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Flag of Esperanto
Created by L. L. Zamenhof
Date founded 1887
Setting and usage International auxiliary language
Total speakers Native: 200 to 2000 (1996, est.);
Fluent speakers: est. 100,000 to 2 million (in about 115 countries)[1]
Category (purpose) constructed language
Category (sources) Vocabulary from Romance and Germanic languages; phonology from Slavic languages
Regulated by Akademio de Esperanto
Language codes
ISO 639-1 eo
ISO 639-2 epo
ISO 639-3 epo

About this sound Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language.[2] Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto, the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887. The word esperanto means "one who hopes" in the language itself. The language's original name was "La Internacia Lingvo."[3] Zamenhof's goal was to create an easy to learn and politically neutral language that would serve as a universal second language to foster peace and international understanding.[4] Esperanto has between 100,000 and 2 million speakers in about 115 countries, and approximately one thousand native speakers,[5] i.e. people who learned Esperanto as one of their native languages from their parents. Although no country has adopted the language officially, Esperanto did get official recognition by UNESCO in 1954.[6] Today, Esperanto is employed in world travel,[7] correspondence, cultural exchange, conventions, literature, language instruction,[8] television,[9] movies,[10] and radio broadcasting.[11] The first international Esperanto congress was organized in France, Boulogne-sur-Mer, in 1905. Since then international conferences and meetings have been organized around the world with Esperanto every year.[12] At least one major search engine, Google, offers searching of Esperanto-related websites via an Esperanto portal.[13]

There is evidence that learning Esperanto may provide a good foundation for learning languages in general.[14] Esperanto is also the language of instruction in one university, the Akademio Internacia de la Sciencoj in San Marino.[15]



The first Esperanto book by L. L. Zamenhof

Esperanto was created in the late 1870s and early 1880s by Dr. Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Jewish ophthalmologist from Bialystok, at the time part of the Russian Empire. According to Zamenhof, he created this language to foster harmony between people from different countries. His feelings and the situation in Bialystok may be gleaned from an extract from his famous letter to Nikolai Borovko:[16]

The place where I was born and spent my childhood gave direction to all my future struggles. In Bialystok the inhabitants were divided into four distinct elements: Russians, Poles, Germans and Jews; each of these spoke their own language and looked on all the others as enemies. In such a town a sensitive nature feels more acutely than elsewhere the misery caused by language division and sees at every step that the diversity of languages is the first, or at least the most influential, basis for the separation of the human family into groups of enemies. I was brought up as an idealist; I was taught that all people were brothers, while outside in the street at every step I felt that there were no people, only Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews and so on. This was always a great torment to my infant mind, although many people may smile at such an 'anguish for the world' in a child. Since at that time I thought that 'grown-ups' were omnipotent, so I often said to myself that when I grew up I would certainly destroy this evil.
—L. L. Zamenhof, in a letter to one N. Borovko, ca. 1895

After some ten years of development, which Zamenhof spent translating literature into Esperanto as well as writing original prose and verse, the first book of Esperanto grammar was published in Warsaw in July 1887. The number of speakers grew rapidly over the next few decades, at first primarily in the Russian Empire and Eastern Europe, then in Western Europe, the Americas, China, and Japan. In the early years, speakers of Esperanto kept in contact primarily through correspondence and periodicals, but in 1905 the first world congress of Esperanto speakers was held in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. Since then world congresses have been held in different countries every year, except during the two World Wars. Since the Second World War, they have been attended by an average of over 2,000 and up to 6,000 people.

Relation to 20th-century totalitarianism

As a potential vehicle for international understanding, Esperanto attracted the suspicion of many totalitarian states. The situation was especially pronounced in Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.

In Germany, there was additional motivation to persecute Esperanto because Zamenhof was Jewish. In his work, Mein Kampf, Hitler mentioned Esperanto as an example of a language that would be used by an International Jewish Conspiracy once they achieved world domination.[17] Esperantists were killed during the Holocaust, with Zamenhof's family in particular singled out for murder.[18]

In the early years of the Soviet Union, Esperanto was given a measure of government support, and an officially recognized Soviet Esperanto Association came into being.[19] However, in 1937, Stalin reversed this policy. He denounced Esperanto as "the language of spies" and had Esperantists exiled or executed. The use of Esperanto was effectively banned until 1956.[19]

After the Spanish Civil War, Francoist Spain persecuted the Anarchists and Catalan nationalists among which Esperanto was extended[20] but in the 1950s, the Esperanto movement was tolerated again.

Official use

Esperanto has never been an official language of any recognized country. However, there were plans at the beginning of the 20th century to establish Neutral Moresnet as the world's first Esperanto state. Qian Xuantong, a Chinese linguist, promoted the replacement of Chinese with Esperanto.[21] In addition, the self-proclaimed artificial island micronation of Rose Island used Esperanto as its official language in 1968.

The U.S. Army has published military phrasebooks in Esperanto,[22] to be used in wargames by mock enemy forces. In the summer of 1924, the American Radio Relay League adopted Esperanto as its official international auxiliary language, and hoped that the language would be used by radio amateurs in international communications, but its actual use for radio communications was negligible.

Esperanto is the working language of several non-profit international organizations such as the Sennacieca Asocio Tutmonda; most others are specifically Esperanto organizations. The largest of these, the World Esperanto Association, has an official consultative relationship with the United Nations and UNESCO. Esperanto is also the first language of teaching and administration of one university, the International Academy of Sciences San Marino.

Linguistic properties


As a constructed language, Esperanto is not genealogically related to any ethnic language. It has been described as "a language lexically predominantly Romanic, morphologically intensively agglutinative, and to a certain degree isolating in character".[23] The phonology, grammar, vocabulary, and semantics are based on the western Indo-European languages. The phonemic inventory is essentially Slavic, as is much of the semantics, while the vocabulary derives primarily from the Romance languages, with a lesser contribution from the Germanic languages. Pragmatics and other aspects of the language not specified by Zamenhof's original documents were influenced by the native languages of early speakers, primarily Russian, Polish, German, and French.

Typologically, Esperanto has prepositions and a free pragmatic word order that by default is subject-verb-object. Adjectives can be freely placed before or after the nouns they modify, though placing them before the noun is more common. New words are formed through extensive prefixing and suffixing.

Writing system

Esperanto is written with a modified version of the Latin alphabet, including six letters with diacritics: ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ (with circumflex) and ŭ (with breve). The alphabet does not include the letters q, w, x, or y except in unassimilated foreign names.

The 28-letter alphabet is:

a b c ĉ d e f g ĝ h ĥ i j ĵ k l m n o p r s ŝ t u ŭ v z

All letters are pronounced approximately as in the IPA, with the exception of c and the letters with diacritics:

Letter c ĉ ĝ ĥ ĵ ŝ ŭ
Pronunciation [ts] [tʃ] [dʒ] [x] [ʒ] [ʃ] [u̯]
(in diphthongs)

Writing diacritic letters

The letters with diacritics (found in the "Latin-Extended A" section of the Unicode Standard) once caused problems with printing and computing. This was particularly true with the five letters with circumflexes, as they do not occur in any other language. The diacritics are normally only a problem now with computing situations such as internet chat groups and databases that are limited to ASCII characters.

There are two principal workarounds to this problem, which substitute digraphs for the accented letters. Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto, created an "h-convention", which replaces ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, and ŭ with ch, gh, hh, jh, sh, and u, respectively. A more recent "x-convention" has gained ground since the advent of computing. This system replaces each diacritic with an x after the letter, producing the six digraphs cx, gx, hx, jx, sx, and ux. This latter system is useful for automated alphabetic word sorting, as each letter with a diacritic is ordered correctly after the preceding letter: for example, cxa comes correctly after cu, just as ĉa would. This system is also useful for simple computerized conversion back into the standard orthography, as there is no ambiguity.

There are computer keyboard layouts that support the Esperanto alphabet, and some systems use software that automatically substitutes x- or h-convention digraphs with the corresponding diacritic letters. One example of this is EK for Microsoft Windows.


(For help with the phonetic symbols, see Help:IPA)

Esperanto has 22 consonants, 5 vowels and 2 semivowels that combine with the vowels to form 6 diphthongs. (The consonant [j] and semivowel [i̯] are both written with the letter j.) Tone is not used to distinguish meanings of words. Stress is always on the penultimate vowel in fully Esperanto words unless a final vowel o is elided, a practice which occurs mostly in poetry. For example, familio "family" is [fa.mi.ˈli.o], with the stress on the i, but when the word is used without the final o (famili’), the stress remains on the i: [fa.mi.ˈli].


