Friday, 25 September 2009

Esperanto-International Language?

So, I'm looking for things to do in Amiens and I find out there are Esperanto lessons in Amiens. Not having a clue what this was (sorry linguists) I look it up on the internet and now I'm fascinated!

But people...have you ever met someone who speaks it? I didn't even know it existed until 10 mins ago and I'm hardly a language recluse! Really why would Amiens (coincé de chez coincé) have these lessons when they hardly do French lessons? I'm totally interested and I might go to one of these lessons just to find out more about these people. Do you think it would mean something on my French CV to say that I can speak Esperanto? Interesting, very interesting.

Linguists, speak up! What's the deal with this language? Why would I go to lessons? Is it really a living language?


Bill Chapman said...

Esperanto's not just for linguists - it's for anyone interested in the wider world.

Incidentally, the latest issue of "La Brita Esperantisto" suggests that speakers of this planned language are too modest about what it has to offer,so here goes. Esperanto works! I've used it in speech and writing in about fifteen countries over recent years.

Indeed, the language has some remarkable practical benefits. Personally, I've made friends around the world through Esperanto that I would never have been able to communicate with otherwise. And then there's the Pasporta Servo, which provides free lodging and local information to Esperanto-speaking travellers in over 90 countries. Over recent years I have had guided tours of Berlin, Douala and Milan in the planned language. I have discussed philosophy with a Slovene poet, humour on television with a Bulgarian TV producer. I've discussed what life was like in East Berlin before the wall came down, how to cook perfect spaghetti, the advantages and disadvantages of monarchy, and so on.

I recommend it, not just as an ideal but as a very practical way to overcome language barriers.

You clearly speak French? But how'd your Hungarian, your Japanese,your Igbo?

Rachel said...

I can't believe you of all people had not heard of this!

See this pretty good recent BBC article -

Its such a wonderful concept, but has never really caught on in the mainstream. Certainly lots of speakers worldwide though, and as the previous comment highlights common speaking of it creates an instant sense of community and amity.

Why not sign up to the lessons??


Ksam said...

I know a French guy here in Paris who speaks it fluently. And V-town had an Esperanto club too!

I find the concept of it very interesting though - I mean, people get so hung up on which language is the international language, and Esperanto kind of solves that by not favoring one country over all the others.

Miĉjo said...

Like the vast majority of Esperanto speakers, I'm not a linguist, but I do speak and use it. Hope that's OK.

Nearly all Esperanto speakers speak it as a second (or third, or fourth...) language, and very few go around displaying it, so how would anyone know? :-) (I really think we Esperantists could do a better job of advertising.) I know some Esperanto speakers, but that's because I already speak it; learn it, and you'll discover ample opportunity to use it.

From my experience living in French-speaking Europe (2 years in SE France, 12 years in Suisse Romande), I'm not surprised there's an Esperanto group in Amiens. French speakers are actually quite relatively amiable to Esperanto.

I include Esperanto on my CV. My current job is in software localization, in which any and all language skills are welcome; I felt my Esperanto was seen as a plus, even if the company I work for doesn't localize into it. I would say include Esperanto for any job offer for which language skills are welcome, even if it doesn't call for Esperanto.

Yes, Esperanto is a real, living language. It started "artificial" when it was published in 1887, but its inventor soon set it free to follow the whims of its speakers. Used in every situation imaginable, it evolved and grew over the ensuing decades to mature into the complete, living natural language it is today. When you learn it, you'll be able to see for yourself by actually using it.

If you're more of an "autodidacte", Esperanto is easy enough that it can be effectively self-taught. A couple of good places to go are Kurso de Esperanto (free downloadable multimedia course) and (lots of free online courses of varying levels, plus an online dictionary and grammar). Learning with others is always more fun, especially with Esperanto, which is easy enough for you to actually see your progress.

Ailanto said...

Saluton el Usono!

Andromeda said...

