Polyglot Benny Lewis recommends that if you don't know any foreign language, the best place to start is Esperanto, because it's so easy. See https://www.fluentin3months.com/2-weeks-of-esperanto/
I intended to give it about an hour, one Sunday, so I sat down in my chair at 4pm, and went to the most recommended tutorial:
I had so many “whoa!” and “wow!” and “this is amazing!” moments while checking it out that I didn't get out of my chair until almost midnight. I didn't even notice the house had grown dark around me.
It's a really fun, simple, easy language to learn. I ended up learning it for six months to a conversational level. I found someone fluent in https://www.italki.com/ and we talked by Skype for three hours per week. I used Anki flashcards to memorize vocabulary. I slowly read a few books in Esperanto.
After six months, I attended the international Esperanto conference in Seoul, Korea, and spoke only Esperanto for a few days. I was glad I was doing it, and somewhat glad I did it, but in hindsight maybe should have used that time to learn Mandarin or another language where I can communicate with people that don't speak English.
Still, I miss it. Esperanto is wonderfully designed. I highly recommend anyone curious go to https://lernu.net/ and work their way through the course there, even if that's all you do.
Esperanto is a language where you can communicate with people that don't speak English ;)
If you weren't already bilingual - the best part about Esperanto is it teaches you how to learn a second language by doing it. It also gets out of your way since, for Romantic-based languages, the grammar and vocabulary mostly stays out of your way and you can focus more on "actually learning" than on building vocab or remembering weird edge cases in the grammar. Your time spent learning Esperanto may have actually created a solid foundation to learning Mandarin, if that's what you desire to learn!
There are studies that learning Esperanto can aid in learning other languages , although many of them are quite dated. It seems many of the studies agree that unless you're already particularly adept at learning a new language - learning Esperanto will aid you in learning other languages.
As a native Mandarin speaker who also knows Esperanto I can tell you this is almost 100% (if not exactly 100%) not the case. If learning Esperanto gives you motivation to learn more, maybe; but the two languages are way too different that it wouldn't help much.
I personally give credit to 3 months of learning Esperanto for helping me get over a huge hurdle in my Japanese studies (after 2 years of studying). Not because Esperanto and Japanese have anything in common - but because learning certain grammatical structures in Esperanto helped the Japanese equivalents finally "click" after I had been struggling with learning them for so long. This doesn't seem to be an uncommon occurrence within the Esperanto community (for those with non-Esperanto target languages). The plural of anecdotes is of course not "data" but the studies (however criticized) and experiences of countless people (including myself) all point to it helping.
I hear plenty of stories from people who've never bothered to learn it saying they won't learn it because they'd rather learn their target language instead. It's difficult to even find a story from someone who's learned it and claims it didn't help them at all in learning a non-Esperanto target language. I've tried Googling around a bit - I can only ever find people who shit on conlangs as a concept and refuse to learn one.
The longest and hardest thing when learning a language is learning how to learn a language and that's what I personally believe Esperanto (or any conlang really) helps with. I would only ever personally recommend a brief stint (no more than a month or two) of Esperanto for monolinguals.
For example, I studied German in college. I never really progressed in it that much, but learning how to learn made learning Korean significantly easier for me. It happens that esperanto can be useful for this as it doesn't have all the small idiosyncrasies and exceptions that real languages have.
Huh? I acknowledged that at the start of my comment:
>Some of what you're saying (knowing one language in general helps you learn to learn other languages) is true
Or should I say, imagine Standard Basque: as an independent language, people might have a better time learning Basque because at least they uses latin alphabets.
Oh, and did i mention how closely related Esperanto and English are that your "Chinese -> Esperanto -> English" claim does not suffice at all? :)
Oh, and don't forget you yourself are actually becoming one of the reasons why people "shit on conlang" - close-to-irrational fanboys :)
I made sure to mention that I believe any conlang would suffice. Conlangs are easier to learn than natural languages as that's largely the very reason they are constructed in the first place, outside of fantasy conlangs which are constructed for...well... fantasy reasons. So you're right, it's not Esperanto itself.
