- better than English?



(Artikel aus: Spot on, 14/2000,
28.6.-11.7.2000, p.10-12


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Esperanto - better than English?


Englisch ist die einzige wirkliche Weltsprache. Oder doch nicht? Seit mehr als hundert Jahren fasziniert eine Kunstsprache ihre Anhänger rund um den Globus. Esperanto bevorzugt und benachteiligt niemand, weil es für keinen die Muttersprache ist. Junge Esperanto-Anhänger über ihre Vision einer demokratischen Sprache für alle.

It's not fair. You have to learn English in school. You have to spreak English when you travel. You turn red when you try to order some chips in London. "Excuse me? What did you say?" is the answer you may hear. You have to do all this just because English is not your native language.

Many people from English-speaking countries think they don't have to learn any other languages. They travel wherever they want and speak English - no problem! Almost everybody understands.

Amanda Higley from the US and Rolf and Petra Fantom from Britain think differently. They think it's unfair that everybody else has to speak English. So they have learned another "international" language called Esperanto. It's a mix of lots of different languages. Spot on asked them why this "artificial" language is so important to them.


Rolf and Petra Fantom

are from Newbury, Berkshire, England. Rolf ist 19 and works in a music shop. He wants to study music technology at university. Petra, his sister, is 16 and is in school.



Rolf :

»Saluton de Anglio,
stranga, sovag'a, kaj foje ec' agrabla lando!
Hi from England, a strange, wild, and occasionally pleasant country!«


: Why do you think, it's good to learn Esperanto?

» I was brought up speaking Esperanto, so it has always been a part of me. I use it with may of my friends from other countries. I also use it with my girlfriend, who lives in France. It is important to the rest of the world because it is a language that is not political. It does not come from a specific country. Esperanto is about understanding and exploring other cultures. Young people are often more open to other cultures.«

: Can you compare Esperanto to English?

With English I'm a tourist. With Esperanto I'm an interested friend. Esperanto is not against English. I find that the two languages are equally the most powerful languages in the world - one complements the other. I am lucky to have been brought up with both.

: Are there Esperanto events?

PARTY Rolf and Estelle from France at an Esperanto congress

There are many Esperanto events, especially in Europe, that bring people from 20 or 30 countries together in one big party.

I enjoy it because I am interested in different people. And I also enjoy it because beer is always cheaper than in Britain! But my favourite Esperanto activity is visiting my girlfriend!

   Rolf and Estelle from France at an Esperanto congress

Petra :

Magical -  Petra at the party» Saluton. Bonvenon al la tero!
Hi. Welcome to Earth!«

: Why do you like Esperanto?

»Esperanto lets me travel more easily and cheaply. This means that I can make friends and speak to all the good-looking guys!
I wish more young people spoke Esperanto and learned more about the world. Because then, in 20 years, more people in power would be
I have found Esperanto useful in many places where no one speaks English, like

Sexy - Estrelle and PetraMAGICAL - Petra at the party   

: Do you know other native English speakers who speak Esperanto?

»I only know about 50 people in England who speak Esperanto. Most of them are old. But I have a good friend from Scotland called Duncan. We met at an Esperanto congress in Croatia two years ago. We both speak fluent Esperanto, and could communicate easily. But he once spoke to me in English, and I didn't understand it because of his accent! Believe it or not: a Scottish and an English person can only understand each other when they speak Esperanto!«

   SEXY Estrelle and Petra

: Is Esperanto difficult to learn?

Esperanto is probably the easiest language to learn because it has simple grammar, and the way it is written is phonetic . You can learn to speak it fairly fluently in just a few months.

Amanda Higley :

is 24 and from Sacramento, California. She has been travelling around Europe visiting other Esperantists.

» Koran saluton al vi, kaj gratulon ke vi sukcesis kompreni min en mia malfacila angla lingvo. Espereble vi baldau' lernos Esperanton kaj tiam ni povos komuniki pli facile kaj egale!«

This is Amanda talking to you in Esperanto. If you want to know what she said turn to page 2. (Anmerkung: dort gibt's auch ein nettes Quiz zu Esperanto!)

