhaps and held onto their Empire a couple more decades-- then yes, English might have become a global standard.

But it's just not going to happen now.

The one common thread that I've found throughout practically every country today, whatever their specific reasons for moving away from English, is that they just don't see the USA (and the "Anglosphere" in general) as a world-straddling cultural or political bloc anymore.

They see us as important, but just one of many big players. And many, even outside of Asia (France being a big example), see China as the new world leader, in line I guess with the way China has been such a powerful force for so many centuries before.

So no, unfortunately, English is not going to "bridge the communications gap" throughout the world. Not even close.

The only sort-of solution I see, is cheaper technology with artificial translation. It's already good enough that the best programs really can render text translations to about 99.99% or better accuracy, and speech translations not far behind. But they are extremely expensive and in practical terms, out of reach for most kinds of international communication at this point. Hopefully they'll be getting cheaper soon-- that's the only kind of solution I can see.

Rufus Grey


(#267) In France, English movies are dubbed. The French just don't wanna learn other languages. Chauvinist pigs.

In the Netherlands, in Danemark, in Belgium, there is no money to dub films, and the only choice is to use subtitles.
In France, in Germany, they have enough money to spend and make the film more pleasant to watch by dubbing them.
In the US, they have even more money to buy the rights to remake the whole film with US actors!
Chauvinist pigs?

see   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Lies
... and many more.....

Table of Contents


Multilingualism

(#244) Some consider this abundance of languages an obstacle, but I see languages as a bridge between people and cultures.

From: Leonard Orban:

We can turn this linguistic and cultural diversity into one of our assets. Multilingualism and language learning should make a real difference, in economic, social and cultural terms.

But there is more to languages than this. Language is part of our identity and culture. Therefore learning languages means understanding other people and their way of thinking. Understanding is the most powerful weapon against racism, xenophobia and intolerance.

For the first time also, there's an additional cross-cutting theme dedicating about 9 million € this year to language-learning. This will be used for developing high quality learning materials, and to support educational innovation and best practice, and networks promoting language learning.

It is essential to get ideas and suggestions from Member States and stakeholders to build new policies that reflect their needs. I will organise a ministerial conference at the beginning of next year, to evaluate the actions taken under the Action Plan and the multilingualism communication and to define new areas of co-operation and action for the future.

Language skills, according to the Member States, are one of the eight key competences that every young person should have leaving compulsory education. They are personally and culturally enriching. They are popular with employers. They give our citizens the confidence to take on bigger challenges.

Motivation lies at the heart of successful language learning. Careful analysis and imaginative solutions are required to motivate people and to overcome the barriers to learn. I want to pass on the message that languages are for everyone. We must work on language methods fitting the needs of adults, especially of those who are disadvantaged.

I also see positive returns if we can better exploit the media potential to promote languages, supporting film subtitling, for example, and publicity campaigns and programme that would raise awareness of the value of languages among the general public.

But apart from Lifelong Learning there are other programmes that support the learning of languages by individuals outside the education system. For example, the Commission together with the Member states, operate programmes that help migrants and their families learn the languages of their host countries. These programmes are essential because learning the language of the host country is a first and an essential step for integration.

Let me just finish with an Arab proverb which I think truly reflects the importance of learning languages. This proverb says, if you want to avoid a war, learn a language.
What else can I add?

Leonard ORBAN
Speech 2007-06-08
Perhaps that all this nice talk was inspired by the Esperanto movement. Congratulation.
Worth reading : The propedeutic value of Esperanto.

(#256) I don’t think the EU needs a ‘common language’, diversity being one of the hallmarks of the EU.

In some situations, diversity is a good option, in others it is not.
Should people be allowed to drive at will on the left or right side of the road because we want to preserve diversity?
EU needs a common language more than anything else, more than the euro, the EU bank, the army.
It is obvious that one common language would remove a lot of misery.

The prove “ad absurdum” :
Would you recommend the United States to drop English in some states in favour of Spanish, French or German, just because diversity is good.
As stupid as asking them to abandon the dollar.


Yes, a painful decision must be taken sometimes.
Esperanto is the least painful option of all.
A short pain for a very large relieve.

One shall not forbid people to learn English, Spanish, French and German in addition.
But I bet more people would choose some other minor language if they only knew Esperanto enough to socialize..
Is this not a better way to preserve diversity?


(#246) Esperantists need at least their home language as well.

Indeed Allan, they need much more than that, because they travel not only to The States, but to many different countries to meet their friends.
They are more conscious of the language problems than most people are.
Believe me: English , and French and German and Esperanto are not enough.
I just came back from Poland and only used English in the Holiday Inn. I did better with my broken Polish than with any other languages I know.
This is the current deplorable situation and it is not likely to change unless we accept another model.
What we need is a paradigm shift.

Btw, speakers of Esperanto happen to be more multilingual than average.
Why? They make friends all over the world, and have a good reason to learn their language and understand their habits.
I note that in his interview Mr. Orban does not explain why a normal EU citizen should learn a foreign language other than English.
Can't you travel all over the world only with English (at least from one hotel to the other)?
I understand that an enterprise which intends to sell abroad must have a few employees who master the foreign language and customs, and know the country regulations.
But if you don't want to sell to Romania why would you learn Rumanian, knowing nobody there? To be Orban's friend? He speaks English well enough.
I'll rather be multimillionaire than multilingual. I would also have many more friends.

A
mong Esperantists, the EU goal: 1 language+2 foreign languages, is already achieved (with Esperanto as a bonus).

(#231) Hola!

my name is alejandro!
i speaking 5 languages. i thinking english can open much posibilities if you want being working in a very nice job.
you having nice sallary
that why i speaking english, german, italian, arab and baski…
that being very nice.
everyone saying i being a very smart person specily las senoritas!!!

                Haj!

Me also speak 5 languages with nice people of female sex, but prefer not speak.
Me thing English very easy for speaking, and everybody good understand, even Arabs and Chinese when me use hands.
Also easy not do mistake with spell check control add-on.
Now me now English good, me learn lot others languages also good to have nice job in may-be translate business.

Multilingualism very good for everybody to travel and know culture foreign.


Table of Contents


Esperanto is not international, not neutral, because it's too European.

(#119) Esperanto is insufficiently neutral, being based almost exclusively on European source languages.

This refers in particular to the vocabulary, but also applies to the orthography, and to the grammar (which retains many features of the grammars of European languages, although the forms are more regularized). Critics charge that this makes the language Euro-centric. The problem with this is not that it is any harder for non-Europeans than many other languages, but that it detracts from the neutrality which many including Zamenhof recognised as being essential to a world language (see La Espero, fifth stanza).

Although the vocabulary uses the same roots as European source languages, Esperanto's regularised grammatical forms give it some degree of uniqueness. Its shared vocabulary can expedite learning for those who have already studied a European language (even if they can't speak it). Compared to a language with completely unique words, there is no increased difficulty for those who do not speak a European language. Also Esperanto has a large set of affixes, which makes it more similar to Asian languages. (Several Esperanto speakers and linguists also say that this makes the language more flexible and expressive.)

Don Harlow: While most of the root vocabulary is of European origin (and most of the non-European roots, like "alkohol'", have entered via European languages), Esperanto's agglutinative word-formation system makes many Esperanto  words totally dissimilar to their European counterparts, and so while some critics have attacked Esperanto for being too European, others have attacked it for not being European enough (particular when the Esperanto system leads to a "false friend", for instance "fosilo" or "foresto").

(#014) The Chinese have a hard time learning Esperanto. Esperanto is a product of the western culture.

Yes. But it's 5 times harder to learn English (some say 10 times, some say infinitely harder). Further analysis shows that Esperanto is closer to Chinese than one might think (See Claude Piron's article: Esperanto: a western language?) The basic vocabulary is primarily Indo-European, but the word structure is closer to Chinese. It is remarkable that a Chinese would create words in Esperanto that are often taken as models by the Esperanto community.
I think there was an attempt to create some sort of Chinese-Esperanto. Why did such a language not appear in Asia yet? Why doesn't the whole world use Chinese ideograms? They are easier to learn than one might think. 

(#234) Esperanto is a product of the western culture

An easy solution is possible. Just add some Asian words and see what happens. I have already a good name for your new language: Chaos. Asian languages have a fairly common writing, but the pronunciation is quite dissimilar.

Actually, there was a project to built some sort of Asian Esperanto, but I lost the link on internet and never heard about it any more.
You could also create a language that is completely unbiased: one word from every language. You can guess how more efficient it is to learn to write and pronounce all words but one.
There are over 7000 known languages spoken in the 200 countries of the world. 2,261 have writing systems. There are about 40 000 dialects. Good luck!

(186) Esperanto cannot be considered a world language as it is European-biased.

Usually those who assert this imply that English is "The World Language". Read Esperanto is a product of the western culture.

An easy solution is possible. Just add some Asian words and see what happens. I have already a good name for your new language: Chaos. Asian languages have a fairly common writing, but the pronunciation is quite dissimilar.
Actually, there was a project to built some sort of Asian Esperanto, but I lost the link on internet and never heard about it any more.
You could also create a language that is completely unbiased: one word from every language. You can guess how more efficient it will be to learn to write and pronounce all words but one.
There are over 7000 known languages spoken in the 200 countries of the world. 2,261 have writing systems. There are about 40 000 dialects. Good luck!

Note that Esperanto is no longer a project but a full language.
This language is not under construction nor needs repairing.
Goto top of section: Vocabulary.

(#190) Esperanto looks, sounds, and feels artificial, due to the mix of words from different origins.

... Only to those unaware of the incredible diversity of origin of the words used in all major languages (English included).
Look at etimologio (or any book about etymology).

As any foreign language, Esperanto must be learned to a certain level before one can speak it (or can speak about it).
After using the language a while, you do not care where the words came from anyway. Do you care about the origin of
  etymology (Greek)  abbot (Aramaean) street  (Latin) alphabet (Etruscan) blind (old German) cat (Celtic) admiral (Arabic) shallot (Hebrew)  banana (Malay) potato (Haitian) bazaar (Persian) burlesque (Italian) dance (French) dharma (Sanskrit)  hammock (Caribbean)  ginkgo (Chinese)  to name a few.
In Esperanto: etimologio, abato, strato, alfabeto, blinda, kato, admiralo, ŝaloto (shaloto), banano, patato, bazaro, burleska, danco, darmo, hamako, ginko. What is wrong with these words? Is the feeling of  "strangeness" due to the fact they are usually closer to their etymological origin?
Note that the vast majority of words used in Esperanto can be traced back to Indo-European.

The most striking feature of Esperanto is its use of affixes. This is what makes the language very flexible.To get fluency, you have to be able to add them on the fly.

The origin of the words is less important, and very often people are mistaken about the etymology of some word.
For instance, lately I read that someone thought that "gratulon" (meaning congratulations) came from the German word "gratulieren", when it comes from latin "gratulari".
Many think that "strato" (street) comes from German "strasse", forgetting that it's the Roman who build "via strada".
There is a tremendous amount of words coming from Greek, which was once the language of commerce, before Latin - the language of science, French - the language of diplomacy, and English - the language of the virtual world.

(#023) The vocabulary of Esperanto is not made up of elements easily recognisable by many widely spoken European languages.

English (as other languages) use a suffix to build adverbs, adjectives etc. from a common root, like false, falsely, falsify, falsehood, falsity, but not systematically. Esperanto would generalise the word formation for all derived word. From the root fals- (easily recognisable) one can build falsi (falsify), falsa (false), false (falsely), falseco (falsity), falsajho (fake), falsisto (counterfeiter)

The vocabulary is chiefly Indo-European. For the complete vocabulary use [ NPIV ]
For the etymology, use [ KEV ] or more detailed [ EVE ]. You shall be able to judge for yourself.

(#020) The grammar of Esperanto is not made up of elements common to many widely spoken European languages.

This is a criticism that is not made very often. It looks like a generalisation base on one (or few) cases.
The argument goes like this:
The plural ending - one of the most important grammatical markers - takes its form not from something internationally recognisable (such as the -s of widespread languages like English, French, Spanish and Portuguese), but the -j from one noun declension of Classical Greek.

In pra-Esperanto (one of the previous Zamenhof's attempts) -s was used as the mark for the plural, but was later rejected. There are 9 times more words starting with s- than with j--.

Languages using -s : Latin French Spanish Portuguese English
Languages using -j or i : Latin (!) Italian Romanian Greek Russian Polish Lithuanian Hebrew (source: [KEV ])

Grammatical endings are more or less arbitrarily chosen. What is important is that there is some sort of suffix to mark the plural.

Don Harlow: As soon as Z. decided to use the -N to mark the object, it basically became necessary to drop the -S, since -SN does not make a lot of sense; -NS might (though since -N is usually voiced, thus causing the -S to turn into a /z/ in many mouths, maybe not) but evidently Z decided to put the (probably less used) object ending at the end rather than before the number marker. In that particular case, the sequence vowel-semivowel-consonant makes lots and lots of sense.


The -S ending is internationally recognisable (among the languages mentioned) in the written language, but not so much in the spoken language. In English, more words ending in -S actually end in the sound /z/ than in the sound /s/ (because it immediately follows either a voiced consonant or a vowel). In French, it's rarely pronounced. If I'm not mistaken, in Portuguese it usually has the sound /sh/. This is one of the traps that Western language designers too often fall into: the assumption that their language will never be spoken, only written. Z was wise enough to assume from the start that his language would be a spoken language, and to plan for that.


(#174) But a modified,simplified version of Latin such as Interlingua would be more European . . . Wouldn't it?

Don Harlow: If you're talking about the abortion created by Alexander Gode in the late forties, forget it. I mean, a constructed language that conserves three conjugations???

If you're referring to one of the names under which the "Latino Sine Flexione" of the Italian mathematician Peano was known -- this is a different kettle of fish. This is Latin as she should have been, shorn of all those complicated declensions, conjugations, and incomprehensible ablative constructions, but -- at least in terms of its vocabulary -- remaining essentially Latin! I don't know whether anybody, or how many, ever spoke this language, but, if you are interested, it would certainly be a better candidate for revival than Gode's Interlingua, Hogben's Interglossa (nowadays resurrected as Glosa), or any of a thousand other stillborn language projects. Some of you university types in Europe should be able to find examples -- I seem to remember reading that one volume in Peano's collected works was written entirely in the language
.

(#107) Definite rules of Esperanto syntax are surprisingly hard to find, which makes a general criticism difficult beyond observations that it typically seems to be very European and thus problematic for non-Europeans.

Refer to [PAGE ] in those cases. Inform yourself by those non-Europeans to learn how they solved the problem.

(#027) Esperanto can never become a world-wide auxiliary language because it is overwhelmingly European in design, content and aspiration, and has nothing in common with most non-European languages - such as Arabic and Swahili.

On the other hand, people arguing that would also argue at the same time that English is a good candidate. Chinese and the Zulus agree that Eo is easier than English. I tend to believe that, when they themselves say it.
If you want to hear Zulus speaking to Chinese in Esperanto, just pop up during an Esperanto World Congress.
I don't know where I must go to hear 2 people sustaining a conversation in another constructed language. I guess there are twins someplace, who do it.

In summary, my argument is the following : if English (American) can be learned by anybody willing to spend some time on it, Esperanto is 5 to 10 times less difficult.

It is worth noting that until today there is no program that can properly translate English to Esperanto, even if this is obviously simpler then translating English to French.
In my opinion, it would be wiser to start with something easier. An interesting translator can be found at http://lingvo.org/traduku/.

(#016) Numerous otherwise internationally-recognisable words have to be mutilated to make them fit into the language, with unpleasant results.

Proper names come off worst; Edimburgo is just about acceptable, but Mario (yuck) for "Mary" is really not on; and nobody would realistically want to refer to the star Alpha Lyrae as Vego, when it's always been called Vega! Even a name like Asia - recognised the world over and stressed on its first /a/ - has to be mutilated to Azio and stressed on the /i/.

Maria is an accepted proper name, see [NPIV ]. Proper name do not have to obey the rules of substantives. See http://akademio-de-esperanto.org/decidoj/propraj_nomoj.html and [PAGE ]-132.
Generally, the suffix -o may be omitted, or be replaced by a quote. It is often done in poems.
Some names, like Vego are common use nowadays. Vego has been assimilated in the language; the strange feeling of "it sounds wrong" disappeared for it.
The same for Azio.
Note that in French, the stress is also on i: "Asie" is pronounced Azi as Esperanto Azi'.
Looks like you consider your language as the centre of the world (like Chinese - or French -  once thought to be).
I wonder how you could ever learn another language with such an attitude.

(#034) Words like sennacieca are not international. It does not exist in any language but Esperanto.

This is a definite proof that Eo is not international.
 I'd like to see a definition of the word "international".
It's not the vocabulary that makes a language international, but its body of users.

Please reread rule 15 of La Fundamento.
The word is well formed according to rule 15 of La Fundamento.

nacio means nation. This is the root (called "international" root because found among different languages). The rest is merely basic word formation, adding prefixes or suffixes.
-eca : suffix; having the characteristic of the root
nacieca : means nationalist (adjective)
sen : preposition meaning without. Here it is used as a prefix.
Sennacieca means non nationalist, that has the quality of not depending on a nation (sen- means without).
internacia : means "international"
inter : between (does not mean pertaining to all; this would be ĉies)
-a: adjective

Interesting to note that a word like nacionalismo exists but is archaic and is replaced by naciismo that is formed as suggested by rule 15 from the Fundamento;
If you don't understand this rule, the word formation mechanism is explained in detail in [PAGE ] item 436 (for language freaks).

Etymology of the root naci.
Indo-European : GNE or GEN : to beget, generate gave lots of words in English starting with gen.

from old latin : gnasci, gnatus; gave nasci, natus (to be born) natalis (natal) nativus (native) natura (nature) naturalis (natural) cognatus (parent by blood) praegnare (prae: before) impregnare (make pregnant)

Latin: natio (nation)
French:, English, German : Nation
Italian: nazione
Spanish : nación
Russian: nacija
Polish: nacja
Pra-Esperanto: nacje

GEN (GNE) Gave the next Esperanto words (through different languages)
-gena, -genea, benigna, bigamio(?), degeneri, gameto, genealogo, generacio, generatoro, generi, genero, genetiko, genezo, genio, genitivo, geno, genocido, genotipo, genro, gento, germano, ĝenerala, ĝenio, ĝenro, ĝentila, ĝentlemano, ĝermano, ĝermeno, ĝermo, hidrogeno, impregni, indiĝeno, inĝenia, inĝeniero, kognato, maligna, nacio, nacionalismo(naciismo), naiva, naski, natalitato(naskokvanto), naturalismo, naturo

(#085) In Esperanto you can create false friends to your heart's content, and in the process destroy any vestiges of "international recognisability". Here are a few:

Word          Meaning        What it resembles but doesn't mean

fingr-ingo thimble finger ring
fos-ilo spade fossil
for-esto absence forest
ses-ono one sixth season
virgul-ino female virgin female comma (from French "virgule")
And your point is? Who ever claimed that Esperanto was "internationally recognisable"? (Of course, having a word resembling "finger ring" or "forest" doesn't really reduce international recognisability, because these words were never really internationally recognisable anyway.)
In Esperanto you may create about anything. If it is meaningful or ambiguous depends on your skills. Some people are gifted other aren't. 
fingro (finger) fingr'ingo (thimble) fingroringo (finger ring)
fos/i   (make a hole in the ground) fos'ilo (spade) fosili/o (fossil)
for (away) for'esto (absence)  forst/o (man-made wood/forest)
ses (six) ses'ono (one sixth) sezono (season)
virg/a (virgin, adj.) virg'ul'ino (virgin, person) komo (comma)

Given a certain context I doubt that you'll have difficulties to recognize the words fingroringo, fosilio, forsto, sezono and komo, unless you are blind.
If you know the words fingro, fosi, for, ses, virga and the rules of derivation, you should be able to understand fingringo, fosilo, foresto, sesono, virgulino as well

I don't understand all this fuss about "international recognisability".
You are bound to find a few words in Esperanto that are confusing for English speaking, others for French or Russian or German.

(#172) Most international organizations have firmly rejected Esperanto . . . Haven't they

Don Harlow: If they had, Esperantists would be less than happy -- but, far from rejecting Esperanto, since the League of Nations accepted (over the violent protests of the French government) Assistant Secretary-General NITOBE Inazo's enthusiastic report about the language, no international organization -- particularly those currently extant -- has even looked at Esperanto, even though, in the case of the UN, they have had its existence forcefully pointed out to them (with the two largest international petitions ever collected on private initiative, one in 1948 and one in 1966 -- in the first case, they eventually referred it to UNESCO, and in the second case they simply lost it). Internal UN reviews of the language problem have concentrated on traditional means of solving the problem (add more languages, hire more interpreters and translators, ensure that all employees are multilingual), without devoting so much as a paragraph to the study -- and possibly rejection -- of the idea of adopting a neutral auxiliary language.


Esperanto has not been rejected by the UN or the EU. It hasn't even been considered.

(The case of UNESCO is somewhat extraordinary. Despite formal protests from the US State Department, UNESCO considered a resolution favourable to Esperanto at its 1954 General Conference in Montevideo -- and firmly rejected it. But the method of rejection was so irregular [and, thanks to the local Esperantists in Uruguay, made so public] that the local press forced UNESCO to take a second look before the closing of the conference -- and this time the same resolution was adopted. A second favourable resolution was passed some 30 years later, at Sofia, Bulgaria -- by some weird coincidence, at the first General Conference after the United States and Great Britain [read: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher] picked up their marbles and went home.)


Table of Contents


Why not rely on translators?

(#233) Sadly for Esperanto enthusiasts, we don’t have a common language quite yet, so we have to rely on translators (machines or humans) to make that information understandable for everybody.

Very sad indeed. But still we can help.
A translator should always translate to his mother language; so he is bound to miss some subtleties in the source language.
Exception to that rule: one always translates to Esperanto from the mother tongue.

A translator who knows Esperanto and the source language well enough, can avoid many pitfalls, provided he has access to the Esperanto version of the source text as well.
This provides the best quality for the smallest amount of work.
A few special cases are handled in http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/translation.htm

(#025) No constructed language can reproduce the idioms of any other language exactly and without ambiguity.

No constructed language could ever do this, unless it was very complicated. Esperanto, in fact, ignores many subtleties of expression found in the natural languages it purports to be able to replace.
Don Harlow: The word "constructed" here is unnecessary, since no language at all can reproduce the idioms of any other language exactly and without ambiguity.
The subtleties of the natural languages are just confusing for the foreign student. The golden rule in Esperanto is: do not translate expressions literally; say explicitly what you have to say. The language is powerful enough to convey the sense you want to convey and without ambiguity. Now if your purpose is to confuse people, you can do it as well, but it requires more skills.

IDO was an attempt to improve on Esperanto. The more rules are invented to disallow ambiguities in a language, the more difficult it is to use. And what if you want to write something ambiguous purposely. Esperanto keeps a good balance between mathematical expressions and human daily use.

Working on a project to automate translation with computer, Mr. Witkamp from Utrecht, decided to use Esperanto as a intermediate language. The idea was to enable full automatic translation to any language, when the text was first translated to Esperanto (with human help). Esperanto was chosen instead of a pure number system, because for a human being, words are easier than numbers to represent concepts, and Esperanto is a lot less ambiguous than English. Witkamp found out a certain number of lacunae in Esperanto and improved his machine Esperanto with a few modifications. Most ambiguities can be solved from within the language, but a machine needs a simple rule.
More was available about that at http://www.geocities.com/raredata/dlt.txt but the service was discontinued. (Se vi scias kien ĝi tanslokiĝis, sendu mesaĝeton al mi)

(#179) You can't translate great literature into Esperanto . . . Can you?

Don Harlow: There are plenty of crappy translations in Esperanto -- every time I look at La Certosa's translation of Grazia Deledda's The Mother, I wince. (I suspect that Mr. La Certosa does, too, with a few more years under his belt.) There are also a lot of good ones. I've mentioned a few elsewhere and will not append a list of my favourites. Note one simple rule, applicable to all languages: one good translation suffices to show the quality of the language; one bad translation only suffices to show the quality of the translator.

(Example: In 1986 I got a copy of Albert Goodheir's Esperanto translation of Europides' The Trojan Women. After reading it I decided to do a review comparing it with an English translation. So I pulled Edward P. Coleridge's off my shelf and opened it. It was unreadable, and the review never got written. As far as I could tell, the major difference was not in the language of translation but in the fact that Goodheir was translating something about which he cared deeply, while Coleridge appeared to be doing a translation exercise. Goodheir's translation showed what Esperanto is capable of; as anybody experienced in English will agree, Coleridge's only showed what Coleridge was capable of.)

