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https://www.duolingo.com/Boethiah

Will Esperanto change over time?

Boethiah
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I'm not sure if this has been previously discussed but it's something I was wondering about for a while.

Let's imagine that Esperanto becomes more dominant than English in the world. That a lot of people speak it and that, overtime, it becomes the native tongue of millions and millions of people (I know there are people whose native tongue is Esperanto but I speak of even bigger numbers).

In this scenario, would Esperanto evolve in such a way that we get new words, phrases, dialects and eventually form exceptions for rules and other things which would change the language in such way that the language no longer becomes easy to learn? Back in school, I've learned that language is a 'living thing' - it evolves constantly. Would Esperanto succumb to such changes?

I hope my question isn't confusing or anything. I'd really love to see Esperanto get more popular but, personally, I think that it would change a lot over a longer period of time.

1 year ago

39 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Stan976113
Stan976113
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I believe that it would evolve if it became a dominant language. There are new words invented for all existing languages all the time. However, I think that English has become too widespread by now to allow Esperanto to take hold. The fact that a Korean and a Chinese businessmen would converse in English among themselves is proof that the dream of Esperanto has been accomplished through English.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Evildea

From my understanding, successful business people in Korea usually need to speak both Chinese and English. Chinese is a very important business language in that part of the world. Something like 25% of their exports go to China.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aleksescomu
aleksescomu
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good point, but knowing the past and how English became what it is (summing up: because USA is the strongest in the markets) I believe English is from the beginning of the economic crisis fading away, as French or Latin did... Soon or later it might be replaced by Chinese, at least in Asia (see Education First reports about English in the Americas, Asia and Africa).

English has been taught since the end of the 2nd World War, starting in the 60s in Scandinavian countries and later in Europe and then the developed countries. After more than 50 years and a lot of investment by unprivileged countries, we just get 10% of the world that can have a high level conversation (4% natives + 6% non natives that reached a fluent level).

It wouldn't be unrealistic to think humanity (individuals or/and politicians) would finally agree upon using Esperanto. Even in an unrealistic situation where 30% or even 100% would speak English fine... adding Esperanto as language would save resources when learning English... (with no Esperanto you would have 96% of the world wasting way more time, money and efforts in every single generation to come)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aleksescomu
aleksescomu
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I am already learning Chinese, Evildea too (well, his wife is from China) and my brother too (I live in Spain). I have a cousin and a friend that study Chinese too. Ten years ago that was weird... now it is not... Berberu, check out Fluentu (I got a premium account for less thatn 20$), and apps ChineseSkill and HelloChinese when you'll like to start learning it. Kontaktu min nepre se vi volas fluentu-konton tiel malmultekoste. Kutime la kosto estas ja pli ol 200$ jare O.o

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Boethiah
Boethiah
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I agree with you - English does a good job in uniting people. But that fact won't extinguish my love for Esperanto :) Thank you!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MichelCant6120

Yes indeed. The fact is that I am a Belgian French-speaker and I take an Esperanto course (from English). That says a lot.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

From 10% English (including large # non proficient level) to >50% is a VERY LOOONG way for the dream of Esperanto to be accomplished. It can only be accomplished by an independent language. The awakening of Esperanto is inevitable.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DaveRutan
DaveRutan
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Esperanto has already 'evolved' over the history of its use. Some older words like 'svati' have fallen out of use, while others have come into being. When computers, electronic mail, and the internet came along new terms were coined from elements in the language: 'komputilo', 'retpoŝto', and 'interreto' instead of adopting what have become international (English) terms.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vangelion
vangelion
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I can't find a definition for 'ŝvati'. Would you enlighten me? (I did find 'svati': "to match-make".)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DaveRutan
DaveRutan
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Sorry about that. It's 'svati' Been a long time since I looked it up. I'll correct my post above as well.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Boethiah
Boethiah
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Coincidentally, as I went to practice Esperanto after writing this post, I saw in my book that the word 'Ci' (=Vi) is an old term which isn't used anymore. The book is from my grandmother, published in 1958. Very interesting! I suppose it was a bit silly of me to suspect that no word will be dropped out and replaced. Thank you for the reply!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DaveRutan
DaveRutan
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Yeah, 'ci' is one of those things. Apparently it was put in the language expressly for poetry or translating ancient texts. I haven't seen it used in the Bible though.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Vanege
Vanege
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It has been spoken here.

