18 Feb 2007 JerryBear You are mistaking the original projectZamenhof published in 1887 with the Esperanto language of today. He was able to put the rules of the language on a single sheet of paper as 16 rules. I have a grammar that runs over 5oo pages and the latest grammar is nearly 700 pages, In the 120 years since its birth, Esperanto has become a genuine living language and is no soulless code. It has a strong, easily recognisable character that is distinctive as French and German. Intense and passionate, forceful and direct, it makes a stong impression. Genuine colloquial Esperanto is very different from English. There is a rich, highly developed culture associated with this language and a vital enthusiastic youth movement that is doing remarkable things. I can send you a list of web llinks so you can check it out for yourself. You´ll be amazed.
P.S, La Espo feras, ´stas boneg´ ulnjo!
7 Dec 2007 Tim Morley It's rather tiresome to read sweeping generalisations about a language and culture about which the author clearly has only a very superficial knowledge, and then have those comments defended as being an "alternative", "light-hearted" view.
It's rather like dismissing African blacks as work-shy and lacking in culture, or portraying Japanese as soul-less, robotic rule-followers, and then claiming that it was just a "light-hearted" article. It's not acceptable.
I'm having trouble knowing where to start in describing and dismissing the misconceptions and sometimes rather silly generalisations made in this article, but I'll mention a few choice examples below.
The regularity of Esperanto seems inexplicably to trouble the author greatly, when in fact this feature is shared by other languages including Chinese and Vietnamese. One wonders how on earth Chinese people ever manage to tell jokes, write worthwhile literature, or whisper sweet nothings to their lovers when the strict regularity of their grammar apparently makes their language rigid and lifeless. Someone ought to tell them that they need to evolve some irregularity into their grammar quick smart, if their language isn't to die out.
Jackson's assertion that "there is no Esperanto literature worth reading" is quite clearly a product of prejudice about the language rather than that of any sort of genuine enquiry. Even simply typing "esperanto literature" into Wikipedia would have given a list of a dozen respected authors, and a quick rummage at the BBC News site would have found a story about a Scottish author and his nomination for the Nobel Prize for Literature for his work in Esperanto.
In fact, some of Jackson's assertions-from-the-blue so closely resemble those mentioned in Claude Piron's paper "Psychological Reactions to Esperanto" that it's worth quoting the opening couple of paragraphs here:
"To a psychologist investigating reactions to the word "Esperanto" two facts are immediately apparent: a high percentage of those invited to give their opinion have a great deal to say about it; and they regard as self-evident, and in many cases cite without prompting, various statements which are contrary to verifiable reality, for example: "no one has ever written a novel straight into Esperanto", "Esperanto is a language no one speaks", "there are no children who have it as the mother tongue", etc. Such convictions are well illustrated by a reader's letter in Time magazine from Peter Wells of Singapore:
"Esperanto has no cultural history, no indigenous literature and no monolinguals or even first-language speakers. (Wells, 1987).
"In addition, many of those questioned display every sign of emotional involvement. Some react enthusiastically, fervently. But the majority are patronising towards Esperanto, as though it were obviously childish. The person concerned makes it clear that Esperanto is not to be taken seriously, and his tone is disdainful, ironic or humourously condescending towards the "simple souls" who take it up.
"If, in order to get a control reaction for comparison, the researcher asks the subject to give his or her opinion about Bulgarian or Indonesian in the same way, he gets quite a different response. The subject takes about a minute to recount in a perfectly neutral tone of voice everything he has to say about them, usually that he knows nothing.
Esperanto, a bad product? On what experience do you base your judgment? I've had to travel for professional reasons all over the world; I've used Esperanto on all five inhabited continents (and in many islands, as Japan and the UK). I always found it much more pleasant than English, which will never be natural in my mouth and which I thus feel as artificial, although I use it almost every day. Esperanto is natural, for reasons that belong to the field of neuropsychology. In Esperanto I feel at home. I don't have to search my mind for the right word, to twist my mouth to produce sounds that don't exist in my mother tongue or to strain my ears to guess if the speaker said "fourteen" or "thirteen" (OK, these are quite different sounds for you, but only 5% of the world population have registered in their brains, when they were kids, the signs that make those differences clearly perceptible. Using Esperanto is manifesting one's respect for the remaining 95%). If Esperanto is a bad product, English as an international language is a much worse one. Compared to the results of the effort, the investment in its acquisition for non native speakers is enormous. Esperanto is cost effective and far more satisfactory psychologically. I can express my anger, my anguish, my love in Esperanto with an ease I'll never have in English, a language which constantly inhibits the natural tendencies of the brain (like other European languages).
Obviously you know very little on the subject and you don't know that you don't know. Writing that Esperanto was "created" by one man in the late 1880s is negating history. True, a project of international language was published in 1887 by a young man. But today's Esperanto is, like all living languages, the result of an anonymous, collective and largely unconscious process. More than a century of interactions among people with extremely different cultural and social backgrounds, with a lot of mutual adjustments, have made it into the excellent means of communication it is today, much superior to English in most intercultural situations. I've worked in Eastern Asia, and I've had the opportunity to compare discussions among Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Koreans and others according to whether they used Esperanto or English. The difference is huge whatever the criterion: fluency, richness of vocabulary, humour, precision, mutual understandability, spontaneity, etc.
