I will start this article by saying that I have not learned nor will I ever learn Esperanto. I learn languages not only for myself, but also for my career. And knowing Esperanto doesn’t help me in either situation. And no, I won’t learn a foreign language just to speak it in a ‘club’ in a basement of a house in a suburb of London. Sorry.
But this is not about me and my opinions. Why does the world learn Esperanto? Why are Reddit, Quora and Duolingo Forum full of threads about Esperanto?
Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. It was created by Polish ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof in 1887, when he published a book detailing the language, Unua Libro (“First Book”), under the pseudonym “Dr. Esperanto”. The word esperanto translates into English as “one who hopes”.
Practically, Esperanto is the only artificially constructed language the world has heard about. Apparently, there are other artificially constructed languages (Ido, Interlingue and Volapük). But almost nobody is interested in these three.
Returning to the topic. How did Esperanto become so popular?
- Esperanto is believed to help you learn other foreign languages more easily. And that seems to be true. If you speak Esperanto fluently, it is a little easier for you to learn languages such as German (?) or Greek. But wouldn’t it be easier to learn these languages instead of learning Esperanto and then start learning German or Greek? Why would you invest time in learning one language just to be able to learn another language easier? It’s very inefficient. Yes, it may have a well-structured grammar, but does it matter so much that it is worth investing tens or hundreds of hours in this language?
- Esperanto is hipster-ish. Esperanto is the God of hipsters. Esperanto clubs? Wow, this is so non-mainstream.
- Esperanto, the language that failed. It has no culture, no popular books originally written in Esperanto (only translated), no history or music culture. It has no archaisms, region-specific words, or unique and funny expressions (such as Hebrew or German). It has no dialects, it has nothing unique and interesting. Esperanto was built to be the universal language. It was a failure. Why would you want to learn something that was a failure?
- There are not enough Esperanto courses. There is only Duolingo and Esperanto.com. Not even Colloquial, a company that has a course even for the Basque language, does offer a textbook in Esperanto.
So why would you learn Esperanto?