Five Major Failures Of Esperanto

Okay, I know I've said Esperanto is more religion than language, and I've complained about how few people there are with whom to use Esperanto. But today I'm going to put aside those biases and bring attention to a few specific details of Esperanto which give me an unfavorable opinion of it as a language.

First, let me be clear about my intent. This is not intended to be Esperanto-bashing. There is nothing to be gained from merely prejudiced attacks. Rather, this is a matter of paying attention to specific details of a language and how those details affect the speaker, and in turn, the overall perception of the language itself.

And so, rather than making any attacks against the language or the people who speak it, I would like to draw attention to five very specific details about the language itself which I perceive to be major flaws.

Non-standard characters

Right from the start, the first flaw a person immediately becomes familiar with are these six non-Latin characters: ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, and ǔ. Non-Latin characters are generally more difficult to work with anyway, especially in this modern world of wireless communication from a 12-key phone pad... but to make things even worse, three of those six characters don't exist in any other known language, which makes it significantly difficult, or even impossible, for many people to type those letters at all.

Of course the creator of the language recognized this difficulty, and created a series of digraphs for representing these sounds: cx, gx, hx, jx, sx, and ux. Which then leads us to the problem of: if you're going to use digraphs, why have the special characters at all?

While the digraphs may have seemed like a good solution in 1903, it's a horrible solution in 2010, because we now have online databases and search engines and cached repositories of words spelled in a variety of different ways. If one person writes cxiu and another person writes ĉiu, they are not the same. They don't even look the same. And they're certainly not indexed the same in any databases, which means you often have to query several different spellings to find a definition for an Esperanto word.

And worse, there are other non-standard digraphs in use. Rather than sticking to the formula, a number of people have taken it upon themselves to write ch, gh, js, and sh for the ĉ, ĝ, ĵ, and ŝ characters. And I've occasionally seen other non-standard digraphs used as well. Imagine how much difficulty that adds just to lexical parsing, nevermind the web searches, and other such problems.

And in an alphabetical list, in which order do the words ĉiu, chiu, and cxiu fall?

Important words should not sound alike

Question words are among the most important words in a language. They need to be clear and easily distinguished. If I ask you "what?", you shouldn't answer a "who?" question, right? You should never find yourself talking to someone who doesn't anunciate clearly, or who has an accent, wondering if he asked you "when are you going" or "where are you going", right?

In English, those words all sound different. Who. What. When. Where. Why. In spite of the fact that they all start with the same sound, there's no risk of confusion unless you're talking to a drunken redneck with a hotdog in his mouth.

In Russian, there are dozens of question words, thanks to noun declension. And yet they, too, are all easy to tell apart: кто (kto), что (shto), когда (kogda), кем (kem), как (kak), где (gde), куда (kuda), какой (kakoy), чем (chem), кого (kavo), and so on. In spite of a huge number of words, mostly starting with the same sound, they are all easy to distinguish.

But in Esperanto, all the question words are two-syllable words, and the stressed syllable is the same in every word! Kio, Kiel, Kiam, Kiu, Kia, Kiom, Kies, etc. All I hear is KEE-something. And given the fact that Esperanto is a second language for everyone, that means that everyone who speaks Esperanto speaks it with an accent. This is a huge comprehension problem. And this problem is duplicated in the answering words: Tio, Tia, Tie, Tiu, etc.

But Spanish has the same stress rules as Esperanto, with the penultimate syllable getting the stress. Why isn't it a problem in Spanish? You tell me. Say these words to yourself: Cómo, Qué, Quién, Dónde, Cuando. Do any of them sound the same? No. And Zamenhoff would have done well to consider that.

Lack of nuance

In English, we have dozens of ways to alter verb tense, in order to convey additional implications in a statement. I went to the store is different from I was going to the store, and different from I had been going to the store, but in Esperanto, they're all said with the same simple past tense.

Yes, I know that Esperanto provides a way of forming gerunds and participles, but their use is still heavily reflective of the native language of the speaker. That is, native English speakers will try to form sentences using gerunds and participles, and native speakers of other languages will be completely lost. So everyone defaults back to the simple past.

Further, none of this does a good job of differentiating perfective and imperfective action. In other words, there's no good way to differentiate an action that was done in the past from an action that was ongoing at the point of reference in the past. This is a very basic concept that exists in all languages I have experience with.

Awkward uncomfortable sounds

Okay, at first you're thinking "every foreign language is uncomfortable at first", and at first blush, you're right. That's not a good enough reason. But there's more to it.

Speakers of various languages develop certain ways of dealing with the conditions of awkward sounds. In English, we're accustomed to a lot of this. Just say the word don't to yourself and try to hear the T sound. You can't, because it's not really there. You can't make that sound unless you slow down the word so much that it's almost unnatural to say it.

Everyone knows about the rolled R in the Spanish language, but unless you're a fluent speaker, you might not have noticed that it's heavily rolled at the beginning of a word, but barely rolled at all in the middle. And quite hard to hear at all after a T or a B.

The Russian language famously stacks up three or four consonants on top of each other every chance it gets, but if you listen to a Russian speak, you quickly realize that they only ever pronounce one, or maybe two, of those consonants.

And on the topic of Russian, there is that whole vowel reduction thing, where а and о sound different depending on where the stress falls in a word. For example, the word молоко, which has three о's, but it's pronounced muh-lah-kohe.

Failure of constructed language

Such language features evolve naturally in any natural language. As native speakers say things at a quick, conversational pace, certain shortcuts develop and catch on and eventually become standard. Grammatical constructs can be invented and accepted and included into the language. Contractions, vowel reduction, devoicing, all the linguistic phenomena that were excluded from the constructed language.

These are details that would normally work themselves out over long periods of time through the natural process of language evolution. But that is exactly the problem with Esperanto: not only did that natural evolution never happen in the creation of this language, but worse, it's not allowed to happen on its own, because changes to the language would defeat the whole purpose and point of having it.

One excellent example of this problem is in my second complaint, regarding nuance. There actually are two known methods for expressing some form of verb aspect, but neither is official nor required by the language, and using and understanding them necessitates familiarity with the Slavic influeces from which they are taken.

There are those who will argue that Esperanto is a living language, but they base that on the fact that new words are added regularly, and that doesn't make it a living language. A living language is allowed to change over time, but Esperanto is only allowed to grow, not to change.

