What flaws do you see in Esperanto?
Esperanto is a quite logical language, and it's certainly makes more sense than other languages. But it was still created by one guy, and there are a few flaws/irregularities. Which ones do you find interrupt the logicality of Esperanto?
EDIT: This has caused so many arguments to start. But please note that this is NOT in any way suggesting that Esperanto is "wrong" in any way. I understand that Zamenhof had his reasons and that's fine. This is just a place to point out things he may have missed, and provide alternatives.
I suppose logicality is a relative thing. Esperanto has a certain elegance and I'm enjoying exploring it, but the most logical way to construct a language is a very subjective thing. Esperanto isn't difficult for me to learn, but though it is deliberately regular, it is also far from logical to me. For instance, I would have done away with the definite article, plurals, gendered pronouns, and I wouldn't have tried to make the word order flexible, and I suppose in general I would have made it more like Chinese. Also for some reason I find the plural "oj" sound used multiple times per sentence a bit difficult to pronounce, though I expect I'm the only one with this issue.
But Esperanto is a living language and I truly respect it, so like any other language, I can't really see it as flawed. It is what it is, it has its own history, and like other languages it doesn't fit with my ideal, but like other languages it will, I expect, continue changing through time so long as people continue to use it.
Who is this "they" to whom you refer?
Esperanto is the property of the people who speak Esperanto. If instead of assuming some "they," a shadowy cabal in charge of Esperanto standards, you assume a "we," you'll find that while you're not alone, you're outvoted.
There's also a beauty to the accusative. Try the phrase "paint the brown wall blue."
I think sed/tamen is pretty easy, it is more or less like "but/however".
It is actually funny how some people don't want to believe that one can say anything in Esperanto and that Esperanto is pretty rich language and then an anglophone complains that doesn't understand subtle differences between Esperanto words. However I must admit that when it comes to professional lexicon I feel more comfortable in English than Esperanto but in a normal life I feel better in Esperanto.
Oh don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I love Esperanto, and in hindsight there's no other language I'd choose for my second. The "flaws" I pointed out are flaws not in the language itself, but in my own comprehension. I spent the first 30 years of my life as a monoglot so this is all somewhat of a gear-shift for me.
I spent first 19 years of my life as a monoglot desperately trying to learn English, Esperanto was a miracle for me because after 4 months I was able to talk to people, with a lot of mistakes but I could communicate. And 2 years later I conquered English. I wish you all the best, I hope that after the launch of this course this miracle will happen to a lot of people.
Wow, way to go! I really can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be to learn English as a non-native speaker, especially in just two years! The exceptions, irregularities, and seemingly endless vocabulary seem insurmountable to all but the most dedicated learners, and even most native speakers make common mistakes.
I'm hoping for the miracle to catch fire as well. The world deserves a much easier and more accessible global language than English.
In some cases like voli/deziri, I think that sloppy usage (seemingly reinforced by some of the sentences on Duolingo right now) is to blame for much of the confusion.
If you read the PIV definitions, you will find that voli primarily indicates volition/will/intention and deziri indicates desires/wishes. Many people, especially English speakers, will mentally convert it to "want" and then not see any difference. In that case the problem is with a lack of lexical creativity in English on the part of the learner, or unwillingness to dive into Esperanto-only dictionaries and texts to try and get the sense.
This fellow documents his little journey of discovering this particular nuance, but he made several mistakes along the way, so be sure to read all the way to the bottom under "I now think this:"
Heads up, this caused a rather heated argument on Lernu.net http://en.lernu.net/komunikado/forumo/temo.php?t=17720&p=1
This is just unbelievable! I feel kinda sorry that I wrote a post which lead some people to think that duolingo teaches wrong Esperanto, all I wanted is to give enough information for people wondering about gender-neutral pronouns. But I really did not want people to think that duolingo course exists only to teach neologisms (it doesn't, even Swedish course doesn't teach hen), I think that if I would be a contributor I wouldn't even teach it but why not reveal this information in the discussion forums? It is not a secret that several solutions were proposed for gender-neutrality in Esperanto and some of them are even used.
That's fine and thanks for stating that clearly. But keep in mind, that Esperanto is in that matter somehow different than most other languages: Esperanto is DEFINED as obeying the “Fundamento”.
So it's not like mentioned Swedish, where it'd be worth to teach the language in the shape, which is approved by the Swedish Language Council and the Swedish Academy. But Swedish itself is not exactly equivalent to the version approved by authorities (and therefore having some legal status in Sweden) and exists besides and beyond this legally binding form.
Esperanto, on the other hand has got its definition: “Laŭ silenta interkonsento de ĉiuj esperantistoj jam de tre longa tempo la sekvantaj tri verkoj estas rigardataj kiel fundamento de Esperanto: (1) La 16-regula gramatiko; (2) la «Universala Vortaro»; (3) la «Ekzercaro». Tiujn ĉi tri verkojn la aŭtoro de Esperanto rigardadis ĉiam kiel leĝojn por li, kaj malgraŭ oftaj tentoj kaj delogoj li neniam permesis al si (almenaŭ konscie) eĉ la plej malgrandan pekon kontraŭ tiuj ĉi leĝoj; li esperas, ke pro la bono de nia afero ankaŭ ĉiuj aliaj esperantistoj ĉiam rigardados tiujn ĉi tri verkojn kiel la solan leĝan kaj netuŝeblan fundamenton de Esperanto.”
If I would have made the language, of course it would be different because Zamenhof chose some things according as his own like not always following a logic.
But I don't see flaws in the language. Well maybe system to name countries is kind of a mess (and almost nobody talked about this, anyway better this mess of making it bigger with a change).
The real problem I see in the people, not in the language. I can understand easily that everybody has a opinion and likes and dislikes. But I just don't understand:
-Why people, who can't still use properly the language and haven't had several talks with speakers (not learners), want to change the language. -Why anybody is ready to accept anything in any other language but in Esperanto any opinion against its grammar is just right. -Why people want to believe lies like: Esperanto is sexist. Languages can't be sexist, only people can. There are sexist cultures using languages with some of the changes people are asking and they are probably the most sexist cultures in the world. -Why people believes to have the right to cheat beginners teaching things that are not Esperanto making them to lose their time. -Why people don't understand that there are Esperanto haters that would love to know about this kind of sad useless discussion. Haven't Esperanto bad enough reputation to help haters even more? -Why people think that the own opinion is over the stability of the language. This is really a very hard one. -Why people think “conservative” is bad always and “changes” are good always. I suppose people who thinks that would accept with pleasure a non conservative dictatorship just because it means change. -Why people think that to want protect people rights is enough to be right. This one is also very hard to accept. -Why some people just don't understand that Esperanto is not an hobby like Klingon or Elvish. It's a real language for the real world. -Why people keep talking as though Esperanto haven't been working with no problem for 128 years. That's the fact. And if you are learning it today is because of that.
When someone learns a language, learns the language to use it as it is, not to discuss changes about it. And although Esperanto is not like any other language in every aspect (because its evolution can't be free), it is indeed just same in that aspect. Yes to have an opinion is ok, I have my own not necesarily good for everything as told in the beginnig, but leave the language alone.
The affixes. I am getting a strong trying too hard vibe with them. I get the whole "let's be simple" thing, but that's just a little much for me. Then to do it with all types of words, from verbs (dormi to dormeti), to nouns (klubo to klubano), to adjectives (bona to bonega), it's just too much.
I'm also not quite sure why the language of origin changes word to word. I understand that Esperanto is influenced by European languages, but going from Spanish to French to I don't know what is unnecessary to me. Then, the actual Esperanto words themselves feel a little...haphazard?
Not really anything serious, just my own preferences that are getting toyed with here and making me go "Really, now?"...
Yep, European: not just Romance and Germanic, but also Slavic. You see, it's very natural thing in Slavic languages to construct new words with affixes. Maybe it will not be an existing word in dictionary, but it will be valid and the meaning will be clear. For example, word фигня (garbage, rubbish, stuff). You can make an ajective фиговый or нефиговый (не- like mal-), verb _фигачить or фигеть, adverb фигово, diminutive noun фиговинка, and a lot more. You can create a long sentence by using just one root for all words =)
I think the affixes are a little overwhelming at first, but actually are pretty fun when you get your brain round them. You can say things very specifically, and also it gives you options if you can't recall a specific word, but you can come up with something you can then fiddle with till it means what you want it to mean.
My first impression was, indeed, "41 affixes, are you freaking kidding me?" but the more I get used to them, the more I like them.
I personally think that the prefix a- would be better than mal-. It has a linguistic precedent, as in atypical or amoral. It also sounds better in my opinion. Also, I feel like "la" and "ne" should elide before vowels. So it would be "l'arbo" instead of "la arbo", and "n'estas" instead of "ne estas". The ĥ character is a bit ugly in my opinion, too. Esperanto overall is pretty cool, but there are just a few things that could be done to make the language sound more like the beautiful languages it came from.
La optionally does elide to l' and ĥ, which I agree about (it's ugly to have a diacritic on top of a letter with an ascending stem, and many people don't like the sound it represents) is almost phased out except in a few words (ĉeĥa and ĥaoso come to mind). I think it would be interesting to see what kinds of shortening happened if there were a large native community.
Diacritics are a pain for typing, but I really enjoy the fact that every letter has one pronunciation and one pronunciation only. It takes a lot of guesswork out of reading, writing, and speaking the language for me.
It's inconvenient for typing until you install a keyboard layout that can support them, but as you say it would be difficult to have this level of clarity with just Latin characters.
English is the only one of Zamenhof's source languages that does not use diacritics. Most people are comfortable with them. Otherwise, for example, we wouldn't be able to make a compound with a word ending in G and a word beginning in H. We'd have to learn that "flughaveno" is an exception and is not pronounced "fluĝaveno."
There is no problem writing diacritics on a computer since the Esperanto letters are part of UTF-8. Linux has the keyboard layout built in, it's easy to get a keyboard layout for the Mac or to improvise, and it's possible on Windows, even though it even has a difficult time with emdashes and ellipses
I'm Russian, Esperanto vi is vy in Russian. I'm learning Italian where it is like in Esperanto "noi/voi" just with o in the middle. In English it is "we" for "ni". In Swedisch it is completely vice versa and I'm learning Swedisch. It really difficult mixture in my head of all these pronouns in all the languages but what to do? Languages cannot be all the same.
"Mal" is actually an adverb in French most commonly meaning "badly". The word you are thinking of is "mauvais". :) I was thinking the same thing though with the mal- prefix. I just think, "oh in French it means bad, so it must mean the opposite". Idk, some what of a mnemonic device I suppose.
I'm not too fond of the mal- suffix either and I completely agree with you about the 'la' eliding before vowels. The language would flow much better in my opinion. Who knows, maybe that will develop over time.
