AMA: Chuck Smith (Esperantisto de la Jaro)
The AMA is over. Thanks everyone for participating!
Chuck Smith lastatempe gajnis la premion Esperantisto de la Jaro ĉefe pro sia agado kiel kontribuanto de la Esperanto-kurso de Duolingo. Li krome agadas kiel: kunorganizanto de la Poliglota Renkontiĝo, instruisto de Esperanto kaj retejestro de la Esperanto-Ligo Berlin. Pasinte li fondis la Vikipedion en Esperanto kaj estis blogisto por Transparent Language pri Esperanto. Li akceptos demandojn en Esperanto kaj la angla.
Chuck Smith recently won the prize Esperantisto de la Jaro primarily because of his contributions to the Esperanto Duolingo course. He also works as a co-organizer of the Polyglot Gathering, an Esperanto teacher, and webmaster of the Esperanto League of Berlin. Previously he also founded the Esperanto Wikipedia and was the Esperanto blogger for Transparent Language. He is accepting questions in English and Esperanto.
Link: AMA calendar and archive
55 Comments This discussion is locked.
I was researching a paper in college for a class called Models of Mind and ran across a translation system that used Esperanto as a relay language, so if you wanted to translate from Finnish to Catalan, it would translate from Finnish to Esperanto to Catalan. I found the idea intriguing as a way for computers to learn languages, but a stupid idea for people. Then I ran across Pasporta Servo and a free Esperanto email course and thought if it's stupid, I've wasted a half hour of my life, but if it's interesting, it could open up an entirely new world. I guess you know which happened...
For more details on this, you can read more details in this Verge article.
Hello Chuck, greetings from NC USA. Where are the top 2 or 3 concentrations of Esperanto speakers worldwide, and is there any particular reason for that?
Hi rackers10, greetings from Berlin! Believe it or not, I think as far as the most active cities go, the most active is Berlin as we have 7 (!) Esperanto clubs here. Funnily enough, I can't really say why Berlin is so active. I'll ask this in our city's discussion group. :) The second most active would be in Cheboksary, Russia. Cheboksary became a big hub for Esperanto, because they organized Language Festivals, which always generated a lot of interest for Esperanto with the public.
As far as countries go, I would say you'll find the most Esperanto speakers in Brazil. This is mostly due to the success of the Spiritism religion there. About half of Brazilian Esperanto speakers belong to this religion, a unique phenomenon indeed!
Some people who get excited about learning Esperanto rightfully like to talk with or tell others about it. It's no secret that there are a fair number of people out there that will give someone crap for it, and/or criticize the language.
What are some of the ways you deal/have dealt with the most common criticisms, or what would you suggest people use in response to such things?
Questions and Answers for Activists is still an excellent resource for answers to common criticisms. Besides that, I tend to often just say something like that, "I know Esperanto has greatly enriched my life, but I don't think it's for everything. If you don't think you'll get anything out of it, just don't learn it."
When people say it's a waste of time, I'm a bit amused, because people typically don't say such nonsense about other hobbies. I cover this topic more in-depth in this article Is Your Hobby a Waste of Time?
In any case, I never try to convince anyone to learn Esperanto, I only try to get them to respect it. And just like anyone else, sometimes I succeed in that and sometimes I fail...
It's been very interesting to read all the questions. What makes me want to learn a language is the literature. What books in Esperanto would you recommend? Are any widely available?
Interesting question! If you're a beginner, I would first recommend Gerda malaperis by Claude Piron and then Fajron sentas mi interne by Ulrich Matthias. Thankfully both of these books can be found for free online. :)
When you're a bit more advanced, I'd recommend the books in the article start reading Esperanto literature. You can find my personal three favorite books in my most recent interview with La Ondo de Esperanto (search for "tri librojn" in the article).
Hi Chuck. What is your top tip for anyone who has finished their Esperanto tree and wants to improve further?
This comes down to personal taste, so this is my personal taste. My favorite Esperanto event was the Internacia Seminario (IS), which turned into the Junulara E-Semajno (JES), which typically takes place alternating between Germany and Poland. The Internacia Junulara Kongreso (IJK) can also be really good, but its quality varies a lot depending on the country where it happens.
My favorite event in North America is the Aŭtuna Renkontiĝo Esperantista. It's relatively small, but pretty informal and just plain fun.
One special event worthy of mention is KoKoLoRES, which I think is brilliant, because it's a weekend of playing board games in Esperanto. This I believe is the future of Esperanto events: events where people don't get together just because they speak the same language, but where they also share a common interest. And I believe when more of these kinds of events start happening, we'll see our community transform in ways it never imagined.