>Or should I say, imagine Standard Basque: as an independent language, people might have a better time learning Basque because at least they uses latin alphabets.
Literally any second language in the entire world would help learn a third language as at that point you have the advantages of being bilingual learning a third langauge instead of monolingual learning a second language. Again, the point of a conlang is finding a language you can learn to an intermediate level at a very quick pace compared to natural languages. There's no weird quirks and dozens if not hundreds of grammatical exceptions due to etymological reasons. You never have to wonder why it is "mouse" and "mice" and "house" and "houses" instead of "hice".
>Oh, and don't forget you yourself are actually becoming one of the reasons why people "shit on conlang" - close-to-irrational fanboys :)
Rational would imply I don't have any logical reasons behind my support of conlangs. Personal experience and countless shared experiences of others who had similar experiences to mine as well as studies showing the benefits makes me more inclined to believe that Esperanto, even a brief stint with it, helps. Is it irrational to believe that morning stretches and daily meditation is good for one's health?
You never confirmed if you were raised bilingually. It matters a lot in regards to what I am talking about.
Sorry to break your imagination but I'm not :)
What I'm trying to say is:
1. What is working is not Esperanto per se.
2. Even if you know English and Esperanto, Chinese will (even if it became somewhat easier for you as you might have claimed) still be a heck to learn (e.g. good ol' "counting words"), because they're so different that the even if the "solid foundation" helps it won't help much. That's why I'm bringing up Basque - I myself have trouble learning Basque even if this is the 4th language I have tried to learn.
As for the rational part, I don't know if you know programming but I'm gonna take programming as an example: imagine someone has only learnt C. Now, could claiming "learning Go will help you form a solid foundation about Haskell!" ever be considered rational? I really don't think it should.
I've fully agreed with you on this point several times now so to try and make it clear. I fully agree with this point. Again.
>2. Even if you know English and Esperanto, Chinese will (even if it became somewhat easier for you as you might have claimed) still be a heck to learn (e.g. good ol' "counting words"), because they're so different that the even if the "solid foundation" helps it won't help much. That's why I'm bringing up Basque - I myself have trouble learning Basque even if this is the 4th language I have tried to learn.
Japanese isn't that far from the tree in terms of difficulty for an English speaker than Mandarin. Japanese shares the concept of counting words. Due to where Japanese Kanji come from (Chinese Hanzi), some even share the same meaning. 三回 means the same thing in Mandarin as it does Japanese as does the counter 首 for poems. Chinese has a more similar word order to English than Japanese does, a simple grammar, and one reading per Hanzi. Sheng1 (生) has 13 different ways it can be read in Japanese. I don't find the argument that, unlike Japanese, Chinese is so uniquely difficult that Esperanto wouldn't help like it did for me learning Japanese. But my ship has already sailed and I'll never be able to put that theory to the test because I've already been tainted with learning how to learn a language.
>As for the rational part, I don't know if you know programming but I'm gonna take programming as an example: imagine someone has only learnt C. Now, could claiming "learning Go will help you form a solid foundation about Haskell!" ever be considered rational? I really don't think it should.
Programming is a great example because there is a fundamental difference in people who understand programming and people who have learned a specific syntax for a given language. That difference is to learn a (programming) language and learning how to learn a (programming) language.
Do you think someone who knows C would learn Haskell faster than someone who has no prior programming experience? Likewise, would you recommend someone's first programming language to be Dyalog or an esoteric language like Brainfuck or would you recommend something more simple like Python or Java for them to grasp some fundamentals first?
Learning how to learn is the single most difficult step to learning anything. While learning to learn it is important to have a tool that isn't constantly getting in your way and making learning difficult.
