June 14, 2015

Why professional translation services rarely include Esperanto

by brenton

Professional translation services rarely include Esperanto, because, despite the best of intentions, Esperanto has taken on the reputation of an “artificial” language. Unscientific estimates of the number of Esperanto speakers in the world today range from above 20,000 to less than 2 million.

Esperanto has been around for over 125 years. The brainchild of Dr. L. L. Zamenhof, a Polish optometrist, the idea was not to replace someone’s language, rather to serve as a common second language. People from different cultures speaking different languages, Dr. Zamenhof hoped, could use Esperanto as a common means of communication.

Easy to learn

After somewhat of a spotty history where some countries on both ends of the political spectrum (the early USSR and Nazi Germany, for example) even banned or persecuted Esperanto speakers, the movement to adopt Esperanto survives, albeit at a lesser level of advocacy.

Esperanto advocates point out that Esperanto is many times easier to learn than other languages, because:

  • It is phonetic (or, as they would say in Esperanto “fo-net-ik.”) Every letter of its 28-character western alphabet has just one sound. (Compare that with the English spellings and pronunciations of “laughter” and “daughter.”)
  • Pronunciation of Esperanto words are always on the penultimate (next-to-last) syllable.
  • It has a simplified grammar. Its verbs have only six endings and the endings never change. Forget about special endings depending on person and number.
  • Vocabulary building is simpler. For example, Esperanto speakers learn prefixes and suffixes that are standard. One example: “bona” in Esperanto = “good.” Add the prefixes “mal-“ and you have the Esperanto word for “bad,” which is “malbona.”

Today the Universal Esperanto Association (Universala Esperanto-Asocio), headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands, has a staff of nine (not all full time). Their mission, among other social goals, is to “promote the use of the international language Esperanto.”

The United Nations has more than one official language

There are no Esperanto interpreters currently working for the United Nations. Originally, English and French were the “working languages” at the UN. Now the “official languages” are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.  Most UN documents are published in those six official languages.

Keylingo professional translation services are more than just interpretation

So it doesn’t look as if Esperanto will take over as a common language anytime soon. If you’re looking for a professional language translation service for your overseas marketing or technical documentation and you want a provider that focuses on building a personal and professional relationship with you, contact us. We’ll assign a project manager, who will work with you from project inception to completion with the backing of a world-class staff of professional linguists.

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