• LvxferreM
    link
    26
    edit-2
    4 months ago

    Esperanto is perhaps the most successful constructed language of the “batch” that popped up between the 1860s and the 1940s. The text mentions Volapük, but was also Universalglot, Latino sine flexione, Idiom Neutral, plus a bunch of conlangs derived from Esperanto.

    It’s easy to look at those projects nowadays and say “nope! [feature] is the wrong way to go!”; for Esperanto this would be probably

    • rather convoluted phonotactics
    • large consonant set
    • a “masculine is unmarked” approach to derivation (NB: the feminine -in- was there since the start, the masculine -iĉ- is a recent development)
    • the small case system being a bit of the worst of both worlds (less syntactic freedom than a full-fledged case system, still added complexity that one needs to learn)
    • the vowel alternations not working so well in practice

    But Linguistics back then was barely a science, and those guys like Zamenhof were doing things by gut instinct.

    And, more importantly, those conlangs were part of a historical context, where you got a bunch of factors making the intellectuals believe that one language was the solution for everything:

    • Nationalism was already well established as a political meme, creating conflicts; with linguistic identity being often seen as synonymous for national identity.
    • Increased communication across speakers of different languages. Steam locomotives would “kick in” around 1830, but their social impact would be felt later on.
    • War. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the “batch” of conlangs that I mentioned popped up between the Franco-Prussian War and the Second World War.

    Once you “glue” those factors together, the idea of a language not tied to any national identity, for the sake of peace, pops up naturally.

    Specifically in the case of Esperanto, there’s also the fact that Zamenhof was ethnically Jewish. That would make him a direct target of nationalism, and perhaps give him the “insight” to split apart ethnic identity and language (as you have the ethnic identity being associated with Hebrew, not with Zamenhof’s native Yiddish).

    • Vampire [any]
      link
      fedilink
      English
      94 months ago

      Specifically in the case of Esperanto, there’s also the fact that Zamenhof was ethnically Jewish. That would make him a direct target of nationalism

      This is mentioned in Mein Kampf.

      Ctrl+F that book for ‘Esperanto’

      • LvxferreM
        link
        104 months ago

        Found it - in chapter VIII.

        As long as the Jew has not succeeded in mastering other peoples he is forced to speak their language whether he likes it or not. But the moment that the world would become the slave of the Jew it would have to learn some other language (Esperanto, for example) so that by this means the Jew could dominate all the more easily.

        I think that it’s a given that this is fucking stupid, preceded and succeeded by even more inane shit. So, focusing on Esperanto alone:

        Even if Zamenhof wasn’t Jewish, odds are that the Nazi would find a bone to pick against Esperanto. Esperanto’s ideology of peaceful coexistence is in direct conflict with concepts like vital space / Lebensraum and ethnic supremacy, and nationalists in general hate when you look into the world outside your “nation”.

  • csolisr
    link
    fedilink
    74 months ago

    Esperanto would be more solid if it weren’t so Eurocentric. Idolinguo, one of its forks, solved a few of the issues Esperanto had in regards to grammar, but the Eurocentrism is still there.

    • LvxferreM
      link
      7
      edit-2
      4 months ago

      Currently Esperanto is in a weird “double dilemma”:

      • it’s weakly designed, but languages with a better design barely have speakers;
      • it’s spoken by a relatively low amount of people, but the other options are all languages associated with national identities.

      With the Eurocentrism being part of the first dilemma - yes, it could be solved by better design, but every Esperantido (including Ido, that you mentioned) has only a fraction of the L2+ linguistic community behind Esperanto.

      While not everything, I feel like a lot of issues can (and should) be addressed by its linguistic community; I see the -iĉ- masculine suffix as an example of that (addressing the “males are default” social issue that “leaked” into the language).

      • @bionicjoey@lemmy.ca
        link
        fedilink
        74 months ago

        Currently Esperanto is in a weird “double dilemma”:

        • it’s weakly designed, but languages with a better design barely have speakers;
        • it’s spoken by a relatively low amount of people, but the other options are all languages associated with national identities.

