Esperanto it's not only your language AND maybe it's not a language for you.
I really don't know how to begin this message. I see many people here learning Esperanto with a total lack of a background of what really is and deciding they are allowed, after two weeks? two months?, to change the language.
Well first of all. I can't imagine this in a class of Spanish or French: “Hey I don't like that, can I change it?” or the teacher saying “Hey Peet, why the hell are you writing everything with b? What happened to the v letter?” or a pupil saying “I decided to quit the language class because I thought the teacher was going to teach the normative language, but he is teaching his own grammar. I mean his own made up grammar not related with the actual one”.
Yeah I know, Esperanto is no what you expected and you are sure you can help. Are you sure???? How is that possible? How can you be so sure if you are still a learner? The most annoying part of this is to see how this kind of “helpers” tend to think that Esperanto born the day before they started to learn it. BUT I'm not saying that because of the lack of respect to the long enough history of Esperanto. I'm saying this because they NEVER look at Esperanto from a global perspective that includes the grammar, the actual use, the speakers, the history and the basis of its existence. They only don't realize they can only see their own narrow biased point of view because they don't know well the grammar, they can't use properly that language and thus they can't know a lot of everything else because it's only written (or recorded) in Esperanto. And apart of that, keep in mind that Esperanto is not just the tiny paperback book of grammar published in 1887: It's a developed language in use.
I remember that one of Esperanto pioneers, firstly a Volapukist, was a fierce reformist. But after a while, he understood that the right way, the way which let Esperanto work properly and to be alive was, not to touch it. And that was when it was still a good moment to make changes!!!
Well you come here with your complains and questions asking for “solutions” based in maybe two months in the best cases of learning the language and you already feel you are ready to make a complete corrected grammar of Esperanto. Great! Well, I'm not fair, some of you are being cheated by reformists, who, most of them, never tried to learn the language properly, and the rest of them are blinded by aesthetics aspects, and thinking they right, just because.
So, the big argument here is “every language evolves, why not Esperanto?”. Well, Esperanto does evolve, but Esperanto must not evolve as freely as the ethnic languages. And this is not an opinion, is one of the basis of the existence of Esperanto.
The most important thing here is that almost all of you (people who is choosing how “must” be Esperanto) just don't have any background about Esperanto and you just don't know one of the most important things of the language: It needs unity. It needs unity or it won't exist and it won't make sense. To learn a language with a chaos grammar capriciously decided by speakers we already have any ethnic language. Esperanto is useless if you think you can do anything.
So here some of the things, you don’t know or you are totally overriding:
· Esperanto wasn’t born yesterday. · You are discriminating old people!!! YES!!! A very big part of the community is formed by old people. People, who worked hard to keep usable the language. You, who can’t even have a well formed opinion of the language, are thinking that anyone else has to change because of you!!! Or are you just thinking you won’t speak old people? Well, that’s discrimination, AND is you who is discriminating, NOT THEY to you. · And yes, Esperanto has a community of speakers that expects not to have to learn every now and then new grammar things because… · …no, is not only your proposal. There are a lot of proposals, and the older is Esperanto, the bigger is the number of proposals. No, your proposal or the one you like is not better, nor worse than the others. And the typical “It's just a tiny thing” is just a lie. · And because of the number of proposals and of solutions for non existing problems, La Fundamento exists (links about this in the down part of the text). · You don’t know that there are people against Esperanto. Some reasons: nationalism, misunderstanding, English lovers, English teachers. They can be very agresive people. Many of us have been insulted just because we decided to learn Esperanto. Some people have even lost “friends” because of it. But the worst of all is that many of them are fighting against Esperanto and one of their arguments is (more or less): Esperanto won’t work because sooner or later every region will have its own Esperanto. Well, until today it's working well. Don’t step over the hard work of those that carefully bring Esperanto to this present time. Don’t mess a work of more of a hundred years just because you think you need to like every part of this language to make it worth it of you.
Is not an obligation to learn Esperanto, but it is an obligation to learn it and use it looking for unity and respecting the actual rules.
Well the thing is, if you really find even only one thing unacceptable, why are you going on? Why if you aren’t going to speak as the rest of the community? You aren’t going to remove that thing from the grammar. Yeah you just can't, there are books, other texts, recordings and music using those grammar things you unfairly hate, and those aren’t going to disappear just because of your dislike, and the grammar in there will be obligatory to learn anyway. So keep in mind this: to add things NEVER means to make the language easier, and remember it's supposed to be that.
People who want to see sexism in Esperanto are just choosing to see that. The same as if someone would say that a house is sexist just because the house has a lot of blue and that same person is choosing not to see that the house has also a lot of pink AND violet. Making changes in this aspect, is not only unneeded, but an act of destruction of the unity of the language; just to make chaos. And for the neutral-gender people, believe me, you can use Esperanto with the things that already are in it, but first learn well the grammar, don't go first for unneeded changes.
Anyway, it's totally ok to think Esperanto is not for you. Just think if Esperanto is a good thing for you.
If you want to learn a language accepting any proposal, go to Lidepla. As far as I know they think that can work. I know that's not for me, and I'm not messing around with it.
Well for everyone else, just to make you acquire an important part of the Esperanto background, please, please, please, read the link below. It’s something Zamenhof wrote because he saw reformists were going make fall down Esperanto in much less time, than the time took to him to create the grammar. But don’t misunderstand me, I’m not asking you to read this because is something from him, but because the text is just right even today:
English: http://xurl.es/pfundamento_eng Deutsch: http://xurl.es/pfundamento_de Français: http://xurl.es/pfundamento_fr Italiano: http://xurl.es/pfundamento_it العربية: http://xurl.es/pfundamento_ar Español: http://xurl.es/pfundamento_es Русский: http://xurl.es/pfundamento_ru 简体中文: http://xurl.es/pfundamento_zh-cn
To finish, I must insist that an Esperanto without unity, is in fact a dead Esperanto. Do I mean by this you have no right to have your own version of the language? No. You have that right, but you don’t have the right to call Esperanto something that is not Esperanto, even if it's almost the same. Esperanto must be only one, and must be the same for everyone. It needs that to be alive, and to make sense.
