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https://www.duolingo.com/Psittacosis

Esperanto feels like a simplified Romance language ?

Psittacosis
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Anyone else having this impression? I speak Spanish already, and Esperanto seems to follow a similar pattern to Spanish right down to having the same word roots. I suppose this was the intention for speakers in Europe? This language would problably be harder for non-Europeans to learn.

3 years ago

40 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
flootzavutPlus
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There are a fair number of Latinate roots, but in terms of how it functions, Esperanto feels closer to a Slavic language to me. That said, I speak dodgy French, musical Italian and holiday Spanish, so I don't have a lot to compare it to.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jackmchugh12

from what i hear, vocabulary is based on Romance and Germanic languages while the grammar is based on Slavic languages.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/miacomet
miacomet
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That's the best description of language levels I think I've ever seen. Who needs "fluent", "conversational", or "basic" when you have those? Let me go edit my resume...

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flootzavut
flootzavutPlus
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Hehehe!

I mean "musical Italian" quite literally. I speak French, though rather ungrammatically, and have been playing musical instruments for rather a long time (almost 30 years!) and between the two, it's amazing how much one can pick up. That level 5 Italian flag in my flair is entirely based on me doing the placement test so I could have a good laugh at the flirting bonus skills, and I've never been to Italy or deliberately learned Italian in my life except for learning dozens and dozens of musical terms.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/northernguy
northernguy
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It is in the nature of Esperanto to be seen as very similar to any given Romance language. English speakers think it if follows a pattern very similar to English, right down to the roots, only better.

Esperanto is popular in some circles, especially Japan, because it seen as introduction to English

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Z4CH3B99

Esperanto was originally intended to be a language that all europeans could speak. Ideally Esperanto was supposed to eliminate the need to learn a new language in order to speak with people from other countries.

I believe that the creator of esperanto intended for this language to become for Europe what Swahili is in Africa. For those of you who don't already know, Swahili is a language used by the various tribes and people of Africa to communicate with each other. It was created so that you didn't have to learn 1,000 different languages to communicate with people from other tribes.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ConnorTenny

interesting

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr.Knight
Mr.Knight
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Jes, Esperanto estas helplingvo: do, ĝi estas facila kaj simpla lingvo, kiu vi povas lerni tre rapide.

Yeah, Esperanto is a planned language, so it's an easy and simple language which you can learn quickly.

Though, I might suggest that "streamlined" is better than "simplified." The complexity is still completely there, but the irregularities that make language like Italian, Spanish, or French more difficult studies than they need to be are "fixed" by way of lateral regularity. It's a great system not only because it makes it easier for speakers of European languages, but also for those outside the Romance/Germanic system, who may not have any basis at all in Euro-heritage vocabularies. The regularity makes word patterns and types predictable, and therefore easier to work out in context, and, I suspect, easier to learn.

But I'm an English native. I'd love to hear from non-European language natives.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psittacosis
Psittacosis
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Agreed - "streamlined" would be a better word to describe it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LeHerself

I don't think the grammar is at all like a Romance language, actually. At first it seems like a lot of the words sound quite Spanish (it has a similar sound system and is just as phonetic), although the plurals being formed with j makes it sound quite different in conversation. The e is also different from the Spanish e, and the prosody is very different (Esperanto always emphasizes the penultimate syllable - stress in Spanish is much more varied).

But when you get farther into the language, the grammar is really what makes it different. Word-building (agglutinizing?) with roots and suffixes and prefixes - no romance language does that in any significant way.

Esperanto having a primarily indo-european based lexicon can be both a good and a bad thing for non IE speakers. While it makes it take a little longer to learn Esperanto, it also makes Esperanto more useful from a propaedeutic perspective. A Chinese speaker who wants to learn English, for instance, has almost zero cognates in their original language to help them along the way. Esperanto makes for a great bridge for someone like that. On the other hand, for someone like me, who speaks English and Spanish at a reasonable level, Esperanto doesn't have as much value as a tool for learning other languages - but thankfully that's not why I want to learn it myself :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Psittacosis
Psittacosis
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Very interesting perspective and I thank you for it. I have not gotten very far in the Esperanto tree yet, so you are correct that I am just barely scratching the surface. Im very much looking forward to diving in.