Esperanto is not allowed to fracture, and shift, and become regional. If different people spoke different dialects of Esperanto, it's would no longer be a universal language. But dialects are the only way that a language can evolve and develop the characteristics which allow people to express themselves comfortably and clearly, and with the nuance and subtlety available in any other language! Unfortunately, dialects and fracturing would be the death of Esperanto.

A language has to be allowed to evolve with the needs of its speakers, or else it's nothing more than a relic — a cute, trite, literary oddity. It was invented to be easy, and it is. And it's actually become far more popular than any other constructed language in history. But it was also invented to become the Universal Language, and unfortunately, I just don't think that can happen with these flaws.

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  • so gut kann ich das -engsch- nicht. schreib mal den text in esperanto, damit ich das verstehe! kaj legu kaj tiel plu.....

  • Following from each of your paragraphs:
    1. Non-"standard" characters exist in pretty much all non-English European languages. Esperanto isn't the only one that uses digraphs. This is a fault of English speakers for insisting that all languages should be as simple as it is.
    German uses ae, oe or ue to represent the umlaut and Italians write an apostrophe after words with an accent, and they get by fine.
    It takes a minute to enable an easy way to type these letters, and many systems (Lernu for example) that use Esperanto convert between the 'x' forms just as quickly. It's Google's fault for not making ux the same as ŭ in their searches, the same way as it would be their fault if they didn't do it for German/Italian.
    2. That's silly. Way more important words sound too similar in natural languages. Zwei and drei in German for example. As Mark says when and where are similar. They have a similar structure to aid in learning. If they were completely different to one another that would take away the point. I've never had problems hearing the differences.
    3. This makes no sense at all. You didn't give any examples. I can't think of any uncomfortable sounds in Esperanto. English speakers have to roll their 'r's like in most languages in the world, and the 'ts' sound of 'c' is hard at first too... like in lots of Eastern European languages.
    4. That distinction does NOT exist between all languages that I've dealt with. natural languages do this too, and the speakers survive somehow without plus-perfect or whatever they are called.Come on Randy... I know this is an easy way to get a bunch of comments, but you're just kicking a dead horse at this stage. Who else do you need to convince? I've seen Esperanto in use in its context. I could write complaints about German and how "inefficient" it is, but that doesn't matter because speakers actually use it. It's the same with Esperanto. Your view of the language will *always* be clouded by not looking at the context of seeing it spoken, the same way speakers tell me that German sounds horrible and is too complicated to ever learn don't appreciate that people use it every day quite normally.I think your views of Esperanto in its spoken context would be more interesting, otherwise you are just nitpicking on bits of the languages. No language is perfect - you were just saying on twitter the other day how inefficient English is and now you are praising it...You criticise the religious zealousness of Esperanto speakers, but all I see is almost religious bashing of Esperanto on your side. Other than traffic, I don't see the point of these rants. Do you want the world to stop speaking Esperanto? I don't get what your mission here is..

  • Just to disentangle simple error of fact from your otherwise valid criticism -1.I am unsure whether, during your brief study of Esperanto, you ran across the suffix -ad ? For all intents and purposes, it functions like an imperfective verb ending. "La knabo laŭiris tiun vojon por eviti sian turmentanton." = the boy took that route so as to avoid his tormentor
    "La knabo laŭiradis tiun vojon ĉiumatene, ĉar tiel eblis admiri muĝantan bovaron." = the boy used to take that route every morning, because that way he could admire the the lowing herd of cows2. The alternate diagraphs for the supersigned characters, known as the X-system and the H- system are considered equally valid, and the latter was actually preferred by Zamenhof. It is true that typing ĉiu/cxiu will return different results on Google (although the corpus of Esperanto texts is large enough that there is never a dearth of example usages, so neither one should interfere with learning). Although it is not a perfect solution, there is an interface for Google ( which amalgamates the search options for both systems, so typing ĉiu will result also in instances of cxiu and chiu . As to the simplicity of typing supersigned characters, I have no difficulties because of the program EK! on my computer, which can be toggled on and off as simply as the keyboards I installed for typing in Italian and Russian, but I understand that not all of the programs available are compatible with, for instance, Macs. Ultimately though, I think that enabling Esperanto characters is a trifle given today's technology, where a single device can type in Cyrillic, and Latin, and Devangari characters - relative to the state of affairs at the time of Esperanto's conception, when it would have been necessary to design a machine adapted specifically for typing in Esperanto. Obviously, there have been many artificial languages created since which have solved the 'problem' of unorthodox orthography, but they have garnered far less support than Esperanto's "meagre" community.3. You must admit that it is only speculation on your part that kiu, kie,kio,kiam etc. are difficult to distinguish in live speech, because you have never conversed in Esperanto with anyone. There is no question that for a beginner who has not yet learned to deconstruct the correlatives and realize that kio, tio, nenio and so on are composed of a regular series of elements, will have difficulty associating them with a precise meaning and will rely on pure memorization initially. But none of this interferes with comprehension between competent speakers - I can, at least, attest to that, since I have spent significant periods of time among Esperanto speakers, even in places where communication is traditionally inhibited for ALL languages, such as discotheques with blaring music.Other than that, I enjoyed your thoughts. On a personal note, I have no qualms regarding Esperanto's lack of standards for vowel reduction and consonant dropping - it certainly helped to improve my diction in Italian, so that I don't commit some of the atrocities common amongst Anglophones struggling to keep the schwa from filtering in when speaking Romance languages.

  • "La knabo laŭiradis tiun vojon ĉiumatene, ĉar tiel eblis admiri LA muĝantan bovaron." , pardon the missing article!

  • Perhaps you don't understand because you don't see my email box. All you see is the latest post on my site, or the latest tweet in my Twitter stream.
    But I see all the ridiculous arguments from zealots who completely mischaracterize my words.
    This post was meant as a serious, objective look at the language and what I consider to be major flaws, and I managed to write more than 1500 words about Esperanto here without attacking anyone who speaks it.
    Now, if you want to know why I have such a problem with Esperantists, come back here in a couple of days and read through all the replies I get. That will be all the evidence anyone needs.

  • *digraphs, not diagraphs - excuse me, Randy, for flooding your posts with corrections to my own responses. I should learn to edit rather than making revisions after the fact!

