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Esperanto

FortKnox (169099) writes | more than 10 years ago

Quake 26

OK, how many people actually know the neutral language Esperanto (here's a link for the uninformed)?

I heard its really cake to learn (simple structure, no masculinity/feminity meanings of words (like most romance languages have. eg le and la in french), simple negating of nouns (rich with a prefix is poor), etc...), but its not as fun if you can't communicate with someone.OK, how many people actually know the neutral language Esperanto (here's a link for the uninformed)?

I heard its really cake to learn (simple structure, no masculinity/feminity meanings of words (like most romance languages have. eg le and la in french), simple negating of nouns (rich with a prefix is poor), etc...), but its not as fun if you can't communicate with someone.

Surely someone in the circle knows Esperanto (or is willing to learn it with me)...

cancel ×

26 comments

Ick. (1)

glh (14273) | more than 10 years ago | (#7838444)

It looks the entire point of it is to have a "politically correct" language. That seems kind of funny to me, since there is bound to be something in the language that is offensive to others.

Re:Ick. (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7838507)

Well, its more of a 'neutral' language. Not necessarily to not offend, but to not force one person to learn anothers language. Both have to put in effort to learn esperanto, which is simple to learn.

But its bound to offend the french the way they protect their language and will speak in no other language...

Why Esperanto? (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 10 years ago | (#7841324)

Both have to put in effort to learn esperanto, which is simple to learn.

Actually, that's not true. Esperanto can be quite tricky to learn. Incidentally, no, I'm not a speaker, although I dabbled briefly a few years ago. Esperanto has one (and as far as I can tell, only one) redeeming feature, and that's simply that it's the most widely spoken artificial language. Google will bring you up many references to criticisms of Esperanto. As an artificial language, it's quite flawed, and there are many better alternatives. Unfortunately, quite a few of the criticisms focus on Zamenhof's occult interests, which of course have no bearing on his ability to design a language. More legitimate complaints revolve around Esperanto's obscene overuse of diacritics (which amongst other things, makes it tricky for computers that in the real world don't all run native Unicode yet), and the fact that it's heavily influenced by the region of Eastern Poland from which he came. Fair enough, but it means that it's far from the international language that it was designed to be. Those from the Far East struggle with pronunciation, for example. Indeed, even someone of Polish descent like me struggles with aspects of Esperanto. Also, it's not as simple a language as it sometimes claims to be. It's 16 rules of grammar are actually only true if you include implicit assumptions that hold true for those with a European language background, but not necessarily for others.

So what else if not Esperanto? Most linguists seem to regard Lojban [lojban.org] as the best artificial language. It's completely regular, easy to learn and uses no diacritics. It's designed to be easily to pronounce for those from all backgrounds. The only downside is that if you want conversation, you're more likely to find an Esperanto speaker than a Lojban speaker[1] (it's a much newer language, for one). It also has the advantage that the basic language has been deliberately designed to be phonetically distinct, so as to minimize errors in a noisy environment. Alternatively, you could also consider Ido [aol.com] , which rather than a seperate language, is a modified version of Esperanto, which attempts to fix some of its problems. Or if you're wanting something a little more esoteric, then Klingon, Sindarin or Quenya. But to my mind, the arguments for Lojban are pretty compelling.

[1] But see also Loglan [loglan.org] , from which it originated. Think of Lojban as an open source implementation of Loglan and you probably won't go far wrong. Gotta love the politics in small communities :-) The two languages between them have a reasonably sized body of speakers.

Re:Ick. (1)

dmorin (25609) | more than 10 years ago | (#7846693)

It's more about preserving culture. It was written by a gentleman named L.L. Zamenhoff in Poland around the turn of the century. The feeling was that by making one cultural group communicate in the language of another (for example, making Polish people speak German) that one group's cultural identity would become diminished, possibly even lost. Esperanto was intended to serve as a neutral language that everyone could have as an "equal footing" second language. When two cultures came together, the question of "What language will we communicate in?" would never be subject to debate, beacuse everyone would have the same language.

Now, there were many downsides to this. Immediately people will notice that Esperanto is very western european in its style -- which already alienates the eastern hemisphere. For example. And then there is the question of cultural idiom - does Esperanto have any? Where and how would they evolve? If Esperantists in California started saying something a certain way, would Esperantists in Poland say it that way too?

