Getting Started With Esperanto: Kiel Komenci Esperanton

Getting Started With Esperanto: Kiel Komenci Esperanton


Introduction Suffixes Conference
Accented Letters Correlatives Disadvantages
Testing Your Browser Short Words Mandarin
Creating HTML Colours The Competition
Fonts Computer Terminology Translation
Alphabet Punctuation Books
Pronunciation Talking Dirty Dictionaries
Grammar Tenses Links
Prefixes Irregularities Rings

Introduction : Enkonduko

Saluton! Esperanto is an international artificial language very easy to learn. It will let you communicate with some people in any country. I am just learning. If you see any mistakes please tell me at email feedback to Roedy Green or Canadian Mind Products. This page is mostly in English because it is aimed at the novice Esperantist trying to get started viewing the wealth of Esperanto material on the web.

Accented Letters : Supersignaj Literoj

Esperanto has six accented letters (c g h j s u) If your browser and fonts are configured for Esperanto, you should see the accents: cghjsu =ĉĝĥĵŝŭû CGHJSU = ĈĜĤĴŜŬÛ

Unfortunately, the designers of the Latin-1 standard fonts did not include them. However, the designers of the ISO (International Standards Organisation) iso-8859-3 character set did.

Without the proper font (Unicode or ISO 8859-3), you can’t display the Esperanto accented letters properly.

There are seven ways to display accents from best to worst:

  1. To display Esperanto, all you need as a modern browser, that supports Unicode, the fonts that the web page designer recommends in his style sheet. You also need a Unicode font that displays the Esperanto accented characters. See Esperanto Fonts for a list. Older operating systems such as DOS, W3.1, OS2, W95 and W98 don’t support Unicode.
  2. To compose Esperanto HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) for your websites, if you have a UTF-8 capable editor, just type the characters directly. The editor will convert them to the binary code sequenced needed. You must mark your document as using UTF-8 encoding in the header. <meta http-equiv=Content-Type content=text/html; charset=UTF-8>
  3. To compose Esperanto HTML for your websites, if your editor is only capable of handling 8-bit characters, you will need to type the numeric entity equivalents to get the accented characters: e.g. &#285; for ĝ. You must mark your document as using iso-8859-1 encoding in the header. <meta http-equiv=Content-Type content=text/html; charset=iso-8859-1> This is the technique I used to create the web page you are now reading.
  4. Use the letter x (which never occurs naturally in Esperanto) just after the letter that should have been accented e.g. cxian. I like this convention best because it is unambiguous, quick to type, and displays universally without problems. I think Esperanto should be officially changed to drop the accented letters and use the k convention instead. x then behaves much like the letter h in English to change the sound of the preceding letter.
  5. Put a circumflex ^ just after the letter that should have been accented, e.g. c^ian.
  6. Put a circumflex ^ just before the letter that should have been accented, e.g. ^cian.
  7. Use a trailing h as Zamenhof did. Use some accented letters, whatever happens to be available in your local character set. People, if not computers, will soon figure out what you mean. Unfortunately, this convention is not easily translated mechanically into the accented form.
  8. If you have an older computer without Unicode support you are pretty much stuck with this complex approach. Install special Esperanto iso-8859-3 (Esperanto plus Turkish and some European languages) and use them in your style sheets. You also need to install the Turkish Language Pack to make Internet explorer work. Encode your pages as if there were in Turkish:
    <meta http-equiv=Content-Type content=text/html; charset=iso-8859-3>
    Encode your accented characters with iso-8859-3 numeric entities such as &#230; for æ

    San Serif SudEuro is a nice sans serif font. BookAntiqua Eo 10 point is a nice serifed font. Lucida Sans Unicode Eo is a nice Unicode san serif font. Tempo Esperanto is a nice Unicode fixed pitch font. Times Roman Eo, Arial Eo, Comic Sans MS Eo, Courier Eo are all Esperanto variants of these familiar fonts. If you use this scheme for your web pages, all your readers will have to install these special Esperanto fonts too.

    If you want to be able to use Esperanto file names and Esperanto names for your program icons, click Control Panel, Display, Appearance and configure fonts for the various places Windows draws text. Brave souls may even use RegEdit to directly edit the registry for this task.

    See browsers for how to set up your default font to be one that displays the Esperanto characters.

    The problem with using iso-8859-3, is when you add the

    <meta http-equiv=Content-Type content=text/html; charset=iso-8859-3>
    to the head of your HTML documents, Internet Explorer ignores your style sheets.
Then there are further kludges needed if you want to key Esperanto documents. The easiest way I found is to use Random Software’s EspType (Esperanto Type) program. It lets you type using a number of conventions.

Without EspType or its equivalent, it is very hard to get Esperanto-accented characters. Most HTML editors are not Esperanto-friendly. You can hold down the ALT key and type in a numeric code using the numeric keypad: ALTdown+1+9+8+ALTup will insert an accented C character.

So I like to use the Unicode entity encodings even though they are a bitch to manually encode. I can edit them with even the most primitive text editor.