One year ago, I never would have thought that I would later enjoy learning languages so much!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JimDawdy

I agree- and I think the Chinese government is missing out by not including it for a couple of years in their elementary school curriculum.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/-..--..-.-.-.-

Mmmmm, my latin speaking friend says it's like dumbed down latin and my french makes this incredibly easy

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Albantar
Albantar
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It's true that Esperanto might look like a simplified Romance language to English speakers. However, it definitely is simplified European language. Wherever possible, common denominators were used and most words that are used across all European languages have Latin roots. Like telefono. There are many Germanic influences too, like hundo (dog), dika (fat). And some Greek and Slavic influences too of which the most obvious is kaj (and).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OnesimusUnbound
3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ward79
Ward79
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I had the same impression

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sadie....1234

Yeah, I'm learning Latin, but not with Duolingo. I find Esperanto is EXTREMELY similar to Latin.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Raynwl
Raynwl
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yeah, it's pretty similar to spanish but if I'm not wrong there are a lot of slavic and germanic roots also. I think maybe it's because latin was the language of science (just a thought). I like esperanto's fexibility.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
no.name.42
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In my opinion Esperanto's largest drawback is that it takes too much influence from European, specifically romance languages.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/miacomet
miacomet
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I agree, that, and its inherent gendered-ness. There is an interesting article about Esperanto grammar which argues that although the words are mostly European, the grammar is more "Eastern", but I can't find it at the moment. If someone knows it, that would be welcome!

(Note: I'm not trying to disparage Esperanto at all, I am learning it.)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JimDawdy

Both of these criticisms of Esperanto have been around a long time, but I think it's worth cutting Zamenhof some slack: consider that he lived in a relatively small Polish/Russian city 120+ years ago. Concepts such as gender-neutrality, non-European grammar, etc weren't the "in" thing :) He did a pretty amazing job for a guy with no internet! :D

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
no.name.42
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Whether or not you plan on learning Esperanto I think it's important to recognize that it's not perfect. I'm not saying I or anyone else could have done it better, just that it's an imperfect creation.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/northernguy
northernguy
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Perfection, the enemy of good (or even really, really damn good)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
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Are you thinking of this article? I think it's an excellent example of cherry picking.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wilcynic

I read that recently as well. Could you explain how it falls under the cherry picking fallacy? The way words are built is very similar to Asiatic languages, as the author demonstrates time and again. The word-building is definitely more Asiatic than European (except maybe German, but I've not gotten very far in German, so I wouldn't know). I think it's a wonderful article, but I'd love to hear any criticisms you have.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
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Sure thing. So basically my main beef is that the property of being isolating is only a very small part of a language, it's not even really grammar itself so much as a (making up my own word here :P) "metagrammatical" consideration. By which I mean it's a way of classifying grammars rather than a definition of how to use the grammar itself. This way of classifying languages isn't one that I've seen in papers that reconstruct linguistic phylogenies (disclaimer: I'm not a linguist, I'm a mathematician who's published in phylogenetics). They tend to use vocabulary and specific grammar structures and, IIRC, the Dollo process as the model of change. So I consider it cherry picking in the sense that I get the distinct impression he's got a goal of trying to show Esperanto isn't as Eurocentric as ... well ... it is and he's only paying attention to what he can find that supports that hypothesis.

In this case for example so you find that Esperanto has a type of grammar more common in South East Asia. But if you look further at how the ways that the grammars of those languages actually operate within that restriction compared to Esperanto's how similar actually are they? I speak some Japanese (the American flag is from me doing the reverse course in that language :P) and have a passing familiarity with some others and based on what I've read about Esperanto's grammar the answer about that is: not at all. He's stopped the grammatical analysis at basically the precise point it at which if he had he gone further he would've quickly found the differences adding up. As such I find the whole article a bit... Disingenuous? Uninformed? It's hard to find a positive way to spin it. :P

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
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And yet Esperanto has a big following in Japan and China as it is seen as a stepping stone between Japanese/Chinese and English.