That's not to say learning becomes effortless. Just because you speak three languages doesn't mean you'll immediately assimilate a fourth language instantaneously and without any effort. But I'd be willing to bet you're having a considerably easier time learning Basque as a fourth language than most people would as a second language.
Even excluding fantasy languages, I'd bet that "I want my own" and "I want X cool feature" absolutely dwarf "I want a language that's easier to learn".
Both claims are ridiculous. Have you ever met a single person in your life who was fluent or at least good conversational in Esperanto but could not speak English? To say that learning Esperanto will provide you with a solid base for learning Mandarin is about as plausible as saying that learning Biochemistry will provide you with a solid base for learning Mandarin.
Learning Esperanto might be a great hobby and way to find like minded people, but the return of investment for unrelated, completely practical pursuits is highly negative. If you want to learn Mandarin, just study Mandarin.
Yes, definitely. When I was active in the Esperanto movement in the 1990s and early millennium, a huge amount of the Eastern Europeans who attended congresses or hosted foreigners through the movement's hospitality-exchange system had little or no English skills. They had learned Russian, German, or French in school, not English. This was also the case for some Esperantists from francophone nations of Africa; some of those countries were historically so fixated on French as the international language that English teaching in schools took off only recently.
Nowadays the younger generations of Esperantists are likely to speak English, but to judge from photos, the crowd attending the main annual Esperanto congress is generally pretty geriatric, so that older generation without English is still commonly met.
To some extent, but what percentage of esperanto speakers don't also know english? Is it pretty big?
That said, there are some who claim that learning 1 year of Esperanto and 3 years of French leads to better fluency than studying just french for 4 years. This article on wikipedia has some interesting information on those claims: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaedeutic_value_of_Esperant...
The latin-roots that you learn from spanish and french are also present in Esperanto for the most part, so the semi-mutual understanding part you mention is actually still a benefit from Esperanto.
If there's anything I've learned from studying the studying of foreign languages, it's that sufficient interest and passion to pursue a language in your free time is by far the most significant indicator of success.
Exactly. 10 or 12 years of German instruction have been thrown into my throat, I can't discuss anything in this language. I've becoming good in English at university level only after I start reading programming related stuff. On the other hand, I have degree in Japanese and got non-null Chinese skills without too much efforts (it seems).
Magic words: más espacio, por favor.
I also find having radio or TV in the background in the language I want to learn is very helpful in the longterm. A flatmate of mine used to watch the Simpsons in her non-native language every day to pick up the local accent.
You said "more space, please".
Being in a room with 30 kids who just want to squeak by with a passing grade and really don’t want to learn is no way to learn a language. There’s not enough practice with output and your brain just turns off.
Those are just two Spanish concepts that students spend days learning. Look at a table of contents in a Spanish textbook and count the concepts. Now review an Esperanto textbook. It was designed for fast acquisition. Things that you have to learn in any language - like numbers, verb forms, days of the week, time, spelling, etc - are designed to be as simple as possible.
Take a book like "501 Spanish verbs" and adapt it to Esperanto. The book will shrink down to one page, since all verbs are regular. That page will further shrink down because there are fewer conjugations. All conjugations that do exist are composable - each conjugation dimension can be applied separately. They are even consistent between parts of speech.
How many people, who are making a serious multi-year effrot in learning a foreign language, no how to say "flutter" in that language? It's not unlikely that Esperanto learners will know that word in the month or so (after they learn the word for "fly", and learn how to make diminutives). Through these mechanisms you only need to learn a fraction of vocabulary, since from a root word you can drive many others.
However I don’t think Esperanto has a shot at becoming a major language.
Pichinglis  seems like a good candidate: 70,000 to 100,000 speakers in Equatorial Guinea; formed as a creole from English and various languages of Western Africa, so you should get a high number of cognates similar to Esperanto and a simplified grammar. It might even help you learn other languages of the region faster.
It's probably better to learn a language when you think it'll help you with something you're already planning to do, rather than pick a language and then try to find opportunities to use it. (Also applies to programming languages.)