Fernando de Diego once sneered that fifty percent of Esperanto translations were lousy translations of useless works, twenty percent were lousy translations of good literature, twenty percent were good translations of useless literature, and only ten percent consisted of good translations of good literature. American science fiction readers will instantly recognise this as an independent rediscovery of Theodore Sturgeon's famous Law -- "Ninety percent of science fiction is crud, but then ninety percent of everything is crud!" -- from which Esperanto literature, like everything else, is not immune.



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The propedeutic value of Esperanto

(#227) Why can Esperanto be a good start to learn a foreign language?

  1. You read what is written. But you still have to to learn to make different noises. This is difficult enough for English speaking people.
  2. The stress falls regularly on the penultimate syllable. The unstressed syllables are not "eaten".
  3. Its grammar is shorter than other languages.
    So you soon realize that learning the grammar is helpful to a certain point, but is highly insufficient to speak the language. It's more efficient to guess the grammar rules from examples of good use, that is learn like children do: they learn the language by imitating and generalizing what they perceive as rules.
  4. It does not know exceptions.
    So you don't get frustrated because you couldn't guess the rule
  5. The grammatical function of words like substantive, plural, adjective, adverb, verb and tense, subject and direct object is clearly marked.
    If your mother tongue does not do this distinction and the target language does it, Esperanto is a good intermediate step.
  6. Most of the words can be traced back to ancient Ind-European roots.
    Most roots comes from Latin. People who have learn Latin are known to have more facilities to learn other romance language and maybe others as well.You find these roots in lots of Europeans languages, even Germanic.
  7. The use of affixes permits to adjust the basic meaning of the words to the necessary precision.
    This is where one needs to use some psychology. What precision is required by the person you are speaking or writing to?
  8. New words are created by concatenating existing roots.
    This is the way Chinese do it
  9. You should learn Esperanto in a multilingual environment. That way, you are forced to use the basic roots and true international words.
  10. And finaly, you can visit your esperanto friends, and practise their language in their country.

The more the mother language is different from the target language, the greather the benefits.

(#226) Learning a perfectly regular language will not help you develop learning strategies appropriate to dealing with the inevitable irregularities of other languages.

There is a lot to write about why Esperanto is a good choice (think of Latin).
The problem of learning a first foreign language is different from learning the fourth one.
I'll just mention what looks most important to me:
To learn the first foreign language you must first deprogram your brain and forget the (bad) habits it took with your mother tongue. You have to go back to the virginity it once had and recover its absorption capacity and ability to find a circumlocution to painfully express what you want.
It's particularly important to acquire the confidence you can do it, and probably many fail to acquire this confidence because of the irregularities of the target language.
There are many different strategies depending of the source and target languages.
Go to Etimologio and learn all the words coming from the same root in the language you want to acquire. Learning the Esperanto words will help you remembering.

(#228) Are there experiments conducted to prove Esperanto is a good choice to study as first foreign language?

Four primary schools in Britain, with some 230 pupils, are currently following a course in "propedeutic Esperanto"—that is, instruction in Esperanto to raise language awareness and accelerate subsequent learning of foreign languages—under the supervision of the University of Manchester.[30] Studies have been conducted in New Zealand,[31] United States,[32][33][34] Germany,[35] Italy[36] and Australia.[37] The results of these studies were favorable and demonstrated that studying Esperanto before another foreign language expedites the acquisition of the other, natural, language. This appears to be because learning subsequent foreign languages is easier than learning one's first, while the use of a grammatically simple and culturally flexible auxiliary language like Esperanto lessens the first-language learning hurdle. In one study,[38] a group of European secondary school students studied Esperanto for one year, then French for three years, and ended up with a significantly better command of French than a control group, who studied French for all four years. Similar results have been found for other combinations of native and second languages, as well as for arrangements in which the course of study was reduced to two years, of which six months is spent learning Esperanto.[39]


(#272) If I want to read Dostoyevsky I will do so either in Russian or my native English where I am more apt to appreciate the translation, not in Esperanto.

Strange. I am now learning Polish, and I find the Esperanto translations closer to the original. Translations in French or English are difficult to reconcile with the original.

If you are a beginner in Esperanto, you should find a translation of an English book you never cared to read. Dont't take poems or novels. Start with something like "The Origin of Species" ("La Origino de Specioj").
After that you'll be ripe for appreciating original literature in Esperanto, and better understand subtelties in other languages.




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How many people are speaking Esperanto?

(#250) There are only one thousand native speakers of Esperanto.

The accepted figure is around two thousands.
As Esperanto is meant to be a second language for everybody, the word "native" speaker here does not have the meaning you assume.

Once those "native speakers" get older, they speak the language of the country where they live in and go to school. This language becomes their first language.
They do not use Esperanto differently than anybody who has learned it at later age. I personally met several of them. Only one was what I could call an expert in Esperanto.Most experts in the language are non-native speakers. This is a normal situation.
Some even stop speaking Esperanto with their parents. Esperanto being discriminated, some are even ashamed to acknowledge that they speak a language that is a synonym of gliberish, specially in the English press. Most do not join any Esperanto organization.

In summary, the number of native speakers is irrelevant for this language.

(#031) There are very few speakers of Esperanto.

Esperanto did not yet reach the critical mass. Nobody knows what that mass is. When reached, you'll get an explosion.

In the year 1950, there was 2 telephones in my village.
We could afford one, but had no one with whom to speak: nobody had a telephone in our family.
Later the critical mass was reached; until then there was indifference.

Estimates about the number of speakers vary, depending chiefly of the level to reach to be accounted for.
How many chess players are there in the world?  Would you call yourself a chess-player if you just know the rules of the game? Others would call you a wood-pusher not a chess player.
If you want to play chess it's not difficult to find a good partner. Call the local club.
The same for Esperanto.

Personally, I did not start learning the language because 8 millions or whatever did it already. I was just impressed by a few hundreds in a World Congress in a nearby town (Antwerp in 1982; 1899 enrolments). Most detractors of Esperanto have not even heard two people using the language, but they feel entitled to decree that it does not work and will never work.

(#223) Very few people speak Esperanto. Does it work?

If only one person per continent would speak this language, and if it were demonstrated that these people understand each other, would this not be the proof that it works? You will say that just one person is not significant; then how many would satisfy you? Ten, twenty, hundred? What would say of one hundred thousand? Some however dare to claim that it does not work!

A better question would be: how many people could speak Esperanto sufficiently well after only a few weeks of study to reserve a hotel room, for instance, and to request tourist information about the region? Answer: enormously more than in whatever which other language.

That should not prevent you from torturing yourself learning English, if that's what you need for a living.

(#222) Esperanto is not spoken by many people and learning it won't allow anybody to go to West Europe to work, or to get a job in an international company here in Poland. It doesn't give much practical benefit.

You are right. Esperanto is not meant to increase your income (yet). Nevertheless, many well-educated persons learn it as a hobby. It enables them to get more personal contacts with foreign persons.

(#218) What they've got to do with learning a soulless language that no-one uses?

No-one? o-o. I know more than 100 already , but your no-one is very likely over 1 000 000
So you should have written nooo-ooone.
BTW the language soul is in the people, not in the language.
Esperanto has many souls in many countries.which are unaware about the existence of others.
You must feel alone.

(#220) A million scattered people isn't a killer advantage.

Supporters of Klingon are thinking that 20 is already decisive.
We are not that scattered any more with Internet.

(#221) Well, Esperanto and Latin have quite a lot in common. They are both dead, the number of speakers and published works is neglectable for both languages

(although there might be as many Latin speakers in the world as Esperanto publications, and vice verse), and they are equally worthless as a working language for Europe.
Living in Königswinter, you can easily meet a few living Esperantists who will give an update on this subject. Among them a Nobel  Price winner!
Have a quick look at Google: "Esperanto Königswinter".

It is impossible for a human being to read all the books that have been published in Esperanto.
You may search Google with: "esperanto eldono".
There are several very active discussion groups in Yahoo.
You can speak to Esperantists all over the world using Skype.

(#253) It’s the number of speakers and spread of Esperanto that’s the issue.

The number of speakers can be considered as low or high depending of the point of vue, but the spread is no doubt wide enough.
You probably meant; "the density is the issue". Eo is not limited geographically; it is not restricted to Star Trek fans, nor only used by dreamers.

The absolute number of speakers is less important than the diversity of speakers who ate the pudding and proved it tasty.
The 2000 people from 61 countries, who met recently in Białystok are not an insignificant quantity.
No doubt there are many more, in many exotic locations.

(#258) A universal language sounds great in theory, but you have to teach people to use it. Plus, you need to reach critical mass.

Thank you to acknowledge that Esperanto is great in theory...
The big problem with "natural" languages indeed, is that they have to be painfully taught, and only masochists can endure the pain that long.
Translating  to another language is not as easy as converting money.

Therefore, an easy to learn constructed language would be more valuable than a common currency.
Note that the € was also good ... in theory but, according to UK, was bound to fail.

Do you realize that there is very little to do to reach the critical mass?
Just publish in all European newspapers, on the front-page, an article titled: "The EU considers that Esperanto is the best solution to improve multilingualism".
Lots of people would start learning it and in less than two years, you'll have your critical mass of speakers, teachers, writers and movie stars, without any other investment.
4 years later, the Esperanto Academy would be located in China.



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Esperanto: a matter of personal preference

(#008) Esperanto is the perfect language, the most logical, easiest to learn, beautiful to hear, almost divine.

An intelligent person is very quickly capable of distinguishing between propaganda intended to generate interest and the reality of speaking a language as easily as one's mother language. No language is (and probably can) be perfect in all aspects for everybody. We have to live with the imperfections of our language, and find ways to express what we want in the best possible way with the available tools.

If you have never heard anything about Esperanto, it is useful to read http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/esperanto to start. Also the official site http://www.uea.org/info/angla.html contains a good introduction.

(#010) Don't tell me anything about Esperanto: I hate it.

This is an emotional statement. Read the article from Claude Piron: "Psychological Reactions to Esperanto" (http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/reactions.htm explaining why people knowing nothing or very little about the language feel emotionally opposed to it. You might know a lot about Esperanto and still be against it, and not for emotional reasons. In this case, you would not feel hate, but only disappointment.
A general comment that I would like to make is that I fail to understand why Esperanto is not handled with the same respect as any "natural" language.
Beware: reason will always lose when confronted by passion.

(#015) Eo is ugly to hear.

[TYE 3] presents a highly questionable argument that, because Esperanto is supposed to sound like Italian, it must be "one of the most beautiful languages on Earth". Any such resemblance, if not imaginary, depends almost entirely on the preference of both languages for words ending in vowels - a preference shared with Finnish, Swahili, Maori, Japanese and Chinese, to name but five.
Despite all the claims of "natural euphony" or words to that effect, what Zamenhof did with Esperanto displays complete ignorance of any considerations of euphony, by any standards except perhaps his own. A book I found [in a second-hand shop] called "Step By Step in Esperanto" remarks that Esperanto sounds terrible if pronounced badly; surely a naturally euphonious language, if such a thing can exist, would not have this problem?

This is a matter of aesthetics and personal taste, and thus highly subjective. You can get an idea of how the language sounds by listening to a few songs.

To most people, Esperanto sounds like Italian, for others like Portuguese.
No real study was made on this. Listen and make up your mind.
Go to the site http://www.musicexpress.com.br/Genero.asp?Genero=36.
You'll find lots of songs in Esperanto.
Choose Patro Nia for instance (This prayer is often used to compare the different languages);
The words can be found in http://eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto
You may also listen to radio polonia.

It is true that a language that ought to be sung with the voice of Enrico CARUSO or Maria CALLAS would be much nicer. But few of us would be able to speak it.
Nothing prevents you from "singing" Esperanto instead of merely speaking it.

(#248) Would you taste that crazy mixed up “language slaw” known as Esperanto.

To convince yourself that Esperanto is not the only "mixed slaw", have a look at http://remush.be/etimo/. You will notice that English is well placed among the top contenders.
The dressing suits the local tastes, but the base is the same.
We, Esperantists, recognize the common flavour in all our western languages. They all sprout out of the same roots.




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What do linguists think of it?

(#235) Looks like Esperanto was developed by an ophthalmologist, not a linguist.

The tools we have now in both disciplines cannot be compared with those at his disposal at the time.

I noticed that linguists were chiefly busy explaining how languages are working, not really with "constructing" new languages.
The few who tried did not succeed to compete with Esperanto, even if "in theory" their creation was superior.
Zamenhof defined a few basic rules he thought to be essential for a language to have, and left the details for later.
Could we do better nowadays with our computers? I guess not: read (#032) Esperanto needs a good deal of improvements. Zamenhof defined the basic rules of the language in a booklet you may read at Fundamento.
It has 3 parts: Gramatiko, Ekzercaro, Universala vortaro. The initial version was published in 1887, and the language was first used by a small community in 1905.
From then, the language has had its own life.

There has been a large number of authors who made Esperanto what it is nowadays 100 years later.
The current grammar is at PMEG and the word list at PIV.
You will see that the language has evolved since 1887, but the base set by Zamebhof holds steady.

(#124) Moreover, because Zamenhof was a polyglot and not a linguist, Esperanto is not the elegantly designed lingua franca its supporters would have you believe;

instead, as the vocabulary in particular bears out, it's a composite of several European languages clumsily mixed together with some of Zamenhof's own fetishes, but with little focus or guiding principles. In parts, such as the ridiculous spelling system, it's radical where it should be conservative; in others, such as the overcomplicated grammar, it rather feebly compromises when it should be bold and radical.


Some of Zamenhof's ideas were good ones to begin with, but one result of his lack of proper linguistic knowledge is that - frustratingly - all of them are compromised or botched in ways which would have been so easy to put right, without exception. It's only fair to award him one or two points for trying, but he should also lose them for making so many silly mistakes in the process.


Could you be more precise?

  1. Was Zamenhof cross-examined to check his knowledge as linguist? Was he as polyglot?
  2. What is the relation between being a linguist and designing an elegant lingua franca? Can you produce some example of successes.
  3. What is a elegant lingua franca. Some examples?
  4. Where are the supporters making you believe Esperanto is an elegant lingua franca? A few mailing address would be welcome. (I am sure you can answer to this one).
  5. Develop some clumsy mixtures
  6. What were Zamenhof's own fetishes?
  7. What are according to you good guiding principles? Are you speaking of the Ido rule of reversibility (I already replied on that) or do you think of some other?
  8. What is a ridiculous spelling system and for whom?
  9. What is a conservative spelling system? One avoiding accented letters?
  10. Is 16 rules an overcomplicated grammar. Would you be satisfied with 14?
  11. Examples of compromises in the grammar?
  12. Examples of bold and radical grammar rules?
Please do not repeat the same arguments I already answered to elsewhere.

Of course I didn't receive any clarification.

(#189) If Chomsky really said this, it must be true :

The interest of linguists, as linguists, in universal language was based on an illusion, which linguists had but no longer have. That was the illusion that Esperanto is a language, and it isn’t. Yeah, Esperanto has a couple of hints that people who know language can use based on their own linguistic knowledge to make a language out of it, but nobody can tell you what the rules of Esperanto are. If they could tell you that, they could tell you what the rules of Spanish are, and that turns out to be an extremely hard problem, a hard problem of the sciences, to find out what’s really in the head of a Spanish speaker that enables them to speak and understand and think the way they do.
Chomsky was probably joking (I hope).
He just about demonstrated that Spanish is not a language because he cannot (consequently nobody can) tell all the rules Spanish is based upon.
He also demonstrated that all languages (included English) are illogical, otherwise he could have worded his thought inteligibly.

If you found any logic in his argument, you must be a genious linguist. If you try hard and improve your knowledge of Esperanto, you'll enjoy your speciality even more.
And no, Esperanto is not a computer language, and does not reqiuire that kind of logic either.
See an attempt to define some rules of Esperanto in pmeg.
If you are a serious linguist you might find grammar of Esperanto more than sufficient (as the first Esperantists have proven).
To learn the rules the natural way, try memoru

(#236) A bunch of linguists tryied to invent an international language (Esperanto)

BTW. linguists were hardly involved in the "creation" of Esperanto.
The largest part of Esperanto evolved "naturally" inside the community of speakers.
The difference is that the language is used by litterates while English (and the so called natural languages) evolved thanks to illiterates.
This explains why the evolution path of Esperanto is different.
And yes it is used for social contacts and communication (see Vikipedio)

(#240) Esperanto is now considered to be a joke among philologists.

Would you care to give us some names and references?
Yes Esperanto can be very funny, but its grammar is not as crazy as the English one.



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Phonetics of Esperanto

(#150#) "Ordinary h does not exits in many languages, why have the extra hard ĥ, in a supposedly easy to learn language?"

 The sound system is very poorly thought out - at a guess I'd say that Zamenhof [creator of the language] never thought about it at all. He more or less reproduced the sound system of the Slavic languages spoken in his part of Poland. No consideration at all was given to how hard the sounds, or their groupings, would be for non-Europeans.

If you suppress all sounds that are difficult to pronounce to some foreigners, you would be left with nothing. On the other hand, people who say Esperanto is difficult to pronounce because of h and ĥ, would also argue that English is easy! Esperanto is easy to pronounce, compared with other languages. There is no doubt that Esperanto is easy compared to other languages.

(#017#) "It was noted that out of 22 successive issues of “The British Esperantist”, six contained articles on the pronunciation of the aj, oj, uj.

This would not have happened if the pronunciation were as easy for the English as claimed."
Few people are likely to perceive any difference between pairs of words such as rejri and reiri, or to be able to pronounce frawlo, mejlo and so on according to Zamenhof's instructions without using diphthongs. Even worse, try pronouncing io and ijo differently!


To keep things as simple as possible, Esperanto has kept the number of vowels down to the basic 5 (a,e,i,o,u), pronounced much as in Italian or Spanish. There are no intermediate or obscure vowel sounds, like French or Dutch u and eu or English a in words like “America”, nor any subtle distinctions of length or muscular tension, such as distinguish from dais in French or ship from sheep in English. However, these vowels have to be pure, and this is admittedly a source of difficulty to people whose native language tends toward diphthongization. It is common knowledge that English speakers have great difficulties with speaking French, Italian, Polish, Dutch, German, etc.; well, they inevitably have some trouble with Esperanto as well.
Nobody ought to expect to be able to speak another language, and that includes Esperanto, without any effort at all. You must hear it correctly spoken, and you must learn to pronounce them correctly from the start, otherwise 60 articles in British Esperantisto won't help you to get rid of a bad habit. Go to http://www.webcom.com/~donh/ecourse/esounds/esounds.html
On the other hand, the “diphthongs” aj, oj, au, ej should hardly be a source of difficulty to the native English speaker, as they are are pronounced exactly as in the words eye, boy, cow, hey. I would be curious to actually see those British Esperantist articles; I suspect they were simply a six-entry discussion thread.
As for the particular words mentioned, reiri is pronounced re--i--ri with the stress on i, quite differently from a hypothetical rej--ri; fraulo and mejlo are definitely pronounced with what is termed a diphthong in English, much as in growl and mail, and Zamenhof never said anything different; and if you insert a brief pause between the i and the o, you will pronounce io perfectly. However, even if the habits of your mother tongue prove too strong to break and you do pronounce io as ijo, little harm will result, as there are no -ijo words in Esperanto that might cause confusion. Once again, the simplicity of its vowel system saves the day!

(#018) Esperanto is difficult to pronounce for certain people.

Hungarian, Finnish, Turkish and Arabic are among the many languages which don't allow any more than one consonant at the start of a syllable, while Hawaiian and Swahili - to name but two - don't permit any consonants at the end of a syllable. Even Italian, which is more lenient, is still very careful about which consonant clusters it allows.Esperanto, by contrast, allows up to three consonants at the beginnings of syllables and up to two at the ends, with no sign of any restrictions; think of the problems which monoglot speakers of one of the above languages would have with the five-consonant clusters in words like randstreki or transskribi. So much for not placing any particular linguistic group at a disadvantage.

Looks reasonable. Some languages are discriminated against in some aspects, others in others. I hope they are all more or less discriminated against equally. Nobody can objectively tell which suffers the most discrimination.
I had a colleague speaking dutch complaining about these unpronounceable words.
I said, "you did not see the worst one, try to pronounce ngstschr".
"
Are you crazy, nobody can pronounce 7 consonants in any language!"
The word is angstschreeuw. It's dutch and means literally a cry of fright Dutch pronounce it without any difficulty, but think they can't.
Randstreko (grove on the side of a coin) and transskibi (reproduce a text in writing) are pronounced rand'skribi and trans'skribi with a microsecond (or two) pause at the apostrophe.



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Vocabulary of Esperanto

(275) The English uses Greek words to coin up new words: geology, geography, politics, anthropology, economics, etc.

Zamenhof used Romance languages to create Esperanto in an attempt to increase Latin influence, I guess?
In Esperanto: geologio, geografio, politiko, antropologio, ekonomio.
One does not realize that many Latin words originaly come from Greek or from a more ancient language which influenced both. See http://remush.be/etimo/etimo.html.

(#270) It is outrageous that one has to remember three different root words to express the idea of editing: redakt-, redaktor-, redakci-. Unfortunately, all three forms are commonly used.

This is no isolated example. Esperanto has three different words to express the idea of "prison": malliberejo, karcero, prizono. All three words (or grammatical variants of them) appear in the latest issue of Monato. Incidentally, Monato is not a literary magazine. It is only a news magazine.

There is no need to remember all the ways to express an idea, just one is enough. Remember the word "redakti" from which you will be able to build : redaktado, redaktejo, redaktilo, redaktisto, redaktistaro, ĉefedaktisto,  redaktaĵo, redaktanto, redaktistara, fuŝredkatanto, misredaktaĵo etc... etc... just by using the common prefixes and suffixes.
Fortunately, because humans are able to remember a lot of words passively, a good writer has a lot of words at his disposal to avoid annoying repetitions. English is considered an easy language, not because it has few words, but because Europeans can use words they remember best because they are similar to their native language.
The same is true for "prizono". There are many different ways to express something in Esperanto, and so you have the choice to write very understandably limiting your vocabulary to 900 radicals.

(#191) Many critics of Esperanto claimed that Zamenhof took perfectly good words from Latin, French, German and English and render them obscure and unrecognisable.

1) Lots of words are corrupted in many languages.
As example of word corruption, let us take the Esperanto word: albatroso (English: albatross. Czech : albatros. French: albatros. German: Albatros. Spanish: albatros. Hungarian: albatrosz. Dutch: albatros. Polish: albatros. Portuguese: albatroz. Russian: альбатрос. Slovak: albatros, etc.).
This word came to those languages from Greek: καδος (kados), meaning a vase. It was deformed first by Arabic (al + quādūs = the vase), then Portuguese:alcatruz  (noria, trough), then Portuguese: alcatraz (Gull); Spanish: alcatraz; finally French: albatros). A huge number of words are deformed like that, but who cares?
You noted that the Esperanto word is fairly similar to many different languages (even Russian). Generally the Esperanto word is closer to the original word than the English one.
Examine the words in http://remush.be/etimo/etimo.html and you will conclude that English has corrupted words even more than Esperanto. The Esperanto word is more international, but this is not an important point.

2) What is most important is the way words are build in Esperanto, by adding a prefix or a suffix to a root. That is what makes Esperanto such a powerful and flexible language.
To the unaware reader, it may look like words are corrupted by strange elements.
Let's take a few examples with bovo (ox); porko (pig, hog, swine); ĉevalo (horse; written chevalo if you don't have the letter ĉ on your keyboard); koko (fowl); anaso (duck).
to which you could add the next affixes:

-ino: ending of  feminine words; e.g. bovo ox ― bovino cow (compare with hero - heroin). Guess what porkino, ĉevalino, kokino, anasino could mean.
-ido: descendant, young one; e. g. bovo ox ― bovido calf (compare with duck - duckling; pork - porkling). Guess: porkido, ĉevalido, kokido; anasido.
vir-: of the male sex, e.g. bovo ox - virbovo bull. Guess: virporko, virĉevalo, virkoko, viranaso.
-aĵo: made from or possessing the quality of; e. g. malnova old ― malnovaĵo old thing;  frukto fruit ― fruktaĵo something made  from fruit ― meat from an animal: bovo - bovaĵo beef. Guess: porkaĵo, ĉevalaĵo, kokaĵo, anasaĵo.
-ejo: place ; bovo - bovejo (stall). Guess: porkejo, ĉevalejo, kokejo, anasejo.
-et: denotes diminution of degree; e. g. ridi laugh ― rideti smile (compare with pig - piglet; note that Esperanto distinguishes between -et and -id). Guess: boveto, porketo, ĉevaleto, koketo, anaseto.
-aro: a collection of objects; e.g. arbo tree ―  arbaro forest; ŝtupo step ― ŝtuparo stairs - bovo - bovaro herd of oxen (compare with judicial - judiciary). Guess: porkaro, ĉevalaro, kokaro, anasaro.
-aĉ: pejorative (disparaging, depreciatory) suffix. Guess: bovaĉo, porkaĉo, ĉevalaĉo, kokaĉo, anasaĉo.
etc...

