Esperanto is not Perfect as it is. But...
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!"
"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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Well, have you ever experienced any discrimination? It's pretty easy to go "there's no problem" until you've been bitten by it.
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)
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.
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.
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?
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...)
...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.
Where did I say that tradition makes wrong things become right?!?
I never said you did say that. I asked if that was a way that you could have felt...which, as an aside, you never did answer.
However, I have know people who are willing to justify discrimination on that ground. (Unfortunately, some are relatives so I have to be reasonably nice.)
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"
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
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.
If only you hadn't included the fifth paragraph...
Is there too much drama going on the DuoLingo comment boards now? Yes. Is throwing up one's hands and saying "Oh, it's pointless trying to improve anything" a good solution. No.
Esperanto is already its own language, with its own culture. It's happy as it is and it doesn't want your reforms
"Esperanto" isn't happy, because it's a language. A subset of people who speak Esperanto are happy with the current usage...and a different subset of people who speak Esperanto want to change things(1). In other words, just like every other language. There are people who speak English who want to be racist and sexist and there are people who speak English who want to reform the language to eliminate, as much as possible, racist and sexist terms.
-- 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.
And here is where you shoot yourself in the foot. Spelling reform in English (while much needed) is not the equivalent to allowing dignity to everyone regardless of race, creed, or gender. Not in morals, nor in difficulty.
And I admit it's hard. Nobody likes being told "you're wrong".
(1) Well, except for the ones driven away by the attitude of "Esperantistoj". I went to Lernu! and for a site that's supposed to be about learning the tone in the English forum brought to mind sticks firmly jammed all the way in.
is not the equivalent to allowing dignity to everyone regardless of race, creed, or gender. Not in morals, nor in difficulty.
I assume you're saying that Esperanto is free to be changed? You missed the part prior to what you quoted of me, "Esperanto is already its own language." You don't just "simply change it." Can changes be made? Yes. Over time, with the basis of understanding -- in the same manner we now tend to say "police officer" instead of "police man" now. But you can't will Esperanto to be a better language. It has over a hundred years of momentum. People seem to think that because it's an "invented language" it can be willed into changes in manners that Russian or English or other languages can't.
A subset of people who speak Esperanto are happy with the current usage...and a different subset of people who speak Esperanto want to change things
And see above -- changes aren't going to be made by proselytizing. They aren't going to be made by individuals trying to force changes onto other users. It's common to hear -iĉo and other affixes intended to make the language "closer to ideal" at Esperanto meet ups. These tend to be people leading by example, and they aren't a problem. It's similar as an author using "her" instead of "he" when talking about an unspecified third party in English. People tend to respect people for this, follow their example at best, and tend to ignore it at worst. There are of course people who are offended by this, but they're the minority.
But even these individuals have accepted the language in its current form as something they can hope upon. They are happy with the language as it is, and they make their own contributions in manners that they hope can excel and create a brighter future for Esperanto and the world.
Is throwing up one's hands and saying "Oh, it's pointless trying to improve anything" a good solution. No.
As I've mentioned elsewhere in this thread, in these discussion forums, and as my argument meant to imply: I welcome criticisms to the language, I welcome trying to improve it. But we're not here to improve the language. We're here to learn it. Casual discussion regarding potential improvements are fine. But every third post being about reform / what's wrong with Esperanto is excessive. Being unable to ever mention you're learning Esperanto without a ❤❤❤❤ storm brewing pretty much anywhere on the internet or IRL is frustrating. We get Esperanto could be more ideal. Zamenhof knew Espernato could be more ideal. But just let us learn the language, ❤❤❤❤❤❤.
Edit: An example of a reform that has happened in Esperanto: First of all, Zamonhof proposed using -ur- as a gender-neutral analog to -in-, but this was rejected as, presumably, la Fundamento was already established. Later, it was generally understood that most words were male-rooted. However, Zamonhof disagreed with this approach, and started treating roots, where possible, as neutral-gendered, prefixing male-specifics with vir- just as one would affix -in for female-specifics. He started writing this way in his examples in the early 1900s, and other writers followed suite. Except for a few words, most all "core" words in Esperanto now are gender-neutral. This is a great way of illustrating how reform is best progressed in Esperanto: 1) by not willing the change into the language, but leading by example, and 2) by not violating la Fundamento.
in the same manner we now tend to say "police officer" instead of "police man" now.
