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The reason that I asked this question was because I had recently heard someone say that Esperanto was far too Western to be international. This bugged me a lot. Apparently, it actually is pretty Western, but I wanted to know what people thought of this. The responses on

Twitter: 'yeah, I know, mate, it's rough. But, I mean, what can anyone do, right?'

Discord: 'dude, the vocab is the problem imo. It's too European'

Friends: 'lol we should just change the word 'scii' tbh that's the real trouble'

I'm curious as to what other Esperanto speakers think of this. I personally think that some improvements could be made, but that they would be both subtle and would not so much be in the form of a reform so much as that they would become more and more popular over time, not dictated.

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  • Where do you stop? The grammar is also very Indoeuropean. And all the letters! Should we gradually adopt ideograms instead? Esperanto is what it is, and changing it for no good reason will not do anything to promote it. Mar 29 '17 at 8:51
  • You would have gotten a different reaction with a question like "How do you respond to people who say that Esperanto gives an unfair advantage to people who speak a European language?". Mar 30 '17 at 18:44
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Questions which include expressions like "too many" are generally unanswerable unless it's clarified "too many for what?" Questions about reforms are also generally not productive. In my opinion, they are not actually questions about Esperanto (but about whatever new language may result) and so might even be off topic.

My short answer to this is that there are 6000 languages in the world. We could create a language will 6000 base words, and one word taken from each language. In that way the language would be "fair" for everybody. It wouldn't really matter to me, though, whether the language had one word from my native language or zero. This scheme would benefit nobody.

Esperanto is a western language. There's no away around that. This doesn't change the fact that it is much easier for non-western people than any of the other western languages.

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  • It's not clear. Too many European words for non-Europeans to do what? As for whether we assign words by number of languages of number of people or any other means - see the second sentence of my answer. Mar 29 '17 at 15:21
  • Can you quantify "many"? How many people think this is a major flaw? Mar 29 '17 at 15:49
  • >Could you please clarify these points further?< No thanks. I've voted to close this question as "not about Esperanto" since it's about the best way to reform Esperanto. Mar 29 '17 at 16:01
  • Sorry, that's not an answer. You make a claim that this is something many people view as a major flaw, and then don't substantiate that claim. Not everybody who speaks a non-Western language will automatically have problems with vocabulary. Mar 29 '17 at 16:20
  • It is part of the design of Esperanto that it is open to the addition of new words. These are added by the users and only ratified by the Akademio after enough time has elapsed to show that they are really getting to be part of the living language. In short, vocabulary expansion is "bottom-up" not "top-down". If a lot of Esperanto speakers feel a need for more non-European words they will start using them and they will find their way into dictionaries etc. See, for example, haŝio, which was adopted despite the already available manĝobastoneto.
    – Todd
    Mar 30 '17 at 17:53
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I don't think so. Esperanto was designed with a certain goal in mind. It should be easily learnable and it should support internationally known vocabulary.

The learnability part is handled by the rich derivational system that Esperanto offers and that minimises (in some kind) the number of roots to be memorised.

Internationally known vocabulary means of course that the roots are mainly taken from Latin (and Romance languages), Greek, and Germanic languages. Those are the roots used in the terminology of medicine, science and technology. Those root are used really world-wide.

I think that Esperanto does pretty well on its design goals. When people disagree, they tend to disagree towards the other side: The vocabulary should be even more of the Latin/Romance type, including irregularites in derivation inherited from Latin (Ido and IALA Interlingua go this way).

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Reform is a difficult thing. Considering that Esperanto is the only constructed language to be given to its speakers instead of being owned by the constructor (that I know of), it would be a very difficult thing to do politically because there are so many organizations and speakers to get buy-in from. I think the American expression would apply here- "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I cannot even see Esperanto be even close to being broken. It is such a flexible language with so much expressive capacity, that I wouldn't want to reform anything, though there are things I wish were different in the language.

Anyway, if you look at the history of constructed languages designed to be universal, you will see others have had the same criticism of Esperanto and created whole new languages, so the suggestion of changing the language is rather problematic and is kind of a sore spot for many who speak Esperanto, so I would tread rather carefully in making such a suggestion because Esperantujo has lost members as a result of such a proposal.

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