Esperanto, English, and Learning Foreign Languages

Page in progress!

Sources:

1. Stories on how Esperanto was fast to learn for Chinese people:
janmilld.se/esperanto/espo.html (in Swedish)
www.fmn.fo/esp/esp2.htm (in Faroese, nowadays accessible only via web.archive.org)

2. Greenlandic grammar:
forum.unilang.org by nighean-neonach and ilaana.

3. Finnish cases:
Wikipedia pages for Finnish noun cases, and for each case name in general.

4. Icelandic cases:
bin.arnastofnun.is

6. Indonesian grammar:
"A Manual of the Malay language" on gutenberg.org, and "A Grammar and Dictionary o the Malay Language" on openlibrary.org.

5. Results of some research on Esperanto, notes on it being taught to the blind, and some other things: "Esperanto as an International Auxiliary Languages", readable for free at:
openlibrary.org

All the Swedish sentences and grammatical information, as well as Japanese grammatical information, mostly came from my own head. Those looking for information on Japanese can try "An Historical Grammar of Japanese", readable for free on openlibrary.org.

Author's note:

I am not a linguist. This book is mostly intended for the average person or average language teacher. It's also for a native English speaker who hasn't yet learnt a foreign language, or for a person who dreams of learning multiple foreign lnaguaes that are drastically different. There may be times when I use a grammatical term that I haven't clarified, and in those cases you should simply ignore it and keep reading.

I myself studied, or looked at the grammar of, Spanish, Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish, Greenlandic, Meänkieli, and Japanese to various degrees before beginning to learn Esperanto. I was born and raised in the USA. At age 18 I moved to Reykjavík, Iceland, and at 20 I moved to Uppsala, Sweden.

After learning Esperanto I tried learning Indonesian, Chinook Jargon, and began to study Japanese more seriously. Esperanto has helped me more with foreign languages than all the other ones I've studied combined.

Despite a number of research papers existing, some from as far back as nearly 100 years ago, that describe how Esperanto helps people who want to continue on to another foreign language afterwards — sources say essentially nothing about why or how it helps. They simply list the end result. They also tend to focus on the same few languages (French, German, English etc.), none of which I am learning, and at the same time, the results they receive could be drastically improved if only they changed how things were done.

I've been living in Uppsala for almost four years now, unemployed the entire time, hoping that a fast food place will hire me but to no avail (the "magic key" of being a native English speaker does nothing if you don't also hold a degree) — and so I decided to write this book. All profits go directly to my food, medical, etc. costs. My dream is to one day live in Japan or the Faroe Islands. Thank you very much.

— 2016.02.07 Uppsala, Sweden

Grammatical Terms:

Here are some basic grammar terms for those who may have trouble reading this book otherwise:

Noun, Substantive = A name for a thing or idea. Mary, dog, England, music, happiness, Google.

Pronoun = A word that refers to a person or thing but doesn't use its name, title, etc: he, she, it, they, we, I, you.

Adjective = Describes such names. Red, cold, hairy, bad, broken, useless.

Verb = "It's what you do!". Actions, one-word commands, and words that show movement or changes in state. Run, talk, become, force, think, believe.

Adverb, Adverbial phrase = "How, when or where you do it!". Slowly, weakly, tomorrow, on Mondays, every summer, in the winter, at midnight, dog-like, likewise, during, meanwhile. An adverb is one word, an adverbial phrase is more than one word, but they perform the same function.

Tense = The "time" in a verb. Ate (past tense), eats (present tense), will eat (future tense).

Participle = A verb that turns into another type of word but keeps its tense. "I wrote (past-tense verb), the written paper (past-tense participle)", "I boiled the radish (past-tense verb), the boiled radish (past-tense participle)". Examples that make this clear will come later on in the book.

Singular = Single. One of something. Dog, boy.
Plural = More than one. Dogs, boys.

General Introduction:

Every language was perfectly regular in the beginning. Every word made complete sense — there was no wondering what the "disci" in disciple meant, because it was as clear as the "book" in bookstore. It was "foot, foots" not "foot, feet". Spelling actually matched the sounds we were pronouncing (through letters), or the ideas that were being said (through pictures - hieroglyphics). Over time, in most languages all of these points degraded into a mass of irregularities.

Esperanto takes the basics of language and language-learning, containing the core words, concepts and grammar that exist in many languages to some degree or another, and teaches them to the learner in a simple way. It also causes you to see, notice, and use the connections between things — things you never even thought of before. This eventually overrides the fact that your textbook or teacher is bad. You can bridge the horrific gap between two vastly different languages, with Esperanto as the bridge.

While English has more than five different ways to say the plural, Esperanto only has one. English has different ways to say "talks" depending on who or how many people are talking (I talk, he talks), but Esperanto only has one. This theme of "only one" is repeated throughout Esperanto's grammar system:

English:
brother, dog, foot, thesaurus, sheep, glasses, rain
brethren, dogs, feet, thesauri, sheep, pairs of glasses, spells of rain

Esperanto:
virfrato, hundo, piedo, similivortaro, ŝafo, lorno, pluvo
fratoj, hundoj, piedoj, similvortaroj, ŝafoj, lornoj, pluvoj

O at the end of a word in Esperanto signifies a noun, while J signifies a plural. Thus OJ is a plural noun. There is no other possible ending for nouns, and no other possible ending for plurals.

In contrast, there is no set ending for modern English nouns or plurals. If we were to give an English paragraph to someone who didn't know a single word of English, they would have no way of figuring out basic sentence structure, or of recognizing general patterns in any way — they would have to look up literally every single word in order to find out its role in grammar.

Likewise, when an English native speaker first goes to learn a foreign language they're confused. "I don't know why you say it, I just know how you say it" is one of the most common things I hear from learners.



Normally when we use a translation dictionary to see what word is in another language, we are forced to pay attention to the little grammatical notes in the corner (if, indeed, there are any notes at all) in order to learn what part of speech it is. Languages often have more than ending for nouns, or for adjectives, just as how none of the English words above end in the same thing. Naturally, when there are so many different forms for the same piece of grammar it's difficult to learn when to recognize it.

However, say we were learning English words, only knew Esperanto, and were using the worst dictionary possible:

The word "dog" would show us, due to the Esperanto translation ending in O, that "dog" is a singular noun. Eventually we'd learn that many plurals in English are formed by adding S (dogs), but looking up the word "glasses" would show us the Esperanto word "lorno" — the word glasses is then a singular word, despite ending in S. We end up learning these things naturally, without any grammar notes required, because Esperanto already shows the grammar.

Now imagine a book in a foreign language. Everything that translates to a noun in English has been printed in blue ink. All adjectives are red, past-tense verbs are green, present-tense verbs are black and so on. Even if you didn't know a single thing about the grammar of that language beforehand, even if you didn't know any vocabulary words, after skimming enough of the text you'd begin to figure it out. You'd naturally begin to recognize which types of endings or changes translated to what. Esperanto's word endings work just as well as color-coding.

Now imagine a bilingual book. There are no colors, but underneath every foreign-language sentence is a colored translation that matches the original's word order and word construction 80% of the time. Even just half-heartedly reading such a book would make you learn something about grammar and vocabulary. Again, this is how Esperanto works — or can work, if enough effort is put into the Esperanto translation.

When learning a foreign language, even if the word "the" doesn't exist, then plurals exist. Even if plurals don't exist, accusative case (clarified later in the book) exists, or adverbs exist, or verbs exist. If none of those things exist, they do implicitly — the form of the word doesn't change but the order of the words in the sentence changes to convey the same meaning instead.

Meaning, whether you know them in your mother tongue or not, you're most likely going to need to know at least some of these concepts in order to easily and properly learn a foreign language. Esperanto simplifies and regularizes them for you.

Detailed or nuanced Esperanto words are created by combining smaller words together. This means there's very few unique words in Esperanto overall, so the whole language is learnt at a much faster rate. If you don't understand a grammar topic when coming directly from the textbook, you'll end up understanding through context after reading enough example sentences.

You can understand spontanious speech in Esperanto after two weeks, read novels after a few months, and potentially write just as fluently in Esperanto as in your native language after one year — no matter if your native language is English or Chinese. The exact time it takes depends on how good your lessons are, how much you study and use the language, and how many of the grammar concepts are ones you're already familiar with.

Overview:

This is what Esperanto teaches someone who has never learnt a foreign language before:

1. How to recognize all of basic grammar, all the time, in all sentences. This includes: nouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, participles, accusative case, and reflexive pronouns. Examples of how, exactly, this relates to other languages will appear later on in the book.

The biggest barrier to understanding a foreign language is when you know so little grammar that you can't even tell what's what. For example, if you don't know what an adverb is then you're not going to be able to realize the adverb's usual location in the sentence, and so you won't figure out sentence structure until much later — after you've "gotten a feel for it".

It could take you years to get that far. You'd constantly confuse forms and words, for example "everyday" and "every day", that would continue to cause beginner-level mistakes in your sentences even when you're otherwise advanced.

Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience. English natives who have studied Japanese for two or three years often still have difficulties with some of the basic grammar, or still don't understand sentence structure. Swedes who have studied Swedish, French, English and who have begun to learn Japanese still don't know what the accusative case is (a thing that exists to some extent or another in all four of those languages). I myself still didn't understand the accusative after two years of attempting to learn about it in Iceland.

Learning a foreign language hasn't helped most people with these basic concepts at all. A few weeks with Esperanto would clear everything up.

2. You learn the basic connections between words — which ideas are opposites, which ones are the same but "weaker, stronger" or "bigger, smaller" in size and degree. In Esperanto there is a huge stress on understanding and knowing how to use these differences, for example:

Wind. Big wind = storm. Small wind = breeze.
Lake. Small lake = puddle. Big lake = ocean.
Happy. Opposite-happy = unhappy, sad.

In most languages, this sort of logic plays a large role in building words. Otherwise, it can help you understand certain concepts in grammar.

In Japanese for example, the grammatical words "ga が" and "wa は" are opposites of each other, yet the same strength. They're claimed to be one of the most difficult grammatical aspects of Japanese. They simply show that the attention is more focused on one section of the sentence compared to another, a concept that we in English convey with vocal stress instead.

Firstly, the simple fact that English natives they can't even notice that the two words are opposites, leads them to believe that there is more than two rules for usage (they commonly claim that both have 4-5), when it isn't true. Secondly, the grammatical words "no の" and "o を" are almost the same as wa and ga, except among other things they're weaker in strength. Wa and ga can relate to multiple words or entire sentences, but no and o can effectively only connect single words.

I have never seen any textbook describe the connections between these four words this way. Some of the Japanese textbooks I checked were written by people who knew English, Chinese, ancient Chinese, Japanese, ancient Japanese, German and French, yet they still didn't understand this (and very many other things that I will write about in different sections of this book).

It simply shows that even if a person has studied multiple languages, they're still not learning some of the basic skills that Esperanto teaches.

3. How basic grammar and word order can be switched around while still meaning the same thing - "I play it loud", "I play loudly", "I loud-play". This adjusts your brain to the way other languages can function in general. As a simple example, Swedish can say both of these:

tänka på = think about
påtänka = think about

There is no language that copies English's sentence structure exactly, and sentence structure is often the most difficult concept for adult learners of a foreign language to understand. Anything that can make foreign sentence structure easier is not to be underestimated as a learning tool.

For example, Swedish and English are almost the same in structure — except for that in stressed sentences, questions, or sentences where an adverb or other descriptive phrase comes in front instead of behind, the sentence changes:

Han gillar korv = He likes sausage
Gillar han korv = He likes sausage?
Korv gillar han = He likes SAUSAGE

Jag äter på måndag = I'll eat on Monday
Äter jag på måndag = Will I eat on Monday?
På måndag äter jag = I'll eat on MONDAY

This can happen even in the middle of another sentence that has normal sentence structure. "On Monday" is an adverb (or, more properly, an "adverbial phrase" as it's more than one word). Wshen the adverb comes in front, the Swedish "I eat" switches to "eat I". Likewise, when an entire descriptive phrase is put in front of something and turns into an adverbial phrase, the same change in sentence structure occurs.

This is commonly said to be the most difficult aspect of Swedish, aside from pronunciation. Many foreigners live in Sweden for years and never end up mastering this. Understandably, if we can't tell an adverb apart from all the other parts of speech, then we're not going to understand when to switch our words around in Swedish either.

In Esperanto these sentences are clearer, and we can also copy Swedish's word order more closely:

Han gillar korv = Li ŝatas kolbason
Gillar han korv = Ĉu ŝatas li kolbason
Korv gillar han = Kolbason ŝatas li

Jag äter på måndag = Mi manĝos lunde
Äter jag på måndag = Ĉu manĝos mi lunde
På måndag äter jag = Lunde manĝos mi

The effects of Esperanto are most pronounced when studying a language that has a drastically difference sentence structure compared to English, for example Japanese, or when studying a language where there is no or almost no distinction between different types of words in grammar, as in Indonesian and Chinook Jargon. Examples of this will come later.

4. How to express yourself using extremely few words, and thus which words to learn first in any given foreign language.

Pretend you're in a foreign country where no one speaks a single word of any language you know. You don't need the word "tea" if you can say "boiled plant drink", or "ice" if you can say "frozen water", but you need that certain logical skill in order to create those descriptive phrases in the first place.

You also need to know which words are actually the most important, in order to learn only the most useful things first. Esperanto teaches both these concepts in a fairly painless way.

The smaller the amount of words in a language, the more this logic is the key to understanding and speaking it. English native teachers tend to completely lack this skill, because we usually borrow words from other languages instead of creating our own. Examples will be made throughout the book.

5. How to distinguish between ideas you don't currently see a difference in. For example:

Present = 1. a gift, 2. not absent

Think = 1. think thoughts, 2. plan to do, 3. have an opinion, 4. guess, assume

In Esperanto, as in many foreign languages in general, all these different meanings would use different words. Japanese and Swedish have a difference between the two types of "present", Swedish and Icelandic distinguish between the different meanings of "think". If you look up "think" in the average English to Swedish dictionary, you'd most likely get the wrong word for your situation because the differences aren't clearly noted. If you looked it up in an Esperanto dictionary, you wouldn't.

