FROM INTERNET: soc.culture.esperanto

From: (Don HARLOW)

"Sean" <­> skribis en lastatempa afisxo <­>:>I’ve recently decided to study Spanish. Before doing so, I’d like>to know still more about esperanto. Could you give a very minor>lesson in this forum, or perhaps in email? I want to know if you>conjugate verbs, and what order a sentence falls. Does the adjective>follow the noun etc…. Perhaps if you simply wrote "The boy bounced>the red ball to the girl." in esperanto, and then explain what>you did, that would be enough. Since several people *may* reply to>this post, perhaps you could make up a sentence simlilar to the one I>wrote, and use it instead mind. Thank you, and I look forward to>a reply.>>Sean>How about a quick overview?

(0) The Esperanto alphabet has 28 letters, of which 22 are found

in English and six are special, indicated by circumflexes over

the letter (shown here by a ‘^’ after the letter and, more commonly

on the net, by an ‘x’ after the letter). The five vowels A E I O U

are pronounced much as the vowels in "pa let me go too". About half

the consonants are pronounced as in English. Of those that aren’t:

C = English ts at the end of a word, C^ = English ch, G = hard

English g, G^ = soft English g or j, H = aspirated English h as in

"horse", H^ = sound about halfway between H and K (German or Scottish

ch), J = English Y, J^ = English s in "pleasure", R = tip of the tongue

R, flapped once or twice, S = English voiceless S in "hiss", S^ =

English sh, U^ = English W. Accent is always on the next-to-last

VOWEL (don’t worry about syllables; just remember that the supersigned

U^ is not a vowel, while A E I O and U are).(1) All nouns end in -O (kato = cat, hundo = dog)(2) Plurals are formed by adding -J, pronounced like the English -Y

(katoj = cats, hundoj = dogs)(3) Adjectives end in -A rather than -O (kata = feline, hunda = canine)

and agree with the nouns they modify (kataj hundoj = feline dogs,

katoj hundaj = canine cats)(4) All verbs end in -AS in the present tense (hundo mordas = a dog bites,

skrapas katoj = cats scratch)…(5) … in -IS in the past tense (la hundo mordis = the dog bit, skrapis

la katoj = the cats scratched)…(6) … and in -OS in the future tense (la hundoj mordos = the dogs will

bite, skrapos la katoj = the cats will scratch).(7) The objects of an action are shown by an -N (la hundoj mordos la

katojn = the dogs will bite the cats, la hundojn skrapis la katoj =

the cats scratched the dogs)(8) The conditional is shown by -US (Se la hundoj mordus la katojn,

la hundojn skrapus la katoj = If the dogs were to bite the cats, the

cats would scratch the dogs — but I don’t expect this to happen)(9) The volitive is shown by -U (La hundoj mordu la katojn = May the

dogs bite the (damned) cats). This includes the function of the imperative in most WE languages (Mordu la hundon = Bite the dog!)(10) The infinitive is shown by -I (La hundoj volas mordi la katojn =

The dogs want to bite the cats).(11) Any noun, adjective or verb can be converted to an adverb by

changing the ending to -E (La hundojn morde skrapas la katoj = The

cats by biting scratch the dogs).(12) Any noun, adjective or verb root can be converted to any other form

simply by changing the ending (La kata kato kate katas = The feline cat

cattishly behaves like a cat).(13) A noun without a -J or -N on the end may, if you wish, drop the -O

and replaced it with an apostrophe; the accent doesn’t move. Similarly,

the ‘a’ on the end of "la" may be dropped and replaced with an

apostrophe. Preferably avoid doing this unless you are a poet.(14) Because of the grammar coding, subjects, objects and verbs may fall

in any order; also, adjectives may precede or follow the nouns they

modify, or (as a sop to the poets among us) even be separated from

them by other words, so long as the meaning is obvious. See examples

above. Adverbs, which can modify just about anything, should (though

don’t always) immediately precede the words they modify.(15) There are no exceptions.

