I am a proficient and active user of Esperanto, which is an artificial (constructed) language. If you have never heard of it, it was first published in 1887 by L.L. Zamenhof, a Russian-speaking Jew of German origin who was living in Poland, which at the time was part of the Russian empire.
In the area where Zamenhof lived, there were Lithuanians, Russians, Poles, Germans, and Yiddish-speaking Jews. They each lived in their own communities and spoke their own languages, and generally distrusted each other. Zamenhof created Esperanto as a neutral second language for everyone, a language that everybody could share, at least everybody who wished to learn it. He believed that a language like this could help different groups to overcome their differences and prejudices.
I have used Esperanto since 2005. I must say, Zamenhof’s dream was maybe idealistic, but Esperanto has some practical advantages. It is very easy to learn. No irregular verbs, each letter has one sound and is spelled like it sounds. After having learned many natural languages, I never thought that I would become proficient in Esperanto quickly–learning a language well takes years. NOT TRUE WITH ESPERANTO! I became proficient enough to get by after three months of study, and I picked it up really fast by practicing online in chatrooms, Skype, and other Internet remedies.
In recent years, I have also gone to a number of real-life Esperanto events and traveled by means of this language. Esperanto has not exactly taken the world by storm, but there are small groups of people who speak it almost everywhere, and many people use it online. I have made many friends all over the world and had a lot of fun by means of this language. Esperanto has also challenged my views on language and language learning. Look at my photo gallery here in this page, and follow my blog to learn more about Esperanto and my experiences with it. You also can find more information in these helpful links:
- http://www.esperantodc.net — The Esperanto Society of Washington. I designed this website for my local Esperanto club. It is a good place to start, and it has a lot of information.
- http://www.genekeyes.com/Dr_Esperanto.html . The best English translation of the “First Book”, where Zamenhof spelled out the basics of Esperanto.
- http://donh.best.vwh.net/Esperanto/eaccess/eaccess.book.html . “The Esperanto Book”. An English-language E-book, written by Don Harlow. Very detailed account of Esperanto, its history and background, literature, and even politics and more. Also very highly recommended.
- http://en.lernu.net/biblioteko/filmoj/eo_estas.php . “Esperanto estas… (“Esperanto is…”). Introduction to Esperanto and its possibilities. In Esperanto with English subtitles.
I invite you to learn more about Esperanto! Please contact me if you are interested in learning it or if you need more information.