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How Does Esperanto Sound? (martinrue.com)
203 points by martinrue 54 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 151 comments



A couple years ago, I sat down to check out Esperanto the same way that any of us programming language nerds check out another programming language.

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:

https://lernu.net/

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.


>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.

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 [0], 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.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaedeutic_value_of_Esperant...


> Your time spent learning Esperanto may have actually created a solid foundation to learning Mandarin, if that's what you desire to learn!

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.


Your case is not only different from the one I'm claiming it helps (you already spoke Mandarin natively) but also I'm specifically claiming it helps monolinguals who are learning their first non-native language. So unless you went Mandarin --> Esperanto --> English and found Esperanto didn't help you learn English at all then I what I said doesn't apply to you. If you were either bilingual before learning Esperanto I don't think it'd have been very useful as a "diving board" to learning another language as you've already have the knowledge of speaking two languages. And I don't wish to make any assumptions, but if you've been bilingual your entire life I don't think you can even accurately imagine what it is like to be monolingual. Bilinguals have an easier time learning a third language than monolinguals have learning a second [0] [1] [2].

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.

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583091/#b22-ce...

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19648456

[2] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110201110915.h...


Some of what you're saying (knowing one language in general helps you learn to learn other languages) is true, but Japanese and Chinese are so grammatically different that the way structures in Esperanto map to Japanese just doesn't hold the same for Chinese. Mandarin is a highly analytical language (words don't inflect or conjugate depending on grammatical function or context: "He has one dog" "They has two dog") while Japanese is synthetic ("He has one dog "They have two dogs), meaning the latter is far closer to most European languages grammatically than either is to Chinese.


That's not what they're talking about at all. They're talking about learning how to learn a language. Learning a second language gives you meta insight into language learning, which makes it far easier to move onto a third language.

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.


>That's not what they're talking about at all. They're talking about learning how to learn a language.

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


Japanese actually is just like Mandarin in your example. Neither verbs nor typical nouns are inflected for number.


That's true. But there's an expansive politeness and tense inflection system as well as topic and object markers.


It's not Esperanto itself that works, it's the basic linguistics throughout the learning process, i.e. it's the idea of "how languages work (in their own way)" that has the effect. Facts about Esperanto per se do not help. Take a linguistic course and you'll get pretty much the same effect.

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 :)


>It's not Esperanto itself that works...

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.


> 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.


>1. What is working is not Esperanto per se.

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.


> 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

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".


Yeah, they probably meant specifically auxlangs


I did. Thank you for taking the charitable interpretation, as the principle of charity has long been buried.


> Esperanto is a language where you can communicate with people that don't speak English ;)

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.


> 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?

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.


How about outside Esperanto events?


I should also point out that there are half a dozen different Esperanto speakers commenting in Espera to on this thread


Esperantujo is Esperanto events


yup, several, and those who did speak english often did it poorly, while their esperanto was fluent.


The studies listed on the Wikipedia page are not particularly persuasive, and some of them have a heavy pro-Eseperanto bias in construction. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14848019 has a more thorough criticism of one of the studies in particular.


It’s probably the same for Wikipedia in English ; in French the minute you touch the Esperanto-related articles you get hordes of Esperantists reverting your changes. If you introduce some (sourced) criticism of the language or anything about its low number of speakers you’re labeled as anti-Esperanto. This is an area of Wikipedia I don’t want to touch anymore.


Aside, there is an Esperanto Wikipedia: https://eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikipedio


> Esperanto is a language where you can communicate with people that don't speak English ;)

To some extent, but what percentage of esperanto speakers don't also know english? Is it pretty big?


Don’t regret anything about taking this path. Six months of Mandarin is barely enough to learn the consonant and tone system right, starting getting the writing system and learning few patterns and vocabulary. In any case, you wouldn’t have held conversations in it like you did with Esperanto.