I believe Esperanto will change a little over time, but I don't believe that Esperanto will divide into dialects. Now Esperanto is mainly used in the Internet and for international meetings, so the way it is used standardize itself. Also, we have models such as the Fundamento, so the language can evolve but it is limited around the same center point, and that greatly improves mutual intelligibility. In my experience, French Esperantists tends to speak to themselves in French, so their Esperanto don't frenchisize(?) significantly. Actually I do believe there will be dialects if Esperanto is popular enough, but they will NOT divide the speakers. People could speak their local Esperanto (if they prefer it to their national language), but they will still speak the standard international Esperanto as long as there is a need for international communication. Note: Esperanto is easy so going from a dialect to one other should be easy too.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luko.
Luko.
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Somewhat like Arabic and Chinese have dialects but people still speak the standardized version, right?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WarioToad32

You might be right about Esperanto splitting into different dialects. There probably would remain a "Standard" dialect but different people would definitely develop their own version of Esperanto kinda like how Ido was made. I already have my own dialect where I make Esperanto more Germanic because I like Germanic Languages.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/spectrum4134

i have just started Esperanto, and it is very easy to understand. It might be possible for this language to catch on for millions of people around the earth.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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Esperanto is old.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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A better question would be has changed over time. Esperanto is old.

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14550680

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aleksescomu
aleksescomu
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I don't think it will change too much. Speakers are conscient it is a 2nd language, with a basic structure, and a standard usage that everyone would try to keep. They will try not to have dialects (dialects pop up when a community evolves somehow isolated) and through daily usage around the globe it should stay constant everywhere, even if native speakers also increase in number

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kliphph
Kliphph
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In regards to the subject of Esperanto "dialects", one can consider any of the 105+ Esperantidoj, which are essentially derivatives or offspring of Esperanto, to be dialects. Even Esperanto language reform movements such as Iĉismo could be considered a dialectical divergent "kontraû la fundamento".

I imagine that all current natural and constructed languages will become obsolete by the end of the current century anyhow, when we all start conversing entirely in Emoji. Emoji, the new international/ global language of the future.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

If we stick to what Duolingo is teaching & focus on the main purpose - simple communication, all distractions will be insignificant. English is very convoluted language & unsuitable to expand to much more than 10-15%. Compare to Apple, not matter the hype it's just a fashion & not a practical long term solution.

Native languages will hardly be obsolete, but only relevant if you want to properly understand that culture or their business (to understand War & Peace need to learn Russian, no translation will be sufficient, unless authors themselves translate their work into universal Esperanto). By 2020 China will have similar R&D (PPP) as USA & much higher influence of Chinese in the world.

Emoji & similar will have significant contribution, like Maths/ISO symbols, but thanks to much faster (internet) & richer media (video/VR) future communication will not be limited to alphabet/text. Therefore Esperanto has to evolve, but keep the original simplicity. Until humans & (AI) robots unite & create the next even simpler way to communicate.

A step @the time. Esperanto to the world 1st. Estu inteligenta, kaj parolu Esperanton. Mi ♥ Esperanto.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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As a side note, there are a few areas where, I would argue, the Duolingo course is NOT teaching good Esperanto. These areas are not overly common, but they do exist. There are a few reasons for this. One of them has to do with the way the course had to be adapted to the way the Duolingo system works.

As a specific example, I would advise taking every sentence with ope with a grain of salt.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

Thanks salivanto. I'm recent to Duolingo. Can you specify an example/issue with ope? I think we should treat it like Open source & start 'owning' the system / contribute to improving it, or find appropriate ways. No need to reject a system until we find a better solution. We need an independent 2nd language & I try to dedicate time for it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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Esperanto is old. You can't treat it like open source. It's an established language.

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/14550680

Duolingo is also not open source. Sure, it's possible to give feedback to the course admins - and they're usually pretty open fix things. Other times, though, their hands are tied.

My suggestion - learn as much as you can from Duolingo but get yourself a printed book about Esperanto - Pasxoj al Plena Posedo, or Richardson's Esperanto Learning and Using The International Language, or Jordan's Being Colloquial in Esperanto.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

Thanks salivanto, I plan to go deeper after I finish the Duolingo course. Like 'Open source' from the point that it has no native sponsor to promote it & relies on public 'Owning it' for support/'crowdsourcing'. Actually, English has no official regulators & has allowed >million words with no concept of rules, which makes it more complicated & limits it's usability.

From the principles of Dialectics, Quantity lead to Quality - more speakers will make us more interested to invest into it & use it for its main purpose - Effective World Communication. The native languages will still be important to understand the local culture.

Esperanto is not competing with any native language, nor any native language is Ever taking over the world.

The world needs an independent simple communication tool that doesn't need the word B*EXIT in its vocabulary. Internet is making Esperanto more relevant/convenient than ever. Every author should write in native & Esperanto for a precise idea exchange. Every country should stop being nationalistic & become cosmopolitan.