Errare human est. The fact that you misinformed your readers is pardonable. But perseverare diabolicum. I suggest you do some research and write a new article. If you have only 8 minutes, watch the video "Thelanguage challenge – Facing up to reality" on http://www.dotsub.com/films/thelanguage . If you want to know more, but have little time, have a look at the two page article "Languages, the brain and public health" <http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/language.htm > . If you want something really academic, go to <http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/sociolinguistics.htm > "Choosing an official language", a text from Ulrich Ammon et al. Sociolinguistics (a standard textbook for students in that field). And if you find it hard to believe that Esperanto is a collective and unconscious work, like any living language, read "Evolution is proof of life"
You may not like Esperanto. I respect your taste, since tastes are always subjective. You may find it unrealistic, and you may be right. I believe the opposite, and I may be right as well. Nobody knows the future and history teaches us how difficult it is, at a given point in time, to foresee what will happen a few decades later. But you have no right to say it's a bad product if you do not compare it in the field to other products used to reach the same goal. It makes no sense to compare Esperanto to English as used by native speakers. It makes a lot of sense to compare it to English used as a so-called global language. I hope you'll do your homework and give us an objective appraisal of real Esperanto.
8 Dec 2007 Tim Morley Mary Jackson says: "Esperanto is old hat. The way forward is Europanto."
Thanks for taking the time to provide such a great comeback, robustly defending your point of view and backing it up with references.
Oh wait, that was probably "light-hearted" as well, was it?
If you "welcome comments" from your readers, as it says at the bottom of your articles, it would be courteous to at least show signs of having read them, and possibly even responding to some of the points raised in them.
Old hat, Esperanto? I'd have to be a native English speaker to get the connotations of that phrase, so maybe I miss the point, but if you mean "old = bad" or "old = obsolete" the least that can be said is that you have little contact with reality. Many old things are extremely useful, all the more since their long exposure to practical tests has proven their validity. Decades of parallel use of English, Esperanto, simultaneous interpretation, broken English etc as means to get along in intercultural situations have shown which is the optimum alternative. Of course, if for you fashion is more important than substance, and a priori asserting more important than checking the facts, there is no point in discussing serious matters, like how to help people in a global society to communicate efficiently, with respect for all.
Europanto is a joke. OK, let's have a good laugh. But can't we, after that, go back to a real discussion? .
12 Dec 2007 russ Mary: I'll give just one example of how my life has been enriched by learning Esperanto (and I'm certainly not unique in this example): meeting someone from another country, talking with her, and falling in love with her. Or is love useless and soulless?
23 Nov 2008 Sennomulo
Oh my God.
I speak Esperanto.
I have rarely seen so much contempt.
19 Jun 2009 Ian Fantom
If I were to comment on Mary Jackson's article without having read it, and to describe it as soulless, etc, then you may think me an ignoramus. Yet that would be no greater a sin than that of Mary Jackson in her rant about Esperanto. It's called churnalism.
Se mi prikomentus la artikolon de Mary Jackson sen esti leginta ?in, kaj priskribus?in kiel senanima ks, vi eble supozus min ignorulo. Tamen tio estus ne pli granda peko ol tiu de Mary Jackson en sia langovipado pri Esperanto.Tio nomi?as gurdnalismo.
I am not a native English speaker. What does it mean "we have English"? Is "we" meaning "you, the English"? We do not have English - we all have to study it for years. And we represent 95% of the world population. Think of it. But I'm sure WE HAVE Esperanto - it is really our language, much more than English ever will...
Your childish attack of Esperanto just shows how people tend to judge Esperanto before they even look it up on Google. If you did a little bit of research then you would know that poetry, songs, and books have all been colorfully created using Esperanto and the language is not "overly-structured" as you think it is. It's also funny how you think that jus because a language may sound ugly or sound silly spoken by an English speaker that it somehow qualifies that language to be unusable. Your connections to Communism, Socialism, and other extremes just shows that you have the same sort of "fear factor" that someone like Glen Beck has. Your article is entirelly opinionated and lacks any sort of citation or any other proof that Esperanto is actually a silly or unusable language.
17 May 2012 John D
Where to begin with this?
Oddly enough, the unsupported assertion that most leapt out at me had nothing to do with Esperanto. It was Ms. Jackson's claim that: "most people learn a foreign language for business purposes."
Really? Have you any proof of this? I mean, I took French in school and I still read it quite well (and speak it somewhat more clumsily). Business considerations were not in my young mind. For that matter, when a friend asked me my opinion of what language her son should study, we didn't discuss his future employment (and, no, his school does not offer Mandarin, just the Big Three of the European languages).
Certainly many non-native speakers learn English for business purposes, but isn't that the Esperantists' point? Everyone bludgeoned into speaking bad English due to the cultural hegemony of the United States.
A few years ago, I was in Spain. The locals there were amazed that I didn't speak any Spanish. "Don't all Americans learn Spanish?" they asked. No. Was it inconvenient at times that I didn't know any useful Spanish? Yes.
I've visited enough countries that I'd have to be some kind of brilliant polyglot to speak with the locals everywhere. There just isn't the time. Or, I can force them to speak my language, but that doesn't always work either. (Damn those foreign rabble for refusing to speak English!)
I have had many experiences in which there was no common langauge or in which the help of an English-speaking local was required. Ms. Jackson's contention that English is that universally accepted international language hasn't worked in my experience.
I see some humor in your article. Puke, Ob, Fat.....not too attractive to some English speakers. But, as the UN representative for Esperanto for 4 years....I have a serious side too. And Esperanto is a highly functional language which can bring English speakers--particularly Americans--out of the cage. A nation without vacations, maternity leave, free health care, free education will spend its life working.....and not knowing what is going outside of its walls. In my opinion, the immigrants that come to it are NOT representative of the nations they come from in many cases. Esperanto released me from American bondage some 41 years ago. Universal Esperanto Association has been regularly organizing conferences on linguistic diversity over a 30 year around the United Nations. www.esperanto-un.org