They probably could've learned Spanish to a degree of conversational fluency in the same time period, though. Esperanto has about 1,000 native speakers. Spanish has about 480 million. You can visit entire beautiful countries with fascinating histories where everyone speaks Spanish or its variants. Beyond that, once you can understand spoken Spanish, you can likely understand a bit of Portuguese as well, and you'll be able to learn French and Italian probably at least twice as fast coming from Spanish vs. coming from English.


That's actually a matter of debate. I studied spanish throughout my high school years, and while I was decent enough at speaking and reading/writing, my ability to comprehend spoken spanish in the real-world was still effectively zero because I never learned how to process it at the speed that native speakers used. I had better luck with French in college though, and Esperanto was still the easiest by far.

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.


Virtually nobody in the US gains any sort of fluency from high school instruction in any foreign language unless they supplement the class with their own study. We could discuss why, but that remains true either way.

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.


> 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).


>I never learned how to process it at the speed that native speakers used

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.


I think you mean: Más despacio, por favor.

You said "more space, please".


Classic non-native typo, thanks for the fix!


I’ve learned more in 2 months of language self-study than I got from 3 years of public school study.

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.


You can literally learn most of Esperanto grammar in the time it takes to learn the difference between "soy/estar" and "por/para" in Spanish.

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.


Can confirm. I've been living for 3 years in Spain, I work in Spanish and live with a Spanish, and I still get ser/estar wrong very often.


Very wrong I'd say. I was able to read more at 3 weeks than I could with 3 years of Spanish. Spanish might be easier than Latin, but verb conjugations and irregularities in the grammar is no joke. Esperanto gives you a detour around all of that.


I suspect that is at least partly due to Esperanto content using a smaller vocabulary. Irregular Spanish grammar makes writing/speaking perfectly harder, but in my experience it's not a big barrier for reading.


Esperanto isn't intended to be anyone's native language (it's an "international auxiliary language") so that's a weird way to compare speakership.


However, we already have English as a de facto world language. Aviation is in English, if a Chinese person and a German are in a meeting, often English is the bridge language. Hundreds of millions of people speak various regional languages in India, yet English is often common. Scientific literature is also heavily in English. Some notion that Esperanto is going to replace the international utility of English is just a fantasy.


You could argue that at one point French used to be the international language but lost its dominance over time so English might lose it too in the future.

However I don’t think Esperanto has a shot at becoming a major language.


It has as few as 63k speakers, native or otherwise. The language is barely spoken compared to languages of similar difficulty.


the very point of esperanto is that nothing is of “similar difficulty”, so even comparing to spanish is disingenuous


That's a bit of a strong claim to make, considering that there are thousands of languages with more speakers than Esperanto, most of which you probably never heard of. My guess is that some contact language has similar difficulty, while having more speakers.

Pichinglis [1] 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.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pichinglis


Is that still a good choice for someone who doesn't plan to go to equatorial guinea?


About as good a choice as learning Esperanto is for someone who doesn't plan to go to an international Esperanto conference, i.e. not very.

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.)


There are other languages of similar difficulty (all constructed), but they are spoken even less than Esperanto.


Seconded. I haven't learned Esperanto myself, but plenty of people agree that Esperanto is a great starting place if you're an adult and only speak one western European language. It's a great confidence builder and it's a non-punishing opportunity to try out different study techniques. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Esperanto then Mandarin will get you to conversational Mandarin more reliably, and possibly also more quickly, than just starting with Mandarin would.


6 months is insufficient to get the tones right unless you have a really good ear imo


You should be able to produce the correct tone contours by practicing for a few minutes with a teacher who can tell you whether you got it right, assuming you can control the pitch of your voice at all. Maintaining the correct tones during continuous speech is harder, but you can approach that goal by starting slowly and carefully pronouncing each syllable, then speeding up successively.

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).


It totally depends on your situation. I said 6 months to be large but it can be closer to 3 if you’re a dedicated learner with a lot of time (like the typical univ student). The trick is to practice with a native speaker from day one, and hear recorded syllables a lot. Optionally one can use Praat to check if their f0 follow the tone contour.


