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Esperanto FAQ (Oftaj demandoj) Part 1/2

( Part1 - Part2 )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Forum ]
Archive-name: esperanto/faq/part1
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-Modified: 1999-06-23
URL: http://www.esperanto.net/veb/faq.html

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
                  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for
            soc.culture.esperanto and esperanto-l@netcom.com
                           (monthly posting)

This posting attempts to answer the most common questions from those new
to the newsgroup soc.culture.esperanto (or the corresponding mailing
list esperanto-l), or to the language Esperanto itself. Please send
suggestions, corrections and complaints about this FAQ to the
maintainer, Yves Bellefeuille <yan@storm.ca>. Post questions about
Esperanto in the newsgroup or send them to the mailing list, not to the
maintainer.

Because of the increasing internationalization of the net, I have
attempted to make this FAQ as relevant as possible to readers in various
countries. It's still somewhat biased in favour of the US, though.

This FAQ is available as follows:

Usenet:

    Posted once a month in Usenet group soc.culture.esperanto. (Also
    gatewayed to mailing list esperanto-l; see section 16).

WWW:

    http://www.esperanto.net/veb/faq.html

    The FAQ can be downloaded in text format from this location.

FTP:

    at rtfm.mit.edu/pub/faqs/esperanto/faq/

E-mail:

    Send a message to:

        mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu

    with the following contents:

        send faqs/esperanto/faq/part1
        send faqs/esperanto/faq/part2
        quit


Changes this month:


[July 1999]

- many E-mail addresses and URLs updated.


[March 1999]

 - ELNA's FTP archive permanently down (sections 7 and 16).

 - number of hits on standard WWW search engines updated (section 16).

 - several URLs updated.


[February 1999]

Quite a delay between updates; my apologies.

 - Cathy Schulze has passed away; updated address for course at SFSU to
Ellen M. Eddy <eddyellen@aol.com> (section 7).

 - added E-mail address for Rolf Beau (section 7).

 - updated contact information for Lojban (section 11).

 - removed Center BBS, Slovenia (section 17).


PART I: THE LANGUAGE ESPERANTO

1.  What is Esperanto?
2.  How easy is Esperanto to learn?
3.  Where does Esperanto's vocabulary come from?
4.  What about Esperanto's grammar and word-order?
5.  How many people speak Esperanto?
6.  How can I use Esperanto once I've learned it?
7.  Where do I find classes, textbooks, etc.?
8.  How come Esperanto doesn't have <favourite word or feature>?
9.  What are some common objections to Esperanto? How do speakers of
    Esperanto respond to them?
10. Are there any famous Esperanto speakers?
11. What about other "artificial" languages like Loglan, Ido, etc.?
12. What are PAG, PIV, PMEG, PV, TEJO and UEA?
13. How do you say "I love you" in Esperanto?

PART II: ESPERANTO, COMPUTERS AND THE INTERNET

14. How can I type and display Esperanto's accented characters?
15. How can I represent these characters in E-mail or on Usenet?
16. What Esperanto material is available on the Internet?
17. What Esperanto material is available on other (non-Internet)
    on-line services?

------------------------------------------------------------------------

PART I: THE LANGUAGE ESPERANTO

1. WHAT IS ESPERANTO?

Esperanto is a language designed to facilitate communication between
people of different lands and cultures. It was first published in 1887
by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof (1859-1917) under the pseudonym "Dr. Esperanto",
meaning "one who hopes", and this is the name that stuck as the name of
the language itself.

Esperanto is considerably easier to learn than national languages, since
its design is far simpler and more regular. Also, unlike national
languages, Esperanto allows communication on an equal footing between
people, with neither having the usual cultural advantage favouring a
native speaker.

Esperanto's purpose is not to replace any other language, but to
supplement them: Esperanto would be used as a neutral language when
speaking with someone who doesn't know one's own language. The use of
Esperanto would also protect minority languages, which would have a
better chance of survival than in a world dominated by a few powerful
languages.


2. HOW EASY IS ESPERANTO TO LEARN?

For a native English speaker, we may estimate that Esperanto is about
five times as easy to learn as Spanish or French, ten times as easy to
learn as Russian, twenty times as easy to learn as Arabic or spoken
Chinese, and infinitely easier to learn than Japanese. Many people find
that they speak Esperanto better after a few months' study than a
language they learned at school for several years.

