The Esperanto language is a language just like any other which has its own culture, literature, magazines, etc. But, unlike all others, it neither has its own country, nor its own people. What it does have, instead, is a community. It is a supranational language which goes beyond the confines of a given nation. Esperanto is a universal language because it has 2 million speakers to have learned it in 120 countries across the world. But, what is the point of learning it? That’s exactly what we’ll be taking a look at today.
Why learn the Esperanto language, a universal language created over 120 years ago?
What is The Esperanto Language, And Why Learn it?
Esperanto is the creation of a man, Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, also know as Doktoro Esperanto (“doctor Esperanto”), which gave Esperanto its name. He spoke about this universal language for the first time in a book titled “International language” in 1887. Since then, it has been learned in around 120 countries, and is spoken by more than 2 million people! However, these number could be higher because it is hard to estimate the amount of speakers of the Esperanto language and where they are situated around the world. But, why would so many people want to learn a language that doesn’t have a nation of its own?
Reason No.1 For Learning The Esperanto Language: It’s an International language
And that’s a good reason. Esperanto doesn’t belong to a people or nation, but it belongs to a community of people. They have freely chosen it to communicate, not with their neighbors, or workmates, but with people scattered around the four corners of the earth.
Actually, the idea of its creator was to create a universal language to get rid of the language barrier, which impedes communities to understand each other and which stops worldwide discussions on the same subjects from happening. If everyone spoke the same universal language, we would be able to have a good view of the social, cultural and politic issues which concerns us all.
Reason No.2: It Has a Different Culture
The culture of this language is associated to an ideal, which is for everyone to have access to the same international means of communication without linguistic discrimination. For those wondering what this means, linguistic discrimination is the fact that those whose native tongue is a dominating language—English being the most dominant one—don’t have to learn it to be understood, to have access to knowledge and even to take part in international affairs and exchanges. Nowadays, if a country wants to access the international market, it will have to use English because it is the dominating language in international business. But the fact that some must learn English, as well as their own maternal language, gives them a disadvantage compared to countries that have English as their native language. There is an unbalance within the world of international business.
The Esperanto language was created with the idea of eliminating linguistic discrimination: everyone starts off at the same place, everyone must learn this same language in order to communicate. It’s a neutral language. Actually, one of the objectives of this language is transnational education: everyone has the same access to knowledge, no matter their nationality, and no matter their walk of life.
Reason No.3: A Language That is Easy to Learn
Esperanto was created in such a way that it is easy to learn. This language is said to be learned up to 5 times faster that others, and that’s because there are no more and no less than 16 grammar rules, easy spelling, only one way to write a sound, and conjugation that is based on a mathematical logic (unlike English which is terrible with all this). Below are some examples.
- nouns end with an o
- adjectives end with an a
- adverbs end with an e
- words in plural end with a j (pronounced as the “y” in “yellow”)
To give you an example, in Esperanto, Bela means “beautiful/handsome”, granda means ” big”, and tablo means “table”. So, bela grandaj tabloj means “big, beautiful table”. In their plural form, the same words are: belaj (an adjective in its plural form), grandaj (another adjective in its plural form) and tabloj (a noun in its plural form); and all three together means “big, beautiful tables”. It’s just that easy to understand and apply!
Vocabulary is changed by adding a suffix (a change made at the end of the word) or a prefix (a change made at the beginning of a word):
- to say the opposite of a word (just as we do with “impossible”, and “unbreakable”), we add mal at the beginning of it. So, bela, which means “beautiful/handsome”, becomes malbela (“ugly”).
- for diminutives (words that are changed to make them seem smaller or cuter, such as “droplet” and “doggy“), we add et just before the final o (because, as said above, all nouns end with an o). Libro means “book”, libreto means “booklet”.
- for augmentatives (words that are changed to make them seem bigger such as with “supermarket” and “grandmaster”), we add eg at the end of words. Rivero is “river”, riverego means “large river”.
The language also efficiently doesn’t have a lot of words. For example, to express a group of the same kind, such as a herd of cows, we simply have to add aro at the end of words. Bovino is the word for “cow”, bovinaro is “herd of cows”.
To learn this language, you only need to memorize a hundred words, to understand this logic, maths, and to construct vocabulary. Basically, nothing too complicated.
Reason No.4: To Easily Travel Around The World
The last reason is that, if we all spoke the same language, it would only bring us closer to each other… And as a matter of fact, it already does! Learning Esperanto gives access to what is known as the pasporta servo.
The pasporta servo is something we could define as a low cost accommodation service or network for Esperanto speakers across the world. If you’re learning Esperanto and are traveling anywhere in the world, you just need to contact other Esperanto speakers. This will allow you to meet many new people, and to find a place of other Esperanto speakers to stay at for a relatively cheap price. Not bad at all!
How to Learn Esperanto?
If, like me, this has made you want to learn Esperanto, there are many resources on the internet to start learning. Here are some websites/resources you can freely use:
- A free website for learning Esperanto, available in various languages: lernu!
- The Universal Esperanto Association: UEA
- The Esperanto accommodation service: Pasporta Servo (obviously, you have to know Esperanto before being able to use it)
- The written Esperanto alphabet and more
- Listen to Esperanto’s alphabet here!
All these websites above provide resources (books, magazines, audio files…) for learning the language, or, at the very least, to help you familiarize yourself with it. One last thing: At MosaLingua, we’re thinking of developing an app to help you learn Esperanto. We’ll keep you updated 😉