In many cases this simply requires understanding what you're actually trying to say. When we say we want to "check out a book, check out that guy, I'm gonna check outta here", we mean "borrow a book, look at that guy, I'm going to leave".

Even if you know multiple foreign languages already, unless you know certain ones that are very active in saying simple things, you'll still be surprised at the literal translation of another language because your mind simply isn't flexible enough when it comes to language yet. Esperanto can say most words in various different ways, sometimes including different shades of meaning, and this is how languages such as Chinese (Mandarin) work.

For a clear example, "bus stop":

buspaŭzejo = bus pause place
bushaltejo = bus halt place
busrenkontejo = bus meet place
buskuŝejo = bus lie (park) place
busbiletaĉetejo = bus ticket buy place
busejo = bus place

English says vote, German says voice-give, and Esperanto says both. Japanese says package paper, Swedish says present paper, English says wrapping paper, and Esperanto says all three.

6. How to draw connections between what is actually there in context, not between what you assume should be there. All languages have set phrases where a certain very general word (teacher - one who teaches, reader - one who reads, heater - "one who heats") has evolved to only be used in a very specific sense. Esperanto has almost none of these, so a "heater" is anything at all that can heat up things, not specifically an electric heater.

When learning a foreign language, especially in the beginning, you will always be missing large amounts of information. You need to train the skills of understanding via context. For example, a person may say "a purple fruit". You assume this to mean "a plum or grape", but the fruit turns out to be something strange you've never even heard of before. You assumed based on the context of what words and concepts you already know in your own language and country.

In Esperanto it simply can't be done — you learn to be flexible instead. This is halfway because some words can be so vague, and halfway because the speakers come from all over the world. Esperanto is spoken where no one knows English, even where no one knows any major language at all, so how they write to you might not be "tainted" by the knowledge of how another language and culture words things. That is to say, they may say "candle holder" but it certainly doesn't mean it's the same type as what you have at home, which becomes apparent two paragraphs later as the murder plot thickens.

7. There is, of course, the joy and self-confidence you receive upon realizing that what you say, and what others say to you, can be understood in something that's your foreign language despite you two coming from completely different countries and mother tongues.

Most people who aren't forced to use a foreign language on an everyday basis only want to write and speak in one after they've "almost mastered" it (usually meaning that they're afraid of making mistakes, or of not understanding what's being said).

Since Esperanto is so quick to learn and it's extremely easy to find other speakers of it — whether online, through penpals, or through local clubs and conventions — this "confidence" stage is conquered much more quickly compared to in other languages. When you move onto the next foreign language, even if your fear hasn't disappeared it's at least lessened because you already have experience speaking in some other language.

8. All of the aspects above work together to form an even bigger whole. That is to say, it's like mixing chemicals — they may be one thing separately, and another thing when together. This will be illustrated, as best as I am able, throughout the book.

One study showed that a person who knows Esperanto ends up 300% better or faster at learning a foreign language compared to another person of the same language background, and other studies agree with the general idea. Now, these sorts of studies are flawed because the next foreign language isn't actually taught in Esperanto.

Let's say an American learns Esperanto, then learns French via English and is 300% better at French than their classmates. Esperanto still isn't at the forefront of their mind, it instead goes through an English filter. Unless they rewrite all their French lessons to how things could be taught in Esperanto, and unless they memorize all their French vocabulary via Esperanto instead of English, they can't take advantage of all the benefits. So, for all we know the true answer might be 600%.

Common Questions:

Most people either know nothing about Esperanto, or have heard things that they then wonder about. A few of these will be discussed here.

1. What does it look and sound like?

It's not pretty. It ranges in look from "like a mix of French and some Slavic language" to "an incomprehensible mess", depending on who's writing. The only consistent thing between them is that there's many vowels:

la bela terpom' dancas ĝoje (French-esque)

ĉare la enpoŝonta ĉirkaŭmanradikkaptilo elfalis (the other type)

As for how it sounds, this varies drastically according to who is speaking because there are fairly loose rules for how each letter can be pronounced — You can use the English R, the French R, or the Japanese R, for example. This means that a person's accent from languages as different as Chinese, Japanese, French, Arabic, Danish and English can be very strong and yet still be understood.

How fast is it to learn? How much does it help with learning other languages?

Esperanto has been shown to be 10 to 13 times faster to learn to fluency compared to languages such as French, Chinese and English.

Anyone can become fluent in it in half a year if they work hard, no matter what their first language is. People who already know how to tell the difference between all of its grammar concepts can learn its entire grammar in one day. Most people, however, study it relatively aimlessly and so they take a few weeks to understand spontanious spoken conversation, a few months to understand novels, and a year or more to become as fluent in it as their mother tnogue.

Here are a few examples:

1. "After four months' studies of Esperanto at Karlskoga Folkhögskola (a school in Sweden), the Chinese person Basheng Chen took the international exam for it. He hadn't ever studied Esperanto before, and his ability to speak Esperanto was shown on 'Tvärsnytt' and 'Landet runt' (TV programs) in December 1997.

Then he began to study Swedish. After just 2 1/2 weeks he could already speak Swedish, which was proven when journalists interviewed him on Radio Örebro and 'Karlskoga tidning' (a newspaper) on January 28th and 29th, 1998. At school as a full-time student he only spoke Esperanto, and with his host family he spoke Chinese."

(My first language is English and I personally took around two months to understand basic spontanious Swedish, despite having studied Icelandic previously. I certainly couldn't have handled an interview. The international exam mentioned is one that tests to see if you're essentially fluent in Esperanto.)

2. "After five days, a translator for the European Union could already lead a conversation that they were having, entirely in Esperanto, with an Estonian doctor."

3. Before the end of single day, Halldór Laxness (a famous Icelandic writer) learnt Esperanto's entire grammar.

4. In a study, Finnish students who studied Esperanto and then German, were "unquestionably better at German" than those who hadn't.

5. In a study, Italian students who studied first Esperanto and then French, were better at French than those who hadn't. Everyone probably knows already that Italian and French are, relatively speaking, extremely closely-related languages — so most people wouldn't expect this kind of benefit.

6. Hungarian, German and English students studied Esperanto for one or two years, some of them in elementary school and some of them later on, and then studied different foreign languages afterwards. In all cases, they became up to 200% better or faster at learning the next foreign language (Russian, French, German, English or Japanese) compared to their peers who hadn't learnt Esperanto.

Personal accounts that I've read online have said:

1. A Hungarian learned Esperanto, and afterwards learned English to near-fluency in just three years. In Hungary you can officially take Esperanto as a foreign-language option in mandatory school. The last time I got into a conversation with a Hungarian person on the street I asked about it, and when they replied, it was clear that they thought:

• Everyone knows all about Esperanto!
• It's a language only lazy people choose.

This same person had chosen English instead, and yet they could barely make themselves understood in it.

2. All Swedes begin studying English in elementary school and continue all the way into university. Swedish is one of the most closely-related languages to modern English. Despite this, if a Swede takes Esperanto in their last year of high school (gymnasium), by the end of that year they're better at Esperanto than they are at English. I read this fact from some polititian in charge of education..

3. In my personal experience, I've been learning Japanese at 4x the speed of the Swedes in my class, and 8x the speed of the average American (yes, the Swedes learn twice as fast as the Americans — I've taken the same class, using the same textbook in the same language, in universities in America and Sweden).

My speed however, is a combination of both Esperanto and the general study methods that I will summarize in the back of this book.

How many people speak it?

We don't know because it's impossible to do a world-wide census, and since it's not the official language of any country, most countries' censuses probably don't even list Esperanto as a option. In addition to this, a huge portion of its speakers don't use or don't have access to the internet (there are also places like China, where a person might only be able to access Chinese websites).

However, there's enough speakers for it to have media. There are magazines, books, online radio stations, music, fanfiction, fan-translated videogames, amateur films, and so on. This is in fact much than what can be said for many languages. It definitely has more speakers than Faroese, Icelandic and Greenlandic.

For those who want hard numbers:

As of February 6th 2016, Esperanto had 225,591 articles on Wikipedia — roughly the same amount as were in Danish (which has 5,500,000 native speakers), Estonian (1,200,000), and Malay (77,000,000).

Duolingo, a site for learning languages, had 287,000 learners (not speakers, learners) of Esperanto. This is the same sum as those who were learning Ukranian. Archive of Our Own had 24 fiction stories written in Esperanto by users, while Danish had 26. There were 60 Esperanto publishing companies with their own Wikipedia pages, and in contrast, Swedish had only 13.

Thus, all reasonable sources point to that there must be at the very least 1,000,000 Esperanto speakers in the world. This is the population of a small country or sparsely-populated state, for example Estonia, Montana and Rhode Island.

2. Is Esperanto a Western-European language?

Most people claim it is, but this is really only in the look of the base vocabulary — as will become clear throughout the book. Its base words mostly stem French, Latin, German, and English even if the wider meanings of the words have been taken from other languages.

It has the word "the", special pronouns (I, he, they...) that don't attach to verbs, and its verbs mark time (tense). It has the grammatical categories of adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs. It can copy English's sentence structure with about 90% accuracy. In all of these senses, it is Western-European.

However, it makes questions like Japanese and Indonesian. It has some word-forms that, in all of Europe, only exist in Greek. It can turn any noun whatsoever into a verb, just like as in Swedish, Chinook Jargon and Japanese. It can turn any part of speech into any other part and can merge words together without restriction, just like Chinese. This points to that it's not Western-European.

The rest of this question will be answered throughout the book.

3. How did Esperanto help you?

This is another thing that will be explained throughout the book, but summarized:

My Icelandic, Faroese and Swedish improved without any effort at all on my part — I literally did not read or listen to Icelandic for 3 years, learned Esperanto in the last year of that, and tthen returned to Icelandic and found that I could understand more compared to before, instead of less.

After knowing Esperanto for a year, I learned the skill of being able to puzzle out a new language's grammar while only seeing translated example sentences (meaning, while not having an actual textbook - or while having a very bad one).

I used this skill on Japanese, Indonesian and Chinook Jargon. In the process I realized that the entire grammar of Japanese can be learnt in just one or two weeks by anyone, if only they're properly taught — all sources until now have thoroughly "confused" the grammar rules to the point where the average English native speaker still makes mistakes even after 2-3 years.

Main Body:


Vocabulary and Direct Translations:

Esperanto is much more accurate in reproducing the literal words being said, because you can usually directly translate words and it doesn't sound unnatural or confusing. That's the first stage in understanding a foreign language in the same way a native speaker does - knowing that their word for "library" is actually "book-house", that "puppy" is "little dog", and that "anthropology" is "humankind studies".

No English dictionary or textbook that I've ever seen, for any of the languages I've studied, has broken down the foreign words into their true meanings this way. If not broken down, a language takes an incredibly long time to learn.

It also helps you see how the other, related meanings came to exist if you know the true, original meanings. If the dictionary says "amber-colour" instead of "yellow, brown, red", you suddenly understand why they say yellow where you say brown. If you see the literal meaning of a word, you then understand how it jumped to reach its non-literal meaning.

Esperanto is made up of two types of words, one that shows meaning and one that shows grammar. In our English word "dogs", the dog part shows the "idea-meaning" and the s part shows "grammar-meaning". In the Esperanto word "blua", blu is the idea of "blue", and a is the grammar word that means "adjective".

You can set any words together that you want, as many of them together as you want, and turn any type of word into any other type, even if we can't say it in English. For example, you can turn "blue" into a verb and say "it blues". There's no restrictions against this at all other than your own common sense, which means Esperanto can freely copy many strange words that may exist in foreign languages.

Distiguishing Meanings:

Every Esperanto word has only one meaning. This means that "to live" only means "to be alive", and "I live in town" uses a different word — "reside". The word work only refers to "labour" — work of art and to function (for a machine to work) both use different words.

"I think" only refers to the actual act of thinking, so when we say "I think it's ugly", we need to say "my opinion is that it's ugly". The phrase "I think I'll buy it" becomes "I intend to buy it, I've half-decided I'll buy it" or something else that more clearly shows what we mean.

This mirrors all sorts of various languages that aren't English. In general, English lacks many differences in everyday words that other languages do have, while having differences in literary words that they don't — "chuckle, giggle, chuffaw", for example, are all simply "small-laugh" in Swedish. Yet Swedish always distinguishes between the different types of "think".

In order to obtain complex meanings in Esperanto, we simply put multiple words together from these base ideas. For example:

karaoke → copy-song
cram school → rapid-learn-place
apartment → rent(able)-house
fanfiction, fanart → work-of-art offspring
adrenaline → fear-hormone
to agree → to same-think
dipthong → two-vowel
aphasia → speech-comprehension sickness
aniridia → without-iris sickness
ADHD → tending-to-lack-attention sickness
HIV → human immune-bad-quality-causing sickness
asexual reproduction → not-using-sex(ual organs) offspring-cause

If you already know a language other than English, it's very likely that you recognize the logic. "To agree" is "same-think" in both Swedish and Japanese, for example.

In order to obtain vague meanings, we can intentionally create vague words:

varm-ilo → warmth-tool
→ heater, oven, microwave, warm clothing, fire, electric blanket, handwarmers (those chemical packets you buy at the gas station or kiosk)

manĝ-varm-ilo → food-warm-tool
→ oven, microwave, campfire

per-radia manĝ-varm-ilo → using-radiation food-warm-tool
→ microwave

rapid-manĝ-varm-ilo → rapid-food-warm-tool
→ microwave

How you create words is simply based on your point of view. How specific you make them depends on how clear things already are based on context. If we want to be extremely vague:

varm-umo → something unspecified that has to do with warmth.

These are real words in Swedish and Japanese, that Esperanto can copy (more will exist throughout the book):

food, a meal → to food → to feed
the dishes → to dish → to do the dishes
a job → to job → to work
a neck → to neck → to drink directly from a bottleneck without using a cup
night → to night → to become night-time
tennis → to tennis → to play tennis

four sides → a four-side → a square, a rectangle
four-side-ly → quadrangular

This doesn't necessarily mean that the Esperanto words are any longer than in English. For example:

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
homimunaĉiga malsanego

Literally, the Esperanto says:
Human (hom) immune (imun) bad-quality () causing (iga) opposite (mal) big (eg) health (san) noun (o). "Opposite health" becomes "sickness".

boonto
→ "(noun -o) that will be (ont) relating by marriage (bo) in the future (ont)"
→ a future in-law or spouse (but not necessarily of the speaker).

ekemulo
→ a creature or person that characteristically (-ulo) tends to (em) suddenly start or only briefly do (ek-) actions, behaviours, activities, projects, etc.
→ a person who can't make up their mind, a poser, an flighty person, a newbie (or whatever else fits the context)

tiamulo
→ a being, person or creature (ulo) of that (ti-) time (-am). Similar as to how we can say "it's a product of its time", only this would be "a person, animal or ghost of that time".

