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Anti-Esperanto people and Esperanto phonology.

I’ve seen quite a few people whining about Esperanto’s phonology and alphabet. People (who shall go unnamed) have said words like Scii shouldn’t exist, and that the “hats” shouldn’t be in Esperanto to begin with. While I do tend to agree with some of what these people will say, like why no W but Ux, has this actually ever caused anyone trouble? I mean is it really so hard to say “scii” or write hats?

November 14, 2019



Ask them why do they write FISH but not GHOTI if they write enouGH, wOmen and revoluTIon.


That's less phonology or alphabet per se, and more spelling. There's no reason in principle why a English-speaking country couldn't adopt a spelling reform like Simpel-Fonetik system, which would result in texts like this:

It was on the först dei of the nuu jiir thät the ännaunsment was meid, olmoust saimulteiniosli from thrii obsöörvatoris, thät the moushon of the plänet Neptuun, the autermoust of ool the plänets thät wiil öbaut the san, häd bikam veri errätik. Ö retardeishon in its velossiti häd biin saspekted in December. Then ö feint, rimout spek of lait was diskaverd in the riidshon of the pörtöörbd plänet. At föörst this did not koos eni greit eksaitment. Saientifik piipl, hauever, faund the intelidshens rimaarkabl inaf iiven bifor it bikeim noun thät the nuu bodi was räpidli grouing laardsher änd braiter, änd thät its moushon was kwait different from the orderli progres of the plänets.

But the problem with an extreme reform is that it probably wouldn't catch on around the English-speaking world. However, a simple revision like SR1 might realistically catch on in a single English speaking country:

Draw a breth for progress,

Tred abrest ahed.

Fight agenst old spelling,

Better "red" than "read".

Spred the words at brekfast,

Mesure them in bed,

Dream of welth and tresure,

Better "ded" than "dead".


Esperanto was not developed by an English speaker but by a man who spoke western and eastern Slavic languages. Zamenhof seems to have tried to "Internationalize" the language by using the Latin alphabet. As can be seen from this link the original book introducing the language was written in Russian, an eastern Slavic language that uses the Cyrillic alphabet, and the most "international" language of the area in which the book was published. (You can look through be book using "Go to page" or look through an OCR'd copy [w/ new Russian spelling] here).

It appears that spelling in the Latin alphabet was borrowed from western Slavic languages that use that alphabet rather than the Cyrillic, and circumflexes (hats) were used to keep to the "one letter, one sound" idea, as Polish and Czech do (with different diacritical marks). The Ux for W is just the way Russians try write the sound of W in English--Уи (, e.g., Уильямс for Williams)--as there is no letter for W in Russian, and the Latin letter W is pronounced like a V in Polish (and often by Russians, when they see the letter). So, Zamenhof tried to internationalize the spelling, probably did fairly well for speakers of Slavic languages, but missed the mark for people who read western European languages. Oh well.


Esperanto: Unu litero - unu prononco. La angla (kaj la franca...): Unu litero - multaj prononcoj. Tial la ĉapelitaj literoj!


Esperanto doesn't quite have one letter one sound: c=ts, ĉ=tŝ, ĝ=dĵ.


I know who you're talking about and "scii" is awkward to say, but the "hats" are a decent compromise imo because it can allow words to look more familiar to other languages, with pronunciation more similar to the source language. Like the "j" in French words is "ĵ", so a word can look French in Esperanto, but still have Esperanto phonology.

Even after the (mostly silly) criticism given to Esperanto, it "ranked" almost as highly as Toki Pona to this person.


s-ts-i-i What's wrong ? 1.It doesn't matter in Esperanto if you have a german or a french accent (etc) if we at least understand you. 2. You just have to say a little s and a tsi-i. But you can say tsi-i, and people will also understand you.


s-ts-i-i is super awkward to say, I love esperanto but there is no denying that fact. And yes I do try and say it the correct way, because I don't wanna learn TOO lazily.


I know some people who have been speaking Esperanto for decades but nevertheless struggle with scias.

I think the problem with difficult pronunciation is that it's one's perception, mostly based on one's native language(s). I think it would be very difficult to craft a language with no sounds unknown to some language or other. I think Esperanto does a good job of providing enough sounds to be flexible and able to import lots of international vocabulary, but not so many sounds that it's difficult to distinguish between them and pronounce them all.

Manĝu terpomojn kaj feliĉiĝu!


I used to complain about scii. Salivanto patiently let me rant for a few days. When I was finished, he explained how the sound should be made. Once I approached it from the right direction, it no longer was difficult.

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