https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine

Is Esperanto "useless"?

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I am taking a MOOC in linguistics, and I mentioned that I started learning Esperanto today. A fellow student commented that if a person already knows English, French, and German, it's useless to learn Esperanto. He also said it's really only easy for people whose native language is in the Indo-European family.

Do you agree or disagree, and why?

https://www.coursera.org/course/humanlanguage

3 years ago

84 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/OnesimusUnbound

It really boils down to where you plan to use it. To connect to the global community, yes. To work in a company, I doubt it. To travel, yes, if you take advantage of the Pasporta Servo.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pseudocreobotra

Esperanto isn't a language that you should learn if your goal is to maximise the number of people you can communicate with. But really, I would also argue that French and German aren't optimal if that's your goal. There are only like 100 mio native speaker of German and the vast majority at least passively understands English and over 60% claim that they can hold a conversation in English. Honestly, I'm a native German speaker and I don't get why someone who doesn't want to spend a lot of time in German speaking areas would consider it useful.

And it's true that Esperanto is mostly helpful to learn more languages if it's your first foreign language. But you can still learn it because you're interested in the concept or want to be a part of the community and enjoy its unique culture. It depends on what you evaluate as "useful" and even whether "usefulness" matters to you at all.

Regarding Indo-European native speakers and Esperanto... It's easier for us to learn the vocabulary because it's basically created out of all the different Indo-European languages. However, the grammar and sentence structure aren't particularly Indo-European-centric. Actually, from the languages I learn the grammar reminds me most to Japanese which is also agglutinative and has quite a small number of tenses.

It's hard to evaluate how difficult Esperanto is for speakers of different native languages. But for many Asians, it's definitely way easier than English because of its regularity and flexible sentence structure.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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Thank you to everyone for participating in this stimulating discussion! It's a lot of food for thought, and I already see that Esperanto is worth it just for the sense of community and culture. But I also see its value as a universal language and did not agree with the student in my linguistics class. I do believe it could become a thing again if more people (we) would push it. I think Duolingo will help with that!

I am also fascinated by the new language, nematura lingvo, that was invented today in this thread. But they can build their own learning app and leave us in peace.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConorFingleton

I'm doing the same course. Haven't wandered into the forums yet, but...I wouldn't have decided to take the course if I hadn't randomly decided to start learning Esperanto. I always assumed languages just weren't my thing until I started learning E-o. Now I'm struggling to whittle down my list of languages I want to dive into after getting the green star notch on my belt. Maybe I won't enjoy my next language as much as E-o, or even ever get to a point where I'm comfortable enough with E-o to claim fluency...but as it stands, I think that right there is the "use" of Esperanto. It's a gentle introduction to the world of languages.

I can't say much about why someone who already knows English, French or German might want to learn it, beyond the fact that if they know three languages already they probably have an interest in languages in general. That, and what little of the culture I've been able to absorb and understand is quite enjoyable, even beyond of the "peace love, bringing the whole world together" aspect of it(not that I have any qualms with that side of E-o). There seems to be a real DIY feel to a lot of the movies music I've come across. I find that sort of endearing.

Sure, E-o hasn't accomplished it's original goal of becoming the worlds second language, and they're other languages you could learn if your aim was simply to expand the number of people you can communicate with. Sure, there's not as much money or resources being poured into producing E-o materials media as there is for other more widespread languages. But every time you watch something made by Esperantists, even if it's low quality in many respects, you know almost everyone involved CHOSE to learn Esperanto. That speaks a lot to the value of the language, and a lot of that passion comes through in whatever it is Esperantists happen to have made.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NicolasDC
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I'm taking the same course!!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
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What the student told you is a big fat generalization. Ignoring the fact that no evidence is presented, the statement is also poorly defined. One can not possibly say something like this without knowing more about where the speaker plans to be or what they plan to do. What if you just want to study Esperanto literature?

It also strikes me as a rather rarefied assumption to make: "if you know (I'll assume this means speak fluently) English, French, and German..." What portion of the population does that apply to? .01%? Yes, if you already know them, there may be some truth to this. But that is not an endorsement for beginning on a course of study of all three of those languages, which will take the better part of a decade to become competent in.

And if you are such a polyglot, you can probably pick up Esperanto in a week, since most of its roots come from one of those languages. With an almost zero marginal cost to acquiring the language in that scenario, it doesn't take much utility to justify it.