Excerpt you have over a billion people with whom you can communicate vs. the 18 people that speak Esperanto. 6 months of Mandarin and you can order food and have a reasonably simply conversation with a Chinese person. 6 months of Esperanto and you can have a detailed conversation with someone that probably already speaks English, statistically speaking. Esperanto isn’t opening up any cultural doors. At least learning Klingon gets you some legit nerd points at Comic Con. Esperanto doesn’t really give you anything.


Makes me wonder, if a highly international organization could make Esperanto part of onboarding?

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?


The problem with widespread Esperanto adoption (in the Western world at least) isn't that English is an easy language, but it's so pervasive of a language. There is a lot of English-language media to study, and a lot of people speak English to practice with. If one person speaks French and another speaks Polish, it would probably be easier and more beneficial for each of them to learn English than each of them to learn Esperanto. And once they do, they'll be able to communicate with others who know English but don't know Esperanto, which is a huge number of people.

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.


The importance of consumable media should not be underestimated.

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.


I moved to Finland from the UK, and I've been struggling with Finnish for the past few years. But I find the process fascinating, especially now that I'm helping raise a bilingual child.

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.


Interesting! I understand Finnish is not an Indo-european language, but English and Hindi are.


That is correct. Also Russian and other Slavic languages belong to Indo-European family. Russian is linguistically closer to English than Hindi, but Finnish is far apart (and is close to Estonian, and more remotely related to Hungarian).

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.


English is actually useful, because it connects you to a huge culture. Many complain about the spelling, since it's not phonetic, but few recognize the value of that.

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:

https://youtu.be/GiVs05yq9-o


Thanks for that! It is very entertaining and puts me in peace with English, which so far I was refusing to give a status of a proper language and was degrading to a tool of communication - actually a great tool and I am happy we have it. But this video finally gives some answers about why the spelling is so weird and why reforming it would destroy so much meaning and etymological history in the writing.

Funny how languages evolve.

From now on I will stop complaining about the spelling in English and French :-D


I'd recommend signing up for a VPN in order to get around region blocking, and watching whatever the public television sites in Germany, Austria and Switzerland make available for free streaming online.

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.


Yeah, English isn't easy to learn as a language but it's easy to learn in general because as a non-native speakers it's impossible to escape. I had private language lessons for German and English as well as had both languages taught at school since the age of 7, but by the age of ~16 I was only fluent in one - English. I attribute this 100% to the fact that English media and games are literally everywhere, while German ones were a bit harder to come by. If I wanted to explore the internet as a kid it has to be done in English, so my English grew at an exponential rate, despite both languages getting the same amount of learning time.


> There is a lot of English-language media to study, and a lot of people speak English to practice with

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.


> This is a similar problem with any non-English 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 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

I find that hard to believe. Nowadays it is so easy to get a lot of stuff online.

> books

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).


Esperanto is not universally easy to learn. It’s easy to learn for Occidental people, because it’s biased toward European languages from which it takes most of its roots. Lots of choices made in Esperanto are arbitrary decisions that don’t sound natural at all to someone coming from another linguistic area.


Well, there is no absolute scale regarding "easy to learn", it always depends what is your current language background and the discrepancy it has with the new language you aim to learn.

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.


I started learning Esperanto but I abandoned due to the lack of cultural work around it. I felt like Esperanto could only bring me new, constructed culture, rather than existing one. When you learn Italian you discover the Italian history and its culture ; when you learn Spanish you learn the history of Spain and its culture ; etc. When you learn Esperanto, you learn… the history of Esperanto and that’s pretty much it. Virtually nobody learns Esperanto as a native language, meaning there’s no region in the World you can travel to and feel immersed in Esperanto culture.

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.


Well, I didn't experienced this lacks.

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[1], 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[2]? 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[3] and stay some time with a fellow Esperantist if you want to gain acquaintance with most foreign cultures out there.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zamenhof-Esperanto_object [2] http://esperanto-urbo.de/page.php?pid=80300003 [3] https://www.pasportaservo.org/


I think it is.

-phonetic spelling -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.