You might see this as making the words unrecognisable. Indeed it needs training to see the different parts of a word, but you will be amazed by the capacity of your brain.

Let's try:
bovo (ox); bovino (cow) bovido (calf); virbovo (bull); bovaĵo (beef); bovidaĵo (veal); bovejo (stall); bovinejo (byre); bovaro (herd of oxen); virbovido (steer)
ĉevalo (or chevalo if you don't have the letter ĉ on your keyboard): ĉevalino (mare);  ĉevalido (colt, foal); ĉevalidino (filly); virĉevalo (stallion); ĉevalajo (horsemeat); ĉevalejo (stable, mews); ĉevaleto (nag, pony); ĉevalaro (herd of horses); ĉevalaĉo (rosinante, sorry nag)
porkaĵo (pork); porkaro(herd of swine);  porkejo (pigsty, piggey); porkido (piglet, porkling); porkidaron (farrow, litter); porkino (sow); virporko (boar)
koko (fowl); kokido (chicken, pullet); virkokido ( cockerel); kokidaĵo (kul. chicken); kokidaro (brood); kokideto (chick); kokino (hen); kokinejo (hen-coop); virkoko (cock)
anaso (duck); anasino (fem. duck); anasido (duckling); viranaso (drake)
etc... etc... etc...

(#178) You can't express all the necessary concepts in Esperanto . . . Can you?

Any language with a speaking population will develop the means, within the framework of rules that define it, to express all necessary concepts. You can express all necessary concepts in English, Chinese and Swahili today. You may not have been able to express all necessary concepts in Esperanto on July 26, 1887 (the date the first Esperanto textbook rolled off the presses), but by the end of that decade you obviously could. You may not be able to express all necessary concepts today in Interlingua, Loglan, Klingon or Quenya -- but when and if any or all of these develop significant speaking populations, believe me, you will be able to.

(#176) Esperanto lacks the technical vocabulary to make it suitable as a modern language . . . Doesn't it?

Don Harlow: Did you expect that a group of people so fixated on language would somehow overlook technical vocabularies? Esperanto probably has one of the finest technical lexicons of any of the lesser-used languages -- and it may be that I don't even need to put in the qualification.

You can even find a few sample technical dictionaries available, for free, on the net. Check out Pilger's dictionaries of names of mammals and of insects (in Linnaean order), or any of at least three dictionaries of computer terminology, at ftp.stack.urc.tue.nl:/pub/esperanto -- of the latter, if you have TeX and a laser printer, I recommend the latest version of Pokrovskij's book (1700+ definitions, with English and other equivalents, illustrated).

(#219) Tell me why a confederation of multiple language nations would consider that a language only spoken by around 150,000 people around the whole world would be suitable to use as the language to decide specific and complex issues, when it doesn't have the words to enable that process,

Could you give some examples of such words, that would exist in three or four major languages, but not in Esperanto?
I know none.

(#157) Esperanto does not have the vocabulary, technical terminology, established tradition and sex-appeal of English.

In Esperanto there is a rule like this: when the meaning of a word is known internationally  it is an Esperanto word. It will be written using the Esperanto Alphabet and should be easily recognisable in context.
I there are many candidates for a term,  the most international one will be chosen. Nowadays, it will most of the time be the English word. Previously it was the French word. That's why a lot of technical words in English are of French origin.
I suppose you can guess what sputniko [ спутник ] means even out of context, and you understand why the alphabet had to be adapted.
Creating new words is probably simpler in Esperanto than in English due to the flexibility of the language that enables the creation of a new term based on already existing roots. Currently, the tendency is in favour of this solution.

There can be quite of bit of prejudice against Esperanto by the average man in the street. But since his views are not informed, they don't count for much.

The conlangers are largely harmless fantasists and have so far to go in turning their projects into languages with a serious body of speakers, a literature, usage-based dictionaries and analytical grammars like PAG or MPEG, that there doesn't seem to be any way that they can catch Esperanto up.

The conlang-ists have, at least, accepted in principle that a constructed language could become an actual living language.

The true enemies of Esperanto are the pontificating polyglots and linguisticians who don't know Esperanto and who are wedded to the idea that they have some special insight into how languages must work - conveniently overlooking that Esperanto is a different animal to the national languages and that there is no established body of scientific evidence that supports their notion of Universal grammar, or provides a proven model of human Language.

These are the people who might seriously impede the introduction of Esperanto into the schools, or its adoption as a working language in an international organization.

These people experience some theoretical discomfort from the existence of Esperanto, because it may undermine their pet theories of language. Or its widespread adoption may make their hard-won mastery of the chaotic systems of natural languages less marketable.(#165) I am sure Esperanto is poor in legal terms which are important for the EU.

I am sure it is also poor in modern terms.
The problem of legal terms is not a problem of vocabulary: it is a problem of different conceptions of the judiciary systems.
It's a head-ache to translate those terms unambiguously from one language to another. Ask professional translators.
The only way to put order in that is to use Esperanto and define a completely new terminology.

Modern terms are better handled in Esperanto than in other languages.
English has a particularly crazy system to  build new terms.

If a word is known internationally, it is simply written according to the Esperanto spelling.
You can probably understand words like "sputniko, cunamo, bonsajo,  blogo, spamo...".
But stealing is not the only way to build new terms. Using already existing roots and adding a suffix or prefix is the preferred method.

(#251) I managed to find a mysteriously large Esperanto-Esperanto dictionary.

The mysteriously large E-E dictionary can be easily ordered by UEA at PIV.
It is called PIV (Plena Ilustrita Vortaro de Esperanto) 1265 p., 17 000 entries, 87 €, but you cannot really be "Plena" or "complete" in a language like Esperanto.
Another "complete" dictionary is Großes Wörterbuch Deutsch-Esperanto. 1677 pages, 160 000 entries, 112.50 € (WÖRTERBUCH)
Also rather "complete" : Vocabolario italiano-esperanto. Carlo Minnaja 1438 p., 57€ (Vocabolario).
Very good: Grand dictionnaire Français-Espéranto, 939 p., 32 000 entries, 48 € (Dictionnaire).
Ideally PIV should list all the entries that one can find in other dictionaries, but it would have to be much larger.
I did not find any "complete" dictionary English-Esperanto (not even half-complete). I have to translate in French or in Dutch to find the best solution to a translation problem.
Something should be done for English speakers who could think Esperanto lacks words, when it only lacks lexicographers.

(185) One of the major reasons why Esperanto is difficult is because of its excessively large vocabulary of root words.

You are right. The vocabulary is huge.
To speak quite fluently, you need to know about 2500 basic words (See http://www.xs4all.nl/~pilger/breo-au8.htm) and the rules to create ten times more words.
If you use words outside this list, it's your responsibility to make sure that your interlocutor understands you, explaining technical terms if needed.
If you are speaking to an assembly, you must be even more careful.
If you write, you may assume that your readers have access to an adequate dictionary. There is an online dictionary under construction at http://reta-vortaro.de/revo/.
If you write for children, you will probably reduce the basic vocabulary to around a thousand words.
Esperanto is as difficult as you want it to be, but your goal is to be understood by many.

(#163) There are always new words that start in natural languages. So who will decide which of them will be adopt in Esperanto.

For example: ask an German for his mobile. He will not understand. Ask for his handy he'll know what you mean.

Many words could be used for a portable phone, like pocket phone, a where-are-you device, or something funnier you just thought of.
It is interesting  to know what word Chinese are using, because they have a very good language feeling. In Esperanto, as there are many different people speaking it, you may expect that somebody somewhere will find an excellent word describing that device.
The common word is  "poŝtelefono", but "portebla telefono" is also good. "poŝfono" could be easily accepted by the community. Poŝo (spoken posho) mean "pocket".
In general, a word should be understandable out of context; mobile and handy are not.
Of course when English proposes a good solution, it is also acceptable in Esperanto.

(#120) Esperanto words are more changed in orthography and endings from their etymological cognates than in some auxiliary languages.

This makes some Esperanto words less recognisable without study to those already familiar with the cognates. For example, English quarter, Italian quarto, Interlingua quarto, Esperanto kvarono; also English/French pollution, Interlingua pollution, Esperanto poluado (Esperanto polucio is a false friend meaning "involuntary ejaculation"). This criticism, which seemingly stands opposed to the previous criticism, principally suggests that a language which lacks the neutrality to be a world language, such as Esperanto or Interlingua, could nonetheless function as a regional common language; for this purpose, recognisable cognates offer an advantage. (Recognisable cognates would also be an advantage in a world language, provided that they were drawn from a much larger spread of source languages.)


Ultimately, one may argue that these changes keep Esperanto internally consistent. To illustrate, compare English: two, twenty, one half, one twentieth, four, forty, a quarter, one fortieth with Esperanto: du, dudek, duono, dudekono, kvar, kvardek, kvarono, kvardekono. As a counter-argument to charges that Esperanto has Euro-centric tendencies, one might state that these changes show that Esperanto is not intentionally Euro-centric.

Don Harlow: Originally "polucio" meant both "pollution" and "nocturnal ejaculation", and technically it still does (i.e., it is not, technically speaking, a "false friend"); it's just that a large majority of Esperanto speakers seem to have found the truncated verbal root "polu'" to be more useful for the more common meaning. This is in line both with Zipf's Law (which indicates that shorter forms will generally appear for more common usages) and with the etymology of words such as "pollution", in which the -TION ending simply indicates a noun originally formed from a verb (which Esperanto generally does by changing the final -I to -O, or in some cases, when appropriate, adding the suffix -AD- as well).


(#123) What is the principle that Zamenhof followed to define the vocabulary of Esperanto?

Don Harlow: Every morpheme should have a specific use and meaning, and that when such morphemes were combined, the result should equal the sum of the parts. ("Dismemberment" was the term I think he used.)
This is the basic structure of the so-called "isolating" languages, though it's not clear that Zamenhof was familiar with that idea -- I think he was influenced more by the so-called "telegraphic codes".


(#164) English and French have thousands of word in common, as well as roman languages, etc...

Any ignorant in Russian language knows already from the start 2000 words (coming from absorption into Russian from other European countries).

If you want to know which are these common words, buy an Esperanto dictionary or go to http://www.uni-leipzig.de/esperanto/voko/revo/ (work in progress).
It is surprising to see how many roots are found the same  in different languages and how their meaning changed. Also visit http://remush.be/etimo/etimo.html (under construction... )

As I already wrote, you already know 80% of Esperanto. It's not the language to learn if you are looking for something veeery exotic.

(#044) In "La Fundamento" Z explains the methods to make new words, but there are no rules to help me work out what the words are supposed to mean. This is a surprising omission in a language which claims to be "logical" and "precise".

  1. The unstated rule is: the reader (or listener) must have enough information to understand the new created word. He can get that from the context. Writing clearly is more difficult than speaking to somebody in front of you.
  2. The second unstated rule is:  what is necessary must be present, what is not necessary should be left out. Note that in Ido it's not allowed to leave out what is not necessary. In Esperanto, the context dictates what is necessary or not.
Creating new words is a skill that is obtained through practice. Chinese, Germans, Dutch-speaking people need less time than English or French. After some time, you'll do that without thinking.
Don Harlow: There are two ways of creating new words:
  1. Put together already existing morphemes. In that case, the word means what it says. If you still have questions, look at the context. (Words appear out of context only in vocabulary lists, where there should be other indicators to help you. If there aren't, you probably don't need to know what it means anyway.)
  2. Create new words by borrowing from other languages (or by inventing out of whole cloth, if necessary). In that case, you need some additional explanation, which are usually provided in a glossary, as is also the case with other languages.

(#138) Why didn't Esperanto adopt the same solution as Ido, and use kronizi instead of kroni and kronizo instead of kronado.

Kronizilo would  be a synonym of krono?
Was Esperanto influenced by natural languages that are using a crown and to crown that way.


According to the word formation rules in Esperanto, krono could well mean coronation in some contexts, and crown in others, but, the fundamental meaning is shining like a sun, and one can observe the meaning coronation as often as Mercury.
It is true that there are no explicit rules in "La Fundamento" explaining what is the meaning of the words that one can build.
This does not mean that there are no rules. The rules are established by the usage.

(#140) If Ido is better than Esperanto, how come that it has fewer speakers than Esperanto?

The main problem of Ido is that it exists only as reaction against the supposed weaknesses of Esperanto. That's at least how the Ido file-leaders are propagandising since a century. They try to find adepts between Esperantists, claiming that Ido is an improved version of Esperanto. They hardly address the rest of the world. No wonder their successes are very limited.
The Idists expected a massive desertion from the Esperantists, but it did not happen, how ever hard they tried. All their arguments were simply ignored, what caused even more frustration against Esperanto.

All this energy could have better been used to prove the value of what we had already.

(#141) What are the basic rules of word formation?

Before you can derive words from any given root, you have to know whether the root is inherently nominal (ŝton'o "stone"), verbal (vid'i "to see") or adjectival (blank'a "white").
For most words, it's obvious. You'll have to look up the doubtful cases in the dictionary.
For verbal roots, you'll also have to know if the root is transitive or intransitive.

Read more about
derivation to -i  from -a  -o prep interjection
derivation to -o from -a-i   preposition  prefix
derivation to -a from ( -e  -i -o)
derivation to -e from (-a   -i -o)

(#056) The strange compound word hejmeniris is exactly the sort of unwieldy and obscure compound word which Esperantists seem to think is a Good Idea.

Yes, indeed, that's the way I like it. This is a good idea. I never realised it was obscure. Now that you say it, I wonder if everything is OK with my brain. Crazy, isn't it? Perhaps the language changes the brain after all. (Another argument in favour of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis).

(#057) Adverbs formed from participles are an unpredictable part of the grammar.

How are you supposed to know that "having finished the work, he went home" is fininte la laboron, li hejmeniris ? This is another example of cleverness taking precedence over clarity; something like li finis la laboron kaj iris al hejmo is much clearer.

If you find it clearer, use it. It is perfectly OK. But if you wish to be absolutely clear perhaps you should say :  Li finis la laboron, kaj poste, li iris al la hejmo, unless he did the two things at the same moment.  But "fininte la laboron, li hejmeniris" is generally considered better style that "li finis la laboron kaj iris al (la, sia) hejmo".

Also I doubt if he will not come back tomorrow to go on with his work; so did he really finfinis or just  interrompis (interrupted) la laboron ? Perhaps li haltis la laboron por iri hejmen would also be good, as can about a 100 different ways you could choose from.
In Esperanto, like in other language, you may be as precise as you want to.
How did you guess what fininte la laboron, li hejmeniris meant? Elementary: because you learned it from [TYE].
Remark: you should be careful when using a word like adverb. Adverb is an approximation of what  -e is.

(#064) The absence of any rules governing word-building in Esperanto and of any guidelines for working out the meanings of the results mean that, in practice, claims about the "expressive power" of the vocabulary are really inducements to be clever at the expense of clarity.

"When in an Esperanto book one stumbles on the word ĝistiamajn and succeeds in making out that it means 'previous' and is a compound of the following elements: ĝis [...] 'until', tiam then, -a adjective ending, -j plural, -n accusative, then one cannot help asking oneself in the face of so much ingenuity if it is really necessary for an auxiliary language to be made up of such utterly arbitrary elements.Why would anyone want to say that for "previous", anyway, when the word-building system allows something like antaŭajn? It isn't pretty, but at least it's reasonably transparent.

Note that previously and until then are not synonyms. Lacking the context of the mentioned example it is not possible to judge if antaŭajn could have been used instead of ĝistiamajn. I can only confirm that a word like ĝistiama(jn) is immediately understood without any thinking by an esperantist. A beginner will have some trouble to split the elements correctly. But one does not stay a beginner very long, unless one wishes. A  beginner should read simplified texts for beginners to get this skill. The revue is full of stories written at the elementary level.
In elementary books, one would write ĝis'tiam'a'j'n to show all the elements. This is ugly, but would help you while in the learning phase. Once you are familiar  with the language, you can read the revue Monato or anything you wish.
The above remark obvious'ly come's from a begin'ner who is prob'abl'y not even (cap)able of read'ing Kontakto with a dict'ion'ary.
For those who need rules to build words should read [PAGE ], or use words that are already produced by others. A few good examples and common sense are enough.
Don Harlow: again, a question of style. Anybody who wants to use "antaŭa" can; anybody who wants to use "ĝistiama", can. (There are slighty differences of nuance, however; "ĝistiama" suggests something that was extant until the time in question; "antaŭa" suggests something that was extant before, but not necessarily until, the time in question. If the nuance doesn't matter, use either one.)

(#134) Not mentioned in the grammar, but vital to the language anyway, are 45 "correlative" words which are formed by joining together one of 5 prefixes to one of 9 termination's; 

This is superficially one of Zamenhof's best ideas, and it looks clever enough to have persuaded some Esperantists that it's some sort of an indication of genius;
but simple and transparently obvious phrases like de tiu "that one's", tia ejo "that place", and so on would be far better than arbitrary words which have nothing to do with the rest of the language.

These correlatives are a very strange case, and merit more attention. Note: ties=de tiu (pertaining to that one), tiu ejo (that place), tie (there), tia ejo (that sort of place)
They are indeed vital. They look very easy to remember, but they aren't.

ia
ial
iam
ie
iel
ies
io
iom
iu
Tia
Tial
Tiam
Tie
Tiel
Ties
Tio
Tiom
Tiu
Kia
Kial
Kiam
Kie
Kiel
Kies
Kio
Kiom
Kiu
Ĉia
Ĉial
Ĉiam
Ĉie
Ĉiel
Ĉies
Ĉio
Ĉiom
Ĉio
NENia
NENial
NENiam
NENie
NENiel
NENies
NENio
NENiom
NENio

Let's start with iu

iu: somebody, anybody
kiu: who
tiu: that one
ĉiu: everybody
neniu: nobody

Next easy: io

io: something, anything
kio: what
tio: that
ĉio: everything
nenio: nothing

You see the hidden rule? Let's go on: with ie:
ie: somewhere, anywhere, some place
kie: where
tie: there
ĉie: everywhere
nenie: nowhere.

Now if you know that iam is once, once upon a time, at a certain moment, you can built the other four:
iam: once
kiam: when
tiam: then
ĉiam: always
neniam: never

ies: mean somebody's (note there is no simple word to translate most of the words you can build)
ial: for a certain reason
ia: some sort of

How long do you think you need to remember all this?  15 minutes?
You just need to remember the first row, and one column, say io kio tio ĉio nenio, and that's it!

Here is the surprise. It does not work so easily when you speak and have to come up with the correct word fast. The mental process to go to the table and pick up the correct entry is too slow.
It is quite informative about the way our brain works, or better, does not work.
In fact, we must learn these words as if they were completely unrelated.
It takes so much time as if you wanted to learn French:  quelque chose (something); quoi (what); cela (that); tout (everything); rien(nothing). Now you get an idea of the time it will take you to learn.
The same is true (but somewhat less difficult) to learn the suffixes and the prefixes.
After some (varying) time, a miracle occurs: the brain has adjusted, the direct connections are made, and you build words without even thinking about what you are doing.
This process occurred already to you, when you were young: you could understand everything, but were unable to open your mouth to utter one simple sentence.
This is a very annoying feeling to understand what one asks, and be unable to answer. I think Esperanto is a language that can give you that feeling again.

Recommendation: to learn fast, learn complete sentences, not only roots or words. Examples:
Pli bona io ol nenio (better something than nothing)
saĝulo scias ion, sed neniu scias ĉion, (the wise man knows something, but nobody knows everything)
tiu ĉi ĉapitro havas intereson nur historian, se ĝi havas ian. (this chapter has only an historical value, if it has any)

(#152) Esperanto has been poisoned by francophones. French is not well-adapted to creating new words from old.

English has no trouble combining the ideas of freeze and dry to make "freeze-dried coffee". The French cannot combine congeler and sécher, so for freeze-drying they used a Greek word lyophilisation.
English (and Esperanto) can combine ‘self’ and ‘teach’ to get “self-taught”, but French cannot; again they go to Greek for autodidact. So the francophones introduce the completely unnecessary word aŭtodidakto into Esperanto.
So for just about every idea, which can be expressed using basic Esperanto – and thus understood by someone who has learned the basic roots – there is an extra Greek or Latinate neo-Esperanto word. These words are no trouble for educated francophones, as they have generally be taken straight from French, but they are a nightmare for everyone else.

A synonym of "lyophilisation" is "cryodessiccation". One could argue that English was poisoned by French. French has had a large influence on other languages as well. However Esperanto is nor French.nor English.  It uses the same system as Dutch (and many other languages) to build new words.
In Esperanto "liofilizo"  can be used besides  "kongel-sekigo" or "frostsekigo".  "Liofilizo"  also happens  in vacuum, so  a better  word should be  vacuum-freeze-drying.

Words like "autodidact",  "autodidactic" also exist in English  and are used for the same  reasons as in French  or Esperanto, even if they are not absolutely necessary.  In French, more than in English, it is considered very bad style to use the same word twice.


Table of Contents


Sexism

(195) I keep seeing mentioned in Esperanto is that father is patro, but mother requires a special ending, patrino, which seems especially sexist to me, based on my limited knowledge of English, Spanish, and French.

Indeed, like other members of the family : brother, uncle, grand father etc...
 
To compensate all the next words are showing the female sex:
damo, matrono, primadono, furio, amazono, gorgono, nimfo, sukubo, megero, almeo, putino, meretrico, hetajro, gejŝo, begino, madono, sireno, muzo, parco, subreto, etc...
This is not a reason to conclude that Esperanto is biased against men.

When the context doesn't give you any clue to know the sex of a person, it means that this information is not important to know. If it were, Esperanto (as English) have means to add the necessary precision.

A complete explanation can be found in http://www.bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/o-vortoj/seksa_signifo.html

(194) Flaws about sexism are real

In esperanto, a person, a teacher, a physisian is a "he" and has no sex. It could be a female or a male.
It is possible to specify the sex when necessary, chiefly when translating from a foreign language that makes that distinction. One can use the pronoun "she" or a suffix "-in" to mark the female sex, or use the prefix "vir-" to mark the male sex.
Those who complain about the sexism of Esperanto are often using a language which is sexist, and do not realize Esperanto does not work like that. They think it works like their own sexist language.


In Esperanto, you may also insist that you are speaking about people of both sex as you would do in English, or by using the prefix "ge-" when applicable.

(#118) Esperanto uses sexist suffixes by adding -in to express the female version of the concept, similarly to German.

This produces a gender inequality because the generic form is the same as the male form (e.g. doktoro = "a doctor" or "a male doctor"), but different from the female form (doktorino). The fact that the female forms in -ino look like diminutives only makes things worse. (A male form, virdoktoro, from viro = "man", can be constructed but is rarely used in practice.) Likewise for pronouns: as in English, li ("he") may be generic, whereas ŝi ("she") is always female. See the Esperanto section of non-sexist language for details.


Much of the language was taken from already existing languages and since many languages use gender-specific words as both nouns and adjectives, Esperanto also inherited this trait. This can be seen as not "sexist," but gender-specific. This detail makes Esperanto a more precise language than some others. To solve the "ŝi-li" (she-he) problem when there is a possible confusion, some are using "ŝli" instead of "li"; "tiu" (that one) is another solution and comes directly from the standard grammar.

Don Harlow: there is a widespread fallacy, based one supposes on the old and generally discredited Sapir-Whorff hypothesis (that language determines thought), that linguistic distinctions between male and female, particularly unsymmetrical ones, lead to physical discrimination, and that the removal of such distinctions leads to equality. If this were the case, China and Iran would probably be two of the most sexually egalitarian societies on the planet.

The writer should also note two things:

(a) In Esperanto -IN- gives no sense at all of diminution; he is perhaps thinking of another language, Italian. The diminutive suffix is -ET-.