There are separate subsystems for correlatives (who, what, when, where, how,etc., and their answers), personal pronouns, and numerals; these must belearned separately. There are prepositions, all of which take -O nouns(prepositions showing place can show motion to that place by adding an -Nto their objects). There are also conjunctions, interjections, blessings,curses, and ever-filled purses.

There is also an agglutinative system of word-formation that depends, toa great extent, on a system of some 40 affixes. For instance, once you havelearned a word that can take an antonym (e.g. bona = good, ric^a = rich,alta = tall or high) you can create its antonym automatically (malbona =bad, malric^a = poor, malalta = short or low) as well as a whole raft ofother words (bonaj^o = something good, bonulo = a good person, bonulino =a good woman, bonega = excellent, boneta = sort of O.K., malbonega = awful,boneco = goodness, malboneco = badness, bonegulo = a most excellent dude,bonema = tending to be good, bonigi = to cause to be good, bonig^i = tobecome good, rebonigi = to cause to be good again…).

Here is an example of typical, everyday Esperanto, as spoken by the man(or woman) in the street. 😉

"Niaj aktoroj, kiel mi diris,estis spiritoj kaj fandig^is en laaeron, jes, en la aeron flirtan.Kaj kiel la senbaza konstruaj^ode c^i vizio, la nubc^apaj turojpompaj palacoj kaj solenaj temploj,la granda globo mem, kaj kun g^i c^iuj,kiuj g^in log^as, foje disfandig^ossenspure, kiel c^i senmateriavantaj^o brila, kiu malaperis.El tia s^tof’ ni estas, kiel niajsong^bildoj, kaj c^i nian vivon etanc^irkau^as dormo."

Info available from the Esperanto League for North America, which can bereached at the 800 number in my sig or at the E-mail address, ditto.

-Don HARLOW donh@netcom.comEsperanto League for N.A. (800) 828-5944 Esperanto

Newsgroups: soc.culture.esperanto,news.answers,soc.answersPath:!!sunic!pipex!!!!!!csusac!!!urbanFrom: (Michael Urban)Subject: soc.culture.esperanto Frequently Asked Questions (Oftaj Demandoj)Message-ID: <­>Followup-To: soc.culture.esperantoOrganization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)Date: Sun, 1 Jan 1995 03:53:50 GMTApproved: news-answers-request@MIT.EduExpires: Wed, 1 Feb 1995 00:00:00 GMTLines: 745Xref: soc.culture.esperanto:2620 news.answers:7066 soc.answers:516

Archive-name: esperanto-faq

Frequently Asked Questions forsoc.culture.esperanto, and esper-l@trearn.bitnet

(monthly posting)

This posting attempts to answer the most common questions from thosenew to the newsgroup (or mailing list), or to the language itself.Because the majority of readers are in the United States, it issomewhat biased towards those readers, but it may be usefulfor anglophone readers in other countries. The opinions expressedare those of the author. If there is some information you feel shouldbe added or changed, send mail to the author (

1. What is Esperanto?

2. How many people speak Esperanto?

3. Where do I find classes, textbooks, etc.?

4. How do you type Esperanto’s circumflexed letters?

5. How can I display those circumflexed letters on a (Sun/Mac/PC)?

6. What about other `artificial’ languages like Loglan, Ido, etc.?

7. How come Esperanto doesn’t have <­favorite word or feature>?

8. Is there any Esperanto material available online?

9. In what language should people post to this newsgroup/list?10. Are there other bulletin boards, online services, etc?11. What are PIV, PV, PAG, and UEA? What are IRKs?


1. What is Esperanto?

Esperanto is a language designed to facilitate communication amongpeople of different lands and cultures. It was first published in 1887by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof (1859-1917) under the pseudonym `Dr. Esperanto’,meaning `one who hopes’, and this is the name that stuck as the name ofthe language itself. Unlike national languages, Esperanto allowscommunication on an equal footing between people, with neither havingthe usual cultural advantage accruing to a native speaker. Esperantois also considerably easier to learn than national languages, since itsdesign is far simpler and more regular than such languages.