Roza is rosy, like the flower, whereas rozkolora is rose-colored. Also, there was a study of denaskuloj (native Eo speakers) that showed that they rarely use the accusative even when their parents used it. Maybe it will evolve out of the language, to be replaced by content or je. I'm on my phone so I can't link to it, but Wikipedia has a decent article on denaskuloj with a section on common grammatical changes and I think a link to the study.
I think that's the conclusion the study came to. Almost all sentences noted were SVO (except in one child who also spoke German, which allows OVS and SOV in some scenarios), so the accusative was made redundant. I also think intonation helps; based on my experience with German, intonation can be used to easily differentiate SVO and OVS.
You asked, so I'll answer. The flaws I personally see:
- transitive/intransitive verbs
- non-English characters
- country names... what was Zamenhof thinking with ethnic-based naming?
- sometimes nouns being gender-neutral, other times being default male
- large numbers that are a billion (American) and a milliard (British) and larger
- ĉi means "all" in correlatives, but "this" otherwise
Despite these complaints, I still love it and it's so much easier than any other language I've ever learned. I've now lived in Germany for 10 years, and I speak Esperanto much more fluently and naturally than German... Also, realize if I made such a list of "flaws" for English, French or German, those lists would be a lot longer than this one! ;)
Notice from the chart that in German, Russian, and Polish, which Zamenhof spoke, O is a neuter ending. (German: das Auto, das Konto, etc). If you think all languages are Spanish, which Zamenhof did not speak, you might mistake O as a masculine ending. It isn't. Esperanto nouns are not masculine. They are nouns. Similarly, Esperanto adjectives are not feminine. They are adjectives.
It is a common believe that "woman" is derived from "man", but i it is in fact not true.
Earlier it was "wifman" and "werman", where "wif" and "wer" were meant "female" and "male" respectively, and "man" simply meant "human being".
Over time "wif" changed into "wo" and "wer" was lost, resulting in the words "woman" and "man". The result is that the word for a "male human being", and the word for a "human being in general" are spelled the same way.
The identical spelling for the two meanings of man, leads to the common misconception that "man" was chosen for a male, because males was seen as the superior gender, and the words for the inferior females got the prefix "wo-" attached to it.
"fe-" in "female" is also not a prefix.
The origin for "female" is the latin "femella", and "male" has its origin in the french "masle", which again has its origin in the latin "masculus".
Yes. Zamenhof wanted to reduce the number of words you have to learn. Esperanto words for close relatives (such as edzo) are masculine in meaning. English Brother/Sister is two words. German Bruder/Schwester is two words. But Latin filius/filia is one word with an ending change. Pater/Mater are also very similar.
However, the languages that Zamenhof spoke had grammatical genders that didn't always line up with the sexual meaning of the word. No one would be concerned that patrino was derived from patro, just as today, the Dutch aren't concerned that koningin (queen) is derived from koning (king). And English-speaking people don't decry the word woman because it is derived from the word for man with a prefix. Vir[in]o, [wo]man, what's the difference? Even today, the -in suffix is used in German to distraction.
In the context of the 19th century, and even today if we stop ignoring what is there, Esperanto is amazingly inclusive.
I don't agree with You about the non-English characters. Most languages have some, and You are again putting English as the standard - and I could feel better with non-Latin, non-ASCII or other definition
I think another problem is overdoing the rigidity (netuŝebla Fundamento). Maybe after such a long time there should be some way of making changes.
There are many neologisms that are just not needed, for words that can be easily made with existing roots and affixes, and make the language uglier and more difficult!
Well, perhaps non-English was a poor way to put it, but boy it's a huge obstacle for almost everyone to have to install a keyboard to type Esperanto properly and English has become the standard in machine input. Yes, in an ideal world, all machines would just accept Esperanto input by default. Unfortunately, we don't live in such a world and machines are how we do so much of our communication these days. :(
And yes, I certainly don't fault Zamenhof for not having this foresight when he published his language for not understanding the technological evolution of the first computer keyboard, which would appear 60 years later!
Zamenhof had the problem that his source languages had more sounds than letters, so he used the Czech model of diacriticals to expand the alphabet instead of the Polish method of digraphs. English has more sounds than letters, but we use digraphs. The are problematical because we end up with things like hothouse and upholstery, where th and ph aren't pronounced as in thither and philosophy. As if English spelling weren't hard enough all ready.
Digraphs make it harder to spell. Diacritics are the way to go.
Originally, he wrote the extra sounds like č, but since different languages use different diacritics for the same sound, č isn't really international. So he chose ĉ precisely because no other language uses it. I think he was just backed into a corner on this. Fortunately, we have UTF-8 and can type the Esperanto characters with ease (on a Mac or a Linux computer) or with difficulty (on Windows).
He could not use W, by the way. W was only used in languages in a narrow band from Poland to England, and not for the same sound in all of them. W had the V sound in most of them. In English it has the Ŭ sound but he didn't speak English. In Welsh, it is a vowel, which he probably didn't know. W is now used in languages that were converted to the Latin alphabet after Zamenhof died, but W wasn't even a letter of the alphabet in Portuguese or Swedish until the 21st century. (In Swedish today, it's a variant of V. The words "wallet," "velcro," "wonder," "vulnerable" would be in alphabetical order.) He couldn't use a letter that wasn't in the printer's type case. Diacritics are easier. There is no consensus about the sound of Y or even X. He couldn't repurpose them without being partisan. Q only appears in a digraph.
He couldn't repurpose letters that most people couldn't print or about which there was wide disagreement about their sounds.
I don't see a better choice. Laŭ mi it is not hard to type things like ŝi ŝanĝis after you get used to it.
We're at the end of levels for reply, so I'm adding this here. I agree that there are problems with both the H-convention and the later X-convention. Your example of "is this ĝ or g-h" is perfectly apt, and I think the only benefit of the X-convention, other than avoiding ambiguity is that it's less ugly than breaking up a word with a circumflex (s^ipo).
As for early Esperanto typography, Esperanto publications had to obtain specially created types with the diacritics. In cold type, there was no way of jamming a mark over a letter; the type height (the size of a block from which the letter protrudes) of a C and a c were identical in a typeface. I've read some references to printers having to modify existing types to add the diacritics.
This was something that Zamenhof clearly did not pay much attention to.
I know. Polish uses W but has no V. He would have given up W because it wasn't international. Most countries then didn't have W in the alphabet and couldn't print it. There are work-arounds for diacritics, but not for missing letters. They were setting type physically back then. Other than professional printing, most everything was written in longhand. Many people wouldn't know how to invent a W to fit their writing, but they could, with a flourish of the pen, add a diacritical mark of any description.
Esperanto has the H convention and the X convention. German has what you might (but they don't) call an E convention. If you are missing Ä, Ö, and Ü, you can use AE, OE, and UE. But with care. When I was in Germany, there was a radio announcement that the police were looking for a car with a certain license plate because they had an emergency back home .
A half hour later, the announcer said that the license plate number she gave was incorrect because the news came by teletype, which didn't have umlauts. The license plate included Ü, not UE. Everyone knows that license plates always have the correct spelling, not the workaround, so people would have overlooked the right car.
Imagine a komencanto. Is "flughaveno" "flug-haveno" or "fluĝaveno"? And who can read sxangxigxi? Have mercy on my eyes! Write ŝanĝiĝi.
Well, at that point it thus becomes a matter of quantitatively evaluating the desirability of nonpartisanism and simplicity. I think it might have been slightly better to go with letters like W and the like (had he known/been able to) in spite of the fact that some languages used it differently; no languages knew the diacritics, so the consideration is not to learn a new graph/sound combination so much as the whole fairness thing.
I personally like the diacritics, but I can see—kind of—why it might turn some others off.
Well, to be clear, I wasn't really proposing language reforms as such. I was speculating about what might have been better, rather than arguing what might still be better into the future. To be clearer still, I don't really oppose language reform either; I guess I don't have strong feelings about it one way or the other.
My counterargument to your French example actually wouldn't so much be "but Esperanto is constructed", but instead "but such language change does happen all the time, including spelling reforms; it's true that speakers of languages often resist it somewhat, but (much of) the Esperanto community seems to resist it much more strongly still".
Another counterargument is that any user of any language influences the use of the language, and in my opinion should be free to do so. As you say, it is up to the community to either pick it up or not, and in all likelihood it won't in the vast majority of cases, but I don't advocate a preconceived opposition against such change on the basis that the language is supposed to be 'done' when natural languages, in effect and in practice, are not.
But anyway, I wasn't suggesting language reform as such. There are some reforms that I support, and others that I don't, for both Esperanto and some natural languages, including my own native Dutch (which imo needs a gender-neutral pronoun like the one often suggested for Esperanto (ri) quite desperately), but that wasn't what my comment was about.
I appreciate your thoughts :)
Yes, I know about ĝi in this context, but there are still arguments for ri. I don't mind either one, personally. I find myself using either one sometimes, as they pop to mind. At some point I corrected my own li aŭ ŝi with ĝi aŭ ri—the aŭ in the second case being to cover both those who like ri and those who do not, rather than both sexes, which both cover already (as well as non-binary cases, which is why I say I 'corrected' myself).
I agree that bottom-up changes are often times more likely to be successful and accepted into a language. I have heard of some cases where top-down changes also had some success, but those are less common, and it's been too long ago that I studied linguistics for me to remember specific cases. There are many factors that determine the degree to which a proposed change is accepted, having to do with the merits of the change itself, the status of those suggesting/using it, the status of the contexts in which it is used, etc. But again, I don't remember specifics.
I get what your are saying. "Ri" is a proposed epicene pronoun. Zamenhof explicitly created a epicene pronoun: ĝi. There is no need to create what we already have.
There have been changes in Dutch. The masculine and feminine genders merged. That was a bottom-up change. In the 19th century, someone tried to implement cases in Dutch, but it didn't work. That was an attempted top-down change.
You can't implement top-down changes to a language. Bottom-up changes happen whether you want them to or not.
Esperanto has changed and is changing, slowly, from the bottem up. Zamenhof never imagined the words komputilo, interreto, retejo, retumi, for example. Some people wanted komputero (I suppose if you drop your komputo, you'd have a whole bunch of komputeroj on the floor). Other people wanted Komputoro. Usage prevailed; the word is komputilo.
Since Esperanto is a living language used by millions of people for over a century, it ill becomes us to propose language reforms instead of. learning the language.
Let's assume we're talking about French, not Esperanto. With most French verbs in the present tense, there are only three spoken forms, but written French has tons of silent letters. I don't like that. Let's reform French:
je marche, tu marches, il marche, nous marchons, vous marchez, ils marchent
Let's all change it to this, but while we're at it, let's change the spelling:
zhe marsh, tu marsh, eel marsh, noo marchon, voo maschay, eel marsh
I don't think that French-speaking people would take very kindly to that. We have to learn it or leave it. What's that you say? French is a natural language, but Esperanto is a constructed language. The difference is that a natural language is a human artifact, but a constructed language is a human artifact. Hm. No language was harvested from a field or plucked from a tree. Humans created them.