(b) -IN- today is rarely used with roots indicating professions. As he says, "virdoktoro" is rarely (i.e., never) used, but "doktorino" is used almost as rarely. (I also have the impression that the critic thinks "doktoro" is identical with the English "doctor", which it is not; it refers only to that type of "doctor" who has a sheepskin in some particular field of study, and not to that type of doctor who prescribes aspirin. Like "samideano", "doktoro" is one of those honorifics which -- unlike "sinjoro" or "frauxlino" -- does not require an -IN- suffix, though it is sometimes convenient to add one.)


This obsession with sexuality in language seems to be peculiar to certain parts of the world. Some years ago a Polish woman, an Esperantist, came to Washington, DC, to participate in an international conference on the problems of women in the developing world. Afterwards, she visited the local Esperanto group, and confided to them her horror about how much time the (American) arrangers of the conference had dedicated to sexism language (e.g., "chairperson" instead of "chairman") at the expense of real problems (glass ceilings, sati in India, mandatory burqas in some Middle Eastern countries, mandatory clitorectomies, inferior pay for more and better work, etc.).

(#074) Why is the pronoun system nothing more than a copy of the English one, when something else would surely have been more useful?

Why, for example, is there no pronoun meaning "he or she", and why is gender only differentiated in the third person singular?

Perhaps Zamenhof thought that if it worked for English, it possibly could for Esperanto. He didn't realise that English were craving to have something better than I, you, he/she/it, we, they, one.

Refer to What is the principle that Zamenhof followed to define the grammar of Esperanto?
Rule 5.
The personal pronouns are: mi, „I”; vi, „thou”, „you”; li, „he”; ŝi, „she”; ĝi, „it”; si, „self”; ni, „we”; ili, „they”; oni, „one”, „people”, (French „on”). Possessive pronouns are formed by suffixing to the required personal, the adjectival termination. The declension of the pronouns is identical with that of substantives. E. g. mi, „I”; mi'n, „me” (obj.); mi'a, „my”, „mine”.


Don Harlow: the term "ĝi" can be used for "he or she", but some people (notably speakers of English) are not enthralled by this simple expedient. Gender is not distinguished in the plural because, when speaking of the plural, you are most often speaking of mixed gender, whereas when speaking of the singular the individual always has a specific gender. When speaking of first person or second person, gender is assumed to be obvious. (Note: "gender" is a poor term to use here, since linguistically gender is only incidentally related to sex, even in European languages.)






Table of Contents


Spelling of Esperanto

(197) Esperanto can't adopt an alphabet based on the most common keyboard because its creator didn't have the benefit of foresight in realizing the impact of future inventions and declared both a language and an alphabet that were not to be tampered with.

Are you up-to-date with the current technology?
I can type ĉĝĥĵŝŭ as fast as ch gh hh jh sh uh and can recognize those letters faster when reading.
The advantages of accents are:
1° 1 letter - one sound
2° words are better recognizable when reading
3° handwriting is faster, because accents can be added later.
4° I can sign with my pseudonym Remuŝ without needing to tell I am an Esperantist.
5° When I do a Google search, I get better results. Unfortunately, there are too few words with accents.


In Ubuntu, you can type those characters and a lot more, without needing to install anything special. So Z. had a pretty good foresight because he foresaw Ubuntu :-)


No matter what alphabet one devises, it will necessarily contain characters that aren't found in someone else's writing system. The roman alphabet was (and still is) the most widely known, and the few accents added by Esperanto don't pose any serious difficulties. Even in the bygone age of typewriters, one could use simple digraphs for the accented letters (ĉ -> ch, ĝ -> gh, etc.) Besides, we're very fond of our dear "hats". They're beautiful and they give a unique character to the orthography.


(#036) Esperanto uses 6 letters with an accent that can't be written with a normal typing machine.

This is a serious handicap; however difficult English may be to spell, it can at least be typed on any unaltered Roman alphabet keyboard.(1)
Laying aside the fact that these extra letters are just plain ugly
(2), you have to wonder. Surely Zamenhof would have wanted his language to be as easy to disseminate as possible; but how many printing presses and keyboards actually feature these letters normally, or did so in 1887? (Come to that, when did you last see an Esperanto typewriter?) And from a beginner's point of view, these "new letters which look like the old ones" can only be confusing, slowing people down while reading and writing.(3) 
The extra letters have been given their own Unicode assignments in the Latin Extended-A page;

Zamenhof idea was: one sound, one letter. There are 28 sounds, so 28 letters. So 2 letters are missing in the "roman" alphabet.  Zamenhof wanted his language to be easily recognisable. He decided to represent 6 sounds by accented letters. These new signs do not exist in any other language; they are ĉ ĝ ĥ ĵ ŝ ŭ. For these sounds, there was one letter in the Cyrillic alphabet, or one accented letter in polish, or a digraph or even a trigram. In Polish, very similar sounds (mainly consonants) were written differently. You must have a Polish ear to hear the difference. By the way, Polish is more logical than English, because the same graph is always pronounced the same way. So at least, reading is easy, what is not the case in English, French, Russian etc. In those days he used an old typewriter (not so old then) capable of writing Polish, Czech, French, Spanish and Esperanto without difficulty. He could not imagine that one day we would get marvellous electronic machines incapable of achieving the same task.
Esperanto is not the only language to have suffered from the lack of internationalism displayed by the big computer manufacturers. Their lack of understanding of accents was close to contempt. These problems were solved with Unicode, at last.

Don Harlow:
(1) Unlike any other language in the world. (However, you cannot compose an English-language dictionary with an ordinary keyboard; English lexicographers have had to invent a plethora of supersigned letters to show pronunciation, since the English alphabet is totally unsuitable for this task.
(2) Subjectively. I have met people who have become interested in Esperanto enough to learn it specifically because of these "ugly" letters.
(3) To the best of my knowledge, no publisher who actually wanted to publish something in Esperanto has ever been deterred by the difficulty of obtaining the Esperanto letters (starting with the publisher of the "Unua Libro" in 1887).


Esperanto typewriters were available before the electronic age (my parents got mine at Sears Roebuck, a major American department store). Typewriters are now, of course, largely a thing of the past; and computer keyboards, whatever letters or glyphs may be engraved on their keys, are language free -- decisions about what letter has just been typed are made not by the keyboard but by a piece of easily replaceable software in the computer itself. (All the keyboard sends is a number indicating the location of the key -- e.g. 31 for "third row, first column".) This may be taken to be the English 'q', the Esperanto 'ĉ' or the Chinese glyph for "qian", depending on the software.

(#037) Not everyone has Unicode fonts installed.

If you can't see the extra characters here: ĉ ĝ ĥ ĵ ŝ ŭ, you probably haven't.
With this in mind, the best I can do to represent these extra letters here in HTML, without spattering bitmaps everywhere as some people recommend, is to use Zamenhof's concession that the accents can be represented by a following H, with a plain U in place of the accented U.

While Unicode is widely accepted in countries using the roman alphabet, in English speaking regions, users don't care, and force the rest of the world to use digraphs instead of accented letters.

I had once the next conversation with a American colleague of mine. He asked me:
  • Why are you, in French, using all these accented letters. Is it useful? Can't you read a text without accents?
    • Yes. I could. There could be a few ambiguities here and there, but people would be able to guess the correct meaning, most of the time.
  • So, why don't you get rid of all these ugly accents?
    • OK, I'll do it and try to convince others as soon as you remove all your accents in English.
  • Easy, we don't have any.
    • Really? What do I see above this i or this j?
  • This is not an accent! This is a dot!
    • Well then, this is not an accent this is a straight line! (é, ù, è, à)
  • It's part of the letter anyway. It can't be removed. It would look ugly wıthout thıs dot. Nobody would accept that.
    • Come on. you removed ıt above I and J already, and nobody complaıned. So you want us to remove accents that are meanıngful, and you don't want to get rıd of thıs useless dot?
  • It comes from ages ago when people wrote by hand. It was necessary to ease the readıng. Now ıt's too late to remove ıt.
    • You are absolutely rıght!
Note also that in French the use of accents is sometimes tricky. It shows a lack of education to forget or misuse them. In Esperanto, people are more tolerant. ı

(#038) I don't use Unicode. How can I write an Esperanto text with my only English keyboard?

The alternate way proposed by Zamenhof to write these letters is ch, gh, hh, jh, sh and u, what is not bad at all, but this can cause some confusion in a few words.
The sort order is not the same as with accents but it is not a major problem. Other systems may be acceptable depending on the circumstances, f.i. cx, ^c, so there is a a lot of freedom and should certainly not cause a holy war.

The Esperanto Academy confirmed its position:

La Akademio de Esperanto konfirmas sian pozicion, jam esprimitan en 1982, ke la ortografio de Esperanto, kiel ĝi estas prezentita en la Fundamento de Esperanto, konformas perfekte al la karaktero de la lingvo, kaj ke neniu ŝanĝo estas necesa aŭ dezirinda.

Nur kiam la cirkonstancoj ne permesas uzi la ĝustajn supersignojn, kaj kiam pro apartaj bezonoj la Fundamenta anstataŭa skribsistemo (ch, gh, hh, jh, sh, u) ne estas oportuna, oni povas anstataŭigi la supersignajn literojn per aliaj signoj aŭ signokombinoj. Tian anstataŭigon, kiam ĝi estas nura teknika rimedo, ne celanta reformon de la ortografio de Esperanto, kaj kiam ĝi neniel kaŭzas konfuzon, oni ne rigardu kiel kontraŭ-Fundamentan.

(#039) If the ch, gh, hh, jh, sh notation is used, some words are difficult to read.

To simplify the reading, in a text for beginners, you could write:
dis'haki, mis'harmonio, bush'harmoniko, rugh'hautulo, flug'haveno, ghis'hejma, gas'hejti, dis'heligi, kurac'herbo,  spic'herbo, ternig'herbo, garagh'herso, etc...
For advanced readers, it is not necessary; The splitting of the words is done unconsciously.

(#040) Some people prefer to indicate all accents with following X's, which is very nearly the least attractive way around a problem which should never have been there in the first place. Why?

Computer freaks prefer to use the notation cx, gx, hx, jx, sx and ux. This allows the receiver of a note to globally convert the Esperanto text to a classic text with accents, without causing surprises. As an Esperanto text is often bilingual, it is better than the ch notation. The x notation would not be good enough in a French text.
You can find more about these notations in http://www.wikipedia.org.

(#042) I find the notation chirkauajhoj or worse cxirkauxajxoj very ugly. I would prefer tcirkawajoy.

For example: La  xoristoy ne catis la xornitcon de la predjeyo kaj detsidis kanti hodiaw en la djardeno. An Esperantist would probably understand this without explanation.

Indeed. I understood immediately:  la  ĥoristoj ne ŝatis la ĥorniĉon de la preĝejo kaj decidis kanti hodiaŭ en la ĝardeno. Very good. So are a hundred others.
Anybody remembers that story of the guy who bought a second hand typing machine, that was just unable to type the letter q. But he didn't care as he wrote in Esperanto. Later, other letters failed one by one, but he replaced them with others. It is surprising how many letters can fail and you are still able to understand the story as it goes on.
Before reforming the alphabet, you should learn the language. Your evaluation about what is nice and what is ugly will change, and you will probably find that there is no need for reforms.
You can always propose an improvement, but first, you should study the already existing notations. I would use a notation as close as possible to Pin-Yin. This was invented by an Esperantist, and works pretty well for Chinese.
Then you need to convince an Atatürk (Mustapha Kemal) to force the Esperantists to change their alphabet. As Esperantists are very reluctant to any kind of coercion, it is unlikely you will find an Atatürk inside the movement.

You only solution is to become some sort of admired, and revered figure that everybody would like to imitate: the long awaited Messiah. Expect to be rejected by your own people if you are deviating from "La Fundamento". Good luck in your crusade!

Note: Please, do not send me any comment against this notation. I don't  have anything to do with it. I wish the author would seriously examine all consequences. But I am no expert in phonetic. I am just using common sense (probably distorted by Esperanto).

(#043) Most of the awkward sounds in Esperanto are those represented by the accented letters, which represent distinctions of sound unknown to many non-Slavic languages.

I didn't realise that English was a Slavic language. It's indeed true that both English and Esperanto have in their vocabulary about the same quantity of words coming from Russian.
The pronunciation of the sound in question is also the same as in Russian:
ĉ  as in which
ĝ as in journal
ĥ as in loch
ĵ as measure, pleasure, treasure, azure, etc...
ŭ as in whisky
ŝ as shut up fool! You don't even know English


Table of Contents


Grammar of Esperanto

(#187) Does Esperanto really have 16 rules?

It is true that you have to assimilate the 16 rules to speak Esperanto at the beginner's level, but it's far from enough to be considered an expert in the language.
It's the purpose of the Exercises ("La Ekzercaro"), to enable you to better understand the somewhat sketchy rules.
You should be capable of finding out the grammar rules by yourself, based on the Exercises.
This is the most natural way to learn a language.
Most people dislike learning grammar, and writing a grammar for a language is particularly difficult when this grammar must be understood by all people of the planet. The complexity is not coming so much from the target language, as from the source language.
In summary, the grammar of Esperanto written in English is quite simple, but written in Esperanto for all possible languages, it is huge.
See online at http://www.bertilow.com/pmeg/
You are welcome to try if it's too hard for you to "guess" the grammar at  //http:remush.be/memoru/fundamento/en/index.html
(this is still under development - was tested under Mozilla/Firefox browser).

(#151) Esperanto has complicated grammar.

Who needs an accusative case? Who needs plural marking? Who needs adjectival agreement in number and case?
Who really needs verbal tenses? If the time when something happens is important, why not use adverbs?

To understand the advantages of the accusative (-n added to a complement without preposition), to the agreement in number and case of the adjective, to verbal tenses, you have to learn Esperanto, and start translating from English to Esperanto. You will then realise that these features can be used to avoid lots of ambiguities more efficiently than in English, which needs more words to do the same.
An Esperanto translation of an English text is shorter than the original. Read more...

(#276) Several points of the grammatical system have been particularly irritating to English linguists. In particular, many are troubled by agreement between noun and adjective.

Example from the eurojargon :

EEC: This is the abbreviation for the European Economic Community – one of three European Communities (see below) set up in 1957 to bring about economic integration in Europe.

translated to :
EEK: Mallongigo por Eŭropa Ekonomia Komunumo - unu el tri Eŭropaj Komunumoj (vidu sube) starigita(j) en 1957 por faciligi la ekonomian integrigon en Eŭropo.
In some languages (French, Dutch) they translated set up to starigitaj which is wrong.
In other (German, Polish) they translated to starigita which is correct, because starigita relates to "one ...", while starigitaj relates to "three ...".
Obviously the author writing in English did not notice the ambiguity. Had he written in Esperanto (or in other languages using those markers) he would not have had to worry. A foreigner would even have more difficulties to spot all possible ambiguities in English, and find a way to make his sentence unambiguous. When one sees professional translators falling into such traps, one can only approve the solution adopted in Esperanto (and many many other languages).

BTW isn't it even more irritating to mark the singular with an s : the horse eats an apple ?

See other similar problems in Piron's article .

(#162) Rules saying all nouns end in for example o and all verbs i, etc. What a ridiculous concept, or is that it is easier to remember the difference between verbs, and nouns, which would assist people of limited intelligence.

May I point out that the majority of languages are distinguishing verbs from nouns, adjectives and adverbs by their endings, but I must agree that it is probably due to their inferior intelligence. Note that in English some assistance is occasionally also required.
Compare the noun/verb pairs advice/advise, device/devise, record/record.

(#035) I would like to learn more about the Esperanto grammar. Where can I buy a book about it?

No need to buy a book for just one page. The fundamental rules can be read at http://www.akademio-de-esperanto.org/fundamento/gramatiko_angla.html. To supplement the grammar, there is a basic vocabulary and a set of exercises and examples.

A little common sense is necessary to build correct phrases. You will be amazed by what you will already understand in a normal conversation, and by what you will be able to write.
If you want to make a presentation in front of 100 people, and answer their questions or refute their objections, you will have to reach another level.
That may take as long as it took you to do in English (or at least 6 months).
To become an expert of the Esperanto language, understand why it is what it is, you could read "Plena analiza gramatiko de Esperanto" [PAGE ].
Actually very few esperantists read this book, but if you have to teach Esperanto in a University or if you want to make intelligent comments on Esperanto, it is a very valuable book, even if questionable in certain aspects. Don't speak about reforming the language until then: it's pathetic.

(#021) What is the principle that Zamenhof followed to define the grammar of Esperanto?

The grammar rules are built according to the following principle:
If a natural language uses a simple grammatical structure to express something, then this structure has proven to be valid and is a possible candidate for the constructed language.
 For instance: English proves there is no need to have the verb vary according to the person (I can, you can, he can (or may, must etc... There is no such example in French, Polish, etc...).
If the English language was allowed to evolve naturally, the added -s in "he walks" would surely disappear. Many foreigners forget it. The past tense is almost always regular in English. Esperanto generalises this to all tenses without exception. What the majority of the languages is doing is not relevant for the grammatical structures, it is relevant only for the new words.
For more information about the grammar, use [PAGE ].

(#022) Nowhere, are you told how to form questions and relative clauses, use capital letters and other punctuation, and so on; you're supposed to know that by intuition (or perhaps a classical education?).

Zamenhof's failed to consider this important subject properly.

Reread "La Fundamento". There are examples and exercises to complement the grammar.
Don Harlow: More specifically read the "Ekzercaro", which implicitly defines and describes such matters as questions and relative clauses.
Capital letters and punctuation are not part of the language but part of the writing system associated with the language, and so are essentially irrelevant (again, Z, unlike most designers, was aiming for a spoken language).
The sixteen rules are the strict minimum speakers of the language must follow. So, you could decide (as a Japanese Esperantist already did)  not to use capital letters; your text (like his) will still be understandable in writing, as in speaking.

Zamenhof's idea was that it was a good base on which on which one could extend.
He trusted the first users of the language to define better what he left undecided. That is what I would call the real genius part of his work, and what no creator of artificial languages did understand: the users have also their say.
Zamenhof left a certain amount of works as an example to follow.
Nowadays there is a huge amount of well written books you could read, not only those from Zamenhof.
Studying [PAGE ] would not help you as much as reading good authors. Who ever learned a language by just studying the grammar, anyway?

Did Luther wrote a preface to his Bible explaining what was the grammar of the language he invented? He constructed modern German on the base of a few dialects he knew, without feeling the necessity of even explaining what he was doing.
Zamenhof could have done the same. Just publish his translation of the Bible and let us find the rules. Well, he decided to help us a little and gave 16 rules that are the framework of Esperanto.
So, Zamenhof did consider this subject properly, the real question is: why didn't he say so in his grammar?
I think I answered.

(#026) Esperanto grammar contains many grammatical usages which are non obvious, unstated, inconsistent or illogical.

These provide plenty of opportunities for ambiguity or unnecessarily fine subtleties of meaning, and there are aspects of the grammar which Esperantists disagree over.


I could probably give more examples of phrases that are ambiguous in English than in Esperanto. French is less ambiguous than English as well. It was used very long in diplomatic relations because of its accuracy. However, somebody who masters his own language well, is capable of expressing anything unambiguously, if he wants to.

When you learn Esperanto, you acquire another view of what is logical or not in a language. Compared to Eo, the natural languages are totally illogical. Esperanto is very logical relatively to Indo-european languages. It contains enough features and constructions to remove the undesired ambiguities when you wish to be precise.

Give me a phrase in any language that is ambiguous, I am sure that somebody will be able to make it unambiguous. Example : "They saw the girl with binoculars." You could use the Esperanto translation to make things clear (Ili vidis la knabinon per binoklo. Ili segis la kun binoklo knabinon. Ili vidis la kun binoklo knabinon. Ili segis la knabinon per binoklo).
There are two meanings that you could easily eliminate,  but a computer would have difficulties to do it.

I would like to know how often an ambiguity is found in an English document during the translation process, and how often the original text has to be corrected. How often does it happen in French or German?
One should not confuse the language with the skills of the person using it.

(#051) The accusative case is without doubt one of Esperanto's least necessary features,

and thus one of the most heavily .criticised It seems to exist principally as a concession to classical grammar (and thus to boost Zamenhof's credibility with nineteenth century academics?), but the language would be far better off without it. It's supposed to free up word order which according to apologists is important for poetry and literature; but surely basic ease of communication, without having to worry about the finer points of grammar, matters more? Distinct accusative inflections have disappeared from many languages in the past; even in German, only masculine singular nouns have them; and neither the Chinese poets nor Shakespeare had any problems without them

Criticised it was indeed, but nevertheless it held up. It is now more interesting to analyse why is was kept, in spite of all attacks, than why it should be removed. This discussion is over.

Classical grammar has nothing to do with it. I doubt credibility was one of Zamenhof concerns. This is unsupported speculation as the ? rightly indicates.

About free order : hundo mordis viro (a dog bit a man). It looks obvious that the -n could be removed.
If one need to say: Viro mordas hundon, one could remove the -n as well. Hundon mordas viro: here the -n would be mandatory. Don't say the example is silly, on dutch television there is a program full of strange things named like that (Man bijt hond).
So the new rule would be : when the direct object is in front of the subject (or when the subject is left out) you must put the -n, otherwise you do what you want. It reminds me of such a rule in French, when the direct object is after this, you must do that, when before you must do something else.
I fail to see the simplification compare with : you must always do that.

Free word order is essential. A language like dutch is difficult because the word order is not the same as in English. If you put the words in some other order than in English, it is still unlikely that you sentence will be correct.
Esperanto word order is not totally free, but much more flexible, just because of this -n. A speaker can start a sentence as he wants, and go on putting words as needed. To be totally flexible would require cases. This was a choice that Zamenhof rejected. So there are no cases in Esperanto.
-N is just a mark for a complement without preposition. People knowing Latin, Greek, polish, Russian, German, etc... would call this -n:  accusative case, but it is not used at all like in those languages.
Don Harlow: The -N ending (which is far more than a simple Latin accusative) is one of the features in Esperanto most criticised by beginners and those who have not even begun. It has, however, expanded its role in the hundred years the language has been around, through simple evolution (e.g. nowadays we say "paŝon post paŝo" where Z would have said "paŝo post paŝo"; you will also often find it used after the prepositions "krom" and "anstataŭ", which Zamenhof would never have done -- at least in those cases where they actually function as coordinating conjunctions rather than prepositions.
Obviously, speakers of Esperanto like it. And that's what matters.

(#052) What are "the other cases" referred to in rule 2, how are they used, and why are they important enough to deserve a mention? 

The usual answers ("the genitive is expressed with de", etc.) betray what seems to have been a nineteenth-century assumption that classical grammar is a constant of nature, rather than a fluid and more or less accidental convention; grammatical case is no more necessary than grammatical gender.
Don Harlow: "Case" appears to be a fundamental description of the usage of nouns. How it is expressed grammatically is something else. In English we use Esperanto's method for a few of our pronouns in the accusative, and fix word order for nouns; for other cases, we -- like Esperanto -- use prepositions.
Rule 2:
Substantives are formed by adding o to the root. For the plural, the letter j must be added to the singular. There are two cases: the nominative and the objective (accusative). The root with the added o is the nominative, the objective adds an n after the o. Other cases are formed by prepositions; thus, the possessive (genitive) by de, „of”; the dative by al, „to”, the instrumental (ablative) by kun, „with”, or other preposition as the sense demands. E. g. root patr, „father”; la patr'o, „the father”; la patr'o'n, „the father” (objective), de la patr'o, „of the father”; al la patr'o, „to the father”; kun la patr'o, „with the father”; la patr'o'j, „the fathers”; la patr'o'j'n, „the fathers” (obj.), por la patr'o'j, „for the fathers”.

