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What Is Esperanto?

Updated on April 11, 2009

The beginning of the Lord's Prayer in Esperanto...

"Patro nia, kiu estas en la cielo, snkta estu via nomo; venu regeco via; esto volo via, kiel en la cielo, tiel ankau sur la tero."

Man for a long time has been trying to create a universal language that would serve all men all over the world as a common means of communication.

Since the seventeenth century, more than seven hundred such languages have been constructed. There are two kinds of such languages. The "a priori" kind have no connection with any existing language. The "a posteriori" kind use a mixture of existing languages. The most popular of the constructed languages is Esperanto.

It was invented by Ludwik Zamenhof, who lived in the town of Bialystok, Poland. As a young man, he saw that there was a great deal of enmity between the four groups of people who lived there— the Russians, Poles, Germans, and Jews. He felt that a common language would help these people agree better. When he was still in school, he had already worked out the beginnings of his international language.

In 1887, he published a brochure describing his language, and he used the pen name of Dr. Esperanto (one who hopes). Soon people in various parts of the world became interested in this language, which came to be called "Esperanto".

Today, Esperanto is spoken by about eight million people throughout the world. Even governments and international organizations recognize it in many ways. For example, you can send an international telegram in Esperanto. It is often used on radio broadcasts from official government stations.

There are many rules of grammar for this language, and here are a few. The definite article is "la" and does not change. All nouns end in "o", all adjectives in "a", all adverbs in "e", and all infinitives in "i". The plural of nouns and adjectives is formed by adding "j".

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