Why Esperanto is perfect at it is
All now and then people are talking about improving Esperanto. But I think Esperanto is quite perfect at it is for the following reasons:
1) If we want any chance of a useful language, we need at user base. At having two languages just split that base.
2) About the strange letters - ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ and ŭ. It really is a trade off. What is good about Esperanto is that EVERY time you see a letter you immediately knows how to pronounce it. Even if you haven't seen the word before, even if you don't know what it means. I suppose (and hope) that we agree that this is how we want it. Esperanto is, and should be, easy to learn and this is one of the elements of an easy language. (Don't believe me - see this video about how to pronounce different words in my native tongue (Danish): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jsf-VIaQoc). So the trade off really is, - do we want many letters or long words. The more sounds we are able to do (the more letters we have) the more different words we can have with any given length. I am quite sure it's not a mathematical perfect sweet spot. If Zamenhof had lived today he would without doubt have asked computer-linguists about exactly how many consonants and vowels would be perfect, but it's a pretty good guess - and see 1).
3) About gender neutrality. Well to be honest, it probably could have been better. And perhaps it can be, - very easily. Changing the standard form (the male) to be neutral and making a new distinction for a male might work. And perhaps it could be done without breaking the language - i.e. without splitting the userbase. Perhaps it is kind of already like that. I have heard people say that a horse (cxevalo) is gender-neutral. The mare (female horse) is a cxevalino and the stallion (male horse) is a vircxevalo.
There are probably other ideas about how to improve on the language. To be honest I am: 1) Still lerning Esperanto and 2) Not very language-intelligent (luckily I am better with math and have a nice job, thank you!) So there are probably good reasons to improve on the language. But really - are they good enough to split the language?
For 125 years the esperantists (or most of them anyway) didn't think so. Yes there is Ido - but see how few people are speaking it.
Well the whole point of this message is really just that we do not need another new language, we just need more people talking it, - because flawed or not, it's very good as it is.
I, myself, have a very hard time learning languages. I have studied English in school, in high school and at university all my books were in English. I have lived 9 month in USA (to study) and 5½ month in Moldova (as a volunteer) where I spoke English - because that's the only common language we had. At that time I did try to learn Romanian (one of the two languages they speak in Moldova). I even had a private teacher and I spend a loong time trying to learn. I did learn some. I could go to the market and buy stuff. But really not much more than that. And my English after all these years - are still far from perfect (as you probably can see here). And I actually do use it. The internet is mostly in English, I have been part of an international cluster in my church receiving and helping people who did not yet speak Danish. I even translated in church (not because I think my English is very good - but because there was a need).
For those of you lucky enough to be talented to learn languages quickly - DO! It is always better to meet people in their language. But even for you I think Esperanto is a gift from heaven! (But really do learn some languages. I am sure it will be good for you - and he world!)
What Esperanto is to me: 1) A very easy language to learn (I am still struggling, but nothing compared to the hard times I had to go through with English!) 2) A very nice community. I have already been to a few conferences (UK in Bjalistoko (2009) and in Kopenhago (2011) as well as some in KELI and one in ILEI). To me this is a 'whole new world' with so many interesting cultures, languages, ideas, ways of doing etc.
On gender neutrality- gxi isn't an exact translation of "it". It can also be used as a singular "they". The default for most things (animals, job titles) already IS gender neutral, as in English. Just because "Mother" stems from the word "father" doesn't make it sexist. That's like saying the word "Woman" is sexist due to it stemming from "Man".
I think Esperanto is perfectly fine the way it is.
Here's the thing: why is male the default? Imagine if there were a suffix for non-white people, "-iŝo". So a "viriŝo" is a non-white man, and "viro" is a white man. If the race isn't known, you use "viro". See how it's quite racist? Please, tell me how this case is any different.
EDIT: This is an example...
I think your example would work if we really did treat the word "virino" as a derivative of the word "viro." But in practice, "virino" gets treated as just as a distinct of words as "woman" is distinct from "man." No one thinks a "wo kind of man" when they say woman, our minds treat it as its entirely own distinct word.
Keep in mind, the Sapir–whorf hypothesis -- that language bends the way we think, does not work like it hypothesizes. Esperanto won't make anyone think or act in a sexist manner. It won't undo sexism, but if a person is sexist in esperanto, it's because they were sexist despite Esperanto.
Sure, when Zamenhof created Esperanto, it would've been pretty awesome if he foresaw the benefits of gender sensitivity and created the language to reflect that. Esperanto would've been a more ideal language.
But, we don't live in an ideal world. Esperanto is a great language, its flaws do not hamper communication nor do they impact society in any way. We could conceive of a more ideal language (Ido may be considered one such example). But Esperanto, as it is, exists. And we choose to learn that Esperanto, because we believe it's got the best bet of achieving each of our personal goals for the language.
But in practice, "virino" gets treated as just as a distinct of words as "woman" is distinct from "man." No one thinks a "wo kind of man" when they say woman, our minds treat it as its entirely own distinct word.
Virino is grammatically very clear: it's using the feminizing affix. It's universally taught that way; there's no way around it: woman derives from man, and it's sexist.
Trying to compare this with English which does not have a feminizing affix "wo" is a false equivalence.
It does have some feminising suffices though: -trix (aviatrix, administratrix), -ess (waitress, actress, huntress) and some others. Notably they are starting to sound old fashioned because they are considered a bit sexist and so people are consciously choosing to not use them.
m.tastic. You act almost like it is an insult to you!
How many langauges do you think have this so-called gender "problem"? You saw in one of the threads about esperanto and gender that the exact same thing goes for Russian and Ukrainian. Why don't you go ask them to change their offensive language? There are so many more people speaking those languages.
Also why do you even care if it isn't totally gender-neutral? There are so many gender-problems that actually are important. Women forced to marry because their parents tell them, women who can't drive a car, at least not without a family member (a male family member of course) are present. These are real problems.
That the word of a girl is derived from the word of a boy. Gee. What difference do you really think it is going to make in the real world if that changed? I really really can't see that it is going to make ANY difference.
How many langauges do you think have this so-called gender "problem"? You saw in one of the threads about esperanto and gender that the exact same thing goes for Russian and Ukrainian. Why don't you go ask them to change their offensive language?
You know how people say "firefighter", "postal worker", "server", "police officer"? Yeah?
Well, English is sexist too and millions of people throughout the English-speaking world over the last several decades have worked tirelessly to change our use of words to these less sexist alternatives.
There is a whole body of study at how language shapes our attitudes, and one of the directions we're headed as a species is equal treatment of women and one of the ways we can (and do!) affect that is through improvement of language itself.
I've had this exact discussion more than once. The case for "firefighter", "postal worker", "server", and "police officer" are overstated in these kinds of discussions as they relate to Esperanto. These English words are built from other English words... more or less naturally. Too often in Esperanto people want to make up new words out of whole cloth and then try to suggest that the language is "evolving" naturally when really quite the opposite is happening.
Trying to compare this with English which does not have a feminizing affix "wo" is a false equivalence.
All the same, there are people who prefer to spell it "womyn" and let's not forget Männin and Genesis 2:23.
Apart of that, they are actually choosing randomly things as sexist and other things are ok just because. If one analyses the language probably will find a lot of “sexist” things that are ok because they don't know the origin of everything. Also they are chosing to see that refutable “problem” and deciding not to see other, something factually undeniable (although no necessarily problematic). They are looking for egalitarianism as children for freedom because their have to go to bed early.
"unu el la gepatroj" is a common way to say "parent," No, it's not as smooth as just saying "parent," but you can say "unu el mia gepatroj," just as in English you'd say "one of my parents."
Esperanto isn't English with different words, it's its own language, so don't go looking for a 1:1 correspondence of words.
@ m.tastic Just wait until you start studying Japanese. ;) That language gets pretty clunky at times.