A knowledge of Esperanto makes it much easier to learn other foreign
languages, and there is some evidence that it is actually more efficient
to learn Esperanto first, before learning other languages, rather than
to study foreign languages directly. For example, one may become more
fluent in French by first studying Esperanto for 6 months and then
studying French for a year and a half, rather than studying French for
two continuous years. The reason may be that Esperanto's regular grammar
and word formation and flexible syntax makes it easier to understand
other languages' grammar and rules.


3. WHERE DOES ESPERANTO'S VOCABULARY COME FROM?

About 75 % of Esperanto's vocabulary comes from Latin and Romance
languages (especially French), about 20 % comes from Germanic languages
(German and English), and the rest comes mainly from Slavic languages
(Russian and Polish) and Greek (mostly scientific terms). 

The words derived from Romance languages were chosen to be as
recognizable as possible throughout the world. For example, the word
"radio", although technically Romance, is now used internationally.
Someone knowing only Russian and looking at a text in Esperanto would
immediately recognize perhaps 40 % of the words, without even having
studied the language.

Esperanto is phonetic: every word is pronounced exactly as it is
spelled. There are no "silent" letters or exceptions.


4. WHAT ABOUT ESPERANTO'S GRAMMAR AND WORD-ORDER?

Even more than its vocabulary, it is Esperanto's grammar and rules which
makes it exceptionally easy. Unnecessary complications have been
eliminated: there is no grammatical gender, the word order is relatively
free, etc. The rules have also been simplified as much as possible:
there is only one verb conjugation, all plurals are formed the same way,
a prefix can be added to any word to change it to its opposite
(good/bad, rich/poor, right/wrong), and so on. Thus, after perhaps 30
minutes' study, one can conjugate any verb in any tense. This is a
tremendous simplification compared to national languages.

Esperanto's flexible word-order allows speakers from different language
families to use the structures with which they are most familiar and
still speak perfectly intelligible and grammatically correct Esperanto.
This also makes Esperanto an excellent translator of such different
languages as Chinese, Japanese, Latin, English and French.


5. HOW MANY PEOPLE SPEAK ESPERANTO?

This is a very common question, but nobody really knows the answer. The
only way to determine accurately the number of people who speak
Esperanto would be to conduct a world-wide census, and of course this
has never been done.

However, Professor Sidney S. Culbert of the University of Washington,
Seattle, USA, has done the most comprehensive survey on language use
ever attempted. He has conducted interviews in dozens of countries
around the world and tested for "professional proficiency", i.e. much
more than just "hello, please, goodbye".

Based on this survey, Prof. Culbert concluded that Esperanto has about
two million speakers worldwide. This puts it on a par with "minority"
languages such as Lithuanian or Hebrew. For more information on this
survey (partly in Esperanto), see
    http://www.rano.demon.co.uk/nombro.html
The results are also published in the _World Almanac and Book of Facts_.

[There's a lot of debate over how many people speak Esperanto. Sometimes
there is a tendency to exaggerate the number of Esperanto speakers, or,
on the contrary, to minimize it. I've seen numbers ranging from 100 000
to 8 million. Prof. Culbert's estimate has two advantages over any
other I've seen:

1. The method is sound. Doing a world-wide survey is the only valid way
to estimate the number of Esperanto speakers, but it's so difficult that
Prof. Culbert is the only person who has ever attempted to do so, to my
knowledge.

2. The study attempted to find out how many people speak *all*
languages, not just Esperanto. We can see whether the results obtained
for other languages make sense; if they do, then the result for
Esperanto is probably as valid as any other.

In short, Prof. Culbert's estimate that two million people speak
Esperanto around the world is the most accurate answer we're likely to
get. -- Ed.]

Some parents teach Esperanto (along with the local language) to their
children; it is estimated that perhaps a thousand people speak Esperanto
as a first language.


6. HOW CAN I USE ESPERANTO ONCE I'VE LEARNED IT?

Here are some of the many different ways people use Esperanto:

- Esperanto is an ideal second language. Many adults want to learn
another language, but don't have the time or energy to learn a national
language.

- Correspondence. Write to people in a dozen countries without learning
a dozen languages.

- Travel. Esperanto can be used to see the world. There are lists of
Esperanto speakers willing to host other Esperantists in their own
house or apartment for free.

- International understanding. You can't be friends with people if you
can't talk to them! Esperanto helps break down the language barriers
between countries.