2. How many people speak Esperanto?

It is always difficult to measure the number of speakers of anylanguage; it is rather like estimating the number of people who playchess. Speakers of a second language vary widely in their competenceand fluency. The World Almanac, whose researchers actually conductinterviews with speakers, estimate about two million speakersworldwide. This puts it on a par with `minority’ languages likeIcelandic and Estonian. Of course, unlike these other languages,Esperanto is not the primary language for its speakers, althoughthere _are_ native speakers (`denaskaj parolantoj’) of Esperantowho learned to speak it (along with the local language) fromtheir parents.

3. Where do I find classes, textbooks, etc?

For U.S. residents, the Esperanto League for North America is thebest and most reliable source for Esperanto materials. Theyoffer a free basic correspondence course (about which we willsay more later), and may be offering a more detailed and advancedpaid correspondence course. They have an extensive catalogueof books, including texts, reference, fiction, poetry, andcassette tapes. Their address is

Esperanto League of North America

Box 1129

El Cerrito, CA 94530

A free information packet can be obtained from ELNA bycalling their toll-free information number: 1-800-828-5944or by sending electronic mail to: sure to include your paper-mail address!)

A more immediate source of texts, especially for those withaccess to a university, is your local library. The qualityof the books, of course, will vary widely, but most of thetexts, even the older ones, will provide a reasonable generalintroduction to the language. One exception, mentioned hereonly because it was surplused to _many_ libraries around the US,is the US Army’s `Esperanto: The Aggressor Language’, whichis more of a curiosity than a useful textbook.

The problem with most old texts is that they are…well…old! Theirpresentations can seem very bland and old-fashioned, and their`cultural’ information about the Esperanto community will often behopelessly out of date. The newest American textbook, and probably thebest, is Richardson’s `Esperanto: Learning and Using the InternationalLanguage’. It is available from ELNA and perhaps some libraries.Another book, the Esperanto entry in the `Teach Yourself …’ series oflanguage primers, is a slightly stodgy but very useful introduction tothe language. The `Teach Yourself’ book can sometimes be found inordinary bookstores. There is also a `Teach Yourself’ English/Esperantotwo-way dictionary that is a very popular and handy reference.

Another good, if a bit old-fashioned, textbook, Step by Step inEsperanto, has recently been reprinted and is available from ELNA.Still another book recommended by more than one participant is`Saluton!’ by Audry Childs-Mee. This is entirely in Esperanto, withmany pictures.

Macintosh owners with HyperCard and MacinTalk can take advantageof an introductory HyperCard course on Esperanto. This is availablefrom ELNA for a nominal media charge, or can be downloadedfrom the Sumex Info-Mac server. Swedish and Dutch versionsof this course have appeared in their respective countries.


*** If you know of other texts that should be mentioned here,

*** please let me know


Each summer, San Francisco State University and ELNA offer a three-weekcurriculum of Esperanto courses, in which one may participate atbeginning, intermediate, or advanced levels, and earn three semestercredits. It is widely considered to be one of the best opportunities tolearn to speak Esperanto `like a native’, and draws students andfaculty from around the world.

In recent years, a one-week summer course has been offered at theUniversity of Hartford, with such excellent teachers as authorSpomenka Stimec, Normand Fleury of Montreal, Boris Kolker, William Orr(the introductory classes just rave about him), Duncan Charters, andJ. C. Wells (currently President of UEA and author of the famousdictionary). Also assisting are the President of the university andex-president of UEA, Humphrey Tonkin, and his wife, Dr. Jane Edwards.

The 1995 instructor will be Joseph F. Conroy, author of _Beginner’sEsperanto_, and the dates will be 10-15 July, 1995. Contact:

Ms. Hilda Grossman

Office of Summer Programs

University of Hartford

200 Bloomfield Avenue

West Hartford CT 06117

(800) 234-4412 aux (203) 768-4401

for details.

