1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Esperanto
  4. >
  5. esperanto in the world/work p…

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/laniebeth

esperanto in the world/work place?

hi!

i'm sure this has been asked on this forum before, but have any of you used/encountered esperanto in a real life situation? I didn't even know it existed until recently. I'm about to start an international studies major at college, so I'm really curious about how learning esperanto would be beneficial in the future.

thanks so much!

October 2, 2019

38 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eojeff

Have any of you used/encountered Esperanto in a real life situation?

Yes, when I lived in another state... someone had an Esperanto word on their license plate. I passed them in traffic on the freeway a few times, but we never interacted. Eventually someone else in my area took a photo of their vanity license plate and it ended up on an Esperanto magazine for fun and commentary. This was sometime within the past 10 years in the American Midwest.

I'm really curious about how learning Esperanto would be beneficial in the future.

Some things you can learn by reading a book. Others, you learn by doing them until you master them. Still more complex tasks require that you learn how to learn the thing you're after — and then you go learn it.

Languages are in this latter category as is higher math. Learning Esperanto will help you be a better language learner. There is hard data readily available to back this up.

Very large international organizations with many volunteers have their share of Eesperantists in the mix. Case and point there are tons of volunteers contributing to Wikipedia's Esperanto language edition. It's worth pointing out that the Wikipedia's Esperantists helped found the Czech edition of Wikipedia. That's not the only example of Esperanto providing useful assistance to smaller language communities, but it's perhaps the best known.

There are Esperantists at Project Gutenberg and Distributed Proofreaders, too. You get my point. You can find us if you look and absolutely network with us. But there is no direct economic advantage to learning Esperanto because the speaker base isn't large enough to meaningfully harness the network effect at a large scale. There are plenty of small scale opportunities though, like those I just mentioned.

Was that at all helpful?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/laniebeth

yes, it was very helpful! i guess the reason im interested in it is just the idea of being able to talk to anyone in the world, but i guess the language is a little too small for that right now


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bicolingo

Every time someone like you (and me) sees that it's a good idea and decides to act on it, it becomes a little more viable for others to do it too.

Most people, when they hear about Esperanto, agree that it's a great idea that would solve so many problems of international communication, but not many people want to make the first move. (It's understandable: investment of time, opportunity cost, and so on).

I decided to do it anyway. Whether other people do it or not is up to them, but at least I'm playing my small role.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NegoXing

I'm learning in hopes I can use it in a conversation with another. The fact that it is small doesn't discourage me at all.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eojeff

By that logic Mandarin, English, Hindustani, Spanish, and Arabic are all a "little too small for that." These are the top five languages on Earth by speaker-base.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joey972940

I love your ideas! Sadly I haven't encountered anything with Esperanto yet.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rgvandewalker

It is nearly useless in the world of business. English is much more useful.

It does have an active group of idealistic young people, in many cultures, all over the world. So, the social opportunities for youth are large and very unusual. La Junulara Kongreso attracts such people from a wide range of places.

I have heard that if you speak it, other speakers are happy to talk to you in it. Again, a rare opportunity.

Also, it is very encouraging to learn. I have "learned" two other languages in classrooms; four years in one, three in another, and never approached the level of fluency I have gained after only five months with Duolingo Esperanto.

Then also, learning it is a game-theoretic strategy: Learn the international language, and then you, personally, are no longer responsible for its lack of network effects. It should encourage others right?

And also, Esperanto is a very fast-growing language. It has gone from zero to about 2 million speakers in 137 years. This is an average growth rate of about 11%/year, which is huge. Extrapolating... in less than a hundred more years everyone will know it, so start now.

Esperanto speakers are "only" 0.026% of the world's population. But, 2 million speakers are more than enough that you will never get to the end of them.

There's research that learning Esperanto helps to learn other languages. Famously, a study compared two groups, one spending 4 years on a language, the other a year of Esperanto, followed by 3 years of the language. The Esperantists showed significantly better progress.