I'm not 100% on this but I'm pretty sure that in many places that's the result of prescribing rules in various workplaces and institutions rather than a change that magically happened on its own.
Unfortunately, something I've notice on NZ news shows, is that now Police Officer is only ever used if referring to a male police officer and whenever a female office is referred to the presenters seem to feel the need to specify Female Police Officer, even when unimportant. That euphemism treadmill.
that's the result of prescribing rules in various workplaces and institutions
Which act as individuals. It could be argued they led by example. They aren't a linguistic authority. The average person was still free to use the word "police man." Over time, they felt the need for a more inclusive word, and adopted police officer.
is that now Police Officer is only ever used if referring to a male police officer and whenever a female office is referred to the presenters seem to feel the need to specify Female Police Officer
IMO, it's probably because non-sexist lexicon doesn't mean a non-sexist usage. Say "Police officer," which is itself a neutral word, and the average person will still masculinize it, assuming male until shown otherwise. And many people probably use "female police officer" because, in their minds, they need to distinguish from their own sexist usage. Unfortunately, that's how most languages work. (On the flip side, say "domestic worker," and the average person will probably assume female until shown to be male).
Experiment: Google image search non-sexist words. See which ones are largely represented by male or female.
I can't tell if you're agreeing with me or not...because you're giving examples of exactly what I'm saying. People, on their own, improving the language incrementally by using -iĉo or the such.
But, this feels besides the point. My original point of this post is that these discussions like we're having now are a distraction to our goal here on Duolingo and other learning communities: We want to learn the language, not deal with how imperative these reforms / changes are.
A bit of agreement and a bit of disagreement. If any change contradicts the Fundamento, I disagree with it (maybe someday it can be changed, to reflect a natural, widespread change of the language). Change is good, and it should be encouraged. I agree with that. That change can be pressed on a language authoritatively, as many komencantoj seem to have the idea of being possible, or that many reformers try to demand, I disagree with.
Ultimately we're in a learners forum, so reform proposals pertaining to Esperanto have no business here and, for me personally, seeing beginners and even those who have yet to take the first step towards learning the language proposing fundamental changes to their target language is ridiculous. Living languages, which, despite its origin, Esperanto certainly counts itself among in the present day, are changed by speakers, not proposals left to a yay or nay vote. Masses of komencantoj who can't express themselves in the langauge demanding fluent speakers of Esperanto change the language to better accommodate their values/desire for social justice/whatever, will have zero impact on the language long term. If those masses of komencantoj eventually progressed in to fluent speakers and put their desired changes in to practice in every day speech a change may actually occur within esperanto (or we'll have another esperanto/ido schism and one will eventually fade out), be the "reforms" kontrauxfundamento or not.
I agree! As non-speakers of the language, we don't yet have a grasp on the nuances of the language, and we don't have the experience to determine which reforms really are beneficial. I've not discussed this as I'm not fond of saying, "You are a beginner and therefore your thought is not valid," but there is definitely an aspect, "Hold onto that thought until we're proficient speakers of the language."
Many seem to argue that the existence of -in means all root words are inherently male, for example, which is just an absurd notion. Or demanding a gender-neutral pronoun, whereas I understand "ĝi" fits that bill just fine for when a speaker doesn't care to specify a gender -- it seems that translating ĝi to "it" in English turns them off of it, as "it" is generally reserved for things. If this is the case, it shows a lack of proficiency in the language.
What's further absurd is that it seems that about half of the people criticizing Esperanto don't even have an interest in learning it, either dismissing it entirely or demanding that the language must change for them to accept it, an entirely arrogant, self-centered, ridiculous stance.
Go to Ido and you got it. It's very funny when people is talking about egalitarianism and they chose what is acceptable and what is not. If you want to be coherent with your words, you just can't choose speak Esperanto at all.
And keep this in mind, -iĉ can help a lot sexism against women. You actually are just giving tools to sexist people. But when we chose what we want to see, and what don't…
You see arguing and bickering; I see apparently genuine criticisms, stated in non-inflammatory ways, down-voted and responded to with whinging and whining. I'm a total outsider here so my opinion surely won't count for much, but if you're interested at all in advocacy then I'd suggest acting a little less shrill when confronted with minor criticism.
That makes me less eager to investigate Esperanto, not the criticisms themselves.
First, I ask you to take a look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1NhcUPdWTg
Now the rest of my comment.
