Esperanto for Arabic speakers

Hi, my name is Muhannad and I’m Saudi. I’ve learned Esperanto in many ways (youtube, books and of course duolingo) but I noticed that all the sentences structure is largely based on English, especially when it comes to adjectives. In Arabic, when we say good morning the literal translation is “morning good”. But in all the examples given in any educational media is based on the English phrase “good morning” with the adjective before the noun. And this extends to all the compounds when forming new words like “aprikotarbo”, “ĉefurbo” and all the numbers after ten. I find it offensive that all the rules and grammars are based largely on English while Esperanto is supposed to be a universal language that could be spoken in many ways. Why are all the compound words and phrases start with the adjective first? Why can’t an Arabic Esperantist write for example“urbĉefo” and “arbaprikoto” without getting the red line under the word? And why would “tagon bonan”, “vesperon bonan” and “matenon bonan” look and sound weird to an American or British Esperantists when they actually give the same meaning? I think duolingo should give more inclusive examples and if Esperanto is really meant to be a universal language, people in the education field should consider making dictionaries and Esperanto learning books more diverse in order to include all Esperantists around the world.

August 22, 2019


Hi Muhannad. Great to see some interest for Esperanto from your part of the world.

What your are observing is correct, but I don't think it's fair of you to conclude that it's "based on English." The Duolingo course teaches Esperanto as it is really spoken and it does a pretty good job of representing the language. There are really very few anglicisms in the course.

It really is true that Esperantists from the US, England, Russia, Croatia, Poland, Germany ... generally put adjectives before nouns. This is also true for fluent French and Quebecois Esperanto speakers, even if in their native language the noun comes first. Learning a new language means learning to express yourself in new ways.

Compounding in Esperanto works similar to how it does in German. The final part of the word is the head. So ĉefurbo will be understood to be a kind of urbo. This is how Esperanto has worked from before it was published in 1887. Long before it was spoken by any English speakers.

We need more Saudis and more Arabs in general to learn Esperanto. I hope you will continue to learn how Esperanto works and take some time to make some friends through Esperanto. All the best in your learning.

August 22, 2019
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Thanks for this answer. I really appreciated it. I hope an Esperanto course will be available for Arabic speakers soon. Have a lingot

August 22, 2019

Saluton Muhannad!

I agree with you that the Duolingo course does teach to an adjective-first word order. As I understand it adjective-first word order is the preferred order in Esperanto but by no means required. From my readings I have often encountered the reverse case, and yes, it looks and sounds strange to me -- a native English speaker -- but I also recognize that Esperanto's word order flexibility is an aid to people whose native languages, like yours, may prefer something different from mine. So it's fine.

If you get any answers wrong because of adjective-noun word order issues, I believe you can (and should) submit "my answer was correct" and get your answers added to the acceptable list of answers -- because they should be correct.

Lastly, I struggled with your post when I got to, "I find it offensive...". The name of the course is "Esperanto for English speakers" so I think it makes sense to simplify the word order for those speaking English.

August 22, 2019

The name of the course is "Esperanto for English speakers" so I think it makes sense to simplify the word order for those speaking English

On what basis do you suggest that this actually happens. It's worth keeping in mind that the Spanish and Portuguese courses use essentially the same sentences.

August 22, 2019

Zamenhof didn't speak English. It's not about being inclusive or divisive. Esperanto has a well described grammar which you can find in the Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko

August 24, 2019

Matenon bonan is perfectly acceptable, it's why Esperanto has the accusative (-n) so that you can change the word order. Most people who say bonan matenon are native speakers of Subject-Verb-Object languages so stick with that order.

September 2, 2019

Most people who say bonan matenon are native speakers of Subject-Verb-Object languages

This is not true. "Good Esperanto" is not a function of the learner's native language.

September 2, 2019
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