I saw a video by a professional translator, (can't find it, sorry, but it was from a forum here), who said that scientific conferences using Esperanto actually have better conversations. People are not embarrassed to use even very bad Esperanto to get their points across. In contrast, these same people will just freeze in English, French or Mandarin. Even if they can read and write it well, they often cannot speak it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Randybvain

Some resources claim that there was an estimated 2.5 million Esperanto speakers in the world in 1910. Jouko Lindstedt estimated that 10 million people learned Esperanto in 1996.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

I think closer to the truth is that Jouko just listed a bunch of round numbers and assigned probable descriptions to them. (I've never met Jouko, but I've had extended correspondence with him in the years just after 1996.) I've never heard 2.5 million before. I've heard 1.6 rounded up to 2. I've heard "between 2 and 10 million" based on no facts whatsoever. Where did you hear 2.5?


Edit: Here's the original quote from Jouko Lindstedt, taken from web archive linked in the article in Libera Folio, which clarifies specifically:

Profesoro Jouko Lindstedt en 1996 prezentis sian takson, kiun multaj trovas realisma: proksimume mil homoj havas Esperanton kiel sian denaskan lingvon, dekmilo parolas ĝin flue, centmilo scias aktive uzi ĝin, miliono pasive komprenas multe, kaj dek milionoj iam iom studis ĝin. Lindstedt klarigis, ke temas pri tre neprecizaj ciferoj; ili celas diri, ekzemple, ke "se oni taksas la nombron de la denaskaj esperantistoj nur en centoj, povas esti tro malmulte, sed ne troviĝas multaj miloj da ili".

Here's the email:

Dum la pasintaj monatoj pluraj studentoj kaj esploristoj rete kontaktis min por ricevi bazajn informojn pri la parolantoj de Esperanto, denaskaj kaj aliaj. La eterna demando "kiom da ili ekzistas" kompreneble ofte aperas. Kvankam oni devas cxiam emfazi la relativecon de cxiuj taksoj, kaj la plursignifecon de la demando mem, iujn nombrojn oni ja devas doni. Kion vi, surbaze viaj spertoj, opinius pri cxi tia takso:

  • 1 000 havas Esperanton kiel la denaskan lingvon
  • 10 000 parolas gxin flue, kvazaux denaske
  • 100 000 povas uzi gxin por efika komunikado
  • 1 000 000 konas la elementojn de gxi

Kompreneble temas pri tre neprecizaj ciferoj; ili celas diri, ekzemple, ke "se oni taksas la nombron de la denaskaj esperantistoj nur en centoj, povas esti tro malmulte, sed ne trovigxas multaj miloj da ili".

and

Laux viaj sugestoj mi modifu la skemon jene:

  • 1 000 havas Esperanton kiel denaskan lingvon
  • 10 000 parolas gxin flue
  • 100 000 scias aktive uzi gxin
  • 1 000 000 pasive komprenas multe
  • 10 000 000 iam iom studis gxin

So certainly not "ten million people learned it in 1996."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eojeff

I don't know where Jouko got his numbers, here are some numbers I can find: Per-country rates of Esperanto speakers 2016.

The global sum from this figure approximates ~62,983 speakers world wide. I'm deeply skeptical of this figure on the one hand and think it's a good start at arriving at a respectable estimate on the other.

The flaws are in the data gathering:

  • It focuses on account totals on Esperanto language sites.
  • Not every new learner becomes a full fledged speaker, as you surely know. (Though confidence intervals try to correct for this and other factors.)
  • It completely neglects the established speaker base. Esperanto did not come into existence ex nihilo with the birth of the modern Internet.
  • Not all Esperanto communication occurs from a conveniently web-scraped source. Email, chat, and SMS traffic can't sampled.

What this is ~62,983 speaker figure is, surely, is single a point on a growth curve. Without more points over time this data isn't very useful.

I would personally love to see current ArXiv paper delve deeper into this kind of data.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Randybvain

I found it here: https://www.loc.gov/rr/news/topics/esperanto.html I don't know where it was taken from and whether it is true or false.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

According to the page you linked, the information is from The Tacoma Times, August 16, 1910. "It is estimated that there are 2,500,000 people in the world who talk Esperanto." I don't believe it for a second - unless we take a very liberal interpretation of what it means to "talk Esperanto" along the lines of Lindstedt's iam iom studis ĝin or konas la elementojn de ĝi.