The other thing that people just don't get about Esperanto is that if you meet someone on a month-long vacation who speaks one of the European languages Esperanto is based on (or a closely related language), and you have access to the internet, and they are committed, you can be having substantive, if halting, conversations with each other before your voyage is through. It is the difference between finding a speaker and creating one.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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The sad part is that Esperanto probably never took off precisely because too many people think the way that linguistics student does.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
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There are a lot of legitimate reasons not to learn Esperanto. That's fine. I just think the argument: since you can get by doing three really difficult things at once, you shouldn't bother learning to do a relatively easy thing (which you already have an interest in) is not really an argument at all.

It's like saying: since you know how to fly a jet, drive a car, and ride a bicycle, you shouldn't learn to walk. Esperanto is extremely easy and natural to people who know any of a variety of European languages. That is its whole raison d'être. I live in the suburban U.S. and I can tell you there are plenty of people who think it is insane to walk anywhere when you can drive a car, without really considering all of the variables. When people make this choice over and over again, you get sprawl and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. It becomes difficult to get anywhere on your own two feet because there is no supportive infrastructure and no social or cultural support. I think this attitude is analogous, in a way, with that facing Esperanto. Different modes of transportation and different modes of communication have different advantages and disadvantages, but sometimes those become warped by collective behaviors, and we need to step back and reassess our investments.

ADDENDUM: I would also point out that the degree to which Esperanto "never took off" is very relative. It is spoken by more people than currently speak hundreds of fading indigenous languages. It is far and away the most successful constructed language which has ever existed (and there have been many, many constructed languages just over the past 500 years). When you stop and think about the immense inertia confronting the (foolhardy) project of getting people to speak a made-up language, you realize that Esperanto is actually phenomenally successful. Whether it will continue its positive trajectory in the future is, of course, anybody's guess.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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There's about the same number of people speaking Slovenian as possibly Esperanto (if the 2M estimate holds). You hear a lot about Slovenia (more than Esperanto), and it's hardly a "fading indigenous language". There's probably several times as many people speaking Esperanto than Icelandic, yet Icelandic is also not a fading language. A lot of Slovenians and Icelanders would be very offended if someone said that their national languages (and therefore their culture) just "never took off". Esperanto is not the second language of the world, but it took English at least several hundreds of years to be so widely used, and it already started from a much wider base. Also Esperanto was blocked by the French for the League of Nations because they feared it would hurt the leading role of French in international communication. How times change... Nowadays nobody would say that you should learn French if you want to travel a lot (unless that travelling involves parts of Canada, France, or parts of Africa). So, French also "never took off".

As to what will happen next? As a wise man said: Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh

There's about the same number of people speaking Slovenian as possibly Esperanto (if the 2M estimate holds). You hear a lot about Slovenia (more than Esperanto), and it's hardly a "fading indigenous language". There's probably several times as many people speaking Esperanto than Icelandic, yet Icelandic is also not a fading language. A lot of Slovenians and Icelanders would be very offended if someone said that their national languages (and therefore their culture) just "never took off".

Seveer said

It is spoken by more people than currently speak hundreds of fading indigenous languages.

That doesn't imply that all languages with fewer speakers than Esperanto are fading indigeneous languages.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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I didn't mean to imply you said that, I meant simply to point out that there are in fact not fading languages as that is something you didn't say. Think of my reply not as contradictory but rather as additive.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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I didn't mean to offend any Esperantists. I may not be the most intelligent or educated person here. I guess I am seeing it from a standpoint of Esperanto not being a language option for my online profile, Esperanto not typically being offered as a high school or college language option, etc.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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No worries, I was just pointing out certain possible counterexamples, I doubt anyone was offended by what you said. I mostly agree with what you guys said. I mean Esperanto "never took off" is a correct statement in a correct context (though it could be interpreted negatively). My point (I understand my post may have been a bit convoluted, and it really was only one of my points) was that it didn't happen overnight that English became so widespread and that before it was French which was in that position.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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BTW, I can hardly consider myself an Esperantist having only learned the language this summer (finally after many years wanting to:)