I write about this topic in more detail here: A vision for more interesting Esperanto meetings.
Have you learned any new languages by means of Esperanto? If so, which, and if not, do you plan to?
Hmm, not directly. However, Esperanto played a very key role in me learning Dutch and French.
Dutch: I worked for a year as a volunteer for the Tutmonda Esperantista Junulara Organizo (TEJO) in Rotterdam, Netherlands. So, living there, I decided to pick up some of the local language as well. I can still speak Dutch decently... I'd say B2 level.
French: Because of cooperation between TEJO and the Council of Europe, I was able to participate in their 3-week intensive French course in Strasbourg, France. Without this connection, it's likely I never would've started learning French. Amusingly enough, in November 2014, I attended a 1-week intensive intermediate French course being the only non-Dutch person in the group... and yes, explanations were typically given to the group in Dutch. Funnily enough, the teacher would sometimes explain things to me in Esperanto (!) when it was easier to him than English...
What will happen to Esperanto in the next 5-10 years? Do you expect it to explode (as in other courses appearing and more communities forming around the world and on the Internet) or just grow by a limited amount, mostly thanks to Duolingo?
Tough question! I think we'll see one of two things happen:
We'll saturate "the market" for people learning a language like Esperanto and the community will start to stagnate.
It'll reach some kind of critical mass and snowball into the international auxiliary language it was always meant to be.
It's hard to predict such things though and I'll give two examples of this.
Very few people could foresee the fall of the Berlin Wall. A misunderstanding of an official statement allowed an enormous mass of people to cross from east to west and after this event it was impossible to justify keeping the wall.
A very popular Twitter account mentioned Flappy Bird and suddenly the whole world was playing it on their phones... even to the dismay of its creator who eventually decided to remove it from the mobile stores, because he didn't how it was ruining peoples' lives through addiction (although he was also providing a lot of positive entertainment for countless other players).
Now I show these to demonstrate that a single significant event can be enough to push an idea into the masses. Will the Duolingo course directly or indirectly cause such a snowball event? Who knows? I can admit it's fun to think about though. Hmm, maybe we could convince a star to perform an Esperanto song? ;)
Kie estas via plej ŝatata loko en la Interreta Esperantujo? (Vikipedio? Facebook? Telegram? Twitter? ...)
Before I ask my question, it's funny how you said he would only answer questions when the AMA starts, even though you are writing it!
Anyway, my question is: How can you become fluent in Esperanto with such a lack of resources compared to other languages such as French or German? It must be a lot harder even though the language itself is easier!
Before I answer your question, I must also say how funny it is for me to introduce myself and host the AMA. I always decided I'd do it only if I won Esperantisto de la Jaro and since I won that, I'm here!
Anyway, my answer is: I started learning Esperanto in 2001 when there were significantly fewer resources and I became fluent in two years. I don't think there were very many fluent Esperanto speakers until 1905 when the first Universala Kongreso took place and people came together to actually speak it. And that's what I think you have to do to actually become fluent: go to an Esperanto event, or stay with a host using Pasporta Servo or attend a local club.
Well, that advice I could've given you long before the Internet even existed. Now you have a myriad of ways to practice Esperanto! I list them on my post Finished the Esperanto tree, now what?, but I want to highlight a few things I'd recommend:
- Muzaiko - listening to Esperanto radio daily will greatly improve your Esperanto understanding
- Evildea - he publishes a new video in Esperanto everyday, so there's bound to be interesting content for you
- iTalki - get an online language tutor
- Chatterplot - find local Esperanto speakers and put yourself on the map
And the most amusing part of all this advice is that none of those resources existed even a decade again and I still managed to get fluent. People were already becoming fluent in 1905. Just start speaking and using the language and you'll get there eventually! :)
In the group "Duolingo Esperanto Learners" there are 3554 members ... 1.3 % of the 273,000 registered learners. Is it possible to get more of them to participate in the group? Can we get the group to form local groups of Esperanto speakers?
I'd love for more Duolingo learners to participate in the Facebook group Duolingo Esperanto Learners, but I don't really see a good way to get people to hear about it except to post occasionally in this forum about it, so I'll probably start doing that. Also, hopefully more people will join because of this answer!
Duolingo learners are already joining and creating their own local groups. I've been working with Shana Thompson, marketing director of Chatterplot, which is a website to connect language learners worldwide and she's actually started learning Esperanto because of it!
