https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt

Esperanto is not Perfect as it is. But...

Bducdt
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Coming to this Esperanto learning community, all I see are tons of posts about "Esperanto is sexist!" "Esperanto needs reform!" So I'm going to address those thoughts for myself.

Of course. Esperanto isn't perfect as it is. It's far from an ideal language. Zamenhof failed to include gender sensitivity as a design feature in the language -- it would've been better if there was a gender-neutral word for "parent" that you tagged -in or -icx onto to make it mother or father. It's biased towards Europeans, with difficult sounds for Asians and an English-heavy vocabulary. And for whatever reason so many people downright despise the hats over the letters. There's many other flaws I'm not knowledgable enough to discuss here.

Esperanto definitely could've been a more ideal language. Any Esperantisto should admit to that. There are ways the language could be more ideal, many reforms it could take. And that's why I'm posting this today.

We know. But this is Duolingo, we're here to learn Esperanto. We all have our own motivations for learning Esperanto, but I think there's generally one thing in common: We hope. "Esperanto" is Esperanto for "One who hopes," and we hope to learn more of other cultures, we hope to find peace, we hope to communicate and travel the world.

But there's all this drama. If you want a gender-neutral, improved orthography language, go learn Ido. It's created by people with the same ideas as you. I intend to learn Ido someday. If Ido doesn't do it, then perhaps you can check the many other Esperantidos. None of those do it? Go to some forum dedicated for these kind of discussions or start your own website where you can share your own Esperantido. Esperanto is already its own language, with its own culture. It's happy as it is and it doesn't want your reforms -- not because they're bad, or because it's rude, but because your reforms are as irrelevant to this living language as proposed "one letter one sound" spelling changes are to the majority of English speakers.

But maybe Duolingo isn't the best place for you to criticize and argue and bicker about Esperanto. We aren't here to here to see the light regarding Esperanto. We're here because we hope that Esperanto can enrich our lives and the world. We're here because we have hope in Esperanto, as it is, despite its flaws. And we know it's a flawed language, we know it's not perfect as it is. But, regardless, we hope.

3 years ago

32 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/BastouXII
BastouXII
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That's honestly the most sensible thing I've read on the subject in a very long time. Thank you, Bducdt! I needed this after all the useless and immature drama that happened out of late on Duolingo and since Esperanto was created in the late 19th century!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt
Bducdt
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I'm glad this helped your morale!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LazyRavenclaw

Here here!

Perfection is a goal, not a destination, and perfection itself is in the eye of the beholder. Esperanto is never going to be 'perfect' because there will always be differences among people about just what 'perfect' is. Some people will never be content. Are there still gender issues that need to be addressed in our society? Yes. Is re-fighting the Ido wars in any way going to help the issue? No.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hotrootsoup

Just FYI, the phrase is "Hear, hear!" not "Here, here!"

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt
Bducdt
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Since this is text shouldn't it be, "Read, read!"?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CliffJonesJr
CliffJonesJr
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You really should "lead by example" instead of forcing your prescriptivist opinions on others. :^P

I'm just kidding. You like the expression the traditional way instead of the consistently more popular way (see this graph). You're free to voice that opinion all you want to steer the language in the direction you want it to go.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hotrootsoup

I'm not sure what ratio of Pre/Des I am, but in this case I think one answer is simply more logical than the other. "Here here" doesn't make sense. The phrase has nothing to do with physical location. "Hear hear" is a command to listen to a speaker.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CliffJonesJr
CliffJonesJr
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Phrases like that don't get petrified and preserved as unanalyzed chunks because they make sense. More often than not, they make no literal sense to modern speakers, but they get used and passed along just the same.

I'd argue that this phrase is often interpreted and passed on as "here here" because you so rarely hear "hear" in isolation without an object and "here" makes a little sense, as if the first speaker were implicitly asking the question, "Does anyone agree with me?" and others respond with something akin to "Right here! I do!"

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt
Bducdt
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"Re-fighting the Ido wars" is a great way to put it. But you're right-on with fleeting perfection. Just commenting to let you know your comment was read and appreciation.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

I haven't seen too many other discussions about changing Esperanto except the one that I started (Gender and Esperanto), and one of the response threads to it which had a similar point as you. As such, I can't speak to the other discussions you are mentioning. This has been my experience with this topic:

For me, the purpose of asking about things that I perceive in a certain way isn't to change or reform the language. I recognize that I don't really understand it yet, which is why I was asking the questions I was (which were not just about sexism, but also about how nonbinary identities fit into the language).

