Should I learn Esperanto or Spanish?

The simplest language in the world

I think I spider! Many think that when they have the feeling that they don't understand anything in Denglish at all. Nobody says mobile phone to mobile phone or smartphone, folding calculator to laptop and calculator to computer anymore. But what's so bad about that? We are approaching such a world language, which would actually only have advantages. There would be no more problems of understanding, the world would come closer to each other and perhaps fewer wars would be waged as a result. This idea existed even before English caught on.

It started with Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof. He was born in 1859 to a Jewish family in the Polish city of Białystok. He studied medicine first in Moscow and then in Warsaw and became an ophthalmologist. He saw himself as a Russian and an atheist. Zamenhof had a great talent for languages: even as a child he was able to speak Russian, Yiddish, Polish, German, French, Greek, Latin, English and Hebrew mostly fluently. He often thought about communist values ​​and a world language and one day sat down to invent the latter.

After several prototypes, he finally published a brochure in several countries around 1887 on a language that he called "International Language". He described himself as "Doctor Esperanto" (translated into German Esperanto means something like Hoffender) because he did not want to lose his reputation as a doctor. A little later this pseudonym developed into the name of the language: Esperanto. The idea of ​​Esperanto is to be a language that is as easy to learn as possible and that everyone should be able to speak. It should not belong to any nation, so that it also remains neutral. It is also intended to promote cohesion in the world.

How did Esperanto move on?
The brochure was published in 1887, the first Esperanto club was founded in 1888, and the first Esperanto magazine was published - "La Esperantisto". In 1905 the first Esperanto World Congress took place and Zamenhof renounced the rights to the language. One year later, the first German Esperanto Association is founded. In 1908 the first world congress takes place in Germany. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, all Esperanto groups were crushed, Esperanto was banned and those who spoke were persecuted. The same thing happened in Russia under Stalin. In 1946 the German Esperanto Association was re-established, and in 1966 the first Esperanto film was broadcast, a black and white film called "Incubus". In 1970 the first German Esperanto dictionary, the "Plena Ilustrita Vortaro", is published. In 1988 the "International Academy of Science", a school in San Marino that only speaks Esperanto, is founded. In 1999, William Ault's Esperanto literature was nominated for the first of three times for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Herzberg im Harz becomes an Esperanto city in 2007. And in 2011 "Muzaiko", the first 24-hour radio station in Esperanto, was founded. The Google translation has also been translating Esperanto since 2012. Since 2020, around 10,000 people have been learning Esperanto every year through Duolingo. Lernu.net is also a well-known way to learn Esperanto. Today there are around a million Esperanto speakers and actually around 1,000 who speak Esperanto as their mother tongue: They were raised in Esperanto and only then learned their actual language on the street.

Simple grammar and no exceptions


Esperanto grammar is very simple, there are only 16 rules. It is very much based on endings. For example, the word "lernejoj" can be divided into four parts: "lern-" means "learning", "ej" means "place", "o" means noun, and "j" means the word is plural . So we have "learning places", which can be equated with "schools". Instead of "o" (noun) there are also other suffixes, for example "a" for adjective. For example, "lerneja" means something like "scholastic". You can also derive other words in this way. For example, if you want to translate "urban school" into Esperanto, you only need to know what "city" means for "urban". If you replace the "o" with an "a", you already have the adjective: "urba", ie "urba lernejo".

Verbs can be formed in a very similar way: if you know the stem "lern" for everything that has to do with learning, the only thing you have to do is to add an "i" to the infinitive "learn" to obtain. If you translate "I am", you first have to know what "I" means, namely "mi", and then you just need to put an "as" behind the "lern" and you have "mi lernas" and so that "I am learning" in Esperanto.

With this knowledge you can already translate the first longer sentence: "Cu vi lernas por la lernejo?": "Cu" literally means something like "whether", but is often used as the beginning of a yes / no sentence: "Cu vi dormas" means "are you sleeping". "Vi lernas": "you learn", "vi" is just like "mi" (I), only for "you". "Por" means "for", "la" means "the", "the" or "that". So: "Are you studying for school?"

Another important part of grammar is the accusative: "Mi lernas gin." ("gi" means "it"). The "n" behind the "gi" means that it is in the accusative (who or what?). So: "I'm learning". What makes Esperanto grammar so special, however, is that there are no exceptions at all. Even "esti" (German "to be") is treated exactly like all other verbs.

Zamenhof has borrowed most of the words from French, German or other Romance languages. For example, French comes from "fari" (German "do" / French "faire") or "aeti" (German "buy" / French "acheter"). Borrowed from German are, among many other words, for example "lampo" (lamp), "noto" (note) or our previous example "lerni" (to learn).

The only more or less illogical thing about Esperanto is the accents on some letters. Zamenhof was able to type them on his Polish typewriter without any problems, but that no longer works on modern keyboards. The accents give the letter a kind of hissing sound.

Esperanto wants to overcome language barriers


There are several 100 Esperanto organizations and well over 1000 Esperanto clubs. The best known is the UEA (Universala Esperanto Asocio, the General Esperanto Community), it organizes an Esperanto congress every year, publishes books and represents the Esperanto movement before Unesco, the United Nations and the European Council, among others. In addition, almost every country has its own Esperanto organization and many sub-organizations. In Germany, the two best-known organizations are the GEA (Germana Esperanto-Asocio, German Esperanto Community) and the DEJ (German Esperanto Youth). There is also an Esperanto club in the city of Freiburg: The Esperanto-Grupo Friburgo (Esperanto Group Freiburg). However, most organizations now only meet via video conference.

Esperanto is an easy-to-learn language that is based on the very good idea of ​​at least breaking down the linguistic barriers between countries through an international language. It has an active worldwide community trying to spread this idea. The grammar is very easy to learn because of only 16 basic rules and no exceptions and the vocabulary can be largely formed by yourself. Unfortunately, there is still no country in which you actively speak this language, but by learning it you do a small part to get closer to this goal.