I don’t want to, but I’m afraid I’m going to be impolite. Probably I’m not answering messages in this thread. I know you have very “good” answers for me, but I already have lost a lot of time in endless discussions about the topic. I want to do other things in my life. I love Esperanto and I going to use it the same as today, but I don’t live to discuss with people who, just after arrive, decided that opinions are over facts. Maybe I will answer some things or maybe I will discuss in other conversations. That’s all. Thanks for your attention, and thanks to all the people that keep the flame alive.
I understand the spirit of this post, although I can't totally agree with the author's rigidity. The basic grammatical structure of a language should certainly not be tampered with lightly, but let's face it, it's not the 1880's. Things change, and I'm not talking about small cultural shifts in certain places, but overall shifts and progression throughout the planet. New inventions breed new vocabulary for example, so words will always have to be added in order to communicate effectively.
Rev_ero's statement that "People who want to see sexism in Esperanto are just choosing to see that", is a bit disingenuous. Call it 'sexism', call it a 'male-centered' language, or call it whatever, but it's there, and it's noticed by a LOT of people. It's also, however, present in many different languages to a varying degree. To ignore the issue though, is certainly not the answer, and perhaps one day, the bodies that oversee Esperanto may want to consider if what worked in the 1800's is still fully applicable in the 21st century and beyond. Like anything else, it will happen in its own time. In terms of rev's complaints about the people throwing out suggestions, I honestly don't think this is anything to get upset about. If Esperanto survived the Nazis and Stalin, it can survive a few new Esperantists..... :-)
Also, rev_ero may want to reconsider how effective it is to search for every new student of Esperanto on here and send them to a personal PDF link pushing his or her personal views on learning the language. A simple 'Saluton' would be less intrusive and a lot more welcoming to people who came here to explore a new language.
but let's face it, it's not the 1880's.
That's not the point. Language evolution is ok and happening.
What is not ok, is that beginners who have no practical experience with Esperanto whatsoever are jumping in and pointing out that their reform is the one reform that Esperanto is waiting for during the last 130 years.
But what I also stated was that the issue you brought up is not a problem at all. Of course beginners will make comments like that. For one thing, it shows that they are passionate and involved in learning the language - that's a good thing! As for their suggestions? Great! Maybe some have validity, and some don't. A pair of fresh eyes can sometimes see what others cannot. Time and public opinion will figure out if their ideas will help the language. If they do, they'll be the seeds of change, if not.... Esperanto continues along anyway. Like I stated earlier, Esperanto has survived a lot in its history. It will continue to survive and thrive - not in spite of people's different viewpoints, but BECAUSE of them. It's a universal language, and the universe is more than big enough to hear out opinions from all.
I tend to agree that it is not as big of a deal as people make it out to be. However, the idea that this behavior indicates passion and involvement is not, I think, borne out by the typical behavior of this group.
Someone passionate and committed to study is, or ought to be, very circumspect. Such a one would pose his/her questions deferentially and, whenever possible, spend more time reading than speaking. This doesn't mean they can't remain vigorously skeptical. Ideological predisposition prevents people from learning. It should be discouraged at every step of the way. I happily include the intransigent old guard in this judgment, to the extent that such a group exists. Both parties are probably to blame for fanning the flames.
I don't know if you've ever had to sit in a university biology class with a certain kind of "passionate" creationist, but I think the attitude is somewhat comparable. The group I am referring to refuse to learn their evolutionary biology because they've already decided it's wrong, and since they won't learn they don't have the tools to argue against it effectively. It is a vicious circle. It doesn't matter whether they are right or wrong. Their attitude prevents them from learning enough to even make an adequate argument. Does this signal that they are serious students?
On the other hand, there are distinguished creationist biologists wandering out there in the woods of academia who I think deserve respect even if 99% of scientists (and myself) disagree with them. They've done the work. And they probably didn't complain. A similar situation exists for distinguished Esperantists who support reforms.
It is one thing for a creationist to say to his biology professor "what do you think about this argument..." but it is another to have one, having decided based on no evidence or knowledge, stand up and teach class, and when booted out protest that he is being censored. If these forums were a venue where actual money was spent and actual results were expected, all such people would be booted and the remaining students would cheer that their tuition was not being wasted on this nonsense.
I don't presume to know the motivations, attitudes, or credentials behind anyone suggesting certain reforms in Esperanto, and I don't see their relative inexperience as something particularly negative. As I stated, a pair of fresh eyes can sometimes see what others cannot. So, I can never dismiss the arguments of even the newest learners of the language. Sure, there will be suggestions out there that just cannot logistically work. They'll come and go. Other ideas may spark something that other people never thought of, or thought of but they never expressed it themselves. I could suggest dozens of possible reasons and motives why people would flatly state that Esperanto should never change in any way, shape, or form, but that would be presuming to know them and why they think that way. Conversely, not one person here can truly and honestly state that they indeed know why a beginner Esperantist would talk about changes to the language. It's in that spirit of 'not knowing' that I would say that it's important to hear ALL opinions, and allow those ideas, new and old, to sort themselves out over time.
ColoradoPhil, I agree with you. As a komencanto in favor of certain (in my opinion very minor) reforms, I don't feel like I'm being disrespectful or ignorant or anything like that. Although I have started learning this beautiful language fairly recently, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the grammar already, and I'm rapidly building up my vocabulary as well.
I therefore don't agree with seveer's comparison with creationists (made me shudder because as a biologist, I have a particular distaste for creationists talking about evolution with complete misunderstanding), when they are spouting objective untruths and entirely refusing to learn or understand. I'm trying very hard to learn, and I think I'm being quite open and honest about it. (Of course, people can sometimes be very wrong about such a belief, as said creationists also sometimes demonstrate.)
