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Esperanto is a constructed language, created by Doctor Ludovic Lazarus (Ludwik Lejzer) Zamenhof in 1887 as a result of the ten years work. The first published book was “D-ro Esperanto. Lingvo internacia. Antaŭparolo kaj plena lernolibro”, meaning “Dr. Hopeful. International Language. Foreword And Complete Textbook”. Zamenhof's pseudonym Esperanto very soon became the name of the language itself.

Esperanto is intended to serve as a universal international language, the second language (after the parents' language) of every educated person. Most of its vocabulary is made up of Latin, Greek, English, French, German, and some other Indo-European roots. Esperanto has a regular grammar (sixteen rules without exceptions), phonetic alphabet (meaning that all words are pronounced as in written and vice versa), and very logical structure (the same words' ending for the same parts of speech, e.g. -o for nouns, -a for adjectives, etc.). All these features make Esperanto to be more easy-to-learn than the most world's languages, even for non-Europeans.

It's difficult to tell how many speakers of Esperanto there are. Most sources refer to the number of two million speakers worldwide. However it may be quite rough estimation. Every year there're hundreds of new titles (both translated and original) being published in Esperanto along with the music and even films. Some editions may exceed a number of a hundred thousand copies. Also there're great number of Esperanto-newspapers, magazines, and radio-stations broadcasting in Esperanto. Most esperantists (members of Esperanto-community or Esperanto-diaspora) are eager to international and intercultural contacts, many of them travel to conventions to meet their old friends and make new ones, have correspondents in different parts of the world, and quite often are ready to provide to travelling esperantist a housing for some days.

Esperanto is the most successful of all the artificial languages to day. In 1999 Universala Esperanto-Asocio (The Worldwide Esperanto-Association) had members in 119 countries of the world, and the annual Universala Kongreso (World Congress) usually gathers from three to six thousand esperantists.

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Author: Oleg Izyumenko

Updated: 24th of January 2001

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