4 Nisan 2017 Salı

Learning Esperanto

Saluton geamikoj!

(Esperanto traduko jam ne estas fina. Mi estas komencxento, bonvolu helpu min korekti miajn erarojn)

As of today I have been learning Esperanto for little less than 4 weeks, and so far it has been an experience worth sharing.

Hoidaux, mi lernas Esperanton ekde iomete malpli 4 semajnoj, kaj gxis nun estis sperto valoro por afisxi.

For those of you who haven't heard of Esperanto yet, it is a constructed (read made-up if you like) language that has been around for more than a century with 100.000 to 10.000.000 speakers wordwide according to different sources and was thought to be an international language that is easy to learn and fair to native speakers of various languages. There are lots of material and critism on the internet if you want to know more about Esperanto, but this post will only be about my initial personal experience and thoughts on this.

Por cu tiu, kiu ne konas Esperanton :) gxi estas planligvo, (elpensigi, se vi volas) kiu eksistas por pli ol unu jarcento, kun 100.000 gxis 10.000.000 parolantoj sur la tuta mondo laux diferencaj fontoj. Gxi pensigxis esti lingvo internacia kiu facile lernablas kaj justas por naskigxparolantaj de diversaj lingvoj. Estas multaj materialoj kaj kritikioj sur la reto pri Esperanto, sed cxi tiu skribajo estos nur pri mia unua propra valoro kaj pensoj pri tiu.

Why bother learning a made up language?

The first question I (and probably many other Esperanto speakers or Esperantist·oj in Esperanto) recieve is why you should spend your time learning a "useless" language. Well, firstly, it is not that much time and secondly there are reasons.

La unua demando al mi (versxajne al multaj aliaj Esperantistoj) estas kial oni devus pasigi sian tempon lernate "senutilan" lingvon. Unue, ne estas multa da tempo; due, kialoj existas.

My first motivation was just to learn a new language, because I think learning a language has benefits irrelevant to direct use of it.

Mia baza motivo estas lerni novan lingvon, cxar mi pensas lerni lingvon havas gajnojn malrilatajn je direkte uzi de la lingvo.

Every language represents a way of thinking. In Turkish we have a saying "One language, one person; two languages, two persons". I like to interpret this not only as you are able to contact more people when you speak more languages, but also as you become kind of multiple persons. There are actually studies that show multilinguals actually have different personalities when they speak different languages. Amazing, right? (Sory for not linking any, but a quick web search should bring you a lot). In my personal opinion which language you are speaking can even change your mood psychologicaly, and the time your learn the language/ first contact with people in the language has a major impact on it. More on how it was for me while learning Esperanto later.

Cxia lingvo reprezentas pensirejo. En la turkan oni devas "Unu lingvo, unu homo, du lingvoj, du

What makes Esperanto really interesting in that sense is its extreme logical structure and having borrowed different aspects from different languages. I feel learning Esperanto is giving me a way of thinking that I could not get by learning another language. Since I am still a beginner, this is yet to stand the test of time, but I am very convinced.

Another aspect of learning the language is learning about the cultures that are bound with the language. In case of Esperanto the amount of cultural material is less in comparision to most other languages, but there is still interesting meta. Being a constructed language that has proved to be functional, Esperanto allows one to compare the "random" evolution of a human language with a language that was planned at a time when we knew much more about what a language is supposed to be capable of. I think it is philosophically interesting.

Finally, I really enjoy the idea of having a common language for all. Even the name of the language, which was the pseudonym under which Zamenhof published the first version) means the one who hopes.

Does anybody speak it at all?

Oh yes. I was really surprised to sit on a table full of people speaking fluent (apart from me :) ) Esperanto couple of days ago. There is a pretty active commnunity around the language. Vikipedio is the 32nd largest wiki at the moment, (larger than Simple English and Greek) and there is a fair amount of original and translated literature, music etc.

You can even couchsurf in Esperanto!

Even tough one could argue that it is more useful to learn a language that is actually spoken in a country other than few micro-countries, I think it is rather an advantage that Esperanto speakers are everywhere on the world. By learning a single language you get to speak to a diverse community of speakers. (Since I am yet to meet many, I will not analyse the diversity of Esperantists at this point) Arguably English provides you with the same, and most Esperantists speak a bunch of other languages, but I really like the idea of having a language that was foreign to almost all. Interestingly, I do not even have that strange feeling when I am talking to Germans in Esperanto, even though the "default" language would be German for me in most cases.

Other than that, all the speakers I have met so far war genuinely nice and interesting people. After all they are all people who learned a made up language, how bad can they be?

Is it easy to learn?

Yes! The grammatic is 16 rules, words are constructed in very logical ways and the few remaning roots to learn are pretty easy if you already speak a European language. After my second week I went to the local club in Munich to see whether I can understand anything at all. Of couse you can not expect to be fluent in any language in 2 weeks, but I was already on a level which allowed me to have basic conversations and communicate on a basic level, often asking for words or asking my conversation partners to repeat slowly. I think this is critical because once you achieve this level, you can improve by watching videos on youtube, reading and chatting to others.

If you are interested, there are many ways to start learning, the most common ones being lernu.net and the course on Duolingo. Give it a shot, before you can decide whether you like it, you will already be speaking a bit!