Those things I would like to see reformed (the gender system, mainly) are things that I would equally like to see reformed in any other language or situation where I saw similar things (having the male as the default, that is—and yes, I do think there's a default, and I think "woman" seems a strange example because "wo-" as a prefix is not productive, to my knowledge (although, call me crazy, but even there I will say I would prefer if it were an entirely separate root)).
As for disrespecting the elderly (I realize it was OP who stated that, but I figured I might as well address that too since I'm already writing a large post), if you want to see it that way, then I think young people are always disrespecting the elderly by doing anything different from how old people have done it in the past. Whenever they introduce some slang into a language, for example, if you want to stick with a linguistic example.
Let me be sure to add in here that I don't hate Esperanto, I don't even dislike it—quite the opposite—and I will continue to learn and (soon) try to speak it (still scared to at the moment) even if my desired (minor) reforms never happen. I love the sound of it, and I love the idea of it, and I'm very pleased that I've learned about it and am able to learn it.
(I apologize for the overuse of parentheses in this post. It's part of my personal style, I suppose, but it gets a bit much sometimes (probably).)
Even when someone tells me something though, I try not to presume to know more. Characterizing people's personalities by one or two statements unfortunately happens a lot. However, you pointed out one of more optimistic presumptions - fair enough.... :-) In the spirit of being open to all opinions though, I'll make this my last post here. I try to stop my own opinions when I feel I've expressed what I wanted. I don't always succeed, but I try.... lol
I don't presume to know anything beyond what someone tells me when they decide to argue. I merely characterized these experiences, as we all do. You can not play innocent and pretend to reserve all judgments in the name of goodwill, although I appreciate the generous attitude you have and think many would do well to move closer to your side of the dial.
When you say "it shows that they are passionate and involved in learning the language," that is a presumption, albeit a positive one; it is that presumption I am responding to with a distillation of my limited experience, nothing more.
As the famous skeptic the "Amazing" Randi said when asked whether he keeps an open mind when investigating charlatans, "Yes, but not so open my brain falls out."
> For one thing, it shows that they are passionate and involved in learning the language - that's a good thing! As for their suggestions? Great! Maybe some have validity, and some don't. A pair of fresh eyes can sometimes see what others cannot.
A really new suggestion of a beginner is yet to be seen. Usually they are suggesting things that have been ĝisnaŭze discussed. That's just boring and tiresome.
I thought at first that Esperanto might not be for me. The diminutive forms for females do not sit well in the modern world and made me uncomfortable. But I completely agree that for Esperanto to be valuable changes cannot be made on an ad hoc basis and I would not dream of suggesting they should be. As I have moved through the course and my mind moves from reading words to reading meanings this becomes less irritating anyway. Afterall we do not expect to like everything about a natural language. I could do without there being so many cases in German for instance but obviously I have no say in that, so it should be the same for Esperanto.
I am glad that I am persevering with Esperanto as it gets more interesting as it gets more intricate and it doesn't sound as alien either. It can be hard to get used to the different endings when many languages make endings agree to make a pleasant sound.
Please keep in mind that the female -in is not diminutive, and that default-masculine only applies to words related to people in a family. For example, "sekretario", does not default to male: a specifically male secretary is a "virsekretario" or better a "vira sekretario".
I think it's somewhat interesting that German also adds -in to nouns to make them female just like Esperanto. Strangely enough though, I haven't seen discussions in the German forums on Duolingo to reform the language...
In fairness, German wasn't intentionally constructed with utopian ideals of harmony and linguistic neutrality in mind. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that people should have different expectations of Esperanto.
Well, in the late 1800s, it's not exactly like sexes were treated equally at this time. But yes, I'll agree that it's very unfortunate. :(
It's disingenuous to say no one worries about the -in- in German, in lots of languages speakers make an effort to make them less sexist, for example, in English, using woman instead of "girl" for women, using "they" as a singular third person pronoun.
What's frustrating with Esperanto is that it would be easier for it to become less sexist, one extra pronoun and -icx- to balance -in- for family words. Was there not a temptation to adopt this for the Duolingo version?
It wouldn't damage the existing canon, we are capable of understanding these changes, if I'm speaking to an older person, I know they might mean a woman when they say "girl".
Again, it's not a problem with the suffix -iĉ but changing meaning of well-established Esperanto words. You can't say from now on I will name parents "fathers" and expect that other people will follow you.
That's what the example of "girl" and "woman" is supposed to illustrate, "girl" has changed its meaning over the last 20 years so it now balances "boy"; older English speaker and older texts use the old meaning, but we can cope.
As a migrant I experience these small gaps in meaning all the time; here "grand" means "a thousand pounds", at home it means "fine"; at home "lads" isn't gendered, here it is. If "patro" changed from "father" to "parent" Esperanto speakers would cope, in my English, they'd be grand.
Yes, I can't expect people to follow me if I start using "patro" to mean parent, but, somehow, most everyone has stopped using "girl" when they mean woman. I imagine if the creators of this course had decided to use "-icx-", it would have been very influential.
I think it's somewhat interesting that German also adds -in to nouns to make them female just like Esperanto. Strangely enough though, I haven't seen discussions in the German forums on Duolingo to reform the language...
I haven't seen people claim German is a neutral language. I have seen on the Duolingo activity stream someone claim Spanish is gender neutral. I made the same sort of points I make about Esperanto and he deleted his post shortly after. Maybe if people didn't make demonstrably incorrect claims about a language others wouldn't feel the need to correct them.
In addition I have read articles about how people are trying to deal with gender neutrality in German and French and I see it happening in English and I expect the same discussion is happening in other languages. When I see the conversation in Esperanto what I usually see are posts along the lines of "Ermagerd! Thou shalt not diverge from the Fundamento!"
Do you have a problem with gender in languge? Would you like to remove such concept from language? It's just description of reality.
Do you have a problem with gender in languge? Would you like to remove such concept from language? It's just description of reality.