Anyway perhaps to add a more constructive comment: I guess the point is the difference between absolute current numbers vs trends. As long as the trend is positive it is not a "has been", it is perhaps just taking longer to get where we'd want it to be.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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I don't disagree with you. Case in point re: infrastructure. I work as a freelancer through an online agency. Yesterday, I went to add "Esperanto" (basic, meaning written comms only) to my profile. It wasn't even an option, so I had to put in a help desk ticket. I personally think there should be more of an active movement for Esperanto education. I would participate.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amuzulo
Mod
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There is quite a decent movement for Esperanto education. You can find the community at edukado.net. My theory is that very few Esperanto speakers are marketers, thus we mostly have amateurs trying to market the language. And when I once explained Esperanto to a marketer and asked his advice, he said, "Wow, that's the hardest 'product' I've ever heard to market." So, if it stumps professionals, imagine how hard it is for amateurs. I'm sometimes shocked it's done as well as it has all things considered! :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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I do understand that there is apparently a movement I was previously unaware of. But as a college-educated American in her forties, having lived generally in suburban areas, I have never in my life heard one person mention Esperanto. The only reason I knew about it was because of a moldy book on my mother's bookshelf. Somebody gave it to her, and she never really looked at it. So I guess my point is that the "movement" is very much underground. I can understand why marketing such a product to the general population might be tricky, but marketing a simple, universal language to people who are already interested in languages seems like a no-brainer. And then those people would spread it to the general population. If I had children, I would teach it to them. I know my comments seem ignorant to experienced Esperantists, but that's how I see it. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Don_Cristian
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For me it's useless but it's interesting to study it a bit still.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheCenterZone

I do not agree that it is useless because you will be able to find Esperanto speakers that don't know French, German or English. This is especially true if someone is learning Esperanto before any other language in order to get acquainted with language learning. It is definitely easier for native Indo-European speakers to make associations with words in Esperanto. However, I do think that you are probably better off studying a non-artificial language because you can enjoy history, culture, deep literature, cinema, and communicate with much more people usually.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WahahaDrills
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The thing is that Esperanto also has a pretty colorful history as well as a growing base of literature, cinema, and music that's already relatively sizable. These things go into the culture which is indeed very present among Esperantists.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh

I am taking a MOOC in linguistics, and I mentioned that I started learning Esperanto today. A fellow student commented that if a person already knows English, French, and German, it's useless to learn Esperanto.

IMO once you know English there's not really any other language you need to learn for utilitarian purposes. Everything after that you should learn based on what you're interested in.

He also said it's really only easy for people whose native language is in the Indo-European family.

It probably is easier for people who speak IE languages because those are what Esperanto's based on. However because it doesn't have exceptions Esperanto is probably easier to learn for, say, a Mandarin speaker than English. Would it be easier for such a speaker than Cantonese? Not a clue.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

Working in say S.America and not speaking Spanish/Portuguese will not be very 'utilitarian' if you knew English. ~80% in the world do not speak English (much >% outside N.America/EUR) . Only 4.5% native and falling.

For passive reading EN is utilitarian. I also use EO to get less biased info.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh

That's because you're picking a specific country and pointing out English isn't the main language. No surprises there. I'm pointing out in terms of languages most widely spoken world wide English is probably near the top, if not the top. I would even go so far as to say English probably qualifies as the world's current acrolect.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

It's about awareness of the whole world, not just developed countries. English is the most popular (widely spoken/used would be Chinese/Spanish/Hindi dialects). You are correct, it's also acrolect (at summit) and moving under control of the non-native users (not all are competent speakers) with simplified glossary/grammar.

Thanks to Google we can read the rarely used words out of 650k+ to ~1500 for majority of EN users. That would be challenging in normal conversation with non-native speakers.

Thanks to Esperanto, I'm aware of really effective construct/grammar for international communication. I create my own glossary of translation where I prioritise more international EN words (usually from Latin rather than anglo-saxon) so majority will understand me. I also avoid noise articles when unambiguous, or want to be open to abstract concept(s) rather than a/the...

For the times they are a-changin'.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vanege
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They taught me Spanish in high-school. It was totally useless because I had no reason to use it. I forgot everything. But I learned Esperanto and it is very useful to me, because I enjoy using this easy and creative language and I feel part of a tight-knit family. TLDR: Usefulness is relative. If you use it, it is useful.

Note : logic and regularity make things easier for everything.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/solidgitarius
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I do find it useless, but it's interesting, I kind of liked it. I did the tree because I was curious, but I'm not planning to go deep into it, though.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/doktorkampi
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How is this MOOC called? Could you provide the link?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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Yes, I should have added it to my original post (which I will edit). Please see above! Thanks for the reminder!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/doktorkampi
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It looks pretty interesting. I'll sign up. Thanks!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JPS_Originals

I don't understand where anyone speaks Esperanto. When Duolingo first introduced the chance to learn this language, it was the first time I had heard about it. Never in my life have I ran into anyone who has said that they can speak it, or that they are learning it, and I have done quite a lot of travelling.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConorFingleton

I think Esperanto is probably like vegetarianism in some respects. If I'm ordering food with people who don't know I'm a veggie, I'll conspiratorially ask waiters what the options are without drawing attention to myself. I've lived with people for months before they've copped I'm a veggie.