The Tacoma Times doesn't specify who estimated this 2.5 million number, and if it were at all believable, certainly someone else would have repeated and explained this estimate. Esperanto has been growing (with occasional setbacks) for 132 years and still doesn't have an undisputed 2 million speakers. There's no chance that in Ivy Kellerman's day, more people spoke Esperanto than speak it today.

The linked articles are quite interesting from a historical perspective, even though they're full of errors. The library of congress page is a little cringy, though.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

have any of you used/encountered esperanto in a real life situation?

What counts as a "real life situation"?

I have spoken Esperanto face to face more times than I can count - and on three continents. I have had multiple unplanned chance encounters with Esperanto speakers in the wild. I have used Esperanto to make childish jokes, or to talk about my hobbies. I've used Esperanto to find contacts in places I wanted to visit. I've used Esperanto to care for sick people in areas where I had only limited knowledge of the local language or culture.

I didn't even know it existed until recently.

It's funny like that. Best kept secret, I suppose. "The language for everybody that nobody speaks."

I'm about to start an international studies major at college, so I'm really curious about how learning esperanto would be beneficial in the future.

It's the sort of thing that people learn if they like languages, international culture, alternative ideas. If you enjoy learning Esperanto, learning Esperanto is a great way to meet like-minded people.

P.S. I'm reminded of one of my students who told me that a colleague at work messaged him and said "Hey, I noticed that both you and this other guy we work with have Esperanto listed on their Linked In." I'm told the two of them occasionally talk about work in Esperanto. :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

I have had multiple unplanned chance encounters with Esperanto speakers in the wild.

Tell me more about those. I have never spoken Esperanto with another person even though I've been learning it for 2.5 years, so I am very curious about how that happened.

Best kept secret, I suppose. "The language for everybody that nobody speaks."

Absolutely not. We must spread awareness.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

And please don't tell me that it was at an Esperanto meeting with someone who you didn't previously meet

Ok, I won't tell you. :-)

Actually, no. It wasn't that. I've had more than "multiple" experiences like that.

Tell me more about those. I have never spoken Esperanto with another person even though I've been learning it for 2.5 years, so I am very curious about how that happened.

I've written about these elsewhere and can't really take the time to elaborate now. I wouldn't sit around and wait for Esperanto to find you, though.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

I've written about these elsewhere

Where?

I wouldn't sit around and wait for Esperanto to find you, though.

I haven't actually tried to find Esperanto speakers. Do you know where the next Usona Kongreso will be? I couldn't figure it out from looking online.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

I looked briefly for the other threads and couldn't find them. For sure it was on the forum. You could try a google search. The following search only give 300 results to sort through. Hopefully they're all interesting.

site:duolingo.com salivanto met

There will be no Landa Kongreso in 2020 because of all the attention on the UK in Montreal. NASK will be shorter in 2020 (and presumably more affordable). There are also numerous weekend events already planned.


Update: Actually, here it was - on the second page of those search results.

https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/25798867/Have-you-ever-met-another-Esperantisto-by-chance


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

Dankegon!


Eble mi devus diri "ĝis la revido" al homoj. Bonan ideon havis via filino!

Kie vi akiris vian Esperantan (pin)-on?

Kie haveblas pli da informaĵo pri la venonta UK?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StuartTheBrave

I'm a librarian and one of the other librarians I work with can speak it. I've also had people ask me questions about Esperanto books while I was working the reference desk. I used to attend my local Esperanto group when I lived closer. One of my close family friends is Baha'i and he has introduced me to a couple of other Esperanto speakers. I taught a very basic "Introduction to Esperanto" class at my library and a few people came out of the woodwork that knew a little.

I think that is about it after my two years of learning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

I taught a very basic "Introduction to Esperanto" class at my library

That needs to happen at more libraries. That would be a great way to spread Esperanto.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KomencantoAustin

I'm still learning and am from nowhere, but I know there are social clubs that meet and speak Esperanto. There are also a few organizations that have conventions and events they host. From my understanding finding positions where Esperanto itself would be directly involved and useful is a hefty undertaking. Learning a language especially meant to be easy that facilitates learning others can only help you. It might help you professionally by showing open-mindedness and by being hard working, like any other language would.

