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Esperanto, an International Language (wikipedia.org)
35 points by firatcan on April 25, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 48 comments

Most languages borrow, often heavily, from its neighbors, but this one is truly a Frankenstein of a language. There’s something deeply unnatural and aesthetically unpleasing about it. I don’t understand how people can like it (although many do).

For a language it sure does open itself up to schoolboy humour like many other languages.

How are you? In esperanto is: Kiel vi fartas?

Which for the uninitiated trying to understand what was said and from an english speaking background, would probably yield a response of : Pardon me.

Not sure how other languages bases see this and it does seem to be more palatable towards french/spanish in how it sounds and may for those native speakers be easier to pick up I suspect.

Though I've never met a person who can speak esperanto, I've met many people who can speak Klingon. Which makes me wonder is there more people in the world that speak some Klingon than esperanto!

Esperanto has more than 100 thousand fluent speakers (lower levels are in the millions) and more than 2000 native speakers. Klingon is not even close to esperanto.

Yes, I read that it was millions after the WW2, but it starts declining since then.

Not according to a professor who did actual research on number of speakers of languages.

Three letters from Professor Sidney Culbert (English originals):

>Notes on the letters: http://www.panix.com/~dwolff/docs/culbert-notes.html

>Letter from 1967: http://www.panix.com/~dwolff/docs/culbert-1967.html

>Letter from 1969: http://www.panix.com/~dwolff/docs/culbert-1969.html

>Letter about research methodology: http://www.panix.com/~dwolff/docs/culbert-methods.html

I believe this shows us, maybe it's impossible to create and international spoken language? or nearly impossible?

English is already international language. Maybe it is not perfect but it is enough for not to create new international language.

English is far from the international language. There are billions of people and entire continents where no one speaks English.

Unless you meant the de facto language for business and research, or the language spoken in the areas I care about, which is different from the international language.

Sure, English isn’t a language that everyone speaks natively for personal use. But usually we think it’s a bad thing if people’s other languages die.

As far as i know, every single continet has english speaking people. Either as a primary or a secondary language.

The same is true for French, or Mandarin Chinese. Still, good luck getting by in English in the middle of China, Russia, West Africa or Latin America. Hell, rural Germany can be rough going.

Yes, English literacy is low in China (about 6% according to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-s... ) But that doesn't mean finding someone who can understand you is hard. If you just pick any random person, they likely won't speak English, but if you ask 20 or so, you have good chances of being understood by one of them. That's pretty good and qualifies English for "international language" status in my opinion.

There are plenty of Chinese diasporas all around the world. I'm willing to bet that if you asked around 20 people or so in an average American or British city you'd end up being understood in Chinese. Yet I don't see many people calling Chinese an international language.

It'll take more than just stats gleaned on wikipedia to make a coherent case. A large majority of mankind has no use for English and thus doesn't use it, and this can be readily witnessed firsthand by travelers who stray off tourist paths. (For instance I say rural Germany is rough going because I've been there and witnessed it firsthand.) That doesn't mean English isn't a lingua franca, it's just not the lingua franca in most of the world. In Latin America people will use Spanish or Portuguese, in Africa people will use French, Arabic, English or Swahili, in much of Central Asia people will use Russian. Even then, knowledge of those languages isn't a given.

The fact of the matter is that English isn't known or used by most of the world population. Arguing about the rest is just semantics.

I am on you with this, sure English de facto language for many things. I don't believe it's just for business or research many things but most of rural areas or less educated areas all over the world has little amount of English speakers or even not at all.

For instance, let's take Spain or Italy not even Africa or Asia. I mean Europe, Spain, if you asked 20 people in Barcelona or Rome you'd end up being understood. On the other hand if you asked 20 people in Naples or Granada, the chances are they wouldn't understood you.

Which continent is the one where no one speaks english?

I had (somewhat hyperbolically) Asia and Latin America in mind but this being HN I eagerly await someone pointing out the existence of Belize or some parts of India and Singapore in a valiant effort to be technically correct.

India has the largest English-speaking population in the world. Yes, larger than the United States; it has a lot more people.

That's not a technicality, nor is it fair to Singapore to call that a technicality: it's a small country, but the vast majority of its citizens speak English as their home tongue.

English has official status in only Guyana and the Falkland islands, of all of South America. That's more like a technicality, especially since Creole is the actual spoken language of the people.