The problem with choosing Esperanto is that you are immediately assailed with questions about why you didn't choose a conlang which is more recent and, therefore, not as inherently sexist:

> 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!

http://jbr.me.uk/ranto/e.html

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.


> 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!

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.


> The language evolves.

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.


And yet it does move.

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?


> 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.


Highly international organizations uses English, more people are estimated to speak it as a primary or secondary language than any other language in the world (including Mandarin).


This is my dream project to try ;-)

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).


> 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.

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.


> to learn -i -as -is -os -us -anto and -j -n -jn

Oops, I forgot -u!


>Makes me wonder, if a highly international organization could make Esperanto part of onboarding?

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 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.

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.


Chris Lonsdale gave a TED talk in 2013 about language learning, and asserts "in 6 months I was fluent in Chinese": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0yGdNEWdn0


Esperanto is only easy because you already know a European language. This gives you a major head start. I can easily add 100 french words a day to my Anki deck and review more than 300 cards without breaking a sweat. With Asian languages I have trouble adding 30 cards a day and then I need to take a break.


Thanks for the useful links Derek. I still remember your email to me, telling me you had started learning the language. I'd love to read a future blog post about your experience :)


Personal thoughts, Esperanto is designed & spoken with notable allophony to help accommodate different regional usages. For example, the <r> in Esperanto can be pronounced allophonically as the "French R", "American R", "Spanish R", etc.

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.


'designed without a global audience in mind' - it was exactly designed with a global audience in mind - but I think Zemnhof didn't have the exposure to the width of linguistic research he would have now


It was designed with a global audience in mind at a time when (to the global elite) Africa and Asia weren't worth considering, and the Americas (including the US!) were of lesser importance. In other words, it was global for an audience who understood "global" to be synonymous with "European".


From a practical perspective - the nearest Uni was St Petersburg - if you had to guess how many comparative grammers of say Russian/Ndebele Russian/Cherokee Russian/Urdu were available in late 19th C Biyalostok? I would go for 0

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?


I think the _idea_ of a global audience was in mind, but when looking at who was a part of the discussions & how the language exists, it's pretty clear that a lot of cultures, nations, languages, and speech varieties weren't a part of the design process.

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.


For an amateur, living at the fringes of both Europe and the Russian empire, I think the boy Zamenhof done good for the 19th century


He did good but not good enough for a true international language.


Except a couple of million speak it - to a degree - and it has been going organically for over a century and shows no sign of dying


So only around ~1/8000 of the people who need to speak it actually speak it. It doesn't show any signs of dying but it doesn't show any signs of growth either.


Zamenhof's Esperanto - it always felt a bit too, well, earnest in its aspirations to me.

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]


Right. There is a very informative critical analysis of Esperanto’s problems at http://jbr.me.uk/ranto/index.html


Even if Esperanto were widely adopted, there would be nothing to keep it from developing edge cases and funky grammar exceptions over time just like every other language.

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.


The process of languages acquiring idiosyncrasies takes a really long time. I'd suspect it's even slower for auxiliary languages. Esperanto would likely remain relatively simple for centuries. Just compare English from the time of the British Empire to now. It's still basically the same language, despite (or because of?) the huge number of people learning it as a second language.


That's why Esperanto would be a good universal second language.

There would be no native speakers, you would only speak it with speakers of other languages, or read books in it.


Isn't that what Latin was for centuries?

And just like some people (Italians?) had certain advantages in learning their Latin, some people have advantages in learning Esperanto.


The lazy uneducated poets would butcher the language first, followed closely by the lazy uneducated lawyers. The day might come when lazy uneducated CEO's pervert it even further, but I'm gonna have to circle back with you on that and touch base later.


> Exploring the problem further, I discovered that Slavic languages have a good overlap with the sounds found in Esperanto, especially vowel sounds. Better yet, many professional TTS engines have Polish voices.

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.


It clearly is a Western Slavonic language relexified into Romance - the orthography has the characteristic Slavic 1 symbol/1 sound and is distinctly Hussite (ie accents on a short Latin). The core case system has 4 cases (down from the 6/7 of Polish) - except with remnants of more in the Correlatives.