You just get sick of the rote checklist of questions/comments: a.)But what do you EAT? b.)But what about the PROTEIN? c.)But meat's so TASTY? d.)But if you were on a desert island with only a pig(or a bacon sandwich), would you eat it then? Get's old really quickly. I guess it's the same with Esperantists.

I haven't really told anyone I'm learning E-o, but I'm sure there's a rote checklist I'd be sick of already if I was going around making it known: a.)But where do you SPEAK IT? b.)But what about the CULTURE? c.)But English is already so GLOBAL?..... I won't bring it up I reckon unless I know the other person is into languages or whatever.

NOTE: The answer to the desert island question is I'd eat the bacon sandwich/kill the pig and eat it. Genuine hunger trumps ideals every time. If it was just me and you on a desert island, eventually one of us would kill and eat the other. Hunger is not an optional impulse to act on, and if it was just me and you on that island, I'd be making sure I was the one getting fed.

TL;DR: E-o similar to veggie-ness, most E-ists probably don't bang on about it because they're sick of the usual counter-arguments and rote responses. If we were on a desert island with no food, I'd kill you and eat you. I'm sure you're delicious.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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I can't really "like" this post since you said outright that you'd eat me given the opportunity, but I like your points in general. ;) To be fair, though, I always thought that was the point of the green star. I like the idea of Esperantists being a semi-secret society (while still advocating the spread of the language, LOL). I always surmised that wearing the pin would not draw too many questions from those not in the know, but would help us immediately identify each other. Sort of like a mason's ring.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConorFingleton

Not if given the opportunity, just if I had to... :D

I'd totally wear the pin. Do we get a secret handshake? Been thinking of getting one after seeing it in "Pasporto al la Tuta Mondo"(can't remember which lesson...the one where S-o Bundo the Shopkeeper invited Ken the Reporter to stay at hers when she saw his pin). Will women also randomly invite me to stay at their place if I wear the pin? :D

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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I'm just one (sorta old) person, but if I met a guy wearing the pin, I'd be thinking, "That's hot!" And figuring out how to approach each other in a cool way would be a non-issue. So it could increase your chances. You'll never know unless you try it! ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConorFingleton

Ha, I'm sold. Now off to order one. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BillionBea
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My discovery of Esperanto took place exactly six months ago. At first, I felt very ignorant. How could this be? I love to read, have always been fascinated with languages and culture(apparently, not enough) and travelled a bit. Where did this come from? Can I learn it? And more importantly, how? You have heard about Esperanto. Better still, you have the means to learn it. What are you going to do about it? Just talking about it, makes a good conversation starter on your trips. The first person I told about my discovery, ended up getting a 4 month head start. Another friend is about to start learning. Now I have 2 people I can learn and speak with.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amuzulo
Mod
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That's incredible! :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Mod
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I only found out recently that a good friend of mine has been wanting to learn Esperanto since they were little. And through them I met another person who has been studying it for a while. And it turns out that a third mystery person has been ordering books in to the library for learning as well. So, it's definitely out there. Sometimes, people just haven't shared that part of their lives with us for whatever reason. In this case, I mentioned the course and that sparked the revelation and connections.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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Actually by sheer probability, if you have travelled a lot, you have most likely run into someone that knew it or was learning it, and you've probably even interacted with that person. Just like most of the time I do not know what languages other people speak because I have a way of communicating with them already, so unless the topic of learning languages randomly comes up, I will never find out. Someone's native language usually is easy to guess because of where they are from (but not always). But all the second languages a person speaks? I have no clue for most people I know.

So you only find out if you ask, and if you didn't know about it, you haven't asked. You simply don't immediately find out everything about every person that you know, have met, or perhaps just interacted with. It could be that you bought coffee in a coffee shop from a barista who speaks Esperanto. How would you know?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh

