May 29, 2015 8:04 PM   Subscribe

But the final item on the meeting’s agenda underscored what all those virtual Esperantists were missing. After the speeches, Neil got up and passed out sheets printed with the lyrics to "Fremdaj en la Nokt," the Esperanto version of the Sinatra hit "Strangers in the Night." He explained that a particular Italian Esperantist had an extensive YouTube presence and a habit of jumping into worldwide Esperanto forums and Facebook groups to plug his singing. This was one of his better songs. Neil settled back down behind his banquet table, counted out the time, and the eight attending members of the New York Esperanto Society started to sing.
posted by growabrain (14 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Came across this article earlier today. I'd never taken much notice of Esperanto (for one thing, Volapük is a way cooler name for a made-up language), but it got me interested -- enough to read a bit more and try a couple lessons on duolingo. It could be easily be criticized for being pretty Eurocentric and probably a couple of other things, but I still admire the idealism behind it: it's not just about everybody being able to talk to each other, it's about everybody being able to talk to each other *on neutral ground*, in a simple made-up language that nobody has the advantage of being born into.
I like what I've come to understand of its simplicity so far -- adjectives end in a, nouns end in o, verbs end in s and aren't conjugated according to I/you/them/us etc. (I haven't seen how past and future are handled yet.)
It's hardly what I'd call beautiful, and lacks the charm of real naturally-evolved languages, but I like the concept of being able to jet off to some foreign country and more or less find my way around without depending on people knowing English or my having studied their language enough (not that I'm against learning other languages). At the very least, it strikes me as the ideal language for soccer (futbalo) fans worldwide to exchange trash-talk about each other's teams.
posted by uosuaq at 8:48 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you're going to listen to music in Esperanto, I must also recommend the soap opera/instructional course Pasporto al la Tuta Mondo.
posted by congen at 9:09 PM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I had hoped to drop a knowledge bomb here, but my Google search for Boontling singing comes up distressingly thin.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:43 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been eagerly awaiting the Duolingo Esperanto course. I know no language besides my own native tongue, and I LOVE the idealism behind Zamenhof's creation.

And because this IS an Esperanto thread, here's the mandatory link to William Shatner's 1966 horror film, Incubus (Esperanto with English Subtitles).
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 4:07 AM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Ĉi tiu artikolo ne mencias la grandajn problemojn de Esperanto, kiuj estas tute reprezentitaj en ĉi tiu frazo. Unue, la malsaĝaj ĉapelitoj - la literoj kun cirkumfleksoj (ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, ŭ), kiuj ne estas facile tajpitaj. Due, la akordo de la adjektivo kun sia substantivo (malgranda kato kontraŭ malgrandaj katoj). Trie, la akuzativa kazo: la rekta objekto de verbo devas havi la vortfinon "-n" kun ambaŭ la substantivo kaj tutaj adjektivoj.

Ankaŭ problema estas la uzo idioma de multaj vortoj konstruitaj. Ekzemple "preĝejo" kombinas la subsantivon "preĝo" kaj la sufikson "ej" sed ĝi signifas "church" (eklezio), ne loko por preĝo.

Sed, klare mi bone parolas kaj skribas Esperanton. Vere, mi nun ne estas finvenkisto; mi nur pensas, kun la "Raŭmistoj," ke ĉi tiu lingvo estas bone por sia propria internacia kulturo - kantoj, verkoj, kaj la internacia komunumo de parolantoj.

This article doesn't mention the big problems with Esperanto, which are all represented in this sentence. First, the daft hats - the letters with circumflexes, which are not easily typed. Second, the accord of the adjective with its noun (small cat versus smalls cats). Third, the accusative case: the direct object of a verb must have the word ending "-N" with both the noun and all adjectives.

Also problematic is the idiomatic use of many constructed words. For example "preĝejo" combines the noun "preĝo" (prayer) and the suffix "ej" (place) but it means "church," not a place for prayer.