I've also been working with Phil Dorcas from Esperanto USA in helping Duolingo Learners to connect with the national organization's local groups and he's currently working hard on updating their list of local groups, so people can more easily find locals who speak Esperanto. Expect to hear more from him soon in the Duolingo forum and the Facebook group!
Jes, sed malrapide same kiel naciaj lingvoj. La angla ankaŭ multe ŝanĝiĝas! :)
I know you've mentioned before about the growth of Esperanto from when you started learning to what it is today, but I never really had it quantified. How long have you known Esperanto for and how much growth have you seen in that time? Do you feel it's a legitimate possibility to have Esperanto be a national language somewhere in the next decade?
I've seen a lot of growth! I think the craziest thing is that when I was making the post Finished the Esperanto tree, now what?, I noticed that only 30% of the resources existed when I started learning Esperanto! I've seen the number of New Years meetings increase dramatically. The best quantifications of Esperanto's growth can be found in the Esperanto article on Wikipedia in the section Increasing Use of Esperanto.
As for Esperanto as a national language, even if it were possible, I personally don't like the idea. Esperanto was never intended to be a national language, but an international language. As such, I think the chance that it will become a national language in even the next two decades is very slim. Let's see if I have to eat my words on this in 2035. :-D
Mi volas fariĝi profesia programisto, kaj esti samtempe utila al Esperantujo. Kion mi faru?
Tio multe dependas de via koncentriĝo pri programado. Afero, kiun ni urĝe bezonas estas amuza ludo en kiu oni lernas Esperanton dum oni ludas. Alia ideo estas krei utilan retejon por esperantistoj. Aŭ vi povas krei utilan poŝtelefonan programon.
Ni povas babili pli pri tio private se vi volas pli da konkretaj ideoj... tio vere estas vasta temo!
Mi intencas uzi la ES - EO kurson por rekomenci lerni la Hispanan. Ĉu vi pensas, ke tio estas bona ideo? (Mi pensas ke mia nivelo en Esperanto estas sufiĉe alta, kaj mi jam studis la Hispanan dum 5 jaroj en lernejoj, sed forgesis ĉion pri ĝi.)
Verŝajne ne estas la plej efika maniero plibonigi vian hispanan, sed almenaŭ amuza! Ĉiukaze, tio certe ne estus malbona por vi, sed mi iom dubas, ke estas saĝa uzo de via tempo. Tamen, oni diras, ke la plej bona maniero por lerni lingvon estas la maniero, kiun oni uzadas. Do, faru kaj poste diru al ni kiom bone funkciis!
Your major contributions to Esperanto have been based predominantly around the internet. What do you think you might have done in a pre-internet age? (Tim Owen)
I probably never would've encountered Esperanto, so nothing.
However, assuming I had somehow discovered and learned Esperanto, I probably would've spent most of my time organizing Esperanto events. I'd still love to organize a congress for Duolingo Esperanto learners in the USA, but I just have too much on my plate to do it now... :-/
Good answer! I asked precisely because I have no idea what I'd have done without the internet to facilitate things either. "Not been involved", I think.
Mi havas du mallongajn demandojn:
Kiom longe vi kredas ke estos antaŭ ke Esperanto atingas internacian rekonon (ekzemple, per la UN)?
Ankaŭ, ĉu vi pensas ke iam estos "Immersion" sekcio je Duolingo por Esperanto? (Me tre amus tion!)
Pri oficiala internacia rekono, tiom da aferoj devas ankoraŭ okazi. La popolo mem devas voli tion, kaj tio verŝajne ne baldaŭ okazos. Ankaŭ infrastrukture multe da aferoj devas okazi kiel ekzemple la trejnado de multe da interpretistoj kaj tradukistoj rilate al Esperanto. Por miaj pensoj pri la estonto de Esperanto, serĉu ĉi tiun paĝon por "hard to predict" kaj vi legos pliajn detalojn.
Pri "Immersion" por Esperanto, laŭ mia scio, tio nur ekzistas por la unuaj lingvoj de Duolingo kiel ekzemple la angla, franca, germana, hispana, itala kaj portugala. Tamen, eblas jam nun neoficiale uzi ĝin. Detaloj ĉe Esperanto | Immersion.
While I've definitely found a few dozen songs from artists like Jonny M, Eterne Rima, and a few others, as well as some videos here and there, and of course Evildea's channel, it still can feel a little empty sometimes.
Are you aware of any individuals who have been (within, say, 5 years) putting out music, or blogging, or doing podcasts, and things of that nature?
I want to start by saying that I made a compilation of my favorite Esperanto music videos on YouTube which is an excellent starting point for discovering good Esperanto music.