Most languages have pretty clunky ways to express certain ideas that are quite easy in other languages. I'll concede that this phrase is one that's likely not clunky in most languages, as it's probably been filtered that way due to high rates of use. Still, that "unu el la gepatroj" is clunky is rather anglo-centric (or slavic-centric, or whatever). Expression feeling clunky usually disappears once you develop fluency in a language.
Yes it would make Esperanto less simple. Because you should to learn to gender systems, to look the date of a text or a record to understand it properly. Where is the advantage of that? You still don't understand the concepts of being unofficial and being against the grammar. Gepatro doesn't need a change just an adding, it's unofficial because it not change the basic grammar (the fundamento) and don't split the language in two. -iĉ needs a change in the grammar to make sense and there is not a real reason to do it, and it creates confusion, not at the end, but at the beginning of the day. -iĉ just can't be part of Esperanto, unofficially and specially officially.
And look at what are you doing. You are against of a logic adding in a root or at least prefer a change that creates problems in the grammar and the use of the language. And anyway Esperanto doesn't need a word for parent. Nobody, nobody in his mind, has said ever that every language must to have a word, for the every word in the other languages. That kind of ideas just point the quality of your arguments.
Keep this in mind: this not the day 1 of Esperanto. This is the year 128 of Esperanto as a language in use. And you are talking as if we were in the day 1. I'm sorry, we're not. That's the fact.
Many people have probably tried to introduce a word, but it fails to get adopted. Language use can be finicky like that.
There is not such a thing as a default. That is what you want to see. There is a word for father and a word for mother. They have exactly the same value as words. There is nothing in the grammar saying that the words with -in are less valued or something like that. In fact the grammar implies that -in removes totally the male gender in a root. That's why virino is not a man-woman or a wo-man, it's VIRINO - WOMAN - a word with the same value as word as VIRO - MAN - (and vice versa). And that's why there is not sexism, there is not words with penises, just people talking about a default that doesn't exist and thinking they are more feminist just because they are crying against the stones for being sexist against the women. That's all.
What are you saying is exactly the same as if a person would say that -in is sexist because attacks male gender.
Sexist is people, because only people can be sexist.
It's good, but I wouldn't say perfect, actually in some points I find English better than Esperanto, and I'm saying this as a non native English speaker (I'm Spanish). Those points are:
Accusative is unnecessary. Proof of that is that most of popular languages don't have it and don't need it at all. Removing that -n would make Esperanto a simpler, easier and less frustrating language to learn, and being as simple and easy as possible should be the main goal for any language that wants to replace English as the world language.
About the strange letters, why don't it use the missing normal letters instead? For instance, "w" instead of "ŭ", or why not, removing the "ĥ" since that one is useless. Those letter are harder to type and they make Esperanto look harder that it is for those who see an Esperanto text for the first time. Actually, several years ago I discovered Esperanto and was interested of the idea of a neutral language, but once I saw those letter, I thought it was a strange, not so easy language for nerds, so I lost all interest, and it wasn't until this year with the Duolingo course for Spanish speakers when I decided to learn Esperanto. So I think removing those letter would make Esperanto a more attractive language for those who discover Esperanto.
And about Esperanto being "sexist". Well, I understand this language was created in the 19th Century and back then the world was extremely conservative and sexist. I guess the "-iĉo" proposal could solve that.
Finally, and this is a very personal opinion, I have problems with the pronunciation of the following consonant clusters: "kv", "gv", "dv" and "kn", my English pronunciation is quite good for a Spaniard, so it's ironic I have more problems with a language with a phonology closer to Spanish. Personally, I'd propose to change those consonant clusters by "kw", "gw", "dw" and "n" and I actually pronounce them this way, but since it seems I'm the only one who has that problem, I guess those cluster must be the way the are.
Anyway, Esperanto is quite good overall and that's why I'm still learning it, it simply isn't that perfect.
Well, for other people many of these things are things that make Esperanto attractive and interesting. I was very happy to learn about the accusative, because it essentially means: free word order, which is great. And I really liked the unique look of the letters with the ^ on top. In the age of Unicode and easy-to-install keyboards this really is not an issue anymore. And it wasn't in the time of Zamenhof, as you can easily type ^ over letters with a typewriter (combining ´ and `). I liked how you could immediately see that it's Esperanto, because it has those specific letters. I have no problems with "kv-" etc., and I think for many non-English speakers kŭ- would be more difficult (besides ŭ not being possible in this position).
In any case, there won't be any such major changes to Esperanto. Luckily. It would weaken its position, because people would see that there are dozens of different versions out there and say: "Oh, not even the speakers can't decide how to say or write anything, this language doesn't seem to be finished yet." (one reason why I stopped learning Lojban, for instance).
You may like the look of the diacritics letters, but that's cause you're likely an Esperanto lover, but most people don't like diacritics at all, for instance, most native Spanish speakers hate the diacritics of our language, (like the tilde "´") and we often don't write them. English is a very clean language, with no diacritics at all (only the apostrophe), and that's something learners like. Installing programs for writing Esperanto letters is less easy than just typing the Latin letters on a normal keyboard.
The accusative is unnecessary as I said, changing the order of the sentence is something that far from being any useful, makes a language even harder and confusing, having a one single order makes a language simpler and easier for learners.
Those strange aspects may make Esperanto perfect for language geeks, but those flaws won't let Esperanto be a serious world language candidate.
I agree Esperanto won't have any major change, but that means Esperanto will never succeed against English as a world language candidate, perhaps the Esperanto community only need to change the goal of the language rather than the language itself. For instance, Esperanto has proven to be good as an introductory language, since it's relatively easy and mixes aspects of several European languages, learning Esperanto first makes you able to learn later another European language easier. Actually, that's the main reason why I'm learning Esperanto. So I think the introductory value of Esperanto is a more realistic goal for its community.
I think the diacritics are kinda cool, and not as difficult to write as people make them out to be, however I do still agree it's a bit of a weak point of the language. Ido tried to fix this, but in my opinion they did this poorly, as they introduced digraphs and the like instead, which means you can no longer read letter-by-letter and always have the right pronunciation, as you can in Esperanto, in turn making the language less simple in another sense—rather a big sacrifice, if you ask me.
One thing Ido did get right is to simply have the accusative be facultative: you can use it if you really do want to play around with the word order, as for stylistic/poetic reasons or just to place different emphases in your sentences, but you are able to just go with the simple SVO structure without the need of an accusative in most circumstances. I rather think that's what Esperanto should also have done, or perhaps should still do. In effect, it's a little bit like that already, as even the most experienced and skillful Esperantists—subject somewhat to their native language(s)—tend to forget the accusative from time to time, and I know some Esperantists who forget it almost every single time and still do well with the language otherwise.
Given that, I don't think it's true that the accusative is serious enough to not let Esperanto be a serious world language candidate, but it's true that it doesn't help. The diacritics... well, again, I think their difficulty and awkwardness are overstated, but they too do not help.
You might be right about the goal of the language, although time will tell if that's all it will be able to achieve (not that that isn't a fine thing already, mind you); it does seem to be going through some growth recently, in no small part due to the Duolingo course(s).
Yes, I agree with you. I don't consider Ido perfect either for the reasons you mention, in my opinion the alphabet of a constructed language shouldn't have neither diacritics nor digraphs. About the accusative, it's true that it can be useful for aesthetic and artistic purposes like poetry, literature and music, but it should be removed from normal speech. The fact that even fluent esperantist often forget the accusative is the proof that Esperanto would be a better language without it. And I also think that a language that is supposed to be neutral should be also neutral about genders, that's why I like the -iĉo proposal.
I have yet to learn Ido properly, but I will at some point. However, I doubt I will like it quite as much as Esperanto, because I dislike how it has forgone some degree of regularity—sometimes for good reason, often not so much. For example, there is an exception to always stressing the penultimate syllable in the infinitive -ar ending. The correlatives are much less regular. There is the problem with there no longer being always one sound per letter, one letter per sound, like in Esperanto, like I mentioned. For some reason it chose not to have all pronouns end in -i or at least in the same letter/sound. Those sorts of things, I dislike. But it has some advantages over Esperanto, as well.