It's not so much "I noticed these things and they need to be changed" but rather "I noticed these things, how do these topics interact with the language?"

There was a lot of really positive feedback from people in the "Gender and Esperanto" thread. Many people mentioned how our perception of perceived "flaws" can be altered merely by teaching it differently (as opposed to changing the language itself), and pointing out cultural differences that might not be readily apparent to a beginner.

There is more to learning a language than vocabulary and grammar. These things ARE important to discuss, not necessarily in the spirit of changing the language itself, but in the spirit of understanding it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt
Bducdt
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Well, I know right after Duolingo Esperanto course was launched, there was some controversy, and every time I checked back there was some. But the problem exists on other sites as well (which this was also written to address).

And no, you weren't talking about reform. You did rub me in a few ways, but I'm not going to discuss that here. Overall, you did seem to focus on an other-than-"change-the-language!" context. And as I've said elsewhere, I do appreciate these kind of discussions. They are important to have. I read through your's and your's was more relevant to a learner's forum, asking from a learner's perspective.

As you mentioned: understanding. There is communicating these ideas in the context of enforcing change, and there is the context of understanding. One of these will be much more well received than the other.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sesflankoj

Would it be helpful to have an objective [STICKY] FAQ from the moderators regarding Language Reforms and direct people to resources where such discussions would be "on topic"? Perhaps it would help to reduce the conflict level in these discussion threads?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt
Bducdt
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I really don't know. It may be that eventually we'll get tired of this at Duolingo and it won't be an issue. Maybe we won't. These topics have been quite controversial, starting flame wars, pretty much since Esperanto was created. The Esperanto community here is rather young, what has it been, about two months? We might reach an equilibrium. On the flip side, Duolingo has a relatively high turnover rate -- it's quite possible newcomers will continuously bring these issues up, forever rekindling the flames.

I've only been watching Esperanto on Duolingo consistently for a very short time. I do know it blew up something like 3 days after the course release, and at least the 3 other times over the past two months that I've checked the discussions before this past week where I've became more active.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/arthur0703
arthur0703
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Oh, it's the best thing I have read this week, thank you a lot!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt
Bducdt
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You're welcome!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JackBrooks1

I might not be paying attention, but I am busily trying to maintain work/life balance, while spending a lot of time at the gym, and I am learning a language while I am at it.

Who has the time to crusade against perceived injustices in an auxiliary language on top of that?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt
Bducdt
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Luckily, this debate is only a small portion of the Esperanto community. Most members are just like you, and this debate is reserved for pedants, SJWs (for lack of better term), and those who have nothing better to do but spend time wasted on the internet discussing these things (which, I think is actually fun!).

Most people in the Esperanto community are just like you: they have lives, and want to participate in a fun community where they can interact with many cultures and sit around hoping for world peace and cool stuff like that.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
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pedants, SJWs (for lack of better term), and those who have nothing better to do but spend time wasted on the internet discussing these things

Oy! I resemble those remarks.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/danielqsc
danielqsc
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Am I the only one that doesn't really care about that "gender problem" in Esperanto? Even if words were mainly feminine and needed a suffix to become masculine, I wouldn't feel that we men are made "inferior" by that.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zerozeroone
zerozeroone
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Well, have you ever experienced any discrimination? It's pretty easy to go "there's no problem" until you've been bitten by it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/danielqsc
danielqsc
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Yes, I have, but it wasn't related to sex or gender, so I think this isn't what you asked. But, anyway, why do you think the "gender problem" is really a problem? I don't think it is because I haven't seen any convincent argument about that, and because I think that words become feminine derivating from masculine words not because "women are inferior" or "depend on men to exist/survive", but just because it's easier to remember them this way. (Yes, they don't have to derivate from masculine words same way that "malvarma" doesn't need to derivate from "varma", it could be the opposite. But, again, I don't really think it's discrimination; but I would love to see an argument about this matter)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zerozeroone
zerozeroone
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So, when you experienced it...did you go "There's nothing wrong with what those people did because it's traditional?" Or did you go, "That's horrible?" Personally, I'm on the that's horrible side.

I think it's a problem because I read. I can't help it. If somebody starts talking about something like "unmarked and marked words", the odds are good I'll look up an article or two about it. Doesn't mean I'll agree...but in this case, I do.

