Fun with Esperanto
Back in my high school days, I spent a lot of time in the public library. One day I discovered an old red book that was an introduction to Esperanto. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Esperanto is an artificial language (also called a constructed language or a conlang). Natural languages like English or French develop slowly over centuries of societal change. Natural languages are messy, with many irregularities and exceptions. Conlangs are different. They are created wholesale, often by one person for a specific purpose. Such is the case here.
Esperanto started with one man in the late 1800s. L.L. Zamenhof lived in an area of central Europe where there were a half-dozen languages in use. As a Polish Jew, he spoke Polish and Yiddish. And since Poland had been divvied up between Austria, Germany and Russia, he also spoke German and Russian. Zamenhof thought things would be a lot simpler (and more peaceful) if everyone had a single, neutral language to speak. So he cobbled together bits and pieces of other languages to make his own. The result was a language called “Esperanto” (“one who hopes”).
Most Indo-European language speakers can understand Esperanto easily, as it takes words from Latin, German, French, Russian and English. Learning the grammar is easy too. There there are no irregular verbs. No weird exceptions. All you have do is learn one rule, and you can apply it to any sentence. As a teenager, I was fascinated by it. And while I couldn’t speak it fluently, I think it’s a fun thing to learn.
I must say the response to this short little article has blown me away! Unlike so many other constructed languages, Esperanto has a strong community to support it, both online and in real life. I’ve enjoyed hearing from Esperantists from around the world. Dankon!
Have you studied Esperanto? If so, what was your experience? Sciigu min en la komentoj sekcio.