        Reminds me of the programmer’s expression: “there are two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about, and the ones nobody uses”

        • LvxferreM
          link
          14 months ago

          Yup. It’s a bit like this, but on two levels - people complaining about natlangs because “nobody”* uses Esperanto, and complaining about Esperanto because “nobody”* uses the other auxiliary conlangs.

          *I mean, proportionally.

      • @senloke@lemmy.blahaj.zone
        link
        fedilink
        13 months ago

        I generally have a problem with it the statement that Esperanto is poorly designed. When considering that it does enough things right. That it uses internationalisms, that it can be sung, that it gives enough expressivity, that it’s mechanical enough to be learnt by it’s grammar, etc.

        It always sounds as if Esperanto is Latin with a thousand of exceptions, designed like french with spoken language does not equal the written text of the language, etc.

        When in fact the opposite is the case. People then point to one of the current language projects, which are supposedly “better” in one dimension or another. That’s just optimizing to some standard of perfect.

        • LvxferreM
          link
          23 months ago

          By “poorly designed” I’m conveying “full of sub-optimal decisions that introduce unnecessary complexity and unintended consequences”. Justin B. Rye has a full rant on that; I’d like to pick specifically the following issues:

          • excessively large consonant set, full of uncommon distinctions like /w/ vs. /v/, /x/ vs. /h/, /ts/ vs. /tʃ/
          • almost no concern for phonotactics
          • over-reliance on vowel alternations to convey morphological distinctions
          • case marking and articles at the same time, requiring you to learn two systems when one could do

          In special, Esperanto as defined in the 16 rules is full of assumptions on how a language works that boil down to “you should know it, because it works like in European sprachbund languages”. And sometimes those assumptions break even for those European languages.

          Later auxiliary constructed languages show a lot of improvements in this regard. And while they do focus often on one or another aspect, as you hinted, often the result is cleaner.

          That it uses internationalisms

          The source of the internationalisms is often a disputed point on itself. It relies for example a lot on Romance and Latin vocab, even when it doesn’t make much sense (e.g. “sango” comes to my mind).

          • @senloke@lemmy.blahaj.zone
            link
            fedilink
            English
            23 months ago

            Justin B. Rye has a full rant on that

            When someone starts with Justin B. Rye as an argument, then I stop listening. This pile of junk he put together just to utterly “destroy” a language and its community is something which should not be paid any credibility as if I listen to someone who spends hours and hours of writing up why vaccines are a bad thing. He is an individual who had bad experiences with Esperanto speakers, had the privilege of having time at his hands and seemingly a degree in linguistics (which I can’t verify) to write his “ranto” up. A piece of junk which is solely intended to piss off and frustrates anyone who did look into Esperanto or even dared to learn it and who happens to be able to read English.

            He would not be the first or the last linguist who shits on Esperanto full length without any actual facts behind the criticism.

            By “poorly designed” I’m conveying “full of sub-optimal decisions that introduce unnecessary complexity and unintended consequences”.

            That’s not “poorly designed”, that’s a misnomer for “not perfect enough”. Perfectionism is the enemy of good. And Esperanto is a working language which is in itself more or less consistent. One could argument that its inventor did not want to create the perfect language, but a working one which is the template for the actual language, which he knew would evolve out of it. Today’s Esperanto is already a different one than the one published in 1887.

            In special, Esperanto as defined in the 16 rules is full of assumptions on how a language works that boil down to “you should know it, because it works like in European sprachbund languages”.

            And? What is that for an argument? It has 16 rules, which are still 16 rules, which are rooted in how other languages do their thing. Then the rest of the booklet which the inventor of the language published was full of exercises to show the implicit rules. It can be argued that the original booklet was a result of brevity and to reduce printing costs, it’s 42 pages damn it. Also some marketing which he used at the time of writing. Still, these rules are useable and give people enough to learn the language.