Better Memory in Vocabulary

Many words in Esperanto can be created by saying "opposite - mal". Thus "an evening - vespero", can turn into "a morning - malvespero", and "winter - vintro" can turn into "summer - malvintro". There may or may not be synonyms for these words that are entirely separate words (ex. "mateno - morning"), but there seems to be a strange effect on the brain when the words are this simple.

I studied hundreds of Japanese words and tens of Chinese characters (kanji) with English. Then I switched to learning new ones with Esperanto instead. I was using SRS software, which is essentially electronic flashcards that are timed to appear for review right when you're supposed to forget a word.

With English I was getting an average of 70% correct after each review session. With Esperanto it jumped to 90%, despite that I wasn't fluent in Esperanto.

Therefore, it seems to take slightly less effort to memorize and recall a foreign word using "north, opposite-north" rather than "north, south". I doubt that anyone has done actual research on this, but I assume it's related to where or how words are stored in the brain. (I've also heard that people who have difficulties remembering which is "left" and which is "right" don't have that problem in Esperanto.)

On top of that, the Esperanto definition can often contain 2-3 English definitions in one word, ex. Esperanto says "tree-stuff - arbaĵo" when English says "tree, wood, leaf, branch, root, trunk, bark". That means that using Esperanto, or creative English, the number of meanings to be memorized overall can be reduced.

Mathematics:

The logic in the counting system in Esperanto is the same as in basic Japanese and Chinese, ancient English, and likely many other languages besides Danish and French. I've read that it helps English-native children learn math more easily, so here is an overview:

Dek du = ten two = 12
Du dek = two ten = 20
Dek dek; cent = ten ten; hundred = 100
Cent du dek = hundred two ten = 120
Du cent dek = two hundred ten = 210
Dek cent; mil = ten hundred; thousand = 1.000
Cent cent; dek mil = hundred hundred; ten thousand = 10.000

Du = two
Du-ono = a two-fraction = 1/2
Tri duonoj = three two-fractions = 3/2
Tri kaj duono = three and a two-fraction = 3 1/2

Cent-ono-metro = hundred-fraction-meter = centimeter
Milonometro = thousand-fraction-meter = milimeter

Unu = one
Unuo = one (noun) = a unit
Unua = first (adjective)
Unue = firstly, in the first place (adverb)

Duopo = two-group (noun) = a duo
Duope = two-group (adverb) = in pairs, two at a time
Unuopo = one-group (noun) = an individual

Oblo = a multiple
Duobla = two-multiple (adjective) = double
Duoble = two-multiple (adverb) = multiplied by two

Dek-du birdoj = ten-two birds = twelve birds
Dek-duo da birdoj = a ten-two amount of birds = a dozen birds

If an interesting text is full of words that are easy to read, a kid will enjoy reading. If math seems logical, they'll enjoy math. There are many studies that compare languages and childrens' grades in school, for example "kids who speak Chinese are overall better at and more enthusiastic about math and science, because compared to English-speaking children, their language simply makes more sense when it comes to these subjects".

Compared to an English-speaking child, one from a more logical language can count higher, or spell, or read adult-level books, from an earlier age and with less overall teaching hours required.

Likewise, there have been studies showing that children do worse in school subjects when the vocabulary isn't transparent — when the textbook says "anthropology" instead of "humankind studies", or "opthamologist" instead of "eye doctor". This means that English native speakers generally are worse than ex. Chinese, Finnish and Icelandic native speakers in subjects such as science and mathematics.

Many people start learning Esperanto because it's the one language they can become fluent in quickly enough to make it one of their kid's native languages, meaning their kid becomes billingual from birth even if the parents didn't know Esperanto before the child was born.

But Esperanto is so simple, with so (relatively) few words, and you can make so many "mistakes" in it while still being understood and thought of as normal by the other speakers, that it's also ideal for children to learn as their first foreign language in general. Many children love "secret languages" such as Pig Latin — Esperanto is a secret language that's actually useful because it teaches them all the same skills it teaches adults.

Children and Disabled People:

People have general language troubles or who might not ever be fluent in a foreign language otherwise, could also benefit. Esperanto has been taught for many years in schools for the blind, and it's been taught to those with asperger's with great success (you can even read some of their accounts online, a few of them have written entire books that can be read online for free).

It's been shown to have very good effects on children who have reading difficulties, who hate reading in general, or who have dyslexia. Dyslexia is almost unnoticable when the language is spelt almost exactly how it sounds (as Esperanto and Finnish are), but English has the worst or second-worst spelling system out of all the languages in the world, according to one study.

A language with easy spelling means it's not a chore for children to learn. Children who can read in one language transfer that confidence and general skill to the next language. They realize why people even go through all that effort to learn to read in the first place. Likewise, a child who finds math easy in one language will learn to enjoy it before encountering it in the next, more difficult, language.

Seeing Patterns in Language:

This are the easiest two examples (meaning, that one that will already be most obvious to native English speakers) of how I figure out the "true" grammar for the languages I study, using Esperanto.

Say you have a word that means "by, at, to, towards, in, on". Can you condense these rules into a single word? The answer is "locationally". The word easily springs to mind because even a word like "location" can turn into an adverb in Esperanto.

The ni () of Japanese says:

locationally table's surface → on top of the table; on the table's surface
I gave locationally him → I gave to him
I go locationally town → I go to/towards town
locationally Monday → on Monday
locationally one hour's duration → in one hour
locationally silence → in silence

This word as normally taught in English textbooks means "in, inside, to" and has other very specific usages ("locationally him") that take a lot of time to explain.

The "" of Swedish and "á" of Icelandic and Faroese are the same:

clothe locationally yourself → put clothes on
listen locationally the radio → listen to the radio
walk locationally the toilet → go to the bathroom
laugh locationally him → laugh at him
think locationally it → think of/about it

These are always taught as meaning "at, on (except sometimes not)" in English textbooks, and phrases like "walk locationally (to) the toilet" and "I live locationally Iceland" are either described as meaning "walk on the toilet, live on Iceland", or as being strange exceptions.

The "a-" of English is the same:

ashore → locationally shore → on shore, to shore
asleep → locationally sleep → in a state of sleep
aside from that → locationally side (away) from that →  at the side away from that

The "di" of Indonesian:

flower locationally rock shadow → a flower in the shadow of a rock
locationally its view → inside its line of sight → became seen by it
all kings locationally its rule → all kings are under its rule → all kings become ruled by it

In the same way as the others, this word is normally taught as "at, in, on, by, to (except not always)" in textbooks, and the "became seen, become ruled" meaning is taught as if it were an entirely separate phenomena. Just as in Japanese, it's actually just that the word is being used non-literally:

The lists above move from literal ("by the river; in a box") to non-literal ("made by him; in silence") meanings. The jump isn't big at all, and is essentially effortless, if you make that very first connection about what the word "really" means, despite the wrong or misleading English definitions that may be in your textbook. Esperanto is what helps you make such connections.

Here is another example of a word that has only one usage. First I'll give the normal English translations, then I'll explain. "Toki" is said to mean "time", and "to" is (among other things) said to mean "together with only this one thing".

kodomo no toki
child's time
= when (I, he...) was a child; my childhood

ame ga furu toki
rain --> falls time
= when it rains; in times of rain

hello to iu
hello (together with) says
= says hello

tama to ishi o miru
jewel (together with) stone <-- sees
thinks of jewels as the same thing as stones; considers them to be of the same value

watashi wa sensei to gakkoo ni ikimashita
I <-- teacher (together with) school locationally went
I went to school with my teacher

The answer:

In fact, they're the same word. と to is simply the first half of とき 時 toki. We can see this easily because, in Esperanto, a sentence like "Hello when said" isn't actually very odd compared to how it is in English:

jewel when stone <-- sees
= when sees a jewel, sees a stone.

I <-- teacher when school locationally went
= when I went to the school's location, it was (with) teacher.

hello when says
= when (I) speak, "hello!" is what I say.

Depending on what type of person you are, that answer was extremely obvious. However, I have never seen this meaning, or that explanation, written about in any textbook for learning Japanese — absolutely nowhere. Not in books from the 1800's, and not in online lessons today. I figured out this answer in less than an hour from first learning about "to", by simply translating the above sentences to Esperanto and remembering a single phrase where "toki" was used to mean "time".

There is one more step to this equation, though. Why is "toki" used at some times, and "to" at others? Looking at the example sentences again, the answer is simple. "To" evolved to have the specific meaning of "at the same time":

jewel same-time stone <-- sees
I <-- teacher same-time school locationally went
hello same-time says

We walked to school at the same time as each other; therefore I went to school "with" my teacher. "Hello!" appeared at the same time as when I spoke, thus it was me who said hello.

Because two "real rules" had been unlocked ("ni" and "to"), the rest of the language came cascading into place extremely easily. I instantly decided that all the rest of the Japanese grammar words must be similar — Japanese is too regular for this just to be a coincidence, after all. Over the course of three days I had completely upended the way we can teach Japanese grammar, and I was unable to prove myself wrong.

Before this time I had been studying Japanese (mostly vocabulary and kanji) for less than six months, and in terms of class time, I had only completed the first half of the first semester of University studies. I essentially couldn't read anything in Japanese. I had known Esperanto for about a year.

Now I could suddenly get the gist of comics and videogames, despite that my actual vocabulary hadn't improved. My reading comprehension literally jumped, in a single week, from someone in their first semester to someone in their third — entirely because of Esperanto. A few weeks later, having been trying to test my theories, I realized my grammar was better than a fellow American who had been studying Japanese for over two years.

This trend continued with other languages after that. I looked at Faroese grammar, attempting to teach it in Esperanto — and realized why all genders (certain types of word-forms) even exist in Faroese, Icelandic and Old Norse to begin with. I realized the precise differences between the genders, and the general changes that had occurred over time. This highly simplified the teaching of its grammar.

I looked at Japanese again, and realized why there were "irregular verbs". They weren't irregular at all, they were simply products of historical sound changes — or of a derived form (ex. "forces to eat") being so useful that the original form ("eats") was forgotten, yet not forgotten in the way it acts grammatically.

I was curious about Chinook Jargon, a language that was spoken in my hometown once upon a time, and there were in effect no grammar lessons for it — only dictionaries. I found example sentences with translations, and upon translating them to Esperanto, realized its word order was precisely the same as Japanese's (or, what Japanese's could have been if Japanese were more logical).

I tested everything with Esperanto and English, but quickly found that I couldn't even explain many of the things I "discovered" without English-speakers being confused. They didn't know anything of grammar, they didn't notice sentence structure. They could recognize so little that at times, they couldn't even recognize that what I was saying was correct.

(Case in point: Several people have told me that my ideas about "to" and "ni", and about Japanese verbs not being adjectives, are completely wrong. I can't prove things to you without teaching you more Japanese grammar than I'd like, but surely you can see the sense in my explanation of "ni".)

Examples of "to cause, to make":

mamook kwass (Chinook Jargon)
make/do/work fear
= to scare

make click hea (Hawaiian Creole)
= to click here

tenisu suru (Japanese)
tennis make/do/occasion
= to play tennis

membawa (Indonesian)
make-bring
= to bring

göra ren (Swedish)
make/do clean
= to clean

In all these cases, a word is used as a general verb marker. The word "make" here doesn't actually mean "make him do something, force him to do", it just means "do". When English says "click" for example, the fact that it's a verb isn't something we can tell just by looking:
click (verb, noun), chick (noun).

Esperanto however, works more similarly to these other languages at times:

tim- → fear (part of speech unknown)
timito fear (verb, without tense)
timigi → to-fear-cause = to scare

We, in fact, used to have a prefix for this in English:

bedazzle (make dazzled), bemoan (make moan), befoul (make foul), befog (make fog), become ("make come", used non-literally), behead (make one's head become lost).

Esperanto could be used to teach in this way:

mamook kwass = tim(ig)i
make click = klak(ig)i
tenisu suru = tenis(ig)i
membawa = alport(ig)i
göra ren = pur(ig)i
befoul = malpur(ig)i

In the cases above, some words would include the ig "cause", but others from the same language might make more sense to us as pure verbs, so it's been put in parentheses.

Chinook Jargon has no tenses, no verbs, no adjectives, no nothing. It has simply words. Word order and context is the only way to understand what translates to what in English terms.

We in English can't take the d off red and say just re in order to denote that "red" isn't an adjective or noun. However Esperanto can do this by simply not including the "grammatical word" that attaches to the end of the "meaning word", since the two ideas are completely separate:

timo → fear, a fear (noun).
tima → fear's, afraid (adjective)
time → in fear (adverb)
tim- → fear (grammatically the type of word is unknown, but there is no question that we're talking about "fear")

A Chinook Jargon word or sentence is actually completely untranslateable to English, without giving the learner some kind of misleading grammatical information:

chako hiyu solleks kopa nika pe mika hiyu kol
arrive big anger location I same-time you big cold
= you'll get really angry at me, and you'll freeze too

However, "solleks - anger" is not a noun , it could just as easily be an adjective (angry), adverb (angrily) or verb (angers) without any change whatsoever in the word. The same is true for "kol - cold", it could be "coldness, coldly" and so forth. Indonesian grammar is the same.

In Chinook Jargon, the word "chako - arrive, arrival, come" is used non-literally, to mean "becomes". (If anger "arrives" in your mind or "comes" into your actions, it means you've become angry.) Just like as described earlier in the book, the word "location" is yet again being used non-literally to mean "a location in time". This then translates to "when".

Esperanto, in comparision:

chako hiyu solleks kopa nika pe mika hiyu kol
ven- eg- koler- lok- mi samtemp- ci eg- malvarm-.

The student would have all the general meanings, but need to fill in the grammatical blanks, eventually coming up with:

venus ega kolero loke mi, samtempe (loke) ci ega malvarmo (venus).

