Possibly one of the most popular conlangs (Constructed Languages) in the world. They even have people who speak this language as their mother tongue! So what is it about Esperanto that gets people excited about it? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Conlangs?
Conlangs or Constructed Languages are languages created by individuals or groups of people with a specific purpose in mind. You’ve probably heard of Dothraki (Game of Thrones), Klingon (Star Trek), Na’vi (Avatar) from their corresponding TV shows or films. They were languages to portray a specific group of people or an entire (fictional) species of aliens, monsters, vampires, faeries and so forth. Have you ever wondered if fans took it upon themselves to learn these languages? They have. Some have fluent speakers while others have a basic grasp of the language. The question is knowing how and when to effectively use the language. Since these languages did not originally have native speakers because these languages were created by individuals with a specific goal in mind. Such as using it for a fictional group of people in your fantasy world or to create an ease in communication between people who native languages are different from each other. Esperanto’s case was the latter but unfortunately, it did not achieve its goal of making everyone’s second language.
Which makes me wonder why there are native speakers of this language, if it’s supposed to be a second language for the world.
How Useful Is Esperanto?
It depends. Do you plan on frequenting Esperanto conferences, joining an online community of Esperanto speakers, travelling to Esperanto related events, following Esperanto bloggers and YouTubers? If so, then you’ll find Esperanto incredibly useful to you. Otherwise, I personally don’t think it will useful just by simply travelling to a certain country and expecting people to speak Esperanto with you.
Is Esperanto The World’s Easiest Language?
This is probably the most common misconception Esperanto speakers often claim. While it could be easier to than Thai, Kannada, West Greenlandic or even Spanish. If you don’t speak an Romance, Germanic or Slavic language as your native language, you may find this language a bit difficult. Especially, if certain sounds don’t exist in your native language(s). It may take more time to learn these sounds than someone who does have these sounds in their native tongue. Is it easier to learn than a natural language? Yes, in due to the lack of irregularities that most languages have. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have irregularities at all. Zompist points out the (very few) irregularities of Esperanto here: The Irregularities of Esperanto Which goes to show that no language is completely exempt from having at least a few irregularities. Despite these few inconsistencies it’s still relatively simple to learn.
Does Esperanto Make Other Languages Easier To Learn?
Sure it can. It can give you insight as to what you can expect when you go about learning different languages. Who knows it might inspire you to become a polyglot like me! However, just like any natural language, it takes dedication to achieve fluency in it. Another advantage will be having French, English, Spanish, or German as your mother tongue. Why? Because it’s mostly derived from European languages (although it does have borrowings from non-European languages as well). It also makes learning vocabulary much easier because it’s quite agglutinative, which means you can expand upon single words by adding a prefix, infix or suffix to the word or phrase. Which does significantly reduce the number of words you would need to learn the language.
Why Esperanto Will Not Achieve World Peace Alone
One of the things that Esperanto speakers say that irritates me to no end is this phrase: Talking to people on equal terms. because it’s simply not true. There are a wide variety of factors that create these inequalities in the world today that cannot be solved by speaking a common language. Such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, privileges given to certain groups of people and religions that are used to oppress (even subtly) others. With so much evil and injustice in the world today, there’s just more that needs to be accomplished besides finding a common language to speak on its own. Which is why you can say (in a way) Esperanto’s goal has failed. However, thanks to the internet, it’s probably one the few conlangs to actually have a large international following.
Should I Learn Esperanto?
That’s up to you. If you’re interested in what Esperanto has to offer and what to communicate with a diverse community of people from around the world, then sure go for it. Just make sure you keep in contact with Esperanto speakers on a regular basis and just like any other language, you have to devote time to it on regular basis. Would I personally learn Esperanto myself? Probably not. The main reason is that I would most likely spend more time reforming the language and changing things around than actually learning it. Being a conlanger myself, I can’t help it. Here’s an example of what I would change: ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ See these letters? I find them quite unpleasant to look at and feel that Zamenhoff (the creator of Esperanto) could have used these letters instead: Č, Ǧ, ȟ, ǰ, Š respectively as they look more pleasant on the eye and actually exist in other languages too. But who I am to complain?
What do you think? Do you like the idea of having an “international language” to communicate with the world with? Are you learning Esperanto? Did you become fluent in Esperanto and how do you maintain your skills? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!