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23 September 2014
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Your experiences of Esperanto
Who do you speak Esperanto with?
"I use this mostly on the Internet, but occasionally meet up with fellow Esperantists around Cambridge. I have written software for supporting Esperanto on the Palm handheld computers and I correspond in Esperanto with the users of that software." Matthew"I speak Esperanto at home, to my daughter, who is still too young to reply, sometimes with my wife, and with some friends and visitors. I also read books and magazines in Esperanto and have a lot of e-mail correspondence in Esperanto." Edmund"I use Esperanto with fellow Esperantists. I am now in Poland for a Baha'i year of service and Esperanto is my sole means of communication with many people. I intend to continue to use Esperanto once more in Britain, when I return." Nicholas"I use Esperanto at home with my partner, house mate and friends. I started to learn Esperanto three years ago from a colleague. I now speak it fluently, with my girlfriend (who is French), with other friends locally, with numerous visitors from across the world, and every time I go travelling.Being a speaker of Esperanto means that I am part of a worldwide community of people who, like me, believe in equality. Phrases like "We're all born equal" or "We're all just human beings after all" actually take on a concrete meaning, when I can talk politics, religion, family, relationships, food & drink, swap jokes and enjoy a few beers with a mixed group of people from across the world, and realise at the end of the evening that I still don't know where half the people come from -- it just didn't matter enough to ask." Tim"I have spoken and used the international language Esperanto since I was 14 (in 1962), worked in Holland, China and Japan using it." Geoffrey"No other speakers in my area, so it's not as fluent as I'd have liked." Andy"Socially (e.g. in clubs) and culturally with other Esperanto speakers e.g. at a recent week-end theatrical and literature workshop focusing on "The Monologue"; written as well as spoken; looking forward to using it abroad at e.g. at 2006 Esperanto Congress in Florence." John"I speak write and read Esperanto, primarily with those who live in other countries, but also fairly regularly with speakers in the UK." David"I use Esperanto to speak to people across the world - on holiday and in correspondence with pen-pals." BillAbout Esperanto:
"Esperanto has a rather unique speech community. The language was launched in 1887 as an easy and neutral language for international communication, and there is an Esperanto Movement that aims to improve the world by encouraging the use of Esperanto.
The aims are perhaps best summarised by
There is also an Esperanto community, which overlaps with but is not identical with the Movement. Estimates of the number of people who can speak (some) Esperanto vary from 100 000 to several millions." Edmund"It means sharing the vision of its creator, Ludwik Zamenhof, which is to establish one world society, with one world federal system of government, using an international auxiliary language which does not replace any national language, but in fact preserves the linguistic rights of all peoples and cultures. The concept of an international auxiliary language is also a principle of the Baha'i Faith, so this is important for me. Baha'u'l! lah (1817-1892), the Founder of the Baha'i Faith, said: "The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home. These things are obligatory and absolutely essential." Esperanto has a real linguistic community of users, not only in the world, but also in Britain. Esperanto was created in 1887 by the Jewish Polish ophthalmologist, Ludwik Zamenhof, and has since spread to most parts of the world and is successfully used by its speakers as a neutral and egalitarian means of communication." Nicholas"Esperanto is a written language. There is quite a lot of original as well as translated literature." Marianne

"I read novels in Esperanto when I have time, and subscribe to the magazine Monato, published monthly. It's also incredibly useful whenever I travel. Next month, for instance, I'm off to Poland for a week, and I'll be staying with Esperanto speakers when I get there. Not only do I save on hotels, I also get to meet locals, see their houses, take them out to dinner, and talk endlessly about every subject under the sun. And all that without having to learn the language of every different country, and without expecting anyone to learn my language either. We meet half-way -- it's a kind of linguistic handshake." Tim

"Esperanto has been used in the UK for more than 100 years. The biggest collections of Esperanto literature are at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh, and the Butler Library, Wedgwood Memorial College, Stoke-on-Trent." DavidHow you feel about Esperanto:
"Being an Esperanto speaker gets me branded as an eccentric of sorts, which is a shame. I have studied and speak, to a greater or lesser degree, 7 other languages (in addition to English and Esperanto), but Esperanto is the only one that I have felt able to understand another speaker as if I were a "native". Spanish is the only other language that has come close, but I spent five years in evening classes to achieve that level, whereas Esperanto took me just a couple of months of correspondence courses to feel equally confident.It's a pity it's become a marginalised and "crank" language in this country; it has a lot to offer to help people "get into" languages in general, whether or not you are interested in the universal communication ideals that drive many Esperanto enthusiasts." Matthew"I learnt Esperanto at the age of about 20. Because of the many contacts I have through Esperanto the language has become an important part of my identity and my life. Most of my Esperanto-speaking acquaintances are in other countries, and most of my communication with them is by email, but I am also in regular contact with a few Esperanto speakers in my own town, by phone and face-to-face." Edmund "To me speaking Esperanto means being amongst friends, it's part of who I am. It comes naturally to me." Marianne"An Esperantist meets people from other cultures as equals, and has respect for other people's languages (i.e. I doesn't expect them to have to learn my own national language in order to speak/do business with me). I live in London and there is an active London Esperanto Club in my city." Bill
Elsewhere on BBCi
Esperanto House in Staffordshire
Elsewhere on the web
Learn Esperanto online
Esperanto-Asocio de Britio