The 22 consonants are:

Bilabial Labio-
Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m   n        
Plosive p b   t d     k ɡ  
Affricate     ts        
Fricative   f v s z ʃ ʒ   x   h  
Trill     r        
Approximant     l   j    

The sound [r] is usually rolled, but may be tapped [ɾ]. The [v] is normally pronounced like an English v, but may be pronounced [ʋ] (between English v and w) or [w], depending on the language background of the speaker. A semivowel [u̯] normally occurs only in diphthongs after the vowels [a] and [e], not as a consonant [w]. Common, if debated, assimilation includes the pronunciation of nk as [ŋk] and kz as [ɡz].

A large number of consonant clusters can occur, up to three in initial position (as in stranga, which means "strange") and four in medial position (as in instrui, meaning "teach"). Final clusters are uncommon except in foreign names, poetic elision of final o, and a very few basic words such as cent "hundred" and post "after".


Esperanto has the five cardinal vowels found in such languages as Spanish, Swahili, and Modern Greek:

Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

There are also two semivowels, [i̯] and [u̯], which combine with the cardinal vowels to form six falling diphthongs: aj, ej, oj, uj, aŭ, and .

Since there are only five vowels, a good deal of variation in pronunciation is tolerated. For instance, e commonly ranges from [e] (French é) to [ɛ] (French è). These details often depend on the speaker's native language. A glottal stop may occur between adjacent vowels in some people's speech, especially when the two vowels are the same, as in heroo "hero" ([he.ˈro.o] or [he.ˈro.ʔo]) and praavo "great-grandfather" ([pra.ˈa.vo] or [pra.ˈʔa.vo]).


Esperanto words are derived by stringing together prefixes, roots, and suffixes. This process is regular, so that people can create new words as they speak and be understood. Compound words are formed with a modifier-first, head-final order, as in English (compare "birdsong" and "songbird").

The different parts of speech are marked by their own suffixes: all common nouns end in -o, all adjectives in -a, all derived adverbs in -e, and all verbs in one of six tense and mood suffixes, such as the present tense -as.

Plural nouns end in -oj (pronounced like English "oy"), whereas direct objects end in -on. Plural direct objects end with the combination -ojn (pronounced to rhyme with "coin"); -o- indicates that the word is a noun, -j- indicates the plural, and -n indicates the accusative. Adjectives agree with their nouns; their endings are plural -aj (pronounced "eye"), accusative -an, and plural accusative -ajn (pronounced to rhyme with "fine").

Noun Subject Object
Singular -o -on
Plural -oj -ojn
Adjective Subject Object
Singular -a -an
Plural -aj -ajn

The suffix -n, besides indicating the direct object, is used to indicate movement and a few other things as well.

The six verb inflections consist of three tenses and three moods. They are present tense -as, future tense -os-, past tense -is, infinitive mood -i, conditional mood -us and jussive mood -u (used for wishes and commands). Verbs are not marked for person or number. For instance, kanti means "to sing", mi kantas means "I sing", vi kantas means "you sing", and ili kantas means "they sing".

Verbal Tense Suffix
Present -as (kantas)
Past -is (kantis)
Future -os (kantos)
Verbal Mood Suffix
Infinitive -i (kanti)
Jussive -u (kantu)
Conditional -us (kantus)

Word order is comparatively free. Adjectives may precede or follow nouns; subjects, verbs and objects may occur in any order. However, the article la "the", demonstratives such as tiu "that" and prepositions (such as ĉe "at") must come before their related nouns. Similarly, the negative ne "not" and conjunctions such as kaj "and" and ke "that" must precede the phrase or clause that they introduce. In copular (A = B) clauses, word order is just as important as it is in English: "people are animals" is distinguished from "animals are people".


The core vocabulary of Esperanto was defined by Lingvo internacia, published by Zamenhof in 1887. This book listed 900 roots; these could be expanded into tens of thousands of words with prefixes, suffixes and compounding. In 1894, Zamenhof published the first Esperanto dictionary, Universala Vortaro, which had a larger set of roots. The rules of the language allowed speakers to borrow new roots as needed; it was recommended, however, that speakers use most international forms and then derive related meanings from these.

Since then, many words have been borrowed, primarily (but not solely) from the Western European languages. Not all proposed borrowings become widespread, but many do, especially technical and scientific terms. Terms for everyday use, on the other hand, are more likely to be derived from existing roots; komputilo "computer", for instance, is formed from the verb komputi "compute" and the suffix -ilo "tool". Words are also calqued; that is, words acquire new meanings based on usage in other languages. For example, the word muso "mouse" has acquired the meaning of a computer input device based on a parallel usage in English. Esperanto speakers often debate about whether a particular borrowing is justified or whether meaning can be expressed by deriving from or extending the meaning of existing words.

Some compounds and formed words in Esperanto are not entirely straightforward; for example, eldoni, literally "give out", means "publish", paralleling the usage of certain Western European languages (such as German). In addition, the suffix -um- has no defined meaning; words using the suffix must be learned separately (such as dekstren "to the right" and dekstrumen "clockwise").

There are not many idiomatic or slang words in Esperanto, as these forms of speech tend to make international communication difficult—working against Esperanto's main goal.

Useful phrases

Below are listed some useful Esperanto words and phrases along with IPA transcriptions:

English Esperanto IPA
Hello Saluton [sa.ˈlu.ton]
Yes Jes [ˈjes]
No Ne [ˈne]
Good morning Bonan matenon [ˈbo.nan ma.ˈte.non]
Good evening Bonan vesperon [ˈbo.nan ves.ˈpe.ron]
Good night Bonan nokton [ˈbo.nan ˈnok.ton]
Goodbye Ĝis revido [dʒis re.ˈ]
What is your name? Kiel vi nomiĝas? [ˈki.el vi no.ˈmi.dʒas]
My name is John Mi nomiĝas Johano [mi no.ˈmi.dʒas jo.ˈ]
How are you? Kiel vi fartas? [ˈki.el vi ˈfar.tas]
Do you speak Esperanto? Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton? [ˈtʃu vi pa.ˈro.lasˈran.ton]
I don't understand you Mi ne komprenas vin [mi ˈne kom.ˈpre.nas vin]
All right Bone [ˈ]
Okay Ĝuste [ˈdʒus.te]
Thank you Dankon [ˈdan.kon]
You're welcome Nedankinde [ˌne.dan.ˈ]
Please Bonvolu [bon.ˈ]
Gesundheit! Sanon! [ˈsa.non]
Congratulations Gratulon [ɡra.ˈtu.lon]
I love you Mi amas vin [mi ˈa.mas vin]
One beer, please Unu bieron, mi petas [ˈ bi.ˈe.ron, mi ˈpe.tas]
What is that? Kio estas tio? [ˈki.o ˈes.tas ˈti.o]
That is a dog Tio estas hundo [ˈti.o ˈes.tas ˈ]
Peace! Pacon! [ˈpa.tson]

Sample text

The following short extract gives an idea of the character of Esperanto.[24] (Pronunciation is covered above; the main thing for English speakers to remember is that the Esperanto letter j has the sound of the English letter y.)

  • Esperanto:
«En multaj lokoj de Ĉinio estis temploj de drako-reĝo. Dum trosekeco oni preĝis en la temploj, ke la drako-reĝo donu pluvon al la homa mondo. Tiam drako estis simbolo de la supernatura estaĵo. Kaj pli poste, ĝi fariĝis prapatro de la plej altaj regantoj kaj simbolis la absolutan aŭtoritaton de feŭda imperiestro. La imperiestro pretendis, ke li estas filo de la drako. Ĉiuj liaj vivbezonaĵoj portis la nomon drako kaj estis ornamitaj per diversaj drakofiguroj. Nun ĉie en Ĉinio videblas drako-ornamentaĵoj, kaj cirkulas legendoj pri drakoj.»
  • English translation:
In many places in China, there were temples of the dragon-king. During times of drought, people would pray in the temples that the dragon-king would give rain to the human world. At that time the dragon was a symbol of the supernatural. Later on, it became the ancestor of the highest rulers and symbolised the absolute authority of the feudal emperor. The emperor claimed to be the son of the dragon. All of his personal possessions carried the name "dragon" and were decorated with various dragon figures. Now dragon decorations can be seen everywhere in China and legends about dragons circulate.


The majority of Esperanto speakers learn the language through self-directed study, online tutorials, and correspondence courses taught by volunteers. In more recent years, teaching websites like lernu! have become popular.

