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File:Ho Mia Kor.jpg

 En la mondon venis nova sento,

tra la mondo iras forta voko;

per flugiloj de facila vento

nun de loko flugu ĝi al loko.

 Ne al glavo sangon soifanta

ĝi la homan tiras familion:

al la mond' eterne militanta

ĝi promesas sanktan harmonion

 Sub la sankta signo de l' espero

kolektiĝas pacaj batalantoj,

kaj rapide kreskas la afero

per laboro de la esperantoj.

 Forte staras muroj de miljaroj

inter la popoloj dividitaj;

sed dissaltos la obstinaj baroj,

per la sankta amo disbatitaj.

 Sur neŭtrala lingva fundamento,

komprenante unu la alian,

la popoloj faros en konsento

unu grandan rondon familian.

 Nia diligenta kolegaro

en laboro paca ne laciĝos,

ĝis la bela sonĝo de l' homaro

por eterna ben' efektiviĝos.

 --La Espero

Esperanto is a language constructed by L. L. Zamenhof in 1887 to help foster communication between countries. It was designed to be an easy-to-learn international language. However, the vast majority of the vocabulary is based on Latinate roots, as 1887 was still the age of colonialism, so for non-Europeans it can be pretty hard to learn. Sadly, it didn't work as well as intended, thus spawning occasional mockery in modern media [1]. Even then, it's still a thriving language within its own media, and there are a few people around the world who have grown up with Esperanto as a first language[2]. Some stories set in The Future use Esperanto as if it had become the main language. It's also occasionally used As Long as It Sounds Foreign.

Esperanto is supposed to have the advantage of being more "logical" than national languages. It has only 16 grammatical rules, and it (almost) never deviates from those rules; also, each letter is pronounced one way and one way only. By contrast, English (like most national languages) is full of all kinds of weird spelling and grammar rules that make it much harder to learn than it should be. In addition, Esperanto words are much more easily creatable, using prefixes and suffixes around the root word to handily morph words in any way necessary, thus making sentences more concise and language more literal. (Opinions vary on the subject of how colorful language equivalents have solidly found their way into the language, morphable like any other word.) Written Esperanto presents a bit of a problem in the digital age, since 6 letters of the Esperanto alphabet -- ĉ ĝ ĥ ĵ ŝ and ŭ -- don't appear in the standard ASCII/ANSI character set; many authors choose to simply write the letter without the hat on it and put an x afterward, like so: cx, gx, hx, jx, sx, ux.[3]

Some informative sites about Esperanto (in English) are at Wikipedia, Esperanto-USA, and Esperanto.net.

Despite its status as the best known artificial language, not everybody agrees with all parts of it, (as you can read here) and thus it has spawned other languages that have tried to correct perceived flaws. These projects are collectively known as Esperantidoj; they include Ido and Novial. For one reason or other, these languages have been even less successful than Esperanto.

For those who want to learn it, there is a free E-mail course, a virtually identical postal course (U.S. only, free except for postage costs), and Lernu.net. More options here.

Incidentally, "Esperanto" is of course itself an Esperanto word (it means ‘one who hopes’), hence is pronounced "ess-pear-AHN-toe", not "ess-per-rant-o".

Examples of Esperanto, the Universal Language include:


Anime and Manga

  • In RahXephon the TERRA organization's name is an acronym for "Tereno Empireo Rapidmova Reakcii Armeo", which is supposed to be Esperanto for "Earth Empire Rapid Response Army". Except "Tereno" means "terrain", "Empireo" is nonsense, as is "Rapidmova" and "Reakcii" means "to react". (They got "Armeo" right, though.) In proper Esperanto, the name should be "Rapid-responda Armeo de la Tera Imperio"...which, unfortunately, kills the acronym.
    • Not to mention that in the first episode, Ayato and Mamoru greet each other with "Ĝis!" which is supposed to be used as a goodbye. Further amusement can be had from the fact that the dubbing team didn't seem to understand this and translated it as "Cheese!"
  • Aria has the scene in Origination when Alice performs a canzone, of which the first couple of verses are in Esperanto.
  • In the Night on the Galactic Railroad anime, the signs are in Esperanto and Japanese. Esperanto appears also in various places throughout the film. This was most likely because Kenji Miyazawa, the writer of the original novel, was interested in the language.


Comic Books

  • 25th century DC Comics character Booster Gold speaks Esperanto as his first language.
  • In Grant Morrison's Seaguy, the universal language is Esperanto, but it's only revealed that everyone has been talking the language in the third, final, book of the first limited series. This is probably done to throw the reader off and make them see Seaguy's world as even more bizarre. It's mentioned again in the second book of the second limited series.
  • The science fiction comic book 10 Jarojn Poste is written almost entirely in Esperanto.
  • The Gold Key Star Trek the Original Series comics of The Seventies for some reason explained away the "English" on new planets as the natives speaking Esperanto, rather than the Universal Translator from the TV show.


Film


Literature

  • In Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat books, all the characters are understood to be speaking Esperanto. Esperanto is the universal second language in his Death World series. Harrison is a notable Esperanto buff himself, so it's quite understandable.
  • The Riverworld books, in which the language is deliberately spread by a post-resurrection religion so that they can proselytize more easily.
  • Damon Knight's story "You're Another" had a dictator in the far future speaking with an Esperanto accent, with occasional words and phrases in Esperanto.
  • In Isabel Allende's novel The House of the Spirits, the character Clara frequently mentions her belief that Esperanto is the ideal language and ought to be taught in schools.
  • The Mortal Engines series of four features a language called "Airsperanto," supposedly the language of those who fare the skies. It doesn't get too much prominence in the series, though.
  • In The Yiddish Policemens Union by Michael Chabon, our hero lives in the Hotel Zamenhof. "When the hotel was built 50 years ago, all of its directional signs, labels, notices, and warnings were printed on brass plates in Esperanto."
  • Polar Star (the sequel to Gorky Park). An American sailor who learns Esperanto as a hobby mentions a meeting his group organised between two famous practitioners of the language. "It took us five minutes to realise they couldn't understand what each other was saying. One's asking for the wine, the other's telling her the time."
  • The Shadow novel Malmordo has the title villain's name coming from bad Esperanto, and his international gang speaks the language. The Shadow, of course, is fluent in Esperanto (and Romani, the other non-English language important in the story.)
  • Isaac Asimov wrote a short story, "Homo Sol", about humanity being inducted into a galactic federation. The welcome message from their diplomats is delivered in Esperanto.


