Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


Suppression!

Author: David Poulson
Published on:July 24, 1998

Zamenhof's knowledge of several languages, and especially English and Russian, made him aware of the essential prerequisites of an international, planned language and also of what pitfalls he needed to avoid.

1. There would be no grammar, in the accepted sense of the word. Like the English language, there would be no inflexions, conjugations of verbs or declension of nouns.

2. Everybody must be able to speak it easily. In other words, unlike the English language, it would be completely phonetic: each letter would have only one sound, and that sound able to be easily pronounced by anybody in the world.

3. The amount of vocabulary learning would be reduced by an enormous degree by the use of "affixes" - in other words, small building blocks of language which could be added to other building blocks in a completely consistent way.

4. The basis of the language would be these unchanging building blocks which Zamenhof called "radikoj," or roots. A few simple rules would be formulated but these rules would be applied with utter consistency. The new language would be regular, logical and predictable.

On these four cornerstones, Zamenhof was able to build a living language and to describe it in only 16 short rules. These rules and some additional explanation of them can be found here.

The Sixteen Rules

(Under the heading "Esperanto Access," first select "The Language" and then scroll down the resulting frame until you find "Sixteen Rules.)

Let me give you some idea of how these clever ideas work in practice. Let's take, for example, the root "san," which expresses the idea of health. From this one root we can form the words:

sano (health); sana (healthy); sane (healthily); sani (to be healthy); malsano (illness); malsanulo (a sick person); malsanulino (a sick lady); malsanulejo (a hospital); saniga (healthy); sanigado (hygiene); sanigejo (a sanitarium); sanigilo (a remedy); and so on and so on.

(I have a 500-word story in Esperanto and you only need to know 98 roots to understand it. It has been estimated that 2,800 Esperanto roots are sufficient to provide the equivalent of 10,000 words.)

2,800 might still seem a big number to memorize, but Zamenhof based much of the vocabulary of his language on words derived from Latin so that they would be easily recognised by people of many nationalities. See how many of these Esperanto nouns you can identify at sight.

TABLO, KATO, LEONO, BICIKLO, PATRO, LUNO, SUNO, RESPONDO, DEMANDO, LANDO, INFANO, AMIKO.

(Were you able to guess all twelve?)

Once he had discovered the essential principles described above, Zamenhof set to work with fresh heart and his language began to take shape. The structure, the vocabulary, the rules were drafted, tested in translation and revised again and again. It has been truly said that any fool can make something complicated: it takes a very clever person - plus a lot of hard work - to make something simple. Eventually, Zamenhof created the prototype of what was to become: Esperanto.

But at this point, he encountered another serious obstacle which had nothing to do with the difficulty of the task which he had set himself..

Zamenhof's father, who at first was tolerant of his son's project, began to be alarmed. He insisted that no more time be wasted on this adolescent obsession of creating an International Language: the only way out of the ghetto was to become a doctor. Having extracted a reluctantly-given promise from his son to temporarily abandon his project, Zamenhof senior then confiscated all of the notebooks, dictionaries, and translations, representing years of hard work, tied them up into a parcel, and locked them away in a cupboard.

Zamenhof obeyed his father and spent several years in Moscow studying medicine at the University. But of course, he never forgot about his International Language and as soon as he returned to Poland he asked his mother to return his manuscripts so that he could continue with the work that was so important to him . She burst into tears and told her son the terrible truth. While he was away, Zamenhof's father had burned everything. Years of hard work had been destroyed.

The year was 1881 and Zamenhof was twenty-two years old. He had experienced the first of many attempts to suppress Esperanto. And like all of the others, although it failed in its ultimate objective, it set back the development of Esperanto by years.

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PRI TUTKOMUNA LINGVO
PRI RUSA LINGVO
PRI ANGLA LINGVO
PRI ALIAJ NACIAJ LINGVOJ
BATALO DE LINGVOJ
ARTIKOLOJ PRI ESPERANTO
"" PRI "KONKURENTOJ" DE ESPERANTO
LECIONOJ DE ESPERANTO
.KONSULTOJ DE E-INSTRUISTOJ
ESPERANTOLOGIO KAJ INTERLINGVISTIKO
TRADUKO DE MALSIMPLAJ FRAZOJ
TRADUKOJ DE DIVERSAJ VERKOJ
FRAZEOLOGIO DE ESPERANTO
, . VERKOJ DE ZAMENHOF KAJ PRI LI
, PROKSIMAJ MOVADOJ
ELSTARAJ PERSONOJ KAJ ESPERANTO
PRI ELSTARAJ ESPERANTISTOJ
. EL HISTORIO DE RUSIA E-MOVADO
KION ONI SKRIBAS PRI ESPERANTO
ESPERANTO EN LITERATURO
. KIAL E-MOVADO NE PROGRESAS
HUMURO PRI KAJ EN ESPERANTO
- ESPERANTO POR INFANOJ
DIVERSAJHOJ
INTERESAJHOJ
PERSONAJHOJ
/ DEMANDARO / RESPONDARO
UTILAJ LIGILOJ
IN ENGLISHPAGHOJ EN ANGLA LINGVO
PAGHOJ TUTE EN ESPERANTO
NIA BIBLIOTEKO


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