Esperanto instruction is occasionally available at schools, including four primary schools in a pilot project under the supervision of the University of Manchester, and by one count at 69 universities.[25] However, outside China and Hungary, these mostly involve informal arrangements rather than dedicated departments or state sponsorship. Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest had a department of Interlinguistics and Esperanto from 1966 to 2004, after which time instruction moved to vocational colleges; there are state examinations for Esperanto instructors.[26][27] In Brazil, an effort is being made to approve a law to teach Esperanto in public schools.[28]

Various educators have estimated that Esperanto can be learned in anywhere from one quarter to one twentieth the amount of time required for other languages.[29] Claude Piron, a psychologist formerly at the University of Geneva and Chinese-English-Russian-Spanish translator for the United Nations, argued that Esperanto is far more intuitive than many ethnic languages. "Esperanto relies entirely on innate reflexes [and] differs from all other languages in that you can always trust your natural tendency to generalize patterns. [...] The same neuropsychological law [—called by] Jean Piaget generalizing assimilation—applies to word formation as well as to grammar."[30]

The Institute of Cybernetic Pedagogy at Paderborn (Germany) has compared the length of study time it takes Francophone high school students to obtain comparable 'standard' levels in Esperanto, English, German, and Italian.[31] The results were:

  • 2000 hours studying German =
  • 1500 hours studying English =
  • 1000 hours studying Italian =
  • 150 hours studying Esperanto.

It should be noted, however, that these figures can only reflect the respective learning difficulty of these languages for native French speakers. They should be compared to figures from other countries to allow for a more general perspective on the learning difficulty of Esperanto. It should be noted in the chart above, Italian would naturally be easier for French speakers to learn since they are both Romance languages, where German is a Germanic language, for example.

Language acquisition

Four primary schools in Britain, with some 230 pupils, are currently following a course in "propedeutic Esperanto"—that is, instruction in Esperanto to raise language awareness and accelerate subsequent learning of foreign languages—under the supervision of the University of Manchester.[32] Studies have been conducted in New Zealand,[33] United States,[34][35][36] Germany,[37] Italy[38] and Australia.[39] The results of these studies were favorable and demonstrated that studying Esperanto before another foreign language expedites the acquisition of the other, natural, language. This appears to be because learning subsequent foreign languages is easier than learning one's first, while the use of a grammatically simple and culturally flexible auxiliary language like Esperanto lessens the first-language learning hurdle. In one study,[40] a group of European secondary school students studied Esperanto for one year, then French for three years, and ended up with a significantly better command of French than a control group, who studied French for all four years. Similar results have been found for other combinations of native and second languages, as well as for arrangements in which the course of study was reduced to two years, of which six months is spent learning Esperanto.[41]


Geography and demography

The network of the Pasporta Servo.

Esperanto is by far the most widely spoken constructed language in the world. Speakers are most numerous in Europe and East Asia, especially in urban areas.[42] Esperanto is particularly prevalent in the northern and eastern countries of Europe; in China, Korea, Japan, and Iran within Asia; in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico in the Americas;[1] and in Togo in Africa.[43]

Number of speakers

An estimate of the number of Esperanto speakers was made by Sidney S. Culbert, a retired psychology professor at the University of Washington and a longtime Esperantist, who tracked down and tested Esperanto speakers in sample areas in dozens of countries over a period of twenty years. Culbert concluded that between one and two million people speak Esperanto at Foreign Service Level 3, "professionally proficient" (able to communicate moderately complex ideas without hesitation, and to follow speeches, radio broadcasts, etc.).[44] Culbert's estimate was not made for Esperanto alone, but formed part of his listing of estimates for all languages of over 1 million speakers, published annually in the World Almanac and Book of Facts. Culbert's most detailed account of his methodology is found in a 1989 letter to David Wolff.[45] Since Culbert never published detailed intermediate results for particular countries and regions, it is difficult to independently gauge the accuracy of his results.

In the Almanac, his estimates for numbers of language speakers were rounded to the nearest million, thus the number for Esperanto speakers is shown as 2 million. This latter figure appears in Ethnologue. Assuming that this figure is accurate, that means that about 0.03% of the world's population speaks the language. This isn't Zamenhof's goal of a universal language, but it represents a level of popularity unmatched by any other constructed language.

Marcus Sikosek (now Ziko van Dijk) has challenged this figure of 1.6 million as exaggerated. He estimated that even if Esperanto speakers were evenly distributed, assuming one million Esperanto speakers worldwide would lead one to expect about 180 in the city of Cologne. Van Dijk finds only 30 fluent speakers in that city, and similarly smaller-than-expected figures in several other places thought to have a larger-than-average concentration of Esperanto speakers. He also notes that there are a total of about 20,000 members of the various Esperanto organizations (other estimates are higher). Though there are undoubtedly many Esperanto speakers who are not members of any Esperanto organization, he thinks it unlikely that there are fifty times more speakers than organization members.[42]

Finnish linguist Jouko Lindstedt, an expert on native-born Esperanto speakers, presented the following scheme[46] to show the overall proportions of language capabilities within the Esperanto community:

  • 1,000 have Esperanto as their native language.
  • 10,000 speak it fluently.
  • 100,000 can use it actively.
  • 1,000,000 understand a large amount passively.
  • 10,000,000 have studied it to some extent at some time.

In the absence of Dr. Culbert's detailed sampling data, or any other census data, it is impossible to state the number of speakers with certainty. Few observers, probably, would challenge the following statement from the website of the World Esperanto Association:

Numbers of textbooks sold and membership of local societies put the number of people with some knowledge of the language in the hundreds of thousands and possibly millions.[47]

In 2009 Lu Wunsch-Rolshoven used 2001 year census data[48] from Hungary[49] and Lithuania as a base for an estimate, resulting in approximately 160,000 to 300,000 to speak the language actively or fluently throughout the world, with about 80,000 to 150,000 of these being in the European Union.

Native speakers

Ethnologue relates estimates that there are 200 to 2000 native Esperanto speakers (denaskuloj), who have learned the language from birth from their Esperanto-speaking parents.[1] This usually happens when Esperanto is the chief or only common language in an international family, but sometimes occurs in a family of devoted Esperantists.

The most famous native speaker of Esperanto is businessman George Soros.[47] Teodoro Schwartz, his father, was an Esperantist.[47] Also notable is young Holocaust victim Petr Ginz, whose drawing of the planet Earth as viewed from the moon was carried aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003 (STS-107).


Monato, the most popular Esperanto news magazine. (The large print reads "15 years after the fall of the empire".)
Esperanto as used in the Icelandic Phallological Museum

Esperanto speakers can access an international culture, including a large body of original as well as translated literature. There are over 25,000 Esperanto books, both originals and translations, as well as several regularly distributed Esperanto magazines. Esperanto speakers use the language for free accommodations with Esperantists in 92 countries using the Pasporta Servo or to develop pen pal friendships abroad through the Esperanto Pen Pal Service.[50]

Every year, 1,500–3,000 Esperanto speakers meet for the World Congress of Esperanto (Universala Kongreso de Esperanto).[51] The European Esperanto Union (Eŭropa Esperanto-Unio) regroups the national Esperanto associations of the EU member states and holds congresses every two years. The most recent was in Maribor, Slovenia, in July-August 2007. It attracted 256 delegates from 28 countries, including two members of the European Parliament, Ms. Małgorzata Handzlik of Poland and Ms. Ljudmila Novak of Slovenia.

Historically, much Esperanto music, such as Kaj Tiel Plu, has been in various folk traditions.[52] In recent decades, more rock and other modern genres have appeared, an example being that of the Swedish band Persone.[53] There is also a variety of classical and semi-classical choral music, both original and translated, as well as large ensemble music that includes voices singing Esperanto texts. Lou Harrison, who incorporated styles and instruments from many world cultures in his music, used Esperanto titles and/or texts in several of his works, most notably La Koro-Sutro (1973). David Gaines used Esperanto poems as well as an excerpt from a speech by Dr. Zamenhof for his Symphony No. 1 (Esperanto) for mezzo-soprano and orchestra (1994–98). He wrote original Esperanto text for his Povas plori mi ne plu (I Can Cry No Longer) for unaccompanied SATB choir (1994).

There are also shared traditions, such as Zamenhof Day, and shared behaviour patterns. Esperantists speak primarily in Esperanto at international Esperanto meetings.

Detractors of Esperanto occasionally criticize it as "having no culture". Proponents, such as Prof. Humphrey Tonkin of the University of Hartford, observe that Esperanto is "culturally neutral by design, as it was intended to be a facilitator between cultures, not to be the carrier of any one national culture." The late Scottish Esperanto author William Auld has written extensively on the subject, arguing that Esperanto is "the expression of a common human culture, unencumbered by national frontiers. Thus it is considered a culture on its own."[54] Others point to Esperanto's potential for strengthening a common European identity, as it combines features of several European languages.

Famous authors in Esperanto

Some of the best-known authors of works in Esperanto are:

In popular culture

Esperanto has been used in a number of films and novels. Typically, this is done either to add the exotic flavour of a foreign language without representing any particular ethnicity, or to avoid going to the trouble of inventing a new language. The Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator (1940) showed Jewish ghetto shops designated in Esperanto, each with the general Esperanto suffix -ejo (meaning "place for..."), in order to convey the atmosphere of some 'foreign' East European country without referencing any particular East European language.