A one-week course in Detroit is planned for 7-11 August 1995.

Sherry A. Wells

P.O. Box 1338

Royal Oak MI 48068

(810) 543-5297

for details.


*** Further info, like details on Chaux-de-Fonds (sp?) activities

*** and similar international learning opportunities, are

*** requested


For those with relatively little time, a free Postal CorrespondenceCourse is available. You mail in each of ten lessons, anda grader corrects your exercises and sends you the next lesson.Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to

Esperanto Information Center

410 Darrell Road

Hillsborough, CA 94010

415 342-1796

In Australia:

Australia Esperanto-Asocio, GPO Box 313, Sunnybank, Queensland 4109.

Junulara Auxstralia Grupo Esperantista,

17 Renowden St., Cheltenham, Victoria 3192.

Book service: PO Box 230, Matraville, NSW 2036.

Correspondence Course: J. Moore, 7 Pelican St., Emu Park, Queensland 4702.

In Canada:

Kanada Esperanto-Asocio (English course)

P.O.Box 2159, Sidney, BC V8L 3S6

Esperanto-Societo Kebekia (French course)

6358-A, rue de Bordeaux, Montreal, QC H2G 2R8

Book Service

6358-A, rue de Bordeaux, Montreal, QC H2G 2R8

In New Zealand:

New Zealand Esperanto Association (also correspondence course)

PO Box 41-172, St Lukes, Auckland

In Britain:

British Esperanto Association, 140 Holland Park Avenue, Londonw W11

In France:

UFE (Union Francaise pour l’Esperanto)

and its youth section JEFO (Junulara Esperantista Franca Organizo)

4 bis, rue de la Cerisaie

75004 PARIS

In The Netherlands:

ECN (Esperanto Centrum Nederland)

Riouwstraat 172, NL-2585 HW Den Haag, tel. +31 70 3556677

******** If you think YOUR country should be listed here, let me know…****

The Free Correspondence Course is also available online as theFree Esperanto Course. Information is posted regularly to this group.The Correspondence Course is now conducted in English, French, and Germanversions.

4. How do you type Esperanto’s circumflexed letters?

Esperanto has five circumflexed consonants (c, g, h, j, and s can allbe circumflexed) and an accented vowel (u with breve). The Fundamento,which forms the official basis for the language, suggests that printersthat lack a circumflex can use `h’ (ch, gh, hh, etc.). This is,however, not a completely satisfactory solution for computers, andintroduces unnecessary lexical ambiguity. Two solutions are now incurrent use:

The European Computer Manufacturer’s Association Standard ECMA-94contains four 8-bit Latin alphabets to cover a variety of Europeanlanguages. Latin alphabet 3 covers Esperanto (as well as nine otherEuropean languages). This alphabet also forms the basis for theinternational standard coding ISO 8859-3 (LATIN-3). This eight-bitcoding is probably the best `canonical’ representation for the storageof Esperanto text, although it is inconvenient for sortingapplications (this is a common technical difficulty for almost alllanguages). A more immediate problem is that the unextended Internetmail protocol is currently only able to transmit 7-bit ASCII.Finally, it may be inconvenient to generate the eight-bit codes onparticular input devices.

Various `ASCIIzations’ of the accented letters are popular. Somepeople type a circumflex before the accented letter; others type itafterwards. Some use a `<­’ sign instead. Some use the Fundamentanformula with following `h’. Others follow with a `~’ (tilde) tofacilitate alphabetization.

The best ASCIIzation is probably to use following `x’, which hasseveral advantages: the `x’ is not part of the Esperanto alphabet andso the digraphs like `cx’ can automatically be translated to Latin-3codes or other representations; `x’ is alphabetic, so various editingand text-processing programs treat `accented’ words as single units;since `x’ is near the end of the alphabet, sorting algorithms are quitereliable when applied to words coded in this way. Finally, combinationslike `sx’ are rare in English, so automatic conversion of mixedEsperanto/English text is highly reliable. While nobody candictate a standard, widespread adoption of this convention on thenetworks would facilitate the development of standard programs toconvert or display the accented characters, at least until 8-bitmail transmission becomes commonplace.

