Esperanto: The International Language

By Billy Pierre, Staff Writer

Saluton! What if we could all say hello in a single language? What if all the languages of the world could combine into one that everybody can understand? What if the United Nations could meet without interpreters because all participants from all countries could speak the same language? Globalization would be considered a winner without a shadow of a doubt. It is often said that with an “if” we can put the world in a bottle, a way to assess the realm of the impossible. But as ambitious as the idea of having a single language can be, it is far from being a delusion. Creating a language internationally-spoken was, in fact, the intention of Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof when he built this language. The following lines intend to describe Esperanto, a natural language to learn according to the people who speak it.

As surprising as it might sound, the world has been speaking Esperanto for over 130 years. According to the encyclopedia Britannica Academic, it was constructed in 1887 by a Polish oculist, L.L. Zamenhof. The goal was to “create a flexible and easy language that will act as the universal second language and foster peace and international understanding,” according to World Atlas. Hence, the language was initially called the “International Language, before they started calling it Esperanto in 1889. About a couple of decades later, Zamenhof published his Fundamento de Esperanto “which lays down the basic principles of the language’s structure and formation” (Britannica).

Esperanto is designed to be a language easy to learn. Like most creole languages, the orthography in the Esperanto language is phonetic. The alphabet has 28 letters. According to the adepts of this international language, Esperanto is “relatively quick to pick up.” Raul Garcia, 32, the vice president of the Esperanto club in New City attests that lack of gender cases and conjugation make it “mind-blowingly practical.” The Britannica Academics encyclopedia states that the grammar is straightforward, and all the conjugation tenses are regular. All the names are marked with an o-ending. The ending is changed into “oj” to form their plural. For instance, the word friend is “amiko” and its plural form is “amikoj.” In Esperanto, la is the only definite article. The same way, adjectives are indicated by their a-ending, and that changes to “aj” to indicate a plural form. Therefore, we would say la bonaj amikoj estas tie (the good friends are there).

As easy as it is to learn Esperanto, we must admit that European speakers have an advantage in learning it. In facts, Esperanto derived from the European Romance languages. From this perspective, Esperanto can be considered as a form of European creole language. Per definition, Creole is “a language that developed from contact between speakers of different languages and that serves as the primary means of communication for a particular group of speakers.” However, the only difference is the fact that Esperanto did not develop on its own but instead was intentionally created.

Courtesy of António Martins

The Esperanto language has its flag also, called la Esperanto-flago. The flag has two colors: green symbolizes hope and white symbolizes peace. This flag has been around since 1893. It has since been slightly modified by replacing the E, in the middle of the white square, by a star in 1905. It appears that some Esperantists do not like the idea of having a flag because of the connotations that are usually assigned to flags. Flags are supposed to be the symbol of a unique country while Esperanto was intended to be used internationally. As of today, Esperanto is spoken by more than 2 million people globally, which makes it the most popular constructed-language in the world.

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