"A large anger would arrive at my location, at the same time a large cold (would arrive) at you."

With Japanese:

Japanese verbs have a special form where, grammatically, they turn into nouns when in the "describing" (being before) position in the sentence:

samuku nak atta (さむくなかった)
it wasn't cold

The typical English translation as shown above shows absolutely nothing about the grammar in the sentence, or even really what the words in the sentence mean. It's actually a compound of three words:

さむく samuku (coldness - noun)
なく naku (non-existance - noun). The final U of NAKU disappears in order to make the combination easier to say.
あった atta (existed - verb)

→ coldness' non-existance existed; the non-existance of coldness existed
→ cold didn't exist
→ it wasn't cold

Samuku and naku are simply verbs turned into nouns. The verb-forms are "samui - is cold", and "nai - is without; is non-existant". In English these are normally adjectives paired with a verb, but other languages such as Greenlandic also have "adjectives" that are actually verbs. We in English tend to box other languages into our own grammar, claiming they have things that we do when they really don't.

English textbooks declare that "samui, nai" are instead adjectives, and "samuku, naku" are special forms with strange rules (I've only, so far, found one textbook that said they were nouns). Many neglect to mention that "nai" is even a word by itself to begin with, instead almost never mentioning it unless it's in compounds. They claim that "samukunakatta" is all one long verb-form instead of a compound.

As you can imagine, throwing out a long compound word and expecting someone to memorize it takes a lot longer than breaking things down and memorizing the logic behind it. Knowing "what they say" is different from knowing "why they say it". Memorizing isn't learning, understanding is.

Seeing as Japanese verbs that describe states often act like adjectives, we can write distinctions like this:

Japanese: samui
Esperanto: malvarma(s)
English: (is) cold

While -a in Esperanto means "adjective", -as means "present-tense verb". Therefore when learning vocabulary, -a(s) would mark that the same word can or does fit both situations. Here is an example of how we could show the above example to learners of Japanese, in a textbook:

samui, samuku, naku, atta
malvarma(s), malvarmo, neekzisto, ekzistis/-is
(is) cold, cold/coldness, non-existness, existed/was

samuku nak-atta
malvarmo neekzist-is
cold didn't-exist

I imagine that you have your doubts at this stage, but rest assured that the best possible Esperanto translation is always closer to the Japanese, and clearer in meaning, than its best English equivalent can normally be. This makes a big difference in the long run.

What Words Really Mean:

In the simplest of cases, knowing Esperanto simply mentally "corrects" a wrong meaning in a dictionary. The definiton says very, but you quickly realize (through seeing the lists of examples), that it actually means big, large. Or the definition says "to be sick", and your mind clarifies, "to become sick".

In a more complicated case, English borrows different words for things that we in reality can already say in simpler terms. For example, "rainy, pluvial"  and "temporal, timey" mean exactly the same thing. We can say "unhappy, immoral" but not "ungood, imgood".

The suffixes "-ness, -hood, -dom, -ity" all mean the same thing, so in reality we should be able to say "fatherhood" as well as "fatherness, fatherdom, fatherity" and all would be just as equal, but society and school claim that's not the case.

This is a difference in English that not only doesn't exist in many other languages, but that also confuses us when we go to learn a new language. Most other languages have fewer ways to say the same thing in grammar, or don't repeat themselves at all.

Because English is so irregular and so full of words we've borrowed from other languages, native English speakers don't actually know what they're saying. They just know individual words. When learning a foreign language, it constantly comes up that an English native speaker completely lacks the word-building or phrase-building logic that people coming from other languages already have.

Pretend you're at a library in a foreign country - how would you say "I'd like to check out a book"? Ah, the answer is "loan a book" (the word "borrow" and the word "loan" are likely the same).

How do you say "you're old"? The answer is "you're not young". What is coffee? Hot brown bean water. Soda? Carbonated sugar-water. Braille? Dot-writing. Pillowcase? Pillow-clothes. A date? A love-person-meeting. A synonym? A same-meaning word. A metaphor? A picture-word. A disposable napkin? A paper nose-cloth.

More examples of words that exist in other languages:

Law regulator human → policeman (Icelandic)
Chill-closet → fridge (Swedish)
Electric stair, roll-stair → escalator (Chinese, Swedish)
Thick shirt →  sweater/jumper (Swedish)
Water cooker → kettle (Swedish)
Wood profession → capenter (Indonesian)
Buy-house → shop, store (Chinook Jargon)
Sea-arm → inlet (Anglo-Saxon; Ancient English)
Out-of-spring → origin, aboriginal (Swedish)

In Swedish:
On-lays → toppings (ex. for sandwiches and pizza)
Under-lays → pot-holders (that're placed underneath the pot)

In Faroese:
Self-sound → vowel
With-sound → consonant
(This is because, to say the name of the letter O you say simply oh by itself, but to say T you say t-ee, or to say M you say "eh-mm", not just the t or m sound alone.)

In foreign languages you need to know how to express yourself simply, because that's how the entire language actually works. English is the language with the most unique words in use in the world, as far as I've ever heard. We don't end up understanding the new language in the same way as the natives do until far later in our studies, simply because we aren't told that "vowel" is actually "self-sound".

In Esperanto, there is usually only one meaning-word or grammatical-word for the same exact idea:

warmth, politeness, freedom, fatherhood, tranquility, friendship, knowledge

varmeco, ĝentileco, libereco, virpatreco, trankvileco, amikeco, scieco

unhappy, inattentive, impolite, maladroit
malfeliĉa, malatentema, malĝentila, mallerta

The first group of words are all nouns, and the grammatial word for "noun" in esperanto is O — as in "eco" above. The second group is made up of adjectives, the grammatical word there is A.

Imagine a novel for a language you want to learn. Every single word in the the first half of the book is colour-coded according to its part in grammar - all verbs in present-tense are blue, all in past-tense are red, adjectives are brown, nouns are green and so on. Even if you knew nothing about the foreign language beforehand, after skimming through half the book you'd naturally start picking up on which endings mean which, which is knowledge you'd then carry with you even once the colours had stopped being marked.

English on the other hand, isn't so clear. "Red" is a noun in "the colour red" but an adjective in "the red house". "Talking" is a verb in "I am talking" but a noun in "the talking man". The grammatical differences between "some time" and "sometime", "home sick" and "homesick", aren't very obvious. We say "dog's" and mean the dog owns something, but we say "it's" and mean "it is".

How can we expect children to learn English grammar, when it doesn't even make any sense?

The word "last" means both "last in line" (adverb) and "a shoe-last" (noun). The word "English" means both nationality and language, so "English teacher" can mean either an English person who teaches any subject, or a person from any country who teaches English. When the dictionary for the foreign language simply says "last, English", how are we supposed to know which meaning it is?

In other languages, including Esperanto, the different meanings use different grammar or words, and so there is no possible confusion:

Imagine you were learning an Indonesian prefix, and looked in your textbook and saw these words: nurse, teacher, sailor, hunter, bomber. Would you assume that those activities were the people's careers?

That's not the case. This prefix only means "person or thing that is doing an action", whether professionally or not. The specific meaning "it's their job" is worded in another way. The English words give a misleading definition of the Indonesian words and grammar from the very beginning — and yet we have no other natural-sounding way of translating them.

Esperanto is like Indonesian in that there are different words used depending on if the person is simply doing the activity (nt), or if it's the person's job (ist).

All these little differences in English add up to a lot of problems when learning another language — it would be one thing if our textbooks and dictionaries were good and actually explained everything, but they're not and they don't.

Similarities in Abbreviations:

Esperanto has a small vocabulary from the beginning, but it's also human nature to be lazy and shorten things. This means that words by default can't always be taken literally, which is in fact another lesson in disguise — every language on earth does this.

The Esperanto word vortaro "word-collection", is actually short for vortsignifaro "word-signification-collection". It usually means "dictionary" but could also mean "vocabulary". The Swedish word "ordbok" means literally "word-book" but translates to "dictionary" - do you see the similar logic?

The Icelandic word "orðabók" literally means "words' book" and again translates to "dictionary". Adjectives in Esperanto are also possessives, which is also very similar to certain grammar in Japanese and Icelandic, thus to an Esperanto-speaker "word's book" seems just about as natural as saying "little book".

Glaciaĵo "ice-stuff", is actually short for kremglaciaĵo "cream-ice-stuff", meaning ice cream. The Japanese word for "ice cream" is often shortened to simply "ice". We in English have taken the phrase "brush intended for hair", and condensed it down into "hairbrush" in a similar way.

Take all this into context. We constantly use shortened forms and non-literal meanings — "aside from" is short for "at the side away from". And is short for "a going further" (th changed to d for various reasons I won't get into here), while because is "by the cause". "Frenemy" is "Friend-enemy". "Star-struck" means "amazed" (not actually being struck by a falling star).

Esperanto just is another introduction to this concept that we already know, but since its speakers come from different mother tongues, the types of shortenings and condensed forms they use can be different. Instead of learning individual shortenings, you come to learn the logic behind them instead. You learn to understand based on the surrounding information or previous patterns.

Japanese Grammar:

In Japanese there is only nouns and verbs. Sentence structure states that "what comes before, describes what comes after" - thus:

1. noun + noun → adjective + noun; noun + noun
2. verb + noun → adjective (participle) + noun
3. verb + verb → adverb + verb

And so on. Surprisingly, this simple rule for sentence structure isn't taught in any modern textbook that I've seen.

There are two different types of verbs in Japanese — one describes constant, unchanging, inherent states (red, big, good), and one describes actions, changes in state (becomes, kicks, dies). In order to say "becomes red" we 1. pair up the state-verb "is red" with the action-verb "becomes", 2. turn the state-verb into its noun form, and 3. insert the noun "location". As shown below, it can be essentially the same in Esperanto:

Hito ni naru (becomes a person), has the word "ni - locationally" inserted in-between, but a state-verb such as "red" doesn't (akaku naru = becomes red). Otherwise, the grammar is the same.

There are five possible translations for these types of Japanese sentences, in Esperanto:

1. ruĝa loko as
Adjective, noun, verb. "Becomes a red location". This is what the Japanese grammar is actually saying in a phrase like "hito ni naru - becomes a person".

2. ruĝo as
Noun, verb. "Becomes a red thing". This is what is said in "akaku naru - becomes red".

3. ruĝa iĝas
English says "becomes red" with an adjective (ruĝa). As Japanese has on real adjective form, it can't be argued that this wouldn't make sense for Japanese.

4. ruĝe iĝas
"Becomes redly" with an adverb (ruĝe) is how English textbooks normally describe the Japanese verb-ending -ku (as in as in akaku) in other situations. For example, hayaku kuru - rapidly arrives ("rapide venas" in Esperanto).

5. ruĝas.
A pure verb. "Reddens" (as in flushes, blushes, etc). This is simply the shortest translation.

All of the above translations are correct, as long as things make sense in context. This means that the true nature of the foreign language can be shown much more easily in Esperanto, while still being understandable.

As an example of how Esperanto helps you understand grammar, I have not seen the distinction between Japanese "action" and "state" verbs described in any textbook. However Esperanto verbs often have "become, cause" tacked onto them at the same time as when Japanese action-words do, so noticing the difference was just a matter of time for me.

Adjective phrases like "the dog is blue" (la hundo blua estas) can be phrased as "the dog blues" (la hundo bluas) in Esperanto, using a verb. This was how I noticed that Japanese was seemingly doing the same thing.

English books ignore that the endings for both types of Japanese verbs are at times exactly the same in the same tense, claiming it's just a coincidence, and ignore that according to sentence structure rules, both types of words always end up in the same places in the sentence. (This is likely because they don't usually teach sentence structure in the first place).

In order to explain the usage differences between the two types of verbs,English books  make up false rules, making them more and more complicated in order to cover every situation. This "logic" then expands and adapts further, changing other aspects of grammar in order to make the entire theory fit. In their confusion they claim that nouns are not only adjectives, but are also adverbs. State-verbs aren't verbs, they're adjectives and adverbs. Among other things they may fail to mention that verbs can even turn into nouns, despite it being an extremely basic part of Japanese grammar.

This is on top of claiming that words such as "locationally" (ni に) mean any number of different things. This is simply because their minds aren't flexible enough. They think, for example, "English has adjectives, so too must Japanese". "English doesn't have one rule for everything, so it's impossible for Japanese to be that simple".

The result is that the entire language is taught from a completely wrong point of view. What actually only has one or two rules now suddenly has ten, and students believe that the language is too difficult so they give up on learning it altogether.

This type of bad teaching is done with every foreign language English speakers ever teach, but it's most apparent in textbooks for unpopular or "very different" languages such as Icelandic, Indonesian and Japanese. The better you are at Esperanto the more it will help you see through these false rules. Of course, the humane thing would be to write textbooks in English with the correct information after you've figured things out, but most people are only interested in learning and not in teaching.

Transivity and Intransivity:

English is even unclear on such basic things as what appear in all the major languages to some extent or another. This is simply the difference between "I'm drowning" (I, myself, am dying) and "I'm drowning him" (he's dying). The action in a "transitive" word, goes across ("trans-", as in translocate) and past itself to press its meaning onto another word.

Now, "I'm drowning him" actually means "I'm causing him to drown". Our "I'm drowning" means either "I'm becoming a drowned person" or "I'm causing myself to drown". Most English natives never think of these differences, but in Esperanto they are, or can be, clearly marked:

I'm drowning → 1. mi dronas, 2. mi dronas
I'm drowning him → 1. mi dronigas lin, 2. mi dronas lin
He's drowning me → 1. min dronigas li, 2. min dronas li

(Other sentence structures and methods of wording it exist, but the ones above are the most illustrative.)

"Iĝ" means "become", "ig" means "cause", and "-n" marks what or whom that verb is inflicted upon (this "N" will be explained later on, in the "accusative" section). English at times has no difference at all and only context makes it clear.

In many languages there is some sort of visible difference between these concepts - the ending of the verb or noun may change according to of it's "becomes" or "causes", "does the becoming" or "does the causing". There might be two entirely different verbs depending on which meaning is meant.