When Zamenhof wrote his book, he assumed that educated people would be able to understand this rule. Latin was still important in those days. So references to cases are just there to make things simpler to understand. Nowadays, we would have to rephrase that rule so that everybody understands it. It is useless to speak of cases, because this is what Zamenhof wanted to avoid.
I could say : in Esperanto , there are no cases. but people would wonder what cases are. I would have to explain that in English in a phrase like : I gave him (or her) a book, him/her is a case of he/she. I can't say I gave he a book, to give people an idea. Why not? Because it is like that.
Nowadays we would say that in Esperanto when you have a complement without preposition, you must add -n to the complement. To avoid confusion, you can only have one such complement.
In other words : In Esperanto all the complements must be preceded by a preposition. You may suppress one and only one preposition (if the meaning is clear without it), but you have to add an -n to the complement. Why? Because! You'll understand when you grow up!
Examples:
  • I gave him a book: mi donis je libro al li;  mi donis libron al li. mi donis lin je libro. Do not forget  je or -n or other preposition and keep the same word order as in English (or French).
  • The mouse jumped on the table. La muso saltis sur la tablo. (it was on the table already). You cannot remove sur because people could guess wrongly.
  • The mouse jumped on the table. La muso saltis al sur la tablo; la muso saltis sur la tablon  (from the ground, in the direction of the table, with movement  towards the table). Note in this example that al was replaced by -n and the meaning is still clear (what is not the case in English)

(#053) Rule 13 would be unnecessary if the uses of prepositions had been better thought through;

See previous note : What are "the other cases"
Rule 13:
In phrases answering the question „where?” (meaning direction), the words take the termination of the objective case; e. g. kie'n vi ir'as? „where are you going?”; dom'o'n, „home”; London'o'n, „to London”, etc.
Don Harlow:   -N simply shows the target of an action or the destination of a motion. When you add the -N to a noun after a preposition (of location), you're simply showing that that phrase is no longer a place in which something happens, but a place towards which something is happening. Nothing could be simpler.
The -n is replacing al: mi iras al la domo (French: je vais à la maison), mi iras al Londono (je vais à Londres).
Note that in French as in Esperanto domo (maison) means house (Spanish casa) but if not specified otherwise, it means home, in this context.
The correct word would be hejmo.
So: mi iras hejmon is more clear.
Or even mi iras hejmen, mi hejmen iras, mi hejmeniras (this is for languages that have one word to say it).

(#054) You can't say both la domo brulas "the house burns" and mi brulas la domon "I burn the house",

since the verb is intransitive (i.e. taking no object) in the first sentence and transitive in the second. Instead, since the root brul- is intransitive, you have to make it transitive by adding the suffix -ig-, regardless of the fact that the very presence of an object - marked, moreover, with the mandatory accusative suffix - is doing just the same: mi bruligas la domon.

Exactly: you have to say like that. You should always do what a good teacher says when you learn, later you'll understand why.

Later, you'll write a story for children in which objects speak and have a personality. You also will master what you don't understand very well now: the "accusative" (replacing a preposition).
For the moment, follow the rule, you will not get into trouble.
Note that it would be better for you not to use the word accusative, you seem quite confused by it (probably due to your classic education): simply use the -n grammatical suffix. This has nothing to do with the direct object.
Don Harlow: The reason for the complaint is that in English (and some other languages) many words have two meanings, one transitive and one intransitive. If the student learns that "bruli" means "to burn", he will immediately assume that both the quoted sentences should be correct, and there is something wrong with Esperanto because one of them isn't. (If, of course, he learns the real meaning of bruli, i.e. "to become converted to a gaseous substance through oxidation", the problem will be less likely to arise.)

"The very presence of an object"? There is no rule that I know of that insists that an object even has to be present. "Kion vi ŝatas fari en la vespero?" "Mi bruligas." If no object is present, you can't add an -N to it ...

English is very inconsistent about its own use of double-meaning forms. You can say "The wood burns" and "I burn the wood", or "The cats drowned" and "I drowned the cats", but you can't then go and say "The cats died" and "I died the cats" or "The tree falls" and "I fall the tree" (though you can say "I fell the tree" in the present tense -- "fell" is sort of a transitive equivalent for "fall", usable in some situations).

(#055) Mi blankas la domon is perfectly intelligible as it is; why must I say mi blankigas la domon?

What is the difference between blanki, blankiĝi and blankigi?

Liaj haroj blankas = liaj haroj estas blankaj:
his hair is white.
Liaj haroj blankiĝas : his hair is whitening  (suffix -iĝ means to become)
Li blankigas siajn harojn : he whitens his hair. (suffix -ig means to make)

The root very often indicates what the word means exactly, but in some cases (depending on the language you speak),  you could guess wrongly. So, you should learn what the three forms mean (if they exist) for every word. This is the biggest difficulty of Esperanto. Be careful, some dictionaries are not indicating this.

examples:
aer/o (air); aeri: to pump air into (a tire)
ag/i (to act); agigi : make (somebody) act.
fum/o : fume; fumi : means to smoke (both senses); fumiĝi : start smoking (leave out smoke).
aktiv/a : active; aktivi: to be active; aktiviĝi: to become active.
akv/o (water), akvi: to give water.
ali/a (other) : alii: be different; aliigi=to change (to modify, to make different); aliiĝi: to change (to become different);

Estus bone ĉi tie doni liston da vortoj kiuj estas problemaj, sed mi ne regas sufiĉe la Anglan. Ĉu iu povas helpi?.
Don Harlow: The problem, again, has to do with learning equivalent national-language words instead of meanings. Once you've learned that "ag'" refers to some kind of action, that "aer'", "fum'" and "akv'" are things, and that "aktiv'" and "ali'" describe those things, you shouldn't have any problem.

(#058) What is the correct word order in Esperanto?

There isn't a correct word order, but a most common word order.

Subject verb complements
complements = object  without preposition, objects with preposition
adjective in front of substantives.
adverb in front of verbs
subjects, verbs, objects, adjectives, adverbs are optional.

Others are perfectly permissible, and far from uncommon. Also, adjectives may either precede or follow nouns, or (primarily in poetry) be separated from them by other words.

I could go on detailing the common word order, and what other order is possible, but examples are easier to remember and imitate. This is precisely what Zamenhof decided to do, and by watching the results, it looks sufficient.
Read "La Fundamento".
For those who want to cut hair in four along their length, read [PAGE ]

(#059) What does malamikoj de la urbo mean : "enemies of the city" or "enemies from the city"?

Without context, it's undecided. Could also be that the enemies of the city are coming from inside the city a well. It is not clear if the enemies are enemies of each other living in the same city, or together enemies of the same city either. Nor does it say how many they are. Or whether they are male, female or a mixture of both. So it's totally imprecise.
The context could force one interpretation. If one wants to be clear, one has to use the right words.

It is often while translating that ambiguities are exposed. Usually the translated text is longer than the original.
Malamikoj venante el la urbo, or just malamikoj el la urbo, is one possibility.
Malamikoj al la urbo, is another one, if you are happy with these two.

(#060) What does la amo de Dio mean? Is it "God's love" or "some entity's love of God"?

Ĉu veras ke  God's love havas nur unu senson? Kio signifas "the love of God"?

You could use: la Dia amo (God's love for his creatures) and la amo al Dio (the love towards God).

I don't think anybody has tried la amo Dion. It's an interesting use of -n as genitive (for those freaks who know what that is). There is no copyright on this expression.

Not so good as la Dia amo, you could say la amo fare de Dio. It would literally mean "the love produced by God", the love on behalf of God. This expression fare de is more and more often reduced to far : la amo far Dio. This is a case of retrocreation of a preposition that did not exist from a verbal radical. This is not contradicting any rule of "La Fundamento".

Note that la amo de Dio al Liaj kreaĵoj (God's love for His creatures) and la amo de Dio far de Liaj kreaĵoj (from His creatures) are not ambiguous due to the context.
So if I understood well, la amo de Dio al Liaj kreaĵoj must be  translated by: "God's love for His creatures", and la amo de Dio far Liaj kreaĵoj must be translated "creatures's love of God". Well English is your language and surely you can correct my mistakes.

(#061) Esperanto propaganda and teaching guides place great importance on the principle of marking a word's part of speech by its ending,

even though it isn't followed consistently; for example, numbers and prepositions have no consistent endings, while pronouns take the same termination as verb infinitives, and the correlatives have a system all of their own.

One should not confuses Ido with Esperanto. There is no "principle of reversibility" in Esperanto, and there will never be. That means that rules work in one direction and not the other.
Examples:
in the dictionary [NPIV ] you find "tranĉ/i (tr) meaning to cut". This is what you must remember to build words like tranĉilo, -ilo meaning an instrument to cut, like a knife or something similar.
" komb/i (tr) means to comb"; combilo would mean a comb or something similar.
" raz/i (tr) means to shave"; razilo means a razor or sth similar.
" paf/i (tr) : to shoot"; pafilo means a gun.
" bros/o : means a brush"; brosilo is a pleonasm, because the term broso already includes the idea of instrument; I would not be shocked if you used brosilo, but I won't use it myself, nor the majority of Esperanto speakers.

Rules (because some people like rules even when not necessary):
  1. There is a rule that says how the suffix -ilo modifies the meaning of a root. (La fundamento)
  2. there is no rule that says that all instruments must finish by -ilo.
  3. there is no rule that says that all words finishing by -ilo are instruments.
  4. There is an implicit rule that says that you should make the meaning of a word clear by adding suffixes or prefixes or concatenate roots
  5. There is an implicit rule that says everybody is lazy, and there is no advantage to add more than is needed to make a word clear, only risk a typing error.
The suffix -i  and all the others function the same way, one direction; so nowhere is it said that all words finishing by -i are infinitives. The same for all suffixes like -in, -ul, -et, -eg, -ec, etc...
Numbers, pronouns, correlatives are handled the same way as any root: you can modify their meaning using the same tools.
Don Harlow: the "endings" relate specifically to nouns, adjectives, verbs and and adverbs. Numerals, correlatives and pronouns are separate subsystems which reuse some of these endings in "reasonable" ways but don't necessarily imitate them. Note: the -i on the pronouns is not an ending (as it is on verbs), but simply a vowel stuck in to make the pronoun pronounceable. There is little possible for confusion, since while all verbs ending in -I are polysyllabic, all but two of the pronouns are monosyllabic. (Theoretically, one could confuse "ili" and "oni" with verbs, if there were no such thing as context.)

Prepositions are particles, which have no endings of themselves, but can take the usual endings to turn them into nouns, adjectives, adverbs, even verbs.

The correlative system is moderately well matched up with the noun-verb-adjective-adverb system, since -O refers to the name of something (a noun), -A refers to a description of something (an adjective). Unfortunately (or fortunately) when it comes to adverbs the correlatives have a finer sense of discrimination than ordinary adverbs, so as well as the -E ending (adverb of place in the correlatives) you have -EL (manner), -AL (reason), -OM (amount), -AM (time).

(#068) Millidge's dictionary claims that "the use of the article is the same as in the other languages", which is complete nonsense since the uses of articles differ from language to language. 

Not necessarily. One must be careful when claiming this or this is nonsense, when speaking of languages.
I don't have the exact wording of the Millidge's dictionary. It should say something like : if you use the definite article as you do usually in your language, it will be OK. I know it is like that in English, French and Dutch.
Polish does not use articles.
Don Harlow: Zamenhof explicitly allows beginners from countries where the article is not used to ignore it. Also, remember Millidge's dictionary was aimed at English speakers (more specifically, English speakers in England), so when he says "the same as in the other languages" he is really telling his readers "the same as in English" (which is also not quite correct).

The language, of course, cannot be blamed for anything that its speakers care to write about it.

(#069) Articles are actually pretty rare in the world's languages.

To name but a few, Finnish, Swahili, Japanese, Chinese, and most Slavic languages all do without.

This is an interesting remark. As Zamenhof knew Russian and Polish, it is indeed surprising that he decided to use a definite article and that he could do without the indefinite article.
If he had applied his system, he should have avoided all articles, so it seems at least. It is probable that he found the definite article the most elegant way to achieve clarity.

What was his system is explained in What is the principle that Zamenhof followed to define the grammar of Esperanto?
Anybody knows of a serious study about the way other languages are able to avoid the definite article and still are able to convey the same meaning?
Don Harlow: The article is a relatively recent invention, one which tends to be incorporated into languages that don't have it.
For the use of word-order in Russian to determine definiteness, see Pokrovskij, "Lingvaj respondoj", first chapter.

In Japanese, if I remember correctly, the particles "ga" and "wa" tend to make this distinction.

(#070) No less an authority than Zamenhof himself is on record as conceding that agreement between the adjective and noun is unnecessary

 ("superfluous ballast", in his own words in 1894), and indeed there's no good reason why you should have to say grandaj hundoj "big dogs", la hundoj estas grandaj "the dogs are big", and mi vidas la grandajn hundojn "I see the big dogs".
 
You are well documented. Zamenhof knew English enough to know it was possible to avoid that. I would like to know why he first decided to do that, and why his proposal to remove that rule was rejected (if he indeed proposed so). Does anybody have the answer? I know there are many phrases that are clearer with this rule, but it does not look a satisfactory explanation. I have the feeling that -aj could be avoided, but -an not so easily. I guess Zamenhof decided first to say the cases are the same as in substantives but decided that numbers and cases would be easier to use. I'll look in my [PAGE ] when I come back home; I don't travel with it.
Now it's too late to change that.

Rule 3:
Adjectives are formed by adding a to the root. The numbers and cases are the same as in substantives. The comparative degree is formed by prefixing pli (more); the superlative by plej (most). The word „than” is rendered by ol, e. g. pli blanka ol neĝo, „whiter than snow”.
Don Harlow: Zamenhof's comments at that time were associated with the proposed "reform" of Esperanto of 1894, which he devised (and publicly supported) under financial pressure; his private letters indicate that he had no great faith in the proposed changes or desire to make them. As far as English is concerned, the lack of adjective agreement is to a great extent replaced by the distinction between the third person singular and plural of the present-tense verb, which adds a certain amount of redundancy to the language missing due to the absence of noun-adjective agreement. In fact, some authors have experimented with removing adjective agreement from the possessive pronouns, by using the correlative ending -ES instead of the adjective ending -A for the possessives; the results have not been shown particularly popular among speakers. (The freedom of word-order also militates against such a change; a sentence, for instance, such as "Mies gepatroj donis al fratino mies monon" would be totally, and perhaps painfully, ambiguous in the second "mies".)


(#071) Which part of speech do numbers belong to, exactly?

They belong to the cardinal numerals. Why do you ask?
Rule 4.
The cardinal numerals do not change their forms for the different cases. They are: unu (1), du (2), tri (3), kvar (4), kvin (5), ses (6), sep (7), ok (8), naŭ (9), dek (10), cent (100), mil (1000). The tens and hundreds are formed by simple junction of the numerals, e. g. 533 = kvin'cent tri'dek tri. Ordinals are formed by adding the adjectival a to the cardinals, e. g. unu'a, „first”; du'a, „second”, etc. Multiplicatives (as „threefold”, „fourfold”, etc.) add obl, e. g. tri'obl'a, „threefold”. Fractionals add on, as du'on'o, „a half”; kvar'on'o, „a quarter”. Collective numerals add op, as kvar'op'e, „four together”. Distributive prefix po, e. g., po kvin, „five apiece”. Adverbials take e, e. g., unu'e, „firstly”, etc.

(#073) The numbers up to 1000s are numbers. After that they are nouns. For no obvious reasons, the syntax of numbers allows the inconsistency of mil bestoj for "a thousand animals" versus miliono da bestoj for "a million animals".

This is because Zamenhof never made up his mind whether or not numbers should be nouns, adjectives or something else.

In English you can't say a ten animals, but you can say a hundred animals. Note the difference in meaning  between I have thousand cows, and I have a thousand cows.
In Esperanto you can say: deko da bestoj or dek bestoj; cent bestoj, cento da bestoj, mil bestoj, milo da bestoj: it does not mean the same; it could mean I have exactly so many, or I have around so many.
Zamenhof models that work in one language, according to the principle that it should work for Esperanto as well. He did not invent rules from thin air.
In this case he took French (fairly close to English and others). If you know French I don't need to explain more. If you don't know  French, bad luck, somebody will have to explain it to you.
I don't think anybody would complain if you say dumilion tricent kvardek kvinmil sescent septdek ok bestoj (2345678). Se  jes, korektu min.
Tiu ĉi urbo havas milionon da loĝantoj, by the way does not mean that this town has precisely 106 inhabitants, could have 10 thousands more or less.
Note that
miliono = 106
miliardo= 109
duiliono=biliono=1012
triiliono=triliono=1018
kvariliono=kvadriliono=1024
kviniliono=kintiliono=1030
etc...until dekiliono=1060. If you need more use a notation like dek al sepdek du=1072.
dumilliardo= 1015
trimilliardo=1021
kvarmiliardo=1027
etc... until dekmiliardo=1063
Even if Zamenhof did not made up his mind about it (what he did in this case), he never felt obliged to have an definite meaning about everything, as he could trust the Esperanto community. Stop blaming the poor guy for all the sins in the world, blame the 8 million (more or less 1 or 2 million) who followed as well. We are all solider.
Don Harlow: Actually, it's because Zamenhof followed the Western systems, in which the numbering system is also broken. In English, of course, it's broken after 99, rather than 999,999; "hundred", "thousand", etc. are nouns, while all numbers before a hundred are numerals (hence you say "ten" but have to say "a hundred"). Some Esperanto authors have suggested the numeral "meg" as a replacement for the noun "miliono", but this hasn't caught on; and in any case it would still leave the system broken, though at a higher level.

There's also the problem that for the larger, less commonly used numbers, using a noun system allows a certain amount of regularity (according to NPIV, a common way of expressing these larger numbers is by using the numerals and adding the unofficial suffixes -ILION- and -ILIARD- them, e.g. "kvariliono", "kvariliardo"). Numerals would be far less regularly formed.

(#075) The verbal system may look straightforward, but the grammar doesn't mention that you can form no less than 36 compound tenses with the various tenses of esti "to be" and the participles.

This is far too many.

Rule 6:
The verb does not change its form for numbers or persons, e. g. mi far'as, „I do”; la patr'o far'as, „the father does”; ili far'as, „they do”.
Forms of the Verb:
The present tense ends in as, e. g. mi far'as, „I do”.
The past tense ends in is, e. g. li far'is, „he did”.
The future tense ends in os, e. g. ili far'os, „they will do”.
The subjunctive mood ends in us, e. g. ŝi far'us, „she may do”.
The imperative mood ends in u, e. g. ni far'u, „let us do”.
The infinitive mood ends in i, e. g. fari, „to do”.
There are two forms of the participle in the international language, the changeable or adjectival, and the unchangeable or adverbial.
The present participle active ends in ant, e. g. far'ant'a, „he who is doing”; far'ant'e, „doing”.
The past participle active ends in int, e. g. far'int'a, „he who has done”; far'int'e, „having done”.
The future participle active ends in ont, e. g. far'ont'a, „he who will do”; far'ont'e, „about to do”.
The present participle passive ends in at, e. g. far'at'e, „being done”.
The past participle passive ends in it, e. g. far'it'a, „that which has been done”; far'it'e, „having been done”.
The future participle passive ends in ot, e. g. far'ot'a, „that which will be done”; far'ot'e, „about to be done”.
All forms of the passive are rendered by the respective forms of the verb est (to be) and the participle passive of the required verb; the preposition used is de, „by”. E. g. ŝi est'as am'at'a de ĉiu'j, „she is loved by every one”.
If you add the other 6 forms, you have 41 possibilities. Still too many? If you need more detail read [PAGE ]

Don Harlow: there are only three "tenses" in Esperanto: -IS, -AS, -OS.

To a European, obsessed with the rather peculiar verb systems of the Western European languages (and it was for Europeans that Z wrote the above descriptions), it may appear that Esperanto has many tenses. This is not the case. In the Western languages, such "compound verbs" consist of a helping verb ("esti" or "havi") + another part of the verb (the participle). In Esperanto, the "compound verbs" are not really verbs at all: they are a verb, "esti", followed by an adjective (Esperanto's "participles" are really adjectives formed from action roots). If you understand the (regular) meaning of the affixes used to form them, you simply use them as you use any other adjective:

  Georgo Vaŝingtono estis alta, blankhara, lingodenta, kaj naskita.

This, incidentally, is why Esperanto does not use "havi" with participles, which is also confusing to some Europeans.

(#076) Consider the sentence estas ŝtelata la hundo de la viro, literally "is stolen the dog by/of/from the man". Not only is the meaning of the preposition de ambiguous in several ways [TYE 176], but it's not obvious whether the first two words mean "is being stolen" or "has been stolen and still is". Thus this innocent-looking sentence can mean at least six completely different things.

Your are confusing estas ŝtelata with estas ŝtelita.
estas ŝtelata: is being stolen
estas ŝtelita: has been stolen and still is.
estis ŝtelata : was stolen at that moment I am speaking about
estis ŝtelita : had been stolen at that time (but may be it was found back now)
The common word order would be : La hundo de la viro estas ŝtelita. Or la hundo estas ŝtelita de la viro.
To avoid confusion, you could say: La viro ŝtelis la hundon, or if you prefer to speak according to the word order of your mother tongue : ŝtelita hundo-la far de la viro estas (verrry poetic language nice you have!).
Refer to http://www.akademio-de-esperanto.org/decidoj/participoj.html

Ĉu [TYE] estas tiom konfusa? Kion mi povas konsili al komencanto anstataŭ denove [PAGE ] ?

Don Harlow: ŝtelata" and "ŝtelita" are two different things -- it is the English (which has only one passive form) which is here ambiguous, not Esperanto. This reduces the number of ambiguities to three.

Well, sorry, you can't erase "all" ambiguity from language (and you wouldn't want to -- how then would you make puns?). True enough, the sentence as written can mean any of the following:

The man's dog is being stolen.
The dog is being stolen from the man.
The dog is being stolen by the man.

One solution is to invent additional prepositions to take over some of the meanings of "de", which is, indeed, overloaded. Such prepositions have been proposed in the past. Only one has proven moderately popular -- "far". It was rarely but occasionally used back in the fifties, sixties and seventies; but today it, too, seems to have gone out of favour. Why? Because there are other ways of disambiguating these sentences. For instance, most people would use, for the third,

La hundon ŝtelas la viro.

This leaves the first two possibilities, which can be expressed as, for example (there are other possibilities):

Estas ŝtelata la hundo apartenanta al la viro.
La hundo estas ŝtelata forde la viro.

The fallacy in the criticism is that the critic deliberately chooses, for his purposes, a sentence which he considers ambiguous, and then leaves unstated the implication that there is no other way to express oneself on this matter within the language. This may not be deliberate; I've noticed that many people, well aware that in their own language it's possible to express a thought in many different ways, nevertheless expect that in any other language there will be one and only one correct way to express that thought. (Hence the common question from the student: "What's the correct way of saying that in Esperanto?")

(#078) If subjunctives, future tenses and participles are really necessary, why are there no "subjunctive participles" like vidunta? And is it a subjunctive mood, a conditional tense, or something else?

-as -is -os -u -us -i -ant -int -ont -at - it -ot are necessary and sufficient. The proof : it works for more than hundred years already. It's amazing what you can do with that.
Don Harlow: There is no subjunctive in Esperanto: you are thinking of the conditional (-US: something that might happen but probably won't). The "conditional participles" have been reinvented by writers perhaps a thousand times in the last century, but unfortunately nobody seems to feel a real need for them.

(#079) Dutch and German get along fine without worrying about the distinction between adjectives and adverbs.

Rule 7:
Adverbs are formed by adding e to the root. The degrees of comparison are the same as in adjectives, e. g., mi'a frat'o kant'as pli bon'e ol mi, „my brother sings better than I”.
German and Dutch distinguish between adjectives and adverbs. It looks like there is a common form, but adjectives vary, and adverbs don't.
Ex: Hij rijdt snel. Het rijdt met een snel voertuig. Hij is een snelle rijder.

(#080) In Esperanto there are some affixes with unnecessarily vague meanings

-ar- creates arb'ar'o for "forest" ("tree-collection"), which could also mean a line of Lombardy Poplars. Less forgivable is the misleading word ov'ar'o "collection of eggs", which pointlessly duplicates the meaning of nesto "nest".
Don Harlow: sorry, "nesto" is not a collection of eggs but a collection of twigs glued together to make a receptacle for eggs and a place to keep a bird's belly warm.

-uj- "container" really shouldn't be used to make names of countries such as Skot'ujo "Scotland", nor is -ej- "place" justified in words like lern'ejo "school" and pregh'ejo "church". These last two words are literally "learn-place" and "pray-place", which are too general in meaning; they could equally well refer to many other things such as "classroom" and "prayer room" in a school building.

Don Harlow: Again (as with "pafilo"), these words in -EJ- generally suffice. That they don't always suffice is why there are words in (unofficial) Esperanto such as "kirko", "katedralo", "kapelo", "templo", "sinagogo", "moskeo", not to mention such more official possibilities as "predikejo" (where you can sleep if you wish), "adorejo", etc.

-aĵ-, "something made from or possessing the quality of", is possibly the vaguest; it gives rise to idiomatic oddities like akr'aĵo "edge" from akra "sharp", ov'aĵho "omelet", ter'aĵo "soil" from tero "the Earth", korp'aĵo "flesh" fromkorpo "body", and others in [TYE 77-8]. It also creates pairs of words which pretend to have different meanings but don't; thus both kava and kav'aĵa are given as "hollow" in my dictionary.