Testing Your Browser : Provado De Via Retumilo

Happily, a number of mainstream fonts, such as Verdana, now support Esperanto as a matter of course. If you have such a font as your default browser font, you should see the accented letters in the following table. This document uses UTF-8, which is now widely supported. The 8859-3 method is obsolete.
Esperanto Accented Letters Using the default Font
Unaccented
Letter
Proposed
Entity
Kludge Unicode UTF-8
UTF-8 char Rendered
Entity
Decimal
Entity
Hex
Entity
c C &ccirc; &Ccirc; cx Cx ? ? ĉ Ĉ &#265; &#264; &#x109; &#x108;
g G &gcirc; &Gcirc; gx Gx ĝ ? ĝ Ĝ &#285; &#284; &#x11d; &#x11c;
h H &hcirc; &Hcirc; hx Hx ? ? ĥ Ĥ &#293; &#292; &#x125; &#x124;
j J &jcirc; &Jcirc; jx Jx ? ? ĵ Ĵ &#309; &#308; &#x135; &#x134;
s S &scirc; &Scirc; sx Sx ŝ ? ŝ Ŝ &#349; &#348; &#x15d; &#x15c;
u U &ubrev; &Ubrev; ux Ux ? ? ŭ Ŭ &#365; &#364; &#x16d; &#x16c;
u U &ucirc; &Ucirc; ux Ux ? ? û Û &#251; &#219; &#xfb; &#xdb;
Properly the u accent should be a brève, not a circumflex. A brève is like an upside down circumflex, a small flat v. Unfortunately there are no alphabetic entities in HTML to get the ŭ and Ŭ brève characters, so out of expediency, you might use û and Û circumflex. Recent browsers work with all three methods.

To understand just what I typed to get those effects, do a view source of this document. Note that part of the magic is the Esperanto style, in the style sheet mindprod.css which encourages the use of an Esperanto font.

.esperanto
/* used to indicate text is in Esperanto. */ {
/* saddle brown */
color : #8b4513;
/* encourage use of an Esperanto-supporting font, note spelling Ariel vs Arial */
font-family : Ariel SudEuro,Verena SudEuro,Arial,sans-serif;
}

Creating Esperanto HTML Documents : Kreado de Esperantlingvaj HTML-dokumentoj

It is instructive to have a peek at the HTML source code of other people’s working Esperanto HTML documents.

Web pages written in Esperanto that use the native accents (iso-8859-3) will have the following statement embedded in the HTML header:

<meta http-equiv=Content-Type content=text/html; charset=iso-8859-3>

Unfortunately, there is a bug in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5, and if you do include that metatag, all css, cascading style sheet, formatting fails. You could ask everyone to use the Opera browser, but you are unlikely to persuade many to abandon the Microsoft juggernaut.

For Unicode, the charset would be: Unicode, UnicodeBig, UnicodeBigUnmarked, UnicodeLittle, UnicodeLittleUnmarked or UTF8. See encoding in the Java glossary for more details. You would need a Unicode-capable editor to create such a document. I don’t know of one. Unicode uses a cast of 64 thousand potential characters including Chinese, Tibetan, Thai, and of course Esperanto. The common letters can be represented in 8 bits, but the rest require 16.

HTML documents may use statements such as this to force specific Esperanto fonts:

<font face=Arial Eo>

You can also use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) style sheet to automatically put Esperanto text into one of the Esperanto fonts, as is done here. They may directly use high ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) characters for the accents (e.g. æ) or their low ASCII equivalents e.g. (&230;). Using high ASCII is more compact, less work and easier to proofread, but it won’t work in as many browsers as the low ASCII method. Here as a Funduc Search and Replace script you can download. It will convert high ASCII into its &230; form. If it shows on your screen as text rather than downloading, not to worry, just cut and paste it to a file called esperanto.srs.

You can use the script on the raw text before you add any other HTML codes, or after it is complete. You need to download the utility and the script separately. This script does not handle cx, or c^ conventions, but it would be trivial to add them to the script. I did not add them because I am writing about the conventions and I don’t want all of the cx’s converted. Instead, I turn ESPType on an off depending on which I intend, then use the script when I am done just to convert the ones done in high ASCII.

Acquiring Esperanto Fonts : Akirado de Esperantaj Tiparoj

Many modern fonts now support enough of Unicode to handle Esperanto, for example: Arial, Calibri, Cambria, Comic Sans MS, Consolas, Constantia, Courier New, Lucida Console, Lucida Sans, Lucida Sans Unicode, Palatino Linotype, Segoe Print, Segoe UI, Times New Roman, Verdana. Using these fonts would be preferable to using the older specialized Esperanto fonts. You can check if a given font supports Esperanto using FontShower

One way to gather a large collection of Esperanto fonts is to download Random Software’s EspType program. The only catch is, it installs over 100 fonts, so you may feel overwhelmed.