Esperanto’s circumflexed characters are covered by the incipient `widecharacter’ standards (Unicode and ISO 10646), so Esperantists will notbe left out if and when those standards are widely adopted andimplemented. Unicode is a widely endorsed 16-bit character encodingexpected to be supported by Microsoft’s Windows NT and Apple’sQuickDraw GX system software.

The Latin-3 encodings (in hexadecimal) are as follows:

a6 ac b6 bc c6 d8 dd de e6 f8 fd fe

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ u ^ ^ ^ u ^

H J h j C G U S c g u s

5. How do I display those characters on a (Mac, PC, etc.)

`Dumb’ terminals generally cannot overstrike accents with arbitrarycharacters, and so cannot display the Esperanto characters. Mostmodern equipment uses `softer’ display technology and can display theEsperanto characters given proper software.

On the Macintosh, one can prepare and display text with an Esperanto`font’; such fonts usually match the accented characters to convenient(USA) keyboard equivalents, rather than to standard binary codes. Acouple of such fonts (Imagewriter resolution) are available on ELNA’sHyperCard disk, and Esperanto versions of Helvetica and Times (inType 3 PostScript) are also obtainable through ELNA and via anonymousFTP from The Macintosh actually has extensivesupport for setting up `internationalized’ environments for virtuallyany language (including names of days and months, collating sequences,and dead-key input of accented characters), but there is nocomplete Esperanto setup freely available at present.


WordPerfect 5.1 allows the display of Esperanto characters when the512-character screen is selected from the Setup menu. To type anaccented character, type control-v, the charactrs.doc table number,comma, the character code, and RETURN. The Esperanto codes are all intable 1, with the following values:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ – –

C:100 c:101 G:122 g:123 H:126 h:127 J:140 j:141 S:180 s:181 U:188 u:189

so that you type <­CTRL-V>1,100<­RETURN> to get circumflexed C.You can set up a `keyboard file’ to assign these combinationsto keys. (Thanks to Cleve Lendon and Michael Johnson for this information)

In Word Perfect 5.1, you can also type <­CTRL_V> followed bythe character and the accent mark; thus <­Ctrl-V>C^ gives C-circumflex.Two problems are: the lowercase circumflexed j looks lousy in most fontsand there is no breve on the keyboard, so u-breve cannot be done this way.(thanks to D. Gary Grady for this information)

Two programs, `vidi’ and `montru’, which can display some of the commonEsperanto ASCIIzations as accented characters on PCs with graphicsboards, are available via anonymous FTP (see below).

On Unix (and other) systems running X11, it is possible to create atext font using the ISO 8859-3 encoding. With such a font in yourserver’s font repertoire, an `xterm’ window (with terminal modes setfor 8-bit output) can display Esperanto text using standard Unixcommands such as `cat’. An ISO 8859-3 font is included inthe contributed software portion of Release 5 of X11. The Esperantoversions of Helvetica and Times for the Mac might be usable witha suitably equipped X11 server — since they are Adobe Type 1fonts — but this has yet to be verified.

GNU Emacs Version 19 is able to deal with arbitrary X11 keyboardinputs and output fonts. It can be obtained from the usual GNUsources (e.g. There is also a version of GNU Emacs,known as MULE, that is able to handle several non-ASCII encodings,including Latin alphabets 1 thru 9 (except and several Asianlanguages. It comes with X11 fonts for all these alphabets, includingISO 8859-3. Sources are in several places; try in/JAPAN/mule/

In any of these cases, a certain amount of data massaging may benecessary to convert some particular representation of Esperanto text(see Question 4) to an appropriate form.