Well, your post is ignoring that I'm acknowledging that some of these criticisms do carry weight.
But I think you're missing some context. It's almost impossible to say, "I want to learn Esperanto" without someone starting a flame war. In real life the response you get is, "Why would you want to learn a made up language? No one speaks it." Online, you get every person coming out of the woodwork, who have no interest learning the language themselves, start criticizing the hell out of it. Some of these criticisms hold water. Some of them are just annoying. You get told, "You're stupid and you're a horrible person because you want to learn Esperanto, not (insert some other conlang here).
Let's consider you want to learn Russian, and you go to a Russian learning community, and all you see are posts talking about how sexist, horrible, ill devised language Russian is. None of these posts matter to you. You don't care. You want to learn Russian, as it is. Why? Many reasons. Maybe you want to connect to your heritage. Maybe you want to move to Russia. You don't care how "right or wrong" Russian is, you just want to talk to your Russian girlfriend in her native tongue, ❤❤❤❤❤❤.
It seems Esperanto, being an "invented language," makes people think it's alright to criticize it in a more casual way than other living languages such as English and Russian.
I enjoy criticism. I enjoyed participating in those discussions. But it's also disheartening when all the discussion is about how the language you want to learn is flawed. We don't care. We want to learn Esperanto, not hear about the merits of Esperantidoj (Esperanto derivatives) or hear about how Esperanto could've been a better language. My posting here is to address that: We think Esperanto can inch us closer to our hopes and dreams, and we want to learn it to support that.
Duolingo is not a "Let's discuss the merits and demerits of Esperanto" community. It's a "Let's learn Esperanto" community. I do welcome conversations of criticism, of ways to improve Esperanto, of its rough spots. However, I really don't think this is the place where every third post should be about how Esperanto is wrong. There's other communities which serve the purposes of that.
And there's a little context with most of the downvotes you've probably seen lately: a particular group of people "invaded" the Duolingo Esperanto community to spread their own Esperantido. They seemed to contribute little to learning Esperanto, but a whole lot of criticism of it in an attempt to proselytize. And it seems every couple of weeks this community, associated FB community, and other Esperanto learning communities gets hit by a few particular trolls who contribute little but do cause a lot of grief.
Essentially: My OP isn't about that criticisms exist, or people criticize it. It's that people won't let learners' communities be learners' communities.
Well, I'm just calling it how I -- an outsider with a mild interest in someday investigating Esperanto -- see it. If you want Esperanto culture to seem inviting then you've not been successful (IME). But in response to this:
"And there's a little context with most of the downvotes you've probably seen lately: a particular group of people "invaded" the Duolingo Esperanto community to spread their own Esperantido."
I've never invaded any community ... and my comment has been voted to -15. That doesn't seem like an openness to criticism to me.
If you're genuinely interested in discouraging discussion except as it relates to language learning, you'll have to change the culture around here or encourage the moderators to change the rules. That's just not the case for Esperanto or for any other language that's represented in these forums.
I believe they downvoted you because they felt they felt they have been misrepresented. You did call them whingers and winers.
But if you dig around, there's been a lot of criticisms of Esperanto that get upvoted. I have a lot of discussions where I criticize Esperanto and still get plenty of upvotes. There's many places where you can find great, heathy discussion going on about controversial topics over the past two months.
Consider this thread: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9279462
Very few comments are downvoted in those threads. Why? They are threads of primarily understanding. No one had to defend their identity. No one was placed in a position where they had to defend themselves. It's a healthy clash of ideas, not people. The only one downvoted to hell was one who's argument seemed to be associated with "the invaders"
There were some bad comments from both sides. But, you have been down voted I believe because your comment seems to be trying to (re)start an argument and it included (somewhat mild) insults. Yours was not a constructive criticism, it was a subjective opinion of the discussion and its participants on one side. I think people down vote if something does not seem to be adding anything to the discussion. It is not a personal attack or being vindictive (it may be by some, but I would hope not by most).
Plus the point of this post (and thread) was that this is an inappropriate place for this discussion (either civil or uncivil). In a same way if you went to a third grade (US) history classroom and started arguing with the teacher that the founding fathers were in fact promoting slavery. You might well be right, but it would be very inappropriate. There are appropriate forums for these kinds of arguments, this is not one of them.
That's you. I know a lot of people that wouldn't learn Esperanto only because the typical endless discussions. They are embarrassing for the language, specially reformism is embarrassing and harmful.