  • I can appreciate that, but the way you criticise it invites those kinds of e-mails! To be frank, I think you're mixing up cause and effect. People are "religious" because of the constant dissing you give. That would happen with anything. If I said how hairdressers are a useless part of society in my blog, for example, then I'd get a bunch of hair-dressers e-mailing me and commenting me, with lengthy angry explanations why I'm wrong. Could I claim that hairdressers are religious fanatics from that? I wouldn't get the volume of replies you are getting from Esperanto, simply because Esperanto has a louder voice by people who tend to frequent language blogs.If you went on a very critical multiple tweet and blog series about *any* language you'd get the same kind of retorts! I've seen angry comments at people complaining about English many times, with defences of why the language is fantastic.If you stop dissing Esperanto so frequently you'll stop getting all the negativity... all I see here is potential for you to get angrier and angrier with them with more posts like this. I wouldn't have the patience to invite such stress into my life, so I commend you for that!

  • Claiming to eliminate bias, when speaking about Esperanto, and then to give a less than general overview, is not helpful.If English should be the international language, should we then eliminate the letters i and j ? Are not the dots above those letters diacritic marks ? Of course they are.Or if English is to be the international language, perhaps we should eliminate the dot !Consider then this ridiculous argument - in an unbiased way - with regard to Esperanto :)

  • Now, in response to your "rebuttals"...1. Yes, other languages have non-Latin characters. But NO, they DO NOT allow for those characters to be written in half a dozen different ways -- there is one way to write that character. And if it's a digraph, it's not occasionally a completely different digraph, depending on which book you read.2. Perhaps you have not had a problem hearing the difference. I have. You can call this complaint somewhat subjective, but you can't dismiss it.3. Maybe subjective. Doesn't take away from my point.4. Really? So what language do you have experience with that doesn't have perfective/imperfective then? Because I know for fact that it exists in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, German, Lithuanian, Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, and Philipino. The extent of my knowledge beyond those languages isn't enough to comment on grammar, but I'm confident that the majority of world languages (if not all) support this important concept.

  • Who said English should be the international language? Not me!

  • Or, at least write your corrections as replies under the comment they refer to. :)

  • 1. What about the German and Italian examples I mentioned? There isn't only one way to write a character. Mueller = Müller and universita' = università. Also French, soeur = sœur.
    2. Fair enough
    3. Fair enough, but where is the example to prove your point? Without examples this isn't really a serious objective look. It feels like more of a rant... I feel like that one was plucked out of the air rather than being a genuine criticism... If you find a particular thing hard to pronounce, fair enough, but without examples it's hard to take seriously.
    4. See Banjamino's response. You can easily express this concept in Esperanto using a suffix, and many people do when necessary. I find Esperanto's time expressions more flexible than other languages.I'm still not an expert at Hungarian, but from what I can see it doesn't have an imperfect vs perfect. There are two past tenses, but they are definite vs indefinite, which is quite different. All the languages you listed (other than Philipino) are Indo-European languages, and this concept is special to those languages. I'd find it just as logical to have one past tense with an auxiliary word or suffix to distinguish between the forms.I'd imagine Chinese/Japanese speakers might have something to say about a specific imperfect/perfect conjugation? Those languages probably use work arounds the same way Esperanto has a suffix designed for that purpose. That's speculation on my part, but as you said it's subjective. Perfect/imperfect conjugations is not something I'd miss at all and be happy to get rid of in languages myself. In English we distinguish this in the present in a way (I do / I am doing) and yet, most languages don't do this and get by quite alright.

  • First, I think it's dismissive of you to characterize my experience with Esperanto as "brief". That's not helping the discussion.1. Yes, I've found -ad-, -ig-, -iĝ-, all of which seem to have some effect. But it's still rather unclear and poorly defined. And moreover, not well-used.2. I have no difficulties typing the characters because all special characters are easy to make on a Macintosh. But not everyone uses Macintosh, and most people don't want to install additional software just to be able to type. Moreover, where are those characters found on a phone? or a tablet? a typewriter? etc.Still, the biggest point of my complaint about those characters is that results are inconsistent. Even if you can make the characters, that's not enough. You have to know how other people might make them as well.3. I do not have to admit any such thing. Again, you're characterizing my experience as "brief" here, and that's a flat assumption, nothing more. I'm willing to speculate that I've logged more hours of experience with Esperanto than most students after 6 months. Please, try to keep that in mind.Other than that one complain, I appreciate you having a reasonable discussion with me on the topic, rather than an ideological or emotional one. I wish all the responses I receive could be as friendly as yours!

  • So how should we move to a common international language then !Presumably one without diacritic marks ?

  • No, you're right. There are similar problems with those examples. In particular, I've noticed that trailing apostrophe problem in Italian. It makes things hard to Google, and also muddles lexical parsing of a word.Don't make assumptions about my point of view... I'm not saying everyone else is perfect and only Esperanto is flawed. All languages have flaws. And who's to say I won't write about those, too? I've already written similar things about English!Yes definite/indefinite is different, but it is similar. But I'm still willing to bet that it exists. In fact, Google turned up this, among other results.

  • Who declared that to be necessary in the first place?

  • I'm a bit confused now.I thought that the aim of Esperanto was to be a common international language.Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • I think that skepticism towards Esperanto, Brian, doesn't stem from any Anglo-supremacist tendency, so much as an unwillingness to recognize the so-called 'world-language problem' at all. I once attended a seminar held for undergraduate students on the imminent extinction of endangered languages, and a large faction of the audience claimed to be indifferent to language death because they felt that it is a universal principle that languages die and that several majority languages become dominant in each era before ceding the throne to others.

  • Thanks for the link! Good to know - in fact it's a prefix to the word, exactly like Esperanto does with a suffix :P
    Sorry for making assumptions! I just don't think it's as objective as you say. Posts like this are not the best way of going about reducing the number of angry "zealots" in your inbox... But I understand - when I get enough crap from people I feel like writing a post about them being wrong to make it more public, but that's just adding fuel to the fire! Sometimes it's less stressful to just let wrong people be wrong :P

  • True. It's a fine line. One that I only choose to cross because I also happen to have other (still hidden) motives. I'll let on just a tiny bit of the secret... I spent all day yesterday working on some really cool stuff that I think the Esperanto community needs and will really like. I'm not all negative, after all... :)

  • Yes. But you're mischaracterizing my statements as if I were arguing for English to be a universal language.In fact, I don't care if there's any universal language. I don't see a need for it, and I certainly have no interest in arguing for it.