Text processing languages like TeX and Troff permit the arbitraryplacement of diacriticals on characters and so make the preparation ofgood-looking Esperanto documents quite easy. TeX’s Computer Modernfonts are particularly good for this, because they include an undotted`j’ character. Note that the hyphenation algorithms used by TeX andTroff are not intended for Esperanto and may produce unpleasantresults. TeX is available, often as free software, for a variety ofcomputers.

6. What about other `artificial’ languages like Loglan, Ido, etc.?

People create languages for a variety of purposes. J.R.R. Tolkien’slanguages of Sindarin and Quenya, for example, were created partly asa recreation, and partly to fulfill a literary purpose. Many languageshave been created as international languages; only Esperanto hascontinued to grow and prosper after the death of its originator. Manyof the people who have attempted to promulgate international languagesmore `perfect’ (i.e., more `international’, more `logical’, orwhatever) than Esperanto have failed to understand that — given acertain minimum standard of internationality, aesthetic quality, andease of learning — further tinkering not only fails to substantiallyimprove the product, but interferes with the establishment of a largecommunity of speakers. A language like, say, Interlingua might be (bysome individual’s criteria) `better’ than Esperanto, but in order forit to be worth uprooting the established world of Esperanto andcreating an equivalently widespread world community of Interlinguaspeakers, it would have to be visibly and profoundly an improvementover Esperanto of prodigious proportions. No international languageproject has yet produced such an obviously ideal language.

In the network community, one of the best known planned languageprojects is James Cooke Brown’s Loglan (and its revised offshootLojban). While some enthusiasts do see Loglan and Lojban ascompetitors to Esperanto, the languages were conceived not as a tool tofacilitate better communication, but as a linguistic experiment, totest the Whorf hypothesis that a language shapes (or limits) thethoughts of its speakers. They are thus deliberately designed to bearlittle resemblance to existing human languages. While Loglan andLojban are unlikely (and, by design, perhaps unsuited) to succeed asinternational languages, both are interesting projects in their ownright. The address to write for Loglan information is

The Loglan Institute

3009 Peters Way

San Diego, CA, 92117


[ (619) 270-1691 ]

For Lojban, contact

Bob LeChevalier, President

The Logical Language Group, Inc.

2904 Beau Lane Fairfax VA 22031-1303


[ (703) 385-0273 (day/evenings) }

To subscribe to a LOJBAN mailing list, send a message to

consisting of the body line (not subject):

subscribe lojban Your Real Name

Lojban information can be found via anonymous FTP at

in the /pub/lojban directory.

Those interested in the Mark Okrand’s `Klingon’ language canjoin a mailing list; contact be added or to get information.

There is a general `constructed language’ mailing list; send a messageto

listserv@diku.dkconsisting of the body line (not subject):

subscribe conlang Your Real Nameto subscribe.

Finally, fans of Tolkien’s language creationscan join a Tolkien-language mailing list. Contact information. (UK readers invert the address appropriately)

As for our own Esperanto newsgroup, many readers are interested in otherplanned languages, and discussion of these can often be informative andinteresting. But politeness dictates that `Esperanto-bashing’ inan Esperanto forum is inappropriate and should be avoided.

7. How come Esperanto doesn’t have <­favorite word or feature>?

Although Esperanto is a planned language, it has developed well beyondthe point at which some authoritative person or group can dictatelanguage practice, however great the temptation may be to `tinker’ withthe language. For example, many people are critical of the presence ofa feminine suffix and absence of a corresponding masculine suffix, andhave suggested masculine suffixes (-icx, -un, -ucx, -ab), neutral pronouns(sxli, ri), and/or re-interpretations of familiar words such asredefining `frato’ (brother) to mean `sibling’. But there is no singleindividual or committee that will simply decree changes such asthese before they achieve general use.

Just as with any other language, the only way for such novelties toattain acceptability is for them to be used in correspondence,literature, and conversation by a growing number of people. So, ifyou see a genuine lack in the language’s existing stock of roots andaffixes, by all means use a new coinage (and ALWAYS with suitableexplanation, since you are not using standard Esperanto) and see if itcatches on.

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