Esperanto Language and Who Speaks It?
Language is an extremely important and inalienable part of any culture. It helps people communicate, be informed, share emotions and experiences, and simply understand each other. Yet, the languages are many, with over 7,000 being used in the world in total and about 4,500 being in active use. Hence, while the languages help people to communicate within one community, they also largely help to keep distance between the nations. In an attempt to develop a solution to this problem, the Esperanto language was created. Being an artificially synthesized language, Esperanto is not like any other language. Yet, why so many people still speak it and why was it developed with an intent to be international?
Origin and Current State of Esperanto
Esperanto was developed by the ophthalmologist, linguist, and language enthusiast from Poland named Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof. While living in the Polish city Bialystok, the population of which consisted of Polish, German, Jewish, and Russian peoples, Zamenhof noticed that because of language barriers, people seem to lack understanding between each other. In 1887, Zamenhof, under the name of Dr. Esperanto, published the first book of Esperanto called the International Language, which contained the first 920 words in Esperanto. The language combined Latin, German, Polish, Russian, French, and many other languages’ roots to create an apparently perfect synthesis of European languages.
By publishing this book, Dr. Zamenhof hoped to promote multiculturalism and world peace. Esperanto language would not have a particular nation or traditions tied to it. All of that had to be developed by the community of people who learn and speak Esperanto. By the way, the word «Esperanto» itself translates as «the one who hopes» into English. With all that being said, how many people speak Esperanto today, more than 130 years after the invention of the language?
«Population» of Esperanto
It is very hard to count how many people in the world actually speak Esperanto. Most learners manage to master the language on their own, so not every person speaking Esperanto language has a certificate or other similar document confirming such knowledge. On top of that, virtually anyone can learn the language due to the vast amount of resources available on the internet. According to various estimates, there are between 68,000 to 2 million people in the world who speak Esperanto. That is added by 1,000 more people who speak Esperanto as their first language. Impressive, right? But who speaks Esperanto exactly, in terms of career nations?
Just as with the number of speakers, it is almost impossible to even estimate, which countries use Esperanto language more widely. Yet, different approximations point towards countries that speak predominantly European languages. Such countries include the United States, the UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and France. In addition, the language is also often claimed to be widely used in Poland, China, and Japan. Yet, it’s absolutely no wonder, considering that the initial goal of the language was to become international and eliminate the language barriers between all people. So what are some of the reasons to learn the language and join the community of Esperanto speakers throughout the world?
4 Reasons to Learn Esperanto
Being the only artificial language that remained active for over 100 years and that accounts for so many speakers, Esperanto attracts more new learners every year due to a number of reasons. Whether you learn the language officially or on your own, the perks of learning Esperanto are often worth all the effort. Here are only some of the basic reasons to learn lingvo internacia.
1. It’s simple
Indeed, Esperanto is very simple to learn in relation to any other language. The vocabulary does not contain too many words and is updated only when needed. For instance, when a new concept or thing is created or invented, like computers or the internet. Each word has its own meaning, so there is no such thing as hundreds of synonyms that you have to know. On top of everything, Esperanto grammar contains only 16 basic rules, all of which are logical and simple to use.
2. It’s international.
There’s no answer to the question «what countries speak Esperanto?» The language is not bound to any particular country, so you can travel anywhere in the world and be understood. The only thing you’ll have to do is to search for the local community of Esperantists or the enthusiasts who learn and speak the language.
3. It’s friendly.
Despite not having its naturally native country or culture, Esperanto language users managed to develop their own norms of communication and behavior. Wherever you go and find a community of Esperantists, you will be greeted warmly. There’s a great tradition in Esperanto culture called gufujoj, which assumes a makeshift cafe or otherwise gathering space for people speaking Esperanto. Such a cafe can be accommodated in someone’s private house or in a rented place. In gufujoj, Esperantists usually gather to communicate and share their thoughts and experiences. In addition, if you master Esperanto officially, you can earn your own Pasporta Servo, a small document allowing you to couch surf throughout the world and stay at other Esperantists’ houses at a very low cost. So, it does not matter what country do they speak Esperanto in, those people will likely become your friends.
4. It’s free!
Yes, there are lots of resources that can help you learn Esperanto and many of them are absolutely free of charge. Given the relative simplicity of the language, in most cases, the only thing you’ll need to learn Esperanto is persistence and enthusiasm.
Helpful Resources for Learning Esperanto
If you’re really interested in learning the language that is meant to be international and eliminate communication barriers around the world, you are in great luck. While there are opportunities to learn Esperanto language officially and even earn Pasporta Servo for successful completion of the course, you can learn the language for free. Being an extremely friendly community striving to unite people around the world, Esperantists created tons of resources available online. And all of them are free of charge. Here are some of the examples of them:
- The complete Esperanto language course entitled lernu! The course covers all aspects of the language, from vocabulary to grammar and contains interactive lessons allowing a rather easy process of learning. All you have to do there is register, which is absolutely free of charge.
- The Esperantist David G. Simpson has collected all the information about the language, along with some books in Esperanto, radio podcasts, and even movies translated into lingvo internacia. All the material is very well organized and is completely free.
- You don’t have to obtain Pasporta Servo to travel and communicate with other Esperantists. A completely free of charge resource that serves as a digital-analog of the document can be found here. The only thing you need to use it is to speak Esperanto.
- The Esperanto Panorama is a well-organized Esperanto-English dictionary, which not only serves as a great free learning tool, but also demonstrates the simplicity, yet, comprehensiveness and organization of the Esperanto vocabulary.
- A single-language dictionary Vortato is Esperanto’s analog to Merriam-Webster’s or Cambridge Dictionaries, providing only the meanings of the words in Esperanto, rather than translations.
Esperanto, the Language of the Future
Indeed, with no boundaries, the Esperanto language has a full potential of becoming the language of international communication. In fact, considering the number of Esperantists around the world, both confirmed and those who learned the language on their own, there is only one answer as to where is Esperanto spoken. Everywhere would be that answer. With up to 2 million speakers in nearly every country around the world, it is virtually possible to find an Esperanto conversation partner wherever you go.