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Frank

attitudes towards Esperanto

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Bonan matenon

As a linguist I’d like to know more about Esperanto. Currently I am writing a book on languages in the world. For my research, I ask ‘real’ speakers of a particular language about their attitudes and opinions. This is why I joined this forum. Unfortunately I don’t speak any Esperanto myself. These are the questions I’d like to discuss with you: 

1.     What is your first language? (i.e. ‘native’ language, mother tongue - if it is a language other than Esperanto)

2.     What other languages do you speak?

3.     When did you learn Esperanto?

4.     Why did you learn Esperanto? (this can be any reason)

5.     When do you use Esperanto? (e.g. in everyday situations, or on special occasions only?)

6.     How fluent are you in Esperanto? (as fluent as in your first language?)

7.     What role can Esperanto play in today’s world? (e.g. as an international language, or as a 'neutral' language)

8.     What do you think of the claim that the only real international language is English, instead of Esperanto?

 I’m looking forward to your replies.

 Bondezirojn

 Frank

Frank van Splunder PhD

Linguapolis / University of Antwerp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saluton, Frank.

On 13/02/2019 at 11:44, Frank said:

1.     What is your first language? (i.e. ‘native’ language, mother tongue - if it is a language other than Esperanto)

English.

On 13/02/2019 at 11:44, Frank said:

2.     What other languages do you speak?

French and Italian, with a smattering of other Romance languages and superficial knowledge of a couple of other ones.

On 13/02/2019 at 11:44, Frank said:

3.     When did you learn Esperanto?

2002

On 13/02/2019 at 11:44, Frank said:

4.     Why did you learn Esperanto? (this can be any reason)

Curiosity.

On 13/02/2019 at 11:44, Frank said:

5.     When do you use Esperanto? (e.g. in everyday situations, or on special occasions only?)

I use it every day because of my work but not in the home. It does serve as a useful secret language if my better half and I want to talk privately in public.

On 13/02/2019 at 11:44, Frank said:

6.     How fluent are you in Esperanto? (as fluent as in your first language?)

Functionally fluent. I don't think many if any people become truly fluent in Esperanto compared to their native language. I might not know what an ash tree looks like but at least it's not a new name to me in English. I have no idea what it's called in Esperanto. Native speakers of national languages have vocabulary which is passively amassed and which people from other language backgrounds can't replicate.

On 13/02/2019 at 11:44, Frank said:

7.     What role can Esperanto play in today’s world? (e.g. as an international language, or as a 'neutral' language)

As long as you can find someone who speaks Esperanto (and therein lies the problem), it does the job it's supposed to.

On 13/02/2019 at 11:44, Frank said:

8.     What do you think of the claim that the only real international language is English, instead of Esperanto?

I think both claims in that statement are false.

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Saluton

I think you're right: English is not a truly international language either. On the other hand, it's far more convenient for most people to use English rather than Esperanto (even for you, I guess...). I was just wondering why people would learn Esperanto in today's world... (is curiosity the only reason?). 

There are two additional issues I'd like to discuss:

1 What do you think is unique about Esperanto when compared to other languages? 

2 Do you consider Esperanto as part of your identity? (In what sense)

Best wishes

Frank

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Hi, Frank -

1 hour ago, Frank said:

I think you're right: English is not a truly international language either. On the other hand, it's far more convenient for most people to use English rather than Esperanto (even for you, I guess...).

Yes, I wouldn't dispute the reality of the world at all. For many situations and people, English is the common language and is probably the nearest to claiming the title the international  language. But there are plenty of people and areas where it's of no use whatsoever, such as a village in Eastern Lithuania which I found myself in. Even the younger people in the restaurant didn't know it at all and we relied on our few words of Russian.

1 hour ago, Frank said:

1 What do you think is unique about Esperanto when compared to other languages?

Its origins. The fact it's planned. I imagine it's the only language which has seen growth of, say, one million percent in its speaker base since July of 1887 too :)

1 hour ago, Frank said:

2 Do you consider Esperanto as part of your identity? (In what sense)

Nope.

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1.     What is your first language? (i.e. ‘native’ language, mother tongue - if it is a language other than Esperanto)

English.