Actually by sheer probability

The Law of Truly Large Numbers is, I think, what you're referring to. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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:). Yes. By that law you've met a Klingon speaker (actually I know one person who knows some Klingon, so there). Let's just suppose against all evidence that Esperanto speakers are uniformly distributed (I bet however that they are far more prevalent in the developed world where people have more luxury of free time to learn something like Esperanto). OK so there are 7 billion people approximately on earth. There are approximately 2 mil Esperanto speakers. So if you've met 3 to 4 thousand people in your life, odds are better than not that you've met an Esperanto speaker. And I would bet the odds are an order of magnitude better in a place like Europe, where there is clearly a higher concentration of esperantists. I also bet that it is more likely that esperantists are city dwellers, so I would suppose that if you are in a large European city, it is even more likely. Let's say an order of magnitude, so perhaps 1 in 300, or perhaps even more likely. If you take a subway during rush hour, you've seen a few thousand people, so you've seen a few esperantists. Unfortunately they are hard to tell apart :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DanielFranco10
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2 million esperanto speakers? That is utter rubbish and I'm sure dedicated esperantists also know it but rather choose to let the lies flow.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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Do you have some evidence that it is rubbish or is it based purely on belief? I am really interested (being a mathematician I'm naturally interested) but good statistics are very hard to get by.

Anyway, the 2mil estimate was the high estimate, but it is also 15 years ago. In a decade, the number of Esperanto speakers in Hungary, where some numbers do exist, doubled. So a high very optimistic estimate nowadays could be 4 mil. On the other hand taking approx 8k Hungarian speakers (that was 2011, so there are more now given the growth seemed exponential) gets us to a rough estimate of 600k esperantists in Europe alone, where I assume esperantism is prevalent. I will conservatively guess that maybe half or more esperantists are in Europe perhaps, and I get to a million. So a 2mil estimate by someone doing more than paper napkin calculations is not surprising, and I would not feel justified in calling it rubbish, in short my only conclusion is that it is perhaps high, but believable.

In a related statistic, there are also 6 nobel prizes that went to esperantists. I think the number is more like 8 though I can't find that reference right now, so let's work with six. There are 5 nobel prizes that went to Czech speakers. So, if the number of esperantists is only 1mil, then they are 10 times as smart as the average Czech. :). Alternatively there are 10 mil esperantists that are just as dumb on average as us Czech speakers.

So I would really like to know how you arrive at your conclusion?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh

By that law you've met a Klingon speaker (actually I know one person who knows some Klingon, so there).

In fact I know at least two Klingon speakers. :P

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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Again, green stars!!! I guess I'm being a nerd about that. :/

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DanielFranco10
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My sources? Since you seem unable to do such a simple research, I'd be glad to share them with everybody. Would you mind sharing yours?, "or is it based purely on belief"?

https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/25665/Lindstedt_2010_Family.pdf

http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/sky/julkaisut/SKY2006_1/1FK60.1.5.LINDSTEDT.pdf

From honest Esperantists:

http://www.liberafolio.org/2009/popolnombradoj-donas-indikon-pri-la-kvanto-de-esperantistoj/

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2258291.Esperanto_Sen_Mitoj

Even in wikipedia you may find an overview about the matter, the different estimates, the arguments used to debunk the 2 million speakers shady and controverted estimate, a myth:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto#Geography_and_demography

From wikipedia, refering to the book by Sikosek: "Marcus Sikosek (now Ziko van Dijk) has challenged this figure of 1.6 million as exaggerated. He estimated that even if Esperanto speakers were evenly distributed, assuming one million Esperanto speakers worldwide would lead one to expect about 180 in the city of Cologne. Van Dijk finds only 30 fluent speakers in that city, and similarly smaller-than-expected figures in several other places thought to have a larger-than-average concentration of Esperanto speakers. He also notes that there are a total of about 20,000 members of the various Esperanto organizations (other estimates are higher). Though there are undoubtedly many Esperanto speakers who are not members of any Esperanto organization, he thinks it unlikely that there are fifty times more speakers than organization members."

From Wikipedia refering to the scheme presented by linguist Jouko Lindstedt: "Finnish linguist Jouko Lindstedt, an expert on native-born Esperanto speakers, presented the following scheme to show the overall proportions of language capabilities within the Esperanto community: 1,000 have Esperanto as their native language. 10,000 speak it fluently. 100,000 can use it actively. 1,000,000 understand a large amount passively. 10,000,000 have studied it to some extent at some time."

From the most popular social network, FB, available for everyone in countries with non-negligible numbers of Esperanto speakers, such as Hungary (if you consider 10000 speakers to be Woodstock, of course); you may infere the order of magnitude for the number of speakers (I told FB I speak Italian and Russian, but in fact I cannot, though I understand Italian and I can have a conversation in Russian, I am not a fluent speaker of any of those; am I the only one to do thus in FB?). Anyways, this is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Esperanto/112347282113529

Do you really want me to consider your "paper napkin calculations"?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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Why call people dishonest, did they do something to you? By using such language you have already lost a lot of credibility (the primary use of ad hominem is exactly when one does not have good arguments). You also do not seem to understand my point in my calculation. My point was that the 2mil estimate is in a believable range, not that it is true. You seem to be convinced you know this far more precisely. Not sure why, because all of the sources given are generally in the category of paper napkin computations (which is again, best you can do without harder data).

