I need to be careful with this question, to avoid it becoming too opinion-based:

Given that Eo has origins in Indo-European languages, with both grammatical constructs and vocabulary, it seems to me that it's easy to learn for people with a Western background. With basic competency in German, English, French, and Latin, I can guess the meaning of many words I have not encountered before. And the grammatical structure is also familiar.

How does this work for people with a non-Western background? Do native speakers of Chinese or Korean (or any other non-Western language) find it harder to learn Esperanto? Is the grammatical structure/morphology a problem?

I would be interested what aspects of Eo are hard/easy for such speakers.

  • It's used by the Oomoto faith in Japan, and they revere Zamenhof as a god, so it can't be too difficult... Aug 24, 2016 at 9:21
  • Does this question also apply to Slavic languages? I'm a native Bulgarian speaker, and had I not known (very well) English and a bit of Spanish, I would have had a big problem with the vocabulary of Esperanto. Aug 24, 2016 at 10:00
  • @LyubomirVasilev In principle it applies to any language that is reasonably distinct from Eo. I thought it did contain some Slavic roots, due to Zamenhof's familiarity with Slavic languages. Aug 24, 2016 at 10:28
  • @OliverMason It does contain some Slavic roots but they are very few, I think. Aug 24, 2016 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


Talking of Japanese, this is what it has in common with Esperanto:

  • The basic number system is fairly similar
    十二 (dekdu)
    二十 (dudek)

  • Some demonstrative pronouns have a similar logic
    ここ (ĉi tie)
    そこ (tie)
    どこ (kie)
    こんな (ĉi tia)
    そんな (tia)
    どんな (kia)

  • Esperanto has prefixes and suffixes that correspond to the Japanese ones

Japanese people could have "problems" with the fact root words are taken from Latin or European languages, but deriving words from root works (or understand them) is easier for them. For me, for example, it was not easy to understand the logic behind a word like malsanulejo.
They also need to adapt to the word order, which is SOV in Japanese and (generally) SVO in Esperanto, although an Esperanto sentence is still understandable even when written as SOV (e.g. Mi vin amas).

  • 3
    Not only is SOV understandable, it's also correct (though less common)
    – Max
    Aug 24, 2016 at 10:38
  • 1
    That is correct; usually, the order is SOV, but since there is an accusative postfix, and verbs have their own postfixes, the order could also be VOS, or VSO (e.g. Amas vin mi or Amas mi vin).
    – apaderno
    Aug 24, 2016 at 10:46
  • 4
    As you mention, the word order is free, and I believe the "assumption" that SVO is the preferred order is only an assumption. In fact, your example of „Mi vin amas“ is exactly how Romance languages (Spanish, French) and Slavic (Russian, Bulgarian) work, so native speakers of those langauges are likely to use this construction. Aug 24, 2016 at 10:59

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