Don Harlow: "edge" is "rando"; "omelette" is "omleto"; "soil" is "grundo"; "flesh" is "karno". The words you give could be used in special cases (e.g. "Aĉulo, mi disskulptos vin per la akraĵo de mia klingo!", in which the speaker wants to characterise the "edge" primarily by sharpness), but they are not _commonly_ used.

Are you sure that the word "kavaĵa" isn't "kavaĵo" (something hollow, a hollow)?

What are the affixes with necessarily vague meaning?

As a qualified linguist, didn't you hear of the theory of the elasticity of words? What do you make of it?

Words are elastic. They fill in some space between other words. Suffixes like -ar -uj -ej -aĵ add some more elasticity to the root in one direction.
The main problem in language leaning, is to know till what point a word can stretch.
When you speak a language from your young age, you do not realise that. You imagine that all words have a very precise and fixed meaning, that they cover a very precise surface. Not so, they don't, in no language (except perhaps in JAVA?).

Let's imagine the next situation:

You must cross a mountain river. There are stones here and there that you could use. You must plan yours jumps to be able to cross over to the other side. Perhaps you won't choose the easiest sequence, and you might fall in the middle.
A guy living in the mountain knows where to start and what is the right path. In some places he goes sideways and back, to be able to choose the safer path. He would cross the river without thinking, as if it were a solid bridge. For him the stones touch each other. Stones are elastic for him.
There are experts in river crossing. It's astonishing what they do; they make impossible jumps you wouldn't dare to do. They are skillful poets in jumping. You can appreciate the results, it's efficient and nice;
In any dictionary, specially in an Esperanto dictionary, they describe the surface of a word, what it covers, but don't give the elasticity coefficient. The meaning of a word depends on the context, and the skill of the author who makes a sentence look as a boulevard. The breaking point is when the listener doesn't understand,  that's as far you can stretch a word. You must learn to speak as good guide would let you cross a river. Some places, he would stop, pause for a while so you catch your breath, and go on. He is easy to follow. Speaking a language is learning to be a guide, not measure surfaces.
To appreciate the story, it's better to have some experience of the situation.
If this is not understood, there is no use to answer in more detail to the rest of the comments. If you understand, you can answer yourself.

Another example for those knowing C++. There are several meanings for * or &. Is the language ambiguous because of that? No, the context would define the interpretation unambiguously. You can even give additional meanings to these signs. But it should not be too far from the original meaning, otherwise the reader might be confused.
I give that example to show that even in computer languages; that are supposed to be the summit of logic, there are ambiguous notations for the beginner.
The true question is: how long are you a beginner: C++, Java, Esperanto, when can you say I know the language : 2 years, then you think and speak the language.
If you say I did better in language x, it's only because the word know is different for you than me.
Nothing is unambiguous. In fact, you never stop learning Esperanto, to be honest. Depends on what you want to do with it?

(#081) Esperanto's vocabulary displays nineteenth-century mechanistic ideology in full flourish.

The underlying assumption - inspired by Esperanto's predecessor Volapük, as Zamenhof openly admitted - is that every word ever spoken in every language can be converted to an unambiguous and unique combination of "roots", which express basic meanings, and "affixes", which modify them; and by keeping the number of roots to a minimum, the memory-load is kept down, and a careful choice of affixes compensates by adding expressive power to the system. However, neither Zamenhof nor Volapük's creator appreciated that meaning - like grammar - is in practice fluid and largely unpredictable, and unsuitable for shoehorning into such a rigid system. The English words "silly" and "villain", for example, once respectively meant "happy" and "farm worker".

I don't understand what you mean by nineteenth century mechanistic ideology. Please clarify.

What you say after looks largely correct. However read about elasticity of words.
Note also that words were allowed to evolve unpredictably when there was no writing, no dictionaries, no grammar books, no education.

Tell me when -s will disappear in he speaks (as it already did in he can, he must, he may)?

(#082) A problem with Esperanto's affix system is that, like the choices of parts of speech and roots, it is based upon an essentially arbitrary set of criteria.

It's debatable whether it is possible to choose a universally useful set of affixes on purely objective grounds; Zamenhof's affixes are idiosyncratic and all questionable in one way or another. Moreover,  a logical system of derivational suffixing is only really possible with verbs; most of Esperanto's affixes, by contrast, are principally nominal.

Everything is debatable and questionable or could be more or less logical. The fact that Esperanto works, proves that this type of discussion is sterile.

This kind of reasoning is comparable to the following:

Boats made of wood can float, because wood floats.
Boats made of zinc cannot float, because zinc sinks.
It is sufficient to have been once on a boat made of iron to know that there has to be a flaw in the reasoning. It's then easy to find a better explanation.
Esperanto floats for 100 years, and didn't sink in spite of all the tempests against it.

(#083) There's a fundamental problem with such a vocabulary-building system: any potential gain in the reduction of the memory-load is offset by the necessity of having to work out what the words are supposed to mean, even without considering all the exceptions, irregularities and idiosyncrasies

A communication on the auxlang mailing list to a learner a while ago gave it away: "Don't learn the roots, learn the words". The proof of the pudding, as they say...

This is the view of an Idist. Ido was an attempt to go further than Esperanto in the logic of the language. A big difference between Ido and Esperanto is the principle of reversibility.
Yes, Ido looks more logical than Esperanto. And Esperanto is more logical than English (and a lot of others).
It is possible that Esperanto is gaining ground on Ido because our brains like some elasticity, some imprecision, some ambiguity. We like to play with words and double meanings.
Esperanto would certainly not be more attractive if it was harnessed by some more rules. Read If Ido is better than Esperanto, how come that it has fewer speakers than Esperanto?

A logical mind, if interested in this question, would try to find an explanation for this paradox. Unfortunately, we are all full of passion, and use the logic as reinforcement for the biases we already have.

Your reference to auxlang mailing list is too vague. I cannot verify what was said there.
My advice to learn faster : don't learn words, learn whole sentences. What does that prove?
Don Harlow: I don't remember reading that particular piece of advice on the Auxlang list, but then I don't read every message there, I'm afraid. It's certainly not one I would have given.

In my experience, learning the roots and affixes -- and, of course, how to use them -- expands one's vocabulary tremendously. It is a remarkable fact that Esperanto, unlike other "foreign" (i.e., non-native) languages, can potentially give the speaker a larger active vocabulary than he has in his own native language, though it may take some time to reach this point. This, incidentally, is why so many people find it easier to translated from their native language into Esperanto than in the opposite direction, a situation completely the opposite from what we find with other languages.

Re the Idist opinion: it seems to be based on that which Couturat had, i.e. that the Esperanto word-formation system actually had no system -- in Ido he attempted to correct that lack. Unfortunately, as de Saussure showed, Esperanto indeed had a very functional system; it just hadn't been well codified. The situation was something like that with electricity; de Saussure played the role of Esperanto's James Clerk Maxwell, but that didn't prevent Esperanto's Ben Franklin (Zamenhof) from getting sparks off a key during a thunderstorm many years earlier
For more information, read http://denizo.opia.dk/la.trezorejo/tekstoj/libroj.pdf/Saussure-Fundamentaj.reguloj.de.la.vort-teorio.en.Esperanto.pdf by René Saussure

(#084) Virgulino means maiden, but has several other possible incorrect meanings,

such as a male gulino (by analogy with virbovo "bull"), or a hermaphrodite gulo. It's actually formed from the adjective virga "unspoiled" - which is also used of, for example, unploughed fields.

virg/a : first meaning: virgin (for person); unploughed (field), unexplored (land)
virg'ulo : virga viro.
virg'ul'ino : virga virino.
gulo : small bear living in the arctic
vir'gulo : vira gulo (male gulo)
gul'ino : ina gulo (female gulo)
vir'gul'ino has no meaning to my knowledge, but an artist could probably draw something like that.
virgino could be used instead of virg'ul'ino because ino already has the idea of ulo.

So vir'gulo and virg'ulo are ambiguous taken out of context.
What to do to disambiguate them?
In writing vir'gulo, virg'ulo
in speaking : vira gulo, virga ulo.
There are a few similar examples solved the same way.
If you are interested in such word play, you should read Raymond Schwatz. He sets up situations where the words could be understood both way. It's not easy.

Note that a coma is said komo in Esperanto (not virgulo as some French's seem to think)
Don Harlow: There are quite a number of such possible "ambiguities" in Esperanto; I remember some discussion in Auxlang, years ago, about the word "sakstrato", which could be a cul-de-sac ("sak'strat'o") or a bill delivered to your door by a guy with a long blond beard and a helmet with horns ("saks'trat'o"). This is the stuff of puns.

Unfortunately, you still have to really work hard to make a pun out such words as "virgulino", since "vir'gul'in'o" is not likely ever to occur in ordinary, or even literary, discourse, while "virg'ul'in'o" is far from impossible or even uncommon.

(Another exchange, probably in another list, had some argument from a proponent of Interlingua about "insulino", which, according to him, could be "insulin'o", "insul'in'o" or "ins'ul'in'o". Another toughie for a pun, since the root "ins'" doesn't exist, and it is not clear what type of insulo would be an "insul'in'o".)

Again, this sort of criticism is something that somebody simply invented to attack Esperanto, and has no bearing on the real world.

(#086) The dictionaries give many words which aren't built up from Esperantine roots at all; many of these words are Latin or Greek compounds with elements which would be more recognisable than their Esperanto equivalents. 

"Astronomy" is thus astronomio - a form reasonably obvious to everybody - and not the rather ugly Esperanto compound stelscienco,

Unfortunately the tendency is going towards words like steloscienco. This is due to our Chinese friends. Chinese (and many others) don't find steloscienco ugly.
Read [PAGE ]-436 on this subject.
Don Harlow: this is an ongoing argument in the Esperanto world. There is an occasional tendency toward regularity as opposed to historicity; e.g., Akiko Woessink-Nagata's "lingviko" seems to be becoming more popular at the expense of the "international" "lingvistiko" (which is more properly a subscience of psychology which studies linguists). However, the argument here is that there already exists an international scientific terminology (though in fact "international" generally means either "European" or "I speak English") and that Esperanto should make use of it so that fully accredited scientists (most of whom don't really care) can read articles written in Esperanto.

According to a recent BBC program, the meteorological phenomenon known as the "jet stream" was discovered in the thirties by a Chinese scientist, who wrote a paper on it in Esperanto, which nobody read, and so the actual discovery was put off until the forties, when the Japanese "discovered" it and used it, e.g. to float incendiary balloons across the Pacific Ocean to my home state of Oregon. However, there may be some indications that, while Western scientists of that time ignored papers in Esperanto, the Japanese weren't quite so finicky, and that their "discovery" of the jet stream may have been predicated on that paper ...
In any case, check out the currently available Esperanto dictionary of physics. It is in Esperanto, English and Japanese, and if you look at the Japanese equivalents for the various terms used in the science of physics, you can see just how "international" the "international" scientific terminology really is ...



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Politics/Religion

(#180) Esperantists all agree that Esperanto should be made the official language of the European Union . . . Don't they?

Don Harlow: Fortunately, I'm not a citizen (first-class or second-class) of the European Union, so I don't have to look at what would be most advantageous for the EU. I am an Esperantist, and tend to look at what would be most advantageous for Esperanto. And, as far as Esperanto becoming a tool of the EU gov't, I just don't see it.

   1. Esperanto doesn't belong to anybody -- and hence it belongs to everybody who wants to use it. Unless a couple of other heavyweights were to decide, at the same time as the EU, to make Esperanto their official language (and I don't see that happening!), the EU would, in effect, become the new owner of Esperanto; so, farewell, our vaunted cultural and political neutrality.

   2. And, once the EU had decided "in principle" to adopt Esperanto, who's to guarantee that a couple of Eurocrats, munching at a McDonald's in Brussels, would not decide to "repair" the language. A century of use has shown that "repairs" (they are commonly called "reforms") are generally the products of people who read through Teach Yourself Esperanto once, decide that because Zamenhof didn't do it in the same way the French do he was dead wrong, and set out to fix up the language. In other words, most proposed reforms of Esperanto are definitely not for the better. Mostly they end up in the garbage can ("dustbin", if you prefer) of history. The EU would have the clout to ensure that, good or bad, this would not happen.

I think that the adoption of Esperanto by the EU would be a step toward resolving a multitude of problems that plague the organisation -- including the serious one of making it more democratic. But I don't think that it would do Esperanto any good, and so I'm not terribly enthusiastic about the idea. And I know that there are other Esperantists -- including many in the EU itself -- who agree with me.


(#030) Language or minority religion?

A lot of people don't like that Esperanto speakers tend to recommend and defend Esperanto very strongly; they don't realise that these are not missionaries but extremely satisfied 'customers'.

A language may be used for different purposes. You find all usage's in the Esperanto community. You may agree or not with the use of the language; nobody cares.
You find as many agnostics among Esperantists than in the world population.
What is common to Esperantists and a minority religion, is the feeling of having a good solution for some problem, and be faced with disbelief.
To understand this feeling, imagine you saw a stereogram and had to explain what you saw to a sceptic who refuses even to look at it because "it can't work". This is an annoying feeling.
It is possible to keep quiet sometimes and allow people to make foolish comments, but Esperantists are no saints (with few exceptions). Most Esperantists would share what could be called a kind of "religious feeling", falling short of a better analogy.
I guess than all speakers of a minority language share the same feeling, when one dominating language speaker makes a derogatory remark against their beloved language. This feeling cannot be understood by an English speaker, who knows just English.
Don Harlow: Actually, it could be understood by an English speaker, but he would not usually be in a situation where he would experience it.
Imagine a monolingual English-speaking tourist wandering around in the streets of Bucharest, and not hearing a word of English. Every shopkeeper he speaks to shrugs his shoulders. Finally, he meets somebody on the street who speaks English.
"Why don't any of these people speak English?" he asks.
The kindly Romanian replies: "Why should people dedicate energy to a language so stupid that it has to write the single sound of /ts/ with two letters?"

(I know of someone in Romania who refused to study English, using just this reason as an excuse.)

You'll find most Religions using Esperanto somewhere on the Internet. This is not the subject of my discussion.

The largest organisation has nothing to do with Religion or Regimes. See http://www.uea.org/info/angla.html

Another important community is SAT (Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda) http://satesperanto.free.fr/leaoj/sateb.html

(#154) Perhaps Esperanto was a good idea at the beginning,  but it has been hijacked by a sect of demagogues that wants to gain power at the exclusion of everyone else.

As you seem to know a lot about this sect, did you identify some leaders of this sect who infiltrated some government?
Do you have an estimation of the money the sect unduly appropriated?
How is this sect recruiting?
What money advantages (or others) could I get being member of this sect?
I would like to know how to join this sect and how much it costs?
Can you provide some addresses or internet links?
I guess not!



Table of Contents


Social

(#166) I have nothing against Esperanto or those who wish to learn it but anyone who thinks that the EU could use Esperanto is living in a fantasy world.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)
Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"

(#192) To assume a simple, Esperanto like language is appropriate for all, is to assume, well, that all humans are the same.

No language is appropriate for all in all circumstances. Some problems are very easily solved with APL and others with LISP. The more languages you know, the better you will be able to pick up the best suited one to solve a particular problem.
On the other hand, all humans are not the same. There is as much difference between two Americans, or two Chinese, as between a Chinese and an American.
Does that mean that Chinese or Americans cannot speak the same language?
Esperanto is most appropriate when several people speaking different mother tongs meet. When a language as English, French or Spanish is used, the floor is monopolized by the native speakers of that language. This bias the whole discussion.
English is most appropriate when everybody speaks English natively.
The truth is that all languages (even constructed ones as Esperanto) have their limitations. We have no choice but to live with those imperfections and make the best use of the possibilities offered by the language.

(#167) If Esperanto was any use, don't you think it would have been in the mainstream by now, doesn't its age of 120 years of failure mean anything to you.

English really started to compete with French as a international language on June 28th, 1919 (Treaty of Versailles), that is very long ago. Since then, England has used a lot of resources to increase the influence of its language, that was thought ill suited for international communication till then.
The return on investment is poor. We can't say the world diplomacy improved.

Remember that Esperanto was killed by France.
In September 1920, the first debate on Esperanto took place at the League of Nations General Assembly. Members voted on whether Esperanto should be introduced worldwide as a school subject.
Ten delegates (among which India, China, South-Africa) accepted the proposal with only one voice against, the French delegate, Gabriel Hanotaux. He considered Esperanto as a threat for the "de facto" international language then: French.
The text is of course in French:

La Société Des Nations, constatant les difficultés linguistiques qui entravent les rapports directs entre les peuples, et la nécessité urgente d’écarter cette barrière afin d’aider à une bonne compréhension entre les nations; suit avec intérêt les essais d’enseignement officiel de la langue internationale espéranto menés dans les écoles publiques de quelques états, membres de la Société Des Nations; espère que cet enseignement se généralisera dans le monde entier, afin que les enfants de tous pays sachent dès maintenant au moins deux langues, leur langue maternelle et un moyen facile de communication internationale; demande au Secrétaire Général de préparer, pour la prochaine assemblée, un rapport détaillé sur les résultats atteints en ce domaine.

Why were those "detailed reports" never published?

The decline of French as the language of diplomlacy started with the Treaty of Versailles (1919). Here is an article that I didn't find in English :
Le traité de Versailles mettait fin à la Première Guerre mondiale. Il fut signé, le 28 juin 1919, dans la galerie des Glaces du château de Versailles, entre l’Allemagne, d’une part, et les Alliés, d’autre part.
Le traité de Versailles a été rédigé en français  et en anglais, les deux versions faisant également autorité. Le texte portait le titre Conditions de paix - Conditions of Peace. C’était la première fois depuis le traité de Rastatt de 1714 (qui mettait fin à la guerre de Succession d’Espagne) que le français n’était plus la seule langue officielle de la diplomatie occidentale.

Il semble que le représentant de la France, Georges Clémenceau, ait accepté que l’anglais devienne à côté du français la langue de travail de la Conférence de paix. En raison de sa connaissance de l’anglais — il avait épousé une Américaine et séjourné aux États-Unis — Clémenceau avait accédé à la demande de David Lloyd George (Grande-Bretagne) et Thomas Woodrow Wilson (États-Unis); le représentant de l'Italie, Vittorio Orlando, a dû être d'accord. Paradoxalement, le Sénat des États-Unis refusera en novembre 1919 de ratifier le traité de Versailles, mais le statut de la langue anglaise venait néanmoins d'être reconnu au plan international. Par la suite, l’anglais supplantera progressivement le français dans la plupart des documents juridiques internationaux.

English is far from having achieved its goal as international language. By 2039 it will be supplanted  by  Spanish or Chinese. Take your pick.

A shortcut to multilingualism could be Esperanto, the springboard to other languages: http://www.springboard2languages.org/home.htm



Table of Contents


Genuine Questions  about Esperanto (for advanced students of the language)

(137) What is the principle of reversibility?

This is an important principle for Ido. Esperanto word formation does not have to comply to this principle strictly.

The French philosopher Louis Couturat formulates this principle as follows:

"Every derivation must be reversible; that is to say, if one passes (forward) from one word to another of the same family by virtue of a certain rule, one must be able to pass inversely from the second to the first in virtue of the rule which is exactly the reverse of the preceding."

Examples:
1) where Esperanto and Ido more or less agree:
pac/o (peace),  paci cannot mean to pacify because if it did, out of it you could derive paco that would mean pacification. The same word paco cannot mean both peace and pacification.
You can build a word like pacigi (pacify) and from it derive pacigo (pacification)
Paciĝi (to make one's peace with)  paciĝo (reconciliation )
paci (be at peace)
paciganto (peace keeper)

2)where Esperanto and Ido disagree:
krono (crown),
kroni
cannot mean to crown because if it did the derive word  krono would mean coronation, and kronilo would be a crown
Well in Esperanto kroni (tr) means to crown and kronado would mean coronation. kronilo would be a tool use to put a crown on a head, some sort of crown holder, a crown-horn (shoe-horn for crowns).
Compare with tamburo (drum), tamburi (to drum), tamburilo (drum-stick).
So here Esperanto is apparently influenced by natural languages that are using a crown and to crown that way.
Why didn't Esperanto adopt the same solution as Ido, and use kronizi instead of kroni and kronizo instead of kronado. Kronizilo would  be a synonym of krono?
Other such examples:


Esperanto
English
French
paco, pacigi, paciĝi
peace, to pacify, to make one's peace with
paix, pacifier, se réconcillier
salo, sali, saligi
salt, to salt,  to make a salt (chemistry)
sel, saler, salifier
krono, kroni,
crown, to crown
couronne, couronner
fripono, friponi
rascal,  to swindle (to defraud)
fripon, escroquer
gasto, gasti, gastigi
guest, to board, to lodge
hôte, recevoir l'hospitalité, hébeger
profeto, profeti
prophet, to prophesy
prophète, profétiser
gudro, gudri
tar, to tar
goudron, goudronner
kolor, kolori, kolorigi, koloriĝi
color, to color, to color, to color
couleur, colorer, colorier, se colorer
vesto, vesti, vestiĝi
clothe, to clothe, to dress
vêtement, vêtir, se revêtir
oro, ori, origi, oriĝi
gold, to gild, to gild, to turn a golden color
or, dorer, dorer, se dorer
ĝermo, ĝemi
germ, to germinate
germe, germer
burĝono, burĝoni
bud, to bud
bourgeon, bourgeonner
floro, flori
flower, to flower
fleur, fleurir
urini, urino
urine, to urinate
uriner, urine
nesto, nesti, nestiĝi
nest, to make a nest, to nest
nid, nidifier, se nicher
fumo, fumi, fumiĝi
smoke, to smoke, to steam
fumo, fumer, se transformer en fumée
martelo, marteli
hammer, to hammer
marteau, marteler
najlo, najli, najlizi
nail, to nail, to stud
clou, clouer, clouter
broso, brosi
brush, to brush
brosse, brosser
bastono, bastoni
stick, to cane
bâton, bâtonner
ŝraŭbo, ŝraŭbi, ŝraŭbigi, ŝraŭbiĝi
screw, to screw,  to thread, ?
vis, visser, fileter, se visser
tamburo, tamburi, tamburilo
drum, to drum, drum-stick
tambour, battre le tambour, baguette de tambour
kanono, kanoni, kanonigi=kanonizi
canon, to cannonade, to canonize
canon, canonner/tirer le canon, canoniser
afiŝo, afiŝi
placard, to placard
affiche/placard, afficher/placarder
broŝuro, broŝuri
brochure, to stitch
brochure, brocher
formo, formi
form, to form
forme, former
silabo, silabi
syllable, to spell
syllabe, épeler
kulpa, kulpi, kulpigi, kulpiĝi
guilty, to be guilty of, to accuse s.o. of sth, to become guilty
coupable, être coupable de, accuser, se rendre coupable de

In all these examples, the -i form would be different in Ido; Ido would use -ifar, -igar, -izar, -esar instead of -ar (corresponding to Esperanto -i) in all of these cases.

Refer to fundamental problem with the vocabulary-building system and Fundamentaj reguloj de vort-teorio en Esperanto by René Saussure for additional information..

(#142) What is the meaning of the verbs build from a substantive root?