- Meeting people from other countries, especially at conventions, or
when Esperanto speakers from other countries come visiting. (It's also a
good way to meet interesting people from your own country!)

- Joining the world. Esperanto is a way to treat everyone on our planet
on the basis of complete equality, meeting them half-way. No more trying
to communicate "uphill" for one side.

- Literature. The world's masterpieces have been translated to
Esperanto, including the Kalevala and works by Garcia Marquez, Saikaku,
Shakespeare, Gibran, Brecht, Tagore, Kawabata, Dante, and Mickiewicz.
Many works have been translated to Esperanto which are not available in
one's own language.

- Hobbies, especially collecting stamps or postcards, or discussing any
subject with people in other countries.


7. WHERE DO I FIND CLASSES, TEXTBOOKS, ETC.?

For US residents, the Esperanto League for North America is the best and
most reliable source for Esperanto materials. They offer a free basic
correspondence course (by snail mail, but see below for an E-mail
course), and may be offering a more detailed and advanced paid
correspondence course. They have an extensive catalogue of books,
including texts, reference, fiction, poetry, cassette tapes and audio
CD-ROMs. Their address is:

    Esperanto League for North America
    Box 1129
    El Cerrito CA 94530
    USA
    tel. 1-800-ESPERANTO (1-800-377-3726) toll-free (USA and Canada)
        for a free information package
    tel. (510) 653-0998

    E-mail: elna@esperanto-usa.org
    WWW site: http://www.esperanto-usa.org/

A more immediate source of texts, especially for those with access to a
university, is your local library. The quality of the books will vary
widely, of course, but most of the texts, even the older ones, will
provide a reasonable general introduction to the language.

One exception, mentioned here only because it was surplused to *many*
libraries around the US, is the US Army's "Esperanto: The Aggressor
Language", which is more of a curiosity than a useful textbook. This
book was prepared to make military exercises more realistic by having
the opposing forces speak different languages, as would be the case in a
real war. The soldiers playing the role of the aggressor were taught
Esperanto, hence the strange title. Unfortunately, the book is extremely
poor and contains a great many mistakes; in addition, its emphasis is on
military terms, not on everyday vocabulary.

The problem with most old texts is that they are... well... old! Their
presentations can seem very bland and old-fashioned, and their
"cultural" information about the Esperanto community will often be
hopelessly out of date. One recent US textbook is Richardson's
"Esperanto: Learning and Using the International Language". It is
available from ELNA and perhaps some libraries.

Another book, "Teach Yourself Esperanto" by Cresswell and Hartley, is a
very useful introduction to the language. The "Teach Yourself" series
can often be found in ordinary bookstores.

Another good, if a bit old-fashioned, textbook, "Step by Step in
Esperanto" by Butler, has recently been reprinted and is available from
ELNA. Still another book recommended by more than one participant is
"Saluton!" by Audrey Childs-Mee. This is entirely in Esperanto, with
many pictures.

Wells's two-way "Esperanto Dictionary" is a good choice for beginners.
This dictionary is in the same series as "Teach Yourself Esperanto" and
is also often available in ordinary bookstores. For a more thorough
treatment, see Butler's one-way "Esperanto-English Dictionary", and
Benson's one-way "Comprehensive English-Esperanto Dictionary".

Free Esperanto courses by E-mail are available in several languages.
Typically, these have 10 lessons and teach a vocabulary of a few hundred
words. The system is the same as for traditional correspondence courses:
the instructor sends a lesson; the student does the exercises and sends
them back; the instructor corrects the exercises and sends the next
lesson.

In English:

    Free Esperanto Course
    http://www.iki.fi/pacujo/esperanto/course/
    Marko Rauhamaa <marko.rauhamaa@iki.fi>

In French:

    Cours gratuit d'esperanto
    http://www.southern.edu/~caviness/cge/CGEquoi.html
    Ken Caviness <esperanto@southern.edu>

In German:

    Kostenloser Esperanto-Kurs
    http://www.esperanto.de/sprache/kurse/kek/
    Steffen Pietsch <kek@esperanto.de>

In Chinese:

    Mianfei Shijieyu Kecheng
    http://www.cs.hku.hk/~sdlee/esperanto/
        cxinaj-pagxoj/kurso-informoj-gb.html
    ZHONG Qiyao <zhong@accton.com.tw>

In Russian:

    Andrej Ananjin <andreo@esperanto.msk.ru>

Other languages are also available; see
    http://www.esperanto.net/veb/lerni.html
for a list.

