Esperanto, the international language, is a language developed to make it easier for people of different cultures to communicate. Its author, Dr. L. L. Zamenhof (1859-1917), published his "Lingvo Internacia" in 1887 under the pseudonym "Dr. Esperanto". It is now spoken by at least two million people, in over 100 countries. There are thousands of books and over 100 periodicals published currently. But what makes it any more international than French, English or Russian?
Incorrectly termed 'artificial' (the right word is 'planned'), Esperanto is specifically intended for international/intercultural use, so those who use it meet each other on an equal footing, since neither is using his or her native language. With national languages, the average person isn't able to express himself as well as a native speaker or the gifted linguist. Thanks to its simple, logical, regular design, anyone can learn Esperanto fairly rapidly.
Esperanto is a living language, used for everything people use any other language for. But it's much easier to learn than a national language. Even people who can't remember a word of a language they studied for years in high school or college need only months of intensive study to become fluent in Esperanto. It is also more useful than national languages if your goal in learning a language is to get to know people from different places, since virtually everyone who speaks Esperanto has learned it for this reason.
This course is based on ELNA's Free Postal Course, which is, in turn, based on a very popular postal course in use today in England. The course is a bit old-fashioned, and we are working on a more appealing version. In the meantime, you will have to bear with it. Upon successful completion of the ten lessons, you will receive an "eternal" web diploma, which you can view, print out and send to your friends.
A note about the orthography. The Esperanto alphabet contains these six letters bearing diacritical marks: ĉ ("hat c"), ĝ ("hat g"), ĥ ("hat h"), ĵ ("hat j"), ŝ ("hat s"), ŭ ("hat u"). If you can't see these letters properly on your computer screen, the course material is also available here with a special notation that uses the digraphs cx, gx, hx, jx, sx and ux, respectively, to represent esperanto's special letters.
It is also likely that you don't know how to type the special letters with your computer keyboard. Feel free to use the special "x" notation in all of your email correspondence.
Here are the WWW sites of national Esperanto associations in the major English-speaking countries. If your country isn't listed, ask us and we can find the address for you.
Language is all about things (nouns) and their actions (verbs) of energetic things:
|One thing...||Acts on...||Another thing|
|a bird||catches...||an insect.|
|subject noun||verb||object noun|
Esperanto is "grammar-coded" - you can tell what part each word plays in a sentence from the word endings:
|single subject noun||single object noun|
|plural subject noun||plural object noun|
To show when the action takes place, the verb tense (time) is changed by putting these endings on the verb roots:
|present tense||-as||describes it as it happens|
|past tense||-is||shows an action completed|
|future tense||-os||action still to begin|
Every noun and every verb follows the above rules without exception.
In Esperanto, things have no gender (they are not male or female, as in many other languages.) There is only one word for 'the', no matter if the noun is singular or plural, subject or object. Therefore:
La birdoj kaptas la insektojn.
La birdo kaptis la insekton.
In Esperanto the word order matters less than in English. All the following sentences describe the same action (only the emphasis is changed):
|Viro legas libron.||Viro libron legas.|
|Libron legas viro.||Libron viro legas.|
|Legas viro libron.||Legas libron viro.|
|A man reads a book.|
Here are some words in Esperanto (the apostrophe indicates an incomplete word, a root):
|Nouns||Verbs (roots)||More nouns|
|amiko (friend)||far' (do, make)||kafo (coffee)|
|filo (son)||forges' (forget)||kuko (cake)|
|frato (brother)||hav' (have)||lakto (milk)|
|instruisto (teacher)||trink' (drink)||pano (bread)|
|knabo (boy)||vend' (sell)||sukero (sugar)|
|patro (father)||vid' (see)||teo (tea)|
Each Esperanto letter has only one sound, always. Here is a guide to some of the sounds. The stress is always on the next-to-last syllable of a word.
c = ts (in lots); oj = oy (in boy); G = g (in go) kn are always pronounced separately: k-nabo
Read Lesson 1 thoroughly, but before trying the exercises below, try these translations and check your answers with ours.
(We have supplied some words and endings to help you get started.)
After checking these sentences, do the exercises of Lesson 1. If there is anything you do not understand, be sure to ask your tutor.
We will try to be prompt, but be patient, and most of all: Bonvenon al Esperanto (Welcome to Esperanto)!
Answers to the above exercises
Take your time and translate the following sentences into Esperanto. Copy the sentences into an email message and type your answers between the lines. (Please include the original sentences in your email.)
[Note: the word 'a' does not exist in Esperanto; the simple noun is enough. Also, a dash indicates that the two English words are translated by one Esperanto word.]
Now, don't forget to mail these exercises to the address for your tutor on your personal course page, with subject: 'FEC ekz 1'.
Well, we hope we haven't scared you off in this first meeting with Esperanto. Just remember - the language ability you used in the above exercises might take months to reach in secondary school French or Spanish.
The Free Esperanto Course begins simply, but by Lesson 10 you will understand sophisticated Esperanto with complex syntax.
Upon satisfactory completion of the series of ten lessons, you will receive a framable 'Certificate of Completion'.
While waiting for a reply from your tutor, you can learn some numbers and colors:
|0||nulo (say: noo-lo)|
|1||unu (say: oo-noo)||flava (flah-vah)||yellow|
|2||du (say: doo)||verda (ver-dah)||green|
|3||tri (say: t-ri)||blua (bloo-ah)||blue|
|9||naŭ||("ĝ" as in "gem", "gentle")|
|100||cent (say: tsent)|