Two full-length feature films have been produced with dialogue entirely in Esperanto: Angoroj, in 1964, and Incubus, a 1965 B-movie horror film. Canadian actor William Shatner learned Esperanto to a limited level so that he could star in Incubus. In Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) shop and road signs in Esperanto appear in many background scenes.

Other amateur productions have been made, such as a dramatisation of the novel Gerda Malaperis (Gerda Has Disappeared). A number of "mainstream" films in national languages have used Esperanto in some way, such as Gattaca (1997), in which Esperanto can be overheard on the public address system. In the 1994 film Street Fighter, Esperanto is the native language of the fictional country of Shadaloo, and in a barracks scene the soldiers of villain M. Bison sing a rousing Russian Army-style chorus, the "Bison Troopers Marching Song", in the language. Esperanto is also spoken and appears on signs in the film Blade: Trinity.

In the British comedy Red Dwarf, Arnold Rimmer is seen attempting to learn Esperanto in a number of early episodes, including Kryten. In the first season, signs on the titular spacecraft are in both English and Esperanto. Esperanto is used as the universal language in the far future of Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat and Deathworld stories.

Musician Stephen Kellogg has acknowledged that his song "Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts" from his 2009 album "The Bear" is a reference to the language of Esperanto. In his song, though, Shady Esperanto is a character.

The opening song 'Memoro de la Ŝtono' in the popular Video Game Final Fantasy XI was written in Esperanto. This was the first game in the series that was online and the composer Nobuo Uematsu felt that Esperanto was a good language to symbolize worldwide unity. It has been performed worldwide.

In the Michael Chabon novel The Yiddish Policeman's Union the main character lives in the Hotel Zamenhof. All of the signs in the hotel are written in Esperanto.


In 1921 the French Academy of Sciences recommended using Esperanto for international scientific communication. A few scientists and mathematicians, such as Maurice Fréchet (mathematics), John C. Wells (linguistics), Helmar Frank (pedagogy and cybernetics), and Nobel laureate Reinhard Selten (economics) have published part of their work in Esperanto. Frank and Selten were among the founders of the International Academy of Sciences in San Marino, sometimes called the "Esperanto University", where Esperanto is the primary language of teaching and administration.

Goals of the movement

Zamenhof's intention was to create an easy-to-learn language to foster international understanding. It was to serve as an international auxiliary language, that is, as a universal second language, not to replace ethnic languages. This goal was widely shared among Esperanto speakers in the early decades of the movement. Later, Esperanto speakers began to see the language and the culture that had grown up around it as ends in themselves, even if Esperanto is never adopted by the United Nations or other international organizations.

Those Esperanto speakers who want to see Esperanto adopted officially or on a large scale worldwide are commonly called finvenkistoj, from fina venko, meaning "final victory", or pracelistoj, from pracelo, meaning "original goal".[55] Those who focus on the intrinsic value of the language are commonly called raŭmistoj, from Rauma, Finland, where a declaration on the near-term unlikelihood of the "fina venko" and the value of Esperanto culture was made at the International Youth Congress in 1980.[56] These categories are, however, not mutually exclusive.

The Prague Manifesto (1996) presents the views of the mainstream of the Esperanto movement and of its main organisation, the World Esperanto Association (UEA).[57]

Symbols and flags

The verda stelo

The earliest flag, and the one most commonly used today, features a green five-pointed star against a white canton, upon a field of green. It was proposed to Zamenhof by Irishman Richard Geoghegan, author of the first Esperanto textbook for English speakers, in 1887. The flag was approved in 1905 by delegates to the first conference of Esperantists at Boulogne-sur-Mer. A version with an "E" superimposed over the green star is sometimes seen. Other variants include that for Christian Esperantists, with a white Christian cross superimposed upon the green star, and that for Leftists, with the color of the field changed from green to red.[58]

In 1987, a second flag design was chosen in a contest organized by the UEA celebrating the first centennial of the language. It featured a white background with two stylised curved "E"s facing each other. Dubbed the "jubilea simbolo" (jubilee symbol),[59] it attracted criticism from some Esperantists, who dubbed it the "melono" (melon) because of the design's elliptical shape. It is still in use, though to a lesser degree than the traditional symbol, known as the "verda stelo" (green star).[60]


Esperanto has been placed in many proposed political situations. The most popular of these is the Europe – Democracy – Esperanto, which aims to establish Esperanto as the official language of the European Union. The Irish political party Éirígí has recently adopted the green star as its emblem partly in support of Esperanto as an international language instead of English.[citation needed]


Esperanto has served an important role in several religions, such as Oomoto from Japan and the Baha'i Faith from Iran, and has been encouraged by others.


The Oomoto religion encourages the use of Esperanto among its followers and includes Zamenhof as one of its deified spirits.[61]

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith encourages the use of an auxiliary international language. While endorsing no specific language, some Bahá'ís see Esperanto as having great potential in this role.[62]

Lidja Zamenhof, the daughter of Esperanto founder L. L. Zamenhof, became a Bahá'í.

Various volumes of the Bahá'í literatures and other Baha'i books have been translated into Esperanto.


In 1908, spiritist Camilo Chaigneau wrote an article named "Spiritism and Esperanto" in the periodic "La Vie d'Outre-Tombe" recommending the use of Esperanto in a "central magazine" for all spiritists and esperantists.[63]

Esperanto then became actively promoted, at least in Brazil, by spiritists. The Brazilian Spiritist Federation publishes Esperanto coursebooks, translations of Spiritism's basic books, and encourages Spiritists to become Esperantists.[64]

Bible translations

The first translation of the Bible into Esperanto was a translation of the Tanakh or Old Testament done by L. L. Zamenhof. The translation was reviewed and compared with other languages' translations by a group of British clergy and scholars before its publication at the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1910. In 1926 this was published along with a New Testament translation, in an edition commonly called the "Londona Biblio". In the 1960s, the Internacia Asocio de Bibliistoj kaj Orientalistoj tried to organize a new, ecumenical Esperanto Bible version.[65] Since then, the Dutch Remonstrant pastor Gerrit Berveling has translated the Deuterocanonical or apocryphal books in addition to new translations of the Gospels, some of the New Testament epistles, and some books of the Tanakh or Old Testament. These have been published in various separate booklets, or serialized in Dia Regno, but the Deuterocanonical books have appeared in recent editions of the Londona Biblio.


Christian Esperanto organizations include two that were formed early in the history of Esperanto:

Individual churches using Esperanto include:


Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran called on Muslims to learn Esperanto and praised its use as a medium for better understanding among peoples of different religious backgrounds. After he suggested that Esperanto replace English as an international lingua franca, it began to be used in the seminaries of Qom. An Esperanto translation of the Qur'an was published by the state shortly thereafter.[71][72] In 1981, Khomeini and the Iranian government began to oppose Esperanto after realising that followers of the Bahá'í Faith were interested in it.[71] The founder of 'Pakistana Esperanto-Asocio' Prof. Allama Muztar Abbasi from Murree Pakistan wrote several books on Esperanto and compiled the Esperanto-Urduo Vortaro (Esperanto-Urdu dictionary). Moreover, he is the first Pakistani who translated Qur'an from its original text into Esperanto. The translation of Qur'an with the name of Vera Libro was published in 2000.


Esperanto was conceived as a language of international communication, more precisely as a universal second language.[73] Since publication, there has been debate over whether it is possible for Esperanto to attain this position, and whether it would be an improvement for international communication if it did; Esperanto proponents have also been criticized for diverting public funds to encourage its study over more useful national languages.[74]

Since Esperanto is a planned language, there have been many criticisms of minor points.[75] An example is Zamenhof's choice of the word edzo over something like spozo for "husband, spouse",[76] or his choice of the Classic Greek and Old Latin singular and plural endings -o, -oj, -a, -aj over their Medieval contractions -o, -i, -a, -e. (Both these changes were adopted by the Ido reform, though Ido dispensed with adjectival agreement altogether.) Some more common examples of general criticism include the following:

  • Esperanto has not yet achieved the hopes of its founder to become a universal second language. Although many promoters of Esperanto stress the successes it has had, the fact remains that well over a century since its publication, the Esperanto-speaking community remains comparatively tiny with respect to the world population. In the case of the United Kingdom, for instance, Esperanto is rarely taught in schools, because it is regarded by the government as not meeting the needs of the national curriculum.[77] Many critics see its aspirations for the role of a preponderant international auxiliary language as doomed because they believe it cannot compete with English in this regard.[78]
  • The vocabulary and grammar are based on major European languages, and are not universal. Often this criticism is specific to a few points such as adjectival agreement and the accusative case (generally such obvious details are all that reform projects suggest changing)[citation needed], but sometimes it is more general: Both the grammar and the 'international' vocabulary are difficult for many Asians, among others, and give an unfair advantage to speakers of European languages.[79] One attempt to address this issue is Lojban, which draws from the six most populous languages Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Russian, and Spanish, and whose grammar is designed for computer parsing.[80]
  • The vocabulary, diacritic letters,[81] and grammar are too dissimilar from the major Western European languages,[citation needed] and therefore Esperanto is not as easy as it could be for speakers of those languages to learn, even though it is much easier to learn than any other European language.[82][83] Attempts to address this issue include the younger planned languages Ido and Interlingua.[84]
  • Esperanto phonology is unimaginatively provincial, being essentially Belorussian with regularized stress, leaving out only the nasal vowels, palatalized consonants, and /dz/. For example, Esperanto has phonemes such as /x/, /ʒ/, /ts/, /eu̯/ (ĥ, ĵ, c, eŭ) which are rare as distinct phonemes outside Europe.[85]
  • Esperanto has no culture.[86] Although it has a large international literature, Esperanto does not encapsulate a specific culture.
  • Esperanto is culturally European. This is due to the European derivation of its vocabulary, and its semantics; both infuse the language with a European world view.[87]
  • The vocabulary is too large. Rather than deriving new words from existing roots, large numbers of new roots are adopted into the language with the intent of being internationally accommodating when in reality the language only caters to European languages. This makes the language more difficult for non-Europeans than it needs to be.[79] A similar argument is made by many Esperanto speakers, not against the language itself but against the way it is (in their view) misused by many (mostly European) speakers; they argue that compounds or derivations should be used whenever possible, and new root words borrowed only when absolutely necessary.[88][89]
  • Esperanto asymmetry in gender formation makes it sexist.[86] Most kin terms and titles are masculine by default and only feminine when so specified. There have been many attempts to address this issue, of which one of the better known is iĉism[90] (used by the Esperantist writer Jorge Camacho)[91], from which Riism derived.
  • Esperanto is, looks, or sounds artificial. This criticism is often due to the letters with circumflex diacritics, which some find odd or cumbersome.[86] Others claim that an artificial language will necessarily be deficient, due to its very nature,[92] although the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has found that Esperanto fulfills all the requirements of a living language.[93]


Though Esperanto itself has changed little since the publication of the Fundamento de Esperanto (Foundation of Esperanto), a number of reform projects have been proposed over the years, starting with Zamenhof's proposals in 1894 and Ido in 1907. Several later constructed languages, such as Universal, were based on Esperanto.

In modern times, attempts have been made to eliminate perceived sexism in the language. One example of this is Riism. However, as Esperanto has become a living language, changes are as difficult to implement as in ethnic languages.

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c Ethnologue report for language code:epo
  2. ^ Byram, Michael (2001). Routledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning. Routledge. pp. 464. ISBN 0-4153-3286-9. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ See the quotation from Zamenhof's writings.
  5. ^ Jouko Lindstedt (January 2006) (PDF). Native Esperanto as a Test Case for Natural Language. University of Helsinki - Department of Slavonic and Baltic Languages and Literatures. 
  6. ^ Unesco and Esperanto
  7. ^ Traveling network of Esperanto; Pasporta Servo
  8. ^ Esperanto
  9. ^ Internacia Televido
  10. ^ Esperanto movies
  11. ^ Radio in Esperanto: In 2007 Polskie Radio made its last radio broadcast, moving programming to the internet. However, other nations such as China and the Vatican continue radio broadcasts.
  12. ^ International Esperanto meetings
  13. ^ Google Esperanto portal
  14. ^ See Language acquisition above.
  15. ^ Akademio Internacia de la Sciencoj (AIS) San-Marino
  16. ^ The letter is quoted in Esperanto - The New Latin for the Church and for Ecumenism, by Ulrich Matthias. Translation from Esperanto by Mike Leon and Maire Mullarney
  17. ^ Adolf Hitler (1924). "Mein Kampf". Volume 1, Chapter XI. Retrieved 2007-05-22. 
  18. ^ About ESW and the Holocaust Museum
  19. ^ a b Donald J. Harlow, The Esperanto Book, chapter 7
  20. ^ La utilización del esperanto durante la Guerra Civil Española, Toño del Barrio and Ulrich Lins. Paper for the International Congress on the Spanish Civil War, (Madrid, 27–29 November 2006).
  21. ^ The Languages of China by S. Robert Ramsey
  22. ^ The Maneuver Enemy website
  23. ^ Blank, Detlev (1985). Internationale Plansprachen. Eine Einführung ("International Planned Languages. An Introduction"). Akademie-Verlag. ISSN 0138-55 X. 
  24. ^ Maire Mullarney Everyone's Own Language, p147, Nitobe Press, Channel Islands, 1999
  25. ^ UEA.ORG: Esperanto en universitatoj
  26. ^ enhavo
  27. ^ Elte Btk
  28. ^ Entidades manifestam apoio à proposta de incluir ensino de Esperanto na grade de disciplinas da rede pública (Portuguese) Agência Senado
  29. ^ Is Esperanto four times easier to learn? | Esperanto-USA
  30. ^ Piron, Claude: "The hidden perverse effect of the current system of international communication", published lecture notes
  31. ^ Flochon, Bruno, 2000, « L'espéranto », in Gauthier, Guy (ed.) Langues: une guerre à mort, Panoramiques. 4e trim. 48: 89-95. Cited in François Grin, L'enseignement des langues étrangères comme politique publique (French)
  32. ^ Springboard to Languages
  33. ^ Report: Article in Enciklopedio de Esperanto, volume I, p.436, on the pedagogic value of Esperanto.
  34. ^ Report: Christian Rudmick, The Wellesley College Danish-Esperanto experiment.
  35. ^ Report: Edward Thorndike, Language Learning. Bureau of Publications of Teachers College, 1933.
  36. ^ Helen S. Eaton, "The Educational Value of an Artificial Language." The Modern Language Journal, #12, pp. 87-94 (1927).
  37. ^ Protocols of the annual November meetings in Paderborn "Laborkonferencoj: Interlingvistiko en Scienco kaj Klerigo" (Working conference: Interlinguistics in Science and Education), which can be obtained from the Institute of Pedagogic Cybernetics in Paderborn. Also in the works by Frank, Lobin, Geisler, and Meder.
  38. ^ Study International Language (known as Esperanto) Commission, Interministerial Decree April 29/October 5, 1993, Italian ministry of public instruction.
  39. ^ Study Monash University EKPAROLI project home page
  40. ^ Williams, N. (1965) 'A language teaching experiment', Canadian Modern Language Review 22.1: 26-28
  41. ^ home
  42. ^ a b Sikosek, Ziko M. Esperanto Sen Mitoj ("Esperanto without Myths"). Second edition. Antwerp: Flandra Esperanto-Ligo, 2003.
  43. ^ Afrika Agado
  44. ^ Culbert, Sidney S. Three letters about his method for estimating the number of Esperanto speakers, scanned and HTMLized by David Wolff
  45. ^ Number of Esperantists (methods)
  46. ^ Lindstedt, Jouko. "Re: Kiom?" (posting)., 22 April 1996.
  47. ^ a b c An Update on Esperanto, Universala Esperanto-Asocio (World Esperanto Association)
  48. ^ [2]
  49. ^ Population by knowledge of languages
  50. ^ Esperanto Koresponda Servo ("Esperanto Pen Pal Service"), accessed March 29, 2008.
  51. ^ Ziko van Dijk. Sed homoj kun homoj: Universalaj Kongresoj de Esperanto 1905–2005. Rotterdam: UEA, 2005.
  52. ^ Kaj Tiel Plu Esperanto folk music as downloadable MP3 file
  53. ^ Persone Esperanto rock music as downloadable MP3 file
  54. ^ Auld, William. La Fenomeno Esperanto ("The Esperanto Phenomenon"). Rotterdam: Universala Esperanto-Asocio, 1988.
  55. ^ "Esperanto" by Mark Feeney. The Boston Globe, 12 May 1999
  56. ^ "Kion Signifas Raŭmismo", by Giorgio Silfer.
  57. ^ "Prague Manifesto" (English version). Universala Esperanto-Asocio, updated 2003-03-26.
  58. ^ Esperanto flag,
  59. ^ Esperanto flag: The jubilee symbol
  60. ^ Esperanto flag
  61. ^ The Oomoto Esperanto portal
  62. ^ "The Baha'i Faith and Esperanto". Bahaa Esperanto-Ligo ( B.E.L. ). Retrieved 2006-08-26. 
  63. ^ (Portuguese) O Espiritismo e o Esperanto (Spiritism and Esperanto)
  64. ^ "Uma só língua, uma só bandeira, um só pastor: Spiritism and Esperanto in Brazil by David Pardue" (PDF). University of Kansas Libraries. Retrieved 2006-08-26. 
  65. ^ "La Sankta Biblio - "Londona text"". Retrieved 2006-08-26. 
  66. ^ Eric Walker (May 27, 2005). "Esperanto Lives On". The Friend. 
  67. ^ Botten J. The Captive Conscience 2002 p.110 re. Esperanto speaking Christadelphians in Tsarist Russia.
  68. ^ Internacia Biblio-Misio
  69. ^ Bayo Afolaranmi. "Spirita nutraĵo". Retrieved 2006-09-13. 
  70. ^ Esperanto "This Was Your Life"
  71. ^ a b "Esperanto - Have any governments opposed Esperanto?". Donald J. Harlow. Retrieved 2006-08-26. 
  72. ^ "Esperanto in Iran (in Persian)". Porneniu. Retrieved 2006-08-26. 
  73. ^
  74. ^
  75. ^ There have been a number of attempts to reform the language, the most well-known of which is the language Ido which resulted in a schism in the community at the time, beginning in 1907. See "Why Ido?." The International Language of Ido. 18 March 2008. 4 February 2009
  76. ^ "Why Ido?." The International Language of Ido. 18 Mach 2008. 4 February 2009
  77. ^ BBC NEWS
  78. ^ Why Esperanto Is Different - New English Review
  79. ^ a b Is Esperanto's vocabulary bloated?
  80. ^ Lojban
  81. ^ "Why Ido?."
  82. ^ Claude Piron, Linguistic Communication - A Comparative Field Study, studies about problems in learning languages
  83. ^ C.E. King, A.S. Bryntsev, F.D. Sohn, Report on the implications of additional languages in the United Nations system, Geneva: UN, Joint Inspection Unit, 1977, document A/32/237
  84. ^ What is Esperanto?
  85. ^ New Statesman - Spreading the word
  86. ^ a b c Critiche all'esperanto ed alle altre lingue internazionali
  87. ^ Europe's Babylon
  88. ^ La Bona Lingvo, Claude Piron. Vienna: Pro Esperanto, 1989. La lingvo volas eleganti, ne elefanti. "The language wants to be elegant, not elephantine."
  89. ^ "Ĉi-tiu Esperanto estus turka...", Renato Corsetti. 2007.
  90. ^ Seksaj vortoj - Bertilo Wennergren - Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko
  91. ^ Camacho, Jorge. Sur la linio. Rakontoj kaj noveloj de Georgo Kamaĉo. Enkonduko de Fernando de Diego. - Berkeley : Eldonejo Bero, 1991.
  92. ^ Claude Piron cites and replies to several such criticisms in his Le Défi des Langues (Paris: L'Harmattan, 1994).
  93. ^ Laŭ la komuna opinio de gvidaj fakuloj de la Instituto, Esperanto apartenas al la kategorio de vivaj lingvoj. Pli detale traktante la temon, konsiderante la historion kaj la nunan staton de Esperanto, a.) ĝi estas grandmezure normigita, b.) amplekse sociiĝinta, c.) ne-etna viva lingvo, kiu en sekundara lingva komunumo plenumas ĉiujn eblajn lingvajn funkciojn, kaj samtempe ĝi funkcias kiel pera lingvo. - Ĉi supre diritaj respegulas la sciencan starpunkton de nia Instituto. "Malgranda fina venko" - en Hungario