            One could even argue that the 16 rules are not just 16 of the kind, even when reading them they have sub-parts, are longer than just say “-o marks nouns” or something. Criticizing Esperanto because of them is just an act of ill will. “Look ma! They are not just 16 rules … looolz!” no shit Sherlock!

            TL;DR: I’m calling the claim “poorly designed” as nonsense and ANY re-iteration of it as trolling or dishonest attempt to derail any rational investigation of Esperanto as a language.

            • Lvxferre
              shield
              M
              link
              0
              edit-2
              3 months ago

              I’ll speak first as a moderator of this community. Please refrain from:

              • assuming the intentions of other people. You’re claiming what you cannot reliably know.
              • associating them with anti-vaxxers (or Nazi, or puppy killers etc.) out of nowhere.
              • adopting a defensive tone and excessive snark.*

              I’d also like to encourage you [and everyone else in this comm] to be extremely careful with arguments relying on “who” said something or their “credibility”, as in your first paragraph. It’s simply more conductive to analyse what is said than who is said it.

              *NOTE: I’m cutting you some slack on this because you’re discussing with me, and I personally don’t mind this too much. But do not act like this against other users of this community, OK?

              • @senloke@lemmy.blahaj.zone
                link
                fedilink
                23 months ago

                *NOTE: I’m cutting you some slack on this because you’re discussing with me, and I personally don’t mind this too much. But do not act like this against other users of this community, OK?

                Ah now the authority is speaking. As if it was me who started to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) about Esperanto. By just welcoming the blessed opinions of JBR.

                associating them with anti-vaxxers (or Nazi, or puppy killers etc.) out of nowhere.

                It’s not out of nowhere, people who use the same tactics in argumentation are grouped together. And even when you don’t like it. Then don’t like the opinion I have about your argumentation style. As you already noted about my style of argumentation.

                assuming the intentions of other people. You’re claiming what you cannot reliably know.

                When an argument goes in a certain direction, then there is little left of what the person really is intending. Experience counts more than uncertainty.

                I’d also like to encourage you [and everyone else in this comm] to be extremely careful with arguments relying on “who” said something or their “credibility”, as in your first paragraph. It’s simply more conductive to analyse what is said than who is said it.

                In general I would agree with you there. But in the end let’s face it, the arguments of an architect regarding the construction of buildings weighs more than the arguments of Joe the neighbour regarding house building. In the end you only have logic and “argumentation style” to prove or disprove what you are saying. This in turn means that arguments are forced to follow a certain direction inevitably because of “logic”, which leads to the same conclusions, which leads to echo chambers of people who follow these conclusions.

                If for example you approach road design by seeing that all the cars are blocking them, so you by the force of logic you widen the road, the problem still exist, you widen the road more. Based on the experience of people who did research into road construction, infrastructure building you would have known that using trains, bike lanes, smaller roads and more clever design of cities would really solve the problem. Sheer basic logic does not solve shit.

                And so it is in attempting with disproving or proving JBR.

                adopting a defensive tone and excessive snark.*

                Cute, I’m only in normal conditions and this is already considered “excessive snark”. Adopting a defensive tone is what I did, because I think you are spreading FUD about Esperanto.

                TL;DR: I still call your claim that Esperanto is poorly designed “nonsense”.

            • LvxferreM
              link
              2
              edit-2
              3 months ago

              Now, speaking as a user discussing with another user:

              First off. You’re clearly assuming that I’m arguing against Esperanto usage, when I’m mostly talking about its design demerits, and how they descriptively impact its usage. Specially Esperanto as designed by Zamenhof back then; that, as yourself highlighted, is not the “same” Esperanto as now, and being promoted by plenty Esperantists under the incorrect claim that “you only need to learn 16 rules! It’s so easy~” [more on that later].

              And keep in mind that what I’m saying comes from the PoV of a conlanger, not the PoV of someone soapboxing which language people should use. When it comes to prescriptions of which lingua franca people should use, I’m simply lukewarm towards Esperanto.

              With that out of the way: some of the claims in JBR’s page are garbage, but some are actually sensible, even if you dislike them. (And some are as outdated as its layout.) It’s still good discussion material about the language, regardless on how it affects its community.

