Esperanto is a language spoken by approximately 1-2 million people. The language originated in Europe but unlike many languages it isn’t spoken primarily in one country or region. Most of its speakers can be found in Europe, the USA, China and Japan.
The language has easy to learn grammar with no exceptions, silent letters or noun genders. This is because, unlike most other languages, Esperanto wasn’t formed naturally over time and was instead purposefully created in 1887 by Dr L. L. Zamenhof. Esperanto was designed to be an easy to learn language that would be the world’s second language.
Why Learn Esperanto?
Easy to Learn
It takes an estimated 600 hours for an English speaker to learn Spanish. Most students will spend years at school studying a language but leave unable to say more than a basic few phrases. On the other hand, Esperanto will take significantly less time to learn. If you want to learn a second language but have been struggling with a national language, then Esperanto could be the language for you.
Vocabulary is derived from many European languages including Spanish, French, Italian and Latin. As you can (presumably) understand English, you will recognise a lot of the vocabulary already:
- Kato – cat
- Hundo – dog (sounds like hound)
- Fromaĝo – cheese (sounds like the French word for cheese)
Even if you don’t want to speak Esperanto itself, there is evidence that first learning Esperanto could help you learn a national language faster.
Compared to other languages, Esperanto has vastly simplified grammar.
- There are only 16 grammar rules that have no exceptions. You won’t find an equivalent of the English ‘I before e except after c’ rule (which itself has many exceptions).
- There are no noun genders like found in many European languages (a piece of cheese isn’t masculine or feminine).
- All words are pronounced exactly as they are spelt (phonetic). This contrasts with many other languages, such as English, which has many words that are spelt very differently than how they are spoken. This also means there are no silent letters.
- Many words are created using affixes and suffixes. For example, ‘arbo’ is tree and ‘aro’ is a group. Therefore, ‘arbaro’ is a ‘forest’ (literally ‘group of trees’).
This makes Esperanto much easier to learn than other languages.
A Living Language
Esperanto may have been created over 150 years ago, but it’s now a living language just like any other language. New words are being created all the time for new technology such as a cell phone (poŝtelefono) or selfie (memfoto).
Speakers of Esperanto can be found all over the world:
- Pasporta Servo – a free worldwide lodging service available exclusively to Esperanto speakers. There are over 1000 hosts in over 90 countries.
- Amikumu – a free app where you can search for speakers in your local area.
Many works have been translated into Esperanto, here are a few well-known ones:
- Books – ‘The Lord of the Rings’, ‘Tintin’ and ‘Winnie the Pu’.
- Games – ‘Minecraft’, ‘Teeworlds’ and ‘Osu’.
- Websites – ‘Wikipedia’ and ‘China Radio International’.
- Software – ‘WordPress’, ‘Ubuntu (Linux)’ and ‘Firefox’.
There are an estimated 2,000 native speakers of Esperanto (denaskuloj), including famous business magnate George Soros. A native speaker is someone who was taught the language as a child, alongside their national language.
Esperanto slang words exist like in any other living language. One such example is ‘krokodilu’, which means to speak your national language when Esperanto would be more appropriate, such as at an Esperanto convention.
Useful Esperanto Phrases
|What’s your name?||Kio estas via nomo?|
|My name is …||Mia nomo estas …|
|How do you say … in Esperanto?||Kiel oni diras … en Esperanto?|
|Good morning||Bonan matenon|
|Good evening||Bonan vesperon|
|Good night||Bonan nokton|
Where to Learn Esperanto
Duolingo – a free language learning app for web browsers, iOS and Android
Lernu – a free website for learning Esperanto
Memrise – a free vocabulary building app for web browsers, iOS and Android.