Why I Started Learning Esperanto?

I like reading and I always try my best to spare a few hours reading on a daily basis. One of my interests is constructed language (conlang). Conlang is so amazing, it proves that we, as human beings, are able to create our own tool of communication. Arika Okrent listed out 500 existing conlangs in her popular book “In The Land Of Invented Languages”, however, there is said to be much more conlangs in this world. Out of many existing conlangs, there was one that caught my attention so deeply that I cannot even forget our first encounter until today, it was Esperanto.


Yes, Native Esperanto Speakers Exist.

I frequently saw the word “Esperanto” anywhere while I was reading forums’ articles as usual. I would not search further about it if it had not appeared so often. Esperanto is said to be a neutral language, not belonging to any particular nation. It was deliberately created to be an easy-to-learn language, and strangely, it even has native speakers whose parents met in Esperanto events and for some of them, Esperanto is the only common language. Thus, they use it as a family language. Quite strange, but true. For them, Esperanto is not just a communication tool but it has, somehow, changed their lives.

It all started with curiosity. They say “Curiosity killed the cat.” but seems like my curiosity to know more about Esperanto has brought me sweet memories, from friendship to an extra income. I teach Esperanto language online and I hope to publish books in Esperanto in the future. Believe it or not, there are Esperanto publishers that publish books and magazines. There is even news in Esperanto.

6 Important Traits Of Esperanto

Lernu.net, one of the biggest websites to learn Esperanto lists out the six most important traits of Esperanto:

1- International

Esperanto is most useful for communicating among people of diverse nations who do not have a common mother tongue.

2- Neutral

It doesn't belong to one people or country, so it works as a neutral language.

3- Equal

When you use Esperanto, you feel more equal from a linguistic standpoint than when, for example, you speak Spanish with a native Spanish speaker.

4- Relatively Easy

Thanks to the structure of Esperanto, it's usually much easier to master than other foreign languages.

5- Living

Esperanto evolves and lives just like other languages, and it can be used to express the most varied facets of human thought and emotion.

6- Just

Everyone who learns Esperanto has a good chance of reaching a high level in it, and later, from a linguistic standpoint, of speaking it on a similar level as others, independently of linguistic background.

It seems to me that Esperanto is still competing with many existing languages to be the only acceptable international language. Nevertheless, it has been used by quite a lot of speakers worldwide (the number of speakers is estimated to be as much as 2 million), therefore, it is already an international language.

These characteristics of Esperanto really made me think “Is it real?” After all, I gave it a try. I started to learn Esperanto in 2013. I did self-learning by using online study materials from Lernu.net website.

Everything looked fine. The grammar was quite easy, as mentioned in #4 above that this language is relatively easy because it has a set of affixes that form a word into another meaning without changing much of it. For instance,

Domo = house
Dometo = hut (small house)
Domego = mansion (big house)

The -et- (small) and -eg- (big) form new meanings derived from the noun that it represents.

There are 10 prefixes and 31 suffixes. Learning these affixes is enough to form new words easily. Esperanto is a logical language. Because of this reason, I could learn Esperanto quicker than learning other languages. After 4 months of learning it, I wrote a short article for a Brazilian Esperanto magazine, and they published it. That was an amazing achievement I have ever had!

As mentioned in #5, Esperanto is a living language. It has many words for modern objects, such as telefono (telephone), komputilo (computer), and it even has Fejsbuko, Skajpo, and Tvitero. I am sure that you understand the last three words.
Esperanto FriendshipMaking friends in Esperantujo (Esperanto-land) may seem bizarre to many non-Esperantists. ”How on earth can you make friends by speaking a conlang?”. It is possible and Esperanto friendship is real. I have met Esperantists from diverse countries through Esperanto, and they are cool people with lots of traveling and international friendship experience.

Since everyone learns Esperanto from scratch, making mistakes is inevitable. Thus, speaking Esperanto makes us feel more equal. Sometimes, we correct each other’s mistakes. Esperanto’s flexibility even allows us to make new words, just in case, we don’t know how to say it correctly. For instance, you may understand restoracio as “restaurant” but for those, whose language doesn’t have “restaurant” or similar, it will be more difficult for them to remember. Thus, they can use the logic to create a word that conveys the same meaning, manĝejo (a place for eating). This word contains the root word manĝ- means “to eat” as a verb and “meal” as a noun, -ej- means “place”, and -o means a noun.

Using the internet is the easiest and fastest way to make friends in Esperanto. There are a lot of online groups where you can join regular conference calls. Besides, there are also gatherings in various countries that you can join and get to know even more Esperantists than that you can know online. The biggest Esperanto gathering is called the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto (World Esperanto Congress) that is held in different countries annually.

From time to time, there are traveling Esperantists that contact me directly or through the introduction of other Esperantists when they come to Taiwan, we then hangout at cafés or visit touristy places. For some of us, we can even chat like close friends on our first meeting because we have known each other online or we have common friends. I am always curious about when they decide to learn Esperanto, how influential it is to their life, and what they have done with Esperanto.

Final Thoughts

As a non-native English speaker, I feel that it is easier for me to make international friends by Esperanto. The goal of the invention of Esperanto is to facilitate international communication, so it is the thought that everyone, who learns Esperanto, has in mind, that they are going to be able to use it to communicate with foreigners. Nevertheless, English is still the most useful language for information access although there are gradually more information available in Esperanto.
Esperanto was created with Latin as the base, thus making it similar with other languages from the same group, such as Spanish, Italian, French, etc. In fact, I find out that many Esperanto verbs are similar with that in French. Knowing Esperanto certainly helps me to learn French faster.

Nowadays, we may accept the norm that everyone must speak English for international communication but it is a disadvantage for those whose language is very different with English. I have known Esperantists who can’t speak English and our communication relies heavily on Esperanto. Esperanto has a regular grammar, it is definitely easier to learn.

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