Recognition does require a good ear, but after 6 months of daily practice, vocabulary is more likely to be the bottleneck. Regularly doing listening exercises and consuming spoken-language content helps (even if you don't actually understand a lot yet).
If it's so easy to learn, at some point shouldn't it just be "worth it" if you're going to do something with lots of different people who are all different native language speakers?
I've studied Esperanto in the past and I love the concept, but getting TV shows, movies, and books in Esperanto is much much much harder than getting them in English. Which means people are exposed to English far more often and in more real-life scenarios than they would be in Esperanto.
This is a similar problem with any non-English language, I've found. I speak German and trying to keep up with the language in America is nearly impossible because I can't find any good source of German language books or TV shows or movies here in the US. And beyond trying to legally purchase them, it's difficult to even pirate German language media. It just doesn't exist.
My native language is Finnish, which is farther from English than Hindi. But I learnt English at a very young age simply via TV, Games and Movies. And that’s the reason why English skills are so high here in general. It doesn’t matter that English is ”clunky”. It’s so pervasive that it’s hard not to learn it.
Currently our boy hears English almost solely from me, and brief moments of TV. Everybody else around him speaks Finnish, and despite that he's fully capable of understanding both his mother in Finnish, and me in English. His speach is an adorable mixture of both "More leipä", "minä haluan jumping in puddles", etc.
Still, as a native Finn I can get some things from Russian even if I have never studied it, because there is so much common vocabulary.
Latin in English is recognizable as Latin, Portuguese as Portuguese, etc. A Scot and a Midwesterner may pronounce the same words differently, understand eachother without much difficulty, and spell things the same.
Saw this convincing and entertaining video on the topic the other day:
Funny how languages evolve.
From now on I will stop complaining about the spelling in English and French :-D
Or, if you like podcasts, just switch to German-language podcasts. That's how I keep my French brushed up, and it works a treat.
FWIW, I think the same works for Esperanto. I don't speak Esperanto (yet) so I don't know their quality, but I looked into availability of media recently because I've been thinking of learning it, and it seems that there are plenty of podcasts in esperanto, and even some international news services that do a regular program in esperanto. Not anywhere near as much as English, of course, but it looks like plenty enough to keep a body entertained on the way to B2 level or so.
This is so important. While I've at some point knew both Dutch and German well enough to hold a basic conversation or read articles, in practice even living in the Netherlands it's hard to find a situation that wouldn't be served just as well (or better, if you're a beginner) by English. There are some benefits, but they're either a rather specific case (inburgering), or only start outweighing convenience of English once you're reasonably fluent (like speaking it in social situations). That's not a helpful dynamic for learning a language.
I had the same issue with Spanish. I studied Spanish one hour everyday for one year, just for the fun of learning a new language. Then I stopped for some reason and I realized I didn't have any opportunity to practice (other than actively learning).
On the other hand, although English is my second language, I consume mostly (American-)English media. I only watch English youtube videos, I read English forums and so on... There is just so much more content available in English that I don't even bother searching in my native language (French).
I find that hard to believe. Nowadays it is so easy to get a lot of stuff online.
For older stuff there is the English Gutenberg or the German Gutenberg site and Wikisource also has some stuff.
And almost all books released in German are available as DRM free ePubs. Sign up to e.g. https://www.ebook.de/ with an email and minimal fake address (they require one even if you don't buy physical books) and pay with paypal.
> or TV shows or movies here in the US.
The public stations put a lot of stuff online. Google for "Mediathek" and the channel name (ARD, ZDF, 3Sat, ARTE, ORF, SRF). Most stuff shouldn't be geolocked and if it is, youtube-dl works also on those Mediatheken, too and if it is really geolocked, try the option '--geo-bypass-country de'. If that doesn't work, get a VPN like NordVPN.