  • Haha, I should have known there was another dimension to this! Keeping the Esperanto traffic up before drawing the curtains on something they'll like? Sounds like fun! Can't wait to see :P

  • In terms of defending endangered languages perhaps the word "apathetic" might be more appropriate.Esperanto is now represented in the United Nations and is using its position to defend endangered languages. Have a look at

  • I have to say that esperanto is not a language that I really like. Actually, I think that esperanto is terrible for motivation, because some esperantists seem to be like : "Well, all what I need is esperanto ! It's the international language ! To speak to my friends in Russia, why should I learn Russian while they know esperanto ? And, people who don't speak esperanto ? Well, that's so easy that they should learn it !". It's a kind of religion : you don't need to speak other languages to communicate, foreigners will learn esperanto.
    Moreover, being a French native speaker, I feel like speaking French with an 'a' or an 'o' or an 'as' and so on when speaking esperanto. And this makes vocabulary difficult to learn. When in Anki I see the French word "jaloux" ( = jealous), it's easy to me to know that the esperanto word for jealous is "ĵalouza", because it's sounds exactly like "jaloux" with an 'a' at the end. But when I need to learn the French word "chaud" ( = hot), I think that the esperanto will be "chaŭda". But it's not : the correct word is "varma", which has nothing to do with "chaud". This is very confusing. That's why I don't like esperanto.
    But here, in your article, your arguments are not really convincing. Letters with special diacritics exists in a lot of languages : it can be accents (French, Spanish, Italian ...), weird letters (Icelandic, Polish ...), characters (Chinese, Japanese ...), or completly different alphabets (Russian, Greek, Arabic ...). The six letters you mention are easier to learn than Russian alphabet imho.
    Question words are similar, but were created in a very logical way, so you can learn them in no time !
    I agree with you about nuances, even if some natural languages may have a really poor vocabulary. The less esperanto have nuances, the easier it becomes.
    I agree with you about the non-evolution of constructed languages, but that doesn't mean their failure. You know, I'm a speaker of toki pona. It's a very easy language : 125 words, ultra-simplistic grammar (more than esperanto's one) ... I took me only a few days to speak it, and I didn't know Anki at this time. It would probably take 1 or 2 days to learn it. But I didn't learn it to speak with one of the few hundreds (I don't really know the real number) speaker of toki pona. I learnt it because it's fun, because it's easy, because it take only a few days. Not to speak with people, or to surf the Internet.

  • I respect your "don't care" position

  • The complaint isn't the special characters. In general, I like special characters - they make sounds easier to symbolize. My problem is that 1) they're non-standard characters, and 2) they're horribly inconsistent.With regard to "failure", the term failure denotes Esperanto's intention to be a "universal language."To the rest, I agree. People too often forego learning real languages because they think they've got the world covered with this "universal language". Of course this problem also happens in English!

  • It's still in the early stages, but I think there's potential. :)

  • As much as I dislike Esperanto and usually agree with you, I think we differ on this post. I dislike it because it doesn't have a land and it's unnatural. I haven't studied the language, but I'm sure there are natural languages out there that have just as many inconveniences as Esperanto. While I agree all of the things above are definitely downfalls, I think they must all work themselves out in some way. Like pronunciation... sure there's no standard pronunciation, but I'm sure there are widely-accepted, natural-sounding pronunciations.I guess what I'm trying to say is that I agree with you on my dislike for the language, but I'm not sure I agree why.

  • The tittle (yes, there is a word for it) above "i" and "j" is, technically, a diacritic mark, but the only language I know of that uses the Latin alphabet that doesn't use the tittle exclusively is Turkish, and most languages with the Latin alphabet use "i" and "j". If you were going to eliminate anything from English it would probably be the "w" sound or the "th" sound. This is completely unrelated, I know, but I just wanted to add that, haha.

  • I often heard fellow Norwegians say that they don't need other languages, because they already know English. But I have never ever heard that kind of statements form a fellow Esperanto speaker. In fact, Esperanto-speakers speaks on average two foreign languages in addition to Esperanto!

  • Where did you receive the information that Esperanto is "unnatural" bearing in mind that it has become a living language ?Those families who speak Esperanto at home, and whose children speak Esperanto as their native language would not agree with you would they !Evidence, rather than prejudice, can be seen here I ask again that an unbiased, and non-prejucicial approach, to Esperanto, should be taken.

  • I think it's pretty ironic for an Esperanto apologist to demand a non-prejudicial approach to Esperanto.And when the entire world knows that Esperanto is a conlang, I think arguing over whether it's "natural" or "unnatural" is pretty laughable. Come on, Brian.

  • I'd like to see a link to research accompanying any claims like that! Just saying that the average Esperantist speaks 2 other languages is quite presumptuous.What's more... if that is true, that really proves that Esperanto is more of a hobby language for linguists -- an easy notch in the polyglot's belt -- than any sort of universal language.

  • I never claimed anywhere in this post that Esperanto was the only language with problems or failures. Try to keep that in mind.Pronunciation problems probably work themselves out... and people probably learn to work around a lot of difficulties. But that doesn't solve glaring problems like the multiple ways of spelling words. What a chaotic mess!

  • More prejudice perhaps ?The entire world knows ? Please define "entire world"Laughable? A bit less bias please.

  • Don't be an asshole Brian. If this is to be a debate, I would really prefer if this could be an honest and constructive debate.To pretend that anyone knows of Esperanto but doesn't know that it's a constructed language is completely disingenuous.

  • Esperanto is not a hobby for children who have grown up using Esperanto as a home or native language.For more evidence please check

  • Absolutely a fair point. But how many of such people are there? I would be willing to bet that there are only a few dozen in the whole world.

  • Thanks for calling me an asshole Randy. I take it as a compliment.I've always thought that when you're losing the argument, then throw insults

  • First: it's not an argument. If it turns into one, I'll just turn off commenting. I don't have time for argument.Second: I simply asked you NOT to be one. If you chose to take offense to that, it's your problem, not mine.

  • Firstly - I'm not arguing Randy - I'm only asking.Secondly - I did explain that I take no offence in being called an arsehole/asshole.My apologies also for using English-English as opposed to American English.

  • Sure, you never claimed that it was the only language with flaws, but you make it sound as though Esperanto is inferior because of its "flaws". You may not have meant it to sound like that, but regardless of how it was meant, it comes off that way.I don't think the arguments about the characters or the lack of nuances are really (for lack of a better word) "legitimate". Tons of languages have strange characters that can't be produced on a mobile phone... most people can work around that somehow and be understood. I also don't understand the argument about databases... I mean, maybe online dictionaries would be an inconvenience, but I imagine it works that way for many other languages, too, and people find a way around it I'm sure. As for the lack of nuance, I don't even know what to say. Every language makes it harder to express some things and easier to express others. I don't think you can really call these things "failures," they're just how Esperanto is different from other languages.This article ( ) sort of talks about that. On an unrelated note, the part of that article about people with amazing spacial awareness... it blows my mind.I guess I dislike the idea of Esperanto more than the actual language. I don't think any language, constructed or natural, can be classified as a failure. People speak it, people communicate with it. No matter how artificial the language and the community are to me or to you, they're accomplishing what a language is intended to accomplish.