In Japanese, just as in Esperanto, this is done by compounding a second or third word onto the original verb (sometimes it seems like an inherent part of the verb, but that's just due to historical sound changes):

tom-eru
stop-obtains → gets something to stop
= stops something (transitive)

tom-aru
stop-exists → stops (on its own)
= intransitive

hajim-eru
begin-obtains → gets something to begin
= transitive

hajim-aru
begin-exists → begins (on its own)
= intransitive

These in Esperanto would be "haltas, komencas (begins, intransitive)", and "haltigas, komencigas (causes, transitive)". In fact, ig and iĝ are used so often that you can actually learn how to form this aspect in Japanese by simply looking enough words up in a Japanese-Esperanto dictionary.

We in English use get for both begins (I got sick; I began to have an illness) and causes (I'll get him to stop; I'll cause him to stop). Usually languages have a clear distinction between the two.

Japanese can use both "becomes" and "causes" at once:

fur-u → falls
fur-ar-eru → fall-exists-obtains → obtains the existential state of falling → "gets the state of falling done to it"

nom-u → drinks
nom-ar-eru → drink-exists-obtains → "gets the state of drinking done to it"

The difference in these is clear if you know Esperanto, yet it constantly confuses English natives (and, I daresay, natives of many other languages) who are learning Japanese. In Esperanto these could be "faliĝigas, trinkiĝigas", literally "fall-becomes-causes, drink-becomes-causes".

IG, transitive:
I caused the cake to be my meal
→ I ate the cake.

IĜ, intransitive:
The cake became a meal
→ The cake was eaten (by someone not mentioned).

IĜIG, both:
At my location, the cake was caused to become a meal
→ Someone (who isn't mentioned) ate the cake at the same time as when I was sitting there.
→ Someone else ate my cake.

In reality we have the same phrasing in English — it is, for example, "I made him become a king" versus "I kinged him (myself)" and "he became a king (on his own)". We simply don't use it often enough to realize this is the same difference in Japanese.

The difference between Esperanto and Japanese is that Esperanto's underlying rule is always "if other people can understand you, you're correct". If the meaning is clear without that piece of grammar or that small bit in a compound word, then it doesn't need to be used. Thus a combination like "igiĝ" or "iĝig" is perfectly possible, but rarely used. When teaching a foreign language it's certainly useful but otherwise it probably won't ever be necessary.

In the Context of Entire Paragraphs:

Sentence structure and word-building is often the most difficult part in learning a foreign language in the beginning, for an adult. Anything that can get closer to a direct, yet understandable, translation is not to be underestimated in how much time and effort it saves the learner. To begin with, let's take a few Japanese words:

1. 包 装 紙 → package clothing paper
= wrapping paper
2. 公 開 した → public open occasioned
= publicized, made public
3. 動 画 → move picture
= moving picture, movie, film
4. ツリーの 下 → tree's below/under/bottom
= the foot of the tree, the base of the tree

In Esperanto these could be worded:

1. move picture collection; alive picture collection; film

2. package paper; present's clothing; package cover tool; package decoration; package cover stuff, etc.

3. public caused; opposite private caused (and other methods that are too cumbersome to show in English)

4. branch-below place; tree's foundation; tree's below-place

There are, no doubt, many more possible Esperanto translations for each one of these. However, the key is to remember that every single one of these Esperanto translations is natural and easily-understandable, especially when in the context of a full sentence or paragraph.

English can almost never copy a foreign language anywhere near literally and sound natural, or be easily-understandable for inflexibly-thinking people. We "can" write a direct translation, but usually it doesn't make any sense at all because in normal English we rely entirely upon special words and set word-order.

When a language has the same "root" or "family" as another, it means that the grammar, vocabulary, and/or core of the language is relatively the same. For us in English, the languages that are said to be closest to English are Frisian, Dutch and Scandinavian:



However, this is Hawaiian Creole. The examples I could find online were so close to English that almost no help is needed for us to read it:

Haed dis ol grin haus
Had this old green house
= There was this old green house

"Had" is used as a general past-tense marker.

Wen Jesus Christ wen mahke, he wen come back alive again. So den, Christ wen make us live new kine life, jalike we wen born one mo time. Dass why we stay trus Christ, cuz we know fo shua he goin take care us bumbye.


And this is Scots:



More distantly-related are German, Icelandic, Faroese, and any language that was born from a larger mix of English and another language or languages (called "creoles" or "pidgins"). Pidgins are essentially when the language is only used at work and lacks a lot of everyday vocabulary, creoles are when a pidgin has evolved to the point where it can clearly express all a person's thoughts.

Hawaiian Creole:

Da kaet ste in da haus
The cat stays in the house
= The cat is in the house.

Haed dis ol grin haus
Had this old green house
= There was this old green house

Chinook Jargon, a pidgin:


Swedish has the same "root" or "family" as English, so even if we translate it completely literally it isn't all that strange to us. (German, despite what some people who don't know better will say, is much more different compared to English than Swedish is). Even so, directly translating Swedish often sounds ridiculous and makes little to no sense:

"Lärobokens tio avsnitt innehåller vardagsnära dialoger och realiatexter om bland annat svenska språket, svensk historia och kultur, miljöfrågor, sport. Genom diskussionsämnen, som ansluter till avsnittets tema, övas förmågan att uttrycka sig muntligt. Varje avsnitt avslutas också med en övning på hörförståelse. Ordförrådet om ca 2000 ord lär man in och repeterar på olika sätt i läro- och övningsboken."

Directly-translated:

"Learn's-book-the's ten off-cuts in-hold everyday-near dialogues and realia-texts about among others Swedish language-the, Swedish history and culture, environment-questions, sport. Through discussion's-topics, which on-end to off-cut-the's theme, becomes-exercises faculty-the to out-push oneself mouthly. Every off-cut off-ends also with an exercise locationally hear-understand-ness. Word-means (as in "I have the means to do so") about circa 2000 words learns/teaches human in and repeats locationally opposite-alike ways in learn's- and exercise's-book-the."

We're already having difficulties just due to English's vagueness and inflexibility: "Means" means both "has enough of" and "signifies". We only use "circa" when it has to do with dates, at all other places we say "around, about, approximately". "Mouthly" isn't a word that we use, instead we say "orally".

Natural-ish translation:

"The textbook's ten episodes contain everyday-like dialogues and realia texts taken from, among other things, the Swedish language, Swedish history and culture, environmental issues, and sports. Using discussion topics that connect to each episode's theme, one exercises their spoken ability. Every episode also ends with a listening exercise. One learns a vocabulary of about 2.000 words and repeats this in different ways in the textbook and exercise book."

A normal (not absolutely direct) Esperanto translation of the Swedish would read like this:

"The learn-book's ten chapters in-hold everyday-near speeches and real-write-stuff regarding among others... Using about-talk's themes, that relate to the chapter's theme, becomes-tested-small the skill regarding to express oneself use-voice-ily. Every chapter ends also with a test-small regarding hear-listen-ness. Word-list of circa 2 000 words learns one and re-does them diverse-method-ly in the learn- and test-little-books."

Of course, the English direct translation of the Esperanto is more confusing than the actual Esperanto would be. If English doesn't follow its natural word order it's potentially confusing at best and completely unintelligible at worst, but Esperanto has multiple word order options available.

Firstly, there are many other ways to say the same general idea: In Esperanto, "is blue" (blua estas - adjective and verb), "is a blue thing" (bluo estas - noun), "Is in blue, is blue-ly" (blue estas - adverb) can all be shortened to simply "is-blue" (bluestas - verb) or "blues" (bluas - verb). Secondly, there's only two real rules for word order:

1. A verb or adverb can't come in-between an adjective and noun that match each other.

2. Any "meaning word" without a "grammatical word" attached to the end has to come in front of what it describes. There aren't many of these used in the first place, but la (the) is one of them, so we can only say la kato (the cat) as in English, and not kato la (the cat) as in Swedish and Icelandic.

The result is a flexible yet unbreaking language, in other words, a sentence structure that can copy various different languages all about as well as each other.

An Indonesian Example:

"John kapten judo di sekolahnya loh,” kata Anna menambahkan.

In Esperanto this can be worded, to varying degrees of clarity:

1. "John estras ĵudon loke lernejo sia ja," vortis Anna aldonece. (Copies the original order.)

2. "John ja ĵudestras sialerneje," vortaldonis Anna. (Shortest possible version, but confusing.)

3. "John estas ja la estro de la ĵudoklubo ĉe sia lernejo," diris Anna, kiel aldonaĵo.

Translation:
3. "John is indeed the captain of the judo club at his school," said Anna, in addition.

Here are the direct translations to English:

"John (make)-captain judo location school his indeed," word Anna add-ness. (original Indonesian)

"John bosses judo locationally learn-place his indeed," worded Anna towards-give-ness-ly. (Esperanto)

Japanese Example:

Here's a direct translation of a Japanese paragraph taken from Natsume Souseki's "Kokoro". The writing style and sentence structure is extremely simple in comparision with other examples I could have chosen:

私は先生と知り合いになったのは鎌倉である。その時私はまだ若々しい書生であった。暑中休暇を利用して海水浴に行った友達からぜひ来いという端書を受け取ったので、私は多少の金を工面して、出掛ける事にした。私は金の工面に二、三日を費やした。

"I <--- teacher when know-join location became thing ---> Sickle Warehouse (Kamakura) location-being exists. That time I <--- still is-young student location-being existed. Midsummer-absence-spare-time <-- advantage-use-being, ocean-water-bath location went friend from without-fail come! when says postcard <-- receive-took thing location-being, I <--- much-not-much money <-- work-surface-occasion-being, out-hangs matter location occasioned. I <--- money's work-face location two, three day <-- spent."

In natural-ish English:

When I met Teacher it was in Kamakura (a Japanese place name). I was still a young student then. My friend, utilizing midsummer vacation to go bathing in the ocean, sent me a postcard saying "You simply must come!", and as I didn't have much money I had to go out and raise some for the matter. I spent two or three days in raising it.

The first sentence broken-down:

私 は 先生 と 知り 合い に なっ た の は 鎌 倉 で ある。

I は <--- 先生 teacher と when 知り a knowledge 合い a join に location なった became の a thing は <--- 鎌倉 Kamakura で location-being ある exists/isn't without.

Here just one example of how that first sentence could be in natural-sounding Esperanto:

I <--- teacher when began to know <--- in/at/when Kamakura was.

Mi () <--- () instruiston () kiam () eksciis (知り合いになったの) <--- () Kamakure (鎌倉で) estis (ある).

What isn't apparent is how much time this difference saves when actually learning, due to the Esperanto sentence structure being so much closer.

Icelandic:

This is taken out of a book meant for children, called "Bernskan I: Bernskuminningar" by Sigurbjörn Sveinsson. As with the Japanese, it's actually very clear language compared to the examples I could have given:

   Það var komið kvöld, en ég lá vakandi í bólinu og gat ekki sofnað. Allt fólkið á Reykjum var að tala um huldufólk. Sumir sögðu, að það var ekki til, en aðrir sögðu, að víst væri það til ....
   »Hvaða vitleysa! Það er ekkert huldufólk til,« sagði Þorleifur.
   »Varlega skaltu tala um það,« svaraði pabbi minn.

Direct English:

   It was arrived evening, but I lay awaking in bed-location and could not slept. All folk-the location Smoke-location was to/that talk about/around hide's-folk. Some said, to/that it/that was to/that speak about/around hide's-folk. Some said, to/that it/that was not 'til, but others said, to/that known was it 'til ....
   "What kind of wit-loose! It/that is none hidden-folk 'til," said Thor('s)-leaf.
   "Carefully shallst thou talk about it/that," answered pappa mine.

Esperanto-like translation:

Came evening, but I laid awaking in-bed and not could sleep. All the population Smoke-location was talking about being-hidden-beings. Some said, that they not exist, but others said, that truely they exist ....
   "What kind of without-wiseness! Being-hidden-beings not exists," said Thor's-Leaf.
   "Carefully ought you to talk about that," answered pappa mine.

Natural-ish translation:

   Evening had come, but I laid awake in bed and couldn't sleep. All the people in Smoke were talking about the Hidden People. Some said that they didn't exist but others said, they certainly did ....
   "What nonsense! Hidden People don't exist," said Thorleaf.
   "Be careful when you talk about them," said my pappa.

Reflexive Pronouns:

This is an important difference that appears in many languages, both major and minor. Their usage is below:

Esperanto - Swedish - English

li manĝis sian matenmanĝon
han åt sin frukost
he ate his breakfast
→ he ate his own breakfast

li manĝis lian matenmanĝon
han åt hans frukost
he ate his breakfast
→ he ate some other male's breakfast

li amas sian virfraton kaj siajn infanojn
han älskar sin bror och sina barn
he loves his brother and his children
→ loves his own children

li amas sian virfraton kaj liajn infanojn
han älskar sin bror och hans barn
he loves his brother and his children
→ loves his brother's children

memmortigo (or memsenvivigo)
självmord
selfmurder, selfdeath-cause
→ a suicide

Det låser sig själv
Ĝi solvos sin mem
It'll solve itself by itself
→ It'll work itself out.

A reflexive pronoun is an adjective that marks whether or not the action is done by the same person as who did the action immediately previously in that same sentence — and whether or not someone is doing an action to themselves. Doing something "to yourself" is different from doing it "by yourself". English doesn't usually have this distinction.

Since it's an adjective, the Esperanto form has to match the plurality of the noun it describes. If it's "His own child" or "Their own child", the form is singular, but "his own children" and "Their own children" would use the plural. Swedish works the same way.

Certain languages, such as Indonesian and Greenlandic, can attach pronouns to the beginning or ends of words. We do this in English at times:

Got'em! = Got them!
Sick'im! = Sick him!

Esperanto can do this as well, although in a more restricted sense than in Indonesian and Greenlandic (as they don't attach to verbs):

lia-dome = his-house (adverb) = in his house
sia-tempe = own-time (adverb) = at the time (ex. "It was a good idea at the time!")
oni-diro = one-say (noun) = a rumor.

Here "oni" is "one" as in "One shouldn't run in the hallways". It's a pronoun that we don't use very much in modern English, but languages such as Swedish use it constantly (though, Swedish literally says "human" instead).