I enjoyed learning Esperanto. I read the diary of a woman in Bosnia, fairy tales from China, and had a penpal correspondence in the Netherlands. There's no way I would be able to learn those three different languages well enough to understand all of those equally. And expecting them all to translate into English would be rather bold of me.

Shatner would love to talk with you... (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7838464)

okay I lied. but the movie he did in Esperanto should provide a great great training ground to develop your ear.

Re:Shatner would love to talk with you... (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 10 years ago | (#7840988)

okay I lied. but the movie he did in Esperanto should provide a great great training ground to develop your ear.

That wasn't Esperanto. He's. Just. As. Bad. At. English. As. He. Is. At. Acting.

<g> Sorry, but that one had to be said ;-) (I just watched his Airplane 2 role again a few days ago - great stuff!)

(Thanks for the Starbucks case article btw - sounds more reasonable than the McD case except in the amount sought, though: the cup leaking sounds like a fault on their part. Ditto the case they mention of the espresso machine being improperly sealed. My all-time favorite case remains one which ended in the "victim" being fired and sued after harassing and intimidating a witness and the other side's lawyer though...)
--
Jefferson was right about the courts. If only people had listened and acted at the time...

Obligatory TMBG lyrics: (1)

SamTheButcher (574069) | more than 10 years ago | (#7838634)

Alienation's for the Rich
They Might Be Giants

This song is dedicated to all you modern-day troubadors out there
And I think I know who you are

I got to get a job
Got to get some pay
My son's gotta go to art school
He's leaving in three days
And the TV's in Esperanto*
You know that that's a bitch
But alienation's for the rich
And I'm feeling poorer every day
Hey hey hey

Well I ain't feeling happy
About the state of things in my life
But I'm working to make it better
With a six of Miller High Life
Just drinking and a-driving
Making sure my dues get paid
Because alienation's for the rich
And I'm feeling poorer every day
Hey hey hey

Well I ain't feeling happy
About the state of things in my life
But I'm working to make it better
With a six of Miller High Life
Just drinking and a-driving
Making sure my dues get paid
Because alienation's for the rich
And I'm feeling poorer every day
Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey

you know that that's a bitch (1)

subgeek (263292) | more than 10 years ago | (#7849352)

and that about sums up my opinion of esperanto.

Is Esperanto a full language? (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7838661)

Any linguists care to comment - Does Esperanto count as a full language or is it a pigdin?

For those that may not be familiar, a pigdin is a "secondary" language used to facilitate interactions between two societies without a common language. Pigdins are usually used for trading and commerce. They usually don't have a body of original literature, and no one learns a pigdin as their native primary tongue. A pigdin is usually constructed by borrowing and simplifying elements of two or more languages.

A creole, by comparison, is also constructed by combining elements of two or more languages, but it becomes a full language in its own right. A creole will have an original literature and will be used as a primary native language.

Esperanto seems to satisfy the definition of a pigdin, but is atypical because most pigdins are of limited expressiveness and narrow usefulness, whereas Esperanto aims to be a fully expressive language.

Re:Is Esperanto a full language? (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 10 years ago | (#7838843)

(Caveat: I don't speak Esperanto apart from a few words, and am in no way an expert on the subject, but I have been in quite a few debates online about invented languages and their relative merits -- a topic that interests me a fair amount -- and have absorbed a lot on the way. I do, however, speak English and German fluently, with a little French and Dutch and a smattering of Latin.)

I'm not sure what you mean, really -- AFAICS Esperanto has its own idiom, its own vocabulary, its own grammar and so on -- even its own slang. AFAICS it qualifies as a full language in every sense of the word. There are even some native speakers, albeit only a handful.

Zamenhoff (the inventor of Esperanto) borrowed liberally from various European languages by imitating the same way that they borrow from each other constantly and by using common roots. So "saluton" (a greeting, like "hello") is clearly similar to the French "salut", but changed to fit Esperanto's grammar. On the surface, you could claim it's 'only' a creole -- but Zamenhoff also invented quite a few rules and simplifications of its own especially for Esperanto, so it would seem to be much more than a mere creole.

For that matter, Klingon would seem to qualify as a full language in its own right...the story goes that a linguist in the States is even raising his child bilingually (English-Klingon), ergo Klingon will soon have its first native speaker.