  • Regarding the difficulties of the multiple spellings, I think it's presumptuous of you to dismiss the problem given that you've admittedly never studied the language.A simple example would be if you saw the word ĉevalo and you wanted to know what it meant. So you look it up on a dictionary. Only it's not there, because someone entered it as cxevalo. That would be okay if you could count on all words being listed with the x-digraphs, but they're not. Some words are entered with x-digraphs, some with h-digraphs, some with the special characters. It's all very frustrating. And if you look up the same word with different spellings, you occasionally find different definitions!

  • I just don't see it as that big an issue. It happens in tons of languages, like with the Danish/Norwegian/Swedish "å" "æ" and "ø" or the Hungarian "ő" and "ű" or the Icelandic "ð" and "þ" or the Czech "ř". They all present the same issues, are just as hard to type for your average person, and there are different ways to represent them (I don't know about all of them, but definitely some). We don't call this a "failure" of those languages, just an annoyance for those of us not used to it.

  • Hehe, I'd also like to see a link, because I can't remember where I read that!
    I didn't question it for a second tho, because it fits in very well with my own observations.
    It's true that Esperanto is a hobby language for some linguists, not as "an easy notch", but because they where curious of how a constructed language could work at all.
    But it's also true that knowing Esperanto often inspire people to start learning other languages too.

  • You are the best anti-esperantist Brian.
    Every time you make a blog comment I die a little.

  • Although I understand your reservations about the use of supersigns for an international language, I'm puzzled by this idea that you have encountered difficulties in finding words in dictionaries because the lemmas were entered with digraphs. Which online dictionaries are you referring to? The H- and X- systems are limited to the ambit of internet speak, instant messaging and cell-phones - they are work-arounds, makeshift adaptations used only in instances where typing non-Latin characters would be difficult or impossible. All printed material - dictionaries, novels, and magazines - uses the standard Esperanto orthography, and so do most websites, including the online dictionary (the site will convert cx --> ĉ automatically).

  • Yet another insult. Can we please have a rational debate.Even "The Sun" newspaper in today's issue shows no bias against Esperanto ?See

  • I was really hoping you'd end that post by comparing the utility of Esperanto to that of a shit-flavored lollipop, but alas, you did not and yet you still managed (somehow) to make some good points :P
    The short version of what you said above is this: languages have evolved over time to be the way that they are, with the level of complication that they have, FOR A VERY GOOD REASON.The creator of Esperanto (you mentioned his name, I have forgotten and am too lazy to scroll up) had the following thought process: none of these languages are perfect, I'll bet I know better than the billions of people who have helped to create them over thousands of years via real-world trial-and-error, I'll make a better one...scribble scribble......Ta-da! I give you...ESPERANTO!

  • :) all contribution are welcome!

  • Yeah, pretty much. Now, if you could have just worked in the word "hippie", I think you'd have it nailed.

  • Technically, wouldn't J, U and W be "non-Latin" letters, too? They did not appear in the classical Latin alphabet.

  • Most of your objections have been answered years ago at
    I don't see here anything new worth replying.
    Esperanto is a tool (= ilo = Internacia LingvO). The tool works fine for me in lots of situations. I only hope there will be more such situations next year.
    You can help indirectly by downgrading what you call "major flaws" to "soft spots" without consequences for the comprehension.

  • Really?
    The rebuttal for my complaint about the characters is "use Ubuntu"? Come on, man, that's rubbish.The rebuttal for my complaint about a living language is a snarky comment about the definition of a living language? That's asinine.The rebuttal for evolution is to claim that English hasn't evolved in the last 100 years? I'd love for the person who made that ignorant claim to travel 100 years into the past and see how well he's understood!The rest of my points are not addressed there. And frankly, everything written on that site seems to have been written by someone with a grudge against the world. It's more combative than informative. Not to mention hugely biased and often wrong on facts.I wouldn't advise sharing that link with anyone if you want to be taken seriously.

  • Finding out about Esperanto yesterday is news now?

  • I quite agree.Esperanto is tomorrow's news

  • #2 reminds me - did you finally find somebody to talk to or are they all still busy sending you hate mail?

  • Brian, as I said before... if feel insulted, that's your fault. You do not have the right to disqualify anyone's opinion based on the fact that you find it insulting. Or... more likely, because you disagree with it.And with regard to a rational debate, I have yet to see any such thing from you. You are not in a position to judge others on their rationality.

  • QED.

  • After all this time, I've only had ONE Esperantist offer to talk to me on Skype, and that offer only came as a tiny detail in an otherwise very combative series of emails, so I have a hard time taking it seriously.But even if we count that, it's only only one. In spite of all the fanatics and apologists, nobody wants to actually talk to me in Esperanto.And frankly, at this point, I'm not very interested anyway. The bad impression has been made, and deeply. It will be a long time before I can consider getting enthusiastic about Esperanto.

  • You're a strange man in any language.