And, in Esperanto, it's not just gender; there are people who complain that maldekstra is biased against left-handed people.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
jirka92122
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Languages do not discriminate, people do. Note that for example probably some of the nations with the most gender equality (e.g. scandinavia) do have genders in the language, which could also be argued to be heavily skewed towards the male gender (far more so than say english which does not have grammatical gender). Arabic has grammatical gender, but it seems far more symmetric than most european languages. That doesn't seem to help the position of women in Saudi Arabia. If you want to fight discrimination, fight discrimination (and there is a lot of it). Making changes to Esperanto genders will do absolutely nothing against discrimination, neither short nor long term. By the way, there are very few gendered words left in Esperanto. If enough people will see it as a problem (I doubt it), something like iĉismo will catch on. Note that if you read something written using iĉismo you'll probably not even notice it. There will likely be more grammatical errors and typos in an article than there are uses of the -iĉ affix.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/zerozeroone
zerozeroone
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Languages do not discriminate, people do.

Ah yes. Guns don't kill people, people do.

However, did you ever notice that armies always seem to have an awful lot of guns?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Piturnah
Piturnah
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I don't know why you're getting so many downvotes

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/danielqsc
danielqsc
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So, when you experienced it...did you go "There's nothing wrong with what those people did because it's traditional?" Or did you go, "That's horrible?" Personally, I'm on the that's horrible side.

Where did I say that tradition makes wrong things become right?!? I only saw that I just can't see any discrimination in Esperanto's affixes system. I didn't say that "it's ok to discriminate people because it's traditional"; I said that, for me, there's no discrimination in derivating feminine (or masculine) words from masculine (or feminine) ones.

And, as Jiri Lebl said here, languages don't discriminate - only people can do it. Making changes to Esperanto genders will do absolutely nothing against discrimination, neither short nor long term. (And "'maldekstra' is biased against left-handed people"? Sorry if you're one of those who believe it, but it's ridiculous to me. It's the same as saying that "mallumo" is discriminatory against people who like darkness, or that "maljuna" is biased against old-aged people...)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/danielqsc
danielqsc
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...which, as an aside, you never did answer.

However, I have know people who are willing to justify discrimination on that ground.

So I'll answer it now: I don't think it's right to discriminate. And I don't think Esperanto's affix system is discriminatory.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gxxsh
gxxsh
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hear hear. hilarious to hear men who don't care about sexism in the language. "i just want to have fun with this auxiliary language!" well if you're a true Esperantist that wants to spread Esperanto, surely you would be worried about the alienating effects of said language, rather than just lazily say "oh but that's how the language already is"

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Piturnah
Piturnah
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What about gender neutral versions though? To me it makes more sense to have the root gender neutral with endings for both male and female

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jirka92122
jirka92122
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Well the problem is overstated. There is iĉismo which does just that. There's only a few dozen words where that makes a difference, and possibly in a generation or two of speakers this may be the "standard" Esperanto (or not). I've seen/heard quite a few people online use iĉismo, and most of the time you don't really notice, since 99% of the time you don't need to specify either -ino nor -iĉo anyway. And when it does come up, I don't really see it leading to misunderstandings anyway. Anyway, it's a language. What's "standard" is what people use. Feel free to use iĉismo. Quite a few people already do. And it gives some people on the internet something to complain about when they are bored.

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dellabitzke
dellabitzke
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I will say that other than the way Esperanto handles gender distinction, the orthography (i.e. the extra characters, which I object to all of them in some way except for ĉ and ŝ), and the inclusion of the almost completely useless accusative case (i know it is supposed to allow for freer word order, but all it does is create an extra barrier for learners, and is a feature that native speakers frequently leave out other than more formal speech from what I can see), I do believe that Esperanto is an otherwise finely tuned constructed language that is important to learn for anyone caring about globalization. It's easier to learn than our current lingua franca (english), and is intended to have elements recognizable to someone from all cultures (well at least Europe but still).

6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mirville2
Mirville2
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I agree. But it is also true that contrary to other constructed languages Esperanto does evolve : like the compound verbs like skribintas that were not foreseen by Zamenhof but proved perfectly logical within the strict rules of the Fundamento. Esperanto also did pick up some traits and ideas developed by Ido that proved to be compatible, and another big step of evolution was the importation of a complete Hinayana buddhist terminology from Pali and Sanskrit as I have just checked out in the most recent edition of the HIV dictionary. Esperanto speakers around the world do agree upon progressive changes to the main vocabulary.

3 months ago
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