"Inteligenta Persono Lernas Esperanton Rapide"
If you're the kind of person who enjoys a brain teaser, likes when a crossword comes together, or appreciates a good answer to an intriguing riddle, Esperanto is the language for you. Even if you don't feel like you have much of a talent for languages, you're still likely to find Esperanto easy and fun.
Esperanto, the International Language, was invented in 1887 and is designed to be easier to learn than other languages. For this reason, Esperanto builds words out of smaller words. Linguistics call Esperanto an agglutinative language; many people call it a “Lego” language. For instance, the word for “hospital” is malsanulejo. Look how that word is build up from smaller words:
mal (un) + san (healthy) + ul (person) + ej (place) + o = unhealthy person place = hospital
If you leave out different parts of malsanulejo you'll be able to make more words:
san + ul + ej + o = healthy person place = spa
san + ul + o = healthy person
mal + san + ul + o = unhealthy person = sick person
san + a = healthy
mal + san + a = unhealthy
See how easy it is to make a new word from smaller pieces? Now, let's replace san (health) with another word, riĉ (“rich”, pronounced the same in Esperanto but with a long “i” sound). We'll still keep mal, ul, ej, o and a We can make:
mal (un) + riĉ (rich) + ul (person) + ej (place) + o = unrich person place = poor house
Based on the above, can you figure out the meaning of these Esperanto words?
mal + riĉ + ul + o = ?
riĉ + ul + o = ?
The correct answers are “poor person” and “rich person.” Let's put together a sentence that uses several of these words:
La malinteligenta malsana riĉulo ne vizitis la mansanulejon.
We took mal (un) and added it to inteligenta (intelligent) to make “silly” / “foolish”. The sentence means, “the foolish, sick rich person did not go to the hospital.” With these basic “building blocks” of the language, you can have a vocabulary of hundreds of thousands of words with very little memorization.
There are many more aspects of Esperanto words and grammar that might appeal to you. Take a look at how to learn Esperanto, including some suggestions about the best ways to get started. Fill out a short form and we'll send you more information about Esperanto, including the first lesson of our ten-lesson postal course.
You might also want to learn why Esperanto is an ideal candidate for a universal second language, or how learning a second language can keep your brain healthy, or how Esperanto helps protect language diversity.