But as is normal in academic research, a paper A that refutes another paper B does not necessarily mean that either A or B is true. What you cite are different points of view on methodology. All that it says is that it is very hard to estimate. Now, Ethnologue, being a respected academic source, still cites the 2mil figure, despite all those sources.

Since you seem to be resorting to insults already, I will most likely not reply again to you.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rubatavolo
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Through Esperanto, I'm reading translations of early Chinese poetry. I'm reading a biography of a famous Japanese historical figure. I'm reading original Esperanto literature that's really awesome, but the author has never, ever been translated into English.

People decide on their own what's useful to themselves, and I wouldn't want to interfere with their choices. I can only say that my life has been incredibly enriched by learning Esperanto.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PfifltriggPi
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Learning Esperanto teaches you how to learn a language. It gives you confidence and practice speaking. Given the differences from English, you will swiftly reach a point when it is impossible to think in English and translate into Esperanto, but you will have to arrange your concepts by their Esperanto labels. Also, the more speakers we have, THE CLOSER WE ARE TO OUR FINAL VICTORY!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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I predict Esperanto-only nightclubs (well, that's probably not legal) and Verda Stelo beer!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amuzulo
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You kind of have Esperanto-only nightclubs at Esperanto youth events, so it's not that strange of an idea. :-D

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rubatavolo
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Raymond Schwartz operated three Esperanto cabarets from the 20s through the 50s, beginning with La Verda Kato: http://kabareto.esperanto.cc/kabaretoj.htm

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PfifltriggPi
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What?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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Oh... I thought the goal was for us to multiply and prosper. Mi bedaŭras. ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Alogician
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Learning Esperanto is making me feel more confident about picking up new language (grammar and vocab alike). It conditions the brain to think in another language. (Also, it sounds so much like Spanish is coming out of my mouth (which I only learned for a year, 6 years ago!) that I keep mistakenly saying Spanish 'es' instead of the 'estas'. Maybe I will learn Spanish next!)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Orbaleno

About the "usefulness", I think several others have made very good points: if you use it, it is useful. If you plan to learn it then instantly forget it, it is not useful, but if you plan to write a thesis on esperanto literature, it is very useful.

As for the "easiness", I wouldn't be the first one to remark that for a monolingual speaker of, say, Chinese, Esperanto is a bit harder than it is for an Italian speaker. But, on the other hand, Esperanto is a lot easier for the Chinese to learn than English (or Italian, or any other European language). So if you are Chinese and looking for a second language that is "easy", choose Esperanto. And once you have learned it (even just the basics) you might find it easier to learn your preferred Eurolanguage in the future.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/duanxiu
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Well it is the same useless to learn English, French or German if you are a linguist. They make the same paradigm of indo-european, inflected languages so stop wasting your time unless you're not interested in learning isolating or click languages. You needn't to know any of those. It all depends on your aim in being a linguist.

5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bahrtasai

To me the main advantage of esperanto is that you will be on equal terms with the native English/French/German speaker. If you try to speak to somebody else in one of those languages who is a native speaker but you aren't they will always have the advantage because it is there native language. There are "denaskaj esperantistoj" but not nearly as many. If you both speak Esperanto as a second language neither will have an advantage over the other. Plus Esperanto is much easier to learn than natural languages because it is designed to be.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WahahaDrills
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I don't really agree with any of this. Esperanto, like any language or anything in general, for that matter, is really only as useful as the person learning it makes it. Sure, there will probably be very few practical situations in which there is a need to know Esperanto. I have heard a couple of stories where, at conventions, many people couldn't use English or any other languages in common other than Esperanto.

And for the difficulty, that also depends on the person. I would imagine people speaking an Indo-European language do have an easier time with it, but I've also heard many Asian Esperantists also having a very easy time with it. But that's mostly due to the flexibility of the structure and not so much the vocabulary.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Liambambawei
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I've had a lot of people warn me off Esperanto because, apparently, the majority of its' speakers are English speakers. HOWEVER, this does not necessarily mean it is useless.