Adobe Type Manager is great for temporarily installing just the fonts you need for a particular task. That way you can rapidly hide or reveal your Esperanto fonts. If you have more than the fonts you need active, there are two drawbacks:

  1. Each font takes up RAM (Random Access Memory), so your computer slows down.
  2. Unwanted fonts clog your menus making it harder to select the one you want.

If you have a Adobe Type Manager, you can also use PostScript Fonts in Windows or NT. To install the fonts use ADD FONTS in Adobe Type Manager or the Control Panel under Fonts.

Most Esperanto fonts end in the letters Eo or Euro, e.g. Arial Eo or "San Serif SudEuro" You need different fonts for iMac and Windows (TrueType). Sources of fonts include:

The Alphabet : La Alfabeto

Aa, Bb., Cc, ĉ Ĉ, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Ĝ, ĝ, Hh, Ĥ, ĥ, Ii, Jj, Ĵ, ĵ, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Rr, Ss, Ŝ, ŝ, Tt, Uu, Ŭ, ŭ, Vv, Zz.

There are accented c g h j s u. There is no q, w, x or y in native Esperanto words. Letters are usually pronounced as follows: a, ba, co, cxo, da, e, of, ga gxa, ha, hxo, i, jo, jxa, ko, lo, mo, na, o, po, ra, so, sxo, to, u, uxo, va, za, with q=kuo, x=ikso, w=duobla vo y=ipsilono.

Warning: Accented characters may not display properly if your browser is not configured.

The Sixteen Rules of Esperanto Grammar Dek Ses Reguloj

Taken from Esperanto Dictionary. This is a somewhat formal description of the language, but you can see how much simpler and regular it is grammatically than English or even Java. Warning: Accented characters may not display properly if your browser is not configured.
  1. There is no indefinite article; there is only one definite article, la, which is invariable.
  2. Nouns (substantives) are formed by adding o to the root. To form the plural, j is added. There are two cases, nominative (subject) and accusative (direct object); the accusative is formed by adding n to the nominative. Equivalents of other cases are formed by the use of prepositions (e.g. de mia patro my father’s).
  3. Adjectives are formed by adding a to the root. They agree in case and number with the noun they qualify, forming plural and accusative in the same way. The comparative is formed by the word pli the superlative by plej. Than is rendered by ol.
  4. The basic cardinal numerals (e.g. one, two, three), which do not vary for case, are unu, du, tri, kvar, kvin, ses, sep, ok, naux, dek, cent, mil. Tens and hundreds are formed by simple junction of the numerals, e.g. 583 = kvincent okdek tri. Ordinals (e.g. first, second, third) are formed by the addition of a, e.g. 4th = kvara. Multiples (e.g. dozen), fractions (e.g. one half) and collective numerals (e.g. foursome) are formed by the use of the suffixes -obl-, -on-, and -op- respectively. Distributives (e.g. two by two) are expressed with the help of the preposition po. Adverbials add e, e.g. firstly = unue.
  5. The personal pronouns are mi, vi, li, sxi, gxi, si, ni, ili, oni (I, you, he, she, it, self, we, they, one). Possessive pronouns are formed by adding a to these. Declension as for nouns.
  6. Verbs do not vary for person or number.
  7. Adverbs are formed by adding e to the root; comparison as for adjectives.
  8. All prepositions govern the nominative.
  9. Every word is pronounced as it is spelt.
  10. The accent is on the last syllable but one.
  11. Compound words are formed by simple junction of roots (the chief word coming at the end). Grammatical endings count for this purpose as separate words [i.e. morphemes.
  12. There is no multiple negation: if a clause contains another negative word it needs no ni.
  13. To show motion towards, words take the accusative ending.
  14. Each preposition has a definite fixed meaning; but if the sense does not indicate which should be used, recourse may be had to the preposition ie, which has no meaning of its own. Alternatively, the accusative without a preposition may be used.
  15. The so-called foreign words, which the majority of languages have taken from one source, undergo no change in the International Language beyond conforming to its orthography. Derivatives, however, are preferably formed from one basic root according to the rules of Esperanto.
  16. The a of the definite article and the final o of nouns may be dropped and replaced by an apostrophe.

Prefixes : Prefiksoj

Esperanto makes great use of standard prefixes to build combination words: eg. seka = dry, malseka = wet. In addition to the list of common prefixes below, you can use any Esperanto root as a prefix.
Official Esperanto Prefixes
Esperanto Prefix English Meaning
bo- inlaw
cxef- chief
dis- separation
ek- begin, sudden
eks- ex, former
ge- both sexes
mal- opposite, no implication of bad.
mis- mis, wrongly
pra- primordial, great as in great grandfather
re- re, return, repetition
Non-Standard Esperanto Prefixes (under construction)
Esperanto Prefix English Meaning
afro- African
al- approach, towards, bringing closer
anti- anti, against
arhxi- ?
aûdio- ?
aûuto ??
bio- ?
cis- on this side of, used primarily in chemistry
cxjo- male nickname
eko- ?
eûro- ??
if- shameful or immoral
for- away
fuxs- mistakenly done
hiper- ??
infra- ??
ko- ??
kver- ??
makro- ?
meta- ?
mikro- ?
mini- ?
mono- ?
njo- female nickname
pre- ?
plia- more
plena- full
proto- mis, wrongly
pseuxdo- pseudo
retro- backward
san- full
semi- primordial, great as in great grandfather
sen- without
stif- tele
tele- re, return, repetition
termo- backward
trans- across, on the other side of, used primarily in chemistry
ultra- without
vic- vice, second in rank
video- across, on the other side of, used primarily in chemistry
vir- masculine