I agree about the -iĉ proposal. I don't so much agree with removing the accusative from normal speech; I just think it should be made facultative, like I said. It's not like it's difficult for the listener, just for the speaker to remember it, and if it's facultative and they forget (or just choose not to use it), then there is no problem in that case either. However, I guess the more important message is that we both agree that it's a bit silly for it to be obligatory, as it technically (if not in practice) is, now, for Esperanto.
I'm glad you agree :) that's how Ido did it, so it's not wholly my own idea.
In the meantime, try not to worry about it too much even if it's technically obligatory right now, because as I mentioned, almost everyone forgets it now and again. Sometimes people will point it out to you, I suppose, but other than that, it's not too much of an issue.
Okay, everything was fine except one thing. You said that if people are talented at learning language should especially learn Esperanto, which is ironic since the language is mostly advertised as a clutch for those who have bad language skills.
That said though, this person has a tantalizing disagreement against Esperanto, even if the person was a former Esperanto enthusiast. http://inf.ufrgs.br/~vbuaraujo/misc/kontrauranto/
I agree, but Esperanto has already undergone major betterments proving that it can evolve while remaining 100% faithful to the Fundamento. As for the spelling, that's a pure matter of taste. You can use Cyrillic characters to write Esperanto as most Russians have always done especially under the Soviets. You can even use Devanagari if you think Esperanto to be as divine as Sanskrit to the point of having to be written with the same script. Diacritics are not an impediment, they give Esperanto an easily recognizable and cool identity. Even then all diacritics have pure latin keyboard alternatives that I find also cool. My favorite system is adding x to the letters ĉ, ĝ, ŝ, ĵ with circumflex accent, except for the hard h which can be made into a simple x and for the consonant ǔ which can be made into a w, and one could use both at will in the same way Germans can at will write oe for ö, ue for ü and ae for ä. Dieresis ü as is available on all keyboard systems should also be acceptable for ǔ. It is clear that the phonetics of Esperanto are slavic more than latin. Nearly all Esperanto users in the world pronounce e as open e as in bet, let, or a in care, not closed e as in grey or hey as is also the most frequent usage in Spanish and Italian (as regards unaccented letters at least). Same thing for o, nearly all like to pronounce it open as in dot, more, or au in caught, not like in doe or hobo, though the latter is permissible but not popular. That's the way these two middle letters are pronounced in Polish or northern Russian or other Slavic languages. Therefore there should be a sixth neutral vowel pronounced like Russian or Polish hard y that should have no value as an independent Esperanto letter (so as to comply with the Fundamento) but would enable difficult consonant clusters that arise quite often through composition to be pronounced smoothly, like lernejestrskribo (school master's writing) which should naturally read as lernejestry-skribo. Y (not an esperanto letter but a sound all esperanto speakers actually do pronounce willy-nilly when there are too many consonants together like people speaking Slavic languages) should be pronounced like i without the lips opening so as to uncover the teeth, and with the tongue in the middle of the mouth rather than too forward, like e in English prided. In esperanto such a sound recognized as such would most the times be written with ' which stands for suppressed o in poetry. Therefore I propose no big change but mere acknowledgement of what exists.
First, I hate the x-system. I understand why it was developed in the early days of computing (the far-off 1970s), but the x-system is a curse. It's 2018, we should all have access to the hat letters (as you do). The only excuse for them is to enter things in the Duolingo text boxes for those who haven't yet learned how they can type hat letters.
I started learning French in the 1970s. Teachers preferred that we type our papers. No, there were no accent marks on my family's manual typewriter. Yes, I had to put those in by hand if I didn't want to flunk.
Just as French has its writing system and German has its writing system (and so on), Esperanto has its own writing system. Esperanto written with Cyrillic characters is no longer fully Esperanto, just as if someone phonetically wrote out French with Thai characters it really wouldn't be French anymore.
As with everything other suggestion on this thread, I don't think there's a need for a new orthography of Esperanto.
"not well accepted"?? kind of understated, isn't it? My advice on Esperanto is perfectly in accordance with Zamenhof and/or the Fundamento; the X-as form is, per Zamenhof, to retain a verbal nuance. Using it as a substitute for "estas X-a" does not retain such nuance. And please do remember that I have NEVER EVER advised ANYONE to use "that particular word" that thee and Erinja seem to take such umbrage with (and in E's case, irrationally also its equivalent in English). Anyone who claims otherwise is a dang liar.
Sorry, buddy, but French isn´t French (and Esperanto isn´t Esperanto, etc) because of their orthographies. After all there are many languages that are not written at all, but that doesn´t make them any less than what they are, e.g. the Zay language of Ethiopia is still the Zay language even though it´s unwritten/doesn't have an orthography. It's thinking like yours that almost destroyed the Cornish revival. Some pig-headed professor insisted that Cornish HAD TO be written in the English-based spelling of the medieval period and that the phonetic-based orthography developed in the 80s made it "phony Cornish." Balderdash. Esperanto written in Cyrillic is still Esperanto, just like Serbian is still Serbian and Belorussian is still Belorussian even when they're written in Latin letters.
When I was in my teens, I had a pen pal with who I shared letters written in English, but using Tolkien's Tengwar. (Now I've established my geek credentials.) These would not be readable by the average speaker of English. It's more like encoding English.
The same would be true if I took a series of Chinese characters and mapped them to the sounds of English.
The reason I brought up French is to point out that there was a consensus orthography that I had to follow. (That consensus has changed. I had to write coût, while now cout is now acceptable.)
And it's not some pig-headed professor who almost doomed the Cornish revival. Everyone else could have ignored him, and he'd be one lone medievalist shouting into the wind. I believe your whole point is that some sided with the phonetic-based orthography and other with the historical orthography, and therein lie the problem. Skimming Wikipedia, I see there are multiple—at least six—orthographies and no consensus. (I'm also not certain which of the Cornish language reformers is your "pig-headed professor.")
Whereas with Esperanto, there is a consensus orthography and this discussion is filled with people who (erroneously) believe that if people only adopted their orthography for Esperanto, things would be great.
Various people in this discussion have put forth their proposed (to the influential body of Duolingo user) orthography reforms. I haven't counted them, but I think it's more than there are spelling systems for Cornish. There is no consensus here.
In the larger world of Esperanto, there is certainly a consensus: we are in consensus with Zamenhof.
yes, and what thee wrote in tengwar was still English wasn't it? as to Cornish, thee seems to have missed this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Written_Form
I skimmed one article. Not really a concern for me, as I have no plan to learn Cornish.
Are you one of those people who use "thee" instead of "thou." Are you a Quaker?
The real question is whether what I wrote in Tengar was standard written English. Of course not.
I understand that there have been projects to change orthographies. Zamenhof himself was involved in a proposal for the romanization of Yiddish.
There just doesn't seem to be a real call for a new orthography for Esperanto. I suspect most of the people who propose these would be delighted to get a second person to sign up for their cause.
1) A language-wide reform wouldn't divide the community. It would actually be more inclusive to anyone who isn't a guy.
2) There are solutions that use only the Latin alphabet.
Here's an Esperanto orthography that has one letter for each sound, and only uses the Latin alphabet:
a = a
b = b
c = ts
ĉ = tc
d = d
e = e
f = f
g = g
ĝ = dj
h = h
ĥ = x
i = i
j = y
ĵ = j
k = k
l = l
m = m
n = n
o = o
p = p
r = r
s = s
ŝ = c
t = t
u = u
ŭ = w
v = v
z = z
3) The problem is that the vir- prefix doesn't make sense. Why would masculine have a prefix and feminine have a suffix? Also, the vir- prefix still can't be used in all situations (for example, virviro). -iĉo also makes more sense from a logical point of view. Here's a chart:
-njo | -ĉjo
-ino | -iĉo
See how the gender suffixes and gendered nickname suffixes line up perfectly?