              That’s not “poorly designed”, that’s a misnomer for “not perfect enough”. Perfectionism is the enemy of good. And Esperanto is a working language which is in itself more or less consistent. [NB: emphasis in the original]

              The difference between “poorly designed” and “not perfect enough” is solely where you arbitrarily place the quality threshold. And the exact same argument that you’re using can be used against you:

              • A natural language, by setting the bar lower. “Perfectionism is the enemy of the good. [Mandarin | English | French | Latin | Greek | etc.] is a working language which is in itself more or less consistent. Why bother with Esperanto? Because natural languages are «not perfect enough»?”
              • Another conlang over Esperanto, by setting the bar higher. “[Ido | another Esperantido | Toki Pona | Lojban] is a working language which is in itself more or less consistent, while Esperanto itself is just poorly designed”.

              So, where do you put that bar? And more importantly, why you put it there instead of higher or lower?

              One could argument that its inventor did not want to create the perfect language, but a working one which is the template for the actual language, which he knew would evolve out of it. Today’s Esperanto is already a different one than the one published in 1887.

              I’m not going to assume what Zamenhof “wanted”, regarding design, but the idea is rather curious. Contemporary Esperanto does show some developments, as if the community was addressing design issues from its original design. From the top of my head: /x/ seems to be losing phonemic status.

              And? What is that for an argument?

              It is an argument against how Esperanto was designed. It is not an argument against (or for) its usage, although it’s one of the factors behind it. Drop down the defensive tone and you’ll see.

              It has 16 rules, which are still 16 rules, which are rooted in how other languages do their thing.

              It has a bazillion rules, as any speakable language. Complexity is intrinsic to human linguistic communication; the very fact that Esperanto works shows that it does not have “just 16 rules”. Except that those rules are not usually acknowledged by the linguistic community, even if they were the ones making them.

              And which features Zamenhof took from those other languages can be criticised. For example: the article + case mark combo. It’s unnecessary - you need to know two systems to be able to proficiently use the language, when one would do.

              Then the rest of the booklet which the inventor of the language published was full of exercises to show the implicit rules.

              Let’s call wine “wine” and bread “bread”: implicit = hidden.

              Still, these rules are useable and give people enough to learn the language.

              Esperanto as designed back then was not useable, without plopping ad hoc rules borrowed from the community’s native languages. And it’s currently useable because of those rules being incorporated into the language, even if implicit = hidden.

              One could even argue that the 16 rules are not just 16 of the kind, even when reading them they have sub-parts, are longer than just say “-o marks nouns” or something. Criticizing Esperanto because of them is just an act of ill will. “Look ma! They are not just 16 rules … looolz!” no shit Sherlock!

              And I could argue that orange is blue or that potatoes grow on trees.

              And, again, I’m criticising Esperanto’s design.

              TL;DR: I’m calling the claim “poorly designed” as nonsense and ANY re-iteration of it as trolling or dishonest attempt to derail any rational investigation of Esperanto as a language.

              And curiously enough, in no moment you actually addressed the claims. Instead you:

              • threw some argumenta ad hominem - attacking JBR instead of either his claims (or mine - refer to the rest of the thread);
              • minced words in a way that fakes some qualitative distinction between “poorly designed” and “not perfect enough” (the diff is quantitative, and arbitrary)
              • throwing what reads like a tantrum. Or worse, soapboxing - rather fitting, since the activity in your profile boils down to “jump at any opportunity to talk about Esperanto, assume that the world is against it, and defend it from them”.
              • claiming that I’m trolling or being dishonest.

              Rational investigation requires criticism, like it or not.

              (By the way. I believe that a lot of the design issues that I mentioned will be eventually addressed within the language, not by ditching Esperanto but by slowly changing it, in a mix of natural evolution and co-designing.)

              • @senloke@lemmy.blahaj.zone
                link
                fedilink
                13 months ago

                Rational investigation requires criticism, like it or not.

