The Language of Hope: Esperanto and My Learning Adventure

Did you ever make up a language as a child? For example, I used to draw squiggly patterns on a notebook and call them letters. I would make up words with funny pronunciation and write their meanings in my notebook. Mostly I would forget it as soon as I switched to another game.

A 14-year-old boy who lived in Poland 148 years ago has not forgotten it. He continued to develop the new language he produced, and after fourteen years of effort, in 1887, he created Lingvo Internacia, the International Language.

Yes, I’m talking about Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof.

Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, aka Dr. Esperanto.

Consider a language with only 16 main rules. No exceptions. Let its grammar be extremely easy. No grammatical gender. No verb conjugation. There are three tenses: past, future, present. A word is easily transformed into a noun, adjective or adverb by placing a letter at the end of the root. Highly functional affixes are available to derive new words.

Let’s give an example: esper, a root that means “hope”. As such, it is not a word yet.

If we put -o it will be a noun, if we put -i it will be a verb, if we put -a it will be an adjective, if we put -e it will be an adverb. In that case:

  • espero (noun): hope
  • esperi (verb): to hope
  • espera (adjective): hopeful
  • espere (adverb): hopefully

We also said that there are functional affixes. For example, the suffix “-ant” adds the meaning of “perpetrator of an action”. Let’s go over the root in the example:

  • esper (root) + ant (suffix) + o (making noun) = esperanto, a person who hopes!

Zamenhof, in his own books, referred to himself as Dr. Esperanto, aka Dr. Hopeful. Over time, the language itself became known as Esperanto.

Esperanto Philosophy and History

Esperanto flag, “Verda Stelo” (Green Star)

Esperanto, which is based on the idea of a world language that everyone can easily learn and thus facilitates mutual communication, had made a lot of repercussions in the world for a while. For example, in 1920, a proposal was made in the League of Nations to have Esperanto as the working language. (All 11 delegates supported the proposal, with the exception of one French delegate, who feared the decline of French, the lingua franca of the time.) After the 30s, Adolf Hitler had Esperantists killed, accusing them of being anti-nationalists. Many more events… The history of the language and its features are explained in detail and properly on Wikipedia. I recommend you to read.

Esperanto’s logic is close to blockchain technology. Just as blockchain is decentralized, data is distributed; This artificial language was also desired to be a language that belongs to everyone, not to a particular nation. It cannot be said, however, that he succeeded in being completely impartial. Most of the root words are taken from European languages. Esperanto is more similar English or Italian than Japanese or Arabic.

Another similarity in this language to the technology that creates cryptocurrencies: there are many altcoins derived from the same infrastructure as bitcoin, and there are many artificial languages derived from Esperanto. These derivative languages are commonly called Esperantido, meaning “Esperanto offspring”. Very nice.

How I Met Esperanto

Three years ago, I came across the ESPERANTO TÜRKİYE group on Facebook by chance. When I was interested in the summary information there, I decided to learn this language. I read the basic rules and did some practice, but after a while I lost interest.

However, my interest was revived this year. I was surprised to see that I had not forgotten many things, foreign languages are actually ungrateful, they just fly out of your memory when you don’t use them. It is quite enjoyable to study it. Besides, there is an idiom in Turkish: a language is a human. I love learning a new language.

The main motivation that pushed me to progress in this language was that it could be learned in a short time so that I could translate my books myself and reach other readers around the world.

For example, I speak English. I can speak enough to get a B2 level certificate, I can read an academic text without hesitating, I can watch movies without subtitles (okay I want subtitles, I exaggerated here, but I speak English generally), blah blah. But I can’t do literary translation. No way. Literature is a completely different world. The sentences I make and the idioms I use sounds artificial, even if they are grammatically correct and understandable. Because I did not receive that education, I did not grow up in that culture. Translators have been received education and specialized for years. Despite this, there are badly translated books circulating in the market. So if I want to sit down and write a story in English, there is a huge language barrier in front of me.

In Esperanto, there is no such situation. Of course, learning and using it correctly requires effort, but it is easier to penetrate this language’s culture. When you make a sentence, you are sure that Esperantists all over the world will understand you. Whether he lives in Indonesia, South America, Greenland or any other country, it doesn’t matter.

One of the good things about learning Esperanto is being able to make friends from all over the world, regardless of language, religion or race. You might say, “Well, you do this in English or other languages,” but the point is not that it is a foreign language. It is a decentralized common interest.

Metal music, for example, is an area of interest. But the average gender and age group of metal music listeners is certain. Most are men and in their 20s. You can make gender and age generalizations for other music genres, sciences and arts.

Esperanto is not popular and will probably never be a lingua franca, but it has a feature that is not found in other hobbies: There is not such a homogeneous and niche audience in other interests. For example, you can chat with a middle-aged man from Brazil, a young man from Spain, an old woman from Japan, or a child from Africa. You realize you have something to share. You realize that we are all basically human.

My learning process is quite enjoyable. I’ve been searching for exams around the world. I have such a strange obsession, I won’t be convinced I speak a language if I don’t have a valid certificate. So that’s it.

Useful Links

These webites will be very useful for learners:

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