Honestly, I don't know what the big deal is about the diacritics and this desire to use only Latin letters. Is it really that hard for most people? There are so many European languages that use diacritics, and so many non-European languages that use a different script altogether. I mean, why fix something if it ain't broke? And I found the system of using x to replace diacritics for when you're typing pretty easy to get used to. Took me about 5 min to get my head around it. Idk, personally I think diactrics are cool. And then replacing them with an x when typing--that's like being part of some secret club. :D
Dude the Latin chart is the same as the original Esperanto alphebet anyway, but why not use j for j and i for either i or y, depending on what letters are around it? If the u can be a double letter, so to speak, why can't the i? And about the gender neutrality thing, I think that should stay the way it is because many languages, like Russian, French, and German, have gender, and it works perfectly fine. Something I do believe that does need to be changed is that we need to make it where "estas" should not be required. After all, in Russian, the only forms of "to be" are those in the past and future tense, excluding the infinitive.
I believe you can drop "estas" when it joins a noun and an adjective. You can actually add an "s" to an adjective and turn it into a verb. So "My sock is blue" can be "Mia strumpeto estas blua" or "Mia strumpeto bluas". (This is one of my favorite features in Esperanto, actually.)
Strictly speaking (and most importantly, per Zamenhof himself), "Mia strumpeto estas blua" and "Mia strumpeto bluas" are not exact equivalents; just as "mi biciklas" does not mean "I am a bicycle" but rather "I go by bicycle", i.e. it retains a verbal nuance.....(I'm not sure what kind of nuance "la cxielo grizas" would have, unless it's something like "The sky is grey (right now, but it's usually another color)" much like in Spanish, "el cielo es azúl"because that's the "default" color, but "el cielo está gris" because it's a temporary condition)
Actually very few Latin-alphabetted languages are written without any diacritics. English and Indonesian/Malay are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head. this complaint comes from English speakers, and I say "suck it up, buttercup. This is not English so stop demanding that it behave like English"
The letter "w" is not part of the Latin alphabet either, I think English should just drop it. :-)
Radically changing the spelling or writing system of a language has happened before (Indonesian, Chinese, Turkish) but it is an expensive and wrenching, drawn-out process. And the end result is normally that whereas before, not all the people were happy with the old rules, afterwards, not all the people are happy with the new rules.
About gender in pronouns and nouns: simplest would be to not express the gender at all, by default. Plenty of languages get by without it. If "mi" and "vi" and "ili" are neutral, why distinguish "li" and "ŝi"? Some languages cram more info into the pronouns (like politeness level), some less. At some point the choice is arbitrary, and all languages contain traces of the society in which they were originally conceived. What works perfectly today may seem quaint and outdated or inappropriate tomorrow. If you really enjoy tinkering with this (and it is fun), take it all the way into a new conlang, and see what holes others want to pick in it.
It already does. Zamenhof gave it (the singular) in his Ekzercaro (part of the Fundamento), even though he said about it "one ordinarily uses "vi" (for reasons that have nothing to do with the word itself or Esperanto). It's "ci" but be very careful with it; some people get very nasty and condescending if thee does use it.
No, I mean "thee"....just like non-Plain people mean "you" (this is actually the objective form, so if I am wrong to use "thee" as a subject, then you are just as wrong to use "you" as a subject)
Here's an Esperanto orthography that has one letter for each sound, and only uses the Latin alphabet:
As with any major change (ex: changing a language's alphabet) it's advisable to first define your goals:
TYPING ON ANY KEYBOARD: As you know, current practice is to use 6 digraphs (adding x) to represent ĉĝĥĵŝŭ.
INTERNATIONALIZATION: The IPA can be used. Here are the Esperanto equivalents. The IPA is the current international standard for phonetic letters. It is already used all over the world to mark pronunciations in dictionaries / encycolpedias, etc.
Ni povas ʃand͡ʒi la literoi̯n, kiel t͡ʃi.
Careful with the 'a' though. /a/ is not the same sound as /ɑ/. If we're getting really strict, the /j/ and /i̯/ (both 'j' in Esperanto) are not exactly the same either.
The IPA can already be simplified without too much loss of information:
Ni povas ʃandʒi la literojn, kiel tʃi.
INTERNATIONALIZATION and TYPING ON ANY KEYBOARD: X-SAMPA can be used. (Note that capitals make different sounds.)
ni povas Sandzi la literojn, kiel tSi.
4: PHONETIC SIMPLICITY: The Latin alphabet is ambiguous. Depending on the language, there are a multitude of pronunciations for each letter. It is not an ideal solution. If simplicity is the goal, another alphabet, with unambiguous phonetics, should be used.
ニ ポヴァス シャンジ ラ リテロイン、 キエル チ。 (Not a great fit, but at least it doesn't have multiple possible pronunciations.)
The most logical, phonetic alphabet already in widespread use is Hangul; a constructed alphabet used by millions of people in Korea. But I'm not confident I could give a proper example here.
One Esperanto-specific, phonetic alphabet would be La Ŝava Alfabeto
If the argument against using a non-Latin alphabet is because most people are already used to Latin, or are already using Latin... Well then that's the same argument against changing ĉĝĥĵŝŭ (most Esperantists are already used to it and using it).
It sounds like you're going for simplicity and ease of typing. Having 3 digraphs instead of 6 could be argued as an improvement, but it is not significant enough to make people change what they're used to.
Hangul wouldn't work well for languages such as Esperanto. Just as kana work well for Japanese because an almost exclusive consonant-vowel structure of syllables, and that characters work so well for Chinese being almost entirely analytic (Japanese had to incorporate kana onto characters to make up for the fact that Japanese isn't analytic), hangul relies on Korean almost exclusively having a consonant-vowel-consonant structure.
Alphabets works better for languages such as English and Esperanto where we generally don't care how we lob together sounds to form our words, where syllables such as "angsts," "sixths," and "twelfths" are just as likely as words such as "like."
Esperanto's use of commonalities from European languages is one of its greatest strengths. Using Latin origins for its alphabet (and a lot of vocabulary) makes sense and greatly lowers the barrier of entry for many learners.
I'm going to rename that section "Phonetic Simplicity". One of the arguments for change was that c, ĉ and ĝ should be split into their 2 phones (ts, tʃ and dʒ). Two other letters in the argument /ʃ/ ŝ=c, and /ʒ/ ĵ=j were remappings to fit the split /tʃ/ ĉ=tc, /dʒ/ ĝ=dj. Then j=y moves away from the IPA /j/ to compensate, while ĥ=x moves towards the IPA /x/. It's not a bad mapping actually. But if we were to start going away from Esperanto convention for phonetic simplicity, then we could contemplate using a non-Latin alphabet where the phones are unambiguous. Maybe this wasn't the best counter-argument, but that's where I was trying to go with that.
A different argument I could've used is that c, ĉ and ĝ are unique phonemes in Esperanto and therefore supposed to be mentally distinct from the phonemes t, d, s, ŝ, and ĵ, by speakers of the language. Using 1 letter for 1 phoneme is a valid argument in this case. (rather than 1 letter for 1 phone)
As for how English lobs together sounds, the phonotactical constraints are interesting.
I'm not sure that this would be best. The argument of different phones appeals to what I would describe as a "linguistic purity." It would make sense to break it down to someone well versed in linguistics.
But I think Esperanto isn't for linguists. I think it's supposed to be easy to learn. As it stands, it fits into "This letter sound sounds like _" descriptions just fine. The typical learner doesn't care that c, ĉ and ĝ are technically multiple sounds in the IPA. The typical learner doesn't care about the IPA at all. The phonemes argument you described makes the most sense.
Edit: I also think I was arguing against you, when you were trying to make some of the same points I was making. I was misunderstanding the context of your discussion. My bad, haha.
According to IPA, affricate consontants are sounds on their own.
