Okay, so what could possibly have driven me to try to learn Esperanto out of all things? The short answer is that I’m not actually trying to learn the blasted thing, it’s just that in order to check out duolingo (more on that in a future post), I did two things: first I took their placement quiz to see how it would grade me in a language in which I am fully fluent already, and then I signed up for a language I had never studied before. Seeing how Esperanto was conceived to be easy to learn, and hasn’t had millions humans mucking up its precious regularity by doing something as unnatural as actually speaking it on a daily basis, it felt like the safest bet. So how’s that little experiment going?
Well, after a couple of weeks I have to say that I’m not particularly impressed.
Yes, the language is regular to a fault, and that is definitely a relief, but its vocabulary is a mishmash that doesn’t make sense no matter how you look at it. Oh, I can usually recognize where each word is coming from, the problem is that –precisely because I know where most of those words originate– I can’t shake the feeling that they don’t belong together. No matter how hard I try, my gut keeps telling me that ‘knabo’ for boy (which comes from the German ‘Knabe’) does not go with ‘pomo’ for apple (which comes from either the French ‘pomme’ or the Latin ‘pomum’); that while ‘trinki’ makes sense for ‘to drink’ from the English perspective, when I try to put it together with ‘mangi’ for ‘to eat’ I get a serious case of indigestion; that ‘viro’ may make sense for ‘man’, as men are supposed to be virile, but when I mix it with a regular way of constructing the feminine, I get that ‘woman’ is ‘virino’, which I guess would make sense as a negative of virile, but that’s not what this is supposed to be, so it just feels wrong.
Oh, and as if that weren’t enough the fact that the accusative of ‘it’ is ‘ĝin’ means that, contrary to what common sense would seem to suggest, ‘Mi trinkas ĝin’ means “I drink it’, not ‘I drink gin’, which is something I’m sorely tempted to do after fifteen minutes of dealing with this nonsense. Someone please hand over the bottle!