It is true that Esperanto is a constructED language but notice the ED. It is constructed, not under construction. There is an Akademio de Esperanto, but all it can do is make recommendations, which everyone is free to ignore. So to implement your ideas, you have to create an institution that can implement changes, enforce compliance on all Esperanto-speakers, and revise all written materials retroactively. After all, Esperanto is old and Esperantists have been prolific.
No one here seriously wants to change Esperanto, so this is all theoretical. When it comes to any language, it's learn it or leave it.
Zamenhof did foresee this issue by allowing the h-system or x-system for specifying the diacritic characters. 'h' is more natural sounding for the circumflex, but with familiarity, 'x' is sufficient. It's not ideal, but it should be an acceptable alternative for both input and output.
The non-English characters are only an inconvenience to me in typing. With phones and tablets losing their physical keyboards and the "keyboard" moving onto the screen, that problem is fast going away. The additional characters are clearly distinct letters rather than accented versions of the unaccented letter. They're distinct. I've never really felt that way about the accented letters in other languages.
I have to completely agree with you on country names. You'd think given the story of Zamenhof's motives for creating a neutral language that point would have been particularly important to him. I assume he did it to keep the vocabulary as small as possible. However, it would have been interesting if Anglujo was analogous to Esperantujo, referring the the community of speakers of the language rather than a concrete place.
The issue with ĉi has oddly never bothered me much. That's odd because I am bothered by the pronouns. It's too easy to not hear them distinctly in a noisy environment. For the same reason, I wish we didn't have dekstra and maldekstra. I know "liva" has been suggested as a synonym for "maldekstra", but people use the vocabulary they learn. The convenience of learning fewer roots has to be balanced against clear communication.
While I agree with you on the other issues, I've learned to live with them over the years.
Fascinating. Read more about Long and short scales on Wikipedia.
I don't know whether I think it is more logical, since typically scientific data that requires the long scale is going to be rendered in numerals not words, while information for public digestion by those who don't understand scientific notation is typically going to be about quotidian topics that don't need a long scale (economics, social science statistics) or else the speaker/writer is going to take pains to explain the context of the numbers.
Zamenhof thought that it would be nice to add different affixes to a country's name depending on whether its citizens had a common ethnicity or not. So France (shared ethnicity) was Franc+ujo, Francujo. Brazil (non-shared ethnicity) was Brasil+o, Brasilo. Which makes no sense for many obvious reasons. And that's the story behind ethnic-based naming.
Billion translates as 10^9 in most English dialects (at least in contemporary UK and US English), but in many other languages billion means 10^12.
In contemporary Esperanto, biliono means 10^12, but it used to be ambiguous. Also the current decision is confusing for people from languages where it means 10^9.
it's not a personal dislike. I need to press three keys at the same time (alt gr + shift + ç) and u for write ŭ. However ŭ in ankaŭ is prononced like w in how or cow.
I also depends on your keyboard layout. I press just alt + u, and just any alt. However my keyboard layout is overcomplicated, I worked a lot to make it possible to type with the same layout English, German, Swedish, Italian and Esperanto and some Greek letters important in physics. + I have second layout for Russian+Tatar. It is not really Esperanto problem, the more languages you learn the more difficult it is to have suitable keyboard layout. And Esperanto is not the only language for which you have to modify keyboard layout.
That's a Windows problem. On a Mac not so much. Linux even less, it allows you to choose an Esperanto keyboard. The Esperanto letters are in the UTF char set, so the villain is your OS for making them inaccessible. There is a free add-on Esperanto keyboard for iOS (two of them in fact.) on a computer you can set up autocorrect so that S X (backspace) would produce Ŝ for example. (I'm typing this on the iPad's on-screen keyboard. )
I have a text expansion program on my computer that lets me type in the x convention and converts to the supersignoj. I linked to the Dutch keyboard, so I just switch to it for Esperanto.
There's not much that prevents us from typing Ŝ Ĝ Ĉ Ŭ Ĵ and Ĥ, unless we prefer to be irritated.
Ŝ should be x, like how it's said in Portuguese. Ĝ should be dj, because that's how the sound is represented in French. And I feel like semivowels should merge with their vowel counterparts. So it would go like this:
Ĉ → C
C → Ç
Ĝ → Dj
Ĥ → merge with K
Ĵ → J
J → I
Ŝ → X
Ŭ → U
I know there's a ç in there, but at least it's one of the more common diacritics.
What if there is a compound word in which the first one end in D and the second one begins with J? How do we distinguish between AU and AŬ? The Ç is heavily used in Portuguese and less frequently in French, but on many keyboards it would not be easy, trading a problem for the same problem.
The Esperanto letters are standard UTF8 characters. Esperanto isn't broken, our computers are.
Why not use the Ido (version of Esperanto) alphabet. Its uses the same 26 letters as English. No accented letters but does use some well known digraphs ch, sh and qu. The letter c is pronounced ts example nacion, the Spanish spelling of nation. Seems a better suitable lettering system in the electronic 21st century, especially if learning Esperanto as a foundation to learning other major euro languages. It would make it easier to read to more people who have no prior knowledge of Esperanto and therefore be easier to share via text with friends that you want to introduce to Esperanto.
W, for example, is historically a digraph that is only used in native words in Polish, Sorbian, German, Dutch (as English V) English (for a sound that does not occur in the others) Welsh (as a vowel), and non European languages that were recently, some after Zamenhof's death, converted to the Latin alphabet. It wasn't available in other languages in Zamenhof 's lifetime; Portuguese only recently added it for foreign words. Y is a Greek letter that was included in the Latin alphabet to transliterate a Greek vowel. It has the sound of j as in jes in Spanish and English, the sound I as in machine in Spanish, English and French, does not appear in Italian, and has the sound of Ü in Finnish, German and in all Germanic languages except English and Dutch. In English, and only English, it can have the sound ""eye" which Icelandic spells æ. Zamenhof didn't use them because there is no consensus about them. The supersignoj were actually simpler.
I've been imagining myself as a high-school Esperanto teacher, and I could see imaginary students having trouble with not putting an -n at the end of a noun after "estas" (right?), unlike after most other verbs (I'd imagine that's because the subject isn't doing anything to it, it's just being it? But what about the sentence "I am him" - "mi estas li/lin"? "He is me" - "li estas mi/min"? "And we are all together... I am the eggman (woo)... They are the eggman (woo)..."). But I say those imaginary punks just have to get used to it, because at least it's not French.
Li estas mi is the same thing as saying li=mi. Which is the same thing as saying mi=li. Nobody is doing anything to anybody. Think about other verbs as division or subtraction. Accusative is used to clarify. That "I am him" sounds natural to some people (I am he is, grammatically speaking, better) is an English idiosyncrasy. Esperanto is trying to get rid of such things.
At risk of being meta: I always found this question interesting. The fact you could ask this question at all doesn't seem to give anyone pause. There's a Russian grammar table somewhere in the thread but people don't post messages asking what's wrong with Russian, they just note that this particular area is tricky and try to get on with it.
More recently I've wondered if things like spelling reform and political correctness are the same thing in disguise. Like in Esperanto (I'm told) there is an effort to have a neutral root noun and masculine and feminine derivatives like we now say Police Officer instead of policeman and policewoman.
As I've been following this, the main objection people seem to be raising is that they feel that Esperanto should have some other epicene pronoun than the one it already has.
I had commented (which nobody paid attention to) the incomplete regularization of the adverbs.
Today I found an old newspaper article from 1901 that says:
The chief defect of Esperanto esthete there are four participles, as in Russian, whereas one, as in other languages, would have sufficed.
Unlike the views in 1901, the present and active, present and past participles hasn't come up in this list. They probably weren't thinking too much about epicene pronouns in 1901.
[Corrected a typo, a year after the fact.]
Should I assume, that by "European" languages you are referring to Indoeuropean languages? I'm a native speaker of an European language, which is not an Indoeuropean, and all those ĉ, ĝ, ĵ and z sounds are alien to me and thus very hard to tell apart. They're like thick porridge in my ears :-)
Yes, I'm referring to Indo-European languages. Esperanto is not completely easy for anyone, and it wasn't designed to have only easy parts for everyone. Everyone finds easy parts and hard parts. The easy parts and hard parts are different for each group of people. In Dutch and Afrikaans, there is no "g" sound. (The letter "g" is used for the "'ĥ" sound.) In northern dialects of Dutch and some dialects of German, the consonants B, G, D, and V are always unvoiced. Esperanto "R" is hard for me after certain consonants.
Esperanto's phonology makes it easy to assimilate words from different sources without mutilating them into an unrecognizable form. "Volapük" is two English words modified to fit Volapük's phonology. People don't recognize it as being "world's speak."
To make a language that is easily pronounceable for everyone, you'd have to limit yourself to the phonemes in Rotokas. Now try to come up with a recognizable international vocabulary with that.
Esperanto was a constructED language, it is not an under-construction language. It has become a living language. There is no central authority to change its structure, vocabulary, or grammar, and since the 2.000,000 speakers of Esperanto don't have a group mind, they can't be notified of changes.
Zamenhof proposed changes at the first Esperanto congress in 1905 and they were all voted down.
A quibble on the comments made by KenCollins0:
Zamenhof prepared a list of potential changes in Esperanto in 1895. They were published in the most popular Esperanto magazine of the day. It's readers resoundingly voted them down.
A decade later, the Boulogne Declaration made the Fundamento the untouchable basis of Esperanto.
Have you two user names, metagrobologist and KenCollins0?
- "It wasn't designed to have only easy parts for everyone.", that would have been extremely difficult.
- "Esperanto's phonology makes it easy to assimilate words from different sources without mutilating them into an unrecognizable form." Well, since there are no ä nor ö, some words are mutilated at least from my POV.
- The netuŝebleco of the Fundamento has been touted over and over again. A language that does not evolve, will die, cf. Latin and Sanscrit. A better way is to see Fundamento as a drift anchor, that slows down, but not prevent evolution. I maybe wrong, but isn't this discussion about the possible changes, about what could be better.
A language that does not evolve will die.
I don't think Latin and Sanskrit are fair examples here. Latin and Sanskrit didn't die because they stopped changing, they stopped changing because they died.
After all, it's not like the people of Florence said, "hey, let's stop speaking Latin and let's speak this cool new language, Italian, that someone has brought us." The relationship of Italian to Latin is actually closer than the relationship of [Modern] English to Old English.
Also, I always suspect that when people talk about "language evolution," they're using the popular misconception of evolution as goal-directed, like an "evolutionary ray" from a 1930s comic book, which ignores that evolution (change over time) happens in response to selective pressure.
What are the selective pressures on Esperanto? Can we drive such a process?
Instead, what I see is that people have individual preferences on how Esperanto might be modified and seek to have these preferences instituted by fiat. Of course, there's no one who can do that. There's no governing body.