Macintosh owners with HyperCard and MacinTalk can take advantage of an
introductory HyperCard course on Esperanto. This can be downloaded from
    ftp://ftp.stack.nl/pub/esperanto/hypercourse.dir/
(See under "FTP archives".)

Each summer, San Francisco State University and the University of
Hartford (Connecticut) offer a curriculum of Esperanto courses, in which
one may participate at beginning, intermediate, or advanced levels.
These courses are available for credit or on a non-credit basis. They
are widely considered to be one of the best opportunities to learn to
speak Esperanto "like a native", and draw students and faculty from
around the world.

San Francisco State University:

    Ellen M. Eddy
    11736 Scott Creek Dr SW
    Olympia WA 98512
    USA
    tel. (360) 754-4563
    E-mail: eddyellen@aol.com
    information at http://www.best.com/~donh/Esperanto/sfsu/

University of Hartford:

    tel. (800) 234-4412 or (860) 768-4978

Other institutions offering Esperanto courses on a regular basis
include:

In France:

    Chateau Gresillon, 49105 Bauge, tel. 02 41 89 10 34

    La Kvinpetalo, rue de Lavoir, 86410 Bouresse, tel. 05 49 42 80 74

In Poland:

    Dr. Ilona Koutny, Linguistics Institute, Adam Mickiewicz University,
    ul. Miedzychodzka 3-5, 60-371 Poznan, tel. 61 861-85-72,
    E-mail: ikoutny@main.amu.edu.pl

    Jagiellonian University, Krakow. Contact: Maria Majerczak,
    ul. Armii krajovej 7 M, PL-30-150 Krakow, tel. 12 638-14-49

In Sweden:

    Karlskoga Folkh"ogskola, Box 192, 691 24 Karlskoga, tel. 0586-64600,
    E-mail: info@fhsk.karlskoga.se

In Switzerland:

    Kultura Centro Esperantista, C.P. 311, 2301 La Chaux-de-Fonds,
    tel. (032) 9267407

In the following countries, you may contact the national Esperanto
organization to receive information on courses, buy books, etc.

In Australia:

    Australia Esperanto-Asocio, 9 Ballantyne Street, Thebarton SA 5031,
    tel. (08) 8443-8997

    http://www.esperanto.org.au/

    Book Service: c/o T. Elliott, PO Box 230, Matraville NSW 2036,
    tel. (02) 9311-2246

In Brazil:

    Brazila Esperanto-Ligo, C.P. 3625, 70084-970 Brasilia (DF),
    tel. (061) 226-1298

    E-mail: bel@esperanto.org.br, http://www.esperanto.org.br/

    Book Service: Same as above

In Canada:

    Kanada Esperanto-Asocio, P.O. Box 2159, Sidney BC, V8L 3S6

    http://www.esperanto.com/kea/

    Book Service: 6358-A, rue de Bordeaux, Montreal QC, H2G 2R8,
    tel. (514) 272-0151, E-mail: esperanto@sympatico.ca

In China:

    Cxina Esperanto-Ligo, P.O. Kesto 825, 100037 Beijing,
    tel. (010) 68326682

    Book Service: El Popola Cxinio, P.O. Kesto 77, 100037 Beijing

In France:

    Unuigxo Franca por Esperanto, 4 bis, rue de la Cerisaie,
    75004 Paris, tel. 01 42 78 68 86

    Book Service: Same as above

In Germany:

    Germana Esperanto-Asocio, Immentalstr. 3, 79104 Freiburg,
    tel. (07 61) 28 92 99

    E-mail: gea@esperanto.de, http://www.esperanto.de/gea/

    Book Services: M. Fuehrer, Am Stadtpfad 11, 65760 Eschborn,
    and Rolf Beau, Saxoniastr. 35, 04451 Althen, 
    E-mail robo.espero@t-online.de

In Italy:

    Itala Esperanto-Federacio, Via Villoresi 38, 20143 Milano,
    tel. (02) 58 100 857

    Book Service: Cooperative Editoriale Esperanto, same address
    as above

In Japan:

    Japana Esperanto-Instituto, Waseda-mati 12-3, Sinzyuku-ku,
    JP-162-0042 Tokyo-to, tel. (03) 3203 4581

    E-mail: jei@mre.biglobe.ne.jp

    Book Service: Same as above

In Russia:

