International Language Esperanto


July 5, 2011 by Robert Poort

Click here to learn more about Esperanto.

This month all Mormon Worker sites (click on the language links in the upper right column), will be introducing the International Language Esperanto. I am an Esperantist myself and editor of a mormon Internet site in Esperanto: Por Esperanta Mormonaro. Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto (Esperanto translates as – one who hopes), the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887. Zamenhof’s goal was to create an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding between people with different regional and/or national languages.
Estimates of Esperanto speakers range from 10,000 to two million active or fluent speakers. Esperanto has native speakers, that is, people who learned Esperanto from their parents as one of their native languages. Esperanto is spoken in about 115 countries. Usage is particularly high in Europe, eastern Asia and North and South America. Click here for selected chapters of the Book of Mormon in Esperanto.

8 thoughts on “International Language Esperanto

    • Robert Poort says:

      Yes Kate, that certainly was a nice alternative approach from the Church in 1869 directed towards immigrants from Northern Europe to familiarize them with written and spoken English. Not so much an alternative language though.

      Esperanto has at least hundreds of thousands of speakers, an incredible and vast literature, easy to learn and perfect as an international language. However the general progressive Esperanto culture is quite different from the conservative church culture in the United States.

  1. Tod Robbins says:


    What is a good starting point for learning the language?

  2. Forest Simmons says:

    Linguists say that they can distinguish between natural and artificial languages by their basic structure. Natural languages fit our innate language processing tools in a way that “artificial” languages cannot.

    Did the creator of Esperanto understand this difference and respect the linguistic structure of natural languages?

  3. Gregory VanWagenen says:

    Hey Forest:

    There’s a strange confluence which makes the concepts of “artificial” and “natural” languages meaningless on close inspection. A few years ago I ordered the official dictionary from Real Academia Española – which has all the “artificial” rules of official Spanish contained therein. The Spanish I grew up with in the American State of Texas was “natural” but bore little resemblance in most cases to the “artificial” and official language, which is controlled and designed year by year.

    Canada has an official French (strangely, no official English) which differs from the continental version, in many cases markedly, making them two different languages in theory, both artificial, like esperanto.

    Latin and Hebrew are the best examples of completely dead languages which were resurrected artificially, modernized by engineers, and are now enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

    Anyway, such philological triflings are interesting. I dig esperanto, not as a language I would speak, but as a learning tool to illustrate the way languages work. It’s sorta like playing the recorder in elementary school. I was active on soc.culture.esperanto years ago (not under my real name). If you want to see a more arcane example, check this out:

    • Robert Poort says:

      Absolutely Gregory, perhaps differentiation between artificial and natural languages is interesting to linguists, but hardly a valid objection to Esperanto. Besides, there are probably more ESL-English As Second Language speakers in the world than native English speakers, and most of them sound very artificial and hardly natural if you ask me.
      I speak Esperanto not only because I enjoy its structure and idealism, but also because of the many contacts it provides me around the world. I grew up with my native Dutch, and later learned English and German. Our oldest daughter recently moved to Puerto Rico with her family and we will be visiting her often, but I just can’t make myself learn Spanish anymore. 😦 😦 In just about every part of the world – including Puerto Rico – there are Esperanto groups to connect with. Also check out the Esperanto version of the famous Church film production (1964) “Man’s Search for Happiness”.

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