Quote

2.     What other languages do you speak?

I did French to A-level (age 18) and German as part of my degree. I wouldn't say that I can speak either of them, but I can watch German TV and get almost every word, and I can communicate in German if I have to, but always painfully aware of how many mistakes I am making.

Quote

3.     When did you learn Esperanto?

I started when I was about 15, but only really made a serious effort when I turned 18 and joined JEB (the young-adult wing of EAB).

Quote

4.     Why did you learn Esperanto? (this can be any reason)

I was interested in the idea of a constructed language and how that might work. But mostly because I don't really have the patience to learn all the hundreds of little rules and endings and so on that you need to really master another language. I can remember a time in my first year of uni where I got back an essay I'd written in German that was covered in red ink with all my little mistakes - although the meaning was clear, a good proportion of the endings and articles were wrong. On the very same day, I'd asked @Tim to help me with something I'd written in Esperanto, and his response was something along the lines of "you made one mistake here, and this part could be worded more eloquently, but otherwise it's pretty much perfect".

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5.     When do you use Esperanto? (e.g. in everyday situations, or on special occasions only?)

I have a good collection of Esperanto music, which includes some of my favourite albums - so they get listened to a lot, and I go to a local meetup once a month. I have a few friends that I chat to online in Esperanto sometimes. Otherwise, not a huge amount.

Quote

6.     How fluent are you in Esperanto? (as fluent as in your first language?)

My knowledge is pretty good, but I often stumble over my words when I speak - nothing that wouldn't be fixed by a few weeks' regular practise. I don't have the feeling of being self conscious about making mistakes in every single sentence like I do in German.

Quote

7.     What role can Esperanto play in today’s world? (e.g. as an international language, or as a 'neutral' language)

It's mostly a niche hobby, and is likely to stay that way. The main incentives that people have to learn a foreign language (economic, romantic, etc) don't really apply to Esperanto, so it's really only people with an interest in languages for their own sake who learn it.

Quote

8.     What do you think of the claim that the only real international language is English, instead of Esperanto?

Esperanto is an international language, by multiple definitions. English is also an international language, by some (but not all) of the same definitions and by some other definitions too.

Quote

1 What do you think is unique about Esperanto when compared to other languages? 

That it is a successful general-purpose constructed language. By successful I don't mean that it achieved whatever lofty goals its early speakers may have had for it, but that it has a sizeable community. Something like Pandunia doesn't really have a community beyond its own official groups. The only other constructed language that I might consider "successful" by that definition is toki pona, but that isn't a "fully-fledged" general-purpose language in the same way.

Quote

2 Do you consider Esperanto as part of your identity? (In what sense)

No. It's just a hobby: something I do, not something I am.

Edited by Thomas
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Hi Thomas

Thanks a lot for your reply. I particularly liked your idea of Esperanto as something you do rather han something you are.

Best wishes

Frank

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1.     What is your first language? (i.e. ‘native’ language, mother tongue - if it is a language other than Esperanto)

Scots and English

2.     What other languages do you speak?

I know a few phrases in French, but nothing amazing, I can survive in France but not thrive in France.

3.     When did you learn Esperanto?

About two years ago.

4.     Why did you learn Esperanto? (this can be any reason)

I was going through a really tough breakup and it gave me some hope.

5.     When do you use Esperanto? (e.g. in everyday situations, or on special occasions only?)

Everyone of my friends speak Esperanto, I wake up to receive eMails and textes in Esperanto, I go for lunch with my friends and speak Esperanto. I then go to my work in the evening and it's an Esperanto only work environment, I go to the pub with my work mates afterwards in Esperanto and I have began to dream in Esperanto. 

6.     How fluent are you in Esperanto? (as fluent as in your first language?)

Almost C1 in speaking but a B2 in grammar.

7.     What role can Esperanto play in today’s world? (e.g. as an international language, or as a 'neutral' language)

Esperanto /could/ play a role as an international language, however, I do not believe it will ever overcome other national languages and become the de facto international lang.

8.     What do you think of the claim that the only real international language is English, instead of Esperanto?

I agree with Tim and Thomas' answer. :)

 

Kind regards Sammy. 

Edited by kashtanulo
to add my answers.

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