: When and how did you get interested in Esperanto?

In my third year of college I took a beginner's Esperanto course. The more I learned about the ideals of the language, the more I liked it. And the language worked like a puzzle, logical and neat, which made learning it more fun. After I finished college, I used it to travel around Europe, which I've been doing for the past ten months.

: Is Esperanto important for teens and young people?

Young people have a lot more power to change the world than the rest of society. If all the young people in the world refused to learn English and learned Esperanto instead, the change could happen overnight.

: Why speak Esperanto when you can speak English?


» English is just fine for people who want to see only the surface of a culture. But for those of us who don't like using the language of imperialism to make contacts with the locals, Esperanto is a necessary solution. Esperanto doesn't have an imperialistic history, like English, Spanish and French do, with all of their past colonies. English, now, is the language of American economic domination: the language of Coca Cola, Microsoft, McDonald's and Hollywood. A lot of people across the world don't like America because of its politics. So the language of the Americans is also disliked.«

: Do you have many friends who speak Esperanto?

I have made most of my friends through Esperanto. I have friends from Hungary, Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, England, Argentina, Scotland, Serbia and the Netherlands.

: How has Esperanto changed your life?

Before I got into Esperanto my life was less interesting. My direction in life has totally changed.

The idea

Ludwig Zamenhof invented Esperanto in 1887. He was a young Jewish doctor. He wanted to make an "international language" because there were so many different ethnic groups living in Poland at that time. And there was a lot of mistrust among the different people. So Zamenhof developed a language which was easy to learn. He used elements of many different languages so that no ethnic group would have to learn more new words than another. Today Esperanto would be the best language for the European Union, Esperanto fans say, because it is not the language of one country.

The facts

About two million people from all over the world speak Esperanto (more than 30,000 of them in Germany). There are Esperanto cultural festivals with theatre, dance, music and other arts in Esperanto. There are youth meetings and youth groups. There is also original literature in Esperanto and translated books, too: from the Bible to Karl May to Shakespeare to Asterix. And young Esperantists especially like the Esperanto bands Persone and Amplifiki!

More info:

General information on Esperanto in more than 30 languages,

Online Esperanto course "Esperanto viva",

deutsche esperanto-jugend e.v. - Britta Loose, Irisweg 12, 59439 Holzwickede, tel. (02301) 6020, @:

Rolf, Petra and Amanda spoke to Judi Gilbert
(Spot on, n-ro 14/2000, 28.6.-11.7.2000)

Esperanto quiz

Funny - Asterix in Esperanto Funny </B> - Asterix in Esperanto

Words: 1 to turn red - (im Gesicht) rot anlaufen, erröten 2 chips - (UK) Pommes frites 3 native language - Muttersprache 4 artificial - künstlich, Kunst- 5 Berkshire - Grafschaft westlich von London 6 occasionally - gelegentlich 7 pleasant - erfreulich 8 to be brought up - aufwachsen 9 Esperanto is about - bei Esperanto geht es darum, ... 10 to complement - ergänzen 11 guy - ugs Typ, Junge 12 wise - klug, vernünftig 13 Croatia - Kroatien 14 native speaker - Muttersprachler(-in) 15 fluent - fließend 16 to communicate - sich verständigen 17 phonetic - phonetisch, lautlich 18 Esperantists - Esperantist (Kenner/Anhänger des Esperanto) 19 college - (US) Universität 20 surface - Oberfläche 21 local - Einheimische(-r) 22 economic - wirtschaftlich, ökonomisch 23 domination - Vorherrschaft 24 to get into something - sich auf etwas einlassen, sich mit etwas befassen 25 direction - hier: Ausrichtung 26 to invent - erfinden 27 Jewish - jüdisch 28 ethnic - ethnisch, Volks- 29 Poland - Polen 30 mistrust - Misstrauen 31 to develop - entwickeln