English has another problem:

1. li volas sian nomon
han vill (ha) sitt namn
he wants his own name

2. li volas sian propran nomon
han vill (ha) sitt eget namn
he wants his own name

3. li volas lian nomon
han vill (ha) hans namn
he wants his name

The meanings are:
1. He just wants his name in general. Perhaps you've stolen his nametag.

2. He wants his own "individual" name. Perhaps he has a name already, but it's just not unique.

3. He wants another guy's name.

It's clear how English not only ends up losing meaning in translations, but also lacks certain extremely basic words that most other languages have in some way or another. Even if they don't use specific words, they might use verb-forms or word order to denote the same thing.

Small Notes:

In English, the adjective cannot go after the noun (always "red dog", never "dog red"). Languages such as Spanish and Indonesian put the adjective after the noun. Esperanto can do it either way.

The verb "be, being, am, is, are, were" is not automatically included in verbs in English, whereas it is in Esperanto, Indonesian, Japanese and Chinook Jargon (although Esperanto can also explicitly state it, as English does).

Participles:

These are simply verbs that are turned into another type of word (a noun, adjective or adverb) that retain their sense of time. For example:

I boiled water (past-tense verb)
The boiled water (past-tense adjective)

Water is boiling (present-tense verb)
The boiling water (present-tense adjective)

I wrote the paper (past-tense verb)
The written paper (past-tense adjective)

The cat talks; the cat is talking (present-tense verb)
The talking cat (present-tense adjective)

Swedish, Icelandic, and old English have their own form for the present participle, which is "-ande, -ende". It survives in modern English as -ing. thus "talking hound; talker-dog" is "talande hund" in Swedish, but "dog that is talking" would be "hund som talar". In Esperanto, these two are "parolanta hundo" and "hundo kiu parolas".

By adding an -s to the end of the Swedish form (talandes) we would turn it into "(the dog) who becomes talked to; the talkee dog". The Esperanto form is "parolata".

Sometimes we can say this with just a small difference in English too - but most of the time we can't. "The whitener, the breaker, the heater" already have set meanings and we can no longer modernly use them to mean "a person who heats" or "a cat who whitens something else" for example. No normal person would say "the towards-walkee" to mean "the person who is being walked towards" in English, but it's possible and very acceptable in Esperanto.

Indonesian is like Chinook Jargon, there is no real difference between nouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and verbs. However according to what I've read there are differences between the "plain state" and "becomes, causes" states (transitive and intransitive, ig and ), as well as between the present participle (nt) and passive participle (t). The difference in Indonesian is just one prefix.

Japanese doesn't have participles, but a verb when in front of a noun acts exactly like a participle. They say "a talking dog" by saying "a talks dog"; the difference is that they also say "a talked dog (a dog that talked)", "a will-talk dog (a dog that will talk)" and so on.

Again, this means that there are many sentences where English, in order to translate a foreign language, is forced to entirely re-word or at least greatly lengthen what is being said.

Japanese - Esperanto - English

hito kita (noun + verb)
homo venis
human arrived.
→ a person came.

(Japanese has no word "a, an", and neither does Esperanto, Icelandic, Indonesian or Chinook Jargon. Thus "human" also means "a human").

kinoo kita hito (noun + verb + noun)
hieraŭ-veninta homo
yesterday-arrived human
→ The person who arrived yesterday.

kirei na hito (noun + verb + noun)
bel-anta homo
a beauty-being human
→ a beautiful person; the person who is being beautiful

Simply put, if there's no distinction in our brains then it's harder to grasp that the very real distinction in the other language.

In Esperanto it's a simple equation. Time + doing the action + grammatical ending. The end result is a combination of all three, even if it takes a full sentence to translate it to English.

A (present tense), NT (doing the action), O (noun):

parol = speak (idea-meaning)
parolas = speaks (present-tense verb)
parolanto = speaker (a noun that is doing the action of speaking)

A (present tense), NT (doing the action), A (adjective):

parolanta kato; kato parolanta = a talking cat (present-participle adjective)

O (future tense), NT (doing the action), O (noun):

aĉet = buy, purchase (idea-meaning)
aĉeto = a purchase
aĉetos = will purchase (future-tense verb)
aĉetonto = a future purchaser (future-tense noun)

I (past tense), NT (doing the action), E (adverb):

paroli = to talk, to speak
parolis = talked, spoke (past-tense verb)
parolinto = a former talker (past-tense noun)
parolinte = when (he, they, it...) spoke (past-tense adverb)

aĉetinte = having bought
manĝinte = having eaten
lundinte = having been Monday; Monday having passed
(all are past-tense adverb participles)

aĉetintus = having been the (noun) that would purchase
manĝantos = being the (noun) that is going to eat
skribuntis = would be the (noun) that had written

Esperanto also has the difference between active and passive participles, meaning the difference between if the action is done by something or is done to something:

lundinte = having been Monday
lundite = having been afflicted with Monday

pluv = rain
pluva = rain's, rainy, pluvial (adjective)
pluvante = while raining. The rain itself is doing an action. (present-tense participle adverb)
pluvate = while being rained on. "Rain" is being inflicted upon something else. (present-tense participle adverb)

skribunto = a (noun) that would write; a would-be writer.
skributo = a (noun) that would be written (if the writer just weren't so lazy!)

veturinte = was-travelling-by-vehicle (adverb)
→ when (they) had been travelling by vehicle
veturite = was-being-travelled-by-vehicle (adverb)
→ when (they) had been transported by vehicle

parolute = would-become-talked-to (adverb)
→ when (they) would be talked to (by someone else)
parolunte = would-talk (adverb)
→ when (they) would be talking (to someone else)

Of course, sometimes which one to use is just according to your own opinion. Sometimes the meaning differs according to context as well. This reflects the thought pattern of the speakers of other languages:

lern = learn (idea word)
lernanto = a (noun) that learns
= a student, learner, pupil

lernato = a (noun) that is "having learning done to it"
= a (noun) that is receiving learning or being taught
= a student, learner, pupil

An example of two participles at once:

aĉet = buy. antaŭ = before. ĝu = enjoy.

aĉetato antaŭĝuote
= a thing that is being bought before it is going to be enjoyed
= a before-hand purchase (such as when buying movie tickets a week before seeing the movie).

Clarified Meanings:

In English, we say "rain is falling". The rain itself is doing the action of falling. Otherwise, we say "it is raining" — what is this mysterious "it"? It's possibly a placeholder for the word "water", as in "water is raining down from the sky".

Esperanto can say "water is raining down" and "rains, raining" but does not say "it rains". This copies the construction in most languages.

pluv = rain (idea-meaning)
pluvas = rains; is raining; it's raining (present-tense verb)

Likewise, we say "it's hot out". What's this mysterious "it's"? Likely the sentence really means "the weather is hot outside (of my house)". Esperanto says either "The weather is hot; is hot; hots", but not "it's hot".

That was just a simple example of how, in certain types of sentences, Esperanto is more clear than English is. It means that if you have, say, a bilingual book in Esperanto and another language, and half the sentence goes unsaid, it's likely that Esperanto gives you a better hint as to what the full sentence would be when compared with English.

The following paragraph is borrowed from the book "The Esperanto Teacher: A Simple Course for Non-Grammarians" (which can be read online for free at gutenberg.org):

In English, "Johan loves Mary more than George" can mean either 1. he loves Mary more than he loves George, or 2. he loves Mary more than George loves Mary. In Esperanto, two different sentences need to be said for the two different meanings:

1. Johano amas Marion pli ol Ĝeorgon
2. Johano amas Marion pli ol Ĝeorgo

Often, due to general flexibility in choice of tense, the precise thoughts of a speaker can be clarified. For example, in English we often say "are you fine with these settings?", but in another language they'd say "are these settings going to be fine with you?". The first shows that the person is thinking about the present — are your thoughts, right now, that it will be alright if I do this. The second shows that they're thinking about the future — if I try to do this at some point, what will your reaction be?




The Grammatical Accusative:

The so-called "accusative form", otherwise known as the "whom case", exists to a greater or lesser extent in Esperanto, Spanish, French, Russian, German, Finnish, Old Norse (the language of the vikings), Japanese and many other languages. It points to "whom" (or what) the verb is being inflicted upon.

It's roughly the difference between upwards and up; towards, to; here, hither; where, whither; there, thither; I, me; he, him; who, whom; thou, thee.

One (I, here) marks location without movement towards anything. The other (me, hither) marks that something does arrive at a new location or situation compared to before, whether this is a physical location or not. "I hit him" means that the "hit" arrives at "him". I walk "towards" the store doesn't necessarily mean I make it all the way there, but I walk "to" the store does indeed, so in the second situation we are inflicting our arrival upon the store.

It's the same difference as what exists in participles — the difference between who does an action (NT in Esperanto), and who gets the action done to them (T). Yet another way to describe it is the difference between the teacher and the teachee:

manĝas kato; kato manĝas = a cat eats.
The cat is the "manĝanto", the eater, the thing doing the eating.

manĝas katon; katon manĝas = eats a cat.
The cat is the "manĝato", the eatee, the thing being eaten.

In English we can change word order and say "he said; said he" without losing meaning, but we can't say "red cat; cat red" or "I eat; eat I". This is because hundreds of years ago, all of our nouns and adjectives used to change form. We used to be able to say "me loves he" and it was just as correct and understandable as our modern form "he loves me".

English and a few other major languages only have this special word-form remaining in a handful of words, and the rules aren't the same as they used to be either. We've merged the accusative together with another form, so we say "I hit him" but also "I got it from him". "From him" isn't accusative, because accusative only means "to".

Examples of what it does:

iri trans la strato / iri trans la straton
to go on the other side of the street / to go across the street

This is the difference between "I saw a person who was walking on the other side of the street" and "I saw them as they crossed over to my side of the street".

Esperanto - Swedish - English

marŝu tra la pordo / marŝu tra la pordon
igenom dörren / gå genom dörren
walk through the doorway / walk through the door

This is the difference between "the door is open, go through the opening" and "the door is closed, break through the wood".

Esperanto - Faroese - English

la kato kuras sub la sofo / la kato kuras sub la sofon
kettan rennur undir sofuni / kettan rennur undir sofuna
the cat runs around underneath the sofa / the cat runs underneath the sofa

This is the difference between "the cat runs around without ever coming out from underneath the sofa" and "the cat runs from somewhere that is not the sofa, to underneath the sofa".

The Japanese に ni (location) and へ e (towards) have the same difference. に would mean, for example, "to; making it all the way there" (= accusative case), while へ would mean simply "towards; not necessarily making it there" (= not accusative).

In Esperanto, adverbs can also get the accusative attached. This mimics various languages such as Finnish that have special word-forms for the resulting meaning:

-E (adverb) only marks pure location, time, method, etc. "How, when, where".

-EN (adverb + accusative) marks that we are actually inflicting our action upon that adverb. "To that place, time, method".

pluv = rain (idea-meaning)
ter = earth, dirt, ground (idea-meaning)

pluvas teren
1. Rains to locationally earth.
= Rains to the ground. This has the accusative.

pluvas tere =
1. Rains locationally earth (rains on, in, etc. the ground)
2. Rains earth (literally raining dirt)

The second has two meanings according to context. This has no accusative.

iras ĝardenen = goes to locationally garden
1. goes to the garden

iras ĝardene = goes locationally garden
1. goes to the garden
2. goes around inside the garden (doesn't leave the garden, just walks around inside it)

There are more possible meanings for the examples above, but these are the only ones that would make sense in a normal context.

manĝas ĝardene = eats at or inside a garden
manĝas ĝardenen = eats one's way to a garden

manĝas ĝardeno = a garden eats
manĝas ĝardenon = eats a garden

Icelandic, for example, also has the accusative case — but it has multiple different possible forms. Hundur (hound, dog) becomes hund in accusative, but amma (grandma) becomes ömmu. Það (it, that) stays as það.

Esperanto only has one way to say the accusative, which is to put N at the end of the word. As usual, if you learn the general concept in Esperanto first (meaning: in an environment where the accusative always easy to recognize), once you move onto learning Icelandic, it doesn't matter how many different ways Icelandic can say it because you already know when and where to use it. What's last to learn is simply how it happens to look in Icelandic.

Speaking from my experience of living in Iceland, Icelanders don't understand what it's like to not have the accusative, or any of their other word-forms that we don't have in English anymore. Native speakers often don't know how to teach these things. Icelandic textbooks assume you've already learnt it from somewhere else, such as German, or that you already have it in your own language.

English textbooks for learning Japanese and Swedish pretend the accusative doesn't even exist (without going into a long explanation, it essentially exists in full form in Japanese and exists in many remnants in Swedish). That is to say, you cannot actually rely on your textbook or teacher to teach you these concepts.

Greenlandic:

As I haven't ever studied Greenlandic, the examples below are taken from lessons for language-learners. If the grammatical information is wrong, I apologize as I don't know any better.

In Greenlandic, nouns always end in -t in plural, just as Esperanto nouns always end in -j:

matu, matut. iffiaq, iffiat.
pordo, pordo
j. pano, panoj.
a door, door
s. bread, loaves or pieces of bread.

Both Greenlandic and Japanese "adjectives" are actually verbs. In Esperanto, "the dog is blue" (adjective) can also be said as "the dog blues" (verb), so while it can't be used in all situations, it can at least match those two languages much more often than English can. Greenlandic adjectives also act like Esperanto ones in that if the noun is plural, the adjective also has to be plural.

ruĝa hundo / ruĝaj hundoj
red dog / red dogs

Japanese:
A verb in front of a noun becomes a participle. The same verb when behind that noun keeps its status as a verb. Any verb at all can turn into an "adjective" by simply coming in front of a noun.

hito kuru = human arrives = a person is arriving
kuru hito = arrives human = an arriving person; a person who is arriving

inu (wa) chiisai = dog is-small = the dog is small
chiisai inu = is-small dog = a small dog

Greenlandic:
nerivunga = "eat-is/was" = I eat, I ate
mikivunga = "small-is/was" = I am or was small

Obviously, these are both just verbs.