    Rusia Esperantista Unio, P.f. 74, 367000 Mahackala,
    tel. (8722) 630643,
    Moscow office: P.f. 57, 105318 Moskva, tel. (095) 2437456,
    (095) 9239127

    E-mail: junusov@dagestan.ru,
    http://www.openweb.ru/koi8/esperanto/reu.htm

    Book Service: Same as Moscow office

In Sweden:

    Sveda Esperanto-Federacio, Vikingagatan 24, 11342 Stockholm,
    tel. (08) 34 08 00

    E-mail: sef@esperanto.se

    Book Service: Same as above

In Switzerland:

    Svisa Esperanto-Asocio, Jurastrasse 23, 3063 Ittigen (Bern)

    Book Service: Kultura Centro Esperantista, C.P. 779,
    2301 La Chaux-de-Fonds

In the UK:

    Esperanto-Asocio de Britio, 140 Holland Park Avenue,
    London W11 4UF, tel. (0171) 727-7821

    E-mail: eab@esperanto.demon.co.uk, http://www.esperanto.demon.co.uk/

    Book Service: Same as above

World Esperanto Association:

    Universala Esperanto-Asocio, Nieuwe Binnenweg 176,
    3015 BJ Rotterdam, The Netherlands, tel. +31 10 436 1044

    E-mail: uea@inter.nl.net,
    http://www.uea.org/

    Book Service: Same as above
    Book catalogue available online in WAIS format at:
    wais://wwwtios.cs.utwente.nl/librokatalogo

These are just some of the countries with Esperanto organizations; many
more are listed at
    http://www.esperanto.net/veb/land.html


8. HOW COME ESPERANTO DOESN'T HAVE <FAVOURITE WORD OR FEATURE>?

Although Esperanto is a planned language, it has developed well beyond
the point at which some authoritative person or group can dictate
language practice, however great the temptation may be to "tinker" with
the language. For example, many people are critical of the presence of a
feminine suffix and absence of a corresponding masculine suffix, and
have suggested masculine suffixes (-icx, -un, -ucx, -ab), neutral
pronouns (sxli, hi, ri), and/or re-interpretations of familiar words
such as redefining "frato" (brother) to mean "sibling". But there is no
single individual or committee that will simply dictate changes such as
these before they achieve general use.

Just as with any other language, the only way for such novelties to
attain acceptability is for them to be used in correspondence,
literature, and conversation by a growing number of people. If you see a
genuine lack in the language's existing stock of roots and affixes, you
may propose a new coinage and see if it catches on. Be warned that such
neologisms are often controversial and will meet with criticism in
proportion to the extent to which they break with the "Fundamento de
Esperanto" (the language's canon) or to which they are redundant to the
existing language. You should expect to receive the same reaction as if
you were proposing a new word or feature for your own language.


9. WHAT ARE SOME COMMON OBJECTIONS TO ESPERANTO? HOW DO SPEAKERS OF
   ESPERANTO RESPOND TO THEM?

(I am indebted to Ken Caviness for preparing this material. Quotations
have been edited.)

Isn't English spoken world-wide already?

    Don Harlow:

    Interestingly, while English was spoken by about 10 % of the world's
    population in 1900, and by about 11 % in 1950, it is today spoken by
    about 8.5-9 %. The corollary is that, for better than 90 % of the
    world's population, it is *not* the de facto means of international
    communication.

    David Wolff:

    English is a very difficult language to learn unless you've been
    immersed in it since birth. English spelling is said to be more
    difficult than any other language except Gaelic. English grammar,
    although it may be fairly simple, is riddled with exceptions. Verbs
    are very often irregular. Many people just aren't going to devote
    several years of effort to learn it!

    English has gained its present stature because of the current
    economic and political power of English-speaking countries. In the
    past, every super-power has briefly seen its native tongue used
    internationally: France, Spain, Portugal, the Roman empire. In fact,
    one of the main reasons why Esperanto was never adopted by the
    League of Nations was that France blocked efforts to adopt it. At
    the time, French was "the international language", and France
    expected it to stay that way forever. They were proven wrong within
    twenty years.

    Konrad Hinsen:

    Although many people all over the world study English and often
    think they speak it well, the number of people who can participate
    in a non-trivial conversation in English is very small outside
    English-speaking countries. Knowing English may be sufficient to
    survive as a tourist in many places, but not for more.