The term "sound" is what's ambiguous here. Some people are using "sound" to mean "phoneme" while others are using it to mean "phone".
Affricate consonants are most definitely unique "phonemes" in some languages, but they are always constructed from more than 1 "phone".
A phone is often defined by its physical production. The tongue, lips, teeth, vocal cords, etc, used in one specific combination, create a specific "phone".
A phoneme is what a speaker of a language considers to be a unique sound of that language. A phoneme is made up of 1 or more phones.
[t] is a phone, defined as a "voiceless alveolar stop". The tongue starts by touching an area near the front of the mouth, blocking air flow, and then is released, creating a burst of air.
[s] is a phone, defined as a "voiceless alveolar sibilant". The tongue restricts (but doesn't stop) airflow near the front of the mouth, creating high frequency turbulence.
/t/ and /s/ are also phonemes in most languages, meaning that speakers think of them as a sound in their language.
It's very easy for the stop /t/ to release into the sibilant /s/, so many languages use this combination. Many languages also consider /t͡s/ to be a separate and distinct "phoneme" from /t/ and /s/. However, the physical components of the phoneme /t͡s/ are the "phones" (the stop [t] and sibilant [s]).
If the [t] and [s] phones combine to make 1 unique phoneme of a language, it is notated with a tie bar joining them /t͡s/. If they are considered to be 2 unique phonemes, they are notated without /ts/.
That's what I meant: [t͡s] is a phone on its own.
[t͡s] doesn't contain [t]. As you said, [t] ends with a sudden release of air. Nothing of sorts happens with [t͡s] –the release is gradual, causing hissing noise. Its production is distinct from both [t] and [s].
I agree that the phone–phoneme distinction is important, but it's not only one phoneme that can be made out of multiple phones, multiple phonemes can be pronounced with a single phone as well. For example, some dialects of Dutch have [ɲ] as an allophone of /nj/. In the same way, [t͡s] is an allophone for /ts/ in many languages. Phone merging, creating new phones that do not exist in careful speech, is quite common.
If [t͡s] were two phones, then it would sound the same as [ts], but it doesn't. Consider this minimal pair in Polish: octu ['ɔt͡stu] vs od stu ['ɔtstu]. Or let's consider it's retroflex parallel, [ʈ͡ʂ]. It's obviously something different than [ʈʂ], given by the minimal pair in Polish czy [ʈ͡ʂɨ] vs trzy [ʈʂɨ]. Or see o ciebie [ɔ't͡ɕebjɛ] vs od siebie [ɔ'tɕebjɛ] for alveopatalal. Affricates are simply distinct, not "a stop and a fricative quickly pronounced together".
Variation of phones
Sorry if I implied that the phone [t] has to be an aspirated [tʰ]. It does not require a burst or sudden release of air. It just needs to be a stop followed by a release, such as in the gradual release of /t͡s/.
You are also correct about the differences between how you say /t/, /s/, and /t͡s/. I have no doubt that you are saying the phones differently. I can't tell you exactly how you are varying the [t] when you say it alone or within /t͡s/, but I believe you that there is a variation.
Three Formal Definitions of "Phone"
Phones are often formally defined by the physical characteristics of the event (ie: the position of the tongue, the flow of air, etc). These characteristics are general. There is room for subtle alterations. When some precision is needed to show the varieties of a phone, diacritics and other markings are used.
Still, if we're going to use this definition to define /t͡s/ as the "phone" [t͡s], we have to define it as one physical event. If [t] and [s] are defined as distinct events (stop and sibilant), I would argue that /t͡s/ includes two events. I don't believe "phone merging" can exist under this strict definition. /t͡s/ can't be a single phone unless we remove or redefine the "stop" and "sibilant" events.
However, another formal definition includes a listener's perception of the event. Phone merging is possible in this scenario. We can say the stop and sibilant are perceived as one event, in this case.
I prefer the first definition. I feel it's more objective and useful. But that's just my preference, and maybe I'm too strict. Since both definitions can be found in the literature, your argument is both valid and correct as well.
Finally, when talking about things like allophones, what is clearly a group of sound events is sometimes simply referred to as a "phone". As you know, allophones are different "sounds" that speakers hear as the same phoneme. We don't need to distinguish whether those sounds are single or multiple "events". For cases like this, I've seen "phone" defined as a speech segment. This is the vaguest definition, but it's useful to distinguish these "sounds" from phonemes.
I respect your perspective. It's definitely a valid one. It's all in how "phone" is defined.
I also enjoyed your examples of Polish! I've been considering learning it next.
Probably so, although to be fair, even some things considered quite universally to be one sound (plosives like "p" or "t" or "k") in fact consist of different parts, as an example—it's sometimes a bit arbitrary what we consider to be different sounds. But yes, in the context of this discussion, I'd say you have a point.
In Esperanto, c is [ts] pronounced as a single sound and is not split across syllables. Ks is not pronounced as a single sound (so you're right there) and can be split across syllables. For C, you start with a T sound and end with a S sound, gliding between them. For KS, you make K and then an S. I would pronounce ksifio (swordfish) with four syllables. *k·si·fi·o
As I noted earlier (in a response to one of your other comments), if we spelled it ts, words like acero would no longer break across syllables properly (a·ce·ro). Maksimo is divided as mak·si·mo.
Esperanto will be 130 next year. If you want to change the basic rules, you're going to need to work quick on a time machine (and avoid an ontological paradox).
Saying "only Esperantists are able to critique Esperanto" is unfair, is like saying "only Christians are able to critique Christianity", "only Communists are able to critique Communism", or "only fans are able to critique their favourite singer", since all them will only say that what they love is perfect the way it is. Esperanto lovers will never critique what they love either, so claiming that Esperanto is perfect because all their lovers say it's perfect is totally pointless, there must be opinions from supporters and detractors on all topics, that's how freedom of expression works.
I'm not a troll or something, in some of my posts I've said positive things about Esperanto. I don't hate Esperanto, I'm even learning it. I'm just saying my positive and negative impressions about what I'm learning and discovering about Esperanto, and there's nothing wrong about it.
Nobody is saying "only Esperantists can criticize Esperanto". what we are sayindg is that a learner, especially a beginning learner, should wait until they have sufficient knowledge of the language to be able to speak from an informed position. A person on the 6th level of the Duolingo course is not sufficiently knowledgeable.
I still do not quite agree with that, and feel that yes, Zevlag13, as far as I'm concerned, you are free to express your concerns and criticisms already. Perhaps you will adjust them as you learn more, perhaps you will not. I had some concerns when I was at your level, and I did not need to adjust them as I learned more. Either way it's fine, I think.
Oops, John, I looked at the word too quickly, I hadn't heard it before, now I corrected my answer above. ksi-fi-o. The reason is, k and s cannot form an affricate (that's the word) but t and s can (but don't have to). So there is [ts] (two sounds) and [t͡s] (one sound), they're treated as one and two, respectively depending on the language. Your example of syllabification is an excellent one to show that indeed -ts- are two sounds, and -c- is just one. It's not just an orthographic convention, as Zevlag13 says.
And akselo is a perfect example to show that -ks- is two sounds. You would syllabify it as ak-se-lo.
Also in Japanese "tsunami" starts with ONE consonant, not with two. Japanese doesn't allow two consonants at the start of a word (except if the second one is -y-). So it's [t͡sʉ.na.mi], three syllables, every syllable has a CV shape in this word: one consonant, followed by one vowel.
The example of Polish czy vs. trzy has been brought up before, and it's a famous and valid one.
Replying further to JohnD62.
I agree that komencantoj are unlikely to know, at least in detail, how much a given issue has been discussed, and most if not all the time when they suggest some idea, it's not going to be something new. Often times it may be considered to have been 'dismissed' by some, but I think a more realistic interpretation is that these are not discussions that have begun and ended, but are sort of continuously ongoing; such komencantoj, then, are just adding their voices to the mix. What they are contributing, then, is not necessarily a wholly new idea, but just a rebalancing of the opinions on the subject with new voices. I think that's fine, personally.
