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Esperanto Language Family

Perhaps this question is irrelevant but I’m curious so I want to ask it. If Esperanto were a natural language then which language family would it belong to? It has a Slavic grammar and a mostly Romance vocabulary.

4 months ago

16 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/vegjjany
vegjjany
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If it was a natural language, it probably would be considered a Creole language belonging to the Indo-European family with no particular base.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vegjjany
vegjjany
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It has mostly Romance, Germanic, Slavic and Greek vocabulary. It's a constructed language that can't really be included in any of those linguistic subfamilies, but certainly can be considered part of the Indo-European language family, as it is based off of languages from this group.

The final "o"s at the the end of the nouns and the final "a"s at the end of the adjectives may give it a "Romance language sensation", as well as the huge romance vocabulary, but there is a lot of words with other roots (like hundo, sxipo, jes, knabo, kaj, sama, tago, jaro etc.) and has the accusative case for nouns, uncommon in Romance languages.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirson8

As a Slavic person I don't think that there is a lot of Slavic grammar. For example most of grammatical cases expect accusative(that is very simplified) are not present in Esperanto. Surely Zamenhof's Esperanto have some features of Slavic's flexibility of creating new words by adding suffixes and affixes to root words, but these suffixes and affixes often looks and sounds different than in Slavic counterparts. And some other languages also use this mechanism to "reduce" root words and multiply vocabulary by using suffixes and affixes, so I would say that DragonPolyglot and vegjjany gave the most accurate answerer. Esperanto can be considered as Indo-European.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/InsertGoodName

For your point about the cases, I believe that is to make Esperanto simpler so more people can use it, especially those who speak languages with a very small amount of cases.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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How many people have you met who say "You know, I was really excited to learn Esperanto, but then I found out about the -n ending, so I learned Spanish instead."?

Esperanto has two cases. That's at least as many as the other languages on your list. The people who don't learn Esperanto are choosing not to learn it because they don't think it's useful, or because they think it has too many kooks, or (most likely) because they've never heard of it. It's not an abundance of grammar which is keeping them away.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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There's Slavic influence on the grammar, but I don't think anybody would mistake it for Slavic grammar. I think an alien (or future) linguist would be able to recognize it as a constructed language.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DragonPolyglot
DragonPolyglot
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Esperanto is an artificial language created in the 1880's by a Polish-Jewish writer named L. L. Zamenhof. It was inspired by various European languages. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JulioOG
JulioOG
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Esperanto is a mix of several Indo-European branches. Main omission (as far as number of speakers is concerned) is the Indo-Iranian branch.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chen2shi4xiong2

Esperanto is a constructed language which makes classification difficult. However, it is parially similar to creole language in terms of both linguistics and sociolinguistics. Esperanto could be classified as a Polish creole language since it have more influence from languages in Poland although it also include some input from other European languages.

Esperanto sociolinguistics is similar to creole languages in its function as a lingua franca and its history as a natural language that arise from a non-natural language; creole languages arise from pidgin while Esperanto arise from an incomplete auxliary language. Esperanto differ from creole languages by the socioeconomic status of its speakers and its lack of variation in registers.

In terms of linguistic properties, the relation between Esperanto and Polish is similar to the relation between creole languages and their source language in some way. Like with creole languages, Esperanto have a morpho-syntax that is simpler than Polish but do contain some unique grammatical features. The phonology is more cross-linguistically typical and tend to contain sound contrast that are more easy to acquire compared to other major languages in Poland.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JonpaulYoh

let's not forget zamenhof, being jewish, gave esperanto semitic word building techniques!

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JulioOG
JulioOG
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As for variation & adaptability to needs of different historical periods, Esperanto has shown it can change and adapt. Zamenhof, the creator, had the foresight to release control of the language ( i.e "open sourced it") early on to the community of speakers, enabling a degree of diversification and evolution much like natural languages. Early writings while understandable have an archaic feeling/style just as English/Spanish/etc. from the 1800s feel to modern speakers of these languages.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Renardo11
Renardo11
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While Esperanto has a largely Indo-European (mostly romance) vocabulary its grammar lacks the “inflectional” structures of most Indo-European languages. Esperanto words do not change their root in different forms (such as the English sing – sang – sung or goose – geese); instead they append endings and affixes. This kind of languages is called “agglutinative”. Examples are Hungarian, Turkish, or Chinese, none of which is Indo-European.

So yes, Esperanto does not fit easily into the known categories.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Cambarellus
Cambarellus
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Everyone has given the "correct" answer of being constructed, being more like a creole, etc.

However, if someone put a gun to your head and said "pick Slavic, Romance, or Germanic", I think most people would probably say Romance. The vocabulary is most similar, the word endings, etc. It's probably closer to Romance than the others.

That's not technically a "correct" answer, but if you really had to classify it, and were given a list of families- it's probably closest to the Romance Family.

If we take English for example, it's usually considered a Germanic language even though it has a really strong Romance influence and taken a lot of vocabulary from languages around the world. English itself is a hybrid and could almost be considered a creole if looking at it through the lens of deep-history. We call it Germanic though because that is the family it sits closest to. England's close proximity to, and interwoven history with France and taken on a strong Romance influence though.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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Hmmm. If I had to pick one I would say Germanic or possibly Slavic. I'd be more inclined to say Slavic if I were better acquainted with Slavic languages.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Renardo11
Renardo11
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Now that's interesting. How can you know what you would think if you knew what you do not know? ☺

The truly Slavic roots in Esperanto are not many. “nepre”, “kolbaso”, “samovaro” come to mind. The -ej- suffix is probably derived from the Polish adjective ending -aja, and the preposition (or conjunction) “po” is derived from the Russion по. On the grammar side it is generally agreed that the interpretation of the passive participles (-ata = ongoing action; -ita = completed action) is connected with the Slavic aspect system (with pairs of incomplete and complete verbs).

Do you know other Slavic traits of Esperanto?

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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Language families are not determined by vocabulary. I'm going mostly on the basic sentence structure and how the past tense is formed. And yes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

4 months ago