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After the Tree: Encountered Difficulties with Reading Esperanto Stories

Saluton! Thank you for making such a wonderful course. I had previously tried to learn Esperanto many years ago with lernu.net, but found the learning process very tedious and serious. The gamification of Duolingo made it much more fun than I expected, and I felt little pressure to be perfect, which made me more comfortable being embarrassed with the language. After about 35 days of daily work, I finally finished the course yesterday. Outside of Duolingo, I also chat every day in Esperanto in #esperanto on freenode IRC, which has a good mix of people from the US and Europe.

To continue studying the language, I am reading Hari Potter kaj la Sxtono de la Sagxuloj, using the dictionary at Lernu.net (and sometimes the Eo-Eo one at vortaro.net). I wanted to share with the team my brief experience of attempting to read this story having language experience almost-only from the Duolingo course.

First of all, I am completely comfortable with the grammar, and never have any grammar-related issues. (I previously studied Latin for four years in high school, so the grammar was not difficult to remember.) It is a wonderful feeling to have the only problem at this point be vocabulary!

The major difficulties I have encountered seem to be in two groups:

1) Figuring out sub-word boundaries. These tend to become embarrassingly obvious once discovered. For example, "kolereganta" was puzzling me for a while, but then I figured out that it breaks up as "koler/eg/anta", which is now obvious, but my first instinct was to see "reg" and attempt to piece parts around that. This happens many times per page. More experience with encountering new word formations would be helpful.

2) The text uses O-V-S order very frequently for emphasis, which I like, but the Duolingo course did not prepare me for this, and I often find myself glossing over the initial "-n" and having to read the sentence twice. For example, "Lin jxus brakumis homo absolute nekonata".

This is similar in feeling to when I started translating Duolingo Esperanto into English, where I learned to first look for the verb, and figure out its tense, before committing the first word.

It would be nice to get more practice with different orderings, since they do tend to occur in practice. O-V-S is especially strange to me.

Thank you again for creating such a great course! I hope it brings many more people to enjoy Esperanto.

July 19, 2015



Really cool to hear you're progressing. As an aside, I really wouldn't recommend Hari Potter kaj la Sxtono de la Saĝuloj as a first book, but rather something like Fajron sentas mi interne. However, I know a lot of people that just get it in their head that they want to read some particular book in a foreign language and it usually just works out, so good luck! :)


Thanks for the suggestion! I didn't know what to read, so I went with what seemed most amusing. It seems to be working out so far; I haven't hit any stumbling blocks, but it does feel very much like work. That is OK though -- I persevered through much worse with Latin, so it feels homely. I will check out the book you suggested as well (hopefully E-USA has it in stock... everything I wanted to read was sold out!).


For anyone who finds this post, I have started collecting all the words I had to look up to read the story into a Memrise course. I hope someone else may find this useful.



Figuring out what root words a long word is pieced together by can be tricky at first, but once you get more familiar with the different root words, especially the most common words, you will intuitively read more and more the way they are meant at first glance.

Also, getting used to different word orders is very good in the beginning, because it makes you pay closer attention to the accusative case.

I have only read a couple of chapters of the book, but it was enjoyable to read. Hope you find it interesting, and if you need more book recommendations after this one, be sure to let me know :)


It's interesting to note that Zamenhof seams, at least at some point, to have intended the components of words to be split up with apostrophes. So your example above would have been koler'eg'anta. I'm not entirely sure if he intended this to continue or if it was just for learning purposes, but there are certainly times it would make things easier for the reader!


From what I understand, these apostrophes disappeared from Esperanto sometime before 1900... possibly even before 1890.


It must be tedious to write words with a lot of apostrophes in cursive.


Ha, I hadn't thought of that! However, in the same vain, it would be very tedious to type words with a lot of apostrophes too. Some things never change... :)

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