Language of the Week: Esperanto

Here at EuroTalk, we love languages (obviously). And we particularly enjoy discovering fun facts about languages; they’re all so different and each has its own unique character. So we’ve decided to bring back the Language of the Week series. Each week, we’ll choose a new language, and we’re always open to suggestions!

Please do get involved – we love to hear from you, so join in the conversation here on the blog, or on Facebook or Twitter.

This week’s Language of the Week is Esperanto, to celebrate its release as the 128th language in our uTalk app, which we’re very excited about…

Some of you may not have heard of Esperanto, or you may want to learn some more about it; so here are some interesting facts about the world’s most widely spoken constructed language:

  • Dr Zamenhof introduced Esperanto in 1887; his aim was to allow people from many different native languages to communicate with each other through a second shared language, whilst retaining their individual cultural identities.
  • Esperanto’s full name is ‘Doktoro Esperanto’, which translates into ‘one who hopes’ – this reflects the aim of Dr Zamenhof, who wanted this language to create peace and diplomacy across the world.
  • Although the language did not become as popular as Dr Zamenhof predicted, today there are still a large number of people who speak the language. Estimates range from 10,000 fluent speakers to 2 million people who understand quite a lot, and it is spoken all over the world. There are also over 1,000 native speakers of the language:
  • The four main languages that Esperanto’s roots are taken from are Italian, French, German and English. However, Esperanto has no irregular verbs – unlike French, which has over 2,000!
  • J.R.R. Tolkien had a huge interest in Esperanto, stating that people should ‘back Esperanto loyally’. He even had his book The Hobbit translated into Esperanto.
  • Esperanto is believed to be easier to learn than any other language. Here are some simple phrases:
    • Smile! – Ridetu!
    • Have a good day – Bonan tagon
    • Have a cup of tea – Havu tason da teo

Do you know any Esperanto? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to say hello in the comments below, join us on Facebook or tweet us @EuroTalk 🙂


12 thoughts on “Language of the Week: Esperanto”

    • Hi Nicole, thanks for your comment! We’d love to know more about how you use Esperanto in your day-to-day life. And we hope you enjoy the Congress, we can tell that the Esperanto community is really friendly and it must be great to meet everyone!

  1. Gratulon! Congratulations!

    Over recent years I have had guided tours of Berlin, Douala and Milan in this planned language. I have discussed philosophy with a Slovene poet, humour on television with a Bulgarian TV producer. I’ve discussed what life was like in East Berlin before the wall came down and in Armenia when it was a Soviet republic, how to cook perfect spaghetti, the advantages and disadvantages of monarchy, and so on. I recommend it as a very practical way to overcome language barriers.

    I recommend Esperanto to anyone, as a way of making friendly local contacts in other countries, and I urge those who use your new uTalk app to play a full part in the Esperanto speaking community. There is a huge range of events (holidays, study sessions, specialist meetings) held in the language every year. See, for example, a list produced annually in Hungary at

    You can go skiing, take part in a fungus foray, learn book-binding, visit archaeological sites in China, the Brittany coast and so on. People who get to know each other at these events make private arrangements to visit each others’ homes. Instead of a privileged position (me as a native speaker of English and the foreigner struggling to recall English words learned years ago), Esperanto puts us on an even footing.

    • Thanks for your comment, Bill! We’re already discovering how friendly the Esperanto community is, and we hope that uTalk will help more people discover the language and get involved!

  2. I’ve used Esperanto on lots of foreign adventures and I know lots of other people that have too, not least because I run a charity which gives travel grants to under-25s resident in the UK to take part in Esperanto events. There are several reports from people’s adventures on its site.

    Funnily enough, you’ve mentioned Tolkien and his Esperanto links from the thirties. That’s reminded me that I’ve not quite yet finished proofing a book being written by a Tolkien afficionado about his involvement “Before Bilbo Baggins” (the working title) in the British Esperanto Movement 🙂

  3. I first became interested in esperanto when I was ill and needed something to keep my mind busy while I was bedridden. It was shocking how I quickly I could begin to communicate in esperanto. Soon I was tweeting with people around the world.
    I am able to hear news from countries around the world…from people who live there. For instance, a Japanese Esperantist was tweeting about the big tsunami and the Fukishima (?) power plant. I was able to ask questions and share concerns. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that he didn’t speak English.
    Presently I’m reacquainting myself with and improving in, Esperanto. I’ve connected with a very welcoming and social group of Esperantists. It’s a hobby. It’s fun.
    (And it’s reawakened a desire to learn French and Spanish)

  4. Hi Alex,

    There is something wrong in the estimates : “Estimates range from 10,000 to 2 million people, and it is spoken all over the world.”.

    I have always seen it around as “between 100,000 to 2 milion”. I think that the lower bound 10 thousand is too low. And if you think that last month in the 100th Universal Congress at Lille France we were 2,658 in number, it is definitely wrong.

    • Thanks Vasil! By 10,000 we were referring to the estimated number of fluent speakers, but we agree this wasn’t at all clear, so we’ve changed the wording. Thank you for letting us know 🙂


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