I am not the first to note that people who seek to change Esperanto need to have the courage of their convictions. If you think a change is so great, then use it. Either it will prove itself or not.
To use the pronouns issue as an example, I feel that most advocates of new pronouns are like someone who says "you have to use klerb as the third person singular," while not using it themselves. If someone came to me and said, "my name is Lalelilolu, and my pronoun is klerb," I would use it. But I'm not going to be the first.
No, I don't have two user names, I was mistaken about who had written the previous post.
Esperanto's phonology makes it easy to assimilate words, even with modifications, without mutilating them into an UNRECOGNIZABLE form. According to Zamenhof, German was a major source language, which explains the German words in Esperanto that have been deprived of their umlauts. Those words have been changed, but are not unrecognizable.
Esperanto evolves, but it evolves as slowly as any other living language. Unless a text contains a lot of cultural references or slang, Esperanto and English change at the same speed. Evolution can't be pushed. In neither case can an individual or a group decree a change in grammar or structure. Prescriptive grammarians have been trying to change "it is me" into "it is I" with very little success over centuries of trying. We say "I am" but "aren't I." See how far you'd get changing "aren't I" to "amn't I"
Which aspects of Esperanto are "flaws" or "defects" depends on personal perspective, and even if we all agree about one, we are just getting our frustrations out. Esperanto remains Esperanto.
By the time of Esperanto, Volapük had quickly disintegrated into factions and varieties because its speakers wanted too many changes too fast, and the inventor of the language tried to control it by asserting his ownership of the language.
Possible changes in Esperanto were discussed at the first Esperanto Congress. Zamenhof compiled them all into one and presented it to the Congress, which voted it down. Zamenhof officially surrendered any proprietary interest to the people who use or speak Esperanto even to the slightest degree. In other words, Esperanto is in the public domain. At that point, it ceased to be an under-construction language. The Congress adopted the Fundamento as a way of defining Esperanto, slowing down drift and maintaining the integrity of the language. Since that time, Esperanto has developed stative verbs and has acquired new vocabulary.
The there have been a number of attempts to improve Esperanto (the only successful one is Ido, which has a couple hundrd speakers), but because of the Fundamento, none of them can claim to be the true Esperanto and confuse us all.
Rolling the R isn't strictly required, though. It might be truer, yes, but if all your R's are tapped others will still understand you. I know as an American English speaker, the rolled R is a PITA to learn properly without sounding like a drooling idiot. Just make sure your R doesn't sound like a D or something and you'll be fine.
According to Conlang Critic:
The letter, R, in Esperanto is officially an alveolar trill (rolled R), but it’s sorta allowed to be pronounced however you pronounce the letter, R, in your native language. Some people say that that’s not true, and that is should only ever be the alveolar , but the English version of La Fundamento says that R is pronounced, as in “rare,” without any mention of it being trilled. Even though this notion has been mostly abandoned by the Esperanto community, it’s still an influential aspect, and it’s given as the official pronunciation of the rhotics in languages like Lojban and Novial. The biggest problem with the whatever rhotic is that it automatically creates a divide in the speaking community, where it’s immediately obvious what someone’s first language is if they pronounce the rhotic a certain way; not to mention the fact that not every language has a rhotic sound.
Do you have any evidence of this divide? I realize you're quoting someone else, but he makes the jump from "different Esperantists may use a different r" to "this creates a divide in the Esperanto community."
I mean maybe this jars on those sensitive linguistic souls, but it's something I've never noticed in actual speech with Esperantists. This points out one of the problems with criticisms of Esperanto. They end up being like the famous claim that according to aerodynamics, bumblebees can't fly.
I suspect many of these claims of flaws are done in that kind of vacuum where since Esperanto fails to satisfy someone's pet peeve, it's called "flawed."
Do you see the R as a flaw in Esperanto? Is this your opinion? Are you Conlang Critic? Again, can you document this supposed divide in the Esperanto community?
Okay, I know this topic caused some 8-o reactions both here and elsewhere, but it was an interesting (and occasionally rather entertaining) read nonetheless.
The one thing that truly bugs me about EO and has since I first came across it: day and month names. I just feel like with so much of the language Zamenhof came up with SUCH ingenious ways to make things easy and approachable, to make it possible to figure out what a word meant even if you'd never seen it before. And then you get to days and months and suddenly it's basically French (mostly - a few of the month names are closer to the English versions, I suppose) with Os. Oh, and a sabbath I guess. Ahhhh, I was so disappointed, I truly was :'(
Now of course, I speak French - badly, but well enough that the weeks and months in Esperanto were basically a freebie. And I'm guessing they're probably similar in at least some other Romance languages. But if you don't know those names, they mean nothing, they're just as arbitrary as the English names. (Actually I think some of them are kind of arbitrary in the same way; Monday lundi ... moon day!)
I was kind of hoping to find some system such as the wonderfully elegant (IMO!) first day, second day... - sabbath as in Hebrew, which personally I think is pretty awesome. Such a system would be so much simpler in EO as well, since the ordinals are delightfully regular. Or one could just make a compound word: unutago? unuatago? (The same principle could have applied to months).
Yes, I realise it requires agreeing which day should be day one, but once you've got that, the ordinals and the word day give you the whole set. I think that's pretty fantastic!
Or take Russian; more opaque than Hebrew, (and day one is different) but still, the way the day names are formed gives even the learner a clue which day is which on first meeting. I love them! The word for Friday is almost like saying "little five" пятница; Tuesday and Thursday have similarly numerically derived names. Среда, Wednesday, is, guess what, среди, amongst, in the middle of, the weekdays! Gah. Sorry, I just love that. It's like cheating, almost!
So... I've become very fond of Esperanto already, for all its flaws and foibles. It isn't perfect. It is very clever, and some parts of it are just plain ingenious. But oh, Zamenhof. I remain so deeply disappointed in your day and month names. deep sigh ;-p
Well, month names used to be somewhat logical in the Roman calendar, until it was reformed. So if Esperanto did this, July would be named something with sep (7) and Augustus something with ok (8). But using these words creates antisymmetry with the existing month names September and October.
While we are at it, I think that ordinal numbers should start from zero instead of one. Some examples:
Buildings already have a zeroth floor, the so called ground floor.
The year 403 would take place in the fourth century (In normal English, this year takes place in the fifth century).
Many programming languages start counting from 0 for arrays.
Yeah, it's arbitrary but I guess the reason is that when Esperanto was created French was lingua franca. And there is no guarantee that English will remain lingua franca. So making the days of the week similar to English would not be helpful anyway. But something logical, based on numbers, maybe... Now it is too late anyway.
Oh, definitely shouldn't be English instead - as you say, that has the same potential problem that what is considered a lingua franca one century might be dead or at least much less popular the next. And as you say, what's done is done! Obviously I don't know his specific thought processes, but I'd guess he looked around and figured, well, everyone knows those.
I just wish he'd taken the opportunity to do something a little more (IMO) in keeping with the tenor of the language as a whole. Oh well. C'est la vie! Or I suppose I should really say tia estas vivo (?)! XD
In the Travel lesson, the phrase “Ĉiuj vojoj kondukas al Romo" is pronounced “al la Romo". I think he’s just adding emphasis on the “l” in “al” but it makes it sounds like there’s an added syllable. I am able to go right from the “l” to the rolled “r” without adding a syllable so it would be nice if they could re-record that example.
I've heard a few over-pronunciations here and there, but the purpose was to make things clear, like pronouncing both S sounds when a word ending in S precedes a word beginning in S.
Many people would interpret "al Romo" as "a Romo" as in a Romance language, and this pronunciation was designed to avoid it. However, it's hard to do it and avoid slipping in an unstressed vowel sound.
We get the same effect when people pronounce kvar and kvin as kavar and kavin.
(We all have our challenges. I have no problem at all with kvanto, kvar, kvin, and knabo, but I can only make a trilled R after a T or D when the moon is in the barn and the cow is in Sagittarius.)
Here's how your ear will become attuned to it. The difference between "mi" and "ni" is the same as the difference between "me" and "knee." You can easily tell them apart, because M begins with the lips pursed and N begins with the tongue on the alveolar ridge. Eventually you will get used to hearing the difference between M and N and won't get distracted by the vowel,
You have the same situation in English with the pronouns me, we, he, and she. And sometimes also thee and ye.
It is very easy to make structural changes to Esperanto, such as revising pronouns, making it into a pseudo-Italian, re-interpreting the German/Slavic neuter O as Spanish masculine O even though Zamenhof did not know Spanish--all those changes are easy. Just travel back to 1886 Bialostok and chat with Zamenhof. I'm sure he'd be receptive. However, time machines are hard to come by and a year or two has gone by. It is too late to move the carpet after two million pieces of furniture have been placed on it.
But it is possible! You could just reinterpret what's there, but that's too easy. Or you can show the world your creative genius. Instead of revising someone else's work, make your own language and show that it is better than Esperanto. It would only take 125 years, but who cares about deadlines? Relax and give yourself two centuries.
Meanwhile, I think the sexism and lack of inclusiveness is imputed to the language, not derived from it. George Orwell was wrong: you can't change the thoughts in the human mind by changing the language in the human mouth. You project will fail, because people will use your language to express their ideas, not your ideals.
I'm learning Esperanto and I'm finding out why it failed against English. Although Esperanto is great in almost everything, there are aspects where Esperanto is more complex and more difficult than English. That's a problem, since an auxiliary language is meant to be as simple as possible to be learned easier. So these are the problems I found:
Diacritic letters: That wasn't a major problem when Zammenhof was born, but now we mostly write on a keyboard, specially a language like Esperanto that is mainly used in internet, and writing those letters are more difficult than writing the standard 26 latin letters. Actually I had to find and download a program (Tajpi) to write them. I think if Esperanto still aims to be the world language, it should adapt to the modern times and remove those letters: for instance, "ŭ" could be replace by "w", "ĥ" could be removed since it's virtually unused, "ĉ" and "ŝ" should be "ch" and "sh" like in English, Spanish and in the Romanization of most eastern languages, like Chinese and Japanese, and finally since "ĵ" doesn't seem to be in many words, it could be merged with "ĝ" in a new digraph, like "zh" in romanized Chinese. The real main problem about the diacritic letters is that it gives a bad image of Esperanto, When people hear about Esperanto and is interested, the first thing they would do is to see a text in Esperanto, and once they see those diacritics, they'll think Esperanto is too hard. Actually, that happens to me 7 years ago, and now thanks to Duolingo I'm giving Esperanto a second chance. The absence of diacritics would attract more people to Esperanto.
Accusative case: I'd say that's the main flaw of Esperanto, since most languages prove it is totally unnecessary. English and the Romance languages work perfectly without it, so adding the accusative is as pointless as adding Spanish verb conjugation and subjunctive. It simply makes the language unnecessary harder.