Esperanto can say:
hito kuru = homo venas = a person arrives
kuru hito = venanta homo = an arriving person

nerivunga = manĝis mi = I ate
mikivunga = malgrandis mi = I was small

qimmeq mikivoq
hundo malgrandas
dog is-small

qimmit mikipput
hundo
j malgrandaj; hundoj malgrandas
small dog
s; dogs are-small

Greenlandic words attach onto each other:

arnap qimmia = woman's dog
1. arnaq qimmeqarpoq = woman dog-has
= the woman has a dog

2. arnaq qimmeqanngilaq = woman dog-lacks
= the woman doesn't have a dog.

1. virino hundohavas = a woman dog-has
2. virino hundomankas = a woman dog-lacks
2. virino nehundohavas = a woman not-dog-has

Esperanto can copy short, individual Greenlandic words relatively well, but how well it can copy the average paragraph remains to be seen. Greenlandic, like Finnish, has different suffixes that essentially denote how, where or by who something is or is done. In Esperanto these can be said by attaching additional words to the front or back of another word:

nerivoq = manĝis ĝi = it ate
neri
sarpoq = manĝadis ĝi = it repeatedly ate (it ate more than once)

illumit = fordome = away from (the) house
illumi = endome; dome = in (the) house
illumut = aldome; domen = to (the) house

Nuummi najugaqarpunga
Nuuk-e adresohavas mi
Nuuk-location address-has-I
= I have an address in Nuuk; I live in Nuuk

arnaq aviisimik atuarpoq
virino pergazete legas
woman using-newspaper reads
= a woman reads a newspaper

arnap aviisi atuarpaa
devirine gazeto legas ("by a woman, a newspaper becomes read")
= a woman reads a newspaper

If we keep in mind how "closely" the average person translates and how "well" the average person teaches languages, we can see how the translation for these last two examples would end up as the same sentence in English, despite the Greenlandic being different. In fact, that's how you might find it in your textbook.

Similar to Greelandic, Faroese and Icelandic put many words together. For example:

Esperantolærarafelagsskapurin
(Esperanto-lærara-felags-skapur-in)
= Esperanto-teacher's-league's-ness-the
= The Esperanto Teachers' Association

Esperanto could say:

Esperannto
lærara-felagsskapur-in
La Esperantoinstruistaj Lig(ec)o.
= The Esperanto-instructors' League(ness).

Again, note how even if Esperanto breaks the chain of words in three pieces, it still comes closer to the original Faroese compared to how the natural English translation would. This brings us to the difference between different "cases", or grammatical forms.

Grammatical Cases:

We in English only have the basic (he, we) and possessive (his, our) forms, while the accusative (to him, hit us) has merged with the location form (from him, laughed at us) and is only left in a few archaic, straggling words.

Here is Icelandic and Esperanto side-by-side — at one point we were the same language as Icelandic:

CaseCat
Grandma
Eye
Basic:
he; that place
köttur
kato
amma
avino
auga
okulo
Accusative:
to him; thither
kött
katon
ömmu
avinon
auga
okulon
Location: at, on, from him; there
ketti
kate
ömmu
avine
auga
okule
Possessive:
his; that place's
kattar
kata
ömmu
avina
auga
okula

Before dwelling on the chart above, let's take a further look at the following: Esperanto cannot, as we have seen, copy most languages exactly word-for-word, using just as many words as, or the same grammatical forms as, what the original language uses. In many cases it simply copies general sentence structure or general word construction.

However, even if we see only single words it's still a very good tool for learning what those cases mean in the first place. For example, the chart below is a relatively well-known language called Finnish - underneath it are the possible Esperanto translations for the same word. Finnish is commonly is said to have a very difficult grammatical system.

CaseFinnishCaseFinnish
Basic,
Nominative:
house
talo
domo
Possessive:
house's,
of house
talon
doma; dedome
Accusative:
to house
talon
domon
Allative
to house
talolle
domen
Inessive:
in house
talossa
endome; dome
Elative:
out of house
talosta
eldome
Illative:
into house
taloon
endomen
Adessive:
at, on house
talolla
ĉedome; surdome; dome
Ablative:
away from
talosta
fordome
Translative:
becomes
taloksi
domiĝe
Essive:
in the manner of
talona
kieldome
Abessive:
without
talotta
sendome
Instructive:
using
taloin
perdome
Partitive
*
taloa
dubedomo;
domato;
kelkdome

The Esperanto words are extremely clear, or at least would be with the rest of the grammatical explanation that would exist in any textbook. Most of the constructions are in fact used daily by people who can't even say such things in their native languages.

Ĉedome in the adessive category for example, is "ĉe - at", "dom - house", "e - adverb (place, time, method)".

* Partitive denotes an "action in progress", or "some incomplete amount (out of a whole that is possibly unknown)". In Esperanto, an action in progress can easily be shown by a participle. A thing that is being bought (aĉetato), or a thing that is a house (domanto) means that the action of buying or of being a house hasn't yet ended.

To get the other possible partitive meanings, we can prefix words like dube "dubiously" (dubeblua = somewhat, but not completely, blue) or kelk "some" (kelkfoje = on some unknown amount of occasions). Which translation to use in Esperanto would just depend on the meaning of the sentence.

Furthermore, as you have probably noticed, the English translations in the two charts above don't always make any sense. In fact, I have improved the translations compared to what their original descriptions were ("in the manner of" was simply "as"; "away from" was simply "from", "Location Case" was called "Dative" and so on).

When I tried to learn Icelandic, I had Icelanders tell me things like this: "The cases? They're simple! To a horse, from a horse..." and yet I didn't understand at all. Grammatically speaking, the to in "a dog's just different, compared to a horse", or "to ride a horse", isn't the same as in "I gave it to a horse". This is on top of the fact that to an English native speaker, "to a horse, from a horse" doesn't make any sense at all when not in the context of a full sentence.

The English words "to house" could be accusative (domon in Esperanto), allative (domen) and the form of the verb that doesn't show tense (domi — as in "I wanted to house something here").

I was told that subjects and objects could move around in Icelandic thanks to the accusative, and was given Icelandic examples that I couldn't understand because, having more than three different forms for the accusative in the language, I couldn't even recognize it. Instead of actually learning how to use the cases, I learned how to understand via context.

Again, it's no wonder that foreign languages seem so confusing for English natives, and it's no wonder why they're taught so badly. Not even our teachers understand the grammar that becomes so clear with Esperanto. Even if they do, the unclarity of English still make it difficult.

Complaints about Esperanto:

There are many complaints that aren't actually true and that float around the internet because they were written by people who've never learnt Esperanto, or who've at least never learnt it properly:

1. There's no difference between thou (you "singular" - talking to one person) and ye (you plural, y'all, you guys - talking to multiple people).

Ci is thou (you), and vi is ye (y'all, you guys, you lot). Most people don't use them, and most textbooks don't teach them, but that doesn't mean they don't exist or that you can't use them if you want to. Most languages in the world (including Japanese, Indonesian, Chinook Jargon, Swedish and Greenlandic) have a difference between these two.

Here is a quote from Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto:

"La plej bona maniero kompreneble estus, se ni al pli-ol-unu personoj dirus «vi» kaj al unu persono ĉiam «ci»..."

"The best method would be if we, to more than one person, would say vi (ye), and to one single person we'd always say ci (thou)..."

The reason why they aren't used by most people is because Esperanto first became popular in Russia, Poland and so forth, then moved on to Germany and Sweden, and from there it became popular in France. French (along with German) was, at the time, the biggest foreign language in Europe, North America, and some places in Africa.

However French uses plural you (ye) as a polite singular you (thou), and so many people thought, or would think, that the rule was the same in Esperanto. They then decided they had to constantly be polite. Some people who haven't read Zamenhof's notes on his own language still think this way today, and go on to teach others the misinformation.

After WWII English became popular as a world language, and modern English uses "you" for both one person and multiple people. Things were already set in place thanks to the largely-influential French culture, and now it's been solidified thanks to English, despite that it goes against the logic of most languages in the world.

2. You're required to mark if words are "feminine" or "masculine". Some words are automatically masculine in the root form.

— This isn't true. It's simply a misunderstanding coupled with some oversights. It's like "actor" and "actress" - some people always say "actress" if it's a female, others don't. This is a paragraph from Zamenhof's, the creator of Esperanto's, first book on Esperanto grammar:

"So, for example, the derivation of frat'in'o, which is in reality a compound of frat "child of the same parents as one’s self [a sibling]", in "female", o "an entity", "that which exists", i.e., "that which exists as a female child of the same parents as one's self" = "a sister".

Source: http://www.genekeyes.com/Dr_Esperanto.html

Looking in the dictionary, or looking elsewhere in that same book, it will claim that "frat" means "brother", not "sibling". However, the truth is right there.

In the past, 100 years ago, people thought it was rude to not mark that someone was female if they were indeed female. According to that line of thinking, failing to mark it would then automatically mean that the person was male. Esperanto has so few exceptions to the rule, and there are so few words that mean "male" in basic form (without attaching another word that specifically means "male"), that it seems they're simply mistakes which solidified into general usage due to peer pressure.

Obviously, the very first dictionaries weren't all that good and it caused some misunderstandings in word meaings. Even today, Esperanto dictionaries contain words and meanings that were simply used once, by some one guy in his one book. If you add a meaning to a dictionary, people are going to believe it.

3. There is no gender-neutral word to refer to people with.

— Here is a quote from some notes that Zamehof wrote himself:

"...la vortoj havas nur sekson naturan, kaj tial, parolante pri infanoj, bestoj kaj objektoj, kies naturan sekson ni ne scias, ni vole-ne-vole (sen ia ofenda intenco) uzas pronomon mezan inter «li» kaj «ŝi» – la vorton «ĝi»... La vorton «ĝi» ni uzas, kiam ni parolas nek pri viro, nek pri virino, sed pri io, kio ne havas sekson aŭ kies sekso estas por ni nekonata aŭ indiferenta..."

This translates to:

"...the words have only a natural sex, and for that reason, when speaking about children, animals and objects, whose natural sex isn't known to us, we, whether we want to or not (without the intent to offend), use the middle pronoun between "he" and "she" — the word "it"... We use the word "it" when we talk about neither male nor female, but about something that doesn't have a sex or whose sex is, for us, unknown or indifferent."

Meaning, if we don't know or don't care to mark the gender we say "it - ĝi" and the base form of the word. If we do both care and know, we can choose "he - li, ŝi - she", and attach "vir - male, in - female" to the base word. It's not like French or Icelandic, words for non-living creatures do not have "genders".

Source: http://eduinf.waw.pl/esp/lern/librejo/0015/index.php

4. Certain words can't get the grammatical words put on the end. Certain words change meaning if a grammatical word is added.

Again, this is simply a misunderstanding. Certain words tend to not be used with grammatical words attached to the end, just because Zamehof thought it would be easier to use them that way:

dumo = a duration (noun)
dume = during, while (adverb)
duma = durational (adjective)
dumi = to endure, to last (not "to suffer", only "to exist in a span of time)

However, dum without any grammatical word on the end at all, can be used to mean "dumo, dume, duma" according to context. Only a few words can do this, according to popular usage anyway.

People who don't actually know grammar well will say that, for example, "dum" is different from "dume". They'll say dum means while, and dume is during, meanwhile, or something similar. They don't stop to look things up in the dictionary. While is a noun. Meanwhile is an adverb. During which means the same as "meanwhile", and is listed the adverb of "while" (in my dictionary).

Esperanto words do not change meaning when they change in grammatical form, because the letters showing the form are actually separate words. This was explained in the beginning of the book, and also illustrated in the example with "frato" above. Here's more quotes from Zamenhof:

"La gramatikaj finaĵoj estas rigardataj ankaŭ kiel memstaraj vortoj. Ekz-e: vapor'ŝip'o estas formita de: vapor, ŝip kaj o (finaĵo de la substantivo). "

"The grammatical terminations are also regarded as independent words. Ex: vapor'ŝip'o (steamboat) is composed of: vapor (steam), ŝip (ship) and o (the ending for substantives)."

Source: http://esperanto.davidgsimpson.com/librejo/en-gramatiko.html

"Ekster tio el la diritaj vortoj ni povas ankoraŭ fari aliajn vortojn, per helpo de gramatikaj finiĝoj kaj aliaj vortoj (sufiksoj); ekzemple : tiama, ĉiama, kioma, tiea, ĉi-tiea, tieulo, tiamulo..."

"Outside of the previously-mentioned words, we can also make other words with the help of grammatical endings and other words (suffixes); for example: Tiama (that time's), ĉiama (eternal, always') kioma (how much's), tiea (that place's, there's), ĉi-tiea (this place's, here's), tieulo (a person of that place), tiamulo (a person of that time)..."

Source: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/8224/8224-h/8224-h.htm

"Ĉiu vorto, ĉiu formo, kiu ne estas rekte kontraŭ la jam kreita gramatiko kaj vortaro, aŭ kontraŭ la logiko aŭ la leĝoj enkondukitaj de la plejmulto de l' uzantoj,—estas tute bona, tute egale ĉu ĝi plaĉos al mi persone aŭ ne."

"Every word, every form, that isn't directly against the already-created grammar and dictionary [of mine], and that isn't against the logic and rules brought into the language by the majority of the users — is completely good and completely equal whether it pleases me personally or not."

Source: http://esperanto.davidgsimpson.com/librejo/dualibro.html

5. You can't ignore any of the grammar!

— The following sentiment is repeated many times, and extremely clearly, throughout all of Zamenhof's writings. If it confuses you, don't use it. If it's clear by context anyway, you don't have to say it:

"Se iu ne komprenas bone la uzon de la artikulo, li povas tute ĝin ne uzi, ĉar ĝi estas oportuna sed ne necesa."

"If someone doesn't understand the use of the article [the word "the"] well, he can completely not use it at all, because it's convenient but not necessary."

Source: http://esperanto.davidgsimpson.com/librejo/dualibro.html

6. Esperanto can (or should) borrow as many words as it wants to from other languages. There shouldn't be just one word for each main idea.

"...ĉiu lingvo servas por esprimi niajn pensojn, sed ne por senpense traduki el aliaj lingvoj; oni devas tial peni esprimadi siajn pensojn per la jam estantaj vortoj kaj kreadi novajn vortojn nur tie, kie ĝi estas efektive necesa..."

"...every language serves to express our thoughts, but not to unthinkingly translate from other languages [to Esperanto]; one should, for that reason, endeavour to express one's thoughts through the already-existing words, and to create new words only in places where it's necessary..."