Youtube also has lots of stuff. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funk_(Medienangebot) is a network of publicly funded producers, but it is entirely online, geared towards younger viewers but has lots of informative channels. Two of my favorites are mailab (short clips, topic always something scientific) or kurzgesagt (similar style as xkcd but with colored animations [they are Munich based, started out in English but added German content since being payed for it]). And the best thing is that all those shows are subtitled.
Depending on your age and if you are watching Let's Plays, people like Gronkh and the Rocketbeans might suit you. Or look for German channels on Twitch.
And as others already said, podcasts are big in Germany. Or online radio stations.
Also Netflix now. Of course "Dark" but especially"How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)" is a great one.
> And beyond trying to legally purchase them, it's difficult to even pirate German language media. It just doesn't exist.
It does. You're just looking in the wrong places. :-)
Mldonkey is surprisingly often still used for that. Also some plain old download sites (granted, that are not that easy to find if you're not a regular on German sites).
Anybody can hit me up if they want some pointers (mail from profile, dingir_bhaak on Twitter, or bhaak on Freenode IRC).
That said, Esperanto stays way much easier to learn than any Occidental language, even for people having a Roman language as native language.
Now, surely you can come with even more easier to learn language, which dodge some of the most criticized defects of Esperanto, like Western centrism vocabulary. Maybe Toki Pona is a candidate on this point.
To my mind, what makes Esperanto more interesting than other planed language is its community and an already large body of original cultural works. Sure it's far less smaller than what you can get with English, but it's already enough to occupy more than a human life span. That is interesting, to my mind, in the measure of the low cost you have to pay to enter it.
As a person with a Roman native language, I don't doubt that learning Mandarin, Japanese or some Bantu language would give me far more exotic enlargement of my world view. However the cost is also probably several orders of magnitude greater. At this price, I think anyone can learn both Esperanto, get full access to what it can gives, and invest just a bit less in any of the other aimed languages. At worst it will make you slightly less skilled in that ones, but that is not even certain as while learning more languages you generally become better at learning more languages.
Also, I don’t think Esperanto would be viable as a unique global language in the long term: we don’t have the same culture everywhere in the World, we don’t all think the same way, and so some regions would eventually start creating words that are unique to them. Slang is also something that is by definition very localized. While a universal language would be awesome for international communication, I feel like we would still end up with localized languages, local dialects of Esperanto.
To my mind, anything that has history is also linked to a specific culture, so I don't get your point here. Esperanto does come with its own culture, grown through human communications, original works, its artifacts, local events and international congresses. Maybe its not enough to meet your personal definition of what a culture is, but it does suffice for mine.
There are some people who count Esperanto among there native languages, but that's just a byproduct of having Esperantists that mate having Esperanto as unique common language. Most Esperantists, to my knowledge, don't seek to make Esperanto the native language of everyone. The goal is not to be an "universal" language either, but an international auxiliary language. So it's perfectly compatible with proliferation of local languages.
>there’s no region in the World you can travel to and feel immersed in Esperanto culture.
You mean, like Herzberg am Harz – the Esperanto Town? But really, that's not the point, if you want to feel immersed, you can go at local events or international congresses. You can travel virtually anywhere in the world using Pasporto Servo and stay some time with a fellow Esperantist if you want to gain acquaintance with most foreign cultures out there.
-no exceptions, no irregular word forms
-simple grammar, few conjugations
-much faster vocab acquisitions due to correlatives
These are all huge advantages. Even if word stems are 100% new, the amount of total memorization required is drastically smaller.
> A “mother” is a “fatheress” (patrino), a “girl” is a “boyess” (knabino), a “woman” is a “maness” (virino, which also happens to be the word for a kind of hypothetical mini‐virus), and so on with brotheresses, husbandesses, unclesses, cousinesses, nephewesses, and sonesses‐in‐law – a sex‐obsessed set of kinship terms incompatible with the systems traditionally used in many other cultures. Vietnamese, for instance, has a common monosyllable em meaning “younger sibling(s)”, which is an idea that Esperantists need a whole phrase to express. There is a prefix ge‑ to indicate “both sexes”, as in gepatroj = “parents”, but it's still a matter of some debate whether you can use it in the singular, or to refer to a group of parents who might all happen to be women. Only one clearly neutral noun exists: homo = “person” (cf. French homme = “man”). Even the affix ‑ul, although glossed as “person”, is widely treated as male by default; if it wasn't, “young people” would always be junuloj instead of junuloj kaj junulinoj!
