No, I'm not learning Esperanto

But I sure wish I was. Have you learned about this language?

The Esperanto Flag

I had heard about it. I knew it was some sort of failed attempt at a universal language. I knew that very few people spoke it, and they were probably “weird” in some way.

But that is all I knew. Sadly, most of what I thought I knew was wrong or just a very small part of the truth. (Insert something witty about not passing judgment on partial information.) Esperanto caught my attention recently when a podcast I follow featured it. They made some very compelling points about the utility and practicality of the language which surprised even me with how much interest they engendered in me.

Remember back in high school language class, the teacher telling you to start studying the conjugations of the verb “to eat”. You just started to remember the endings for “to drink”, and now you needed to start again. Believe it or not, it’s even worse for people learning English, but none of this is a problem in Esperanto.

Esperanto is a designed language. It’s creator consulted languages in use around the world, avoiding the mistakes that come from organic evolution. It attempts to avoid the irregularities that make learning hard. But at the same time the language will look at least a little familiar to speakers of many European languages, as it tries to borrow what does work.

But what drew me most to the language was the idea that I could learn one language and be able to speak to people all over the world. And it is true, people everywhere speak it. But they are scarce in reality, and the language would only help you on your next vacation if you were hoping from one Esperanto meetup to another.

In the end I spent a month spending serious time learning the language every day. I got to learn many of the ingenious and logical patterns which make this language interesting. I got to the point where I could read simple paragraphs and tell you about the weather.

But I stopped just as suddenly as I started. There are so few hours every day. I am so glad I learned about this subculture, but when it comes down to it I would rather be learning about circuitry design, rekindling my lost musical talent from high school, or just going on a hike and enjoying some time away from the screen.