Source: http://esperanto.davidgsimpson.com/librejo/dualibro.html

In general, from what I have noticed, English native speakers use far more words in Esperanto than, say, Chinese and Japanese native speakers. It's simply because English natives haven't had lessons in building logical words, so they feel the need to borrow words from other languages a lot more often. They also tend to not realize that there really are a lot of people in the world who don't know any English — not even words we might consider "international", such as "internet" and "phone".

A person coming from a completely unrelated language has to learn more grammatical concepts than a person coming from English. They also have to learn more words before they can understand a text, because English shares a lot of words from both French and German already — so even if an English native speaker hasn't specifically studied a word, they can probably recognize it. For example:

Sun, lun, hund, trink, paper, loĝ, vojaĝ, lanc

Guesses: Sun, lunar, hound, drink, paper, lodge, voyage, lance

Even if we don't know for sure that that's what those words mean, we certainly have a better clue than a Japanese person, as their versions of our English guesses above would look something like:

hi, tsuki, inu, nomi mono, kami, taizai, tabi, yari.

This is why it's important to not borrow words, whenever you can possibly help it, according to most people who have any sense. The more unnecessary words you borrow, the more difficult it becomes for other people. It doesn't matter if what you want to say can't be explained in just one or two words — it's more that if it can't be in one or two sentences, then you can borrow. English native speakers tend to want a unique word for everything they want to say.

Some people don't believe that there are people out there who really know zero English, but these people either come from very poor countries and have little to no education (meaning they can't even read or write in their own language), or come from a country where they learned, say, French or Russian instead of English. Otherwise they live in a place where English really isn't necessary (ex. the countryside, as opposed to the city) and so they forgot it all as soon as they got out of school.

In any given foreign country the average kid under 13 years old, and the average grandparent, knows little to no English. English is just too new, and too difficult, of a world language for it to actually be everywhere (in a form that's understandable to native speakers).

Esperanto's Faults:

Here are my opinions on what's wrong or could be wrong with Esperanto, from the point of view of someone who translates and teaches languages for a hobby:

1. If nouns and adjectives match each other (red dog), adverbs or verbs can't go in-between (red eating dog; red tiredly dog). This is likely a problem when directly translating some languages.

2. The word "the" has to go in front of what it describes (the dog), never behind (dog the), and similar to point #1 it can't be interrupted by a verb or adverb. All Nordic-Germanic languages (Swedish, Faroese, Ancient English) and a handful of other languages in the world, put "the" behind what it describes.

3. Question words ("what? how? why?") have to go at the beginning of wherever the question starts. In Japanese and many other languages, some can specifically go at the back.

4. There are very few words that make a sentence more polite. This means the differences in politeness levels in Asian languages are difficult or impossible to translate without being either more literal or more loose ("my hovel; your amazing palace"). However, Esperanto isn't any worse than English in this regard.

5. Translating slang in Esperanto would often mean creating extremely vague sentences. For example, for "telephone receiver" we can say "speech-container", but it very well might also mean "cassette tape, mp3 recording, walkie-talkie, a tupperware container full of words" and anything else imaginable that can literally or figuratively hold speech.

This is only a problem for translators and fiction writers, those who are learning Esperanto so that it will help them learn a future foreign language shouldn't even notice it.

6. Esperanto needs to declare a tense in verbs and participles. Japanese, Indonesian and Chinook Jargon, and possibly Greenlandic do not contain tenses — they only clarify time using separate words such as "tomorrow, before now, later on". (Japanese verbs change according to the amount of "certainty" in the statement, something I won't go into here). Even Swedish, which does have tenses, still doesn't usually distinguish between future and present tense.

It's impossible for Esperanto to be that vague about time, just as it's impossible for English to be.

7. The rest of the faults don't come from the language. They come from the community, or from people outside the community.

A number of people use a few words that are completely illogical and make no sense upon first glance — for example, ĝisdatigo (until-date-cause) instead of freŝigo, novigo (make fresh, make new) for our word "update".

A number of people, especially those who are creating articles on Wikipedia, use unnecessary loanwords — "blogo" for blog, instead of rettaglibro (online diary), retmemorejo (online memory place), retĵurnalo (online journal), retrakontejo (online story-recount place) and any number of other possible translations. Likewise, "stationo" (station) instead of "await-place, pause-place" etc. as mentioned early on in the book with the examples about the bus station.

Many people who spread misinformation about word meanings and grammar, usually because they simply don't know Esperanto well enough to know that they're wrong. There's also a number of people who don't ever read older lessons, including the original ones, for learning Esperanto — so they claim Esperanto has this or that restriction when in fact it doesn't.

All of this pales in comparision to when the average person, or "linguist" (for a hobby or as a profession, I don't know) comes into a conversation about Esperanto. I will share two examples:

1. I once said that Esperanto would help with learning a certain Asian language more than English would, and did my best to prove it. A German person immediately claimed that Esperanto wouldn't help any more than German would. Someone else decided that Esperanto "couldn't possibly help anyone learn any foreign language in any way at all". Other people chimed in to claim that every language helps "equally as much, so it doesn't matter if it's German, Chinese or Esperanto".

This is despite the fact that not a single one of them knew Esperanto. You wouldn't normally, not knowing a lick of Russian, walk into a conversation and claim you knew all about it — right in the face of a Russian.

Of course, their claims were nonsense. If you know only German, you'll be at least twice as fast at learning Icelandic compared to if you only know English. The relationships between languages aren't equal, and so they don't help equally when it comes to learning the next foreign language either.

2. I showed a rough draft of this book to some linguists (again, whether that title is for hobby or professional purposes, I don't care to find out).

In short, the insults grew worse and worse for no apparent reason (as I was hardly even replying!), finally ending in things that boiled down to "you're just a crazy Esperanto fanatic and anyway, your opinions on how Esperanto helps are wrong".

Again, this was coming from people who didn't even know Esperanto — and as you can see from having read this book, most of what's in it aren't anywhere close to opinions. They're simply comparisions.

How and why did I learn Esperanto?

I am a native English speaker, no one in my family speaks any other language, no one watches TV or listens to music in a foreign language, etc. According to the timeline, my first exposure to lessons for learning a foreign language was Spanish in second grade. Spanish classes continued, off and on and against my will, even into my first two years of University — although nowadays, six years later, I (gladly) can't remember any of it.

I tried to learn Japanese in a class starting at age 16 and was the best student there, but for various reasons couldn't continue. From age 18 to 20 I studied Icelandic in Reykjavík, Iceland, then moved to Uppsala, Sweden — where I still live today, at age 24 — and began studying Swedish. I picked up Faroese along the way, as it's essentially a mix of 70% Icelandic and 15% Swedish.

After all of this is when, reading to randomly practise my Faroese in a bout of rebellion against Swedish, I found an article about Esperanto that mentioned "Esperantobókin I" (The Esperanto Book I). This is a Faroese textbook for learning Esperanto, and it's available to read for free online. I had no interest in Esperanto, I browsed through the book with the sole purpose of potentially gathering more Faroese words (as at the time, I had no access to a Faroese-English dictionary).

I couldn't read all the Faroese. I knew nothing of the Esperanto. And yet, Esperanto was so easy that I was learning it on accident as I skimmed through the book. I began to grow interested, but there was a certain page that absolutely convinced me I had to learn it — the one about the accusative. In both languages, the same difference in meaning was conveyed by just a changing single letter in the entire sentence. Considering how much trouble I had with Icelandic, I would have been a fool not to at least try Esperanto.

I read up on Esperanto, both personal accounts and scientific research. Everyone said it helps you learn foreign languages faster — as much as 300% faster — and yet none of the languages I was learning were ever mentioned. People claimed it couldn't possibly help that much with Asian languages, or that if you already knew multiple languages (as I did, although not fluently) then Esperanto would be useless.

However, searching in Swedish I found slightly different accounts: A Swede in someone's university French course was learning French at a rate so fast, the teacher thought she must have lived there. "No," she replied, "but I know Esperanto". As stated earlier, by the time Swedes reach university they already know 2-3 different foreign languages to a decent level. All of her classmates knew 2-3 different langauges. By all assumptions, "one more language" shouldn't have made such a huge different. Esperanto was clearly special.

I began to learn using all the old lessons and old dictionaries, from 100 years ago back when Esperanto was new. I didn't want to learn some strange, tainted version of it due to the textbook being written by an idiot (in the end I was right in doing so).

The grammar lessons were confusing, so I gave up trying to understand some parts of them. (They assumed you already knew about participles, for example.) There were tons of e-books online to read for free so I tried to puzzle out some literature, such as Alice in Wonderland. I quickly switched to reading bilingual periodicals from 100 years ago, as they used fewer unique words and had sentences that were easier to understand in context. I simply attacked them witht he dictionary — the very same method I had used in order to learn Icelandic (because the Icelandic grammar lessons were so bad).

After two weeks I shocked myself. I could understand recordings of spontanious speech that were being played on a online Esperanto radio station. I practised more, I began translating things from English and Swedish to Esperanto, and my grammar was so terrible that I cringed at it just a couple months later.

After a few months, novels were no longer a wall of text. There happened to be a free Esperanto concert playing in my town (it was "La Perdita Generacio"), I went there and could understand most of what was being said. Swedes were there, foreigners were there, children were there, and I could understand people speaking Esperanto — a language I hadn't spoken aloud even once — coming from their mouths.

With just a day or two in-between there was an Esperanto church service in town. Not being religious I had never gone to such a thing before, but I went there purely for the Esperanto — and I could understand it better than I could understand the Swedish that came with it. Half the people there knew Esperanto, including one of the priests.

After a year, I was translating complicated fiction from English to Esperanto. After a year and a half, not only was I writing original fiction in it, but I was even translating songs from English to Esperanto (with meter intact). I was learning all of my Japanese vocabulary via Esperanto instead of English; I was translating all of my Japanese lessons in school to Esperanto.

I was telling everyone about this wonderful language where, after just a few weeks, you can go online and have full conversations with a Chinese policeman who can't speak English to save his life — and you can receive lessons on Chinese from him if you so wish. Lessons using not broken English, but a language that you both will eventually be fluent in.

If you want to vacation in Japan, you can stay at someone's house for free if you only speak decent Esperanto — there's a specific service for this. Again, you can potentially receive Japanese lessons from a native speaker in a language you are both fluent in. You can live in the house of a Japanese family, instead of in a hotel.

If you want to ensure that what you're hearing on the news is accurate, you can potentially ask someone who's actually lived there for all their life. (American and British news is skewed, edited, or has missing information seemingly nearly as much as how the Chinese news is — and American history textbooks are skewed to the same degree as how Japanese ones. The slant just points in a different direction.)

It's important to remember that, in most cases, someone who knows Esperanto enjoys talking to foreigners — they probably learned Esperanto for this very reason. This means they're much more likely to be kind to you, or to befriend you, in general.

If you've ever studied French, Icelandic or Finnish (and, I admit, English) as a foreign language, you've probably experienced native speakers being rude to you for not being perfect. They might not speak to you in it, for example, instead switching to English so you never learn. They might make a huge deals out of tiny mistakes, so you get discouraged. You may be made out to be even more of a "foreigner" than you really are, so you don't make friends or you're never informed of things.

The opposite can also be true. You may be wildly popular just because you're "a foreigner", or because your first language is one everyone wants to learn, and no one is interestd in you for who you actually are. This can also become depressing.

Esperanto speakers, however, deal with foreigners on a much more frequent basis when compared with normal people. You're nothing new to them. Your mistakes aren't either, as they've learnt at least one foreign language and have made enough mistakes themselves. It's both calming and confidence-boosting to the average person to have a friend who's a native speaker who they can talk to without relying on a language that one of them is bad at.

Writing Fiction:

This is a only a short section, because it's not the topic of this book. Esperanto can even drastically help you write fiction — this has nothing to do with grammar, it's entirely based on the way vocabulary is set up.

In English we're bombarded with a huge amount of words that mean the same thing, or almost the same thing, and that convey different hints of meaning. "Hallway" and "corridor", or "drink" and "beverage", are two good examples — they technically mean exactly the same thing, and yet each have their own specific time and place. Many writers try to use "fancy words" in order to improve their writing.

However, this means your writing ends up focusing on how things sound, not on what you're actually saying. The plot, description, dialogue or characterization ends up weak. Perhaps you don't write nearly as much as you could or should because you're so focused on how it doesn't "sound pretty".

In Esperanto there's very few fancy words or stock phrases. You, just like everyone else, are forced to make it sound pretty by being imaginative.






Why is English such a bad language to learn a foreign one from?

1. The second i in "disciple" is pronounced differently compared to the same in "discipline". There is no modern logic in the "s" in the spelling of "island", or in the pronunciation of "a long ways away" (because a marks a singular, but s marks a plural).

For English natives, these sorts of things cause a lot of errors in pronunciation of a foreign language, because nothing in English ever sounds like it's written and we have multiple pronunciation rules battling it out in our heads. Generally speaking, an English-native is also always fearful that there's "a different way to say things" or "it must have a special word" because we use so many phrases and special words in English.

2. "Waterplane, hydroplane, aquaplane" all mean different things, despite that the first word in each compound means simply "water" in all cases (compare "hydropump, aquatic").

Again, this causes us to believe "it can't mean what it says!" all too often. It causes us to look for "hidden" or "specific" meanings in something that doesn't have any, and it essentially means that we entirely lack the "word-building" logic that Esperanto and all other languages employ.

3. Run is a noun in "I went for a run", but a verb in "I like to run"; Running is a verb in "I am running" but an adjective in "the running man". This word also has, by some people's counts, over 100 separate meanings in English — as we can imagine when just comparing "I ran the laundry" to "the boat ran ashore". Other languages don't normally have this problem to anywhere near the same extent.

This means that when we look in the dictionary, or say a sentence, we pick the wrong word much more often compared to someone who knows another language — either in grammatical form or in actual meaning.

4. The plural of child is "children", of glass is "glasses", goose, geese; alga, algae; sheep, sheep. There are over five different ways to signify the simple idea of "more than one". Japanese, Indonesian and Chinook Jargon (technically speaking) have no plurals. Esperanto only has one way to form the plural.

English is full of unnecessary junk that only confuses both us and the foreigners we (for business and political reasons) force to learn our language.