It's too German and Slavic focused: It has consonant clusters like "kv", "gv" and "kn" that are difficult for most people outside central and eastern Europe. In my opinion, "kv" and "gv" should be replaced by "kw" and "gw", while "kn" could be replaced by just "n". I understand that Zammenhof was from eastern Europe, but It'd make more sense to focus on western European languages instead since they are much more widely spoken worldwide. The aforementioned accusative case is another example of how much focused Esperanto is in the central and eastern European languages.
It's sexist: It wasn't a problem in Zammenhof times, when the world was very sexist and nobody cared about, but now we live in the XXI century, so a language that aims to be used internationally must adapt to nowadays ideology. Actually English is less sexist, since, for instance, "friend" can be male of female, while Esperanto uses "amiko" for male and "amikino" for female. The "iĉo" proposal looks fine.
Summarizing, Although Esperanto is a very regular, logical and a relatively easy language, it will never be the international language if it doesn't adapt to the modern times. Despite finding those flaws, I'll still keep learning Esepranto because its considered a great introductory language, so once one learns Esperanto, then find easier to learn additional languages. Once i'll complete the Duolingo tree, I'll leave Esperanto and focus on French or Portuguese. Perhaps, the future role of Esperanto should being an introductory language rather than the international language.
Just to clarify, I don't mean to be rude against purist Esperantists, actually, I love most aspects of the language, I'm just giving respectfully my opinion and impressions about the language flaws since this topic is about them, remember we all must respect the freedom of expression. I dont' support Ido either, since that language is already dead.
Anyway, I agree that Zammenhof's vision of a neutral international language is very beautiful.
Some interesting thoughts, but I have some minor issues with them. I don't like the use of digraphs, as I find the original idea of it—to always have one character correspond with one sound, with predictable non-ambiguous pronunciation—to have merit. In principle, the use of "ch" and such could lead to ambiguity.
I agree about accusative case. I think it would be good if the accusative would be fully optional (which is why you will never hear me say "Ne forgesu la akuzativon!"). In practice, it often already is much like this: almost everybody forgets about it some of the time, and some people forget about it most of the time. I don't think it should necessarily be dropped entirely, as it can be nice to allow for stylistic freedom in terms of word order, such as for poetry and such, or just because one likes the sound, without giving up clarity. (Of course, having it be optional allows people to play with ambiguity and lack of clarity as well, should one desire to do so—again, for prose and poetry, most likely.)
I also agree about the Germanic/Slavic focus, although you forgot about Romance languages, of course, which I think most people see the most of in Esperanto. However, I don't think the answer would be to focus more on western European languages, but rather to take some from all language families/groups, a bit more fairly.
There is a bit of sexism in the language, but I don't know that I would say it's worse than in English. In Esperanto, you can usually use the masculine terms gender-neutrally, to refer to both male and female. "Amiko" I think is a bit of a fringe case, and some of the more common ones related to family (frato, patro, filo) tend to be explicitly masculine or feminine, but in principle, that's how it works. I also like the -iĉo proposal in this regard.
Of course, people tend to be very strongly opposed to any form of change, and it's not entirely without reason, as there is a risk of splitting up the community, people are worried allowing the language to change could get in the way of its regularity and allow more exceptions to come about regularly, etc. etc. If Esperanto were to grow further and become more widely used, however, I don't think there's much that could be done to keep this from happening more or less naturally—and I actually don't think it'd be such a bad thing.
Yes, I think it would be a good idea to have a fully optional accusative, specially for poetry and music, but it shouldn't be mandatory, it just makes the language more difficult. And about removing diacritics while avoiding digraphs, well, I have this proposal:
- "C" becomes "TS" like in the Romanization of Japanese (it wouldn't be a digraph since they are actually two sounds, like "KS").
- "Ĉ" becomes "C" like in Italian
- "Ĥ" is removed since it's virtually useless.
- "J" becomes "Y" like in English and the Romanization of most eastern languages like Chinese and Japanese.
- "Ĝ" and "Ĵ" merge into "J" like in English and the Romanization of most eastern languages.
- "Ŝ" becomes "X" like in Portuguese.
- "Ŭ" becomes "W" like in English and the Romanization of most eastern languages.
This way it wouldn't use neither diacritics nor digraphs. Instead, it'd only use the Latin alphabet letters most people are familiar with, the ones you can easily type with your keyboard, and most important, Esperanto wouldn't look an ugly and a hard language anymore to the ones who see an Esperanto text for the first time.
We agree about the accusative, I see. Nice.
I like your new proposal on characters better as well. Personally, I still think people respond too strongly to new characters, which honestly are usually the easiest part of a new language to learn (not always, but for Esperanto that certainly is the case). Also I don't understand why people think they look ugly; I find them rather attractive. I also think the system as is, is already fairly elegant.
That said, I think the system you proposed should work in principle. There is an argument to make about TS being two sounds, but equally you could call it one sound. Otherwise, you could in principle call the initial consonant of the English word "goal" two sounds, because it starts with a voiced component and then you get the burst component of the plosive. Many things considered a single phoneme start differently from how they finish, and generally phoneme borders aren't always as clear as we like to think of them as (same with languages in general, or species in the field of biology; many things in nature have this characteristic).
That said, I don't know how you would pronounce TS other than the way that is now written in Esperanto as "c", so fair enough.
There is a problem with changing C to TS. A word like "paco" splits on syllable lines as "pa/co." If it were "patso," it would be pronounced "pat/so," so the word changes.
That said, over a century ago, more-or-less contemporaneous with the Ido schism, there was a language reform movement in the United States, Simplified Spelling. They even had the endorsement of President Theodore Roosevelt, who made an executive order that the Government Printing Office would adopt the recommendations of the Simplified Spelling Board for all government documents.
What happened instead was that Roosevelt was mocked in the press (alas, Esperanto occasionally bore the brunt of that mockery too, as claims were made the Roosevelt was trying to turn English into a kind of Esperanto) and the Government Printing Office ignored the executive order.
Esperanto spelling reform is a dead letter, just like most proposed reforms to Esperanto.
Learn the language. Use the language. And I assure you that it isn't the hat letters that prevent the universal adoption of Esperanto.
I was never a fan of the H or X system when I first started learning esperanto. For me, it seemed more convenient and slightly less ugly to write the familiar ch & sh sounds and use a mish-mash of g'i or gi, shang'as or shangas, ci or chi, j'urnalisto or jurnalisto, khoro or horo and au without the diacritic hat...
Ideally I thought it would have been best to make use of as many redundant latin letters as possible and perhaps have opted for c instead of c^, q instead of g^, j instead of j^, y instead of j, x instead of s^. Using c for ts seemed as unnecessary as using x in english for ks. And I always abhorred that unnecessary gutteral h^ sound, despite it being present in my own language irish! As for au needing to be au^, I never saw the need to avoid confusion.
And while I did later manage to install a suitable font to more easily type the diacritics, unfortunately by then my brief love affair with esperanto had waned! (I still remember her fondly tho, and here I am back again 10 years later to try give it another go :D)
No. E-o can and should evolve naturally, slowly and when it does no Orwellian rewriting is necessary. There are a lot of languages (all?) that have undergone some spelling reforms and no rewriting of printed material has done. History knows even extreme radical reforms. Think about Turkish, which went from Arabic writing to Latinised in just one generation, practically the people where cut off of the past.
I myself consider the Fundamento like a drift anchor, something that slows down changes considerably rather than making the grammar and syntax absolute definite netuŝebla.
Latinizing Turkish didn't cut anyone off from the past. The Arabic alphabet didn't fit Turkish very well, and the literacy rate was very, very low. Changing to a (necessarily) modified version of the Latin alphabet caused a boom in literacy in a short time. The net effect was connecting people to the past.
To woud-be Esperanto reformers:
Esperanto is a constructed language, so it attracts language hobbyists. Unlike other constructed languages, Esperanto is not an "under construction" language. It has too much momentum behind it to implement reforms. For example:
To prove that Esperanto is too hard for people from Asia:
To demonstrate that hardly anyone speaks it, and that it would be trivial to implement changes:
To prove that Esperanto is not in everyday use:
In order to change Esperanto, you have to get all these people to buy into your ideas. Or, you could join the vast and wildly successful Ido movement. Or, you could create, say, "Novesperanto," and recruit more people for your movement—which as you can see from the videos above, should be easy enough to do.
Forgot the sarcasm tag, but now: /sarcasm
I know that writing Turkish with Arabic writing was problematic and literacy rate was very low in the Ottoman empire. However I still doubt how much old writings were latinised, I would imagine there were a boom of new texts.
But the details of Turkish writing reform are off the point. My point is that every language evolves and in some point of time will experience a reform. The reason why we have seen only very minor changes(˟) in E-o, are two-fold: the newness of the language and the small amount of speakers so far. If and hopefully when the language will catch on and the amount of speakers will be counted in millions, we will see some diversification. The key issue is how long these dialects will remain mutually intelligible.
˟: Yes, there have been changes: ĥ to k, some roots have changed word class (plant/ is nowdays considered a substantive root instead of verb root), voli and deziri are nowdays considered synonyms by many etc.
From *m.tastic ‘s initial comment: “This is just a place to point out things he may have missed, and provide alternatives.”
This itself would appear to lend itself toward “regionalism,” one of the very things Zamenhof wanted to avoid. On the other hand, I understand m.tastic ‘s argument that, being created by a single person, surely there could be “improvements.”
Zamenhof described himself as the initiator of Esperanto, not its creator. (I wish I had pointed that out years ago). As I've noted, he offered a series of changes in 1895 which were voted down (regularization of the adverbs that don't end in -e was on the list, so we have words that end in -aŭ which are derived from Latin words that end in -e).
He ceded control after that, with control of Esperanto given over to the Esperanto movement in 1905. The Language Committee offered its first Official Additions in 1909.
In the 102 years since Zamenhof's death, there have been many people working on Esperanto as continual creation.
So many comments! And, EO will not change now. But EO users should know and appreciate EO's flaws. Accusative is a flaw; SVO syntax is easier for everyone. Plural agreement is a flaw. The pronouns are too alike. The missing correlative column needed for "this"; Using correlative particle pairs instead of a full correlative table would have reduced correlative learning to the edges of the correlative table: 15 words vs. 50. (You would already understand them all.) Esperanto's phonology could have distinguished only sounds distinguished by the largest language groups. (the rolling R would vanish for Anglophones. The L/R distinction would vanish for East Asians). The phonology could have been more stable and learnable by filling more and more-dispersed columns in the phonology table. It was a mistake to permit adjacent consonants. Even more of a mistake to permit groups of three consonants. And dreadful to permit the HX sound, used only in cxehxio. And yes, the use of diacritical marks. And the latin alphabet is outrageously irrational. Of course EO should use a truly rational phonetic alphabet such as... Hangul; It diagrams mouth motions, so it is easier to learn than the Latin alphabet! Also more compact, syllabic so wasting less paper and ink, and faster to read. While we're at it, we should all adopt base twelve, use a duodecimal clock (oh, wait... we already do), the 13-month year of 28-day months, use Tau instead of Pi and number ordinals beginning with zero, so that they clearly imply distances.
if you don't know the gender of the person, one shouldn't assume said person is male or female
There are people (intersex, hermaphrodites, trans*) whose biological sex and/or gender identity is neither male nor female, so it is potentially improper to refer to them as male or female
Because sometimes you talk about people in general "if someone studies, HE/SHE is more intelligent". In Esperanto that is "se iu studas, li aŭ ŝi estas pli inteligenta". But when speaking quickly, most people use only the male pronoun as default, so it is needed a neutral pronoun like "ri" to say "se iu studas, ri estas pli inteligenta". And if you see a person and you don't know if he/she is a man or woman (something very common nowadays) you'd provably chouse the wrong pronoun and he/she would be ofended. EDIT: if we add "ri", we should use it always, even if we know someone's gender, becuase if we use "ri" speaking about someone we are saying "hey, I don't know your gender". So riists idea is to avoid using ŝi and li, and only use ri.