Belize is in Central America, which is part of the North American continent; the Caribbean (and its various English-speaking islands) are also lumped in with North America.

> India has the largest English-speaking population in the world. Yes, larger than the United States; it has a lot more people.

India is a populous country with English as an official language. If you think all its inhabitants speak English you're in for a surprise should you ever go there. People are educated in English, certainly; however Canadians' well-known mastery of French as well as Irish people's mastery of Irish shows this criterion doesn't necessarily amount to much.

I'm wasn't disappointed by all the other technicalities in your post though, keep it up

At no time did I say that the majority of Indians speak English. I said they have the largest English-speaking population in the world.

Assuming that 300 million Americans speak English (to be generous), that would require more than 22.2% of India to speak English.

According to the last census, conducted in 2011[0], India has about 125 million English speakers. That same link says this is "projected to quadruple in the next decade".

If that supposition is at all accurate, India now has the largest population of English speakers in the world. The next census is in 2021, so we should know for sure by then.

[0]: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-20500312

Spanish and Malaysian come out at the top of my list of the best candidates for the international language.

I understand Spanish but Malaysian? Why?

Austronesian languages have a reputation of being easy to learn, though I can't attest for this being actually true.

We already have it? Like, this language we are both using here and which is neither your nor mine mother tongue?

But it was not artificial created. Which is not a bad thing. Because a natural language is created by millions of speakers, so it sounds a bit strange to me, that only one person should be the creator of a language.

We did it as kids: "secret language" we called it. The big thing is the development of speech. From sounds to words. Once you have that, adding another language is not that complicated.

Yeah, we too. I just meant, that language is a process that involved millions. And it does not make sense to me, that millions should speak the language only one person created. (even though I like the intention)

I often also observed, that 2 people, who spend lots of time together, also kind of develope their own language, that others have it hard to follow.

That can become extreme, there was a russian family, living 40 years in isolation, the russian the daughters spoke, was not understandable at all to other people


Shameless plug: I wrote a scrabble-like html5 game for esperanto speakers named "7 Literoj". Android and web app available at https://7literoj.34bit.net/

Please comment if you play it.

Mi jam provis ludi en mia poŝtelefono, kaj nun per chrome sed mi ne komprenis ĝin

Mi sendis al vi inviton ludi en la aplikaĵo. Mia enluda nomo estas "egeto". Se vi akceptas mian peton mi provos helpi vin uzante la babilejon, kiu estas parto de la aplikaĵo.

I'm studying Interlingua, a pan-Romance-English international auxiliary language that has the distinct Advantage of being able to be understood by Romance speakers at the first glance. I think it's much more "useful" since I can't speak any Romance languages at all at the start.

I tried looking towards Interslavic (Medjaslovanoj) and Intergermanic (Folkspraak*), and the former is interesting - Slavs can understand that register with quite a bit of effort, but the latter, sadly, is still in development and is fragmented.

For other areas, Hijazi/MSA is the standard of the Arab world, Mandarin is for Sinosphere, and... Malay for SEA, I think.

A worldwide international language is quite hard, because you need to dislodge the usefulness of English in some ways. A 100% constructed language is hard to learn for adults. A pseudo-natural conlang is... Impossible for the whole Earth.

Bonvoro alsendi la pordiston, lausajne estas rano en mia bideo!

...and I think we all know what that means!


Kaj al vi! Restu sana.

> Kaj

A Greek would like to have a word with you.

Conlang Critic's episode on Esperanto is worth watching, if only for his criticism of Esperanto's phonology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sao9mCLy3Xo

Can't talk about Esperanto without linking Justin B. Rye's cautionary "Ranto": http://jbr.me.uk/ranto/index.html

That rant is more than a decade old and not as relevant as people like to tout. There are issues with esperanto but most of what is lamented there is really subjective.

“a decade old”


Ido sounds better.

Almost anything sounds better.

Linguists are misguided. Instead of studying (diverging) languages or designing new ones they should work on convergence of existing ones. At leas in Europe there should be some Latin, Germanic and Uralic. Slavic belonging to Latin. And then Latin and Germanic uniting in English or such. That’ll be a real humanitarian cause.

Humanitarian cause would be preserving the national language and having an international one that is easy for everyone to learn, and Esperanto works great.

Title is wrong. Should be:


Or, better yet, Expiranto.

Maybe: Esperanto, an International Language?

and thus spoke C++.

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