Esperanto is not that easy

Esperanto isn’t that easy


Often I have read complaints that Esperanto is not so easy. It took me only a couple of months to get to speak it. No, I am not a genius … it took me about twenty years to learn to speak English, and much more to be more or less fluent. I will never be confused with a native speaker. However, took me a short time to get an Esperanto fluency as that of other Esperanto speakers.

One of these complaints is that Esperanto is difficult for Chinese, Japanese, or other oriental people. But this opinion is manifested by people that don’t know anybody from Asia who had tried to learn Esperanto.

In the Esperanto magazine from December 2006, there is an article by a Polish professor that went to China to teach Esperanto during 3 months … teaching a two-hour-class once a week.

He begins saying that this experience convinced him that Esperanto isn’t that easy. Chinese people have difficulty to differentiate some consonants, as, for example: L/R/N, T/D, B/P, K/G.

I was 3 weeks in China in July 2004. I didn’t have any difficulty to communicate with Chinese people who spoke Esperanto. I had problems with a group of young people who had studied Esperanto during only 3 months, but I could communicate well with anybody that had learned Esperanto at least during six months.

Listening to China Radio International, I can hear Chinese people mispronouncing those consonants. I heard “karpo” instead “karbo”, “mondo” instead “monto”. But the context didn’t let me confuse one word with the other.

This magazine article takes 3 full pages, including 3 pictures of Chinese girl students.

After taking most of the article to explain the difficulties that Chinese have learning Esperanto, at the end he tells us about one of the students that helped him as a translator.

All the students received Esperanto names, because the teacher couldn’t remember Chinese names. One of them was “Neĝa” (like snow). When classes finished after 3 months, they were invited to a party in a nearby town.

Neĝa akompanis nin kiel interpretistino kaj mirinde plenumis sian taskon. Ŝi, kiel multaj aliaj ĉinoj, ne parolas la anglan lingvon, malgraŭ pluraj jaroj de ĝia lernado.

Neĝa accompanied us to help as translator, and she admirably fulfilled this task. As many other Chinese people, she cannot speak English, in spite of having studied it during many years.

That means that after having studied Esperanto two hours per week during three months, Neĝa was able to translate the conversation from Esperanto to Chinese and from Chinese to Esperanto… This is the same person who after many years of study was not able to speak English…

And after that experience, is it still possible to say that Esperanto is not that easy?

Personally, I have spoken with many Chinese during the Esperanto Convention in Beijing in July 2004, and I didn’t have any communication problems.


Links to other web pages:

1. To learn Esperanto
2. The best way to study
3. What is Esperanto
4. Esperanto isn’t that easy

Updated by Enrique, February  18  2007