There are times when things like gender are necessarily indicated by some languages which I would like not to happen since without it would make it certain biases (not to mention bigotries) more difficult. I'm not interested in removing all words related to gender/sex from languages, but in how not to indicate information that is not pertinent to, or doesn't adequately describe—in the case of those who don't identify as being on the gender binary, the subject at hand.
What does "neutral language" mean?
Not sexist for one.
In general it seems to be used to mean at least politically neutral and culturally neutral (these both imply gender neutral to me, YMMV).
I guesss it's because most people treat german as a proper language and not esperanto
You are correct in that the "-ino" suffix is not, strictly speaking, a diminutive in the same sense that this term is used in other languages (such as the suffixes "-chen" and "-lein" in German, "-ito" in Spanish, and "-etto" in Italian), but the "-ino" suffix in Esperanto does have a very similar effect to that of a diminutive because it gives the feminine form of the noun a "shadow" or "derivative" connotation in comparison to the male noun form. This whole matter is reminiscent of the line in the Judeo-Christian creation story which specifies that "She shall be called "woman" because she is taken out of man." (Genesis 2:23), which is, by the way, a reasoning attributed to Adam, not to God. The precedent of defining females in terms of males may be long established, but no matter how one defines it, there is small wonder that many now find this practice irksome and demeaning.
And on that blessed day when women attain complete and absolute equality and then eclipse men due to their superior intelligence and emotional maturity, none of them will care about the morphemes used to describe them. In fact those morphemes will come to be seen as a sign of the superabundance and complexity of the feminine whereas the tiny, affixless root of men shall be held in low regard. Lo, and it shall be unto them who were once taller to be lexically shorter as had been foretold by Z. Praise the great Yoni!
As far as I've noticed -- well, it's been a couple years since I could read Esperanto and I've forgotten it all, but I'm coming back now. But as I remember:
How a person approaches masculine and feminine words seemed to be derived from their native languages. English speakers often just ignored the masculine/feminine aspects of the language unless they wanted to make a distinction, whereas speakers of more strongly sexed languages often made the distinction, and would make sekretario male, sekretarino female.
But for a large part, Esperanto seems to have gone the way that I see many English speakers are beginning to use "waiter" for both male and female, dropping use of the word "waitress."
It sounded like a diminutive to me at first and didn't sit well. But as I said reading it for meaning now rather than for sound and it grates less, I am used to it and less bothered. The language is worth moving past aggravations like that. Not much in life is perfect afterall. I am glad I stuck with it. It will inform all the languages that I learn in future.
The bossiness! So off-putting!
The gendered family word thing is absurd too; why not change it: it'd be easy, just add a male ending and gradually over time the unaffixed version would lose it's gender, the change doesn't make the old language obsolete no more that calling the "chair" of a committee a "chair" doesn't means that we don't understand what a "chairman" is.
I am saying this as a beginner, not because I think the language has no history but maybe because I am new enough to it that I still see it as a problem . . . already I am starting to notice it less and I fear I might end up like the grumpy bossy person at the top of the thread.
Actually, it's easier to introduce new words than change meaning of exisitng ones. They are well-established and too crucial. Good examples are words "matro" for "mother" and "parento" for "parent". It could succeed if people followed one strict pattern but they are actually not able to agree what to do.
I don't know; that would add new words when the affix system is so good at making the language easy. Allowing patricxo for father and knowing that old uses of "patro" meant "father" while newer means "parent" would mean a single change, the use of -icx- would fix the problem not just for parent but also for spouse and grandparent and sibling and so on. It would use the cleverness of the affix system to work to Esperanto's benefit.
In a way it's what makes the problem so egregious, in English the problem is hard to fix because male-centrism is so stuck, we'd need so many new words. In Esperanto it could be fixed, with a single affix. This, I think, turns irksome male-centrism into downright sexism.
This is my opinion too. It's such an easy, simple fix. Just one more affix in a list of them, and it's not like the same thing hasn't happened with the names of professions in Esperanto, or for example, the names of countries. That's a precedent for the use recommended by the Fundamento becoming archaic, and people shifted to the newer way of naming countries. Yet when it comes to gender, people either can't be bothered or suddenly think it's too big of a change.
It's actually a big change if somene tries to change meaning of some basic Esperanto words. Traditional names of countries are still in use and Akademio de Esperanto only accepted additional names. Names of professions weren't changed because they were created with the suffix "-ist" from the beginning.
I didn't say the original country names weren't in use, only that if using the newer nomenclature alongside the original was an acceptable addition, this should be as well.
And by names of professions changing, I was referring to them shifting from being innately gendered to being considered neutral now. E.g. dentisto originally exclusively referring to a male dentist, whereas now it's considered to be a gender-neutral term, as are all professions. Amazingly, this shift has failed to cause chaos and misunderstandings. I'll still maintain that the same thing could very easily be done with family terms, with no significant increase in complexity.
Suffix "-ist" means just profession there is no information about sex but with "patr" situation is different because the root is inherently gendered. Try to name your parents "fathers".
Your point regarding potential confusion over "parents" vs. "fathers" is not invalid, but I think you are making too much of it. The opportunity for such confusions exists in all languages. For example, the expression, "to knock someone up" does not mean the same thing in England that it does in the United States, but, despite such potential glitches in conversation, the native speakers of both countries still manage to communicate effectively.
The oft-cited remark wrongly attributed to G. B. Shaw notwithstanding, the U.S. and the U.K. are not actually two countries "separated by common language." In the same way, if changes in Esperanto are implemented, confusion may occasionally crop up, but communication will still survive and thrive.
Such 'old' and 'new' use introduces only chaos because you don't know whether it's a father or a parent.
No, it works easily; in English "actor" always meant a male actor and "actress" a female one, now an actor is either; no chaos. If I'm reading an old book I know "gay" means "happy", in a new one it means gay, sometimes I rely on context. Trust me, it'd be fine, languages can handle evolution of use perfectly well.