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...


I think you're just saying that because of the palatal affricates, which English very notably also has. The phonemic inventory of Esperanto looks like English minus its weirdest features, i.e. the interdental fricatives and tense/lax vowel distinction.

The case system, as you describe it, sounds Germanic, not Slavic.


English doesn't really have the phonemes spelled ĥ or c in Esperanto (incidentally, these phonemes are also on the rarer side in languages--certainly rarer than aspirated k and the glottal stop, neither of which are phonemic in Esperanto or English).


My mum used to say to me and my brothers "what's your name Pa'erson with 2 tees" whenever we said bu'er or wa'er - I can assure you that the glottal stop is widely used in dialects on the English continuum in Scotland ;-)


Oh, glottal stops are definitely phonetic in English. But they are not phonemic.


But that's an uninsightful distinction. There's no real difference between the experience of a bu'er sayer and an arabic speaker. If the sounds are noticeable to native speakers, calling them merely phonetic is simply a dubious scientific analysis not representative of the real world.


There's a real difference in that for a speaker of a language where those are two allophones of the same phoneme, butter and bu'er mean the same thing; they're the same word pronounced differently. For a speaker of a language where the difference is phonemic, they're different words pronounced similarly.

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.


Except that Zamenhof spoke Slavic languages as a native - and not German nor English - and specifically chose Romance languages to relexify - there is no discernable German or English influence on the language


The esperanto pronouns are almost exactly like the Eng=lsh ones. Unlike most European languages, there's no distinction between singular, plural or formal 2nd person, but just an everyday 2nd person pronoun and an archaic one. And there's three pronoun genders despite not otherwise having one.

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.


About one third of the original vocabulary is derived from Germanic languages (prominent examples: birdo, fajro, ŝtono, strato).

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_etymology#Source_lan...


And the case system differentiates between indirect objects of motion and position (like Polish) and doesn't have a genitive (which German does)

And also English has like 12-16 vowel sounds and Esperanto (like the Slavics) has half that many


[Not trying to argue against Esperanto's Slavic influence, just having fun and being pedantic]

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 the number of vowels a language has: https://wals.info/chapter/2 does indeed class 7-14 as a lot. But it's very hard to count vowels in any kind of neutral way.

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 the author of that is incorrect that Zamenhof spoke "an Eastern Polish dialect". Yes, he lived in what is now Poland, but his primary languages were Russian and Yiddish. He was a polyglot, and knew French, German, and Latin as well, but it is unclear if he actually knew Polish at all.


Except that there is a Slavic continuum. The spoken language of the border is Polish if written in the (catholic) Latin-derived script and (orthodox) Belorussian if written in Cyrillic or a (muslim) Polish Tartar if written in the Arabic script - which was still being used until the 1980s in that corner of the world - likewise Polish/Ukrainian and Polish/Czech


Great work! I had been hoping that an alexa-esque voice for Eperanto would be created one day, though I realized Amazon had no financial incentive to do it. I'm amazed it sounds as good as it does when it was a one-man side project. Even as a very casual esperantist, I could understand it without much difficulty. Thank you for doing this and sharing your work.


Thank you for the appreciation, I appreciate it :) Please feel free to take it and create some cool Alexa thing with it... that'd be awesome.


I just turned on the sofa and asked my Orla if she thought Alexa in Esperanto would be a good idea and to my surprise she said yes ;-)


All the stuff behind Parol is OSS (https://git.io/fjb5n), do bonvolu senti sin libera Esperantigi aferojn :)


Relevant: the yuri visual novel "The Expression Amrilato" about a girl that is stranded in a world where everybody speaks Juliamo (the in-game name for Esperanto) instead of Japanese.

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Expression_Am...

https://www.gog.com/game/the_expression_amrilato


Excellent work, and indeed it sounds pretty much neutral. One question though: I always thought Esperanto pronunciation and letters map quite one-to-one with Turkish, have you considered basing your work on Turkish instead of Polish?

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.