You make a fair point about it not being a good idea to change the language to such a degree, that it is no longer mutually intelligible with the same language as it used to be. Of course, that only addresses a subset of reform proposals, but for that subset, it is indeed a good point. Also, I too prefer bottom-up approaches in this regard. There are some minor ways that I use the language in non-official ways, although certainly none of them would lead to any major problems in understanding.
But if they were written as ts, they would break across syllable lines.
Since Vortarulo is pointing out that you don't need a glottal stop between the k and s of ksifio (don't know where Vortarulo got "ksiofo"), K and S are definitely separated in the (much more common) word akselo (armpit).
In any case, there's no call for a new orthography for Esperanto; the vast bulk of Esperantists like it as it is just fine.
I own books that are older than Esperanto. I can read them just fine. So should it be for any texts that are less than 150 years old.
And maybe, just maybe, you ought to finish the tree before you feel yourself competent to rewrite the language.
Well, it depends on how you define something as a single sound, then, I suppose—if your criterium is that it never crosses syllable boundaries, then I suppose c represents a single sound; by some other criterium, it may well be two sounds like Zevlag13 said.
I think it's fine for even komencantoj to speculate on and/or critique the language, by the way. After first learning about the sounds, you don't really learn that much more about it, for example. Or if you want to critique the -in suffix not having a masculine equivalent, you can pretty much do that once you learn of this phenomenon in the language.
Also, although I myself do not mind the orthography at all, I have definitely heard a lot of people expressing gripes about it, mostly about the diacritics. I have heard/seen plenty of people say it held them back from really getting into learning the language when they were first attempting it.
I'm replying to VincentOostelbos here.
The problem with komencantoj critiquing the language is that they don't have the body of knowledge to make a worthwhile critique. Most critiques made by komencantoj are things that have been brought up and dismissed for well over a century; in a way, the Ido Schism is always with us.
Complaints about the diacritics started in Zamenhof's lifetime. One of the fiercest critics complained that the six accented letters would damage people's eyesight; he spoke French, which has thirteen.
The early-twentieth-century language inventor Elias Molee had no problem with rendering all prior publication obsolete. He felt that that all countries speaking a Germanic language should adopt his now forgotten pan-Germanic conlang, and if it meant that fifty-year-old books could not longer be understood (because they were in English, or German, or Swedish, and not Teutonish), it would be no great loss.
It seems that a large percentage of Esperanto learners come in with a reformist attitude. They never convince anyone and their reforms are always things that have been rejected for years.
Usually they're looking for top-down adoption of their ideas (there really is no top; that was the issue in 1908 and that will still be the issue in 2018); few are interested in attempting a bottom-up change.
I can easily read Shakespeare from a facsimile of the 1604 printing of Hamlet. Should we render Zamenhof's Hamleto unreadable in a quarter of the time? No reform will be adopted that breaks the language.
Beginners are able to critique those aspects they've already learnt. Thus far, I've critiqued the diacritics letters, the accusative and in a lesser extent, the gender, but that's because you find those aspect of the language in the beginning of your learning. I've heard criticism about the suffix "-ig" and "-igx" and also about the fact Esperanto has too many participles, but since I haven't learn those aspects yet, I'm not critiquing or supporting them until I learn them.
Zevlag13, I never said “only Esperantists can criticize Esperanto,” I said, “one should become an experience Esperanto speaker before suggesting reforms.” And do realize that there’s no body to accept and implement reforms. You might as well use the Duolingo forums to propose a reform of Christianity.
I’m not suggesting that you tamp down your freedom of expression (I’m all for freedom of expression), but I am stating that your repeated reform proposals don’t work (that’s my freedom of expression). Changing the spelling creates a whole new language and renders Esperanto unintelligible.
It’s perfectly okay to say “I wish Zamenhof had…” (I personally wish Zamenhof had regularized the adverbs; Rule 3 is not true. It’s all sort of ironic, since antaŭ is from the Latin ante. That discussion ended in 1895. It was put up for a vote and lost.) It’s fine to say, “I don’t like this part of the language.”
You go one step further to actively provide reform proposals. I pointed out that your change of orthography doesn’t work. No proposed change should break the language. That’s the problem with reforms.
You may make proposals all you like. Others might criticize them as unworkable. And in the end, Esperanto is going to be the same whether you make them or not. I mean, if you want to implement your reforms, go and write a book, Nova Sistemo de Ortografio por Esperanto, in which you use your proposed changes, and when it becomes immensely influential, you’ve succeeded. Put it in practice.
I noticed after finishing this comment that you proposed your orthographic changes three months ago. At that point, I noted the problem with replacing C with TS. You didn't even acknowledge that; you just came back and suggested the same thing again. They make no more sense now than they did three months ago. And I mean that all the way through, including your proposal that knabo become nabo.
The reading of /ch/ depends on the orthgraphic conventions of the language in question. In Esperanto /ĉ/ represents [t͡ʃ] which is pretty close to the cluster /tŝ/ [tʃ]. Likewise /c/ represents [t͡s] which is similar to /ts/ [ts], and /ĝ/ represents [d͡ʒ] which is similar to /dĵ/ [dʒ] .
IMO it would have made more sense to make /ʒ/ [ĵ] be [ẑ] instead so that the /ʒ/ [ẑ] and /z/ [z] pair matched the [ʃ] /ŝ/ and [s] /s/, [t͡ʃ] /ĉ/ and [t͡s] /c/ pairs. It would still leave the ugly [d͡ʒ] /ĝ/ and [d͡z] /dz/ pair though. *shrug*
That's Americanist Phonetic Notation, not IPA.
au is not the same as aŭ. The first one is pronounced more like "Ah-oo," the latter more like "ow." The first is two distinct vowels whereas the latter is a dipthong.
In English we tend to blend vowels but this isn't so for all languages. Japanese, for example, is happy to string multiple distinct vowels together. It's not the most common thing in Esperanto but it does happen.
In my opinion, all the consonant circumflexes need to stay the same. One thing that does need to change is that the u should automatically have the w sound when beside a vowel. For example, is not "au" pronounced the same as "aŭ?" Also, the i should be the y sound when beside a vowel, and let the j be a j like in French.
For speakers in the US, when speaking quickly, a 't' at the end of a word, or before another consonant sound, tends to move towards a glottal stop.
In other words, they often don't say (or they barely say) the /t/, but instead block the air in the back of their throat.
The amount of variation in pronunciation among native English speakers is staggering.
And who's going to pay for reprinting all those books out there (including the ones that are already bought by Esperantists......why should they pay for someone else's caprice?)
and thee is wrong; it won't divide the community. It will decrease it. There will be Esperantists on one side and Neo-idists on the other side.
Probably the same people who paid for reprinting all those German books after the spelling reform around the turn of the century - nobody. Because people can still read the old spelling. It's not so different, after all.
Things were surely worse in places such as Turkey, where the old spelling used a completely different alphabet.
You should think that Zamenhof himself saw that about -iĉ. He chose not to change the language. Why? I don't know, I have some ideas but the thing is that Esperanto could be in many ways, but it is as it is today. And that's no problem. A problem is to think that it's better change it, only because you would have done it in other way. Everybody would have done it in other way. But if you want to speak Esperanto, you accept that iĉ is no Esperanto, and it can't be, because it creates a double gender system. That is not logical and that doesn't make easier the language. That's the fact.
Also remember that to make it “perfect” for you means to make flaw for others. Many people don't like a so regular language. That's your mistake, you think that awful idea will be liked by everyone. You arrived yesterday to this and want to give lessons to teachers.
You don't like it? Two options: to accept it anyway or to take the exit door.
And please just learn a bit of Esperanto history. Ido should be always a warning against reformist attitudes.