                Rational investigation requires criticism, like it or not. Yes it does. But your response and your whole argumentation is not criticism but trolling, just designed to provoke an emotional response which you can then tear down and enjoying while doing it. Like what you did earlier and also on my reply.

                As I wrote disproving JBR or making any response to him is like responding to an anti-vaxxer. I don’t have the damn time, nor could all my responses be trusted, because I’m not a linguist, so who cares anyway? Musing all day about the details of where JBR was right and where he talked as an English speaker out of his ass, just to piss off more people – brings what exactly? Those people who already made up their opinions will still stick to them, those who will learn Esperanto anyway will learn it anyway. The damage has already been done, because those who are undecided will not learn it or even consider it a language at all. WELL DONE!

                And reactions then like yours always boils down to the “bad Esperantist”, who reacts pissed off to shitty ideas, shitty opinions thrown around by people who should shut their mouths for good.

                minced words to fake some qualitative distinction between “poorly designed” and “not perfect enough” (the diff is quantitative, and arbitrary)

                No it’s not. A poorly designed pocket knife for example will hurt you, a not perfect knife is just lacking a feature which you would like, but which does not harm you.

                First off. You’re clearly assuming that I’m arguing against Esperanto usage, when I’m mostly talking about its design demerits.

                I really tried to not assume that, but the way you argumented, how you twisted my response all lead me to the conclusion that you are argumenting against the usage of Esperanto at all as most people who follow the exact argumentation chain do. Using JBR as valid source would be one point in that chain. Like as I quote some news article of Russia Today to prove that the war of Russia against the Ukraine is right, because Ukraine is full of national socialists.

                • Lvxferre
                  shield
                  M
                  link
                  03 months ago

                  [Speaking as a moderator]

                  just designed to provoke an emotional response which you can then tear down and enjoying while doing it.

                  You’re assuming again the intentions of another person.

                  As I wrote disproving JBR or making any response to him is like responding to an anti-vaxxer.

                  You’re again drawing an association of someone with anti-vaxxers, without having grounds to do so.

                  And reactions then like yours always boils down to the “bad Esperantist”

                  Now you’re simply making shit up.

                  You’re insistently behaving in ways that you were warned against. And even without that, your overall behaviour across this thread has been uncivil and irrationally defensive right off the start; I cut you some slack because it was towards me, but it’s clear by your profile that you’re expected to behave the same way towards other users in this community in the future, and also to use the community to soapbox if allowed.

                  As such, you’ve been deemed unfit for this community, and hereby banned from it, accordingly to the Lemmy’s code of conduct that this instance follows.

                  I’ll keep your comments visible for the sake of transparency.

    • Jakylla
      link
      fedilink
      44 months ago

      Compared to current Global language that is English, that is still a better option according to this argument

  • Fishroot [none/use name]
    link
    fedilink
    English
    34 months ago

    Esperanto does have a lot of influence in East Asia. It partly inspired a generation of socialists and the creation of PinYin

  • @Fedegenerate@lemmynsfw.com
    link
    fedilink
    English
    2
    edit-2
    4 months ago

    Se vi estas Eŭropulo, ĝi estas tre facile lerni. Mi estas eterne komencanto, do mia skribo ne estas bone, sed mi povas leĝi ĝin.

    As a native English speaker “-n” trips me up a lot and in general remembering roots and affixes ruin my output. But, input is solid “leĝ-” looks and sounds like “legible” so “leĝi” is “to read”, most of the roots are parsable like this.

    • @bionicjoey@lemmy.ca
      link
      fedilink
      34 months ago

      I’m surprised I can basically understand >90% of this even though I’ve never seen any Esperanto in my life

    • @InfiniteFlow@lemmy.world
      link
      fedilink
      34 months ago

      Eĉ se vi ne estas. Kvankam la lingvo estis desegnita base de aliaj eŭropaj lingvoj, ĝi estas universale facile lernebla. Fakte, estas granda komunumo de esperantistoj en Ĉinio, Koreio, ktp. Nu, la fekan akuzativon ni vere ne bezonis…