It's hard to blame Zamenhof for this: He was working in 19th Century Europe where this kind of thing was even more invisible than it is today. However, consciously choosing a language with that flaw in the 21st Century is tin-eared, especially if you do it explicitly in the name of inclusivity.
The language evolves. The gender system of modern Esperanto is remarkably similar to English: pronouns are he/she/it depending on the gender and animacy of the referent; nouns don't have grammatical gender, but may refer to a gendered class of people or animals (mostly family relations, but also a few relatively rare terms like duke, duchess, abbot, abbess, steer, cock).
The vast majority of nouns are what the Complete Handbook of Esperanto Grammar (PMEG) calls "sekse neutraj radikoj" (sexually neutral roots), and most speakers today treat these as completely gender neutral, referring to any individual, and many have done so since the early 20th century, in contrast to the "traditional" use of the "-in" suffix when referring to an individual woman or groups of only women.
Conlangs aren't meant to evolve, especially not IALs. That's how you get dialects, and soon you're right back to where you started.
The whole point of having an artificial language as your IAL is that it's rational, planned, and unchanging; it's the same language at all times, in all places, as opposed to a natural IAL like English, which has regional and national variants and evolves over time sufficiently to make statements mean different things in different decades.
So you want a language that never changes, but also perfectly matches today's mores? And you want enough people to speak it that it lasts multiple decades?
That's what the Esperantists want. I'm the one who's saying it's impossible.
It seems that the "way to win" in the twenty-first century is going to be "who can outsource white collar work to the cheapest country, and coordinate to get the best quality out of the workforce" -- an echo of the late twentieth-century which was "who can outsource blue collar / manufacturing work to the cheapest country and coordinate it best with regard to the logistics and manufacturing quality".
I sat in a conference call with 50 other people, where the majority were not English speakers, where the presenters were not native English speakers either, but it was all conducted in English anyway. (It was a USA-based company.)
I presume that Chinese-based companies will end up similar. The conference call of 2035 will have people from dozens of countries stumbling through understanding a barely-tonal, barely-comprehensible Mandarin presentation. Maybe there will be a Swahili bloc of countries and an Arabic-speaking bloc too.
And I remember calculating the number of hours wasted in that one meeting, and how much time would have been saved had Esperanto been part of the company onboarding. I still wonder whether there's room for an intentionally Esperanto-speaking company to be able to work more efficiently across more countries than any native-language-first company.
Maybe it fits in with face-to-face company culture (in a location, so therefore basically mono-lingual) vs remote company culture (spread across the world, so needing a lingua franca).
One thing I'm not sure of is whether someone who doesn't speak a Romance or Germanic language natively can get better communicative skills in Esperanto with 100 hours of good instruction than in English with several thousand hours of bad (or informal) instruction. I think it's possible, but very far from certain. Remember that vocabulary is still an issue¹, and also that Esperanto will contain some phonemes that non-Europeans will likely have trouble with.
Those bad English speakers in your conference call are already coming in with a lot of prior English experience, which the company in most cases didn't have to pay for. It's just experience that wasn't especially helpful at making them good at using English the way the conference call demanded.
Another challenge is whether the Esperanto lessons for your hypothetical company will be available in all of the prospective employees' native languages (which will make the training a lot more expensive), and still another is whether employees will follow the policy and use Esperanto regularly even in offices where 90% of the staff are native-level speakers of some other major world language.