    Sylvan Zaft:

    One Chinese Esperanto speaker described Esperanto as a linguistic
    handshake. When two people shake hands they both reach out halfway.
    When two people speak Esperanto they have both made the effort to
    learn a relatively easy, neutral language instead of one person
    making the huge effort to learn the other person's difficult
    national language and the other person making no effort at all
    except to correct his/her interlocutor's errors.

Esperanto isn't a real language, is it?

    Ken Caviness:

    Yes, actually it is. You see, it's been used in all conceivable
    circumstances for over 100 years. Whatever you have to say, you can
    say it in Esperanto.

    Yves Bellefeuille:

    It's said that Umberto Eco, before he started supporting Esperanto,
    once said in class that Esperanto isn't a real language "because you
    can't make love in Esperanto". A girl later wrote to him and said,
    with some embarrassment, "I'm sorry, Professor, but it *is* possible
    to make love in Esperanto. I've done it."

    Personally, I don't believe it. I mean, I don't believe she actually
    said so. Oh, forget it. ;-)

Wouldn't any universal language break up into dialects?

    Ken Caviness:

    (1) Esperanto is intended to be your *second* language, so it
    remains relatively intact: people primarily create slang, idioms,
    etc., in their native language.

    (2) Esperanto is intended for cross-cultural use, therefore use of
    too many colloquialisms, etc., jeopardizes your chances of being
    understood (which is presumably your intention). This acts as a
    stabilizing influence on the language.

    Konrad Hinsen:

    Regional dialects appear when people communicate mostly with their
    geographical neighbours and rarely with people from further away.
    Dialects tend to disappear when long-range communication dominates
    (as can be observed in many parts of the world after the
    introduction of radio and television). There is also the not
    insignificant observation that Esperanto has not formed any dialects
    in its more than one hundred years of existence.

Can an artificial language have its own literature?

    Duncan C Thomson:

    Esperanto has just as much literature (original, not just
    translated) as any other language of a similar number of speakers.
    Just because you haven't heard of it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

    Have you heard of Auld, Szathmari, Kalocsay? Galloway, Gray, Kelman?
    None of them, probably, but you would probably not be as quick to
    claim that Scotland did not have a literary culture.

    [Several tens of thousands of books have been published in
    Esperanto; the library of the British Esperanto Association has
    30 000 volumes. There are about 100 periodicals of some importance,
    plus countless local bulletins and newsletters. At one point there
    was even a daily newspaper in Esperanto! I have no idea how they
    managed to distribute it to the subscribers in a timely
    manner. -- Ed.]

Isn't Esperanto "too European"?

    Joseph Voros:

    The argument seems to always come down to the difference between
    agglutination and separate roots. Or "Eastern" and "Western" style
    languages, broadly speaking (I know it's an over-simplification).
    Some people think every concept needs its own root, others are happy
    to begin with some basic set and modify. Two incompatible systems of
    thinking.

    I consider Esperanto to be a good compromise between "Western"
    root-based thinking and "Eastern" agglutinative thinking (again,
    very roughly speaking). Having a Hungarian background, I delight in
    the simple elegance of Esperanto word-building. [Unlike just about
    every other language in Europe, Hungarian is *not* Indo-European; it
    comes from a completely different language family. Thus, it is as
    unrelated to Esperanto as English is to Arabic, for example. -- Ed.]

    I think there is something for everyone in Esperanto, no matter what
    your linguistic background, and that this is one major reason why it
    is the most successful of the auxiliary languages.

    Sylvan Zaft:

    The other night I was having dinner here in the Detroit area with
    Koralo Chen, an Esperanto speaker from China whose home is very
    close to Hong Kong. I presented this objection to him. Koralo Chen
    replied that he had often heard this objection but that it made
    little sense to him. In his part of the world the major languages
    are completely unlike each other. Knowing Chinese doesn't help with
    learning how to speak Korean or Japanese, for instance.

    I can see why this objection makes good theoretical sense to some
    Westerners, but it makes no sense at all to those Chinese who, like
    Koralo Chen, need not a theoretically perfect but very practical
    language to learn for international communication.

Should we create a language with words from all around the world?

    Manuel M Campagna:

    The International Auxiliary Language Association (IALA) researched
    this point scientifically, and came up with the conclusion that
    while there are 6 170 languages in the world (not including
    dialects) AT THIS TIME, there is no evidence that a language with
    one word from each language would be more popular. Indeed it would
    be an unworkable hodgepodge.

