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Is it beneficial to learn Esperanto for a person who wants to be a linguist?

I want to be a linguist in the future, I'm into languages since my childhood. I know that I can learn various languages according to different branches in linguistics (phonology, syntax, typology...etc.). I've already been studying Japanese and Norwegian for years, even before meeting Duolingo. And I'm also studying Latin and Russian besides English, Japanese and Norwegian.

I know that Esperanto is not a natural language. So I wanted to ask you that it could be useful for me or not?

January 17, 2018



I think that for a linguist, Esperanto can serve as a basic model of Indo-European languages.

Do you know the MOOC "Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics" by Prof. Dr. Marc van Oostendorp? https://www.coursera.org/learn/human-language/

Marc van Oostendorp is a Dutch linguist and Esperantist. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_van_Oostendorp

From 1997 to 2001 he was associate professor of interlinguistics and Esperanto at the University of Amsterdam.


Thank you for the information


I'm not sure this is quite true, that esperanto can be a basic model for indo-european languages. It doesn't have an indefinite article or grammatical gender or verb conjugation, which sets it apart from most IE-languages. The affixes are also an interesting feature that you won't find in many other languages, that was kind of the point of esperanto, to be something new and different.

However, though the grammar may be a bit strange when compared to IE-languages, the words themselves are familiar (especially from the Latin branch of the IE tree). This makes it a good first language that will help you a lot with English or Spanish down the road - but learning esperanto won't help a linguist to understand the origin of grammatical genders in German.

That's not to say that esperanto is not worth learning, I think it's value is precisely in that detail: the fact that someone invented a language, completely alone, distinct (in its grammar) from the european languages that surrounded him, with a brand new (okay, not exactly unique in the world) system of affixes to make it easy to learn. That this language is entirely viable, spoken by a million people, comes entirely fluently to the minds of experienced speakers: this is surely an amazing linguistic experiment worth studying!


As an Esperantist, I would love to see more interest in Esperanto by trained linguists. Quite honestly, though, unless you are interested in Esperanto per se, I see no good reason for me to encourage you to pursue it based on your interest in linguistics alone.

Linguists tend to study languages, not learn them - so I'm a little confused about what your goals are. If you are interested in knowing lots of languages and seeing how different kinds of language communities work, then Esperanto may be a good choice.


I'm interested in Esperanto, jes :) I know that I don't have to learn languages to be a linguist but I really love to learn languages as I love linguistics. However in my opinion, it is an advantage to learn languages for a linguist. Saussure was also a polyglot. I want to see the features of the languages by learning (even by living) them. Thanks for your opinion :)


I think that you HAVE to study Esperanto if you want to work as a linguist. It is an astonishingly wonderful example of how a language could be when the random changes of language over time are (mostly) absent. It helps to understand grammar coding vs place coding and can give you a "ground truth" against which to compare other languages. Esperanto gives even non-linguists a window into how languages actually work.


Non linguists learn Esperanto. Real linguists learn Volapük.

I'm kidding.

Actually, I know one linguist fairly well. She never studied Esperanto, but several of her friends — also PhD linguists — have studied Esperanto.

Your Mileage May Vary


Esperanto is probably the easiest language you will ever come across because it was designed that way. Furthermore, its vocab and structure resemble the three major indoeuropean branches (romance, germanic and slavic) and gives a good insight into these languages as a whole. It certainly wont get you very far in terms of expanding your communicative potencial, but if you're asking yourself this question then you're interested in more than that. If you try esperanto you'll see that it's easier than you think, and having any extra language under your belt helps you have a better insight into how lanugages work and arguably improve you performance when learning any other language, because of the basic principles. I'd say it's worth your time, if you are another language freak.


"the three major branches" = "three of the four largest branches". Don't forget that Indo-Iranian, including Hindi/Urdu - one of the most spoken languages in the word- is also a branch. The clue is in the "Indo" :)

Yes, certainly esperanto will help with other (especially italic) languages in the future - and is just a really cool living experiment!


As a linguist you'll enjoy Esperanto greatly. It's up to you if you want to make use of it in a way that you could call it beneficial. If you already have those languages under your belt Esperanto won't take long for you to learn, so no one can say you're wasting a huge portion of your valuable time.

Any language can be described as useful or useless. It's up to you to decide how it will be.


Yes because Esperanto is very unique.

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