Consider the two sentences:

Mi parolas Esperanton.

Mi parolas la anglan.

How come English is used as an adjective, but Esperanto as a noun? Both are languages, so where does this difference come from?

Additionally, is it possible to turn the sentences around?

Mi parolas la esperantan.

Mi parolas Anglon.
  • 1
    It might be worth noting that "Esperanto" wasn't originally intended to become the name of the language (neither in that language or in other languages). Rather, "Dr. Esperanto" was the pseudonym under which Dr. L.L. Zamenhof published the language initially. "esperanto" is the noun to "esperanta" (particip active for "to hope", so ~ "to be hoping"), so it could mean "one who hopes".
    – das-g
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 23:00
  • 1
    So in the beginning, Zamenhof used that to refer to himself, not to language, which he instead called "la internacia lingvo" (the international language). That probably wasn't distinctive enough (because it wasn't and isn't the only "international language"), so I guess people referred to it by the author's name, which later caught on as the name of the language itself.
    – das-g
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


There are other languages like this too, such as Latino, Tokipono etc.

The difference comes from the fact that the names of most languages are derived from root words which have a different meaning, such as a group of people. For example la hispana is short for la hispana lingvo and it effectively means the language of the Spanish people. Esperanto is better known as a language than as a group of people so the root word refers to the language directly and we use a different derivation to name the people (esperantistoj). You could say esperanta lingvo, but it would be a bit redundant like saying porka besto.

Mi parolas Anglon would mean something like “I speak an Englishman” which doesn’t make a lot of sense.


This adjectiveness is taken from various national languages and is short for la angla/franca lingvo. And anglo is Englishman. English and French are adjectives too. As "Esperanto" is a sufficient long name, la esperanta never took hold, besides maybe being a bit more ambiguous (the hoping).

  • 1
    In the new forum by UEA I encountered a name la espa, which I think is quite convenient to use in a casual context, but only among those who are already inside the scene, so to speak. Esperanto is the name to be used in any official context and especially among non-Esperantists. Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 11:30

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