  • Eu entendi bem tudo o que você escreveu em inglês. Afinal, eu sei a sua língua, mas você sabe a minha? Você sabe se comunicar em português? Você teria a coragem de gastar pelo menos 4 anos em um curso de língua portuguesa?
    Provavelmente não...
    E isso é completamente compreensível.
    Contudo, nós, os não-falantes de inglês, somos "obrigados" a aprender a sua língua durante penosos anos na escola tradicional e depois em vários anos em cursos particulares.
    Para quem é adepto do livre-mercado, um curso total da sua língua sai em média 4000 dólares, depois de 4 longos anos e muito material didático e dicionário comprados. É um bom nicho de mercado e um excelente produtor de empregos, não há dúvidas.
    Porém, no mundo atual, precisamos de velocidade de compreensão, e nem todas as pessoas podem gastar rios de dinheiro aprendendo o seu idioma. O mundo de hoje é global, as pessoas sentem a necessidade de se conectarem umas às outras, como eu estou fazendo com você agora. Isso é uma questão meramente psicológica e é saudável.
    Mas estou fazendo esta conexão usando a minha língua, porque quero saber até onde você consegue entender tudo o que escrevo. Afinal, queira você ou não, você também faz parte do mundo global! Eu o encontrei no Twitter! Veja só que interessante.
    E é justamente nesse ponto em que entra o Esperanto.
    Tudo bem, você deu boas descrições sobre a falha do Esperanto, mas se esqueceu de que no mundo não há só falantes de inglês. E diante dessa necessidade de se comunicar globalmente, o Esperanto é, por enquanto, a melhor ferramenta de comunicação que existe.
    Pode ser que exista outra melhor no futuro? Sem dúvidas que sim! Eu não sou fanático a ponto de dizer que o Esperanto é "a única ferramenta", ou "a melhor de todas". Mas sou consciente em afirmar que neste exato momento ele é, sem dúvidas, o que há de melhor.
    Imagine você fazer uma pessoa falar em Esperanto em 30 dias, como eu mesmo consegui com um aluno. Em 30 dias de aulas, ele já se comunicava com pessoas de vários lugares do planeta, algo impensável para quem fala a sua língua.
    O que aconteceu com esse aluno? Através do Esperanto ele descobriu a vocação profissional e foi estudar Hotelaria. Hoje ele é um profissional que merece respeito em sua área.
    Então, lamento sua atitude de mente fechada em ver os falantes de Esperanto como "fanáticos religiosos", ou "idiotas estranhos".
    Tente ver o lado bom da língua. Ela tem problemas, sim! Mas tem qualidades também!
    Agora, se você defende tanto o não-uso do Esperanto, então tente ler tudo o que lhe escrevi, certo? Depois tenha educação de me escrever usando o português, pois assim mostrará que você é tão ou mais globalizado do que os esperantistas.

  • Laŭ kelkaj statistikoj (mi aludas ĉefe al la esploro de Forster en Britujo, kaj al tiu internacia de Rasic) ŝajnas ke la plejmulto ol esperantistoj estas instruistoj, oficistoj aŭ laboristoj. La lingvistoj ne estas multaj. Se vi irus al iu esperanta-renkontiĝo verŝajne vi surpriziĝus pri la kvanto de scientistoj/matematikistoj/ingenieroj, ktp. kompare kun la malmulto de humanismaj kaj filologiaj profesioj. Eble la scientistoj ŝatas la logikon de la lingvo, kaj lingv-spertuloj malŝatas ĝian (supozitan) artefaritecon.
    Pri la malmulto de homoj kiuj parolas Esperanton gepatrlingve...tio estas sufiĉe evidenta, ĉu ne? :-) Tamen, ili ekzistas, kaj estas (laŭ mi) interesa fenomeno.

  • It takes a special kind of arrogance to come to the web site of a polyglot, spefically written about the fact that he learns a new language fluently every year, and make assumptions! First, not only are you wrong about the my interest in learning Portuguese, but you failed even more by the simple fact that I was able to read and understand almost everything you wrote with only the one month that I spent studying Portuguese over four years ago. I'm quite confident that when I get around to spending a year learning Portuguese, I'll do quite well -- much better than you expect, and in far less than 4 years, and I won't spend anything close to $4000.Frankly, yours is exactly the kind of presumptuous, arrogant, asinine response I've come to expect from self-deluding Esperantists.By the way, you might want to get out a dictionary and look up the words I used in that last sentence, rather than making assumptions and telling people you understand English... since you obviously don't understand it enough to pick up on the single most important detail of my web site.Thanks, and have a nice day.

  • I really don't care if it's popular among scientists or not. You say that as if to suggest that if a scientist or a mathematician or an engineer uses Esperanto, that somehow gives more credibility to the language. Let me assure you, it does not.

  • QUOTE "I wouldn't advise sharing that link with anyone if you want to be taken seriously. " UNQUOTE
    Guess what? Your reaction was very predictable.
    Another general reply to similar criticisms can be found at after I have handled more useful matters than arguing aimlessly with you.Frankly... Yours, hoping you still feel OK with me and the rest of the world...Remuŝ

  • You're the one who's here, on my site, arguing. If you think it's such a waste of time, why are you doing it?

  • sorry... No time right now

  • What's the purpose of this article I mean your problem with espernato has come up in previous posts and as your criticisms are either subjective or non-specific to esperanto what's the purpose?Not an attack Randy I'm merely curious.Also as a side point to one of your comments concerning typing in esperanto "But some people don't have a mac..." Dude "I'm a mac" as well but there's no need to be blind fan boy :P do you honestly think software available on a mac is in all likelihood not going to be available or at least have an equivalent on a pc? Sorry largely irrelevant but it did irk me slightly.

  • Nice try. ;)Saying something is "not an attack" is meaningless when the next thing you do is call me a "blind fan boy".But then again, you obviously aren't privy to the fact that I work, literally every day, on Mac, Windows, and Linux machines. I know precisely what is necessary for setting up special characters on all three.Then again, I'm apparently privy to a lot of information you're not... because it's easy for me to see why posts like this succeed. And why you can probably expect to see more.

  • I really didn't mean that... Actually I'm trying to do a sort of sociological reasearch about Esperanto movement for my thesis, so in these days I'm reading a lot about this kind of things... I just reported something I've read during "my studies", didn't want to suggest anything.

  • Um, Hebrew doesn't have the perfective/imperfective distinction. Actually, it has only four tenses: Past, Present, Future and Imperative. So we only have one past tense, and we do just fine :]

  • I'm not sure that these are points really worth addressing, but I'll add my tuppenceworth if you don't mind. I'm trying to learn Esperanto after failing to learn an embarassing amount of other languages, and I only speak for myself - I can't as yet speak Esperanto, and I've never met anyone who can.Non-standard characters: erm, what standard? Nope, it's not in the code pages of any printer I've ever looked at. Perhaps the people who invented those code pages overlooked Esperanto, rather than the other way round?Important words should not sound alike. Kiu, Kio - Ooo doesn't sound too much like oh? Like I say, I can't speak Esperanto yet, so I'm not qualified to comment on this. What is the author's Esperanto conversational experience?Lack of nuance: Well the stuff I've been trying to read seems to be chock full of it, i.e. just about every book I've tried. Esperanto on the web is as gung-ho as anything else though. So what's the author's Esperanto reading experience?Awkward uncomfortable sounds: Try Dutch, mate. Try Gaelic. Wonderful languages that'll have your wallies shooting across the room.Failure of constructed language: as yet. Who knows what the future holds? And measuring the success of constructed languages is not an established science. They're meant to be easy to pick up by people from lots of different backgrounds all round the world, and the subtelty of describing that little wiggle someone does on the bowling pitch isn't really what they're aiming at.Hope this helps.