Further reading

  • Emily van Someren. Republication of the thesis 'The EU Language Regime, Lingual and Translational Problems'.
  • Ludovikologia dokumentaro I Tokyo: Ludovikito, 1991. Facsimile reprints of the Unua Libro in Russian, Polish, French, German, English and Swedish, with the earliest Esperanto dictionaries for those languages.
  • Fundamento de Esperanto. HTML reprint of 1905 Fundamento, from the Academy of Esperanto.
  • Auld, William. La Fenomeno Esperanto ("The Esperanto Phenomenon"). Rotterdam: Universala Esperanto-Asocio, 1988.
  • Butler, Montagu C. Step by Step in Esperanto. ELNA 1965/1991. ISBN 0-939785-01-3.
  • DeSoto, Clinton (1936). 200 Meters and Down. West Hartford, Connecticut, USA: American Radio Relay League, p. 92.
  • Crystal, Professor David, article "Esperanto" in The New Penguin Encyclopedia, Penguin Books, 2002.
  • ditto, How Language Works (pages 424-5), Penguin Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-141-01552-1.
  • Everson, Michael. The Alphabets of Europe: EsperantoPDF (25.4 KB). Evertype, 2001.
  • Forster, Peter G. The Esperanto Movement. The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1982. ISBN 90-279-3399-5.
  • Gledhill, Christopher. The Grammar of Esperanto: A Corpus-Based Description. Second edition. Lincom Europa, 2000. ISBN 3-8958-6961-9.[3]
  • Harlow, Don. The Esperanto Book. Self-published on the web (1995–96).
  • Wells, John. Lingvistikaj aspektoj de Esperanto ("Linguistic aspects of Esperanto"). Second edition. Rotterdam: Universala Esperanto-Asocio, 1989.
  • Zamenhof, Ludovic Lazarus, Dr. Esperanto's International Language: Introduction & Complete Grammar The original 1887 Unua Libro, English translation by Richard H. Geoghegan; HTML online version 2006. Print edition (2007) also available from ELNA or UEA.

External links

Esperanto edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language in the world.


  • Asked about what impresses her most about Esperanto conferences:
    • With Esperanto conferences, it was the level of fluency. I sort of thought it would be like watching a video of "Chapter 1 Dialogue" in a language class, like "Where is the library?" But it was very fluid, like watching someone speak Spanish. So seeing that happen convinced me that it's a real language; it's not people playing dress-up with a different vocabulary.
    • Arika Okrent Author of “In the Land of Invented Languages” May 2009, Random House. From a Time Online interview By M.J. STEPHEY Monday, May. 18, 2009

See also

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Esperanto phrasebook article)

From Wikitravel

The famous constructed language Esperanto first appeared in Russian Poland in 1887, the product of a Polish-Jewish opthalmologist and amateur linguist, Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof. Dr. Zamenhof hoped that the worldwide adoption of a neutral international language would ease ethnic tensions and enable people of widely differing backgrounds to communicate with each other. The name of the language means "one who hopes." Esperanto is not officially aligned with any particular country or ethnic group; indeed, one can find Esperanto speakers in well over 100 countries around the world. Pasporta Servo, a hospitality service for Esperanto speakers, includes more than 1,300 addresses in almost ninety different countries.

Pronunciation guide

Esperanto uses twenty-eight letters from the Roman alphabet, and is a phonetic language (each sound has a single letter and each letter represents a single sound). The letters Q, W, X, and Y are not used. Five of the letters have a circumflex on top of them (ĉ ĝ ĥ ĵ ŝ) and one has a breve (ŭ). Esperanto speakers represent these letters in situations where the circumflex cannot be used (e.g. unformatted e-mail where only basic ASCII characters can be used) either by placing an "x" after the letter; placing an "h" after the letter (this is the method approved by Esperanto's creator, Dr. Zamenhof); or placing the circumflex itself (^) after the letter. On the Internet, most Esperantists use the "x" method.

Words are always pronounced with the accent on the penultimate (next-to-last) syllable.

as in father
as in bet
as in machine
always short as in porous; never long as in open
as in hoop
w as in shower
y as in yoga
as in boy
ts as in cats
ch as in church
as in down
as in food
always hard as in gain
soft 'g' as in gem
as in heavy
guttural as in Scottish loch, Spanish j, or Hebrew chai
zh as in leisure
as in kiwi
as in lap
as in manner
as in nothing
as in pool
rolled as in Spanish
as in some (never like z)
sh as in should
as in ton
as in van
as in zoo
as in cow
as in wayward
as in joy
as in aisle
as in pain
as in ruinous

Phrase list

Modern Esperanto, like English, does not distinguish between polite & intimate forms of address (e.g. the Spanish "tú" and "usted" for the intimate and polite 2nd person singular, respectively). There is only one form used in the 2nd person, both singular and plural.