Cheers,

Ethelred

Re:Is Esperanto a full language? (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7839059)

On the surface, you could claim it's 'only' a creole -- but Zamenhoff also invented quite a few rules and simplifications of its own especially for Esperanto, so it would seem to be much more than a mere creole.

Creoles are full fledged languages, so I don't think the phrase "mere creole" reflected what I was trying to convey. I mentioned creole as a contrast to a pigdin. My question is whether Esperanto is a full language or is a pigdin. I didn't know there were any native Esperanto speakers. Is there an "original" Esperanto literature?

Re:Is Esperanto a full language? (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 10 years ago | (#7839588)

Creoles are full fledged languages, so I don't think the phrase "mere creole" reflected what I was trying to convey. I mentioned creole as a contrast to a pigdin.

Well, how would you distinguish between a creole and an established language?

I didn't know there were any native Esperanto speakers.

Wikipedia claims there's something like 200 to 2000 [wikipedia.org] -- not terribly many, but they do exist.

Is there an "original" Esperanto literature?

So it would seem [wikipedia.org] , straight from the horses's mouth [esperanto.net] . Not being a speaker myself, I can't exactly say much about the quality of the prose, of course. ;-)

Cheers,

Ethelred

Re:Is Esperanto a full language? (1)

RevMike (632002) | more than 10 years ago | (#7840618)

Well, how would you distinguish between a creole and an established language?

Creoles are full fledged languages, only differing from other languages by the way they are formed. Most language evolve by divergent mutations from a parent language after various communities of speakers become isolated. The classic example is the romance languages all being divergent regional dialects rooted in Latin. They really follow a similar evolutionary process as simple organism that reproduce asexually. If one were to divide a culture of bacteria, each branch would eventually produce different mutations. Left long enough, each branch would become a seperate species.

Creoles, one the other hand, are produced through "sexual reproduction". Two different populations are brought together and a new language is formed from two parents. The classic example is the creole native to Haiti that we generally call "Creole". It is a combination of French and one or more African languages spoken by the slaves.

Both creoles and tradional divergent dialect formed languages are full languages, taught as a native tongue or first language and used in all phases of life.

Pidgins are narrow purpose languages, usually used for trade, business, and similar transactions between two cultures. In fact, according to this [ohio-state.edu] article in "The Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages", the word pidgin itself evolved from a Chinese corruption of the English word "business" use in "Chinese Pidgin English" at Canton in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Esperanto is an odd language, in that it did not evolve either asexually or sexually. It is not by any reasonable definition used as anyone's native language, but it also is not a narrow purpose language. I guess it is more a "laboratory curiosity" than anything else.

PS - before anyone calls me on this... This isn't an exact science. All languages borrow from others to some extent. I don't know exactly when a language becomes a creole. English might very reasonably be described as a creole.

Re:Is Esperanto a full language? (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7839066)

raising his child bilingually (English-Klingon), ergo Klingon will soon have its first native speaker.


HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

I'm sorry, I can't help it. Yeah, of course I was ostracized all throughout my life as being different. Sure, I respect other people's ideas and what they want to do is okay by me. But there are a few things that are truly the embodiment of the word NERD-TACULAR; indeed, I might go as far as to say the Platonic form of Nerd-tacular; that I can't help but fall down from laughing so hard.

Speaking of languages, I think my friends invented a highly inflection based language in high school, comprised of the 4 words/phrases "No." "So?" "Good." and "Shut up." and would spend countless hours uttering nothing but the above.

Why is his son being raised to speak Klingon? (1)

eugene ts wong (231154) | more than 10 years ago | (#7839621)

I have 1 of those CDs that teach you how to speak Klingon. I don't understand what the excitement is all about. I kind of hate the way that the creator avoided making direct translations to certain words. It's as if he did it just to make it complex.

I'm genuinely curious about why the fellow would raise his son to speak Klingon. Do you happen to know off the top of your head? Don't go out of your way to Google for the answer. I'm not that curious. :^)

Fort Knox, in keeping with the original topic, I'd recommend that you learn Chinese. I suspect that it is pretty easy in its own way. There is no literal "yes", "no", or plural forms. Here are sample dialogs.

"You people go?" [are you guys going?]
"Going." [yes; or yes, we are.]

"eat rice, not?" [have you eaten something?]
"not eat." [no.]