Suffixes : Sufiksoj

Esperanto makes great use of standard suffixes to build combination words: eg. grand = big, grandega = very big. In addition to the list of common suffixes below, you can use any Esperanto root as a suffix.
Standard Esperanto Suffixes (under construction)
Esperanto Suffix English Meaning
-a -ful, like/adjective
-acx disparagement
-ad action, prolonged or repeated
-ajx thing
-al like/adjective
-an member/inhabitant
-anta passive present participle
-ar group
-as ing/present
-ata active present participle
-e ly/adverb
-ebl possibility
-ebla -able, -ible
-ec having the characteristics of
-eca -ish, -like
-eco -ness, -ship, -ity
-edo -oid
-eg very
-ej place
-ejo place
-em tendency
-end obligated
-er particle
-esk esque
-estr leader
-et ette
-eto -et, small version of
-hora hour’s, hours'
-i infinitive or named from
-icid icide/killer
-icx male
-id descendant of, child of
-if root
-ig makes
igx become
-ik science
il tool
-in female
-ind worthiness
-inda -able, -ible, -worthy
-ing holder
-inta ed/passive past participle
-is ed/past
-ism -ism
ismo -ism
ist ist
-isto -er, -ist, -or, professional
-it inflammation
-ita active past participle
-iv capable
-iz apply
-obl fold
-oblo -fold
-oid shaped
-on fraction
-ono ordinal e.g. first, second, third, fourth…
-onta passive future participle
-op collective numeral, n by n
-os will/future
-ota active future particple
-oz large quantity
-u imperative!
-uj container
-ul person
-ulo -er, person who habitually does the action described.
-um related to in some way
-unta active conditional participle
-us conditional
-uta passive conditional participle
Non-Standard Esperanto Suffixes (under construction)
Esperanto Prefix English Meaning
ab- ?
ac- ?
al- approach, towards, bringing closer
anc- ?
ari- ??
ator- ?
cis- on this side of, used primarily in chemistry
e- ??
e- ??
ed- ??
en- ??
enz- ??
esk- ?
i- ?
icx- ?
if- ?
ik- ?
ilion- ?
mis- mis, wrongly
njo- female nickname
plia- more
plena- full
pra- primordial, great as in great grandfather
pseuxdo- pseudo
re- re, return, repetition
retro- backward
sen- without
trans- across, on the other side of, used primarily in chemistry
vic- vice, second in rank
vir- masculine

Correlatives : Korelativoj

ti- ki- i- cxi- neni-
-a tia = that kind of
tian = that kind of
kia = what kind of
kian = what kind of
ia = some sort of
ian = some sort of
cxia = every kind of
cxian = every kind of
nenia = no such
nenian = no such
-al tial = therefore kial = why ial = for some reason cxial = for every reason nenial = for no reason
-am tiam = then kiam = when iam = sometime cxiam = always neniam = never
-e tie = there, in that place
tien = there, to that place
kie = where
kien = where to
ie = somewhere
ien = somewhere
cxie = everywhere
cxien = everywhere
nenie = nowhere
nenien = nowhere
-el tiel = so kiel = how iel = somehow cxiel = every way neniel = no way
-es ties = that one’s kies = whose ies = someone’s cxies = everyone’s nenies = no-one’s
-o tio = that
tion = that
kio = what
kion = what
io = something
ion = something
cxio = everything
cxion = everything
nenio = nothing
nenion = nothing
-om tiom = so much kiom = how much iom = some cxiom = all neniom = none
-u tiu = that one
tiun = that one
kiu = who
kiun = whom
iu = someone
iun = someone
cxiu = everyone
cxiun = everyone
neniu = no-one
neniun = no-one