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Esperanto in the British Isles by Viv Edwards

Esperanto - one of a number of languages devised for international communication - means 'hope'. It was the pseudonym used by L.L. Zamenhof, a Polish Jew, who first proposed the language in 1887. His intention was not to replace existing languages but to create an easy-to-learn auxiliary language to spread his ideas on peaceful coexistence. Today Esperanto is the most successful 'constructed' language, spoken by up to two million people worldwide. Although most people learn to speak the language as adults, up to 2000 people use Esperanto as their first language.

Because Esperanto is a constructed language, it does not belong to any language family. However, its vocabulary is based mainly on Romance languages, and its sound system is essentially Slavic.Esperanto is spoken in many different settings - with family and friends at home as well as in clubs and international gatherings. It is a common form of communication with followers of the Bah'ai faith. Esperanto literature is widely available, with magazines and novels, both original and translated. It is also used extensively in emails and letters.Some speakers complain that their enthusiasm for Esperanto gets them branded as eccentric. The prevailing feeling, though, is that the language opens doors, allowing you to speak to others from across the world. In the words of Tim, a contributor, "We meet half-way - it's a kind of linguistic handshake".

Your Comments
What is your experience of Esperanto?

Krys Williams from Nottingham
I learned E-o in the mid 1980s and soon became part of the literary scene, even down to having a book of poetry published in Belgium under my previous surname of Ungar. All this was a wonderful contrast to my scientific background and I had many wonderful experiences as a result. I even conducted a romance purely in E-o for about 12 years :)) At school, I was hopeless at languages, but E-o gave me the key to understanding how languages work, so much so that I now earn my living as a freelance medical translator, translating out of six languages into English. Sadly, with the death of romance and the pressures of life, I more or less lost contact with the movement although I was hunted out of my lair by someone from Israel last year in order to do a telephone interview in E-o which was broadcast at a meeting in Israel.

Debra McCarney from Australia
Two years ago I used Esperanto to travel in Vietnam. I was privileged to glimpse into the lives of ordinary people in a way that I could never have done as an English-speaking tourist. Esperanto truly opens doors into other cultures.

Ron Wolf, Texas, U.S.A.
I failed Spanish in High School. For the next 24 years I thought I had no capability to learn a foreign language. Then one day learned about Esperanto. The website said it was the easiest language on earth to learn. I decided to give it a try, and bought a book from the U.K. called "Teach Yourself Esperanto". In 2-3 months I was able to write simple letters. By 18 months I considered myself pretty good at the language. Now, 7 years later, I'm fluent, and have been for several years. Esperanto opened the world to me. I've discussed literature and movies (my two favorite subjects) with people from China, Iran, Russia, South America. I listen to music, read literature, watch movies, and converse with friends and discuss all of the above in Esperanto, just as I would in English. I just have a much more international group of friends now. Someday I hope to be able to take advantage of the travel opportunities that open up when you know Esperanto.

Piet Glorieux (Werken, Belgium)
I use Esperanto for contacts with friends in France. Apart from that I have friends/acquaintances all over the world: Brazil, Congo, Cuba, Corea. Allthough I am used to speak French during daily professional contacts with colleagues Esperanto is without doubt my best not native language.

Betty Chatterjee Denmark.
The 1st January 2005 I resolved to learn Esperanto and I Have done just that! In the past two years I have completed three on-line courses (Nesto 1+2 and 'Vojaĝo en Esperanto-lando'-Boris Kolker) and can now read, speak and write the language without making many mistakes.Having contacts in at least 16 countries I speak and/or write the language daily (Skype and e-mail). During these two wonderful years, I've visited non-English speaking esperantists in Poland and the Ukraine, who all made me feel like members of the family.I too have had the pleasure of receiving esperantists from China, Poland and Austria.In August 2006 I attended the 91st Universala Kongreso in Florence, where I hobnobbed with quite a few of the 2,200 or so esperantists from 62 countries.The scope of activities was varied and the standard was brilliant.Needless to say there was not an interpreter in sight. At home in Denmark I belong to the Copenhagen Esperanto club as well as being a member of the Danish section of the Universala Esperanto-Asocio. Although born in the U.K. I've lived in Denmark more than half my life, so naturally I've also learnt Danish. HOWEVER after two years' Esperanto I have found it to be about four times quicker to learn than Danish; not because I was more diligent, but because Esperanto grammar is simpler and it is regular.Further more it is easy to build up a vocabulary Because the language is agglutinous i.e. words can be formed by using a system of roots and affixes. The language has been in existence for 120 years and its' popularity has ebbed and flowed. In view of the staggering number of languages in the European Union, would it not be a good idea, if our governments at least (seriously) considered Esperanto as a possible solution to the language problem?

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