Zamenhof did see the thing about -iĉ, except he wanted to use -ir. He ultimately decided against this, wanting to make it work more like most all Indo-european languages and many others work. For example, in English "actor" did, and still usually does refer to male, "actress" female. So an English speaker could just translate "actor" to "aktoro" and "actress" to "aktorino." This provided a closer to 1:1 translation from as many languages as possible than otherwise.
Later on, he kinda reversed his position again, and started using vir- as the male form of -in-. This for a large part caught on, and today most all of Esperanto's root words are gender neutral except a few stubborn ones, such as "viro," "patro," and a few other words where the root meaning is inherently male. So really, Zamenhof was one of the most influential gender reformers of Esperanto.
For example, you don't see "esperantistino" very often in the wild, only "esperantisto." You might see an occasional "esperantistino" when the writer wants to emphasize a female Esperantisto, and you don't as often see "viresperantisto," but it's a valid construction along with, "vira esperantisto." (I suppose esperantistviro would be as valid, but not as conventional, as where the former would be "a male esperantist," this would sound more like "an Esperantist man," -- a difference nuance and one sounds much more natural). Using these, as they might not be the most conventional constructions, you might get a blank look for a moment while the listener tries to figure out what you meant, but I'm sure it'd be understood, and not nearly as controversial as most other attempts at reform.
Actually I was just trying to explain that reformists aren't discovering anything amazing that nobody saw before, and that, what they think it's the only right answer, it's just not, so they aren't right. Their “right“ answer could be chosen in the beginning, but there were more than one right answer and it was chosen one of them. Not a sexist one anyway, only if one self choose to see that. Now it's not the moment to change that, because that change creates problems and specially because it doesn't solve any real problem, just to help aesthetics or to help wrong opinions.
Given that, perhaps the answer is just to say "virpatro" and the like if you mean a male one explicitly. That can hardly be called a reform, after all, especially since affixes are supposed to be productive in Esperanto anyway. I guess "virviro" would be a bit strange, though.
Forget it. First: there is nothing to fix about this. Second: it's easier to accept gepatro (it doesn't change the language and it will be understood). Third: patr- has a male gender, so virpatro is more than redundant. Fourth: Actually, despite the endless discussions, this is not a subject of discussion. That part of the grammar can't be touched. That's all.
But if you touch it, you don't get a better language, you get another language with other reasons to be criticized. You won't get never a better language. Esperanto is not perfect, but to change things for aesthetics is not going to make it better, nor even more beautiful.
And, by the way, any “what if…” thing you can think about this or about any other thing in esperanto has been thinked before. Remember: the language is 128 years old, the people is not blind, and the 99.99% of the discussions are 127 years old + 364 days (more or less). There is no chance for a beginner to say something new about the topic, and there is no chance to find a “solution” for something that is not a real problem.
Yes, and what thee was suggesting is in violation of the "constitution of Esperanto". Patro means "father", not "parent" full stop, case closed.
Now if thee wants to come up with some OTHER (new) word to mean "parent" and use the suffix -icx on that to ALSO mean "father" that still will not change the fact that "patro" means "father" and always will. Just don't be surprised or disappointed when everyone ignores thy pet term and continues to use "patro" for "father" and possibly "gepatro" as "parent." It's already in the PIV and just a matter of time before its use spreads to the wider community.
Right. I'm actually not sure how common vir- is for making male verbs, except for animals and other limited cases. It's only one possibility for constructing sentences, and would be far less controversial than reforms such as -iĉ- (which is regarded as against the fundemento -- the "foundation" of Esperanto that maintains consistency), and one which has precedent. For the most part, it seems that gender of most root words has just became irrelevant. When you go to a restaurant, you ask for a waiter. You don't care if it's a male or female. And this is the presiding state in Esperanto, AFAIK.
Generally, as I've gathered through my 10 years or so of keeping my eye on Esperanto (why oh why have I waited so long to learn it, eterna komencanto forever!), Esperantistoj don't see their language any more sexist than the gendered aspects of natural languages such as Spanish or Russian, usually claiming, "languages aren't sexist, people are." To the speaker, "patrino" isn't a word derived from "patro," women aren't derived from men, it's its own distinct word which just happens have a construction that gives you two words by just knowing one. It's generally a small vocal minority, people new to the language, and misc. outsiders who generally claim it's sexist.
You're not likely to change words such as patro and viro. 1) These already have "official" fundamental definitions, 2) Esperanto is a living language, you're not just going to overwrite how someone says words like "father" and "mother." It'd be like trying to tell an English speakers to startusing "Parentiĉo" and "Parentino" instead of father and mother.
If you want to change these words, your best bet is to keep patro and start using words such as "matro." If others find it helps them better communicate, it'll catch on.
That's the problem with reform, generally. Languages don't exist as a platform for serving your worldview -- they're a consensual tool in which to express and communicate ideas. People generally aren't going to change how they use this tool unless the change benefits their communication. For example, "mojosa" caught on rather quickly because there wasn't a good way to express the concept of "cool." If Esperanto speakers don't see "patro" and "patrino" as hampering their communication, they're probably not going to change it.
IMO, as a komencanto, it's best to accept Esperanto as it is, and if you can't, to go learn a language such as an Ido. Once you gain a degree of proficiency in Esperanto, you've "earned" a position where you're ready to start criticizing the language, suggesting better ways of doing things, and leading others in these changes by example (It's supposedly common to hear -iĉ-, ri, and other "reforms" at Esperanto meetups). As I've said elsewhere, it's probably best "we hold onto that thought" until a later date when we're more knowledgable and experienced on the topic. On the flip side, many who were afraid of sexism in Esperanto often claim that once they've learned the language, they've found it to really be a non-issue.
I just think that, given that Esperanto is a conlang, we have an opportunity to make it better than those natlangs, so as to make it actually less sexist, is all.
No, you don't. Esperanto is a living language. You don't get to just "rewrite it." It's a real language, used by real people. The fact that it's constructed doesn't give you any more right to change it than you have the right to change English. Esperanto doesn't belong to anyone but to every person who speaks it. If you want to make a change, you have to reach a consensus with the speakers of the language. One way to form that consensus is leading by example.
Just because it's a conlang doesn't make it magically changable. To change it would face all the same challenges as changing English. It's not a small project where 15-20 fluent speakers, 30 regular speakers get to play around and change the language as they see fit, followed by a few other hundreds outside of that (such as most other conlangs) -- Esperanto is a living language spoken by 2,000,000+ speakers with estimated 2,000 or so native speakers. Even conservative estimates tend to put Esperanto at a number of speakers equivalent to the number of people who speak Icelandic.
I don't quite agree that there should be some amount of time and study before one unlocks the 'right' to question or criticize.
Right, but understand, we're outsiders right now who can only speculate. And that's fine. Of course we're free, and of course it's good for us to have these ideas now. But as I said, it's probably best "that we hold that thought," until we are no longer outsiders and do have a thorough, contextual understanding backed by experience. We can read all about brain surgery and criticize its practices, but we don't really have much room to be "right" about it until we've gone to medical school and have had experience, until then it's just speculation.
I am in agreement with those people you mentioned who say that Esperanto is no more sexist than [some natural language]. I don't think Esperanto is particularly sexist... I just think that, given that Esperanto is a conlang, we have an opportunity to make it better than those natlangs, so as to make it actually less sexist, is all.
I would even consider "woman" to be kinda sexist as being derived from "man" (although actually, some part of my brain tells me I once learned that wasn't actually the case, in which case it's all good). I'm probably a bit more sensitive to that kind of thing than most. I would even be happy to start using another word for "woman" if it really was derived from "man" and people came up with an alternative that would be reasonably well-recognized. Similarly for my native language of Dutch, if there were something similar. But again, I recognize that you're right, and most people would not be willing, or perhaps even able, to do that.
I don't really like "matro", by the way. It's a different root, and I like that Esperanto allows you to make a lot of words with few roots. I'd be happiest with "patro", "patrino", and "patriĉo". Also would improve ease of expression of a wider range of ideas.