Short Words : Vortetoj

Most words in Esperanto are easy to remember because they have cognates in English (komputilo, farmi, sekso), French (manki, cxevalo, diri), German (knabo, kvar, ses, naux, fraulo) or Latin (akvo, acero, lauxdi). The prepositions and other little words are fairly arbitrary. Here they are:
ajn ever
al to
alia other
alie or else
apud beside
aux or
ci thou
cia thine
cian thine
cin thou
cxar since
cxe at
cxi here
cxu is it true that
dankon thank you
de of
delfeno dolphin
du two
dua second
due secondly
duan second
dum during
eble possibly
ecx even
el out of
en into
estas is
esti to be
estis was
estos will be
estu be
estus would be
gxi it
gxia its
gxian its
gxin it
gxis until
havi to have
hieraux yesterday
hodiaux today
ili they
ilia their
ilian their
ilin them
ja indeed
jxus just
kaj and
ke that
krei to create
kun with
la the
laux according to
li he
lia his
lian his
lin him
mem self
mi I
mia my
mian my
min me
morgaux tomorrow
ne not
nek nor
in we
nia our
nian our
nin us
nu well now
nun already
nur only
nura mere
ol than
oni one
? onia is not word one’s
? onian is not a word one’s
? onin is not a word one
per by means of
plej most
pli more
por for
pri about
pro because of
se if
sed but
is oneself
sia one’s
sian one’s
sin self-
sub under
super over
sur on
sxi she
sxia her
sxian her
sxin her
tra through
tro too much
tuj immediately
unu one
unua first
unuan first
unue firstly
uzi to use
ve oh no
vi you
via your
vian your
vin you

Colours : Koloroj

blanka        white
blua        blue
bruna        brown
brunkarmezina        maroon
flava        yellow
fuksina        magenta
grizbruneta        beige
griza        grey
indiga        indigo
kakia        khaki
karmezina        crimson
nigra        black
olivkolora        olive
orangxa        orange
pulkolora        puce
purpura        purple
rozkolora        pink
rugxa        red
silvera        silver
turkisblua        turquoise
verda        green
viola        violet

Esperanto Computer Terminology : Komputika Vortareto

Many dictionaries don’t have up-to-date terms used in the computer field. Here are a few to get you started.
accent kadro
backspace key retropasxo-klavo
backup vicrisurco
browser retumilo
cache kasxejo
computer komputilo
komputaro (implies more powerful)
computer case komputilokazo
CD (Compact Disc) codoromo
CD ROM (Read Only Memory) drive legilo
click klaki
clock horlogxo
controller card adaptilo
computer komputoro
CPU (Central Processing Unit) cxeforgano
crash frakasigxi
disk drive diskodrajvo
diskette disketo
download elsxuti
DVD (Digital Video Disc) cifereca videa disko
DVD drive CVD (Cifereca Videa Diskodrajvo)
email retposxto
email address email adreso
floppy disk moldisko
enter key enen-klavo
error eraro
file dosiero
font tiparo
hard disk durdisko
hardware masxino
HTML HTML (Hiper Texsta Mark Lingvo)
icon ikono
Internet Interreto
key klavo
keyboard klavaro
lap/top computer surgenua komputoro
microcomputer mikro komputoro
mag tape bendo
mag tape drive beondodrajvo
main-frame computer centra komputoro
modemo modem
mother board cxefkarto
mouse muso
parallel port paralela pordo
press premu
serial port seria pordo
tab langeto
trackball spurkuglo
operating system mastruma sistemo
power supply nutrado
printer printatoro
RAM SAM (Senvice Atingebla Memoro)
screen ecrano
software kodaro
tajpi to type on a computer keyboard
URL (Uniform Resource Locator) URL (Unuforma Risurca Lokindiko)
web page retpagxo
WWW (World Wide Web) TTT (Tut-Tera Teksaĵo)

Punctuation : Interpunkcioj

This table may not display correctly if you don’t have a suitable font installed, or if there are bugs in your browser. If you see strange things in the table, take them with a grain of salt.
' apostrofo
¸ cedilo
¢ cendosigno
" citilo, gxiraforeloj
^ cxapelo
´ dekstra korno
? demandosigno
# dieso, krado
÷ dividsigno
$ dolarsigno
: dupunkto
= egalsigno
% elcentosigno
¥ eno
] ferma orta krampo
) ferma ronda krampo
» ferma urio
} ferma vinkulo
° gradosigno
@ heliko
¿ invertanta demandosigno
¡ invertanta krisigno
& komerca «kaj»
, komo
© kopirajtosigno
! krisigno, ekkria signo
` liva korno
[ malferma orta krampo
( malferma ronda krampo
« malferma urio
{ malferma vinkulo
< malpliosigno
· meza punkto
¤ monersigno
µ mu, mikrometro
¬ nesigno
/ oblikva frakcistreko
× oblosigno
§ paragrafo
> pliosigno
+ pluso
± plusominusosigno
£ pundosigno
. punkto
; punktokomo
® registritosigno
\ retroklino
¦ stango
* steleto
- streketo
_ substreko
¯ superstreko
² supra duo
³ supra trio
¹ supra uno
~ tildo, ondosigno
¨ tremao
¾ tri kvaronoj
½ unu duono
¼ unu kvono
| vertikala streko

