Monday, June 15, 2009

Thoughts on Esperanto

Here's a post to get me back to the linguistics aspects of things :-)

I was over at Steve Kaufman's blog the other day (yes a little late - google reader items are a little backed up) where he had a video post about Esperanto and French Immersion (two topics). I don't know much about immersion programs (yet) - much less French Immersion as is practiced in Canada, but I do have some thoughts on Esperanto.

I agree with Steve that Esperanto has nothing to entice me as a learner to go out an learn it. I know it's been designed as an auxiliary language, so that people can meet and converse without depending on one national language thus being fair to everyone. However Esperanto is not fair to everyone. It's mostly a European language, no Asian, American or African influences in it, so the argument that it's easy to learn only probably holds true for people whose primary language is based on a European language.

The second thing that I agree with Steve on (we're on a roll here!) is that Esperanto has no culture. As an auxiliary language and an artificial language, since there is no nation that uses it as the lingua franca of that nation, there is no history, media, culture, or art associated with it. One of the reasons I want to learn a language is for the quirky differences that exist between my language (L1) culture (C1) and the target language and culture (L2 and C2).

If I am going to learn a made up language, I might as well learn Klingon because the L2 is more complex than Esperanto - so you've got the mental gymnastics challenge, and there is a whole universe of Trekkies out there that have got the C2 down!
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