But you should be aware that you won't change habits of people. You can name a parent "patro" but dictionaries still defines "patro" as a father. So people will use it to name a father. You can try name parent "father" and check how it catches on.
You're 125 years too late to 'fix' esperanto. The good news is that it exists plenty of "better" conlags or "corrected" esperanto you can choose to learn.
Only dead languages are set in stone. Not only can any living language still change, but it is axiomatic that it will. In another post in this thread you indicated that you became disinterested in Esperanto because of the prospect of reform and of some subsequent, inherent uncertainty stemming from that prospect. If you feel that way then you should also give up on English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Turkish because they are, each and every one of them, very much alive, vibrant, and changing.
People, individually and collectively, will speak a language in whatever manner they choose, no matter what dictates are decreed by any rule book or committee. This is especially true of the young, and any language that is going to survive for any length of time had better have a fairly high percentage of young speakers.
Since the languages you are currently studying are all alive and dynamic (and therefor unreliable) you may want to err on the side of caution and set each of them aside so that you can instead study a dead language or two. Latin and ancient Greek are excellent choices. You might also look at Sanskrit, but be warned, it's not completely dead, and so it might feature too much risk for you.
Just something to think about. ; )
Your question as to "why junelac is being downvoted" is an interesting one. It might stem from the fact that junelac's replies often resort to argumentum ad hominem and are less reliant on sound, nonspecious, unstilted reasoning.
Perhaps the following example will help. Suppose a well-known novelist penned an editorial taking a reasoned position on some contentious issue of the day. In response, someone else who opposed the novelist's views wrote a reply which essentially maintained that the novelist's views shouldn't be taken seriously because the novelist is merely a writer of fiction. After making this point, the respondent then offered little or no additional reasoning as to why she or he felt that the novelist's position was untenable. This would be an ad hominem attack.
For an example of a discourse that is not given to ad hominem attack, scroll below to the exchange between conorjh and ferrum. So far it has remained (it seems to me) thoughtful and respectful, and hopefully it will not degenerate.
I am certainly not going to pretend that I NEVER resort argumentum ad hominem, but (believe it or not) I do try to be at least somewhat careful about it because I know that when one relies too heavily on ad hominems, it's like admitting that one has little or nothing of substance to bring to the discussion.
You might want to bear all this in mind the next time you feel tempted to collectively characterize the advocates of gender reform as "people who began to learn (Esperanto) two weeks ago." You never know, you might just be speaking to someone who first started studying Esperanto more than twenty-five years ago, ie, back in the days when only the nerdiest of techno-geeks used the internet.
Cheers ; )
My goodness, you seem rather passionate about the discourse concerning a language you've become "disinterested" in. If you are disinterested in Esperanto, then why are you here replying to the commentary of those whom you perceive as impetuous tyros?
You describe English, German, French, et al. as "extremely stable languages." Do you deem Esperanto to be unstable? If so, do you feel that this instability stems from the fact that some people (many of whom are not beginners) have had the temerity to propose an affix or a pronoun that wasn't listed in the Fundamento?
Significant change will not occur if it is not advocated and discussed. Discussion will not occur if the advocates of change allow themselves to be drowned out in the stodgy din of the staunch adherents to tradition and the preservation of the status quo.
@daviddempsay (I can't reply directly to the sub-posts involved because of Duolingo's nesting restrictions).
"I am certainly not going to pretend that I NEVER resort argumentum ad hominem.."
This is good, since in the very same thread you complained:
"[junelac] seem[s] rather passionate about the discourse concerning a language [he/she's] become "disinterested" in. If you are disinterested in Esperanto, then why are you here replying to the commentary..."
Rather glaring example of ad hominem. I have known many remarkable people who, while professing to find a topic I find fascinating to be completely uninteresting, nevertheless have an exponentially more sophisticated grasp of it than I. A marine biologist who isn't interested in blowfish can still know infinitely more about blowfish than Joe Blow the aquarium enthusiast. It is not pertinent and it need not prevent them from being infuriated if they perceive someone to be defending an incorrect position. Academic debate clubs are based on the presumption that one can effectively debate topics which are selected arbitrarily without regard to personal interest.
It should be noted that I am not implying junelac is such a person. Merely that you have quite the diatribe here about Ad Hominem to be utilizing it prominently in the same thread. But we all make mistakes.
I don't understand why junelac is being downvoted. French, Turkish, German and other languages evolve, but the changes originate from people who actually use these languages, not people who began to learn it two weeks ago, just like Esperanto.
Thank you for your reply to my response to Mutusen's question as to "why junelac is being downvoted." It's good to know that there are still a few people following this thread.
Yes, I suppose you are correct in that I did indulge in something of a diatribe (your word) about argumentum ad hominem. You indulged in a diatribe of your own in an apparent attempt to establish that I also sometimes make use of ad hominems. I'm not exactly sure why you went to the effort of demonstrating that point, since I had already acknowledged (in the same post you were replying to) that I sometimes use ad hominems myself, but hey, it's only a message board, and I believe a noted authority once said that "we all make mistakes."
Recall that my response (the one I think you were replying to--with these threads it's sometimes difficult to tell) was an attempt to answer a question posed by Mutusen as to why junelac was being downvoted. I suggested overuse of ad hominems as a possible answer. I could have also cited junelac's propensity to turn caustic, but at the time I suppose I felt junelac's often erosive nature was self-evident and unworthy of mention. I then closed by noting that Mutusen also made use of an ad hominem with his or her collective assessment of the proponents of gender reform as "people who began to learn (Esperanto) two weeks ago."
Well, have we now adequately beaten this tangential concern to death?
Cheers ; )
Being alive is not a synonym for "❤❤❤❤ it, I'm a beginner who will write and speak a language however I want". Nobody would even take the time to read a message from someone deciding that he doesn't like this or that part of spanish and request other people to bow to his will. But in esperanto these kind of people are taken seriously.