    David Poulson:

    This objection has been handled at length by Prof. Pierre Janton. In
    brief, there are two major facts to take into account. First of all,
    there are thousands of languages in the world and if Esperanto
    attempted to create its vocabulary from even 10% of them you would
    simply get a language which would be very difficult to learn for
    everybody instead of the real Esperanto which is relatively easy for
    all.

    Secondly, the world-wide spread of Euro-American science, commerce,
    technology, geopolitics, entertainment, etc., has meant that many
    technical terms from "Western" languages have entered the vocabulary
    of many other languages too. So, in fact, the European basis for
    Esperanto's vocabulary is a lot more international than appears at
    first sight.

    However, the whole argument is really irrelevant because the
    internationalism of Esperanto -- or of any other planned language --
    cannot reside in its vocabulary for the reason just mentioned.

    In fact, what makes Esperanto a truly "international" language (as
    distinct from a "world" language like English) is its extraordinary
    semantic flexibility which allows speakers from different language
    families to translate their own thought patterns directly into
    Esperanto and produce something which is perfectly intelligible and
    grammatically correct.

Isn't Esperanto hard for speakers of non-Indo-European languages?

    Manuel M Campagna:

    Non-IE speakers thank you for your protective attitude, but they can
    and do fend for themselves, and Esperanto is very popular in
    Hungary, Estonia, Finland, Japan, China, Vietnam... The current
    [1995-1998] president of the Universal Esperanto Association is a
    Korean university professor of *Economics*. The most attended
    international meeting in *5000 years* of Chinese history was the
    1986 Universal Congress of Esperanto in Beijing, being the largest
    both by the number of delegates and the number of countries
    represented.


10. ARE THERE ANY FAMOUS ESPERANTO SPEAKERS?

   ***
   ***   I hope to expand this section, but I guess I could do
   ***   worse than to start with some Nobel Prize winners! ;-)
   ***

Nobel Prize Winners:

Sir William Ramsay (Chemistry, 1904)

    Awarded the Nobel Prize "in recognition of his services in the
    discovery of the inert gaseous elements in air, and his
    determination of their place in the periodic system".

    Participated in many Esperanto conferences and meetings.

Sir Joseph J. Thomson (Physics, 1906)

    "In recognition of the great merits of his theoretical and
    experimental investigations on the conduction of electricity by
    gases".

    Vice-President of the International Esperanto Science Association.

Alfred Hermann Fried (Peace, 1911)

    "Founder of _Die Friedenswarte_" (a peace publication).

    Author of an Esperanto textbook and contributor to the magazine
    _L'esperantiste_.

Charles Ribert Richet (Medicine, 1913)

    "In recognition of his work on anaphylaxis".

    Active Esperantist.

Daniel Bovet (Medicine, 1957)

    "For his discoveries relating to synthetic compounds that inhibit
    the action of certain body substances, and especially their action
    on the vascular system and the skeletal muscles".

    Learned Esperanto as a first language.

Reinhard Selten (Economics, 1994)

    "For [his] pioneering analysis of equilibria in the theory of
    non-cooperative games".

    Author of two books in Esperanto on games theory.


11. WHAT ABOUT OTHER "ARTIFICIAL" LANGUAGES LIKE LOGLAN, IDO, ETC.?

People create languages for a variety of purposes. J.R.R. Tolkien's
languages of Sindarin and Quenya, for example, were created partly as a
recreation, and partly to fulfil a literary purpose. Many languages have
been created as international languages; only Esperanto has continued to
grow and prosper after the death of its originator.

Many of the people who have attempted to promulgate international
languages more "perfect" (i.e., more "international", more "logical", or
whatever) than Esperanto have failed to understand that -- given a
certain minimum standard of internationality, aesthetic quality, and
ease of learning -- further tinkering not only fails to substantially
improve the product, but interferes with the establishment of a large
community of speakers. A language like, say, Interlingua might be (by
some individual's criteria) "better" than Esperanto, but in order for it
to be worth uprooting the established world of Esperanto and creating an
equivalently widespread world community of Interlingua speakers, it
would have to be visibly and profoundly an improvement over Esperanto of
prodigious proportions. No international language project has yet
produced such an obviously ideal language.