My idea is that we focus on the gender of individuals more so than the qualities that set them apart. If you want to get to know a person, why do we need to know their gender? Why not their accomplishments, hobbies interests, etc.
With gender specific pronouns, the first thing we need to know about a person is their gender.
It's more of a peeve than an actual problem and isn't really a big deal. I think it's a problem with the languages, and the not the people using the language. Using gender specific pronouns is not sexist however if you impede the progress of a neuter pronoun than that will encroach sexism.
I would also add that there are quite a lot of prejudices about gender and you can believe in equality, you can be sure that you not judge people by their gender but reality shows that gender still influence people thinking. And it is crucial when it comes to job-seeking for example. Imagine that you're a woman and you're mathematician or programmer. Even if you do not mention your gender in the CV, it still comes out from the reference letters and still it will be known that you're a woman. In the real world it still can decrease your chances to get a job. You can argue that it is the problem of hirers who look at the gender and they are wrong but it is much easier to add gender neutral pronoun that change people minds. Yeah it is not that important in Esperanto but still it is not that bad idea.
I can't answer Red_Rat and Soonalooch directly. You just forget your goodism. You aren't better than people you are prejudging as sexist.
The problem is not in the language, is in the people mind as it is for you right now. You aren't going to get a job just because of hiding your gender if the hirer has real prejudging problems. May be you will got hired to avoid a suit but test period are for avoid that. And anyway are you sure you want to work for someone who prejudge people because of their gender? I am a man and I've been negatively prejudged by both genders for many reasons in personal life and professional life, by the way.
What you do is just inquisitorial. Let's hide our nudity, or our sex and gender, and our minds because people can prejudge each other if we don't. Well you aren't going to fix anything by doing that.
Am I exaggerating? Well think that actually you both are exaggerating and looking for a solution in the wrong place and way.
People is always complaining and capriciously asking for things without think that is not the word said the problem, but the attitude of both speaker and listener. An insult is not always an insult, a compliment is not always compliment, to add an extra gender won't satisfy everybody, I mean even among the kind of people that today is asking for that, and since Esperanto already have a neutral gender, ĝi, usable for humans to add an extra thing to learn, followed by another thousand of capricious useless things, in a language claiming to be easy to learn is not a bad idea, is one of the worst. If someone finds “ĝi” insulting is because they don't know well its meanings. That's all. They learn the real meaning, accept it, and the problem is solved with no harms.
In Spain we have the word friki (from the English freak) for the kind of people who learns things like esperanto, likes role-playing, etc… In the begining it's was just an insult. The thing is that frikis accept that they are frikis and can't feel that as an insult, and today almost everybody use that word as a fine word and like something to be proud. You just think that a word can evolve to a likeable or dislikeable meaning, and any pronoun added with the best intention could be rejected by the same people who was demanding it, because you could change the language but not mind of people.
I don't usually make a big deal about it. I don't mention it most of the time unless it's a appropriate (like discussing flaws of a language).
And this poses a problem for transgender and intersex people and things that should remain gender neuter, ex some characters in story books.
"They" has actually been used as a singular throughout English history (it's used that way in both Chaucer and Shakespeare, for instance). Using "he" as the default singular was actually a 19th century proscriptivism.
Just like "don't split an infinitive" - we've absorbed it as a "rule" not to do it even though in reality it's always been a totally standard usage.
To add to this, there's records of the usage of "they/them" in this sense since the 1400's. At this point, it's completely natural, native English to use it as such.
But people have different preferences, and that's another issue in English. They? Hir? Ze? Even it? Since this lesson is accessible to only those who can speak English, you've got that kind of thinking/argument leaking over into the debate for a gender-neutral pronoun for Esperanto.
Not that that's a bad thing. Just explains why there's so much ri vs ŝli vs ĝi vs ktp...
"Ĝi" is insulting only if you look at Esperanto through English blinders and map it directly to "it." But ĝi doesn't mean "it" any more than the French il and elle do. (If you write, "Je cherche mon livre, il n'est pas sur la table," you can't translate "il" as "he.")
Here's what Plena Ilustrita Vortaro says about ĝi: Pron., uzata por referenci aŭ al senseksa realaĵo aŭ al estaĵo, kies sekson oni ne bezonas precizigi:
Pronoun, used to reference either a sexless object or a being whose sex one does not need to be precise about.
People who take umbrage over ĝi being applied to people take offense where none exists (and aren't understanding Esperanto).
You are plucking one thing out of context in the definition and ignoring that Esperanto has and always had an epicene pronoun. When you read Esperanto as if it were English, you're making a translation error.
You might as well complain about the French using the same pronoun for women and tables, or men and book. But no one ever does.
But that's exactly the case. If someone referred to my cat as "ĝi," it's perfectly appropriate. I know that she's a female cat, so I use "ŝi" (ŝi estas tre malbona kato!).
Likewise, it's appropriate in Esperanto to say, "iu manĝis la tutan kukon; ĝi estas malbona" (someone ate the entire cake; he or she is bad).
But ĝi doesn't imply an object in Esperanto; that's what people keep saying. It's inaccurate to map ĝi directly to "it," just as the French "il" and "elle" don't map uniquely to "he" and "she."
I'm reminded of a friend years ago who objected to the term "gay woman" on the basis of false etymologies of both words.
Ĝi is Esperanto's epicene pronoun and has always been.
JohnD62 you miss the fact that in all the languages you mention there is no pronoun which would be used ONLY for humans but in Esperanto it is. So, if you are called li/ŝi then you are automatically and exclusively human but if you're called ĝi than nobody can be sure whether it is a human or an object (I would also add that in our non-ideal world people who thinks that gender-queer and trans-people are objects exist which makes the problem more complicated). I would accept ĝi as a gender-neutral pronoun but if li/ŝi would be removed which is really against fundamento, so it is much better solution to add ri from my point of view.
So, you tell me "Use it, and people with either follow your example, or write you off." and you think that I'm doing otherwise? I can accept you using "ĝi" even if I don't like it but you should also accept that there will be people using "ri". I actually wasn't aware about "ri" and used "li/ŝi" before I read the book of Melnikov "Esperanto for meticulous people". He didn't suggest to use it but told that there are people suggesting such things. And that is exactly what I'm trying to do here, to tell to people interested in this topic about solutions which were proposed by Esperantists and to explain to people who are against it what is the reasoning behind these suggestions. If you don't want to use it, fine, don't use it. But don't pretend that our arguments are not reasonable at all and no one can use it because of fundamento which you can interpret differently (the last thing is addressed probably to rev_ero who is actually really doing it).
We seem to be nested as deep as can be, so I need to reply to Sunalooch here.
Despite your claim that there is one or more pronouns in Esperanto that can be used only for humans, you're wrong. We can throw Esperanto into that pile, because it's perfectly acceptable to use the gendered pronouns with animals (non-human) if you know the gender.
If you saw my cat, you might ask me, "Ĉu tio estas via kato? Ĝi estas tre bela." (Is that your cat? It is very beautiful.)
But I might respond, "Jes, tio estas mia kato. Ŝi estas tre feneza." (Yes, that is my cat. She is very crazy.) I know my cat is female and never refer to her as "ĝi."
And, of course, people do use "it" as an epicene pronoun in English to refer to people, (with Wikipedia that it's used that way particularly for children): "When the baby arrives, it will sleep in great-grandfather's crib."
Riismo has always struck me as a solution in search of a problem, with people taking offense over the use of the word "ĝi" when they shouldn't. Honestly, the likelihood of ri entering Esperanto is about as likely as getting people to accept a new pronoun in English.
Still, the method is the same. Use it, and people with either follow your example, or write you off.
My main irritation point:
∙ Way too many s sounds (c, ĉ, ĝ, ĵ, s, ŝ, z). Reduce the sounds by half.
Some other points:
∙ Use of imperative tense in subordinate clauses is weird. "Mi volas, ke vi lavu vin." - "Mi volas, ke vi lavas vin."
∙ Future tense is rather superfluous. Present tense + time expression is enough "Mi aĉetas pomojn morgaŭ."
∙ Some weird preposition use. "Mi aĉetas pomojn en butiko." - "Mi aĉetas pomojn el butiko." You do want to get out from the shop, don't you. "Mi alvenas en Hamburgo." - "Mi alvenas al Hamburgo." You aren't going headlessly around in Hamburg, aren't you?
Esperanto has Polish phonology, true, but one of the purposes of the language is to absorb words from other languages easily. Having all those sounds means that words can be assimilated into Esperanto without mutilating them.
As for the other flaws, tough luck. Absent time travel, there's nothing any one can do to change the language. It is a living language that originated as a constructed language, it is not an under-construction language.
While we are on the subject, what flaws do you see in English? How should we fix them? Same question for French.
Jes, mi scias, ke la Fundamento estas netuŝebla kaj tial ŝanĝoj estas malfacilaj. And I read the discussion above. I think E-o can and will develop naturally and la Fundamento is a sort of sea anchor that slows down the evolution. Given the anchor and that the language is only a hundred year old, the small amount of changes (elimination of ĥ, introduction of ri) is understandable.
Too many s sounds might be a way to ease assimilation of words from some languages but by omitting for instance y, ä and ö, you narrow down the source languages or must resort to mutilation. If the object was to have a simple language, why then have so many hard to distinguish s sounds.
When it comes to English (which I can), I quickly come up with a couple of issues. First is the articles: eliminate them or at least the indefinite one. (Boy, I have been many times been flagged here on Duolingo for missing articles.) Secondly, eliminate the formal subject ("There is/are..." and "It has been said...").
Because English has borrowed words from many languages there are rather many ways to say things, and they don't form a hierachy. Let me explain the later point. (Good examples are hard to come by when you need them.) A house is a general notation for a place where people live. Terms row house, detached house and apartment house tell us that 1) they are all houses because they end in "house" and 2) the "prefix" part describes what kind of houses they are. Why then we have expressions like "high-rise", "apartment building"?