  1. Tool: to act by means of a -o
martelo (hammer) marteli  (to hammer)
broso (brush)
brosi (to brush)
butono (button)
butoni (to button)
forko (fork)
forki (to fork)
peniko (paint- brush)
peniki (to pint)
sabro (saber)
sabri
vipo (whip)
vipi (to whip)
ankro (anchor)
ankri (to anchor)
skurĝo (strap)
skurĝi (to strap)
tamburo (drum)
tamburi
trumpeto (trumpet)
trumpeti
najlo (nail)
najli
kateno (chain)
kateni
ŝraŭbo (screw)
ŝraŭbi
  1. to use as an instrument
auto (car) auti (to drive)
boato (boat) boati (to navigate)
velo (sail) veli (to sail)
bombo (bomb) bombi (to bomb)
  1. Part of the body: to act by means of a -o
fingro  (finger) fingri (to use the finger)
korno (horn)
korni (to butt)
dento (tooth)
denti (to bite)
genuo (knee)
genui (to kneel)
frunto (forehead)
frunti (to front)
ŝultro (shoulder)
ŝultri (to shrug one's shoulders)
dorso (back)
dorsi (to back)
beko  (beak)
beki (to peck)
  1. Another object than a tool or a part of the body: to provide sth/sb with -o
krono (crown) kroni (to crown)
formo (form) formi (to form)
diplomo (diploma) diplomi (to grant a diploma)
plumo (feather) plumi (to feather) - note French would be surprised here
vundo (wound) vundi (to wound)
gudro (tar)
gudri (to tar)
truo (hole)
trui (to hole)
adreso (address)
adresi (to address)
doto (dowry)
doti (to dower)
elektro (electricity)
elektri (to electrify)
fero (iron)
feri (to shoe)
oro (gold)
ori (to guild)
stano (tin)
stani (to put a coat of tin)
makulo (stain)
makuli (to stain)
nomo (name)
nomi (to name)
salo (salt)
sali (to salt)
selo (saddle)
seli (to saddle)
vesto (clothe)
vesti (to clothe)
veneno (poison)
veneni (to poison)
digo (dam)
digi (to build a dam)
ŝtono (stone)
ŝtoni (to provide sth with stones)
fundamento (foundation)
fundamenti (to build foundations)
kupro (copper)
kupri (to cove with copper)
  1. to act with the characteristic of a -o
bordo (board) bordi (to board)
pendolo (pendulum)
pendoli (to swing)
flamo (flame)
flami (to flame)
nesto (nest)
nesti (to make a nest)
limo (limit)
limi (to limit)
ordo (arrangement)
ordi (to arrange)
regulo (rule)
reguli (to regulate)
publiko (public)
publiki (to publish)
hejmo (home)
hejmi ( to feel at home)
nombro (number)
nombri (to number)
kongreso (congress)
kongresi (congregate)
silabo (syllable)
silabi (to spell)
poemo (poem)
poemi (to tell a poem)
vorto (word)
vorti (to word)
fabriko (fabric)
fabriki (to produce)
mieno (mien)
mieni (to look ...)
formo (form)
formi (to form)
  1. to produce 
sumo (sum) sumi (to sum)
floro (flower)
flori (to flower)
ĝermo (germ)
ĝermi (germinate)
signo (sign)
signi (to sign)
fumo (smoke)
fumi (to smoke)
ondo (wave)
ondi (to produce waves)
radio (radio)
radii (to radio)
sango (blood)
sangi (to bleed)
streko (streak)
streki (to strike out)
  1. to act, to be like a -o
estro (master) estri (to master)
trolo (troll) troli (act like a troll)
abituriento (bachelor) abiturienti (act like a bachelor)
mentoro (mentor) mentori (to counsel)
tajloro (tailor)
tajlori (to make cloths)
gasto (guest)
gasti (to board)
reĝo (king)
reĝi  (to reign)
patro (father)
patri (to act like a father)
mastro (master)
mastri (to master)
amiko (friend)
amiki (to act like a friend)
Cezaro (Caesar)
cezari (to act like Caesar)
dando (dandy)
dandi (to behave like a dandy)
ĉefo (boss)
ĉefi (to boss)
majstro (maestro)
majstri (to conduct)
tirano (tyrant)
tirani (to tyrannise)
frazisto (speech-writer)
frazisti (to write a speech)
saĝo (wise)
saĝi (to act wisely)
profeto (prophet)
profeti (to prophesy)
ĉarlatano (charlatan)
ĉarlatani (to tell stories)
aktoro (actor)
aktori (to act)
ĝeneralo (general)
ĝenerali (to give orders like a general)

(#139) Ĉevalo mans horse. What does ĉevali mean?

It depends on the context:

Tricent  bienistoj ĉevalis la aspirantan reĝhon: three hundred landlords made the pretender to the throne a present of a horse. (see  1. to provide sth/sb with)
Lia armeo ĉevalis al Parizo  kaj atendis atakordonon: his army rode to Paris and waited for an order to attack. (see  2. use)
Sur iliaj kampoj ĉevalas virinoj: on their fields, you see women acting as horses; (see 3. act like a)
Haltu ĉevali: Stop playing the horse (see 3. act like a)

(#143) What is the meaning of the verbs build from a adjective root (-a -> -i)?

  1. adjectives of action: -a -> - i: to act -ly.
aktiva (active) aktivi (to work, to act actively)
atenta (attentive) atenti (to listen, to act attentively)
avida (greedy) avidi (to desire, to act greedily)
ĉarma (charming) ĉarmi (to act charmingly) 
diligenta (toilsome) diligenti (to work, to act diligently)
fervora ( zealous, passionate) fervori ( to work zealously)  + to act ...
kulpa ( guilty) kulpi ( to act wrongly)
lama ( lame ) lami ( to walk lame)
laŭta ( loud ) laŭti ( to ring, to speak loudly)
prudenta ( prudent ) prudenti ( to think prudently)
rapida ( fast) rapidi ( to walk rapidly)
sagaca ( sagacious) sagaci ( to act sagaciously)
saĝa ( wise) saĝi ( to think wisely)
solena ( solemn) soleni ( to celebrate solemnly)
sovaĝa ( wild) sovaĝi ( to act wildly)
sprita ( witty) spriti ( to speak wittily)
utila ( useful) utili ( to work usefully)
  1. adjectives describing a behavior: -a -> -i:  to behave -ly
afabla ( affable) afabli ( to behave affably)
avara ( greedy) avari (to behave ...)
bona ( good) boni ( ... )
malbona ( bad) malboni ( ... )
brava ( brave) bravi ( ... )
ĉasta ( chaste) ĉasti ( ... )
malĉasta ( debauched) malĉasti ( ... )
fidela ( faithful) fideli ( ... )
fiera ( proud) fieri ( ... )
firma ( steady) firmi ( ... )
freneza ( mad) frenezi ( ... )
frivola ( frivolous) frivoli ( ... )
furioza ( furious) furiozi ( ... )
ĝentila ( polite, civil) ĝentili ( ... )
humila ( humble) humili ( ... )
indiferenta ( indifferent) indiferenti ( ... )
intima ( intimate) intimi ( ... )
kruda ( raw) krudi ( ... )
kruela ( cruel) krueli ( ... )
modesta ( modest) modesti ( ... )
muta ( mute) muti ( ... )
naiva ( naïve) naivi ( ... )
nobla ( noble) nobli ( ... )
obstina ( obstinate) obstini ( ... )
pacienca ( patient) pacieni ( ... )
rigida ( rigid) rigidi ( ... )
ruza ( sly) ruzi ( ... )
serioza ( serious) seriozi ( ... )
severa ( severe) severi ( ... )
sincera ( sincere) sinceri ( ... )
surda ( deaf) surdi ( ... )
vanta ( conceited) vanti ( ... )
  1. adjectives of state: -a -> -i:  to be in a state of -ness
ebria ( drunk) ebrii ( to be drunk)
feliĉa ( happy) feliĉi ( to be...)
gaja ( merry) gaji ( ... )
kvieta ( quiet) kvieti ( ... )
laca ( tired) laci ( ... )
preta ( ready) preti ( ... )
sana ( healthy) sani ( ... )
malsana ( sick) malsani ( ... )
sata ( sated) sati ( ... )
malsata ( hungry, starving) malsati ( ... )
sobra ( abstemious) sobri ( ... )
  1. adjectives that cannot be classified in the three previous groups: -a -> -i : to be -a
egala ( equal) egali ( to equal)
fremda ( foreign) fremdi ( to be ...)
grava ( important) gravi ( ... )
ĝusta (right, exact) ĝiusti ( ... )
identa ( identical) identi ( ... )
justa ( fair, just, righteous) justi ( ... )
kara ( dear) kari ( ... )
konforma ( conformable) konformi ( to conform)
nepra ( ineluctable, without fail) nepri ( ... )
plena ( full) pleni ( ... )
prava ( right) pravi ( to be right )
malprava ( incorrect) malpravi ( ... )
propra ( proper, one's own) propri ( ... )
sama ( identical, same) sami ( ... )
simila ( similar) simili ( ... )
sufiĉa ( sufficient) sufiĉi ( to suffice)
valida ( valid) validi ( to be valid)
vana ( vain, futile, useless) vani ( ... )
  1. adjectives that can be used as auxiliary verbs
ebla ( possible) ebli (to be possible to..)
ema ( inclined to) emi (to have a tendency to)
inda ( worthy of) indi ( ... )
inklina ( inclined to) inklini ( ... )
kapabla ( capable of) kapabli ( ... )
necesa ( necessary) necesi ( ... )
kuraĝa ( courageous) kuraĝi ( to dare )
sufiĉa ( sufficient) sufiĉi ( to suffice )
  1. adjectives showing a quality, that can't be normally  be expressed with a verb. To use with parsimony.
agrabla ( agreeable) Kiom agrablis tiu gusto al mia lango!
akra ( sharp)
alta ( high)
antikva ( ancient, antique)
bela ( beautiful)
densa ( dens)
dika ( big)
dolĉa ( sweet)
ebena ( plane, even)
glata ( smooth, glossy)
granda ( tall) Post eliro al la flankstrato antaŭ ni grandegis la katedralo.
juna ( jung)
kripla ( crippled)
pala ( pale)
plata ( flat)
varma ( warm)
blanka ( white)
flava ( yellow)
griza ( gray)
nigra ( black) Rigardu, io nigras en la angulo.
ruĝa ( red)
blua ( blue)
La ĉielo bluas al ili kiel belega promeso

(#144) What is the meaning of the verbs build from a preposition  (prep+i)?

  1. preposition+i= to be -a 
antaŭ  ( before) antaŭi ( to be before )
apud (beside)
apudi (to be near)
ĉirkaŭ (around)
ĉirkaŭi ( to surround)
kontraŭ (against)
kontraŭi (to oppose)
laŭ (along)
laŭi (to go along)
super (above)
superi (to surpass)
anstataŭ (instead)
anstataŭi (take the place of)
per (by means of)
peri (to act as an agent)

(#145) What is the meaning of the verbs build from a interjection or some other root than -a -e -i prep ?

  1. interjection+i= to act, to function by means of, (seldom : to be -a)
jes  ( yes) jesi ( to act by yes )
ne (no)
nei (to deny)
audiaŭ (farewell)
audiaŭi
vivu
vivui
bis (one more time!)
bisi
hura
hurai
fi (shame!)
fii (to be a shame)

(#146) What is the meaning of the substantives build from a adjective root?

  1. Abstraction with -a quality (-o), a concrete object (-aĵo), a quality (-eco), a person with this quality (-ulo)
bela  (beautiful) belo (the beauty,  a beauty, a nice thing)
la beloj (belaĵoj) de l'regiono (the beauties of the region)
ŝia belo (beleco) estis eksterordinara (her beauty was extraordinary)
mia belo (belulo) estis juna dano (my beautiful friend was a jung Dane)

(#147) What is the meaning of the substantives build from a verb root?

the name of the action (-ado) or the result of the action (-aĵo) or an abstraction.
iri  (to go) iro (going)
konstrui (to build)
konstruo (konstruado=building, konstruaĵo=building)
ami (to love)
amo (love)
pensi (to think)
penso (thought)
kulturi (to cultivate)
kulturo (culture)

(#148) What is the meaning of the substantives build from a preposition?

-o means -aĵo or -eco
antaŭ (before) antaŭo (antaŭaĵo=the front), autaŭo (antaŭeco= priority)
ĉirkaŭ
ĉirkaŭo (ĉikaŭaĵo=surroundings)
sub
subo (subaĵo)
ekster
ekstero (eksteraĵo)
kun
kuno (kuneco)
sen
seno (seneco)
super
supero (supereco)

Mi tradukos Anglen poste.

(#149) What is the meaning of the substantives build from a prefix?

From a prefix or a correlative:
mal malo
eks
ekso (ekseco)
dis
diso (diseco)
for
foro (foreco)
kial
kialo
kiel
kielo

Mi tradukos Anglen poste.





Table of Contents


Quibbling

(#041) In the  Radio head's album "OK Computer" I saw the words DANĜERA NAJBARAJO. What does that mean?

It could be translated by : dangerous neiborhod (if you insist translating accurately). This is a typing error. You should read danĝera najbaraĵo (dangerous neighbourhood). In the other notation : danghera najbarajho (or dangxera najbarjxo) to translate by dangerous neighbourhood (with spurios and ugly u :-).

(#045) Ŝtono means stone. I don't understand what ŝtona means.

The converted adjective ŝtona could mean any of "stony", "made of stone", "made of stones", "like stone", or possibly something else again. .

ŝtona means :  

  1. consisting of stone(s) : ŝtona  statuo, ŝtona muro,
  2. figuratively:  comparable to a stone:  ŝtona koro, ŝtona dormo (sleep as a stone)
In English stony could mean lots of things, and cannot be translated correctly out of context; it could be ŝtona, ŝtoneca or a few others. Neither in Esperanto can ŝtona be translated out of context. Tell me what you want to say in English,  I can translate it in Esperanto. Give me phrase in Esperanto, I can translate it in English (if I understand its meaning).

(#046) Ŝtono means stone. But there's no way to work out what the corresponding verb ŝtonas means, since you don't know if it's derived from the noun ("is a stone"?, with one step of conversion) or adjective (two steps, meaning something like "is stony", "is made of stone", "is like stone"). It could even be "stones", as a punishment for adultery.

You know that the dictionary form of the word is ŝtono, because, either you studied it, or you have a brain functioning normally and you guessed that the most probable dictionary form was ŝtono.
From ŝtono, you can derive many words.
  • by adding a suffix: ŝtona, ŝtonaĵo, ŝtonego, ŝtoneto, ŝtonigi, ŝtoniĝi, ŝtonumi, ŝtoni
Understanding the use of suffixes is essential. This could take you more time than for a Russian, but hardly significantly. If you want all detailed information (for example as a linguist), I recommend the [PAGE ]. It will clarify cases that worry language freaks.
  • by combining roots: ŝtonhava, ŝtonplena, senŝtonigi, surŝtona, unuŝtona, aeroŝtono, angulŝtono, fajroŝtono, limŝtono, muelŝtono, tomboŝtono, etc... 
I can translate to stone a woman guilty of adultery by : ŝtonumi adultinon (if you prefer the Ido way: ŝtonumi adultulinon).
He was petrified by surprise. can be translated by:  li ŝtoniĝis pro surprizo (li ekŝtoniĝis, if you want to insist on the  suddenness of the action).
Can I say: I was stoned by surprise? Even if it the meaning looks obvious for me (French-Esperanto speaking), I can't possibly tell if I need to learn another word to say it it English.
I can't tell, as a foreigner, if I can or should better say I was lapidated by surprise.
In Esperanto, on the other hand, I know that I can say ŝtonigi, but it could be that a better word exists or can be coined.

Li ŝtonigis sian enirejon ghis la garaĝo : he put stones on his entrance up to the garage.
Or Floro floras, ŝtono ŝtonas. (A flower flowers, a stone behaves like a stone).
One could say: "La montojn estis kovritaj per buntaj floroj; nur unu pinto ŝtonis en la suno" : The mountains were covered by colourful flowers; only one peak 'stoned' in the sun. Even if it can't be translated literally in English, reading that I would see the sun reflecting on the rocks on a high mountain without any vegetation.
Detractors of Esperanto would say that this is due to the imprecision of the language, that people must get more imaginative. Esperanto propagandists would say that thanks to the language you get more imagination. My opinion is that if you speak any language, you have got to have enough imagination already.

See the basic rules of word formation.
Don Harlow: Verbs created from nouns are often ambiguous; for one thing, you can't tell whether they're transitive or intransitive. "ŝtoni" means basically "i ŝtone", which can have a number of meanings. Context will usually tell you which one. People who like there 'i's dotted and their 't's crossed will call this a "bug", and they will be right (for them).
People who like a lot of freedom in their ability to express themselves will call this a "feature", and they too will be right (for them).

(#131) Are the correlatives which end in consonants immune from inflection? 

Are you, for example, really supposed to say mi havas neniomn for "I have none"?

Yes they are. 
You can say mi havas nenion or mi havas neniom (In most context, the difference between the two is insignificant).

(#132) Bizarrely, you need to use the correlatives in comparisons of equality: mi estas tiel inteligenta kiel vi "I am as intelligent as you", rather than something analogous to mi estas pli inteligenta ol vi "I am more intelligent than you", which would surely be clearer and more obvious.

Mi estas pli inteligenta, kiel vi is possible but means something totally different than ol vi. It means I am more intelligent (than somebody we were speaking about),  as you are (both of us are more intelligent than he).
Tiel-kiel forms a pair (Polish tak-jak).  Other languages make a distinction as well (Dutch,  German, English).
French uses que (aussi intelligent que, plus intelligent que) and uses que as kiu and ke as well. How they cope with this is a mystery for all but for them. However, I never heard such a complain from a French. They seem relieved that Esperanto doesn't work the same way.

(#133) Some strange words result from inflecting certain correlatives, such as iujn, neniejn; and of course, you have to say kiuj estas ili, with plural correlative, for "who are they?".

inflections:

ia ian iaj iajn
ial
iam
ie, ien
iel
ies
io ion ioj iojn
iom
iu iun iuj iujn

+ ĉ- t- k- nen-

neniejn is not possible (well perhaps in fiction: to nowhere in multiple hyperspaces)
Kiuj esta ili is correct.

(#065) What is the purpose of a word like post (after)- what's wrong with malantaŭ, the opposite of antaŭ "before".

Malantaŭ is a better word for "after" if you follow the principles of vocabulary-building like you're supposed to.

There is nothing wrong with malantaŭ. In fact it is commonly used.
Don Harlow: The distinction made is usually that between "place" and "time" ("malantaŭ" = behind, "post" = after). Of course, ordinarily you can only distinguish front from back by motion, so the difference doesn't matter.

(#066) How do you say: He arrived after 4 o'clock?

Li alvenis post la kvara horo. Usually horo is left out: Li alvenis post la kvara: he arrived after 4.
Don Harlow: This is also a cultural thing. What does "4 o'clock" mean? Even in some parts of the English-speaking world (e.g., the military service), you might also say "Li alvenis post la deksesa".

(#067) What does la mia mean?

Mine. Example : Kies livro kuŝas sur la tablo? (Whose book lye on the table?) - La mia (mine). In French: "le mien".
Mia is also a correct answer to this question. Note that the use of la in Esperanto is more flexible than in other languages using a definite article. See the most used way in [PAGE ]. In case of doubt, don't use it.

(#062) I don't find the meaning of the stem deb- that is used to build the words debato, debeto, debila, debito, debuti.

There is no stem deb-. All the words you cite are roots. Also note that there is no suffix -ut yet, but -ato, -eto, -ila, -ito could indeed be suffixes.
When creating a neologism, one should check whether it's not clashing with existing roots.

(#063) Pafilo "gun" could mean anything which shoots, from a peashooter to a cannon; it is too vague.

 Indeed, the official word for "cannon" (paf-il-ego "big shooting tool") is often rejected in favor of the more precise kanono.

Vagueness or precision depends on the context and the need. There is no law forcing somebody to be more precise than needed. If you take any word out of its context in any language, it is vague. In the mentioned example "kanono" is as vague as "canon" is in English. If the context is religious, is is likely that the meaning will not be "pafilego". Unexpectedly, in a text speaking of religious wars, "pafilego" could be more precise than "kanono".
If the text is about medical devices, canon, would still have another meaning, absolutely unambiguous for the reader.

We speak with abstractions. We think in abstractions. Language is abstractions. We work with abstractions. Computer use abstracted languages. They are now called "object oriented" languages (most known: C++, Java).  An abstraction, like the word indicates, is only a representation of reality, taking only some characteristics of the object we handle. What characteristics: just those needed to solve the problem. All the others are ballast. Understanding this is essential before speaking of vagueness or precision: a word is an abstraction.

Don Harlow: Other languages, too, allow gradations from the most general to very specific. For instance, in English any firearm may be (and most often is) referred to simply as a "gun". Hence the famous picture of the U.S. marine trainee standing buck naked out on the parade ground with his rifle across his chest, on punishment tour, shouting over and over again:

  "This is my rifle.
   I called it a gun.
   That's why I'm standing
   Bare-ass in the sun!"

"pafilo" can almost always be used, but there are other words for specific situations (revolvero, fusilo, mitralo, etc.)

(#072) Note the oddity that the word for "one" has two syllables while the rest have just one.

Very odd. And its even stranger when you see that du, tri, kvar have two, three, four letters. Why didn't Zamenhof go on with this idea, and has stopped in the middle?
Something like: u, du, tru, foru, fajvu, sisesu, zibzevu, etoktaku, nanojnevu, tendisdeku ?
More seriously: un' du tri kvar kvin... is possible in songs or poems.

(#077) Many compound tenses are likely to confuse speakers of (for example) many Asian languages, which manage well enough with something much simpler.

That's why there are so many people learning Chinese. There is no reason why not to learn Chinese. It will only take you a while to find a word in the Chinese-English dictionary, but all the rest is easy.
An example:
What is the difference between : Had your hair cut? and Had your hair-cut. Well in Chinese (like in spoken English) there is no difference. There are no past participles, nor verbs, adverbs, substantives or adjectives. Can you  imagine a simpler language?

(#089) Note the oddity that the word for "one" has two syllables while the rest have just one.

Very odd. And its even stranger when you see that du, tri, kvar have two, three, four letters. Why didn't Zamenhof go on with this idea, and has stopped in the middle?
Something like: u, du, tru, foru, fajvu, sisesu, zibzevu, etoktaku, nanojnevu, tendisdeku ?
More seriously: un' du tri kvar kvin... is possible in songs or poems.

(#127) The system of grammatical endings insisted upon in the grammar is, for no obvious reason, completely ignored;

for example the adverbial ending is now -el (ki-el "how?"), while -e (ki-e "where?") signifies place.

Refer to the principal of  reversibility of Ido handled elsewhere.
The rule works in one direction. To make an adverb from a root, add -e.

(#128) Possession is indicated by -es; thus ki-es "whose" is distinct in form from de "of" (used with nouns) and -a (used with pronouns).

That's three different, non-interchangeable, ways of expressing the same grammatical relation - precisely the sort of difficulty Esperanto is supposed to have eliminated!

Three ways, my goodness! Isn't that redundant?
kies = de kiu
mia = de mi
Would you prefer kmiesjn librojn vi legis (which of my books did you read) instead of the usual: kiujn librojn de mi (kiujn librojn miajn) vi legis?
Unfortunately k- has not been promoted to a root yet.
Perhaps in another hundred years, it will. I explained how you could speed up the process elsewhere.
For the moment : ies, ties, kies, nenies, ĉies are all roots.
Not so for t- k- nen- ĉ-

(#129) About iu, io: the rather pointless distinction between the endings -u and -o doesn't apply elsewhere.

iu, io are roots.

(#087) "mine" as a pronoun looks like an adjective, la mia "the my"; surely it should be a noun like la mio? Arguably, it could also be la mii, with the pronominal ending, or even la miio.

Kies livro kuŝas sur la tablo? (Whose book lye on the table?) - La mia (mine),  no need to say libro, it's assumed. In French: "le mien".
Mia is also a correct answer to this question. Note that the use of la in Esperanto is more flexible than in other languages using a definite article. See the most used way in [PAGE]. In case of doubt, don't use it.
La mio means "the I", "the ego". Other synonyms : la egoo, la memo.
I'll ignore miio.

(#088) Which part of speech do numbers belong to, exactly?

To cardinal numerals.

(#272) In English, we have dozens of ways to alter verb tense, in order to convey additional implications in a statement. I went to the store is different from I was going to the store, and different from I had been going to the store, but in Esperanto, they’re all said with the same simple past tense.

Try it the other way round. In a given a context, you can easily guess how to translate "mi iris al la butiko" correctly in English, using one of the three forms. This is because these forms are almost always redundant with other information in the context. Chinese solve an occasional problem like esperanto, by using words as dum, post, antaŭ, ĵus... etc

(#090) The verbal system may look straightforward, but the grammar doesn't mention that you can form no less than 36 compound tenses with the various tenses of esti "to be" and the participles. This is far too many.

My God! And if you take all combinations with the other tenses and the pronouns, you just come short of 250.  And if you add the suffixes and prefixes, you come to astronomical numbers.
Rule 6:
The verb does not change its form for numbers or persons, e. g. mi far'as, „I do”; la patr'o far'as, „the father does”; ili far'as, „they do”.
Forms of the Verb:
The present tense ends in as, e. g. mi far'as, „I do”.
The past tense ends in is, e. g. li far'is, „he did”.
The future tense ends in os, e. g. ili far'os, „they will do”.
The subjunctive mood ends in us, e. g. ŝi far'us, „she may do”.
The imperative mood ends in u, e. g. ni far'u, „let us do”.
The infinitive mood ends in i, e. g. fari, „to do”.
There are two forms of the participle in the international language, the changeable or adjectival, and the unchangeable or adverbial.
The present participle active ends in ant, e. g. far'ant'a, „he who is doing”; far'ant'e, „doing”.
The past participle active ends in int, e. g. far'int'a, „he who has done”; far'int'e, „having done”.
The future participle active ends in ont, e. g. far'ont'a, „he who will do”; far'ont'e, „about to do”.
The present participle passive ends in at, e. g. far'at'e, „being done”.
The past participle passive ends in it, e. g. far'it'a, „that which has been done”; far'it'e, „having been done”.
The future participle passive ends in ot, e. g. far'ot'a, „that which will be done”; far'ot'e, „about to be done”.
All forms of the passive are rendered by the respective forms of the verb est (to be) and the participle passive of the required verb; the preposition used is de, „by”. E. g. ŝi est'as am'at'a de ĉiu'j, „she is loved by every one”.