Saluton. (sah-LOO-tohn)
How are you? 
Kiel vi fartas? (KEE-ehl vee FAHR-tahs?)
Fine, thank you. 
Bone, dankon. (BOH-neh, DAN-kohn)
What is your name? 
Kiel vi nomiĝas? (KEE-ehl vee noh-MEE-jas?)
My name is ______ . 
Mi nomiĝas _____ . (mee nom-MEE-jas)
Nice to meet you. 
Estas plezuro renkonti vin. (or simply "Plezuro.") (EHS-tahs pleh-ZOO-roh rehn-KOHN-tee veen)
Bonvolu. (Bohn-VOH-loo)
Thank you. 
Dankon. (DAHN-kohn)
You're welcome. 
Nedankinde. (neh-dahn-KEEN-deh) (Lit. "Not worthy of thanks")
Jes. (yehs)
Ne. (neh)
Excuse me. 
Pardonu min. (pahr-DOH-noo meen)
I'm sorry. 
Mi bedaŭras. (mee beh-DOW-rahs)
Ĝis revido. (jees reh-VEE-doh)
I can't speak ______. 
Mi ne parolas ______. (mi neh pah-ROH-lahs)
Do you speak English? 
Ĉu vi parolas la anglan? (choo vee pah-ROH-lahs lah AHN-glahn)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Ĉu estas iu ĉi tie, kiu parolas la anglan? (choo EH-stahs EE-yoo chee-TEE-eh KEE-oo pah-ROH-lahs lah AHN-glahn)
Helpon! (HEL-pohn)
Good morning. 
Bonan tagon (bonan matenon) (BOH-nahn TAH-gohn (mah-TEH-nohn))
Good afternoon. 
Bonan posttagmezon. (BOH-nahn pohst-tahg-MEHZ-ohn)
Good evening. 
Bonan vesperon. (BOH-nahn vehs-PEH-rohn)
Good night. 
Bonan nokton. (BOH-nahn NOHK-tohn)
I don't understand. 
Mi ne komprenas. (mee neh kohm-PREH-nahs)
Where is the toilet? 
Kie estas la necesejo? (KEE-eh EH-stahs la neh-tseh-SAY-oh)
Leave me alone. 
Lasu min. (LAH-soo meen)
Don't touch me! 
Ne tuŝu min! (neh TOO-shoo meen!)
I'll call the police. 
Mi telefonos la policejon. (mee teh-leh-FOH-nohs lah poh-lee-TSEH-yohn)
Policon! (poh-LEE-tsohn!)
Stop! Thief! 
Haltu! Ŝtelisto! (HAHL-too! shteh-LEE-stoh!)
I need your help. 
Mi bezonas vian helpon. (mee beh-ZOH-nahs VEE-ahn HEHL-pohn)
It's an emergency. 
Estas krizo. (EH-stahs KREE-zoh)
I'm lost. 
Mi perdiĝas. (mee pehr-DEE-jahs)
I lost my bag. 
Mi perdis mian valizon. (mee PEHR-dees MEE-ahn vah-LEE-zohn)
I lost my wallet. 
Mi perdis mian biletujon/monujon. (mee PEHR-dees MEE-ahn bee-leh-TOO-yohn/moh-NOO-yohn)
I'm sick. 
Mi malsanas. (mee mahl-SAH-nahs)
I've been injured. 
Mi vundiĝis. (mee voon-DEE-jees)
I need a doctor. 
Mi bezonas kuraciston. (mee beh-ZOH-nahs koo-rah-TSEE-stohn)
Can I use your phone? 
Ĉu mi rajtas uzi vian telefonon? (choo mee RAI-tahs OO-zee VEE-ahn teh-leh-FOH-nohn?)
nulo (NOO-loh)
unu (OO-noo)
du (DOO)
tri (TRI)
kvar (KVAR)
kvin (KVIN)
ses (SES)
sep (SEP)
ok (OC )as in OCcasion
naŭ (NOW)
dek (DECK)
dudek (DOO-deck)
tridek (TRI-deck)
cent (TSENT)
ducent (DOO-tsent)
mil (MIL)
du mil (DOO-mil)
miliono (mil-i-ON-o)
kvarmil tricent dudek kvin (KVAR-mil TRI-tsent DOO-deck KVIN)
miliono, kvarcent kvardek ses mil, sepcent okdek du (mil-i-ON-o KVAR-deck SES MIL SEP-tsent OC-deck DOO)
du milionoj (DOO mil-i-ON-oy)
nun (noon)
poste (POHS-teh)
antaŭe (...)
mateno (maht-TEH-noh)
posttagmezo (...)
vespero (...)
nokto (...)

Clock time

one o'clock AM 
je la unua horo matene (...)
two o'clock AM 
je la dua horo matene (...)
tagmezo (...)
one o'clock PM 
je la unua horo posttagmeze (...)
two o'clock PM 
je la dua horo posttagmeze (...)
two thirty PM 
je la dua kaj duono posttagmeze (...)
two nineteen PM 
je la dua kaj deknaŭ minutoj posttagmezze (...)
noktomezo (...)


_____ minute(s) 
_____ minuto(j) (...)
_____ hour(s) 
_____ horo(j) (...)
_____ day(s) 
_____ tago(j) (...)
_____ week(s) 
_____ semajno(j) (...)
_____ month(s) 
_____ monato(j) (...)
_____ year(s) 
_____ jaro(j) (...)


hodiaŭ (...)
hieraŭ (...)
morgaŭ (...)
this week 
ĉi tiun semajnon (...)
last week 
pasintan semajnon (...)
next week 
venontan semajnon (...)
dimanĉo (...)
lundo (...)
mardo (...)
merkredo (...)
ĵaŭdo (...)
vendredo (...)
sabato (...)


januaro (...)
februaro (...)
marto (...)
aprilo (...)
majo (...)
junio (...)
julio (...)
aŭgusto (...)
septembro (...)
oktobro (...)
novembro (...)
decembro (...)

Writing time and date

Dates are written in day/month/year format. Ordinal numbers are written with an appended "-a" (1-a de januaro, unua de januaro, first of January).

nigra (...)
blua (...)
bruna (...)
griza (...)
verda (...)
citronkolora (...)
navy (blue) 
mariste blua (...)
oranĝa (...)
roza (...) / rozkolora (...)
purpura (...)
ruĝa (...)
turkiskolora (...)
viola (...) / violkolora (...)
blanka (...)
flava (...)


Bus and Train

How much is a ticket to _____? 
Kiom kostas bileto al _____?
One ticket to _____, please. (bus, train) 
Mi volus bileton al _____.
Where does this train/bus go? 
Kie ĉi tiu trajno/aŭtobuso iras?
Where is the train/bus to _____? 
Kie estas la trajno/aŭtobuso al _____?
Does this train/bus stop in/at _____? 
Ĉu tiu trajno/aŭtobuso haltas en/ĉe _____?
When does the train/bus for _____ leave? 
Kiam la trajno/aŭtobuso por _____ lasos?
When will this train/bus arrive in _____? 
Kiam tiu trajno/aŭtobuso alvenos en _____?


nordo (...)
sudo (...)
oriento (...)
okcidento (...)


fruit (pl.) 
fruktoj (..)
pomo (..)
banano (..)
ananaso (..)
legomoj (..)
brokolo (..)
karoto (..)
terpomo (..)

Dietary requirements

Dietary requirements. 
Dietaj bezonaĵoj. (..)
I am a... 
Mi estas... (mee EST-ahs)
...vegetarano. (veh-geh-tah-RAH-noh)
...vegetalano. (veh-geh-tah-LAH-noh) / ...vegan. (veh-GAH-noh)
... coeliac. 
...celiakiulo. (..)
I don't eat... 
Mi ne manĝas... (mee neh MAHN-jahs)
...viandon. (vee-AHN-dohn) 
...fiŝaĵon. (fee-SHAH-zhohn)
...marmanĝaĵon. (..)
...ovaĵon. (oh-VAH-zhohn)
...dairy products. 
...laktaĵon. (lahk-TA-zhohn)
...glutenon. (..)
...wheat products. 
...nuksojn. (..)
...arakidojn. (..) products. 
...sojaĵon. (..)

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Topic:Esperanto article)

From Wikiversity


Flag of Esperanto.svg

Welcome to the Esperanto Department at Wikiversity, part of the Center for Foreign Language Learning and the School of Language and Literature.


Introduction to Esperanto

Founded by L.L. Zamenhof in 1887 as a constructed auxiliary language for international use, Esperanto was designed to be an easy-to-learn, neutral language, without the irregularities or political baggage of national languages. Today about 2 million speakers in countries around the world use Esperanto.

External Courses/projects

Language references

Department news

  • December 11, 2006 - Department founded!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

(There is currently no text in this page)


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Wikibooks has more about this subject:



From Esperanto esperanto (one who hopes), from French espérer, from Latin sperare (to hope). Originally, this was the pseudonym assumed by the language's creator, L. L. Zamenhof, and the language was called Lingvo Internacia (international language).


