Esperanto is a language different from most in that it was carefully planned to be as easy-as-possible to learn and introduced with the hope that it would be studied worldwide and become a common second language for the world.
WHAT MAKES IT SO EASY?
1. The grammar is simple, with no exceptions. The entire set of Esperanto grammar rules can be mastered in a single hour.
2. Verb patterns are simple with no irregular verbs. English verb patterns are also simple, but there are hundreds of irregular English verbs.
3. The spelling is completely phonetic. Once you have learned the rules, if you see a word correctly spelled, you know how to pronounce it. There are six different ways of pronouncing “ough”, none phonetic; there are thirteen ways of spelling the long “o” sound in English.
4. Vocabulary learning has been greatly reduced as related words are formed using prefixes, suffixes and grammatical endings. This means fluency can be achieved after learning a small fraction of the number of vocabulary items needed for fluency in other languages.
ENGLISH IS ALREADY BEING USED FOR INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION, WHY ESPERANTO?
1. English is a hard language to learn. Esperanto is much, much easier.
2. English sentences can often be misunderstood, as multiple interpretations are often possible. Esperanto is far less ambiguous.
3. English is politically associated with the United States and the former British Empire. Esperanto is politically neutral.
4. English is the native language of about 5% of the world’s population who enjoy an undeserved privileged position when using English as an international language. Esperanto is more fair. With very few exceptions, conversations in Esperanto are conversations between people who have each made the effort to learn a neutral language to be able to meet others as linguistic equals.
ARE THERE OTHER ADVANTAGES TO ESPERANTO?
A huge amount of resources is currently being spent on translations and interpretation which would be freed up for better uses if Esperanto were a common second language for everyone. As an example, since 1998, all documents of the World Health Organization meeting defined criteria have been made available in all six of its official languages. Despite the effort, half of the world’s population do not understand any of the six official languages. Translations cost millions of dollars every year. With Esperanto as a common second language those millions would be available for health-related projects.
When someone who speaks a major language has a good idea, it can be quickly communicated and adopted where it proves useful. How many good ideas never reach the broader world community because the person with the idea does not speak a major language? How often is a scientist chosen to attend international conferences because his or her language skills are superior to a colleague whose is a more proficient scientist?
People often learn a second language because they are interested in the culture of the language they learn. But most people who learn English are not motivated by an interest in the culture of the English speaking world. They are motivated by a desire to communicate internationally. An unintended side effect is their access to English literature. While there have been many foreign works translated into English, English literature has largely been written by native speakers of English and represents the culture of the English speaking world. Using English as an international language with the resulting disproportionate exposure to English speaking culture can be viewed as threatening to other cultures. By comparison, Esperanto literature is without question the most internationally representative literature of any language on the planet. Esperanto literature represents the international culture of the Esperanto speaking world. Esperanto speaking authors from around the world contribute an abundance of original work. Translations into Esperanto are usually done by people translating from their native language who often understand nuances and subtleties that might be missed by someone translating from a foreign language. The word building possibilities of Esperanto and clear but flexible sentence structure make it much easier to translate with high fidelity to the original.
Learning Esperanto is a demonstration of respect. Although much easier than other languages, learning Esperanto still requires an effort. Making that effort proves a willingness to reach out to meet others as equals. This respect for other people and other cultures provides a good grounding for the international cooperation required to address the many global challenges facing our world.