(#091) Many of the compound tenses are likely to confuse speakers of (for example) many Asian languages, which manage well enough with something much simpler.

Chinese is quite easy once you manage to find a word in the Chinese-English dictionary. 
A sentence like: "Had your hair cut?",  or "had your hair-cut?", would be translated the same way, as it is spoken in English. Isn't that simple? There are no past participle, no verbs, no adverbs, no adjectives, no substantives in Chinese. Perhaps there are but they are all the same. This is why there are so many speakers of Chinese, perhaps.

(#092) If subjunctives, future tenses and participles are really necessary, why are there no "subjunctive participles" like vidunta? And is it a subjunctive mood, a conditional tense, or something else?

-i, -as, -os, -is, -us, -ant, -ont, -int, -at, -ot, it are necessary and sufficient. The proof: it works for more than 100 years already. You will be amazed by what one can do with them. But there might be a need for vidunta, anybody has a concrete example?

(#093) Dutch and German get along fine without worrying about the distinction between adjectives and adverbs.

Most prepositions can actually govern the accusative case, too; see rule 13. Esperanto is burdened with far too many prepositions, many of which also do the work of conjunctions and adverbs, and I've never seen a definitive list of them all.

Dutch and German are distinguishing between adverbs and adjective.

(#094) Rule 8 claims: All prepositions govern the nominative case.  It's wrong: most prepositions can actually govern the accusative case, too; see rule 13.

Rule 8:
All prepositions govern the nominative case.
Forget about cases. see What are "the other cases" referred to in rule 2.

(#095) Rule 10, which is curiously the same as in Polish, has nothing to do with grammar or syntax.

Rule 10:
Every word is to be read exactly as written, there are no silent letters.
Why "curiously" was it not the same as in Russian or English?
Is Polish the only language doing that?
What is your definition of grammar?
Difino de gramatiko: scienco pri la lingvaj reguloj. Tuto de la reguloj, kiujn oni devas observi por ĝuste paroli aŭ skribi difinitan lingvon.

(#096) The rigidity of the stress causes some distortions: why should words like nacio "nation" stress on the I, instead of on the first A as in every other language which contains the word?

French: nation, stress on tion not on na.
About distortions: photograph, photographer, photographic .
Note also that Russian make the same comment about Polish.

(#098) Do long words have any other secondary stresses?

Compound words may keep a secondary stress on the previous stems. See [PAGE ]

(#099) Rule 12  is pointless and makes no practical difference to the language: multiple negatives are common in many languages, for example "I don't know nothing" in colloquial English.

Rule 12: If there be one negative in a clause, a second is not admissible.

I doubt colloquialisms can be considered the rule.
What is your definition of many?
There are languages that even do worse than use double negation. They use double affirmations.
A conference speaker said :
"In the languages I know most use the double negation to say the affirmative. But, like in mathematics, you will never find one that uses double affirmation to say the negative."
Then somebody in the audience said: "yeah yeah !? "

(#100) Rule 15 has nothing to do with grammar or syntax, and it doesn't explain what to do with foreign words which have sounds not resembling any used in Esperanto.

Rule 15:  The so-called „foreign” words, i. e. words which the greater number of languages have derived from the same source, undergo no change in the international language, beyond conforming to its system of orthography. ― Such is the rule with regard to primary words, derivatives are better formed (from the primary word) according to the rules of the international grammar, e. g. teatr'o, „theatre”, but teatr'a, „theatrical”, (not teatricul'a), etc.

Read [PAGE ] on this subject, then come back.

(#101) Some of Zamenhof's less fathomable creations, e.g. ghis "towards" from French jusque, suggest that you either guess or change them at random - which rather defeats the whole point of Esperanto being an "internationally recognisable" language.

Ĝis is not an international word. Esperanto is not Interlingva, and not Vollapük either.

(#102) Eleven of 16 rules in "La Fundamento" are unnecessary, and numbers 2 through 6 are open to further simplification:

for example, do you really need all those confusingly similar verbal tense forms, when temporal adverbs would do just as well?  (Cf Welsh rydw i'n wedi siarad "I am after talking".)

Silence is the mother of all virtues.
La parole est d'argent, le silence est d'or.

What about a sign language for chinese apes? Would it be simple enough? I bet that if it's working for 100 years, you would still be people to reform it. Too late.. Too many apes would speak it already! (mi pardonpetas!).
I agree on one point: Welsh should be revived. Go on folk's. The whole Esperanto movement is behind you!

(#103) You're supposed to stick to the "official" affixes and not make up your own to remedy defects in the language. Yet, as with the prepositions and conjunctions, nobody seems to have a definitive list anywhere.

For example, [TYE 190-1] gives 10 prefixes and 31 suffixes, but other sources suggest different numbers

Need a good reference? See [PAGE ]
After 100 years, I guess somebody found a remedy already. The golden rule is : use what exists, there are plenty of affixes.
BTW I didn't know TYE was an "official" and definite reference; do they claim to be one? Are there any for the English language? I know none for French.

(#104) It's not obvious why derivation is always treated as being distinct from compounding, since affixes are elevated to the status of roots by the rule which states that an affix may be used as an independent word when used with the appropriate grammatical ending

(for example, ar-o is "collection"). All the books I've read quite clearly make the distinction, however, and I feel obliged to defer to them. Yet the distinction is actually meaningless in practice, and Zamenhof's hybrid system would thus be better replaced by a single set of properly recognisable roots.

-ar/ suffix EX : arbaro (wood), arbarego( forest), ŝtuparo (stairs), ŝafaro (= grego), luparo (=herdo), abelaro (=esameno), adresaro (address-book)
aro: collection; aro de arboj.
It is recommended to translate stem+suffix by one word (if it exists in the target language)
so arbaro is a wood, but aro de arboj is a collection of trees.

arigi: to collect,
subaro: subset
superaro: superset

(#105) All of the following affixes are unnecessary and would be better expressed by separate words.

  • mis- "wrongly".
  • fi- and --, two derogatory affixes; but there are no affixes with the opposite meanings. Why?
  • eks- "former, ex-".
  • ek- "sudden or momentary"; this is easily confused with eks- when applied to roots which begin with s-. This has a place as a verbal aspect marker, but as such it would be better as a suffix.
  • -ing- "holder for one object", which has no relation to teni "to hold".
  • re- reproduces the ambiguity of its Latin source, which means both "again" and "back", creating words with two different, sometimes almost opposite, meanings: re-skribi "to reply" or "to rewrite"; re-iri "to return" or "go again".
Like what?
I propose :
  • mis/a : wrong
  • aĉ/a : disagreeable
  • fi/a : deserving no esteem
  • eks/a : former, ex
  • ek/i (ntr) : to start some action.
  • ing/o : holder
  • re/e : again
These are separate words as you propose. They can be used independently and in compound words. The result of this cosmetic work: nihil. This is exactly what we have already, and how the language works.
Only remark:
in the dictionary, instead of the entry
aĉ/  suf
you would find aĉ/a, and an indication that this word can be used as a suffix with the same meaning. I find the current entry better.

Why that one and not the others? Because! (but you could read [PAGE ] for a better explanation).

Note:
Reiri : to go again, retroiri: to go backwards; Now I doubt about what to go back means; isn't it to come back?
Reskribi : to write again; respondi: to reply. But if I write : mi reskribis al ŝia letero, I suppose you will understand.
Note that in English : to reply to a letter assumes a question was asked and you give the answer. What if there is no question asked; can you reply? Or must you say : I wrote a new letter back? (that is from top to bottom, left to right, to avoid ambiguities).
Enough nitpicking!

(#106) [TYE] claims that syntax is just word-order; it's actually the set of rules which say what words mean when used in combination according to the rules of the grammar.

Some cross-checking sometimes helps.
[NPIV ] says:
sintakso. Parto de la gramatiko, kiu priskribas la regulojn de kombiniĝo de la diversaj lingva unuoj.
frazosintakso. Parto de la sintakso, koncernanta la grupiĝon de propozicioj en frazon.
propoziciosintakso. Parto de la sintakso, koncernanta la rilatojn de la diversaj partoj de propozicio.
vortosintakso. Parto de la sintakso, koncernanta la grupiĝon de vortoj por la esprimado de la sintaksa funkcio.

(#108) "it (the weather) is warm" is mysteriously translated [TYE 62] as estas varme.

what's wrong with la vetero estas varma? And why (same page) should the idiomatic estas varme al mi be more usual than mi estas varma for "I am warm"?

la vetero estas varma is perfect.
Also:
estas varme!
varmas!
varma la vetero!

And you could say in the winter:
varmas al mi
varmas min

In all weather circumstances you could say
mi varmas
mi estas varma
estas varma mi
estas mi varma!

but the girl besides you probably noticed already, so you don't even need to tell her.

More seriously: vi estas varma, in a game would mean you are near the object to find.

(#109) Since the accusative case can replace al, do estas varme al mi and estas varme min mean the same thing?

If so, this implies that certain combinations of grammatical category and case are equivalent, which is sure to screw up some other parts of the grammar somewhere.
This is what happens when you combine ungrammatical idioms with mechanistic principles.

Estas varme al mi can be simplified to estas varme min, but it's less ambiguous to drop min altogether: estas varme. You could drop estas as well: varme! Even varme could be replaced by just: pffft !
But don't drop everything, it could be too explicit again.

Don't screw up too fast, unless the mechanic is in order.

(#110) Even an innocuous sentence like mi amas la hundojn is ambiguous; it means both "I like dogs" in a general sense and the more specific "I like the dogs".

No, it isn't.
mi amas hundojn, ne katojn : I like dogs, not cats (in general)
mi amas la hundojn, ne la katojn : I like the dogs, not the cats (in the exposition we just visited and are speaking about, but in general  I could hate dogs, and love cats).

(#097) Many roots are unrecognisable for one reason or other, such as those which retain the same spellings as in the source languages and become unrecognisable when spoken according to Esperanto's rules.

word      meaning      source
boato boat English (gains two syllables)
birdo bird English (sounds more like "beard")
soifo thirst French (sounds completely different)
ohmo ohm German surname (the H has never been pronounced)
komenci to begin French (gains a /t/)

i-e BHEID-: to split , gave in Esperanto : boato, filtri,  fisio, bizo (biting north wind), bitero
in English it also gave: abet, abettor, bite, bit, bitter, bait, beetle, boat. Note that boat is quite far from the original root, and is almost not recognisable; few people know nowadays that a boat is in fact just a carved (split) trunk.
This is indeed unrecognisable (for an English) when spoken, but strangely not to a French knowing a little English. As one learns a language by reading, it is preferable to recognise the writing than the pronunciation.
Same remark for birdo, soifo, komenci
But still omo, and not ohmo, probably due to the difficulty to pronounce ohmo;

Worth noticing that as French-speaking, I am not shocked by soifi instead of sŭafi, on the contrary. I assume most English speaking would prefer boato to boŭto, but I may be wrong, as French are more eye-biased than ear-biased.

(#121) Does veti monon chevalojn means both "to bet money on horses" and "to bet horses on money" ?

None. This phrase is incorrect. There may only be one complement with -n. Je may be omitted when there is no ambiguity.  The rule to follow is: use the means to be understood.

(#122) Rules 8 and 13 of the grammar mean that en la domon "into the house" and en la domo "in the house" differ in the meaning of the preposition, but express this difference by changing the noun

This distinction does not extend to any other types of motion; thus el la domo "out of the house"; and if compound prepositions like de sur "off" (i.e. "from on") are permitted [TYE 50], what's wrong with the entirely unambiguous al en la domo?

There is nothing wrong with al en la domo. 

You seem to have problems with the -n grammatical ending.
You'd understand rule 13 better if it's rephrased as:

al en  word,   al sur word, al any-preposition word
can be replaced by
en wordn, sur wordn, any-prep wordn.

This way of speaking is very common.

(#126) There's no prefix for "this", so you have to put ĉi before "that" to get the horribly contrived ĉi ti-.

Yet the important word "now", which should thus be the awkward ĉi tiam, is actually the entirely arbitrary nun.

La ĉi supra rimarko estas erara (the here above remark is erroneous).
Ĉi rimarko estas erara (This remark is erroneous). 
La ĉi remarko estas erara.
La remarko-ĉi estas erara.
Tiu ĉi remarko estas erara.

So you have plenty of solutions if you don't like : ĉi tiu remarko estas erara, it doesn't change much to the meaning.

Now is best translated by nun, but no doubt you can build some more acrobatic combination to say the same in case of urgency (that is you forgot nun).
I would use ĉi momente. I heard: dum la tempo kiam mi parolas.

You can also say : ĉi tie, (or tie-ĉi), ĉi tiel, ĉi tial, ĉi tio, ĉi tiu, ĉi tia, ĉi ties
I can't find a situation where I could use : ĉi tiam, ĉi tiom; there is no rule that forbids you to say that, but what does that mean?

Nun : (from i-e NEW- meaning new but pronounced closer to esperanto neŭ)
nun (German)
nun (Greek)
nunc (Latin)
now (English)
nu (Dutch, Swedish)
nú (Islandish)
nunai (Lituanian)
nu (Vollapük)
Is this what you call entirely arbitrary?

i-e NEW gave the following words in Esperanto:
nova, neo-, nostalgio, nun, novao, novalo, novelo, novico, novokaino.

(#130) It would be nice to differentiate question words from relative pronouns, rather than lumping them together under k- and creating ambiguity

in sentences like Ĉu mi diris al la homo kiu parolis (Did I tell the man, who spoke or Did I tell the man: who spoke?)"

Yes it would, as it probably would in English as well.

It's easy to remove the ambiguity in Esperanto:

Ĉu al la homo mi diris : kiu parolis ? Al la homo ĉu mi diris: kiu parolis?
Al la homo kiu parolis, ĉu mi diris?

(#135) The ending -aŭ appears on - to the best of my knowledge - a mere 21 words, suggesting that Zamenhof once tried to create a new part of speech of unidentified function but gave up without tidying up the mess.

Many of the words are both conjunctions and prepositions, but some are one or the other, a few are bona fide adverbs and should thus end in e, and a couple are neither.

almenaŭ (at least, no less than)
ambaŭ (both)
ankaŭ (also)
ankoraŭ (still, moreover, furthermore)
apenaŭ (hardly)
preskaŭ (almost)
anstataŭ (instead of)
ĉirkaŭ (around)
laŭ (along)
kvazaŭ (as if)
malgraŭ (despite)

(or)

antaŭ (before)
baldaŭ (soon)
morgaŭ (tomorrow)
hieraŭ (yesterday)
hodiaŭ (today)

adiaŭ (good-bye)

naŭ (nine)

Eble mankas kelkaj kiel graŭ?...

It is indeed difficult to find a relation between these words, and why Zamenhof decided to create what seems a special category of words. Probably there were too few words in these groups to justify a different suffix for all of them (I am guessing).

(136) From the verbs sati (to satiate) and flati (to flatter) one forms the adjectives sata (satiated) and flata (flattering). Should one not use satita and flatanta instead ?

Sati does not mean: to satiate, but to be satiated.
Note what the entries are in the dictionary:

flati (tr) : se vi volas filinon, flatu la patrinon. (if you want the girl, flatter the mother)
sata: sata stomako ne lernas volonte
(satiated stomach does not learn willingly)

From those roots you can derive:
flata:
 flataj vortoj ĉiam belsonas. (flattering words always sound nicely)
sati (ntr): mi satas, mi sufiĉe manĝis.
(I am satiated, I ate enough).




Table of Contents


Not worth answering comments about Esperanto

Se vi pensas ke iu remarko indas respondon, sendu mesaĝon.

(#111) Affixes of questionable benefit

mal- doesn't mean "badly" or "wrongly", but forms opposites - a device Esperanto overuses to a ludicrous extent, for which reason it's probably the most hated affix in the language (certainly by me!). Thus common words like "small, short, narrow, old, left, bad, different" have to be mal-granda, mal-longa, mal-largha, mal-juna, mal-dekstra, mal-bona, mal-sama; and "loud" is the ridiculous malkvieta. Not only do these words require unnecessary mental gymnastics, they also gets monotonous if you have to use more than one or two of them. Even a basic meaning like "to open" is not exempt; it's mal-fermi, i.e. the opposite of fermi "to close"!!! As ever, there are unexplained exceptions: "left" and "right" are opposites (dekstra, mal-dekstra), but "north" and "south" aren't (norda, suda); why? And David Peterson informs me that some people like to say trista for "sad" anyway, rather than the malfelicha you're supposed to use.

The augmentative -eg- and its opposite -et- reduce many possible degrees of size to just three. Thus the triplet vento, vent-eto, vent-ego "wind, breeze, gale" replaces the entire Beaufort Scale, and arb-eto (from arbo "tree") turns out to be "small tree, shrub", requiring the desparate-looking contrivance arb-et-ajho for "bush". Note also the typically idiomatic derivation rid-eti "to smile" from ridi "to laugh", which is clearly a lame attempt to keep the number of roots down; it would better mean "to chuckle".

eta, derived from the suffix, seems to be a synonym for malgranda "small" - but if it isn't, as many sources imply, why is the distinction necessary? Is mal-eta the same as ega? Can you use -et-eg-a and -eg-et-a to make finer distinctions of size? Together with the vagaries of derivation and conversion, these suffixes provide further scope for ambiguities: if rugh-eta (derived from an adjective) is reasonably "reddish", then shtoneta (derived from a noun) is equally reasonably both "a bit like a stone" (shton-eta) and "like a pebble" (shtonet-a).

And, for a language with supposedly high ideals and no grammatical genders, there's no excuse for the excusively feminine suffix -in-, which requires "woman" to be vir-ino "a female man" (not, strangely, the more neutral homino "female human"); the hypothetical converse, fem-ula for "man", is equally absurd.

(#112) Inconsistently used affixes

-ec- "quality" is necessary to make abstract nouns from nominal roots. Thus homo, hom-eco "man, manliness"; but compare the inconsistent firma, firmo "firm, firmness". blanko, blank-eco probably both mean "whiteness"; a correspondent informs me that blanko is used in phrases such as "the white of the eye", for which something like blankajho would be better.

-an-, -ist- and -ul- all represent various types of people; note the inconsistency with mistiko "mysticism", mistik-ulo "mystic", but katolik-ismo "Catholicism", katoliko "Catholic". (There are further perils here: you might think that katoliko could be a compound with kato "cat", before consulting your dictionary and discovering that liko doesn't actually mean anything.)

Brendan Linnane points out that the suffix -on-, which is used to form fractions (e.g. ses-ono "a sixth"), is also used on the word for "million", miliono, which is not a fraction; note its similarity in form to "thousandth", which is mil-ono, and in sound miljono, which could be anything.

(#113) Ambiguities

Because the affixes are short and arbitrary, many of them appear as parts of longer roots and so give rise to words with several possible meanings. An example for now is sukero, which means both "sugar" and suk-ero "a drop of juice"; more such words may be found in  Appendix 2. (unfortunately no longer available).

Further ambiguities also arise when you mix affixes together, since there is no indication of what affects what. The classic example is mal-san-ul-ej-o, ultimately from the root san- "health" with the affixes mal- "opposite", -ul- "person" and -ej- "place". You're supposed to work out that this means "hospital", literally "place for a person the opposite of well"; even with this derivation it could also mean "private hospital room", "epidemic zone", and so on. If instead you parse it as malsan-ulejo, you get something like "sick building syndrome". Likewise, malgrandeta is both the opposite of grandeta "largish" and the diminutive of malgranda "small".

There are at least nine ways of constructing something which looks equivalent to English "different", but probably isn't: alia, malsama, nesama, malsimila, nesimila, neidenta, malidenta, neegala, malegala.

(#114) Things which seem to be affixes but aren't

Worse, some affixes mean different things at different times; thus the prefix eks- "former" has its meaning changed to "out of" (which should be el) in words such as eksciti "excite", ekstrakti "extract", ekstrema "extreme" and eksporto "export".

Similarly, many words begin with pre-, which seems to mean "before", however there is no such prefix; the actual Esperanto equivalent is antaw-, which should really have been left as ante-. And a lot of words derived from Latin begin with kon- or its assimilated form kom-, retaining its meaning of "with" for which the Esperanto is actually kun; the unwary reader or listener must therefore wonder if the word is a compound with some form of koni "to know", or perhaps komo "comma".

(#115) Affixes which aren't there

The derivative apparatus is deficient in other ways too; one obvious omission is an affix meaning "the result of an action". Thus the nearest to "a piece of writing" or "something written" seems to be somewhere between skribitajho or skribajho, but the usual meaning for -ajh- doesn't imply this. Another try is skribito, but this properly means "a person who has been written", which is nonsense even in Zamenhofese. There's always skribo, but that could be something else again; although, in Ido, we can be sure that it's what we're looking for.



Table of Contents

References

  • [KEV] Koncisa etimologia vortaro. Author: André CHERPILLOD. Editor: Universala Esperanto-Asocio. ISBN: 92 9017 082 4. Press: Skonpress, Poland (skonpres@poczta.onet.pl)
  • [NPIV] La nova plena illustrita vortaro de esperanto. Editor: Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda (SAT). 16780 roots; 46890 word forms. Explanatory dictionary, completely in Esperanto.
  • [PAGE] Plena analiza gramatiko de esperanto. Authors: Kalocsay, Varinghien. Editor: Universala Esperanto-Asocio. ISBN: 92 9017 022 0. A modern version of the grammar can be found at http://www.bertilow.com/pmeg/
  • [EVE] Etimologia vortaro de esperanto; Author: Ebbe VILBORG. Editor: Eldona societo Esperanto. ISBN 91 85288 17 9. 5 volumes

Web Pages




Table of Contents

Back Matters

(#002) An appeal to the reader for calm


It is unlikely that you will feel offended by what was previously written, unless you hold very passionate views on the subject.
It is often difficult to identify why we passionately support or oppose an idea.
I believe that there is still too much passion around the subject and not enough objective criticism and study. I hope that this page can help.
However, reason will always lose when confronted by passion.

(#003) Copyright

You may extract pieces from this document and use it for any purpose, provided that you mention the source and refer the reader to this whole page.
This page will be regularly updated using this document as a source. It may be restructured.
You may use direct links to html anchors as //http:remush.be/rebuttal/index.html#162. The anchors will not change, but their location in the document may change.

(#004) Acknowledgment

This page was inspired by Geoff Allan Eddy's article: <http://www.cix.co.uk/%7Emorven/lang/esp.html>: Why Esperanto is not my favourite Artificial Language. Geoff collected a number of criticisms from various other sources. He removed his page, due to the unfair attacks he had to suffer from some fanatics. This is an attempt to moderate some extreme pretensions, in favor of or against the language, but chiefly against. His page is archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20030811165117/www.cix.co.uk/~morven/lang/esp.html
As the original article was written in English, I found it fair to reply in English (or American on occasions).
It would have been easier for me to write it in Esperanto or French.
Understand also that criticisms of Esperanto done by Esperantists or French speakers are different. I may include them later.

The same sort of arguments appear at http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/ranto. Claude Piron partly responded to that at http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/why.htm.
I am still wondering why people would spend so much time learning a language not to speak it.
I suspect that they have the pretension to be able to do what nobody can do alone, without a large community of speakers: create a better language than Esperanto, or even more pathetic, to create the perfect language for all...


(#005) Contacting the author

If you want to send me another argument against Esperanto, please verify first that your text is not offensive. This can be done very easily: just replace the word Esperanto by another natural language (one perhaps having the same problem), and imagine that you send your remark to a friend speaking that language.

You may leave a message to Remuŝ .
Mi preferas mesaĝojn de Esperantistoj.

(#006) Disclaimer

This text is not meant to convince the creator of an artificial language that his attempts will fail, that this language is clumsy, full of ambiguities and contradictions. Who knows, it could succeed. Don't laugh at a baby in front of his mother; in her mind, her baby is a work of art and the future is his. 

(#007) More information needed?

Go to http://www.esperanto.net/info/index_en.html
Translation in Polish : http://edu.i-lo.tarnow.pl/esp/util/porkontrau/index.php