As for blogging and podcasts, I haven't really been seeking that out, so I don't particularly have any tips for that. I love Muzaiko, so I'd recommend that as an interesting place to discover more. I guess now I see that we could really use a hub for people making such content, so it's easier to find!
Well, thanks everyone for all your interesting questions and I wish you all Bonan nokton!
Kiam vi taksas, ke la arbo 2.0 de Esperanta Duolingo, trudos niajn vivojn ? Estos multe da novajoj en ĝi ? :-)
Ankaŭ, kiom da vortoj estas hodiaŭ en la arbo, kaj kioma en la estonteco ?
Trudos? En pozitiva senco? Multe! :)
Ni tute ŝanĝis la komencon de la arbo, do vi vidos multege da ŝanĝoj tie, do vi devos ripeti iujn lecionojn tie por reteni ilin oraj.
Ni daŭre prilaboras 2.0 kaj vere malfacilas prognozi kiam ĝi pretos. Ni ne aldonos multege da vortoj, sed ĉefe restrukturigos la kurson. Mi imagas, ke estos 500 pliaj vortoj, sed tio estas nur freneza diveno de mi, kiu ne multe baziĝas sur faktoj. :)
Saluton! Kiu filmo vi sxatus estu re-vocxita al Esperanto? Cxu eblus akiri la rajtojn el filmoj je Disney por fari dvd kun subtekstoj kaj vocxoj en Esperanto?
Unue, pri la rajtoj de Disney-filmoj, ni nuntempe havas neniom da ŝanco por io tia. Disney simple tro grandas kaj Esperanto tro malgrandas.
Persone, mi ne multe ŝatas dubladon de filmoj... verŝajne, ĉar mi estas usonano kaj ni ne dublas filmojn tie. Do, miavole mi dublus neniun filmon al Esperanto. Nu, eble animaciaj filmoj plej taŭgus, ĉar tiam oni ĉiukaze surmetas voĉojn post produktado!
Mi anstataŭe preferus havi subtekstojn de multaj filmoj, sed ĉefe de svedaj, ĉar mi nun plej aktive lernas la svedan... krom lingvolernado, mi simple ŝategus havi filmojn de plej diversaj landoj kun esperantaj subtekstoj por ke mi povu spekti pli da internaciaj filmoj.
Mi tamen plej ŝatus vidi pli da originalaj filmoj en Esperanto mem. Tio estis unu el la grandaj motivoj malantaŭ la tiama esperanta kinofestivalo. Estus bele se ni havus tiom da filmmaterialo en Esperanto, ke ni povus okazigi pliajn kinofestivalojn en Esperanto!
En kiuj metodoj povus bazaj-aŭ-mezaj-nivelo uloj, plibonigi Esperantujo?
In what ways could basic or intermediate level people improve Esperanto culture/community?
I think it really depends on what one wants to accomplish. There are four basic skills in language: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Speaking: go to an Esperanto event or local club to talk with real people or find locals on Chatterplot. Another alternative is to get a language tutor on a site like iTalki or a Skype partner on the Skype Esperanto facebook group.
Reading: there's tons of Esperanto books out there. Start Reading Esperanto Literature
Writing: post in Esperanto facebook groups, start an Esperanto blog, find interesting people in foreign countries to email, write articles for Esperanto magazines, write or edit Wikipedia articles.
Also, there are a ton of resources in my post Finished the Esperanto tree, now what? In any case, good luck with advancing your knowledge!
If you could give some form of advice to all komencantoj who read this and are trying to learn, and are just starting out or might be having difficulty, what might it be?
Be sure to study a little bit every day, even if it's just 5 minutes. I'd say 5 minutes every day is more valuable than an hour once a week. Also, have fun with the language! You can start using it much earlier than other languages.
And if you get discouraged, read the top answer from this thread!
What experiences have you had with Pasporta Servo? (Basically an awesome system of couch surfing for Esperantists - if you're reading this and don't know what it is)
Well, my biggest experience was travelling for six months through Brazil and Europe with it back in 2002! That opened up so many doors for me. Also, not completely related, but you might enjoy my article titled How Esperanto Changed My Life.
To sum it up, I've only had positive experiences with Pasporta Servo. Probably the most memorable stay was with an Azerbaijani Esperanto speaker in Taiwan in which we ended up playing blitz chess the entire last evening together. Just surreal. The trouble is, I've had so many great Pasporta Servo experiences that nothing stands out to me more than that one.
In any case, I look forward to hearing your experiences with it!