Tenses : Verbotempoj

All Esperanto verbs are conjugated the same way so once you understand how the verb ami, to love, works, you understand them all. It was only when I encountered Esperanto did the English tenses begin to come clear. I also experienced horror at the bizarre irregularity of English. I marvelled that I was ever able to learn it. Most Esperanto speakers avoid these various compound tenses. You see these form more as nouns.
Verbs
Primary Tense Secondary Tense Active Esperanto English
simple past active Mi amis lin. I loved him.
present active Mi amas lin. I love him.
future active Mi amos lin. I will love him.
conditional active Se mi amus lin… If I were to love him…
imperative active Mi amu lin. I should love him.
past past active Mi estis aminta lin. I had loved him.
passive Li estis amita. He had been loved.
present active Mi estis amanta lin. I was loving him.
passive Li estis amata. He was loved.
future active Mi estis amonta lin. I was going to love him.
passive Li estis amota. He was going to be loved.
conditional active ? no such word as amunta. If I had loved him…
passive ? no such word as amuta. If he had been loved…
present past active Mi estas aminta lin. I have loved him.
passive Li estas amita. He has been loved.
present active Mi estas amanta lin. I am loving him.
passive Li estas amata. He is being loved.
future active Mi estas amonta lin. I am going to love him.
passive Li estas amota. He is going to be loved.
conditional active Se mi estas amunta lin… If I were to love him…
passive ? no such word as amuta If he is loved…
future past active Mi estos aminta lin. I will have loved him.
passive Li estos amita. He will have been loved.
present active Mi estos amanta lin. I will be loving him.
passive Li estos amata. He will be loved.
future active Mi estos amonta lin. I will be going to love him.
passive Li estos amota. He will be going to be loved.
conditional active Se mi estos amunta lin… If I were going to love him…
passive ? no such word as amuta If he were going to be loved…
conditional past active Se mi estus aminta lin… If I would have loved him…
passive Se li estus amita… If he had been loved…
present active Se mi estus amanta lin… If I would be loving him…
passive Se li estus amata… If he were loved…
future active Se mi estus amonta lin… If I were to love him…
passive Se li estus amota… If he were going to be loved…
conditional active ? no such word as amunta If I were to love him…
passive ? no such word as amuta… If he were loved…
imperative past active Mi estu aminta lin. I should have loved him.
passive Li estu amita… He should have been loved.
present active Mi estu amanta lin. I should be loving him loving him.
passive Li estu amata. He should be being loved.
future active Mi estu amonta lin. I should be going to love him.
passive Li estu amota. He should be about to be loved.
conditional active ? no such work as amunta If I ought to love him…
passive ? no such work as amuta If he ought to be loved…
I am unsure of how you mix the conditional with other tenses. The above examples and translations most likely contain errors. Wells does not even mention the conditional participles.

For nouns to describe ongoing actions, you can use the suffix -ad, e.g. amado for loving. The term for sexual lover comes from a slightly different root amoranto. For more precise tenses, consult this table:

Gerunds : Verbal Nouns
Tense Active Esperanto English
past active aminto someone who has loved
passive amito someone who was loved
present active amanto someone who is loving
passive amato someone who is loved
future active amonto someone who will love
passive amoto someone who will be loved
conditional active amunto someone who would love
passive amuto someone who would be loved
In a similar way you can create participles. To describe ongoing actions, you can use the suffix -ad, e.g. amada for loving. For more precise tenses, consult this table:
Participles : Verbal Adjectives
Tense Active Esperanto English
past active aminta having loved
passive amita having been loved
present active amanta loving
passive amata being loved
future active amonta going to love
passive amota going to be loved
conditional active ? no such word as amunta would be loving
passive ? no such word as amuta would be loved

Irregularities : Neregulajxoj

Though Esperanto is more regular than any natural language, it still has a few asymmetries and quirks.

Esperanto Conference : Esperanta Kongreso

Your first Esperanto conference could be one of the most humiliating and embarrassing events of your life if you don’t prepare. People will assume you are a fluent speaker and will come up to you and start speaking Esperanto sounding like Speedy Gonzales and expect you to return fire. There is no time to think, parse or look words up in a dictionary. You need some pat phrases thoroughly memorised both to hear and to speak during introductions and during the meals.

Esperanto conference 2000-09-30
Esperanto conference 2000-09-30

That’s me third from the right. You might mistakenly think that most attendees would be novices like yourself. Not so. As you might guess from the average age in the photo above, most of the people attending are already fluent and come to gab about every topic under the sun in a motley assortment of Esperanto accents. A conference is Esperanto immersion, not an Esperanto course.

Hi. Saluton.
What is your name? Kio estas via nomo?
My name is Roedy. Mia nomo estas Roedy.
Where are you from? De kie vi venas?
I live in New Westminster. Mi logxas en Nova Westminster.
How long have you been speaking Esperanto? Ek de kiom vi parolas Esperante?
I have been speaking Esperanto since August. Mi parolas Esperante ek de auxgusto.
Are you on the Internet? Cxu vi estas sur la Tut-Tera Teksajxo.
My webpage is http://mindprod.com. Mia retpagxo estas http://mindprod.com.
My email address used to be roedy@mindprod.com. Mia retposxta adreso estis roedy@mindprod.com.
Is this your first convention? Cxu tiu-cxi estas via unua kongreso?
Yes, this my first convention. Jes, tiu-cxi estas mia unua kongreso.
Did you come with someone? Cxu vi venas kun iu?
I came here with her. Mi venis cxi tien kun sxi.
Please pass the salt. Mi petas, pasigu la salon.
Please pass the pepper. Mi petas, pasigu la pipron.
Please pass the bread. Mi petas, pasigu la panon.
Please pass the cream. Mi petas, pasigu la kremon.
Please pass the sugar. Mi petas, pasigu la sukeron.
Thank you. Dankon.
You’re welcome. Mia plezuro.
Nenio.
Ne menciinde.
nedankeble.
Goodbye. Adiaux
Gxis revido.

