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Esperanto in France

Esperanto sticker in Paris

The sign above the door said 鈥淓sp茅ranto,鈥 so I figured we were at the right place. I opened the glass door, and my sister and I stepped from French-speaking Paris into the headquarters of Esperanto France, where the international language Esperanto is the tongue of choice. I greeted the man there with Saluton! and engaged in a dialogue which lasted a good while.

The subject matter was mundane enough鈥擨 asked him about their T-shirts that I had seen on their website, and he pulled them down and we looked through them; and he also showed me their small selection of Esperanto books for sale. But the amazing thing about all this was the simple fact that he and I were able to communicate, and on a much higher level than if I had used my meagre French skills.

Esperanto is a very unique and fascinating phenomenon that has allowed people all over the world to communicate and learn about other cultures. It isn鈥檛 a natural language, having been invented by L. L. Zamenhof in the 19th century, but this means that it is a neutral mediator for all peoples, unlike English.

And I鈥檓 glad I鈥檓 able to participate in it!

My First Esperanto Encounter

Esperanto isn’t a language I talk about much, perhaps because it isn’t very well known among the general populace of the world, and perhaps because I haven’t had much occasion to speak it. But I have been learning it for more than a year now, and a couple of evenings ago I finally got to talk to some real live Esperantists in London.

They were very kind, and patient as I got into the groove of listening to and speaking Esperanto. I could understand better as we went along, and although I sometimes didn’t know a certain word, I was able to carry on a very reasonable conversation despite my occasional grammatical slip-ups.

One thing I found interesting about speaking other languages is how, even if I know the correct words for the language, it takes me a while to accustom myself to using them. For example, when I first arrived in Belgium and started speaking French, I found myself saying s铆 instead of oui, I suppose due to the fact that up to that point, anytime I wasn’t speaking English, I was speaking Spanish. And when I was speaking Esperanto the other night, starting out I kept unintentionally saying oui instead of jes! But if that is the greatest of my troubles, I’m doing pretty well.

To finish up this circuitous blog post, I just want to throw out an advertisement for Esperanto itself. I believe that the fact that I was able to speak it well the other night with so little previous practice shows how easy Esperanto is to learn. Stripped of the irregularities that frequent natural languages, Esperanto is very simple to learn, and once learnt, one can learn other languages more easily. Plus, Esperanto speakers tend to be very nice folks, and they may be found all over the world!