Sunday, 24 January 2016

Esperanto to the Rescue!

We often hear words such as 'fantastico', 'perfecto', 'classico'. We know similar sounding English words and hence, can easily arrive at the meaning. But do you know that these words are not just colloquial or slang, they actually come from a language. This language is called Esperanto.

Esperanto is interesting and forward looking in many ways. It happens to be one of the youngest languages in the world. It came into existence in 1887 and is recognised as a constructed international auxiliary language. This means that the language was deliberately designed. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto wanted there to be a politically neutral language which everyone could understand and which would be easy to learn.

He lived during a time when the relations among Russians, Poles, Jews and others were caustic. Europe was divided by language and political turmoil. Esperanto has a lot of words from Spanish, English, French, Greek, Latin and many Slavic tongues as well. It is written in the Latin script, which most of us can read without much trouble. We even have braille versions for texts in Esperanto.

Learning foreign languages is the latest fad

Esperanto is yet to become any country's official or even second official language, but it is recognised by UNESCO as the 32nd language of Europe. Most of Esperanto speakers are from Europe. San Marino even offers a course which is delivered in Esperanto. Most of the speakers learn this language on their own through online material. It is said that about two million people actively speak Esperanto and almost 2000 have been learning this since birth. Isn't that fantastico? :-)

My first interaction with Esperanto was through a cartoon series on Cartoon Network. I would watch roadrunner and the coyote for hours on end and hear the coyote exclaim a lot of words in Esperanto. I used to think he was speaking Spanish, but I found out later (when I actually went to Spain) that Spanish was quite different. I heard this language many times on different shows - mainly on Nickelodeon and Star World and Zee Cafe. A lot of the English sitcoms would regularly pepper the dialogues with Esperanto words.

My friends and I also started sprinkling our conversations with a nice doze of Esperanto. We thought it sounded cool. Besides, it was incredibly easy to form new words. For adjectives, we would only have to append an English adjective with the letter 'o'! Fantastic would become fantastico, drastic, drastico, and so on.

If your resolution this year is to learn a new language, and you are struggling with French, Mandarin or Russian, give Esperanto a shot. You will certainly have learnt an entire language before the year ends! I think the idea is absolutely fantastico! :-) Don't you?

How many languages do you know? Is Esperanto one of them?

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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