  • Studies have shown (I can't find the link to the article I read this in, I remember reading it a LONG time ago) that people who learn Esperanto tend to pick up a second or third language faster than those who studied a third language without Esperanto, so if you're a budding polyglot like me, there's that...
  • If you want to learn another language just for fun, Esperanto is probably the easiest tongue an Indo-Euro language speaker can learn.
  • While most languages have hundreds of grammar rules, Esperanto has but 15 - and there are no exceptions to these rules.
  • You only need to learn one form of an adjective (varma, warm, for example) and can change it into its' opposite meaning by adding the prefix "-mal" (malvarma = cold).

In a nutshell - easy[est by comparison] language for Indo-Euro language speakers to pick up, and helps you pick up other languages faster

If you're planning on learning multiple languages, this Irish polyglot who speaks 10 languages recommends you try it at least briefly (http://www.fluentin3months.com/2-weeks-of-esperanto/), because like I said, it helps a lot when picking up other languages.

Hope this helps :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
  • Studies have shown (I can't find the link to the article I read this in, I remember reading it a LONG time ago) that people who learn Esperanto tend to pick up a second or third language faster than those who studied a third language without Esperanto, so if you're a budding polyglot like me, there's that...

IIRC those studies show people who learn Esperanto learn a second or third European language faster. I don't remember seeing any studies that looked at its affect on languages from other families. There's a list of such studies here.

  • While most languages have hundreds of grammar rules, Esperanto has but 15 - and there are no exceptions to these rules.

My understanding is that this also isn't really true. The 15 bit that is, not the no exception to rules. Those 15 rules (I thought it was 16 actually?) aren't really enough to completely describe Esperanto's grammar. However the rules when completely layed out do take about a third of the space that the rules for natural languages take.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Liambambawei
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Of course, the study was on people who learned German the Esperanto, and people who learned Esperanto and then did German. So I suppose it may only apply to Indo-Euro languages.

And yes, there are in essence 16 rules instead of 15 - my bad. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lizsue
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Even apart from the similarities within language families, there's another thing I heard about:

Learning languages as a native user (speaker or signer - this all applies to sign languages too) in early childhood is easy.

The first language one learns as a non-native user is the hardest, because one doesn't already have experience studying that kind of thing. One has to get used to memorizing grammatical rules and exceptions, memorizing a lot of vocabulary, etc.

The second language one learns as a non-native user is easier than the first. One is already used to memorizing grammatical rules and exceptions, memorizing a lot of vocabulary, etc. This can apply even if one's native languages and two non-native languages are all from different language families. There's no reason this wouldn't still apply even if one's first non-native language is Esperanto and one's second non-native language is an unrelated one like Mandarin Chinese or French Sign Language. :)

If one's first and second non-native languages are from the same language family, that just makes it even easier. ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/amuzulo
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I'm just curious, where did you get the data that the majority of Esperanto speakers also speak English? When I was in Brazil, Russia, Czech Republic, Japan and China, I had the impression that almost none of the Esperanto speakers could speak English... or maybe just enough to ask for directions, but not enough to hold a meaningful conversation. I mean, many of them had studied English for years, but still couldn't express themselves in a very basic way.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/truelefty
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I have started the Duolingo course exactly 5 months and 1 day ago and I can speak basic things in Esperanto! (I could do that at the 4 month point)

I mean, learning to speak basic things in a foreign language in 4 months... That doesn't happen very often

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Middangeard
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My take on what Liam said is that it's not hard data, it's what people that have been warning him from taking Esperanto have been telling him.

I think it's silly to warn anybody against learning any language.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Liambambawei
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That's exactly what I meant Timothy. Here, have a lingot :) But there does seem to be a growing consensus, maybe even stereotype. I'm finding a lot of [english-speaking] people bemoaning the "massive proportion" of Esperantists that already speak English.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
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Couple of things: a huge proportion of people in the western world speak English, at least as a second language, because it confers economic benefit. So, even a random sample of people will likely contain a large number English speakers.

If you mean native English speakers, do you mind me asking: do you live in an English speaking country? If we consider Esperanto-learning as merely a hobby, like any other, then a sample of any group of people participating in almost any activity in an English speaking country will be English speakers. This will affect the perception of your immediate group of associates, but is certainly not a scientific way to judge the international population of speakers.