Re:Why is his son being raised to speak Klingon? (1)

Ethelred Unraed (32954) | more than 10 years ago | (#7840413)

I'm genuinely curious about why the fellow would raise his son to speak Klingon. Do you happen to know off the top of your head? Don't go out of your way to Google for the answer. I'm not that curious. :^)

I don't recall, really -- ISTR that Wikipedia mentions him somewhere. Probably just another one of those "because it's there" things. I do vaguely recall that the person in question was, in fact, a linguist himself.

From what I've heard, linguists seem to find Klingon rather interesting as a diversion (i.e. making a language deliberately not like any known language), and so maybe this guy wanted to see if Klingon had what it takes to make it as a language. But that's only a guess.

I'd recommend that you learn Chinese.

I had the impression that Chinese was horridly difficult to pronounce properly? Not to mention the writing system...

I've sometimes vaguely though about learning Japanese, but the challenge could well be too great for the same reasons (I just don't have enough time to invest in it, and have no one to practice it with). So I content myself with learning Dutch. ;-)

Cheers,

Ethelred

Re:Why is his son being raised to speak Klingon? (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7840856)

COmpletely different to pronounced. ITs tonal. English is atonal.

Re:Why is his son being raised to speak Klingon? (1)

eugene ts wong (231154) | more than 10 years ago | (#7850479)

I had the impression that Chinese was horridly difficult to pronounce properly? Not to mention the writing system...
Oops. I forgot about that, & a disclaimer: I haven't spoken or written Chinese in ages. So, don't take my suggestion @ face value.

It would be kind of cool to make a new language that would be easy to read for people. I believe that it would be best to let lettering represent the types of actions that the mouth must make. For example, "P" & "B" sounds generally differ only in the usage of the vocal chords with "B", so the shapes of the lettering would be the same except for the "B" would have some stroke or dot to indicate that vocal chords would be used.

Speaking of Klingon... (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 10 years ago | (#7839955)

Check this out! [imdb.com]

Yes, William Shatner stars in the only all-Esperanto movie ever.

Re:Speaking of Klingon... (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7840835)

That's what I was reffering to with my previous post here. Is this movie NOT common knowledge?!

Re:Speaking of Klingon... (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 10 years ago | (#7842310)

Sorry, I glanced throught the posts looking for an Incubus or Shatner reference, but managed to miss yours. Figured the discussion of Klingon was as close as I would get.

Esperanto (1)

sql*kitten (1359) | more than 10 years ago | (#7839015)

I actually learnt a fair amount of Esperanto when I was about 10 or so, after reading Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat books. Forgotten it all now :-) The hardest part is having no-one around to actually converse with; anyone can recite stock phrases, but the only way to properly learn a language is to actually use it.

Newspeak (1)

aridhol (112307) | more than 10 years ago | (#7839616)

(rich with a prefix is poor)
Ungood?

Re:Newspeak (1)

heliocentric (74613) | more than 10 years ago | (#7840190)

Double Plus Ungood.

Then you can get all CLockwork Orange on them with a lil' in 'n out, in 'n out.

I am so there (1)

Some Woman (250267) | more than 10 years ago | (#7839795)

Some of the word roots are a lot like Spanish (which would be an easy language if it weren't for the 13 verb tenses). Me likes not conjugating verbs.

But first...Mi bezonas mian kafeinon!

Mi parolas Esperanteto. (1)

dmorin (25609) | more than 10 years ago | (#7842248)

If I remember correctly that is, "I am able to speak a little Esperanto."

Yes, the rules are easy -- singular nouns end in o, plural in oj, present verbs in as, future in os (I think), and so on.

The question is it a cinch to become fluent in? like any language, you need to speak it to really grok it. And if you're like me you're thinking "Hey, the net will be cool for this, I can *type* in it and have Esperanto penpals!" Tried it. Had an Esperanto penpal with whom I played long distance chess. He was in the Netherlands. And ya know...it just never "made the leap". If I can't hear the words that I'm reading, then it always ends up feeling disconnected, like I'm decoding it rather than understanding it. To truly be speaking a language you should not be using a conscious part of your brain to say "Ok that ends in oj so that is a plural noun..."

So, I definitely recommend learning a language that you can hear yourself speak. Not only that, but converse in - i.e. have someone to speak it to, and to hear it from.

That's my tuppence. I have a copy of Hamlet in Esperanto translated by Zamenhoff himself which I think is a neat conversation piece. Este aux ne este...

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