English is always referred to as the international language or the Swiss knife of languages because it is spoken in almost every part of the world. However, not a lot of people know about Esperanto: the international language of peace and, impressively, one of the easiest languages to learn.
Esperanto is an artificial auxiliary language based on the major European languages. The language was created by Polish ophthalmologist Ludwik Zamenhof “who grew up in Bialystok, Poland, where there were language and cultural barriers among different ethnic groups (the Polish, Germans, Russians, and Jews).” Zamenhof created a language that would be easy to learn because of its simplicity, structure, and close ties to existing languages.
In the first published book in Esperanto “Unua Libro,” Zamenhof states that there are three main goals of the language:
- To render the study of the language so easy as to make its acquisition mere play to the learner.
- To enable the learner to make direct use of his knowledge with persons of any nationality, whether the language be universally accepted or not; in other words, the language is to be directly a means of international communication.
- To find some means of overcoming the natural indifference of mankind, and disposing them, in the quickest manner possible, and en masse, to learn and use the proposed language as a living one, and not only in last extremities, and with the key at hand.
Zamenhof clearly had a vision for his language to build bridges over differences.
English and French language teacher Tim Morley states in his TEDtalk (Learn Esperanto first: Tim Morley at TEDxGranta) that it is easier to learn foreign languages if you learn Esperanto first. Once you know one word, you automatically know more thanks to its easy-to-remember grammar rules. Below are a few examples:
- To make a noun female, insert the suffix “-ino” to the word
Viro (man) + “in” = Virino (woman)
Knabo (boy) + “in” = knabino (girl)
Edzo (husband) + “in” = edzino (wife)
- Any word that ends with -a is an adjective
bela = beautiful
longa = long
granda = big
*Adding mal- at the beginning of the word automatically renders it opposite e.g., mallonga – short; malbela – ugly
- Nouns always end with “-o”
hundo – dog
parko – park
libro – book
- Remembering the tenses is a smoother ride compared to learning the tenses of European languages (French, I’m looking at you)
One need only add the following suffixes to a verb: “-is” for past tense; “-as” for present tense; and “-os” for future tense
Dormi – “to sleep”
Mi Dormis – I slept
Li Dormas – He sleeps
Vi Dormos – You will sleep
People who speak Esperanto are called “Esperantists.” The language is spoken in over 120 countries, and the number of people who speak it or are studying the language is growing because of various online learning resources. In fact, the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and Pope John Paul II are among the world-famous Esperantists. There are also published books and magazines in Esperanto.
In the Philippines, Esperanto is almost unheard of save for a few. However, there is an online presence by groups in social media websites.