As a Euroclone that doesn't surprise me. It's easier to learn than and shares many properties with English. I'm not quite sure why you started that with "and yet" as though you were contradicting something I'd said...

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Albantar
Albantar
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Esperanto is indeed sort of a "simplified European". It combines common cognates and grammatical concepts present in most European languages (mostly Romance and Germanic, but also Slavic and Hellenic) but does away with all the annoying and confusing exceptions. Learning Esperanto is, for Asians, a first glimpse into European languages and will allow them to learn the basis of what European languages are like without having to spend a lot of time memorising exception upon exception upon exception to complicated rule upon complicated rule.

You must understand that in most Asian languages, conjugation and accordance do not exist. A word is a word is a word and it never changes, no matter in what grammatical or syntactic context it is used. Esperanto provides a perfectly regular grammatical framework in which to familiarise yourself with the alien concept that words can and do very often change depending on the context in which you use them. What's more, Esperanto is built out of the most common cognates across Europe, so for example, when a Vietnamese person learns that a điện thoại is called telefono and a đặt nước is called nacio in Esperanto, he will have an easy time learning the English words telephone and nation after that, or the French words téléphone and nation, or the Dutch words telefoon and natie, etc.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/northernguy
northernguy
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And yet Esperanto has a big following in Japan and China as it is seen as a stepping stone between Japanese/Chinese and English.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
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Actually while following a link from somewhere else I found an article written by someone who actually has a degree in linguistics (unlike Claude Piron as far as I have been able to determine and yet many people claim) called learn not to speak Esperanto. It's a bit ranty but it does covers the inconsistencies in the language that I wouldn't know about and discusses how, by looking at non-European languages, Esperanto could've been better. In fact a good tl;dr of the article is given by itself:

Most people I know despise Esperanto, but largely for daft reasons – “Everyone speaks English nowadays anyway”, “It sounds a bit foreign”, “It has no cultural identity of its own”, etc. I, on the other hand, dislike it for being:

  • Just good enough to inspire anti‐revisionist fanaticism!
  • Just bad enough to strike the general public as risible!
  • Easily improvable enough to inspire constant half‐baked “reforms” whose inventors argue amongst themselves!

Don't miss the appendices!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Beatles-Musician
Beatles-Musician
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But remember that Indo-Germanic languages make the majority of speakers in the world ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GuyofM

It pulls words from the germanic and romance languages including some word pulled straight from latin. I'm also learning latin and sometimes my brain switches to latin mode when reading esperanto.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wilcynic

If you think Esperanto is Romance (and it is), try looking into Ido. The vocabulary was literally devised based on the number of people familiar with each root ... in Europe, of course. From what I understand, the committee which created Ido looked at the number of speakers of each major language (English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian), and weighed each root accordingly. Here is more information on the vocabulary of Ido. It looks a lot like French or Italian, and sounds similar, too, as far as I know, but is more or less as simple as Esperanto. No, it's not a rehashing of French; that would be awful.

Ido came about as a reform project of Esperanto. The history is complicated; to this day there's great controversy about the schism, in both communities. I prefer Ido because I think it's more complete than Esperanto, but it's also more Euro-centric than even Esperanto, which is a large criticism of both languages. Of course, both are so much less Anglo-centric than English (obviously), which I think is a plus for both. I left a longer comment in this discussion, if you'd like a little more history of Ido, and my thoughts thereon. (Search in page [CTRL+F] "Wilcynic" and it'll show up.) There's also the rest of the Wikipedia article I linked to above.