Live Action TV

  • Red Dwarf is a bilingual mining ship; signs are written in English and Esperanto (for instance, each floor is labeled with "Level" and "Nivelo"). Rimmer is occasionally seen working on his Esperanto. This was eventually dropped when Grant Naylor decided it was just silly. (The novel adaptation has everything in English, French and three dialects of Chinese).
    • Rimmer also refers to Esperanto speakers as a distinct group, the "Esperantinos". (Esperantino in Esperanto actually means "a woman who hopes is hoping." The proper term in Esperanto would be Esperantisto.)
    • You get the impression the dual-language thing is more political than practical-- as everybody in-universe speaks English all the time, and it's a plot-point that Rimmer doesn't even know esperanto. (Lister seems ok at it, though.)
    • The catch all response to both of the above is Rimmer is an idiot, more so in the first and second series where the Esperanto signage appeared (it wasn't a feature of the set in later seasons).
  • On Frasier the gang meets a sleazy lounge singer who hits on Roz. She doesn't speak Spanish, but he is sure that she is "schooled in the international language." Frasier is unimpressed, quipping "Yes, Roz. Say something amusing in Esperanto!"
  • A flashack episode of The Drew Carey Show revealed that Lewis took Esperanto in high school, assuming it would actually be useful in the future.
  • Referred to in QI in the "Future" episode, where Stephen Fry says, as an example phrase: "Mia kusenventurilo estas plena de angiloj." (My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels)


Music

  • The credits to Elvis Costello's Blood and Chocolate album are in Esperanto, although some of the words are misspelled (it's "gitaro", not "guitaro").
  • Legendary free jazz/underground rock label ESP-Disk was originally intended to specialize in Esperanto music; its first release was a collection of folk songs in the language titled Ni Kantu En Esperanto (Let's Sing in Esperanto).
  • In the They Might Be Giants song Alienation's for the Rich: "And the TV's in Esperanto/You know that that's a bitch"


Video Games

  • "Memoro de la Ŝtono" from Final Fantasy XI is sung in Esperanto.
  • The scenes before and after one mission in We Love Katamari have the King of All Cosmos working on his Esperanto.
  • In the Telltale Sam and Max Freelance Police games, an Esperanto bookstore is one of the businesses on their home block. Like most enterprises by the corner of Straight and narrow, it's closed.
  • The ingame Morrowind book N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis! is in Esperanto. (click the above link for a translation).
  • In Wandering Hamster, the bubble-mage James is a member of the Esperanto League of Flanat (ELF). Bob the Hamster completely misunderstands both the acronym and the conversations that James has with the local guildmaster (he assumes that the two are talking mean about him). It's hilarious for the player, not so much for Bob.
  • Touhou. As shown in Marisa B's Good Ending in Embodiment Of Scarlet Devil, some of Patchouli's books are written in Esperanto.
  • Blazing Dragons contains a throwaway gag by the caretaker for the Cave of Dillema where he offers to teach Flicker Esperanto.


Web Comics

  • In Cwynhild's Loom, Esperanto is the official language of Mars and is found on signs throughout the comic as well as on any type of computer output.


Web Original


Western Animation

  • The Jetsons took a long trip across the solar system to see a circus. There, the owner of a trained-flea act sold them his fleas [?]. George Jetson picked the fleas up and heard them making some noises. He knew they were trying to talk to him, but he couldn't understand what they were saying. George turned to his son, Elroy, and said, "You're the one taking Esperanto lessons? you talk to them!" Elroy was able to translate for the fleas!
  • The ghost Wulf in Danny Phantom talks in broken Esperanto, and only Tucker can understand it at first. Danny and later Sam take Esperanto lessons.
  • Tiny Toons: How I Spent My Summer Vacation astonishingly has a joke about Esperanto, and is found in the quotes page.
  • Mocked by an alien in The Tick: "Actually, Tick, I've taught myself to speak all your Earth languages. Except Esperanto. *chuckles* You could see that one was going nowhere."
  • In the Batman-Superman: Apocalypse animated movie, the Kryptonian that Superman and the newly-arrived Supergirl speak to each other is Esperanto.


Real Life

  • Baha'is were rather fond of Esperanto because they believe that a universal auxiliary (i.e. not replacement) language is necessary to facilitate world peace. This changed after they figured that it was too Euro-centric. Nowadays, they're more fond of Lojban, a derivative of Loglan.
  • And then there is Oomoto, in which Esperanto's creator is considered to be a god.
  • Despite its goals and ease of use, Esperanto is not the world's most widely spoken invented language. Klingon is.
    • That's only true if you are comparing all people who have learned a little Klingon versus speakers fluent in Esperanto.

Notes

  1. and murderous rage on the part of those who oppose movements that attempt to bridge social gaps; the Nazis outlawed Esperanto and even sent some of its speakers to the camps.
  2. in addition to a natural language, obviously
  3. Eventually, even Esperanto's creator decided that these funny-looking letters were a bad idea, and unsuccessfully tried to get rid of them.
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