And about the stability: English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Turkish are actually extremely stable languages, because 1/ there is a big mass of native speakers 2/ there is plenty of authoritative reference for people learning the language 3/ no beginner start to learn one of these language and then spend his stime explaining how it's crap and what change shoukd be done.
so what ? Esperanto as a perfectly good word for mother, there is no point to invent another. Or would you do the same with every word ?
> why not change it:
Simply because nobody has the power to change it. Yes, there is the Akademio but even the Akademio can not force such a thing on Esperanto speakers.
The defining characteristic of a living language is that it will grow and change, and all of humanity is enriched by that growth. You can't control that with boorish demagoguery any more than L’Académie Française can dictate how French is spoken. The implementation and use of new suffixes and pronouns will not fracture the Fundamento. Tiresome, preachy browbeating by pedantic purists has done much more to hold back Esperanto than any of the proposed modifications.
Se vi, rev_ero, volas scii kia plej malfortigas esperanton, rigardu spegulon.
You forgot to add that you're going to write a strongly-worded letter to the Sun if we don't knock it off and fly right.
I don't really see what the general idea of this post is. The only thing I know about the creation of Esperanto is that it was made to make the world better. But, to me, it looks like you don't get that. To me, it looks like you just can't let go of the fact that Esperanto isn't always going to be the way you want it to be. If you don't want to be like an old grandfather you will have to accept that Esperanto changes, that is a sign that it is ALIVE. And yes young people will introduce new words like sveka as the Esperanto equivalent of the English swag, and I like that no more that you but that is a part of every LIVING language. And most will agree with me that this sign of life is something that we should not try to fight.
The situation is particularly frustrating for Esperanto because proposed changes are often made by non-speakers or beginners under a threat: unless you change your language to include such-and-such features, I will not learn it or will stop learning it.
For Esperantists, who consider Esperanto a language on equal with any other, this sounds like a beginner French student refusing to learn French until the Academy removes gendered nouns. We can all agree that situation would be absurd, because French is a language that people actually speak. So too is Esperanto.
This is also frustrating because EVERY beginner has ideas for how to improve the language, and they post them continuously in Esperanto forums. After many years of this it becomes very tiring.
If you want "ri" or "sli" in the language, just use the language and say "ri" or "sli". It won't be Official Esperanto, but it will be Slang Esperanto, and that is often good enough. Then you can see whether it becomes a fad and catches on. That's how English acquired "fleek", whether you like it or not.
Exactly. Ten years ago, mojosa was still very experimental and now it's pretty much universal, so the language can evolve.
It is interesting; you describe Esperanto as a language equal to any other, but I thought it was proposed as a second language, not a language to replace others but, rather, a language to allow people to communicate while keeping their first languages with all their idiosyncrasies and cultural baggage. It is odd that Esperantists now vaunt the language as having its own culture and are fiercely protective of its idiosyncrasies, as if it were a nation, when my understanding was that it was as regular and culturally neutral as possible so that it could be used to communicate across cultures, between people who had there own first languages, their own nations.
Esperanto is a language intended to be spoken as a second language. This only means that it by design has certain grammatical and structural properties designed to make it easier for people to learn as a second language.
Esperanto is not culturally unambigious. For example, even the simple word "varmo" means something different to a person from the cold North than to a person in the Middle East. I remember a lecture from an Indian person who laughed at how "I compare thee to a Summer's day" would mean something very different in hot Hyderabad.
Esperanto has its own culture, defined by the people who speak it. That doesn't mean anything exclusionary -- especially since each Esperantist comes to the language from her own culture, and people learn Esperanto as a tool to better access other cultures. But any group of interacting people unavoidably develops habits, and those habits are a culture.
Indeed; for me, the reason I'm learning Esperanto is that it is a useful way to force you to think about these issues.
Samuel Beckett was once asked why he wrote in French rather than his native (Hiberno-) English: he replied that in French it is easier to "write without style" and it is true, without the choice of romance and Saxon derived words and constructions French sentences offer few choices, words refer more strongly to their referent. Of course, Beckett was joking and all languages allow for style, and all languages have a culture, it is, though, interesting to see how Esperanto, a language purged of irregularity and pledged to no nation, deals with style and culture, particularly when it has speakers whose first-language cultures are so eclectic.
It is, though, irksome to be lectured in way the OP lectures us in this post and in the posts he or she has made on our own pages; we are free to learn the language for whatever reason we like and free to learn and even speak it even if we regard the gender system for family words as egregiously sexist!
I'm curious, what third person pronoun do you use? Ĝi? Also, how do you handle gendered family words like patro / patrino?
Well, don't you use gendered words in your mother tongue? Words like "mother" and "father" are rather common in world languages. And they are usually gender-specified. Regading "ĝi" it's not a problem to use it to describe people and there are Zamenhof's examples of such use. There is also "tiu".
My native language is English - so yes. I must admit I'm also curious about how people like rev_ero handle these words in English, but the topic under discussion was Esperanto so that was what I was asking about.
I am aware that ĝi is acceptable for people, but using it like this it seems to me to be a deviation - however small - from the original intent, because if I remember correctly it should be used in situations where the gender is 'unimportant' or 'unknown'. I have my doubts,rightly or wrongly, that many non-binary (I believe that is the right term, sorry if not) people would regard their gender as either of those.
"Non-binary" is a relatively modern term when dealing with gender, and many languages, not just Esperanto are stuggling with the concept. This will take time. It would be a mistake to believe that the Esperanto comunity is unaware of the issue, and being like many other comunitities it has people of widely diverse beliefs. They will get there IMO.
How will they if people like the OP have their way? They may be aware of it, but there's a contingent of people actively fighting against any change to the language.
"...you don’t have the right to call Esperanto something that is not Esperanto, even if it's almost the same."
Even one more pronoun would be an unacceptable deviation to such staunch anti-reformists.