¹ It's true that it's far simpler to learn -i -as -is -os -us -anto and -j -n -jn than the dozens (or more) of verb and noun inflections in a typical Indo-European language. But your new colleagues will still have to learn thousands of new morphemes in order to have a fluent conversation, and if they're not already fluent in a European language, they won't have any easy mnemonics, nor easy cognates to use to guess at meanings.
Oops, I forgot -u!
Hmmm, get some YC companies to start using it just 'for fun' an hour a week or for a blog or whatever could probably foster quite a bit of new speakers.
I had pretty much the same experience, but the medium was Duolingo. I studied Lernu later. Don't agree with Chinese, as you would probably be just starting in 6 months, whereas you can reach near fluency in Esperanto in that timeframe.
However, a lot of conlangers have noticed that there are a lot of consonant clusters and basic phonemes that don't seem to have nice analogues in many languages - like Esperanto's affricates, affricate & fricative clusters, etc.
On top of that, the language is phonemically regular in the sense that there are no natural-sounding phonemic irregularities that one might normally expect.
In my view, Esperanto sounds fine. It has it's own aesthetic. Though at the same time, I find that because a lot of Esperanto was designed without a global audience in mind, there are a lot of "approximations" to what Zamenhoff, the original creator of Esperanto, maybe had anticipated that the language would sound like.
Yes there are structural reasons that inform Esperanto as a Romance-lexified Western Slavonic - but it is hard to argue that it could be anything but structural - how could Zamenhof personally have chosen different?
Maybe it could be said that Zamenhof's conceptions of "global audience" were those who were closest to hegemonic and/or supernational influence, which I think I'd agree with.
But I wouldn't call his design nor process particularly culturally inclusive.
If we're talking about universal communication systems, then my favourite will always be SolReSol - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solresol
[Note: I don't speak a word of either conlang]
Esperanto only works for scholarly types that adhere strictly to the rules, not lazy uneducated people who just want to communicate something with as little effort as possible and don't care if they aren't adhering to the grammar. Also, you'd get localized variants depending on the region.
There would be no native speakers, you would only speak it with speakers of other languages, or read books in it.
And just like some people (Italians?) had certain advantages in learning their Latin, some people have advantages in learning Esperanto.
There's a strong case to be made that Esperanto was designed to have the phonemic inventory of the dialect of its creator, an Eastern Polish dialect. See http://jbr.me.uk/ranto/index.html#01.
Modern Hebrew - created by a colleague of Zamenhof is also a Western Slavonic - except relexified into Semintic (so I believe - I have no Hebrew).
It all makes the Western Slavonics a super interesting language group...
The case system, as you describe it, sounds Germanic, not Slavic.
That matters if a speaker of the former language tries to learn the latter. It's hard to learn to reliably make a phonetic distinction that has never mattered for comprehension before. See also Japanese speakers struggling to distinguish "rock" and "lock" in English.
The major distinction is that, when no gender can be determined English traditionally uses the plural for humans (and some people teach the use of “him”, “her” or “him or her”), whereas Zamenhof taught the use of the neuter - although most people imitate the revisionists mentioned in brackets.
And also English has like 12-16 vowel sounds and Esperanto (like the Slavics) has half that many
Yes, the fact that English has a tense/lax vowel distinction rather than long/short is very unusual.
My English dialect (Providence) has five tense-lax pairs (ɑː/æ, eɪ/ɛ, iː/ɪ, oʊ/ɔ, uː/ʊ), a central unrounded vowel (ʌ), and three diphthongs (ɔɪ, aɪ, aʊ), so arguably fourteen "vowel sounds" (General American merges ɑː and ɔ, bringing the total down to thirteen). Which is a lot, by any measure! And many European languages do have much simpler systems, famously Spanish.
However, Esperanto has its five pure vowels as well as six dipthongs (ai, ei, oi, ui, ou, eu), for a total of eleven, which is hardly "half as many"!
