Overview of the Esperanto Language
A Polish oculist, Dr. Ludovic L. Zamenhof, created Esperanto in the hopes of helping the world solve its problems by communicating in a single, apolitical language. Originally, the language was designated "La Internacia Lingvo" (The International Language), but it quickly came to be called "Esperanto", meaning "the hopeful one". Dr. Zamenhof published the first textbook of this language (called "Unua Libro" or "First Book") in 1887.
Esperanto Vocabulary and Esperanto Grammar
When Dr. Zamenhof created Esperanto, he deliberately designed it as a blend of Romance language and Germanic language features, hoping that would encourage speakers of both types of languages to learn it. Esperanto vocabulary is drawn from many European languages. Thus, English speakers may recognize a number of Esperanto words, such as varma "warm", fleksebla "flexible", and problemo "problem". Someone who has studied Latin, French, Spanish, German, Italian, or any other European language may recognize even more, including prepositions like de "of, from, by" and sur "on", as well as nouns like patro "father" and libro "book".
That's not to say that Esperanto is a copy of any other language. It has its own, unique system of grammar and forming words, designed especially to be easy to master. One distinctive feature that makes it so easy to learn Esperanto vocabulary and Esperanto grammar is the consistent use of endings to form different parts of speech based on the same root. For instance, nouns are formed by adding -o to the root, while adjectives are formed by adding -a. There is only one plural ending, -j, which can be used with any noun or adjective. Thus, if you know a root like knab that is associated with the concept of "children", you could form the words knabo "boy", knaba "boyish", and knaboj "boys".
Infinitive verbs are formed by adding -i to the ending. Verb endings do change to indicate tense, but not to indicate person or number, which makes them simpler than in many other languages.
The Esperanto Alphabet and Esperanto Pronunciation
Esperanto is a phonetic language: the spelling of a word shows clearly how it is to be pronounced. Each letter represents one and only one sound, and the stress accent always falls on the next-to-last vowel of a word.
There are 28 letters in the Esperanto alphabet. It contains all of the letters in the English alphabet except for Q, W, and X, along with six letters that Dr. Zamenhof invented especially for Esperanto: Ĉ, Ĝ, Ĥ, Ĵ, Ŝ, and Ŭ.
Uses of Esperanto
Of all the artificially-created international languages, Esperanto is the most successful and the most widely used, perhaps because it is comparatively easy to learn Esperanto. Esperanto is particularly popular in China and in Eastern Europe. Esperantists have also produced a wide range of original literary works along with translations of works from other languages. Such works can be enjoyed by anyone who chooses to learn to speak Esperanto, regardless of that person's native language.
If you want to learn Esperanto, check out Transparent Language's Esperanto software program, which enables you to hear, read, and speak Esperanto. We wish you the best of luck with your Esperanto learning!