Why Has Esperanto Failed : Malavantagxoj

Language Number of Speakers Notes
Chinese (all dialects) 1071 million Compact screen displays, but considerable skill is required to key
Mandarin Chinese 726 million Unicode now handles a basic set of ideograms
English 427 million The language of computing, though surprisingly not of the Internet.
Spanish 266 million More regular spelling than English. Easier to pronounce.
Hindi/Urdu 223 million Relatively easy to learn.
Arabic 181 million Difficult to typeset. Islam unifies by having everyone learn Arabic.
Portuguese 165 million  
Esperanto 2 million

Ten times faster to learn than other languages. Uses accented letters not part of Latin-1.

Nearly everything I have read is hopelessly optimistic about Esperanto. It has had 100 years to catch on, and it still has not. Esperanto is in a race with English to be the International language. Esperanto has fallen way behind. I don’t think it has any chance of ever catching up to English without a major design overhaul. There are only about 2 million Esperanto speakers. Granted there are speakers all over the world, and the Internet has made it possible for them to communicate both in print and voice. The Internet yet may provide the needed push. However, the English steamroller seems to be becoming the international language, despite its extreme difficulty to learn and pronounce. This could all change when China comes online.

In a Time Magazine interview, Nicholas Negroponte wrote that by 2004 the developing world will represent more than 50% of the Web. By 2007, the most widely used language on the Internet will be Chinese.

I talked with Chinese and Korean speakers. One pointed out that the Esperanto roots which are primarily from Latin and Slavic languages are meaningless to Asian speakers. The regular pattern helps, but the language is still much more difficult to learn than it is for English speakers. Korean word order puts the verb at the end of a sentence. Esperanto’s flexibility in word order makes the language sound more natural to a Korean. Pronunciation is a major hurdle. Korean has no r sound. The Korean l is like the English l crossed with one quarter r. Koreans have great trouble pronouncing and distinguishing the letters f and p. Esperanto rolled r is difficult even for English speakers, and Esperanto makes great use of both f and p. It is quite a bit simpler than most natural languages, but it is still not universally pronounceable.

Esperanto is difficult for Korean and Chinese speakers with its pedantic grammar and fanatical tenses. A successful international language may have to be much more like Chinese than the current attempts, where tenses are handled as needed with adverbs. The international language of the future may well be Mandarin. We may need an interim pidgin Mandarin to get us over the hump until the world becomes fully bilingual.

Here are the reasons I think Esperanto has so far failed to catch on as the language for people of different nations to communicate:

You might ask what business a rank novice like me has criticising Esperanto. I am an expert on what Esperanto looks like from the outside. I am in a better position than the old hands to know why people don’t attempt to learn or why they give up too easily.

I have already been accused of being a heretic and an Interlinguist in sheep’s clothing. I know almost nothing about Interlingua other than I was able to make sense of a passage of it without any background in the language. It is on my to-do list for future investigation.

I don’t suggest starting over. That would mean another 100 years to get back to the same point. What I suggest is a gradual evolution toward simplifying the language further still.

Another possibility is formally defining Esperanto Comencanta, with relaxed grammatical rules, e.g. optional -n -j, -a and -e considered equivalent etc. Then beginners could blast away unselfconsciously knowing they are not making thousands of glaring errors. They could gradually pick up the fine points, by osmosis, communicating with full language speakers. The intimidation factor — fear of making a fool of yourself in public is underrated as a prime block to the spread of Esperanto. It is one of the main reasons adults have trouble learning new languages. The thought of communicating aurally with another Esperanto speaker terrifies me. I attempted it at the kongresso, and was so humiliated, I lost all further interest in the language.

If it is to replace English, ironically it must be seen as a stepping stone to learning English. That would provides the carrot to learn Esperanto. If everyone goes through Esperanto on the way to learning English, many will stick at Esperanto, and all will know Esperanto. To make it a true stepping stone, it needs a new set of English based roots.

What would work? It would have to be a simplified, easier-to-pronounce English or Mandarin with a very simple grammar and phonetic spelling. Grammatically it might look a bit like Bahasa Indonesia, an inter-language created by amateurs. You bill it innocuously as a tool to help learn English/Mandarin. But, like NetSpeak, it would insinuate itself into the mainstream. Native English speakers might not be able to speak the language, but they should be able to understand it.

