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Esperanto, the most important and influential of the so-called artificial languages, was devised in 1887 by Dr. Lazarus Ludwig Zamenhof of Warsaw, Poland. Based on the elements of the foremost Western languages, Esperanto is incomparably easier to master than any national tongue, for its grammar rules are completely consistent, and a relatively small number of basic roots can be expanded into an extensive vocabulary by means of numerous prefixes, suffixes, and infixes. The French Academy of Sciences has called Esperanto "a masterpiece of logic and simplicity."

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All nouns in Esperanto end in -o, adjectives in -a, adverbs in -e, and verb infinitives in -i. Notice the combination varmo (warmth), varma (warm), varme (warmly), and varmi (to warm). The suffix -j is added to nouns to form the plural and also to adjectives when the nouns they modify are plural. The present tense of a verb ends in -as, the past tense in -is, the future in -os, the conditional in -us, and the imperative in -u. No changes are made for person or for number. There is no indefinite article; the one definite article la stands for all numbers and genders.

A few examples of the Esperanto system of word formation will serve to illustrate the ease with which new words may be learned. The infix -in-, for example, indicates the feminine form (frato—brother, fratino—sister; koko rooster, kokino—hen). The infix -eg- indicates intensity (pluvo—rain, pluvego—downpour); the infix -ar- indicates a collection of similar objects (arbo—tree, arbaro—forest); and the infix -er- indicates a unit of a whole (ceno— chain, cenero—link).

If the reader will examine the passage below, he will observe that all but a very few of the words have been adopted from one of the major Western European languages.


Language Family
Family: Artificial


Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.


Writing Sample


Writing Sample

Translation


Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Thc light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!

—Portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew vi.19-23