For better or worse, Ido's vocabulary is more Romantic than Esperanto's, because the goal at the time was to make it easiest to learn for the most people. They didn't take into account Asiatic languages, though, which I must say I am (guiltily) grateful for, though of course that's unfortunate for those people. I think it's better to make a language that will be easy for many people to learn, than to make one that's hard for everyone to learn.

tl;dr Romantic? Yes. Ido-level Romantic? Nope.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Albantar
Albantar
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Well, like I said before, Esperanto might look like a Romance language, but it isn't. Lets face it, Romance languages (mainly Latin and French) have, over the course of the centuries, had a huge influence on Europe's Germanic languages. In English, Dutch, German, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish alike, you will find many words of Romantic origin. It's obvious that when you create an "international language", you pick this low-hanging fruit (such as telefono, kalkuli, nacio, etc.), since they're cognates that exist in most of Europe.

Esperanto also has a lot of Germanic influences, though. Hundo (German), fiŝo (English/German), dika (Dutch/German), ŝafo (German), hi/ŝi (Engish), strato (Dutch), ŝtono (English), fajro (English), hejmo (German/Scandinavian), fajfi (German), etc. and even Greek ones that are small but omnipresent such as kaj, pri, ek-, -ido...

For an English speaker, the language looks and sounds even more Romance because many words end in vowels (-o, -a, -e, -i) like Italian and because of the definite article "la" (Italian, French, Spanish...)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wilcynic

I'm having trouble responding to your comment because I'm not exactly sure what you're saying. OP said, Esperanto feels like a simplified Romance language (akin to Spanish), does anyone else feel the same? I said sure thing, it's definitely Romantic (not necessarily a "Romance language", despite my first sentence; I meant "Romantic", though the distinction is, to me, ultimately meaningless), but not as Romantic as Ido. And you say Esperanto is not a "Romance language". Again, the distinction between "Romantic" and "Romance language" is, for my intents and purposes (and, I imagine, those of OP), irrelevant. Especially the part about Romantic influence on Germanic languages. A word adopted from a Romance language into a Germanic language is still Romantic, no?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Albantar
Albantar
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You certainly do have a point, but then English is a Romantic language too.

Just look at that phrase above. Certainly, point, and language are of Romantic origin. And so are "phrase" and "origin" - and, arguably, "just" as well. And "arguably". English is definitely (yes, that's one too) the most Romantic of the Germanic language tribe. :D

So obviously, since Romantic words have found their way to varying degrees into every other European language, a "simplified European language" would contain a majority of Romantic cognates. But to go from there to saying that Esperanto is a simplified Romantic language? No, it's a simplified European language and due to the omnipresence of Romantic cognates across Europe, it kind of naturally becomes dominated by them as well.

If it were indeed a simplified Romantic language, then ŝafo would be something like mutono and strato something like vio or ruo. It's clear to me, especially by such words and words like "kaj", "-ido", "ek-" that were picked from Greek, that Dr. Zamenhof did go out of his way to include cognates from other sources as well in order to avoid Esperanto becoming a "simplified Romantic language". :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wilcynic

See the title of the discussion: "Esperanto feels like a simplified Romance language ?" (emphasis mine). Neither I nor OP said it is a simplified Romance language, but that it definitely feels like one. And when talking about impressions, whether the Romantic cognates are there because of Romantic influence on Germanic languages, or just because they're Romantic, is irrelevant.

Again, OP is talking about their impression of the language as a simplified Romance language, not making a statement of fact.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Albantar
Albantar
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Exactly. And my reaction to "Esperanto feels like a simplified Romance language" is: "Yes, it may feel that way, but in fact it is not a simplified Romance language". My argument doesn't oppose the statement, it nuances the statement. ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wilcynic

Incidentally, your example of "ŝafo" being "mutono" if the vocabulary were more influenced by Romantic roots is spot on, as far as Ido goes. "Strato" is just "strado" in Ido, though. Good guesses, all the same.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JohnKing147785
JohnKing147785
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Yes and no. To me it sometimes sounds like a Romance language and other times more eastern european. Also the addition of the accusative case endings make it seem unique to romance languages like Spanish.

2 years ago