Anyway, yes, there are major practical problems with the concept of reform, of which I am aware. But I think it's fine to discuss these things, so long as it's done respectfully and without hostility, philosophically if nothing else. I think you can accept and question at the same time.
I don't quite agree that there should be some amount of time and study before one unlocks the 'right' to question or criticize. That would just stem the openness of discussion. Anyway, I'm quite certain my position will not change with better knowledge of the language, given that it's the same position that I share about any other language I know, even ones I speak natively.
I was pleased to hear the pronoun "ri" used in an Esperanto song, recently.
Vir-prefix (and associated vira) might not be used, but I think if there's a "reform" to be taken, it's the one. It's use is recommended by the PMEG too if one wants to specify male-ness on a neutral root: http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/o-vortoj/seksa_signifo.html "Seksaj afiksoj"
Vir- as a prefix for persons is almost not used (I actually mean unused, I had to search specifically to find something like that). People use other ways to define the male gender of a person word, when is not defined in the root, and they want to do it (more or less or exactly as in English). Using words that have a neutral gender root is absolutely right to talk about persons in a total neutral way without specify the gender. That today is more or less often but it have been done since the beginning.
That proposal doesn't hold any ground and could be resented against as a gross caricature of their language by outsiders. C in esperanto is NOT shorthand for t-s, even though novices can approximate the sound to begin the time they to accustom their ear to more normal esperanto usage, quite in the same way so many foreigners who have but very vague ideas of what English prononciation is are first given approximations to begin with before being presented more audio-visual material to correct the position of their tongue : the English th as in the or this is quite often described to Italians as a kind of dz because Italian d strikes the tongue right at the point English th does (not English t) and such an approximation from Italians is nearly always well understood by most anglophones. But everyone of you know that th as in this or that is not dz and would be goose-bumped if some dude in the news-world decreed that now onwards the is dze or dzee, this is dzis, and that is dzat to distinguish them better from th as in thick or thorn.
Z, even though by his own admission he could make mistakes sometimes as he was a language teacher and literary creator, not a scientific phonetician, made it very clear that C is not Ts, even though it can be approximated so. Esperanto T and S are both to be articulated with the tip of the tongue touching the upper gums and tooth-roots while the flat of the tongue is detached from the palate (it must be noticed that English t is not pronounced that way -- it is pronounced with the tip of the tongue curled back a little bit where sh, not s is also pronounced -- with the result future usonian Esperantistas do make efforts to correct their dentals to give them a more "latin" sound, and they never mind that effort).
Esperanto C is pronounced with the flat of the tongue touching the front palate while the tip remains dangling, a point of articulation where air will pass whatever your effort to stop it because it is the meeting of two flat surfaces : the sound is by no way a mixture of t and s. Esperanto C is most often present to translate latin c which used to be a back consonant before softening into a more palatal sound like this or like Italian c. Z was Jewish and in Hebrew as well as in yiddish C (noted z) used to have a very distinct point of articulation from s, even standard German z pronounced tz is not German t-s as can show up in so many compounds (german t is always like a strong English t-th compound).
Z even drew illustrations of the tongue to show the elementary sounds to pure extraterrestrials if need be and he made it very clear that C is not shorthand for ts. He noticed that in nearly all European languages such as English X is indeed shorthand for ks (like small-pox which is shorthand for small pocks) and therefore opted not to use the letter x to denote it but to decompose it in its two real phonetic components, either KS as in ekster or GZ as in egzameno. The guy knew what he was doing when on the other hand he deduced he had to make c into one elementary sound letter.
This is a reason why there is no single letter for dz as in edzo. The voiced front palatal counterpart of Esperanto c is cz (not dz), as c forces the following dental to be also front palatal by mechanical necessity. The (now most rare) Esperanto compound ct doesn't result in any kind of ts-t but into a kind of front palatal hard t as often heard in Hebrew and Arabic : Z. had the intention of importing into Esperanto the religious terminology of Rav Hillel, a master of Jewish humanism to oppose to both racist Zionism and racist antisemitism. Hebrew tet can be easily decomposed into Esperanto c and t, it is called an emphatic t. Likewise, the strange Arabic Dad sound as in Ryad is easily decomposed into d-c as it involves both and the tip of the tongue touching the upper gums and then the flat of the tongue touching the upper palate. Z saw no need to introduce Hebrew Q (modern European q is always k pure and simple and qu he opted to render systematically as kv which you can also pronounce kw if you judge it more elegant and easier to utter as is the case in all Slavic languages anyway) as a self-standing letter, because it is a K preceded by a palatal emphasis forcing the K articulation to happen further back, making it most convenient to note it as ck. C is thus a pure self-standing letter, denoting the contact between the flat of the tongue and the roof palate that loses its hissing aspect when followed by a stop, but keeps it when followed by a vowel or another fricative. Unfortunately Z died before he could finish with his religious project which was as extensive as his linguistic one, and would have entailed the importation into Esperanto of quite an array of terms of Hebrew origin. Many of his collaborators were also reluctant to help him in that part of his project as they thought it would endanger Esperanto by presenting as the vector for yet another Jewish conspiracy. The phonetic system as presented by Z was designed in the intention that other sounds from very far away languages and not present in the language proper could be logically decomposed into others present.
Z. made it very clear that the letters Ĉ, Ŝ, Ĝ and Ĵ were all to be pronounced with the tip of the tongue curling up touching the roots of the upper gums nearer the upper palate front cavity, that is to say like the English sounds of ch, sh, soft g and soft si or zh as in vision, which is also the way to pronounce them in slavic languages. It is thus perfectly logical for one who doesn't like diacritics to write the four of them followed by x's rather than crowned with caps in as much as x is a guttural breath forcing the tongue to curl back up. It must be noted that Italian soft c and sc are very different as these are pure back palatal consonants : they can be rather rendered in Esperanto as ĉj and ŝj. HX or even simple x in other positions should be understood as the hard breath ĥ as the very letter in present in Russian as well as in Greek and in the phonetical alphabet by that shape, and likewise w as a possible alternate form to ǔ as it is also found in both English and phonetical alphabet.
But c is not shorthand for ts nor is ĉ shorthand for tŝ, since there is no dental t sound in neither if you happen to have a good, slavic-like prononciation of Esperanto as 90% achieve as by instinct throughout the world without their even realizing the sound quite like Polish (Z.'s native language) : nearly everybody pronounce their mid vowels e and o open as they are in Polish despite their being allowed to pronounce them rather close as they are in most latin languages, and everybody pronounce their ĉ and ŝ retroflex, not back palatal as Italians, Brazilians and Argentines do despite their being quite often of those origins : this is the proof Esperanto does have a soul translating into specific vibrations.
I agree with the -iĉo proposal. It would make Esperanto a gender neutral language. Being neutral is one of the goals of Esperanto, so it makes sense.
And about the diacritics removal, I have a different proposal:
C - TS
Ĉ - C
Ĝ and Ĵ - J
Ĥ - (removed since it's useless)
J - Y
Ŝ - X
Ŭ - W
Your suggestion breaks the language. All of a sudden, texts that are fairly recent become unreadable. Oops.
Your suggestion that C should become TS ignores how words are divided. Let's take a simple acero (maple). Under the rules in Esperanto, the word is divided as a·ce·ro. Under your suggestion, it would be at·ce·ro.
Ivy Kellerman Reed put it (in 1910) that:
a. A single consonant goes the following vowel, as in pa-no, be-la, a-e-ro.
b. A consonant followed by l or r (which are liquids) goes with the l or r, as in ta-blo, a-kra, a-gra-bla.
c. Otherwise, the syllable division is made before the last consonant of the group, as sus-pek-ti, sank-ta, deks-tra.
If Esperanto went for your proposal, in addition to people wondering why they used to say aĉero (among many other words), you would have changed the way in which people pronounce things.