But clearly I speak and write Esperanto. Really, I am not now a finvenkisto (I don't believe in the final victory); I only think, with the "Raumists" that this language is good for its own international culture - songs, literature, and the international community of speakers.

posted by graymouser at 4:17 AM on May 30, 2015 [13 favorites]

Ho! La alia granda problemo estas la seksismo. Esperanto, bedaŭrinde, havas diferencon inter la vortoj por reprezenti la viroj kaj la virinoj: ineco bezonas ekstran sufikson, kaj la vortoj kiel "patro," "frato", ktp estas aŭtomate viraj sen ĉi tiu sufikso. La inaj vortoj estas patrino, fratino, ktp. Jen prova solvaĵo, riismo, sed multaj Esperantistoj ne ŝatas ĝin.

Oh! The other big problem is sexism. Esperanto, regrettably, has a difference between the words to represent men and women: feminine requires an extra suffix, and the words such as "patro" (father) and "frato" (brother), etc are automatically male without this suffix. The female terms are patrino (father-ess/mother), fratino (brother-ess/sister), etc. There is an attempted solution, riism, but many Esperantists don't like it.
posted by graymouser at 4:27 AM on May 30, 2015 [8 favorites]

Esperanto is played out. The cool kids are using Rust or Swift these days.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:12 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mirinde! So odd seeing the name of someone I know on the front page. I was president of the Esperanto Society of New York for a year or two — Neil has done a much better job than I in that role!

I will note that a necesejo is classically a room with a toilet in it; the fixture shown in the illustration is a neceseja seĝo "bathroom chair" (of course some may disagree, but then Tonjo's Law requires that all Internet discussions about the Esperanto world eventually devolve into arguments about grammar and usage).
posted by gubo at 5:30 AM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure whats wrong exactly with an accusative case or adjective-noun agreement; it seems to me that it's a toss-up between inflection and word order in terms of how easy it is to learn and recognise. In fact that's a pro-Ido talking point, isn't it? And I haven't practiced Esperanto for a lonnng time, but I always used gepatro for 'parent'. What do denaskuloj use?
posted by topynate at 3:09 PM on May 30, 2015

Ah, I see: the problem is that the root is masculine, and only becomes feminine with the suffix. That's where Ido has it right, I think; why not have matro for mother, etc.
posted by topynate at 3:21 PM on May 30, 2015

Hmm. Looks like MeFi hasn't coverered the excellent alternative Transpiranto yet. Might have to do something about that some day.
posted by effbot at 4:40 PM on May 30, 2015

I've been following up on Esperanto today and agree with a lot of greymouser's points -- for example, today I found out that a plural noun requires a plural adjective. La birdo estas bluo = the bird is blue, la birdoj estas bluoj = the birds are blue. There might be a reason behind that, but if so I haven't figured it out yet; if it's not needed in English ("the birds are blues"?) then it seems like an intentionally simple language can do without it.

The use of "extra" letters with funny hats is annoying, although I guess this language was invented at a time when people either wrote by hand or typeset things, so keyboards weren't an issue. If it were up to me, I'd just replace ĉi with cxi, or something.

The sexism is pretty apparent (knabo, boy, vs. knabino, girl -- the female noun is apparently always a modified version of the male). I'll look into this "riism" thing greymouser mentions if I stick with the language. Starting from scratch, it might have been nicer to go with something like knabio/knabuo or what have you, so that neither gendered noun is an obvious derivative of the other. But starting *completely* from scratch, when Esperanto is the only artificial language with anything approaching a real foothold, would just lead to the competing standards problem xkcd illustrated so nicely.
posted by uosuaq at 4:51 PM on May 30, 2015

I'm not sure whats wrong exactly with an accusative case or adjective-noun agreement; it seems to me that it's a toss-up between inflection and word order in terms of how easy it is to learn and recognise. In fact that's a pro-Ido talking point, isn't it?

It's a criticism the Idists made but it's the same for everybody else too. They're obstacles to the rapid fluent use that Esperanto was aiming for, and are so heavily cited as flaws that I take them for granted.

(I don't speak Ido much, and I'm more of an Interlingua guy than Ido, as these things go.)
posted by graymouser at 5:55 PM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Anyone with a working knowledge of Esperanto, who has not already, owes it to themself to read the glorious example of translation that is "La Korvo".
posted by Gordafarin at 12:43 PM on June 17, 2015

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