In the net community, one of the best known planned language projects is
James Cooke Brown's Loglan (and its revised offshoot Lojban). While some
enthusiasts do see Loglan and Lojban as competitors to Esperanto, the
languages were conceived not as a tool to facilitate better
communication, but as a linguistic experiment, to test the Whorf
hypothesis that a language shapes (or limits) the thoughts of its
speakers. They are thus deliberately designed to bear little resemblance
to existing human languages. While Loglan and Lojban are unlikely (and,
by design, perhaps unsuited) to succeed as international languages, both
are interesting projects in their own right.


The address to write for Loglan information is:

    The Loglan Institute
    3009 Peters Way
    San Diego CA 92117
    USA

    tel. (619) 270-1691
    E-mail: loglan@compuserve.com


For Lojban, contact:

    Bob LeChevalier, President
    The Logical Language Group, Inc.
    2904 Beau Lane
    Fairfax VA 22031-1303
    USA

    tel. (703) 385-0273 (day/evenings)
    E-mail: lojban@lojban.org
    http://xiron.pc.helsinki.fi/lojban/
    http://www.lojban.org/

Those interested in Mark Okrand's "Klingon" language can join a mailing
list; to subscribe, send a message to:

    listserv@kli.org

consisting of the body line:

    subscribe tlhingan-hol Your_Real_Name


There is a general "constructed language" (Conlang) mailing list; to
subscribe, send a message to:

    listserv@brownvm.brown.edu

consisting of the body line (not subject):

    subscribe conlang


There is also an "auxiliary language" (Auxlang) mailing list. The
difference between this list and Conlang is that Auxlang deals more
particularly with languages designed to enhance international
communication, such as Esperanto. To subscribe, send a message to:

    listserv@brownvm.brown.edu

consisting of the body line (not subject):

    subscribe auxlang


Finally, fans of Tolkien's language creations can join a
Tolkien-language mailing list. To subscribe, send a message to:

    tolklang-server@dcs.ed.ac.uk

with the following subject line or body line (either will do):

    subscribe tolklang Your_Real_Name


As for our own Esperanto newsgroup, many readers are interested in other
planned languages, and discussion of these can often be informative and
interesting. But politeness dictates that "Esperanto-bashing" in an
Esperanto forum is inappropriate and should be avoided.


12. WHAT ARE PAG, PIV, PMEG, PV, TEJO AND UEA?

As with other groups, there are some common acronyms that come up from
time to time here.

PAG:    Plena Analiza Gramatiko, an analysis of Esperanto grammar. It is
        not authoritative, and many people will disagree with some of
        its conclusions, but it is the most detailed reference work to
        date on Esperanto grammar.

PIV,
PIV-S:  Plena Ilustrita Vortaro, a very complete Esperanto dictionary
        (i.e., it is entirely in Esperanto) containing not only the
        officially recognized words, but many more that are in general
        (and not so general) use. Some of its entries are dubious, but
        it is a highly useful reference work. PIV is now quite
        expensive. It was published in 1970, with a supplement in 1987
        ("PIV-S" means "PIV with Supplement"). A new edition is
        currently being prepared.

PMEG:   Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko, an analysis and
        commentary on Esperanto grammar. Available online at
        http://purl.oclc.org/NET/pmeg.

PV:     Plena Vortaro. PIV's little brother, so to speak; it was written
        in 1953 and contains fewer technical terms, neologisms, etc.

TEJO:   Tutmonda Esperantista Junulara Organizo, the World Organization
        of Young Esperantists. Members of UEA under 30 years of age are
        automatically members of TEJO. TEJO publishes a bi-monthly
        magazine called "Kontakto" and a quarterly newsletter called
        "TEJO Tutmonde", and sponsors the annual international youth
        congress (Internacia Junulara Kongreso, or IJK).

UEA:    Universala Esperanto-Asocio, the World Esperanto Association. It
        publishes a monthly magazine cleverly titled "Esperanto",
        produces a "Jarlibro" (yearbook) containing information on
        national and special-interest Esperanto organizations and
        contacts, and sponsors the annual international Esperanto
        congress (Universala Kongreso, or UK).


13. HOW DO YOU SAY "I LOVE YOU" IN ESPERANTO?

"Mi amas vin."

There are several WWW sites with lists of ways to say "I love you" in
various languages. Try
    http://www.dina.kvl.dk/~fischer/alt.romance/language.html
    http://personal.inet.fi/koti/krista.hauhio/feelings.htm

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