The most worrisome phenomenon in English is that it's becoming a pictogramic language like Chinese. More and more words are introduced that require explicitly learning to pronounce. That is nonsense. A major simplification of pronunciation is needed, allow less exceptions to the rules. (In TV shows from USA, there is often some spelling contests in schools. These are totally alien in my location, since here there is more or less only one exception to the E-o like rule "one letter = one phoneme". The exception being how you pronounce "nk" and "ng" in the middle of a word, not as two separate phonemes but as [ŋ] resp. [ŋŋ] using IPA notation. Hence, no spelling contests here.)
I can only some general phrases of French, mainly from movies, but it's even further from the "one letter = one phoneme" rule. And the French seem have a funny way to see the world when they put "sur" in so many places, (I hope I get this right) like "la/le (whatever) title sur la/le (whatever) libre" instead of "the title of the book".
I've mentioned this before, but contemporaneous with the Ido schism was a reform proposal for English, put forth by the Simplified Spelling Society. President Theodore Roosevelt made an executive order that the General Printing Office follow simplified spelling in their publications. They ignored him.
You are not the first to come up with a prescription for how English (or Esperanto) might be bettered. The problem with this thread is that it lets people think that their ideas might actually gain some traction.
We're not revising Esperanto and we're not revising English. In both cases, there is no body that can enforce sweeping changes to the language. It doesn't work that way.
I'm not a fan of feminine words being derived from masculine ones. I felt quite turned off when I learned that woman, virino, was just a diminutive of man, viro. That feels quite sexist. I realise this isn't the most modern of created languages, but even so, given its origin is still much more modern than pretty much any natural languages, I thought it was a pity it had ended up that way.
It's not a diminutive though. "virino" is derivated from "viro" but it doesn't mean "small man" or something similar as a diminutive would. It means "woman". "vireto" would be the diminutive as far as I know.
Other than that, I pretty much agree with your point. It's awkward to see the word "woman" as a derivative of "man".
Old English "man" just meant "person," as with modern German Mann.
So a wyfman is a wife-person, that is a woman. The general word for a male person in Old English was "wer," as in werewolf. We've lost the feminine form of wolf (it would be wilf, or on the pattern of fox, wilfen). A female werewolf would have to be a wifwilf.
Hm, I don't understand what you mean by "modern German Mann". Duden defines Mann as "1. erwachsene Person männlichen Geschlechts, 2. Ehemann, 3. Lehns-, Gefolgsleute". Quite clearly a gendered "man". Are you referring to "man", which means "one" in English, as in "one has to eat" ("man muss essen")?
Wer comes from Latin vir. The Germanic word for "adult human" was man. It split into man (adult male human) and mensch (Dutch word mens), human being or good person. The second one did not survive in English. The word wife (German word weib), adult female. Hence "old wives tales" (German altweibergeschwätz), and the merry wives of windsor. At weddings the phrase "I now pronounce you man and wife" basically meant "I now pronounce you adults". Now the wording has been changed to "husband and wife" because wife has come to mean "female spouse." Meanwhile in German the word weib came to mean "virinaĉo" so it was replaced by Frau (herr und frau, as in lord and lady)
The German word for werewolf is werwolf, but the Germanic word wer means who. A German poet wrote a whimsical poem about a whowolf, who was a whosewolf, and sometimes a whomwolf, but the werewolf [whowolf] was very lonely because "who" is only singular.
I'm not too far into the course, so I'm not completely sure of what I'm suggesting but, maybe the words viro and virino, are both just constructed using the same root "vir-" and "-o" being a masculine suffix, while "-ino" is a feminine suffix (kind of like with "knabo" and "knabino"). Rather than one being derived from the other, they could just be formed using the same root?
I don't think that's the case, as the final -o also is required for every single noun. That is to say, I suppose you could interpret it that way, but a more parsimonious (if not otherwise preferable) interpretation is for -in to be the feminine suffix, and for there not to be a specific masculine suffix.
(Also, otherwise all nouns that have nothing to do with sex either way are suddenly actually masculine... unless, I suppose, you posit two homophonous suffixes -o.)
You are right, and you add ge- when you are talking about both genders, but with other words the neutral one ends with -o, the female with -ino and male with vir- (but I don't see many people using vir-) so sometimes -o is neutral and sometimes it's male, that is the real problem, and let's be clear, may be the language isn't sexist, nor the speakers, but if Zamenhof lived nowadays, he would have made every word neutral, and male with a suffix.
Zamenhof did make every word neutral, with a suffix for female, but none for male. Everyone keeps thinking that Esperanto is Spanish. It isn't. Zamenhof spoke Slavic languages and German, then picked up English. In the Slavic languages and German, the ending -o is neuter. German examples, das Auto, das Konto. Russian example, молоко.
If anyone expects Esperanto to be a code for Spanish, which Zamenhof did not speak, they should stop messing with Esperanto and learn Spanish.
Zamenhof made all the nouns neuter with a bias toward the feminine. "Instruisto" can refer to a female teacher, but "instruistino" cannot refer to a male teacher.
Some words (mostly family relationships and certain titles of royalty) are explicitly male, though; a patro cannot be a female parent, but only a male parent, for example.
Well, I rather like that one is derived from the other, given that it cuts down on required vocabulary to speak the language. That said, I wouldn't have minded if it had been the other way around. Or, better yet, to have a gender-neutral base, with derivative suffixes to form either the specifically male or the specifically female variety.
EDIT: actually, having thought about it a bit more, I really like that solution, of having both a masculine and a feminine suffix. It would also fix the irregularity there currently exists about something like "bovo" being a neutral term having "virbovo" and "bovino", whereas "patro" is already masculine. At that point, the ge- prefix could also be removed, so you wouldn't even be complicating the language in another area so much.
It's probably a bit of a big change, though, at that point, so I'm not sure if it's very doable.
Explanation of icx is available at the following site. http://www.romaniczo.com/esperanto/gramatiko/grammar_18.html
- Patrino (mother) / Patriĉo (father) / Patro (parent)
- Virino (woman) / Viriĉo (man) / Viro (adult person?)
- Knabino (girl) / Knabiĉo (boy) / Knabo (kid?)
- Nepino (granddaughter) / Nepiĉo [uh-oh!] (grandson) / Nepo (grandchild)
Now I see the problem! (Which might not be a problem, actually!)
The Dutch word for king is koning. The word for queen is koningin . The dutch femine gender still exists in a dialect, but in the standard language has made all feminine nouns masculine. Does this make the entire dutch language awkward? We get sex and gender confused, because we get our sexualized grammatical terms from Latin. Verbs can be prone and some even copulate! It would be more accurate to speak of Class One nouns and so forth. Gender is not sex. Nouns are masculine and feminine, not male and female. Whoever heard of a female noun? or maybe that's why we have pregnant pauses. In German the word for "girl" (mädĉhen) is a neuter noun for a female person while the word "soldier on guard duty" (wache) is a feminine noun for a male person.
It was so when Zamenhof created the language, 125 years ago I guess the society was less equal than it is no (however even now it is not equal everywhere in the world). But as Esperanto is still evolving there are solutions for this problem. The suffix -iĉ- which works in a same way as -in- is quite common now, if you're using -iĉ- then the words without the suffix become more gender neutral. There is also several suggestions for gender neutral pronouns, I think the most successful is "ri" or "ŝli" (because ŝli can be easily recognized and understood but it looks more like it implies either ŝi or li and it makes it less neutral). The only problem is that all these solutions are not completely accepted yet because there are still some people who don't know about it or who believes that you should not tough anything Zamenhof created. It is more or less like in other natural languages, there are suggestions how to make the language less sexist but it is difficult to make them officially accepted. However ri is used in esperanto blog "to the equality" https://egalecen.wordpress.com And here you can find a very detailed analysis of solutions for gender equality in Esperanto http://lingvakritiko.com/2014/10/16/esperanto-kaj-sekso/
Actually if you would go to Youth Esperanto meetings you would see that all in all Esperanto speakers, especially youth, support equality, I think that Esperanto community is the mostly equality-supporting, at least young generation.
I will start using "ri". To show how recent the interest in this topic is, consider that in April 2015 the gender-neutral pronoun "Hen" is added to the Swedish dictionary:
" The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced.
“Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL.
The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because it is unknown, because the person is transgender, or the speaker or writer deems the gender to be superfluous information. “For those who use the pronoun, it’s obviously a strength that it is now in the dictionary,” one of the editors, Sture Berg, told AFP on Tuesday.
The word “hen” was coined in the 1960s when the ubiquitous use of “han” (he) became politically incorrect, and was aimed at simplifying the language and avoiding the clumsy “han/hon” (s/he) construction.
But the word never really took hold.
It resurfaced around 2000, when the country’s small transgender community latched on to it, and its use has taken off in the past few years.
It can now be found in official texts, court rulings, media texts and books, and has begun to lose some of its feminist-activist connotation.
The Swedish Academy’s dictionary is updated every 10 years. New entries are determined by their frequency and relevance.
The new edition goes on sale on 15 April. " — From http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/24/sweden-adds-gender-neutral-pronoun-to-dictionary
Sweden and Finland have strong historical ties and Swedish is an official language in Finland; Finnish is official in parts of Sweden. Finnish is a Finno-Ugric language and thus has no grammatical gender. Hän is the Finnish third person singular pronoun, meaning he, she, and it. It fits the Swedish pronoun system, so they are not inventing it, they are borrowing it as hen.
This solves another problem. Sweden has immigrants. Using hen means they don't have to figure out if Flobinuk is a boy or a girl before they can talk about-- hen.
No, iĉ is not esperanto because it's not compatible with the gender system in Esperanto. It would create a double gender system, wich, in a language that claims to be easy to learn, is like to kill it.
Esparanto must have not dialects, or at least no dialects claiming to be Esperanto. The Fundamento must be respected to guarantee the unity and the ease of the language. People who don't like Esperanto just look for another language.
You can't just remove the real gender system because there are 12 decades of literature (and other things) using it and you just have to learn it anyway.
The gender system is to assume by default masculine/neuter, with anything of feminine nature needing to be explicitly stated, if such knowledge is necessary. Using -iĉ-, as a parallel to -in-, would make the language more symmetric, not make a "double gender system"; it would balance the unbalanced gender system, not bastardize it. Another infix would not be too much, and would remove the objections about gender which may be barriers to people adopting the language. And when the goal of the language's creator was worldwide adoption of Esperanto as a second language, one would think such a small change, which would appease such a large group of people (gender egalitarians, feminists, women in general, men who object, or whoever), wouldn't be a big deal.
