"He gives us milk."
Translation:Li donas al ni lakton.
We no longer use the expansive language of Shakespeare because languages naturally simplify over time. The creation of Esperanto is a jump forward in the simplification process to create a language easier than any other to learn. I think that simplifications that have already occurred within the English language must be acceptable to Esperanto. Failure to accept the simplification is a step backwards.
No but you can measure new concepts against the design concept of the language. Esperanto was made to be simple, flexible, and accomodate as many different native language structures directly translated as possible. In other words easier to learn while consistent is always right.
AdPar is right. In fact since writing this I see that Rae.F says that the "al" is needed to show who the recipient of "lakton" is.
In English we can say either "He gives milk to us" or "He gives us milk". Word order is important in English because English has lost most of its inflections. In the first sentence the "to" tells us that the indirect object follows. In the second sentence the "to" is missing but the word order - indirect object pronoun before the direct object - lets us pick out the indirect object.
Esperanto's creator designed it to have fluid word order. Esperanto cannot follow the second pattern of missing out "to" ("al" in Esperanto) because if it did a strict word order would have had to be imposed instead. We need a way to distinguish between the direct and indirect objects.
It's not true that being able to just say the direct object after the verb is unique to English, as has been suggested. It's done in German but strict word order as well as case distinctions keep everyone right.
The flexible word order in Esperanto means we can say both "Li donas al ni lakton" and "Li donas lakton al ni" and both are right.
I understand it's equally valid, but does it sound equally natural?
In French, the indirect object would be put before the verb if it's a pronoun: il nous donne du lait.
But if the indirect object is not a pronoun, a preposition would be required to introduce it, and the block would be put after the direct object: il donne du lait au chat. (al el kato)
Maybe because of "ni" being introduced by "al", li donas lakton al ni sounds more natural to my French ears. Moreover, a direct object is by nature more "directly" linked to the verb than the indirect object.
I'm not sure "sounds equally natural" applies to an artificial language. As far as I know, it is up to the speaker whether they want to use "Li donas al ni lakton" or "Li donas lakton al ni". It could also be a matter of emphasis: "Li donas al ni lakton" vs "Li donas lakton al ni".