  • enPR: ĕs"pə-răn'tō, ĕs"pə-rän'tō
  • (RP)
    • IPA: /ˌɛspəˈɹæntəʊ/, /ˌɛspəˈɹɑːntəʊ/
    • SAMPA: /%Esp@"r\{nt@U/, /%Esp@"r\A:nt@U/
  • (GenAm)
    • IPA: /ˌɛspəˈɹæntoʊ/, /ˌɛspəˈɹɑntoʊ/
    • SAMPA: /%Esp@"r\{ntoU/, /%Esp@"r\AntoU/
    Rhymes: -æntəʊ, Rhymes: -ɑːntəʊ

Proper noun




  1. The name of an international auxiliary language designed by L. L. Zamenhof with a base vocabulary inspired by Indo-European languages such as English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian, and having a streamlined grammar with completely regular conjugations, declensions, and inflections.
  2. (metaphorical) Anything that is used as a single international medium in place of plural distinct national media.
    The U.S. dollar is the Esperanto of currency.

Derived terms

See also


External links




Esperanto m.

  1. Esperanto



Esperanto n.

  1. Esperanto




Esperanto n.

  1. Esperanto



  • IPA: /es.peˈ, SAMPA: /es pe"ran to/


From the verb esperi (to hope), which derives from Latin sperare (to hope), and the affix -anto; meaning in Esperanto one who hopes. Doktoro Esperanto ("Doctor Hopeful") was the pen-name of Esperanto's author, Dr. Zamenhof, when he published the language in 1887.

Proper noun

Esperanto (accusative Esperanton)

  1. An international auxiliary language designed by L. L. Zamenhof with a base vocabulary inspired by Indo-European languages such as English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian.

See also

  • esperantisto
  • esperantujo
  • esperantio
  • esperantumado
  • bonantagulo




Esperanto n.

  1. Esperanto




  1. Esperanto



Esperanto m.

  1. Esperanto

See also




Esperanto m.

  1. Esperanto




  1. Esperanto.


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Esperanto cover.jpg

Simple English

File:Flag of
The flag of Esperanto

Esperanto is a special language that was designed to be easy to learn. It was made in the nineteenth century by Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof, a Polish eye doctor. He made it so people from different countries could talk to each other.

At first the language was named "La Internacia Lingvo," which means "The International Language." But people that learned the language wanted to call it Esperanto, which means "the one who hopes." The name comes from "Doktoro Esperanto," which is what Zamenhof called himself when he made the first book about Esperanto.


Esperanto culture

People who speak Esperanto are often called Esperantists. No one knows exactly how many people now speak Esperanto. The most common guesses are between several hundred thousand and 2 million speakers around the world. It is estimated that 1000 people know Esperanto from birth (because they learned it from their parents, in addition to learning a national language, such as English or Polish.) There are many couples from 2 different countries who speak different languages, but have Esperanto as their common language.

Many people use Esperanto to communicate by mail or email or blogs with Esperantists in other countries. Some people travel and meet other Esperantists in person.

There are many annual meetings. The largest is the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto (Universal Congress of Esperanto), held in a different country each year. In recent years it has had around 2000 people from 60 or more countries.

There are books and magazines written in Esperanto, and much literature translated into Esperanto from other languages. This includes famous works, such as the Bible and plays by Shakespeare, as well as less famous works which do not have English translations.

There are bands who sing in Esperanto, perform live concerts and sell recordings of their music.

Goals of the Esperanto movement

Zamenhof wanted to make an easy language to increase international understanding. The goal was, giving an international communication language, that is, as a universal(world) second language, not to replace national languages. This goal was widely shared with Esperanto speakers in the early years of the Esperanto movement. After that, Esperanto speakers began to see the language and the culture that was shared is owned by themselves, even if Esperanto is never chosen by the United Nations or other international organizations.

Those Esperanto speakers who want the Esperanto to be chosen by organizations or used worldwide are commonly called finvenkistoj, from fina venko, meaning "final victory", or pracelistoj, from pracelo, meaning "original goal"."Esperanto" by Mark Feeney. The Boston Globe, 12 May 1999 Those who focus on the basic value of the language are commonly called raŭmistoj, from Rauma, Finland, where a statement on the near-term(not far from today) not believing in the "fina venko" and the value of Esperanto culture was made at the International Youth Congress(meeting) in 1980."Kion Signifas Raŭmismo", by Giorgio Silfer. These groups are, however, not from both sides exclusive.

The Prague Manifesto (1996) presents the ideas of the ordinary people of the Esperanto movement and of its main organization, the World Esperanto Association (UEA)."Prague Manifesto" (English version). Universala Esperanto-Asocio, updated 2003-03-26.

The language

Esperanto uses words from some other languages, such as Latin, Russian, and German.

The Esperanto alphabet has 28 letters. These letters are:

a b c ĉ d e f g ĝ h ĥ i j ĵ k l m n o p r s ŝ t u ŭ v z

A in Esperanto is like a in father, b is like b in book, c is like ts in lets, ĉ is like ch in chocolate, d is like d in dog, e is like e in met, f is like f in flower, g is like g in go, ĝ is like j and dg in judge, h is like h in honey, ĥ makes a sound that vibrates the throat (the sound does not exist in English; it is often written in English as kh or ch in foreign names and words, in Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Greek... ח خ x χ ), i is like ee in speed, j is like y in you, ĵ is like s in pleasure, k is like c and k in cook, l is like l in look, m is like m in moon, n is like n in can, o is like o in note, p is like p in pie, r is like r as in road but is rolled (trilled, as in Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Russian), s is like s in simple, ŝ is like sh in short, t is like t in tire, u is like oo in boot, ŭ is like w in cow, v is like v in cave, and z is like z in zipper.

There is no Q, W, X, or Y in the Esperanto language.


The rules for using the language (grammar) are very simple. Rules in the Esperanto language never change and can always be used in the same way.

The basic words are: mi - I, vi - you, li - he, ŝi - she, ĝi - it, la - the, jes - yes, ne - no.

Nouns end in -o. For example, patro means father. To make a noun plural add -j. For example: patroj means fathers.

Verbs end in -as when they are in present tense. English uses I am, you are, he is. But in Esperanto, there is just one word for am, are, is - estas. Similarly, kuras can mean run or runs. Infinitives end in -i. For example, esti means to be, povi means can. It is easy to make past tense - always add -is ending. To make future tense, add -os For example:

  • kuri - to run
  • mi kuras - I run
  • vi kuras - you run
  • li kuris - he ran
  • ĝi kuros - it will run

Adjectives end in -a, adverbs end in -e, for example rapide means fast, granda means big, bona means good, bone means well.

Many words can be made opposite by adding mal at the beginning.

  • bona = good. malbona = bad
  • bone = well, malbone = poorly
  • granda = big, malgranda = small
  • peza = heavy, malpeza = light

Examples of sentences which show the rules:

  • Mi povas kuri rapide. = I can run fast.
  • Vi ne povas kuri rapide. = You cannot run fast.
  • Mi estas knabo. = I am a boy.
  • Mi estas malbona Esperantisto. = I am a bad Esperantist.

To make a yes-or-no question, add Ĉu at the beginning. For example:

  • Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton? = Do you speak Esperanto?
  • Jes, mi parolas Esperanton tre bone. = Yes, I speak Esperanto very well.
  • Ne, mi estas komencanto. = No, I am a beginner.

The numbers are:

0 nul
1 unu
2 du
3 tri
4 kvar
5 kvin
6 ses
7 sep
8 ok
9 naŭ
10 dek
100 cent
1000 mil

Mia means my, via means your, lia means his. So, to say how old is somebody in Esperanto, just say:

  • Lia aĝo estas dudek = He is twenty (20) years old.

Esperanto has over 20 special words which can change meaning of another word. Some of them are:

  • mal- (added before the word) makes the word opposite. Bona means good, and malbona means bad.
  • bo- (added before the word) makes the word "in-law". Patro means father, and bopatro means father-in-law.
  • -ej- (added after the word, but before the ending) means place. Lerni means to learn, and lernejo means school.
  • -in- (added after the word, but before the ending) changes the gender of a word into female. Patro means father, and patrino means mother.
  • -ar- (added after the word, but before the ending) means many things of the same kind. Arbo means tree, and arbaro means forest.
  • -ist- (added after the word, but before the ending) means somebody who does something (perhaps as a job). Baki means bake and bakisto means baker; scienco means science, and sciencisto means scientist. Esperantisto means Esperanto speaker.

These words combined can make a very long word, such as malmultekosta (cheap), vendredviandmanĝmalpermeso (that meat cannot be eaten on Friday).

Technical problems

Those letters ĉ ĝ ĥ ĵ ŝ ŭ are usually not found on mobile phones or keyboards. Since x is not used in Esperanto, those letters can be written as: cx gx hx jx sx ux.

Normal sample: Ĉiuj homoj estas denaske liberaj kaj egalaj laŭ digno kaj rajtoj. Ili posedas racion kaj konsciencon, kaj devus konduti unu la alian en spirito de frateco.

Simple version: Cxiuj homoj estas denaske liberaj kaj egalaj laux digno kaj rajtoj. Ili posedas racion kaj konsciencon, kaj devus konduti unu la alian en spirito de frateco.

Translation: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

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