Frequently Asked Questions of E-USA
1. What is Esperanto?
Esperanto is a language designed to facilitate communication between people of different lands and cultures. It was first published in 1887 by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof (1859-1917), who used the pseudonym 'Dr. Esperanto', meaning 'one who hopes', and this is the name that stuck as the name of the language itself. Unlike national languages, Esperanto allows communication on an equal footing between people, with neither having the usual cultural advantage accruing to a native speaker. Esperanto is also considerably easier to learn than other languages, since its design is far simpler and more regular.
2. How many people speak Esperanto?
The World Almanac, whose researchers actually conducted interviews with speakers, has estimated about two million speakers worldwide; Ethnologue, the database of the respected Summer Institute of Linguistics, proposes the same figure. This puts it numerically on a par with 'minority' languages like Icelandic and Estonian, though it is considerably better distributed over the world than these. Of course, unlike other languages, Esperanto is not the primary language for its speakers, although there are native speakers of Esperanto who learned to speak it (along with the local language) from their parents.
3. How can I learn the language?
We generally recommend David Richardson's Esperanto - Learning and Using the International Language, which E-USA has published (now in its 3rd edition). The Richardson book contains not only a complete basic course, but also an overview of the history of Esperanto and a large selection of annotated reading material.
Teach Yourself Esperanto has been a popular introduction to the language for almost half a century, but is now out of print; E-USA has a small supply of copies still available, but expects to run out sometime in early-to-mid-2006. Another old but good, and very complete, textbook, Step by Step in Esperanto, has recently been reprinted. Still another book recommended by more than one reader is Saluton! by Audrey Childs-Mee. This is entirely in Esperanto, with many pictures. Para los hablantes de Español, recomendamos el libro Nuevo metodo de Esperanto por Fernando de Diego. For the advanced student we can recommend William Auld's Pasxoj al plena posedo (readings, exercises, vocabularies, completely in Esperanto) and David K. Jordan's Being Colloquial in Esperanto. The completist may be interested in Henrik Seppik's La tuta Esperanto, Miroslav Malovec's Gramatiko de Esperanto and Bertil Wennergren's recently published Plena manlibro de Esperanta gramatiko, all of these in Esperanto.
Probably the most useful, and cheapest, two-way dictionary for the beginning student is the EAB Mini-Dictionary. The more advanced student will want a good Esperanto-English dictionary, and we recommend Montagu C. Butler's Esperanto-English Dictionary for this purpose. As far as an English-Esperanto Dictionary is concerned, E-USA has published the Comprehensive English-Esperanto Dictionary which is profoundly useful for Esperanto students and speakers at all levels. Among purely Esperanto dictionaries (with words and definitions completely in Esperanto), the most appropriate for the student is Wouter Pilger's Baza Esperanta Radikaro. You may then graduate to the Plena Vortaro de Esperanto. An individual with ambitions towards translation, writing, and complete fluency may at some point want to put the Plena Ilustrita Vortaro 2005 on his or her shelf.
Textbooks and other works in Esperanto can be purchased from E-USA on-line at the retbutiko. If you are already an E-USA member, remember to indicate this in your order, as members receive a 10% discount on all purchases.
E-USA also offers a ten-lesson free Esperanto course, which may be acquired at E-USA's postal address (PO Box 1129, El Cerrito CA 94530). An on-line version of the ten-lesson course is available for those who prefer e-mail (register at http://pacujo.net/esperanto/course/). A complete Esperanto course may be downloaded from http://www.cursodeesperanto.com.br/en.
4. How can I get in touch with other Esperanto speakers in my area?
E-USA members receive an address list of all members of E-USA; you can use this to contact other Esperanto speakers in your area.
In many cities there are local organizations that provide regular contact among Esperanto speakers. You can find a list of these, including local addresses and, where they exist, organizational home pages, at the local organizations page.
In some areas there are also regional mailing lists for local Esperanto speakers. You can also find these listed at the local organizations page.
5. How can I get in touch with other Esperanto speakers around the world?
One of the regular columns in E-USA's bimonthly bulletin 'Esperanto USA' is 'Leteru', a list of individuals who have requested pen pals; you can contact these, sometimes by ordinary mail, sometimes electronically, sometimes both.
If you intend to travel and want to meet other Esperanto speakers, there are two good resources available to you.
For many years the Universala Esperanto-Asocio (UEA) has maintained a network of delegates in many parts of the world. The network currently numbers around 2000 members in almost 100 countries, and is available to dues-paying members of UEA. Delegates, if contacted in advance, will usually help you find lodgings in their area and will introduce you to the local Esperanto group, if one exists. If you wish to join UEA, E-USA is its U.S. membership agent.
'Pasporta Servo' is a hosting network of Esperanto speakers, primarily but not exclusively intended for younger Esperanto speakers. It currently has some 1200 Esperanto-speaking hosts in more than 80 countries. To take advantage of this network, it is only necessary to purchase the annually published list of hosts and be willing to converse with them in Esperanto. E-USA can provide you with information about how to do this.
Of course there are many online resources, such as newsgroups, mailing lists, blog communities, chatrooms, etc, where you can meet Esperantists from around the world.
6. What is E-USA & what does it do?
Esperanto-USA is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to further education in, and dissemination of information about, the international auxiliary language Esperanto. We have a bookstore with around 1000 titles, ranging from instructional materials to poetry, from cookbooks to philosophy. We also sell T-shirts, pins, pens, postcards and the like. Browse through our on-line catalog here.
E-USA members receive a discount on purchases and a hard copy of the catalog.
Members also receive a newsletter: "Esperanto-USA", a bimonthly bulletin featuring: news of the Esperanto movement in the U.S.A. and abroad; book reviews; articles about Esperanto's history, potential, linguistic theory &c.; lists of pen-pals. The bulletin is partly in Esperanto and partly in English. For youth members, there is a section called "KTP!" written by and for members of USEJ, the U.S. Esperanto youth organization, associated with E-USA.
In addition, members receive an annual address list of E-USA members.
E-USA serves as agent for magazine subscriptions for the most important and popular Esperanto periodicals; this allows members to subscribe without having to pay the sometimes disproportionately high banking charges associated with international payments. E-USA also facilitates international payments through the "Verda Banko" of UEA's giro-accounts.
E-USA also offers a tape-and-workbook-based correspondence course. Write for prices and details.
7. The "NA" in E-USA's old name ELNA means "North America". Did ELNA cover all of North America or just the United States?
The "North America" was included in the name when ELNA's predecessor organization, the Esperanto Association of North America, was founded almost a hundred years ago, and was retained in the name of the current organization for the sake of continuity and to avoid bureaucratic problems involved with changing the name, until it was decided to officially change from ELNA to Esperanto-USA in 2007. Esperanto-USA, though it has a few members in other parts of the continent, represents the United States; there are separate organizations in Canada (Canadian Esperanto Association) and Mexico (Mexican Esperanto Federation) to represent those countries, as well as a few smaller local organizations in Central America.