Esperanto: The Universal Language
Through the centuries, many have named language as the primary barrier to complete harmony among the world’s many nations. There are estimated to be between 3,000 and 8,000 different languages spoken around the world; certainly they can be considered as a great source of division among man. On top of the tremendous differences in morals, values, religions, politics and customs, people coming from different countries must also communicate and work around those divisions in separate languages. Surely a universal language would help ease some of that tension and push the world closer towards peace and unity. L.L. Zamenhof agreed with this so strongly that he created Esperanto, a language designed to be learned as a second language by everyone in the world. An international language.
- Esperanto was derived from many different languages with the purpose of making it as easy to learn and use as possible. The vocabulary is taken predominantly from the Romance languages. For example, the word esperanto means “one who hopes,” coming from the French and Spanish words for hope, esperer and esperar, respectively.
- The language typically has prepositions with an word order that goes subject-verb-object by default. Adjectives can be placed before or after the nouns that they modify, but most users place it before.
- New words are formed though expansive suffixes and prefixes.
- 28 letter alphabet as follows: a b c ĉ d e f g ĝ h ĥ i j ĵ k l m n o p r s ŝ t u ŭ v z every letter is pronounced normally except ‘c’ which has a -ts sound
- Every common noun end in -0, every adjective in -a, adverbs in -e and every verb in one of six tense suffixes
- Plural nouns end in -oj (sounds like oy), and adjectives agree with the noun if plural ending in -aj (sounds like ey)
As you can see, the grammatical rules and conjugation are very straight-forward and lack any special cases or exceptions that plague all other languages. The vocabulary is also extremely simple. L.L. Zamenof published 900 root words that can be expanded to thousands upon thouands of different words using prefixes, suffixes and compounding. There are almost no slang or idiomatic words in the Esperanto language as that would contradict the original goal of global comunication.
It is estimated that up to 2 million people currently speak Esperanto. It has not been declared the official language of any country, however:
- 1,000 have Esperanto as their native language
- 10,000 speak it fluently
- 100,000 can use it actively
- 1,000,000 understand a large amount passively
- 10,000,000 have studied it to some extent at some time.
So as of current day, Zamenhof’s dream of Esperanto being used as a universal second language has not been fulfilled. Most people have not even heard of the language, which is probably the reason you are reading this article in the first place. However, out of the several major attempts in creating a universal language, Esperanto is the only one with substantial modern user-base and the only one seriously studied in some educational institutions around the world. If there is some chance of the world adopting a universal language, Esperanto is definitely the best candidate.