I speak Esperanto since I was 15 years old, (now I am 30). I even met my GF with it 10 years ago. It's something great to meet very interesting and generous people anywhere on earth. And it's also a nice programming language.


mi trovis mian edzinon per Esperanto, sed mi devis lerni alian lingvon por paroli kun ŝia familio, kiuj ne parolas Esperanton


Instruu al ŝia familio Esperanton - eble tio pli facilus :)


Sed li "devis lerni", do mi pensas ke li jam lernis la lingvon de ŝia familio!


Bonega! Bonega!


I've been learning on Duolingo and Richardson's book. It really is simply so elegant. Easy to learn, easy to read, easy to understand, easy to speak. It just sounds cool to me as well. I think at 3 weeks in I had made more progress than 3 years of Spanish as you don't have to worry about irregularities and even the vocabulary is easy to remember.


This is the first time I've actually heard Esperanto spoken aloud ... very cool, thanks for posting.

What drove you to learn Esperanto originally?


Glad you enjoyed it! Originally I read about it on Wikipedia, and studied it just because it was super geeky and cool to me. Later I started attending events and met people, and at this point I have lots of international friends through the language. I wrote a bit more about this on my blog, which you may find interesting: https://martinrue.com/zamenhofa-tago-18


I wonder if there are still more Klingon speakers than Esperanto today. I don't know that outside linguist circles I'd see as much value in learning Esperanto as a more broadly used language. I took up a little bit of French and German (and Klingon) when I was young, but it's been 25-30 years since I've spoken either and don't remember anything.


> I wonder if there are still more Klingon speakers than Esperanto today.

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?


Not sure about numbers, but there's the Klingon Language Institute[1], which recently had a conference[2]. I mainly remember it being said that there were more conversational Klingon speakers than Esparanto around a decade ago.

[1] https://www.kli.org/ [2] https://www.kli.org/activities/qepmey/qepa-chamah-javdich/


Klingon Language Institute has a web page in English, but not in Klingon. That usually does not happen to Esperanto organizations.

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". https://katalogo.uea.org/index.php?kateg=prtr https://katalogo.uea.org/index.php?kateg=pror

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. https://eo.wikipedia.org/

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.)


A friend of mine has a started to create a new language fit for European citizen.

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. http://www.europeo.li

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...


If anyone is interested in listening to a little more Esperanto, there's a great Esperanto podcast: http://pola-retradio.org/

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.


As well as https://kern.punkto.info, which covers lots of diverse subjects, including many technical ones.


This being HN and all, I’m curious if anyone has any experience using Esperanto as a base language for code. Are there any code bases out there where the names of variables and functions and stuff are expressed in Esperanto?


Sounds like Italian to me...


I can assure you, it's Esperanto :)


FYI, the date header on your (most excellent) post says "26 Oct 2019". :)


Oops... I guess I was thinking about the future too much :)


Not often Esperantists get accused of living in the future tho ;-)


I have read the pronunciation is bad in the 1966 film Incubus/Inkubo, (cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incubus_(1966_film)) but William Shatner acts like he's a native speaker in it.


Bonan voĉon :)

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").


from my experience, most words in esperanto should have the emphasis on the second-to-final syllable. this is a good guideline!

mi esTAS STUdando ... sounds weird. mi EStas stuDANdo ... sounds right.

this works almost everywhere because of esperanto's constructed nature and following uniformity.


It's not just an informal guideline, but #10 of Zamenhof's 16 rules of Esperanto grammar from the 1905 Fundamento de Esperanto.

http://www.akademio-de-esperanto.org/fundamento/gramatiko_an...


Might be due to a lack of practical experience (or the low audio quality in the video), but I found it difficult to understand what the human speakers were saying in some parts.

As for Parol, though, it was clear as day, and very easy to understand. Nice work!


I hear something (tonal, tempo, not the words really) like the Spanish they speak in Argentina. Like if someone tried mimicking them using nonsense sounds. I guess that makes sense, since Argentina has significant Italian influence?


Huh! Doesn't have vowel harmony. Not gonna work for me.




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