The Competition : Rivaloj

Mandarin

What about Mandarin as an International language? I don’t speak Mandarin, but I have asked many people about it. It has the following advantages:
  1. There are already 1071 million people who read it, more than any other language. There is a wealth of new material published daily in it.
  2. Korean and Japanese speakers are already familiar with much of the written vocabulary, though not the pronunciation.
  3. You can display a lot more information in a small amount of display screen space.
  4. Though it takes considerable skill and memorisation to learn to type, once you learn, you can type many more words per minute than you can English.
  5. The grammar is simple. There are no tenses, no plurals, no genders. Usually prepositions are implied.
  6. Much like Esperanto, you can combine simple roots to form more complex ideas.. Even within glyphs there are patterns of strokes that can hint at meaning, e. g. the water radical indicates that word has something to do with water.
  7. Numbers (cardinals and ordinals), days of the week and months of the year follow the same numeric pattern, even more regular than Esperanto.
  8. The written form has been used to unify the various Asian languages for centuries. It has been field-tested for millennia.
  9. There are places in almost every city of the world where you can find people using Mandarin (or the Cantonese dialect) in their daily lives.
It has the following disadvantages:
  1. For English speakers and speakers of other European languages, there are no cognates. You must start from square one.
  2. Mandarin uses four tones, pitch inflections unlike anything in English. These are hard for Europeans to master.
  3. You must memorise every Mandarin glyph separately, and memorise the pronunciation. The language is not phonetic. Every word is a separate pictogram. This is a major memorisation chore for an adult.
  4. Because the language is made of pictograms instead of letters, you need a much more complicated system of keyboarding. There are many different schemes in use. All require considerably more memorisation than QWERTY typing. Oddly, one typing scheme for Mandarin would work by having you type the roughly equivalent English word. That could save you quite a bit of memorisation.
  5. Mandarin is not a particularly good language for scientific discourse. It is hard to be extremely precise and unambiguous. It is a more poetic language where much common sense is presumed of the listener to fill in the details. Every glyph has many different meanings. You have to decide from context which one is meant.
  6. Converting computer programs to use Mandarin is quite a bit more complicated than converting them to use French or Esperanto. You need at least 16-bit characters. This would mean converting huge amounts of C++ software to Java.
  7. It comes already attached to one particular culture and world view. Some people consider it dishonourable or unmanly to learn another culture’s language. They should learn yours, as an act of fealty to acknowledge the superiority of your culture.
Those people who know even 100 words of Mandarin will have competitive edge in dealing with the coming wave of Chinese Internet users. I would be interested in learning about how I can learn Mandarin, both written and pronunciation from drill on the Internet.

Esperantised English

English, possibly mostly for military reasons, is enveloping the planet. Perhaps we should employ a strategy of If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em English over the centuries has warped to be unrecognisable. Listen to someone reading Chaucer. English is still evolving. Note how NetSpeak has exploded, particularly among the young. Perhaps English could be gradually reformed by introducing it as a staged fad for young people. You can’t just start speaking Esperanto to the bus driver, but you can simplified English and have some chance of being understood. The reforms would be introduced gradually just by using them in daily life.

  1. First we introduce missing pronouns, for third person indefinite gender they, and second person plural yous. This is already well underway.
  2. Then we get rid of rid of various irregular variants,e.g. ox oxen, The problem is it will sound like baby talk since infants naturally expect the language to be consistent. This will drive parents mad, like those soothers teens affect, which might help encourage more widespread use.
  3. Then we introduce some consistency to the tense patterns, perhaps by treating all English verbs as if they were Esperanto roots.
  4. Then we use prefixes and suffixes with Esperantean abandon. They don’t have to be in the dictionary in that combo.
  5. Then we start replacing the th sound with s, or to something else if that sound is already taken. th is too hard to pronounce for people who learn English later in life.
  6. Get rid of tenses entirely, Chinese, Bahasa Indonesia and the African pidgins. When time is important, use an adverb. E.g. I go downtown tomorrow.

People are conservative when it comes to changes to language. Any change sounds horrible. Old English had all kinds of declentions which we dropped much to the dismay of the speakers, but to the benefit of anyone who had to learn English later. Languages evolve to greater simplicy and regularity.

Translation : Traduko

If someone sends you an Esperanto message, there was an eoxx program on the web to translate it into English, but it has gone. If anyone finds a replacement please let me know. Its vocabulary is limited, and its translations crude, but it can save you time looking up words individually in the dictionary. You can use the translator to check your manual translations into Esperanto by having it translate them back into English. Try this snippet of Esperanto out by typing in:

Mi amas æiajn belajn junajn virojn. or La du reøinoj estas en la banujo.

or, if you don’t know how to keyboard the accents:

Mi amas cxiajn belajn junajn virojn. or La du regxinoj estas en la banujo.

Eoxx Esperanto To English Translator

Other Translators : Aliaj Tradukiloj

Books : Libroj

Online Dictionaries : Retpagxaj Vortaroj

There are a number of dictionaries available on the web:

ring Rings : Ringoj

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