Basically, it may not be directly beneficial as in being the cause of getting a job, but it can only help you in a series of ways.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeeMiller9

Is Austin your name, or where you live? There's an active Esperanto group in Austin, Texas, that meets twice a month. I live north of Austin, and try to get into the city for the meetings when I can.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NegoXing

This is wonderful news to me! I live in the state, but not in Austin.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KomencantoAustin

Apologies, just noticed this. It's my name, unfortunately I'll be away from cities with Esperanto groups for another month or so.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ElijahCFGolpe

All the positive ideas on here, I agree with, but just to add some more resources and incentive:

There's an app called Amikumu that shows nearby Esperanto learners/speakers, and it might surprise you how many there are in such close vicinity. (I mean, it's surprising enough to even hear about it in your own town, then you find out there are about 10 Esperantists near you?! :O).

You also can get traveling discounts or nice tourism stuff, so I've heard. I don't know much about this though.

You can also maybe put Esperanto on a resume, just to make it look nicer. If they ask, you can spread word about what it is exactly. There are very little native speakers, but a really large variety of L2 speakers that makes it worth it. Who knows? Maybe you don't know Chinese, and this Chinese person comes into the place where you work. They don't know English, but you both know Esperanto: voilà! You can try communicating with Esperanto!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

and it might surprise you how many there are in such close vicinity.

It would surprise me more if any of them ever wrote back!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

You also can get traveling discounts or nice tourism stuff, so I've heard. I don't know much about this though.

It's called Pasporta Servo and the idea is that you stay at the home of an Esperanto speaker for free when you travel. I've never used it, but it's been around for a long time and is one of the most surprising benefits of learning Esperanto.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Randybvain

There is also couchsurfing which is for any person, not only Esperantists :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/salivanto

Couchsurfing, as I understand it, is a victim of its own success. Last time I looked into it, I found lots of articles suggesting that it's dead. The advantage of Pasporta Servo is that anybody who uses it automatically demonstrates a certain commitment to the idea. It's the very impracticality of Esperanto that makes Pasporta Servo practical.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

Pasporta Servo came first.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MasonPluzak

I have to wonder if Esperanto would be genuinely useful for you. I know a lot of language translation uses English as kind of the 'base' language. I wonder if Esperanto would be more useful as a base language to translate into/out of because it's flexible syntax and grammar would be more accomodating for translatiing information.

There's also the brain training and neurological benefits that come from learning a new language. My own skills in English have been bosted significantly by just studying Esperanto a little bit.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

I wonder if Esperanto would be more useful as a base language to translate into/out of because it's flexible syntax and grammar would be more accomodating for translatiing information.

It is a fact that Esperanto is more useful than English as a base language. English has too many idioms and has very ambiguous grammar.

My own skills in English have been bosted significantly by just studying Esperanto a little bit.

Mine have, too.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eojeff

I wonder if Esperanto would be more useful as a base language to translate into/out of because it's flexible syntax and grammar would be more accomodating for translatiing information.

I think that using a "base language" that isn't as idiom heavy as English would be helpful in a lot of cases. That said, untangling idioms is what a translator's notes are for when he is knee deep in the translation process.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rgvandewalker

Esperanto is the bridge language for the EU's computerized translation facility.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ISpeakAlien

It is? Tell me more.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rgvandewalker

Now they use SDL Trados, so my information is out-of-date. But, the advantage for machine translation is that for N languages, using a bridge language, also sometimes called an interlingue, requires only 2N translation programs. Without a bridge language, N*(N-1) programs are required. To translate 23 European languages, the CdL therefore needs either 2 * 23 = 46 or 23 * 22 = 506 translation programs. These programs, and their support are not cheap. So, a bridge language is an obvious economy. They picked Esperanto for the obvious grammatical reasons (simplicity, and a completely known grammar), and also for political reasons; it gave no formal advantage to any EU language. I believe the former system using Esperanto was called "Flosys"; Machine translations must always be reviewed, and that is the main delay to a quality translation. A new scheme that is very helpful is a database containing large blocks of reviewed text; These can be substituted, and are very helpful in routine translations, or revised documents.

Learn Esperanto in just 5 minutes a day. For free.