English has had a profound effect on Esperanto for two reasons: 1) it was an explicit model for the grammatical simplicity of Esperanto for Zamenhof and 2) English-speaking countries have maintained economic and military dominance over the world for the better part of a century. Because of English's international influence, it is bound to inform international language. "Americanisms" have thoroughly invaded even French, and France has some rather draconian laws to limit the words certain entities are allowed to use when publishing. This influence causes some to perceive a bias toward, or a dominance by English in Esperanto. I think this is rather unfair; in its beginning, Esperanto was far more influenced by French, because at that time French was a more international language. If some other language group begins to exert outsize cultural influence on the world in the next century, no doubt that language will begin to influence all others as well (even Esperanto).

The question then, is probably not is Esperantujo dominated by English speakers, but is it more dominated by English speakers than other subgroups in the same geo-social situation.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/petporcupine
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Interestingly, now that I know both (well, only basic Esperanto), I would much rather communicate with someone in Esperanto if I had the choice. English is my native language, but Esperanto is just simpler and more direct! (As I write this reply in English, LOL; I still need a bit more time with Esperanto.)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PfifltriggPi
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Nice.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iron_bun
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I suspect (here follows conjecture!) that learning any other second language helps you learn a third one more easily. Esperanto isn't special in that respect.

But: Esperanto is a particularly easy second language to learn (possibly just of indo-europeans), so you get the benefits of a second language faster and more easily.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/truelefty
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Esperanto is fun.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
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I think the person is kind of giving the answer to his own question. Yes, once you know those 3 languages you can talk to a lot of people. But not everyone. For example, if you go to a Czech pub and try to strike up a conversation in English, French or German, you'll probably be the only one talking. So I agree that if you learn English, French, German, and Czech, you are covered. Anyway, the problem is that you have learned 4 languages instead of having to learn just one. And by the time you've mastered those 4 languages, you realize you didn't really study anything else for a decade, so you have no career, and you don't have money to travel, so what's the point of having learned those 4 languages :) Though of course having have learned Esperanto is also not good for a Czech pub. But learning Czech would on the other hand be quite useless if you want to chat at an Esperanto meeting in say Brazil. And if you're in Brazil, your knowledge of English, French, or German is also not too useful (I've just been to Rio, and English doesn't get you very far at all.)

3 years ago

[deactivated user]

    Hahaha! The Czech Republic?? Try doing this in Hungary xDD, 9 people of 10 won't be able to speak one word in English for you.

    3 years ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/dellabitzke
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    Just like with any language, it really depends on what you personally plan to do with the language and what your needs are. For now, Esperanto speakers mainly communicate online or through arranged conventions. As far as I can see, the biggest advantage of learning Esperanto is that it allows you to connect with the globe in a unique way not accessible to others. Perhaps one day Esperanto will achieve its dream of unifying people from various linguistic backgrounds, but it seems to me to be more of a hobby language than anything.

    Also, I would suggest that Spanish is more useful than French to learn, especially if you live in the Americas. Of course if you're not going to live in the Americas, Spanish may just seem like another romance language. Like I said, it really depends on geographic demands and your personal reasons and desires for learning the language.

    10 months ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/LorettaPresley

    "Also, I would suggest that Spanish is more useful than French to learn" Hearing this over and over again finally turned me completely off the Spanish language

    8 months ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

    "English is more useful than French" should turn you off English. Then you can easily communicate in Esperanto. No turn offs anymore. Bonŝancon.

    8 months ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/truelefty
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    These school-kids are really a plague

    Plague: a ​large ​number of things that are ​unpleasant or ​likely to ​cause ​damage.

    Examples below and above XD

    3 years ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Double100
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    I think Esperanto is sort of useless, because nobody uses it anymore but in '70 s and '80 s it was popular. Then the craze for learning it died down a lil' bit, then nobody could really speak it. Esperanto gives you some help on learning other languges, but I wouldn't say you should learn it.

    Also, (in my opinion) you'll soon get quite tired of it, and also it's really difficult to learn, because you mix it up with other languages.... and then/soon you'll just end up forgetting it.

    That was my opinion. Of course, other people think Esperanto is useful. This is your choice. What do you think?

    3 years ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Evildea

    Hi. Esperanto is used more than ever. If you want to see living breathing Esperanto check out my channel https://www.youtube.com/evildela.

    3 years ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Double100
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    Okay.... but I thought it not popular anymore. Sorry for my inaccurate info, everyone!!

    3 years ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Evildea

    No problem. Your dad is just a little bit out of date that's all.

    3 years ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Double100
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    Yeah... I guessed that!! :)

    3 years ago

    https://www.duolingo.com/Double100
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    Also, I was on level 3 and I got really bored of it. Also Dad didn't recommend it. But I wanted to anyway, and added it as one of my language courses. Then I removed it

    3 years ago
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