Many people want to learn a second language but have trouble grasping all the inconsistencies that came along with all natural languages. Esperanto is different. It is a constructed language, which means it was created and not formed naturally. This allowed the creator to make it as easy as possible to learn for anyone, no matter their native tongue.
A significant (if not the most dominant) reason why Esperanto is the easiest language to learn is due to not having exceptions to the grammar rules. I am not saying that Esperanto is easy to learn; it will always be challenging to learn a new language, but compared to every other, we pick up Esperanto faster.
A study of Esperanto
One study was conducted at Columbia University in New York over between 1925 and 1931 by Dr. Edward Thorndike; to see if (and to what degree) a constructed language could be acquired easier than a traditional language.
What Dr. Thorndike found was quite drastic:
- He found that it is possible for an average student to understand spoken and written Esperanto in about 20 hours of study better than 100 hours of Italian, French, Spanish, or German.
- After 5 hours of German study, Dr. Thorndike so no results in fluency. However, after 5 hours of Esperanto, the students were able to learn the basics of grammar for the entire language.
- "In general, in a time limit from 10 to 100 hours of study, the results acquired in the study of a constructed language are practically from 5 to 15 times better than those obtained after the study of an ethnic language, according to the difficulty of the latter (Eaton, p. 6-7)." - Wikipedia
- "For native English speaking students, the results of studying Latin, German, or French are better if such study is preceded by that of a planned language, as a preparatory introduction (Eaton, p. 27-30)." - Wikipedia
Other studies of Esperanto can be found at this Wikipedia article.
Basic Esperanto Grammar
Every noun always ends in
o, and every noun that is not the subject ends in
on. Want to make something plural? Add a
j to the end and if the plural noun is not the subject just add
- Year in Esperanto is jaro
- Years is then jaroj
- When the word year is not the subject (or referring to the subject), we get jaron. Need to make the plural? It's merely jarojn
To make a word into a descriptor, we add the letter
a to the root.
Example: Boyish face
The boy is a noun, but in the example, it is used to describe the face. This ending often changes in English depending on a few factors of the sentence but not in Esperanto.
- A boyish face is Knaba faco
- A green table is Verda tablo
-The root of "green" is verd
- Green as a noun is verdo
(In Esperanto there is no word for
an[the indefinite article])
- Green as a noun is verdo (In Esperanto there is no word for
Verbs can take many endings, but as above, the endings never change. Past tense will always use the ending is, present tense is as, and past tense is os. To state, an action (like "to go") attach i to the root. Want to make a command? The root takes u. Always and forever.
- I am going is Mi iras
- I did go is Mi iris
- I will go is Mi iros
- Please go is Bonvolu iru
- Here both please and go are commands
- So both roots take the u ending.
To communicate the possession of something we only need to add an a to the end of a noun.
- His cat is Li kato
- Her house is ŝia domo
- Their coffee is Ilia kafo
As with the nouns above, if the possessing noun is not the subject of the sentence add an n.
- It is his house, not hers is Ĝi estas li domo, ne ŝian
This eliminates the confusion we see in English with sentences like:
He loves her not him.
Here we are not sure who loves who. Does he love her? Does the him love her? Or does he not love him but lover her? In Esperanto, we are explicitly clear about what is happening.
Li amas ŝin ne lin
- here we are clear that the action of the sentence is the love of her (amas ŝin).
- The subject of this sentence is also clear and is he (li) because li does not take the n ending. -Since lin and ŝin do take the n we know that these two words are not the subject.
- So, he loves her, and he does not love him.
- This works no matter the word order.
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