We need Esperanto from other languages & Esperanto to other languages (Chinese my next).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Merrowmic
Merrowmic
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I don't think Esperanto would change/evolve (greatly) over time if it became more dominant than English, but it would be very interesting if it were to supplant English wholly globally.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Boethiah
Boethiah
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I always wonder how things would change if Esperanto were the 'main language'. So many things would be different, it is very interesting. Popular or not, it's still a lovely language. Thank you :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

Of course it will (become dominant). The (ro)bots will be native Esperanto speakers. They can easily replicate enough to become dominant (speaking population).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rev_ero

The thing is to understand that Esperanto is not thought to be used as a first language. Of course, new compatible things will come, but it makes no sense to accept, nor now, nor in officially accepted by governments version of Esperanto, things that make it harder to learn. It's important to understand that it makes no sense to let it evolve totally freely to have dialects or to make it full of irregularities. So, now, and in a hypothetical future, even if there is people doing things wrongly, the thing is to teach normative language that will help the communications, and left behind personal things that no help the learning nor the communication, even if they seem "cool".

In the past, latin went to a state of no evolution and everybody learned the same frozen latin grammar and that worked well, only new powerful empires with their language moved aside latin.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Boethiah
Boethiah
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I wish to thank everyone for the input. While I cannot contribute much, I wish to say that the answers were both interesting and helpful. Dankon ❤

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jkloiu
jkloiu
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Most languages would change over time in pronunciation. But the way it is written stays fossilized. But the only problem is that Esperanto is a conlang (short for 'constructed language'). The evolution of a conlang can't be tested since most conlangs were created by people. And the only time it changes is if there is a timeline associated with it or if there are new words added to it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BerberuEsperanto

Esperanto doesn't have a problem. It's independent easy language for international communication. Thanks to exponential share via internet, people should mature & grow up from the dark ages of philosophy & identity crisis.

Nobody wants to borrow somebody else's identity. It didn't work with Greek/Latin (@that time), French, Russian, Serbo-Croatian... It won't work with English (even though it has borrowed from many languages). It will work with independent forms of communication, eg. Mathematical (science) universal symbols/language, Medical Latin vocabulary, International traffic/ISO signs, EMOTICONS...

Think how more complicated, narrow scoped/risky would be to control the autonomous cars/robots with imprecise/beginner level English (majority of the world). Esperanto can serve that role easily. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zevlag13
Zevlag13
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If Esperanto ever become a world language, it'll naturally evolve like every single major language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnD62
JohnD62
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I don't agree. Languages that have undergone major changes over time have all had one thing in common: a large illiterate group of speakers. Better yet, of course, if you've got previously separate groups of illiterates coming together.

The changes in English from 1400 to 1600 are massive compared to the changes in English from 1600 to 1800 or even 2016. (For that matter, 1000 to 1400 shows greater change than 1600 to 2000.) Literacy has slowed language change. (I'm going to guess that for languages without a writing system or widespread literacy, faster changes happen.

Esperanto, as a modern language will have the reinforcement of an existing body of texts to slow down language change. Could you say something that Zamenhof wouldn't understand? Sure, there's lots of vocabulary that's been created since his death. The fundamental grammar still remains. (As long as we continue the urge to toss aside nearly 130 years of Esperanto and start all over again with something like a new orthography or something.)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zevlag13
Zevlag13
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I said they naturally evolve. That evolution is very slow, but it exists. For instance, in Spanish some words have change in the last decades: Spanish for computer was "computadora" in the 70's and early 80's, but since that name was replaced by "ordenador". Spanish for jogging has changed several times: "correr", "footing", "running" and finally "jogging". One of the Spanish most common words "vale" (Spanish for Ok), didn't exist 100 years ago. Another important word, "usted" (formal word for "you") is nowadays used much less that it used to be in the past. Not to mention invents and modern technologies. I never said massive or fast changes, just natural evolution.

A notable exception is Portuguese, that recently have had a major orthography reform, but I know that's and exception and not the rule, since language evolution is usually very slow.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnD62
JohnD62
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Language change isn't always slow. When I was an undergrad, the professor in my sociology survey course did a lecture a lecture on glottochronology. Then I went to my Old English seminar and we had a good laugh.

But new vocabulary isn't what I talking about. I'm talking about changes in grammar and spelling. Esperanto has had thousands of new words added and undoubtably needs more.

Reformers never say, "we don't have a word for this," they instead hit on the grammar or orthography, just as you have. Grammar and spelling changes are really what's covered in language change over time, not just acquisition of new words.

Has Esperanto changed over time? Yes. It is likely to undergo significant changes in grammar or orthography? No.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zevlag13
Zevlag13
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I didn't say always, but usually. I meant that in the very unlikely scenario Esperanto becomes one of the most speaking languages with millions of native speakers, there'll be new words as time goes by and different dialects and accents, those are small changes, but are still changes. I just talked about orthography in the particular case of Portuguese, that recently changed it in order to unify European and Brazilian orthographies, and I said it was an exception. So we actually agree.

1 year ago