  • Disclaimer: I am not an Esperanto speaker/fan.If we're talking about mis-hearing things don't forgot English's horrible 'thirteen/thirty' issue. And that goes for about six other number combinations too. Same in Albanian where the two are 'trembedhete/tredhete' (when said fast it sounds almost identical).Also, in Irish we have no 'have been' tense. I think just about every language has flaws, so I don't understand picking on Esperanto.

  • I might be a little late to this thread but I thought I'd comment anyway. I don't speak Esperanto myself and have no inclination to learn it but I don't agree with part of your criticism, especially that on the tonal similarity of certain words.If you learn Chinese you have to deal with countless homophones and the subtleties of the tones which are very difficult to discern for foreigners. If I enter the Chinese word "ji shi" im my dictionary using pinyin, I get 13 hits and they can mean anything from "in time" to "technical expert".People have to deal with way more tonal ambiguities in other languages than in Esperanto. The way we perceive and differentiate sounds is very subjective and depends on our mother tongue as well.

  • I am sorry about being a little late to post here.I am used to read critics about Esperanto ... by people that spent hours searching for what they believe are negative traits of Esperanto.
    Had they spent 15 - 20 of those hours in learning Esperanto, now they would be happy Esperanto users and would never again think about any of those imagined problems of the language.

  • Dear Randy,
    I'm so sorry you have found nobody to speak with in Esperanto... Sometimes I have the opposite problems... too many skype and facebook chats open when I need to work (not to mention skype calls when I am in the lab with audio enabled on my laptop...). Anyway, as a respectful PhD student, I am a proud support of procrastination, so if you are interested in speaking in Esperanto about its evolution or about politics, culture, everyday life, science, technology, literature or whatever you are interested in, please give me a shout ;-)

  • Hi RandyI think this video will make you laugh :) good luck for italian.

  • Funny

  • Sorry for bringing this up again but what is the point of learning this when you can invest a little more time and learn a true language where you can visit the country of and make so many friends in that area? Also, what's the point only speaking that language, like people do, on the internet? It makes no sense.Secondly, it can never be an international language as it relies too heavily on slavik and romance langauges, from what I've seen. What's the point some one arabic or chinese learning this? It will be just too difficult.Thirdly, it should be made as simple as possible, not have those digraphs on them.

  • I'm with you. Esperanto is mostly useless in my opinion. The same time is much better spent, as you suggest, learning a real language.

  • I don't believe I could ever convince Randy of anything based on how convicted he sounds in this post and the comments, but to anyone else out there:- Esperanto natives number ~1000 (not a few dozen)
    - The statistic about Esperanto speakers speaking on average 2 foreign languages besides Esperanto comes from the book of sociological studies in Esperantio, "La Rondo Familia" which you can get here:

  • I know this is an old thread, but as a lifelong fan of Esperanto (or "Eo"), I thought I'd weigh in on some of the points above.In short, I agree with almost all of them.   The one that I most strongly agree with is the point about correlatives.  Easy to learn, nearly impossible to differentiate.  I've tried to share my love of Eo with English speaking friends, and this is always the "speedbump" we run into.  New speakers - and even veteran speakers -- can hardly tell the difference between "kie" and "kia."  My college linguistics professor at the Univ of Wisconsin went to an Eo congress in the 1990s and suggested some slight "tweaks" - all of which made great sense.  (E.g. swap "kie" for "kive",  the "v" coming from "dove" in Italian I believe . . .and perhaps partially inspired by the Ido "ube", who knows... But all derivatives stay the same as if it were still "kie". . .)   He nearly got his head ripped off. 

  • Excellent comments!Your professor's suggestions sound very practical to me. Still, it's no surprise that they were not well-received... as I have said on many occasions, Esperanto has more in common with a cult than it does with a language.

  • Vi iam poste bedauros, ke vi afishis chi tion. Sed nun ne gravas kial. Evidentighos... Chiaokaze, bon-shancon al via aventuro! Chu vi havas ian planon vojagxi al Orient-Azio?

  • Why should I regret posting this?First, this single post, more than any other, has driven a ton of traffic and attention to my blog.Second, if I mean what I say and I believe that Esperanto has several tragic features which make it poorly designed, why should I regret saying that out loud?Are you suggesting that I will someday see the light and become an Esperanto cultist like the rest? Or are you insinuating that something bad is going to happen to me as a result of posting my thoughts?

  • To Asia? Presently, as far East as I'm interested in going is to the former Soviet states -- I guess that's Central Asia, though.Maybe at some point I'll venture out to Taiwan or Thailand, or maybe the Philippines, but honestly I'm not strongly attracted to the cultures of the Orient.

  • Good job, Randy! Fight those Esperanto pederasts like a charlatan scum they are!

  • Esperanto is by no means perfect, I agree. Many of the points you make are true. Having said that, it is still easier to learn than any other language in the world. As long as there is no easier alternative, esperanto has to be seen as a good solution for the world's language problem.About Esperanto being a religion, I can see where you are coming from, the whole Esperanto movement does come across as ridicolously cultish in many ways. For many of its members, going to Esperanto congresses is all about the comfort of a familiar environment where they can meet old friends, and not about popularizing the language at all.

  • If enough people ever bother to learn esperanto this might be a concern but I don't that will ever be a worry. It was all the rage at a few universities a few years back but is dying out once again.
    English and Spanish are the languages you need now for the world and perhaps in the future to be joined by one from the orient but only time will tell.Arabic is not only too difficult but has too many varieties and the same could be said for Chinese. rather than Mandarin they use English for commerce.It is my belief that English and Spanish will continue as the primary languages of the world simply because it is easier this way than to change and also because so many people already know one or both of them.

  • I think Benny's defending this "language" because he speaks it and it can't be undone anyhow :) I hate Esperanto. I hate when people go to polyglot's sites or Youtube accounts and ask whether they speak it. I'd tried to study it, but then I realized what a waste of time it was. Sure there are traits in it you can find in any other language such as the prefix mal- . Swedish "o- in olycka, ogift" etc. but still no languages uses it so much. It's just an excuse for you to not learn the word by making stupid as* antonyms. And even though anyone can learn it in much less time than a real ironclad language, they could've spent the time learning some language much more useful or interesting. So whether they can't learn a serious language or they just need an easy addition to their polyglot list, these green flag fascists really drive me insane.