Do you actually understand the gender system, or are you just defending the Fundamento? You do realize that gender isn't even mentioned in the Fundamento, right? Changes to the language can (and have) been made, (Do you see anyone using apostrophes to separate the different roots, affixes, etc.? People also use the x-system instead of the h-system put forth by Zamenhof, when the "hat symbols" aren't available or convenient.) The Fundamento forbids changes to the underlying grammar, and removal of vocabulary, but additions to the vocabulary (which -iĉ- obviously would be) aren't illegal. In his introduction to the Fundamento, Zamenhof himself says usages can be added, but never removed, from the Fundamento. If a usage (such as -iĉ-) is widely adopted (and you haven't given any real argument why it shouldn't be), then it can be added to the foundation of Esperanto. The usage can also be introduced as an alternative, alongside the traditional usage, which can be adopted widely and added to the foundation. The adoption of -iĉ- wouldn't make past works in Esperanto incomprehensible, which is one of Zamenhof's points about the importance of the Fundamento. If anything, it would only add clarity to the language.
The "real gender system" is flawed, and needs addressing. The best way to do that is to make it more symmetrical, and remove the dependence on default masculine forms, which smacks of outdated social paradigms.
I recommend re-reading Fundamento de Esperanto. It really isn't as authoritative on this as you think.
Ok the argument of symmetry. I'm not going to read this than the first lines and last lines, because I've already lost uncountables hours with this thing. I mean, don't suppose I didn't knew that, don't suppose I don't understand it. But Esperanto has already another symmetry with other languages in that sense. You don't like it. So what? That's a reason to change it? I mean, here the only real problem is that you don't like it, no matter how many lines you can write defending that It could be another way. And Yes it could be, but it's not. and since the fact is that iĉ is not compatible with actual system and you can't remove the 128 years of language. It's just stupid to discuss about doing more difficult a language obligating people to learn two gender systems. Esperanto have worked fine for 128 years!!!!! Ok? 128 years working fine!!!!! What part you don't understand in working fine? Yes there is people who complains about the gender system, people who didn't like it OR, who didn't learn well how to use it, not because it's difficult because I know cases of people defending that rubbish, not understanding well the esperanto gender system and is almost the same in their mother tongue. So…
I have read the Fundamento and I know perfectly what is acceptable and what is not and the untouchability is precisely to avoid this kind of stupid things: to double the gender system to make the language "easier" (????). Big prize for the idea!!
Esperanto is not in testing phase, is a language in use! Likes and dislikes are not a reason to change it!!!!
Your point about Esperanto not being in testing is valid. One of the reasons that Esperanto overtook Volapük was that it wasn't constantly being reformed.
Most beginners notice some of the same points and many suggest some variation on the same set of reforms. In the end, the language has retained its existing form while organically adopting those changes that have become widely popular. That's how language works. None of us actually have the power to declare either that it will remain unchanged or that it will adopt particular changes. What we can do is use it. It's only through being used that changes actually enter any language. Because of that, I'm tolerant of the repeated suggestions even though I'm unlikely to adopt them. The ones that do take root breath life into the language.
Symmetry with other languages is a terrible argument. That could justify any number of ridiculous mechanisms in languages, such as conjugation of verbs according to the subject. The fact that this one was adopted in a less-than-ideal way doesn't mean it can't be changed. You'd think symmetry within the language itself would be a greater priority and argument than similarity to other languages. Zamenhof used "virpatro" for "father" on occasion. Was he ruining his own gender system, by being inconsistent and clearly "not understanding" it? Technically one can use the prefix "vir-" if one needs to specify the noun as masculine. Wouldn't it be simpler to just make both gender specifications suffixes (-in- and -iĉ-), resembling each other in every logical way?
"To double the gender system" from one suffix to two suffixes, and to remember the two, can't actually be that difficult to do, can it? (And this point isn't even valid; see "virpatro" and the strange masculine gender system.) That just makes you look lazy, and the term "double" makes it seem like a bigger deal than it actually is. Changing from one to two is the same as adding one, it's just more sensational to say "doubling".
From your posts, I take it English isn't your first language (or perhaps you're more prone to emotional apoplexia than most people). If you aren't a native English-speaker, I can see how you'd be upset by people (native English-speakers, no less!) trying to change the language to make it more in line with their ideals, while complicating the language that would ideally be the worldwide alternative to learning English. I understand that. But standardizing -iĉ- and phasing out vir- (not removing, mind you; that's not allowed) would only make the language easier to learn and understand. Adding another, simpler way to say things doesn't invalidate "12 decades of literature", it just ensures that the next 12 decades won't be alienating or confusing to those who think Esperanto should be consistent across the board.
To that end, I will only use -iĉ- when I mean "male person who does/is _", because in the end it's widespread use and acceptance, not dogmatic adherence or Idistic reform, that decide what "is" and "isn't" Esperanto.
 Full disclosure: I prefer Ido to Esperanto (gasp!), and think some of the changes made when devising Ido would be logical in Esperanto, such as suffixes for both genders (these are -in- and -ul- in Ido) when needed, but neutral unless otherwise stated. The mandatory accusative case and noun-adjective number agreement are also things I would rather not exist, but I can see their value, and would not remove them from Esperanto, even if it weren't forbidden by the Fundamento.
Probably you missed the kern point of the whole thing. Anyway, if you want a strong language with a strong bg community, accept esperanto as it is. Learn its history and about Ido to understand the issue of spliting the language… and the community. If for you its just a game, you can change what you want but as said by junelac, don't call it esperanto.
It's not really a diminuitive, "-ino" in Esperanto is akin to the German used of "-in" to make something female (like how "lehrer" => "lehrerin" is "teacher" => "female teacher") Still, yeah, I can see how that could bug people, as it implies that men are the default.
(I myself am more annoyed with how hard it is to make completely gender-neutral forms.)
How to make gender neutral forms in one easy lesson.
Just think of virino as a more flowing version of viro. Or look at it like viro was actually derived from the word virino by taking away the ino of virino, and just adding an o. Same with knabino. :)
And I guess biblicaly women came from men, so maybe the creator of the language could possibly have been thinking of that. Probably not though. :P
I actually wouldn't be surprised if it had Biblical influence. Zamenhof translated the entire Old Testament as a proving ground for Esperanto to make sure his language was mature enough to publish. How's that for a leisure time activity?!
However, my guess is that it comes from German. In German, how do you make most things female? By adding -in.
Amerikaner - Amerikanerin
Bibliotekar - Bibliotekarin
Yet it's strange I don't hear nearly as many people complaining about how sexist German is, but I hear it of Esperanto all the time...
I think the issue with sexism in the two languages is that German's sexism is the result of cultural forces over centuries - it is going to lag behind modern understanding simply as a result of its nature. With Esperanto, you're pointing back to a single person who was, doubtless influenced by the sexism around him, the one who made all the choices about how to portray gender in his language. Esperanto doesn't have the baggage that German has which means that it hurts more to see it falter on this point.
But this person was born when no one spoke about sexism in the language yet as it is spoken now. He could not predict that after a while the problem of -in- in his language and in German would be a big deal for learners. I'm not good in history but I remember how in Star Trek TOS there was still sexism and captain said something like he doesn't want any woman to be on the bridge. So even at that time there was not so much equality. I do not support sexism in the languages but think, how could a person living at the time full of sexism not only in the language had an idea that it is actually not fair to make the words like mother derivative from father? He saw that it works fine in German to make the words like Studentin a derivative from Student and he probably thought "Hm, cool, if I will do it not only with words for profession but with all the words somehow related to humans or animals the language will be even easier!" Of course he might think that it would be no harm in having also a male suffix but at the time when he was creating the language, the idea that it is sexist was not that obvious. Even the idea that women should have more rights was not yet completely accepted. I wouldn't blame Zamenhof for missing that point. However now, as in natural languages, we can try to solve this problem by introducing new suffixes and pronouns. Btw. I don't know in how many languages this problem is actually discussed nowadays. I can assure you that in Russia no one even thinks about this problem and probably majority of people are not even aware of this problem and a half of those who are aware probably think that this is a stupid idea to create a gender-neutral pronoun and that Europeans are already completely crazy. The words like director in feminine form in Russian sound rude and offensive, (compare to Esperanto where it is not offensive at least). And nobody thinks that it is a problem and even NOWADAYS! So imagine how it was more than hundred years ago if even nowadays this problem isn't discussed everywhere. Yes it is sad but it is true and life is not perfect and humanity is not perfect.
Oh, I fully understand that 125 years ago, the understanding of gender issues and sexism was not the issue it was today.
What I was trying to say was that with 'natural' languages like German, there is no one person who made the decision to highlight the difference between male and female whereas with Esperanto there is. I think it's also easier to get upset about an issue like this when there is a name/face that you can blame.
Languages just can't be sexist. You are just inventing a problem. Sexism in language is a big lie, trending, but a just lie. Actually if I would want, I could find a lot of “sexist” things in esperanto, if I would use the lack of logic you're using. But you are just picking things ramdomly and saying they are sexist while other things are not just because you don't know their origin.
You can't fix a non existing problem. Only people can be sexist and they will be sexist or not, no matter the how seem Esperanto words and suffix. To change esperanto won't change that.
I think that's a good summary. We are used to natural languages being all kinds of buggy, but the idealism underpinning Esperanto kind of makes it hard to see the areas where it could be better, kind of thing?
I have to admit, the more I use it, the less it bothers me. When I first started learning it, it felt really weird to use obviously (to me) masculine roots, stick an in in them and use them for women, but especially in working so intensively on the EO tree, I think I stopped seeing them so much as their component pieces and more just as words, if that makes sense?
Actually there's an interesting analysis of Esperanto word building that draws the conclusion that in a real sense all of the word elements (roots, prefixes, suffixes and grammatical endings) are actually independent words. It's written entirely in Esperanto.
It does help to make sense of the fact that "ino" is a perfectly good word for "woman", and "a-vorto" is commonly used as an Esperanto word for "adjective".
"-in-" is not a diminutive. Zamenhof got this from German. Lehrer/Lehrerin (teacher), Reporter/Reporterin (reporter), Verkäufer/Verkäuferin, (seller), Käufer/Käuferin (buyer), Kanzler/Kanzlerin (chancellor; Merkel is the Kanzlerin of Germany). This suffix is also used in Dutch, such as in koning/koningin (king and queen)
To be explicitly inclusive, a company might advertise that they want to hire a Verkäufer-in, Verkäufer*in, or Verkäufer/in.
The difference is that German needs the "in" suffix, but in Esperanto, there is no masculine form. There is only a way to make a feminine form from an exclusive form. For example, an instruisto can be a man or a woman, but an instruistino cannot be a man.
The exceptions are the kinship terms: patrino, onklino, fratino, filino, avino, and so forth. The purpose was not to be chauvinistic, but to cut down on the number of words you have to learn and to make it easy to predict a new word from a word you already know.
That's because you don't understand the power of the in suffix. The suffix in just remove the masculine meaning in a word. It's impossible to see sexism in a language that have a suffix with such a power.
Anyway, no one should get obsessed with that. Viro is a word meaning man and virino is just a word meaning woman. To see sexism on that is just a question of personal election, no a question of facts.