Concerning Esperanto, it only has two diphthongs - aw and ew. Aj, ej, oj and uj are actually just sequences of a vowel and consonant. For an comparison, consider is English "ye-" as in "yes" is a consonant and a vowel, but the same sound (ie-) in Spanish or Finnish is a diphthong.
What constitutes a diphthong vs a sequence is specific to an analysis of a given language. In Esperanto, we can see that "diversa sono" and "diversaj sonoj" differ just by the addition of a -j sound and we always teach that it's an affix. It isn't the deletion of the /a, o/ and its replacement by a diphthong /ai, oi/ which would destroy the simplicity of Esperanto and confuse anyone whose native language wasn't English.
Additionally, the only hole is -ij, which is missing for good phonotactic reasons - the sounds aren't distinct enough - which is extremely common and shared by a missing ji- so it can't fairly tempt us to analyse it as a diphthong.
This is in contrast to a language like English. /-j/ cannot be added after just any vowel. Moreover, whenever it occurs, it's part of the same root/morpheme as the previous vowel sound. So there's no advantage to analysing them separately (altho some people try to cut back on the number of English vowels, perhaps to only six, by counting the ones you note as ah/a, ey/e, iy/i, ow/o, uw/u, ʌ/(ʌr), oy, ay, aw - but this is normally rejected as being too weird).
English speakers often seem to teach Eo /aj, oj, uj, ej/ as diphthongs simply because of the phonetic properties of English.
Except ŭ, Esperanto vowels have exactly the same sound as they do in Turkish. Among the consonants, ĥ and c don't map, but all others do. Even ĉ, ŝ, ĝ and ĵ map to one specific letter with the identical sound.
What drove you to learn Esperanto originally?
I believe there were never more Klingon speakers than Esperanto speakers.
More precisely, I doubt there are any Klingon speakers -- where "speaker" doesn't mean a person who memorized a few words and sentences, but who can spend one hour talking fluently about their favorite topic -- but even assuming there are any, I really doubt there would be one hundred of them, worldwide.
On the other hand, I have met hundreds of Esperanto speakers at various Esperanto-related activities, and they are quite able to talk the whole day without having to use another language. I used to be fluent at that language, too.
But maybe that's just my bubble. Could you perhaps give me a link to e.g. people giving a lecture in Klingon in front of live audience, preferably on a topic other than constructed languages?
Having two books translated to Klingon is impressive. To compare, the library of UEA offers 770 books in Esperanto in category "Translated Prose", and 362 in category "Original Prose".
There is also a Wikipedia in Esperanto, with over 1/4 million articles. Fewer than English with almost 6 million articles, but still more than many languages with millions of native speakers.
This is why I find the statement about more Klingon speakers than Esperanto speakers very unlikely, whether now or a decade ago. (Klingon Language Institute boasts about growing fast, while Esperanto speakers usually complain about stagnation; which makes it even less likely that the statement would be true a decade ago if it isn't true now.)
It is based on a translator-based computer program and performs a synthesis of European languages. Each word is the result of a democratic choice made by an algorithm, so that it is the closest to that of the majority of European languages.
The website is in French, but there's a paragraph written in Europa (the name of the language) that starts with "Vos have comprendet que haver ambition". I'm really curious how people can understand it without any learning.
They have another website, with video of people speaking and this article about built languages is quite interesting: https://www.europa-lingua.org/en/tour-de-table-des-langues-c...
It's been a long while since I listened to it, but the speech is very fluent and it's about as close to as a "neutral" Esperanto accent as you'll get.
Kiam oni finas frazon kun " ?", la ilo eraras, ekzemple: "testing in english?" funkcias, sed "testing in english ?" malfunkcias.
(When you end a phrase with a space then a question mark, the tool gives an error, "failed to fetch").
mi esTAS STUdando ... sounds weird.
mi EStas stuDANdo ... sounds right.
this works almost everywhere because of esperanto's constructed nature and following uniformity.
As for Parol, though, it was clear as day, and very easy to understand. Nice work!