Those people who believe they personally wield the power to prevent others from using new pronouns are just as deluded as those who believe they can force others to use them. The thing is that both of these "contingents" are so small that the vast majority of users won't have the opportunity to interact with either of them in their usual every day discourse at present. Forums like this amplify the voices of those (like myself) who have opinions and time to waste. It doesn't reflect the way Esperanto is used. This one isn't even in Esperanto.
The number of non-binary individuals is exceedingly small (a small fraction of a percent if you believe polling). They also have diverse views about how others ought to refer to them. This doesn't mean they don't deserve all the rights the rest of us have. Of course they do! But it does mean that the network of people referring to them by the use of a pronoun on a daily basis is correspondingly small. And of those, only some fraction will be polite and accommodating enough to first inquire about and then refer to the non-binary by their various preferred pronouns. This presumes in the first place that it is appropriate to try and convince someone that that their view of gender-dichotomy is wrong, which is a whole other philosophical and ethical problem.
As I have said elsewhere, these problems are all cultural. Language follows culture. Not the other way around. As the non-binary become more visible and integrated in societies, all respective languages will move naturally. I think that is the position of most intelligent people who oppose reform, remembering that reform implies a kind of official edict, in contradistinction to current usage. Adding words is perfectly fine, but the Akademio can not decide to go back and change the meaning of things retroactively or it will by definition cease to be Esperanto. Of course you may continue to use it however you please, but all others exercise the same right.
While I am not particularly impressed by the OP's jeremiad, he does make the above point. Esperanto is defined by the Fundamento. Betamax was better than VHS, but you can't just put a betamax tape in a VHS player. There is no such thing as a magnetic monopole.
Your conception of a reformed Esperanto may be better, but, at least according to the lineage, it is not "Esperanto." I think some imagine a cabal of intransigent masters of the Esperantujo refusing to allow anyone to change anything. In reality it is just a bunch of people who each have precisely the same right to make decisions about the way they speak as you do. They agree on standards so that when they travel abroad they don't have to buy an adapter. But you are perfectly welcome to hotwire your outlet and plug your laptop in. Just don't be surprised if it gets fried.
I believe the most commonly accepted gender neutral pronoun is sxli, or at least that's what I read on wikipedia.
It may be a bit more accepted, but for cases in which you don't know the gender while ri is far more used in every case.
I think we should just stick on 'gender neuter pronoun' to the one of the definitions of gxi. We will keep the same number of pronouns, we won't be adding anything to Esperanto and it's a simple fix.
Ri and other suggestions are rather unnecessary and they cause a big mess in the community.
To add on to Mihxal, gxi does not translate to to 'it', it's more of a word to describe something that you don't know the gender of (as opposed to genderless). Also, in Esperanto, there's not a huge stigma against using it to describe people (though one person did get offended when I used it).
Also, ri is also available as an option, but it's a 'reformist' word, so it molest some people who are anti reformist.
Can someone give me a background of what's happening? What people are complaining of? What they want to change? I'm a lot confused right now haha
Is the Duolingo's Esperanto reformist? Is it anti reformist and people want it to be "newer"? So many questions
First off, I'm not an Esperanto expert, so you want to do more research yourself.
Since Esperanto began, there has been a number of attempts to reform Esperanto (with varying degree of success).
One of the earliest ones was Ido, which tried to correct perceived flaws in Esperanto. They got rid of the '^'s (hats), changed some endings and added a third/neutral gender. Today, there are less than 500 speakers, and was ultimately a failure.
Another one is Gender reform, or Riismo. They believe that Esperanto has a sexist edge and they want to change that. Instead of a male base with addition for women (viro, virino/bovo, bovino), they want an additional masculine suffix, and all the base words would be neutral. So there would be bovo (cow), bovino (heffer) and bovicxo (bull). They also want an additional pronoun among others.
"Is Duolingo's Esperanto reformist.."
To my belief, they teach traditional Esperanto (with some controversial slang words like 'mojosa). They don't teach any of the reformist stuff, like you won't see 'ri' here, which is a proposed gender neuter pronoun.
Those are the two biggest ones.
Hope I this answered your questions.
Thanks for the answer, it really helped, so basically people are complaining because here we are learning a language that is supposedly sexist and they want to change it? Unbelievable
That's part of it certainly, but another part is that there are a small number of people who prefer - for reasons that I do not understand well - not to be labeled as male or female. There was a thread posted by one of these people a bit back asking how to manage this in Esperanto - weather there was a suitable pronoun they could use or weather they should invent one, and similarly for suffixes.
The thread unfortunately turned rather nasty.Some people were trying to help, but a lot were just attacking the very idea / denouncing the idea of homosexuality (not that that had anything to do with the original post) / personal attacks. The original poster may have been naive and assumed a right to change the language that arguably does not exist, but they certainly didn't deserve the ton of vitriol that was dumped on them. (The discussion has has since been sanitized by moderators)
Anyway, that's some of the history behind this post. I hope it helps you understand what's going on. Personally I have considerably sympathy both for those trying to keep Esperanto in line with the original intent and with those looking for a way to be referred to that is in accorded with their identity. It's not an easy issue.
In Esperanto “ĝi” can be used for persons and objects. The pronoun “li” can be used for men or neutrally for people. I said it before somewhere in other conversation, I think courses usually, perhaps never, teach that “li” is not only “he“ in a gendered marked way.
En “la fundamenta ekzercaro“ we can find this paragraph: "Unu vidvino havis du filinojn. La pli maljuna estis tiel simila al la patrino per sia karaktero kaj vizaĝo, ke ĉiu, kiu ŝin vidis, povis pensi, ke li vidas la patrinon;" The “li” in “li vidas” is a neutral gendered li. It's evident is not speaking specifically about a man. http://www.akademio-de-esperanto.org/fundamento/ekzercaro.html (§11 La feino.)
