language created in 1887
by Polish oculist Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof,
and intended for use as an international second language.
Zamenhof's Fundamento de
Esperanto, published in 1905, give the introduction of the basic principles
of the language's structure and formation.
The vocabulary is created
from root words taken from Latin, Romance, and Germanic languages.
The number of Esperanto
speakers is estimated at more than one hundred thousand.
More than 30,000 books
have been published in Esperanto.
A declaration endorsed by the Esperanto movement in 1905 limits changes to
Esperanto principle. That declaration stated, amongst other things, that the
basis of the language should remain Fundamento de Esperanto ("Basis of
Esperanto", a work by Zamenhof), which is to be binding forever: nobody has
the right to make changes to it. The declaration also permits new concepts
to be expressed as the speaker sees fit, but it recommends doing so in
accordance with the original style. However, modern
Esperanto usage may in fact depart from that originally described in the
Fundamento. The translation given for "I like this one", in the phrases
below offers a significant example. According to the Fundamento,
Mi ŝatas ĉi tiun would in fact have meant "I esteem this one". The
traditional usage would instead have been Ĉi tiu plaĉas al mi
(literally, "this one is pleasing to me"), which, although it differs from
phrasing in "I like this one", more closely reflects the phrasing in several
other languages (e.g.
French celui-ci me plaît,
Spanish éste me gusta,
Russian это мне нравится [eto mnye
German Dieses gefällt mir).
Esperantists have formed many words to express concepts which have arisen
more recently, but where possible these have indeed conformed to the
existing style of the language. For example, "computer" is komputilo, (using
the suffix -il- meaning a tool). Eŭro (as in the above phrases) is another
good example: even though the currency is called Euro in all the European
Community's official languages which use a Latin script, in Esperanto Eŭro
was chosen because it better fits the pattern of the language.
Esperanto is not an official language of any country. However, it is the
official working language of several non-profit organizations, mostly
No new languages or dialects have formed through fragmentation of Esperanto
as they do in natural languages, due mainly to the regular nature of the
language and its intended field of use. People tend to create slang forms
and regional variants in the language(s) they use day to day, rather than
those used primarily for intercommunication with different-language
speakers; in the case of Esperanto, such variations, if heavily different
from the official Fundamento version, would make universal comprehension
less likely and negate the intended purpose of the language.
There is also evidence that studying Esperanto before studying any other
second language (especially an Indo-European language) speeds and improves
learning, because learning subsequent foreign languages is easier than
learning one's first, while the use of a grammatically simple auxiliary
language lessens the "first foreign language" learning hurdle. In one study
(Williams 1965), a group of high school students studied Esperanto for one
French for three years, and ended up with a better command of
French than the control group, who studied
French without Esperanto during
all four years. However, the study failed to prove that Esperanto was
responsible for this advantage specifically. It is likely that learning any
language will benefit the future study of other languages.