When my old roommate went to eastern Europe she could speak Esperanto with people and have them understand. Plus, the people in her classes are super nice!

Canedolia said...

I was under the impression that Esperanto had kind of been supplanted by international English.

Which would, of course, explain why the French are still plugging Esperanto :-)

Having read the first comment, though, I'm off to do some more research!

Ze Jerk said...

Whaou, Esperanto seems really great! Et dire que I've been working my ass off learning English. Go for Esperanto, mate. Do they have Harry Potter translated into it?
I speak Latin, Gaellic, Cantonese (snippets of Mandarin) and Esperanto fluently. Hire me!

Have you noticed how many interesting comments you got just because you said the word 'Esperanto'?

Brian Barker said...

The use of international English implies and encourages linguistic imperialism. This is why there is growing support for Esperanto.

Esperanto has also has become a living language.

Your readers may be interested in the following video at Professor Piron was a translator with the United Nations in Geneva.

A glimpse of Esperanto can be seen at

Miĉjo said...

@ Ze Jerk:

Et dire que I've been working my a** off learning English. Go for Esperanto, mate.

No one here has claimed that learning English is an utter waste of time, nor that English and Esperanto are mutually exclusive. Nothing and no one here is stopping you or Emmy or anyone else from pursing Esperanto along with English, or French, or ice hockey, or oil painting, or non-linear multivariate differential equations. Emmy's original question was "Should I go to Esperanto lessons?", not "Why should I learn Esperanto instead of language XXX?".

Do they have Harry Potter translated into it?

To my knowledge, nothing of J. K. Rowling's has been translated into Esperanto. However, a sampling of well-known authors some of whose works have been translated into Esperanto includes the following:

* Dante Alighieri
* Hans Christian Andersen
* Charles Baudelaire
* Lewis Carroll
* Fyodor Dostoyevsky
* René Goscinny
* Johann Wolfgang von Göthe
* Franz Kafka
* Rudyard Kipling
* Edgar Allen Poe
* Aleksandr Pushkin
* William Shakespeare
* Leo Tolstoy

I speak Latin, Gaelic, Cantonese (snippets of Mandarin) and Esperanto fluently. Hire me!

I said that "I felt my Esperanto was seen as a plus, even if the company I work for doesn't localize into it ... include Esperanto for any job offer for which language skills are welcome, even if it doesn't call for Esperanto". If you speak these languages, congratulations. However, my CV lists languages which I really do speak or understand: English (obviously), French (j'ai grandi au Canada après quoi j'ai passé de nombreuses années à parler français dans les cadres professionnel et familial dans différents pays à raison de plusieurs heures par jour), Arabic (نعم إنني قد تعلمت العربية الفضحى في الجامعة وأستخدمها من حين إلى آخر), German (ich kann es ziemlich gut aber ich brauche's nicht mehr seit langem und darauf habe ich viel vergessen), Esperanto (ĉu vi ja fakte kredas ke mi reagus tie ĉi se mi ne kapablus paroli la internacian lingvon) and passive Spanish and Italian, which actually did help get me hired on my most recent job. The Esperanto was of course not a determining factor, but it did draw positive attention during the interview process, and every bit helps.

Have you noticed how many interesting comments you got just because you said the word 'Esperanto'?

Emmy did not just say the word 'Esperanto', but asked intelligent, pointed questions about Esperanto. I and the other Esperantists obliged by attempting to answer those questions factually and candidly.

Emmy said...

well guys, I never imagined this little question would create so much interest! Thanks so much for replying and suggesting websites. I'm still really interested to see the Esperanto class in Amiens and I've emailed them for more info.

I've read some negativities concerning Esperanto - it seems that some people are suspicious of it, or don't see the point in learning a cultureless language.

Living in a very closed minded community is so frustrating and makes me want to reach out and find open minded people more. From what I've read or from your comments here, maybe the Esperanto class will allow me to meet such people. That for the moment will do for me!

To be continued...

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