  • I'm starting to learn Esperanto because I really think there's a need for a common language in the world that's easy to learn, and was hoping that this would be it. It has a lot of nice ideas behind it but I also found it has some flaws, so I found your blog while looking for what flaws people have found, but I have to say that I only agree with your first two points.1) It's true, there's enough characters in the latin alphabet (ASCII encoding) to not need to use these weird accents. Obviously, ASCII didn't exist when esperanto was invented, so it's not Zamenhoff's fault, but nowadays this should be fixed.2) Also true. Adding some consonants before the last vowel would help.3) I disagree. I haven't learnt enough Esperanto yet but you say that there are ways in Esperanto to express gerunds and participles, so that should be good enough. Is it uncomfortable for you to express gerunds or participles that way? Well, most languages are uncomfortable for non-native speakers. Can it be made easier for the majority? Maybe, no idea, but I think it is impossible to create one language that feels natural for everyone.4) Well, the same applies to this point.5) Esperanto was meant to be a universal language, so you can't just let it evolve naturally because it would evolve in different ways for different areas of the world. In fact, we have so many different languages today, languages that feel comfortable to some but uncomfortable to others, because they just were left free to evolve, so this just can't be done with any language that aims to become the world's language. The only thing that could be done is to analyze all of the world's languages and make choices that feel comfortable to the majority, but probably you and me won't be in that majority.Some points I would add:- Why do "mi" (I), "vi" (You), "li" (He), etc, end with "i", which is the termination for verbs? I think it would make more sense if they ended in "o", the termination for nouns.- The "n" termination to refer to the subject of an action, was added to allow words to have any order. I think it's simpler to let the order of words dictate what is the subject of an action, and it also reduces ambiguity by having only one way (or fewer ways) of expressing one idea.- A world language should use fewer and more differentiated consonants.

  • I know this comment is really old, but I just wanted to say that Swedish and Japanese don't have the tense distinction either. Also in Icelandic and Swedish, even though there's "the usual" way to write ex. þ or ö when you can't, different people do still do it in different ways.

  • Authors odf Ido tried to work on these concerns, but they stumbled on the fifth one too.

  • The difficulty I have with Esperanto is there is no Middle Way. You have to be a crazed proponent of every aspect of the language, or you have to find it ugly and unsatisfactory. The truth is, I reckon Zamenhof did a pretty good job - but he also left too much unclear and introduced too many unnecessary complications right from the start.I enjoy Benny's YouTube videos which end up at a Congress, but I think he misses the point here. Esperanto cannot be compared with German. Esperanto is supposed to be straightforward and not have idiosyncrasies. Me? I find the idiosyncrasies fun at one level, but they impede the language at another. Overcome German's idiosyncrasies and I get to speak Europe's most predominant mother tongue and the language of a global power; what do I get for overcoming Esperanto's?! To compete, Esperanto has to be unbelievably straightforward - and it isn't. Great for a geeky linguist like me, but hopeless for most people (hence the "eternaj komencantoj").I don't agree that Esperanto lacks nuance, nor that it has necessarily failed (it has been far more successful than any other conlang), but the accented letters bug the hell out of me. The standard defence is "Sure, all languages have them". True, but Esperanto simply doesn't need them. The crux of the issue is they create a complication not just in writing, but also in understanding. Most languages do not distinguish between "sh", "ch", "gh" and "jh" [where "h" marks circumflex], so why does Esperanto? The truth is it would be easy to merge all four and spell them "x" (or "j" with "y" introduced for current "j"). In fact, for a true "international language", the entire consonantal inventory should have been simpler from the start, and consonant clusters avoided altogether.There are other irritations. Why do some adverbs randomly not end in -e? What's with the -au words? Why do personal pronouns end with the -i otherwise reserved for the infinitive? These things are inconsistent, pure and simple, and make the language harder than it need be. That's a fact, and Esperantists need to spend less time denying it.Zamenhof's biggest failing, for me, was saying so little about syntax. There is significant variation. Again, the geeky linguist may enjoy that, but it doesn't help the "pracelon" of universal understanding and use.To be clear, I like Esperanto. It is innovative and I like the way it looks on the page (I'm in two minds about how it sounds, if I'm honest). But it has its weak points, and it gets a bit galling when people deny the obvious ones.

  • Um I think you are talking about Filipino (Can't say Tagalog because there are different dialects) Language? But anyway, good points tho.

  • Hi Yearliglot: Even though you say you don't mean to Esperanto-bash, it's going to sound like it is to any Esperantist. I used to be an Esperantist and feel they have some well-earned criticism coming their way. I would agree to most of what you say. It's true that it is "not allowed to happen on its own". There is another language called "Ido" that is more of a streamlined version of the original. I've always thought that the two groups should get together and give the language some depth. And without a culture to back it up, they need all the help they can get. I have a love/hate relationship with the language. They have no one syllable words so it sounds like a never ending teeter-totter. I would only recommend learning it to people who have a difficult time learning languages.
    But the Esperanto crowd and the Ido crowd will not get together. They are stubborn. And if you get involved with Esperantists they want you to be a "samideano" (of the same idea). It really is like a religion; a sort of internationalist, world-citizen mentality. So you aren't encouraged to think as an individual. And the group I was with wouldn't talk about any other subject BUT Esperanto. I'm glad I read your blog.

  • The best way to learn a language, is to apprehend the history and culture of the people that speak it. So it's my first critic against esperanto : it has no historic background and no people. When I travel, I love talking to little people. And none of them has any chance to speak esperanto. That's my second critic. Esperanto is a "soilless" language, no chance to be an official language in the world. There is too many languages that die, why create a new one ?

  • >Further, none of this does a good job of differentiating perfective and imperfective action. In other words, there's no good way to differentiate an action that was done in the past from an action that was ongoing at the point of reference in the past. This is a very basic concept that exists in all languages I have experience with.What about the at/ant suffixes, e.g, "Ĝi okazatis"?> In English, we're accustomed to a lot of this. Just say the word don't to yourself and try to hear the T sound. You can't, because it's not really there. You can't make that sound unless you slow down the word so much that it's almost unnatural to say it.I don't understand what this is talking about; I most definitely here a t in my "don't"s (see Okay, now that I listen to it, it is kind of not obvious when I don't purposeful emphasize the t's, but I still here a t there. I could be inserting it even though it doesn't exist though...

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