BUT may be in this case I would write that like this: “ke ĉiu, kiu ŝin vidis, povis pensi, ke oni (aŭ ili) vidas la patrinon;" Is not a problem that “li” is also “he“ in a gendered way, the problem is to want see that only means that, the same is not a problem that “ĝi“ has not only one meaning. If someone needs to be clear about not being treated in a gendered way, well, ĝi is enough, but I don't see any problem about using “li” in this way. It has already that meaning.
Father = patro Mother = patrino Parants = gepatroj Parent = patro aŭ patrino
“Being a good parent can be hard work.” = “Esti bona patro aŭ patrino povas esti malfacila laboro”
I mean: Why Esperanto should have a word for every existing word in other languages? That not happens in other languages, and it's not a must for Esperanto. I'm not against gepatro because it doesn't damage the language (iĉ do damage it) and it's understandable by intuition but the truth is that gepatro is not really needed EXCEPT in the case of people who want to be treated totally neutrally. I forgot to talk in the main post about the difference between unofficial and against the fundament (incompatible with the grammar). In this case gepatro is just unoffcial, doesn't create problems, and is not adding a new thing that no one knows.
I confess that one of the main reason I became disinterested (for now) with the language,was seeing not only how many people argue about reforming it, but mainly the lack of authoritative sources allowing to determine the correctness of the language (beside PMEG).
I will juste give an example: the root ge- means both sex together, it's thus by definition a plural (gepratoj means parents of both sex, gepatro has no meaning). However some people want to use ge- in a kontraux- or at least nefundamenta way, as a kind of neutral suffix, transforming a gendered word in a neutral word (ex: gepatro means parent).
I would say: "who care about the reformists ?", let's just follow both the fundamento and the majority of speaker, by following the first usage. However, if you look on PIV (afaik the most authoritative dictionnary) or la reta vortaro, you will find the 2 meanings. So one get stuck with the incertitude.
So you could say 'just use whatever meaning you want'. But I don't want to create or modify a language: I want to learn a real language, a stable language, in which I will not need to guess by myself what is the correct word or grammar point but learn it from a authoritative and definitive source. I don't want to learn a toy language, a linguistic hobby where there is constant talks of reforms. I want to learn a language where I can trust that what I learn is really the good way and not some fad which would disappear in 5 years or understood only by 10% of the community.
This lack of an authoritative source you can refer to, is in my eye, one of the main problem about Esperanto.
And it's even worse when you think that many if not much of the esperanto texts or videos you may find are produced either by beginners or at least by people not 100% fluent (or worse, people trying to push some agenda), so you can't really trust that either.
Note: the example I choose is especially interesting because is that it's actually one of the few reforms I like because it's at the same time simple, useful and it respects the spirit of Esperanto (at the difference of most of the proposed reforms). So I would actually like if the second meaning was the good one. But once again, I don't want to learn the language I would like, but the language which is.
I guess the question is do you want to communicate or to follow a rulebook.
To communicate with someone you need a common language. Guess what, it's easier to have one when it follows a definite set of rules than when you make your owns. But I understand some people just want to play and feel good with a "language" where you can't really tell what is correct or not.
You can "to go boldly" all you want; but I will follow the one true captain and "to boldly go".
Now don't start in on that issue here. I mean, what's the point of arguing over whether Kirk was better than Picard or vice versa when Janeway left them both wallowing, coughing and spewing in a cloud of space dust?
P.S. I realize that this was probably NOT the issue you were referring to, but I just couldn't help myself! Please forgive me. : )
Quote: So, the big argument here is “every language evolves, why not Esperanto?”.
Language rarely evolves according to forced linguistic changes. That's just not one of the ways it works. It more likely works due to sociological factors, geographical factors, and ease of language. These changes, except for a few notable exceptions (like the Great Vowel Shift) do not take place in the course of a life time.
OP, you're right in a million ways. I also, though, think you're fighting a losing battle. The person who is able to control someone's language will control that person intimately (though not Sapir-Whorff style). It is unfortunately natural for power hungry humanity to desire control in this way. Fortunately, language is nearly a force of nature, as uncontrollable as a tornado.
You don't have to defend the tornado. The people who want to control language will just constantly fail over and over again as they have for thousands of years. You just keep on keepin' on. Life's a garden, dig it!
This is absolutely correct. It is not incumbent on the rest of the Esperanto speakers to adopt every change that some proponent insists much be made official. Rather, those who propose the change should simply start using it.
Some of us will stare at you blankly. Others will correct you. Others yet will turn away. Some might realize that you've found a clever way out of a linguistic problem. (Turning adjectives into verbs was never forbidden, but was not part of initial practice, now it's fairly common.)
Be stalwart and convince us by your actions, not by abstract arguments.
As a followup, here's an example of how such things become new elements of language:
If there's some change that one wants to see in to a language, one should implement it simply by starting to use it. Either adopt an affix or pronoun that's already been proposed or make up a new one. If it's feasible, it will catch on, if not, then it won't. In the end, it doesn't mean much to talk an issue to death (and I'm guilty of this, too) or to wait around for some committee to take some sort of action that one may or may not agree with.
As an added plus, there's always the possibility that use of new pronouns and/or affixes will aggravate boorish, presumptuous purists like rev_ero and the others of the Fundamento-Thumper ilk, so it's all good.
I couldn't agree more. Discussions like this one and those in similar threads (and like those throughout all of Esperanto's history) MAY be helpful in spreading ideas, but ultimately, they are only talk. Effective, lasting change isn't going to be implemented until people take grassroots action to actually implement it. If it's a useful, workable idea, it will spread, if not, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Side note: JohnD62, I'm glad to see you finally weighing in on this thread. I was worried that you were going to completely miss out on the fun.
I'm trying to limit my involvement in Duolingo Esperanto language reform flame wars. I'm in Europe for the (just finished) 100th Universala Kongreso, not to argue language points on Duolingo. Still, if I can provide a bit of sanity, so be it.
A little infusion of sanity can sometimes help a lot--when it's not a killjoy. I hope you enjoy your remaining time in Europe (he said, jealously).
You will give us a report, won't you?