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5

yaaqov wrote (edited )

I think you should take more seriously the notion that Esperanto's eurocentricity is a problem. First, it is not eurocentric just in its vocabulary, which is entirely derived from just a few major European languages; although u/bdbdb claims that

the grammar and syntax has a more global scale

this just is not true. Its syntax is very similar to that of the romance languages, and where Esperanto manages to be the least European, it is just plain artificial, for instance, in some aspects of its morphology (how words are put together from smaller pieces) which do not bear particular resemblance to any known languages at all. In any case, having such a productive morphological system in the first place is far from the norm world-wide; while a Turkish speaker or a Nahuatl speaker would probably feel pretty comfortable with the stacking of prefixes and suffixes, a speaker of Vietnamese, of Mixtec, of any Chinese language, or even of English would find Esperanto's system more unfamiliar.

Also, the consequences of having an Indo-European sourced vocabulary are not limited to, say, more difficult memorization for people who do not speak a European language natively; Esperanto has many sounds that the majority of languages on Earth do not have, while many European languages have them by chance. For instance, the sound written as ‹ĵ› in Esperanto (IPA [ʒ], which is the ‹j› sound in French, or the sound that ‹s› makes in the English word 'vision') is cross-linguistically quite rare.

We know much more about many more languages now that Zamenhof did. We could do better, by a lot, in terms of making a language that is more-or-less equally easy to learn for everybody, regardless of what languages they know. That being said, I'm deeply pessimistic about the idea of any international auxiliary language catching on at all, and I also question whether that's something we should be sad about in the first place. (Now, the spread of some IAL probably wouldn't be worse than what languages like English, Mandarin, or Spanish are doing to minority languages now, but maybe the idea that we should all speak one language at all is something that we should critique.)

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libereco wrote

I think you should take more seriously the notion that Esperanto's eurocentricity is a problem

But if you started to mix all the languages of the world into one, wouldn't it become a mess and not easy at all? At least think the prefix/suffix system is very good since it requires speakers to learn less words (as well as enabling fluent speakers to make their own words). But that might be because my native language also uses suffixes.

I agree that Esperanto's eurocentrism is an issue but I don't think it's possible to create an easy language that wouldn't have similar problems.

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yaaqov wrote

The key to neutrality wouldn't be to mix the world's languages together; there are far too many, and they differ from each other tremendously. Rather, we could look to evidence from child language acquisition, to creole languages, and other sources, to see what patterns are most learnable and universal and create a grammatical system based on that. The vocabulary items themselves are arbitrary; once a sound system is designed, actual word forms could just be generated by a computer. That way, everybody has the same challenge ahead of them. Now, I could imagine an argument for maintaining so-called ''international scientific vocabulary". But you get the idea.

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bdbdb wrote

Sorry if I made a mistake claiming the grammar had a more global influence. I was going from memory of different esperanto books I had read plus the wiki page.

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yaaqov wrote

Don't apologize! I guess, we shouldn't be too surprised to find some sources about Esperanto (or any given thing) would exaggerate the positive qualities of Esperanto (or that thing). Esperanto's influences and structures are certainly international—on the scale of the European continent.


(By the way, you made this post twice.)

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bdbdb wrote

Sorry if I made a mistake claiming the grammar had a more global influence. I was going from memory of different esperanto books I had read plus the wiki page.