Esperanto Primer!


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Esperanto is the world’s easiest language. But not even Esperanto can be learned overnight. To master the language, so you can read, write and speak it easily and correctly, will require from about
one to two hundred hours of study, depending upon your aptitude for language learning. The average person can expect to gain a quite serviceable knowledge of Esperanto–sufficient for traveling in foreign countries, for example, or for ordinary correspondence-by spending an hour a day at it for three or four months. Of course, the use of a good text book and efficient study methods is essential.
On the other hand, it is possible to gain a usable knowledge of the language in far less time-in fact, in just an hour or two! Obviously you will not be fluent in Esperanto in such a short time, but you can learn the fundamentals-including the entire grammar of esperanto-and a few key words; after that you will discover as much as 80% of Esperanto you find in ordinary magazine articles, letters, etc. will be understandable-almost at sight. The words you do not recognize immediately can be looked up in a dictionary or word list, such as the one on page 34 of this book. Having learned something of Esperanto by this short cut method, many students go on to master the language. In former years, when detailed text books were not available, all Esperantists learned by this method . That it is possible to learn the elements of Esperanto so quickly is due to Esperanto’s simple, regular grammar (no exceptions !) and the system of word-building which automatically adds several words to your vocabulary for each new word you learn. Take, for example, the word rapida (rah-PEE -dah). The final a is a label called a “grammatical ending,” which tells us this is a describing word, or ” adjective.” The rest of the word-rapid-is called a “root.” A root cannot stand alone, but must have some grammatical ending added to it before it becomes a word . However it is often from the root alone that we are able to guess the meaning of a word: rapida means “rapid,” or “fast.” Now suppose instead of a we add o to the root. Th is make:; the word a “noun,” or name-word for a person, place, thing, or idea. (rah-PEE-dohl thus means “rapidity,” or ” speed.” We can change the word into a “verb”-action word-with the ending i. Rapidi (rah-PEE-dee) means “to go fast,” “to speed.” The present-tense ending is as : rapidas (rah-PEE-dahss), ” go fast,” “speeds,” “is hurrying,” etc.


Now, you can’t make this question by merely changing the order of the words in the sentence, as in English: Estas via frato en la urbo still means, “your brother is in the city.” Many sentences have an action-word (verb}. a performer of the action (subject) and a receiver of the action (object). Obviously we have to distinguish between the subject and the object somehow. In English we usually do it by mentioning the subject before
the verb and the object after it, but in Esperanto we do it by adding the letter n to the object after the other ending or endings. Mia frato rajdas ‘Cevalon (cheh-VAH-Iohn) means “my brother is riding a horse. “We could also say: eevalon rajdas mia frato and it would still mean the same thing. An adjective which describes an object also has t·o have then ending (called the ” accusative” ending).
Read this: Mia frato helpas min rajdi rapidan cevalon. You can guess helpas (HEL-pahss). Min (meen) is mi plus n, or “me.” It is accusative because it is the object of the verb helpas. Cevalon is the object of the verb rajdi. Rapidan is a describing word belonging to cevalon. . De (deh) is a useful word meaning, ” of,” ” by,” ” belonging to,” etc. Read this: La Frato de mia palro estas mia onklo. Look up, patro (PAH-troh) and onklo (OWN-kloh) if you can’t figure out their meaning. Many new Esperanto words can be made by adding prefixes and suffixes to other words. For example, the prefix mal, added to the beginning of a word, makes its opposite: ma.lrapide (MAHLrah-PEE-deh), “slowly”; malgaja (‘mahi-GUY-yah}. ·’gloomy,” ” sad” ; molhelpas (mahl-HEL- pahss}. “hinders,” etc. Suffixes are added after the root, before , the grammatical ending. For example, the suffix in makes the feminine of the idea in the root: patrino (pah-TREE-no h). ” mother;” fratino (fra h-TEE -no h) “sister”; (ohn-KLEE-noh}. “aunt.” A useful suffix is ig, which means “to cause to do or be”: Mia patro rajdigas (rye-DEE-gahss) min sur la cevtrlo, “my father makes me ride on the horse.” Mia fratino malgajigas (MAHL-guyYEE– gahss) min, “my sister makes me sad ” (or “saddens me” ). suffixes can also be used as though they were roots: Mia patro igas min rajdi sur la Cevalo and mia fraltino igas min malgaja mean the same as the last two sentences. Another useful suffix is iG, which means “to become.” Mia fratino malagajigis (MAHL-guy-YEE-jeess) means “my sister became sad. The suffix eli decreases the size or degree of the idea expressed in the root: varma ·{VAHR-mah}. “warm”; varmeta (vahrMEH-
tah), ” luke-warm.” Urbeto (oor-BEH -toh)-urb plus et plus o” town,” etc. The suffix eg increases the size or degree of the root idea:

varmega (vahr-MEH-gah), hot; urbego (oor-BEH-goh), metropolis. Other prefixes and suffixes are listed in the vocabulary. Sometimes ordinary words are used like prefixes: eniri (ehnEE-ree) is made up of en plus ir (” to go”) plus i, thus ” to go in” or “enter.” Numbers are easy to handle in Esperanto. All you need to know are:
unu (00-noo), one
du (doo), two
tri (tree), three
kvar (kvahr), four
kvin (kveen), five
ses (sehss), six
sep (sehp), seven
ok (oak), eight
nau (now), nine
dek (deck), ten
cent (tsehnt), a hundred
mil (meel), a thousand
Other numbers are made by combinations with dek, cent, or mil; ::!ek-u:~u (deck 00-noo), 11 ; dek-du (deck-doc,) 12; dek-tri (deck tree), 13; etc. Du:fek (DOO-deck), 20; tridek (TREE-deck), 30; etc. Kvardek-sep (KVAHR-deck sehp), 47. Du cent (doo tsehnt), 200. Du mil (doo meel) 2,000 etc. To change ” two to ‘ ‘second ” or ” three” to ” third,” etc. add the adjective ending a : sepa (SEH-pah), seventh, etc. To make nouns, use the noun ending o: unuo (oo-NOO-oh), unit; trio (TREE -oh), trio; dekduo (deck -DOO-•oh), dozen; etc. Getting back to verbs, compound tenses are possible in Esperanto and greatly add to the flex ibility of the language. Present. past, and future participles are used to f’Orm them, as follows: ra.jdanta (ryeDAHN-tah), “riding” ; rajdin~a (rye-DEEN-tah), ” having ridden” ; rajdonta (rye -DOHN-tah), “going to ride.” Note the first letter in the
participle endings anta, inta, onlla., give you the clue as to the t ime-present, past, future-of each, for these same letters begin the simpleverb endings, as, is os. Thus mi estas rajdanta means ” I am riding”; mi estas rajdonta
means ” I am going to ride”; mi esllas ra j.dinta means ” I am having ridden” or, in correct English, “I have ridden.” Other forms: mi estis rajdinla, ” I had ridden;” mi estis rajdanta,
” I was riding”; mi es.tis rajdonta, “I was going to ride.” Also: mi estos rajdinta, “I will have ridden”; mi esllos rajdanta, ” I w i ll be riding”; mi estes rajdonta, ” I will be going to ride.” Anotlier set of endings make what are called ” passive participles”: rajdata (rye-DAH-tah) ” being ridden” ; rajdi;’a (rye-DEE -ta h), ”having been ridden”; rajdota, ” going to be ridden.” A participle can be made a noun by changing its ending to o. Thus rajdanto (rye-DAHN-toh) is ” one who is riding,” that is, “rider.” Rajdin:to (rye -DEEN-toh) is ” one who has ridden,” and rajdonto (rye DOHN-toh) is ” one who is going to ride.”
Participles are also used adverbially with the e ending: Ridi (REE dee), ” to laugh”; ridan:ta (ree-DAHN-tah), ” laughing” ; ridante (reeDAHN-teh), ” laughingly.”


The participles may seem a bit complicated at first, but when you have met them in practice a few times you will quickly catch on to their uses. The little word se (seh); meaning ”if,” often calls for the conditional
form of the verb, which has the ending us. se mi rajdus (RYE-dooss), “if I were to ride,” “if I rode,” etc. Now here is a group of words you should recognize at sight or with the help of a related word (given in parenthesis). With these words and the variety of prefixes, suffixes, and grammatical endings you already know, you can make hundreds of words in Esperanto.

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Hundreds of modern international words are immediately recognizable: radio, telegrafo, lokomotivo, industrio, etc. Incidentally, there is no word for ” a ” or “an” in esperanto. Strato means either ” street” or ” a street” ; respondo means either ” answer” or “an answer” and so on. The accusative ending n has three functions. You al ready know one: to mark the object of a verb. The n is also used to show motion toward or into an object, as: La sinjoro rajdis en Ia urbo, ” the gentleman was riding in the city,” that is, he was inside all the time he was riding. But, la sinjoro rajdis en la urbon, “the gentleman rode into the city,” that is, he was outside and then he rode inside. The third use of the accusative n is when a preposition is omitted from the sentence. Mi iros je sabato means “I will go on Saturday.” The word je (yeh) is an indefinite preposition which means “on” or “at” in the sense of time. (It is also used with other meanings when none of the other prepositions, all of which have quite precise meanings, will fit the need.) Or, the sentence can be made with no preposition at all, but then the accusative ending must be used on sabato: mi iros sabaton (sah-BAH-tohn). As to pronunciation you must by now have caught on to the fact that the letters a e i o and u are pronounced ah, eh, ee, oh, and oo; and that every word is accented on the the next-to-the-last syllable; that most of the other letters are pronounced as in English except c equals ts; ‘C: equals ch; g equals j; j equals y; 1 equals zh; ‘5 equals sh; that g is like g in go and s like s in so. Au is ow; aj is pronounced like I; ej as in they; oj is oy . . Occasionally one finds the letter n; this is a guttural h, like Scottish or German ch, or Spanish j, etc. That’s about all there is to it. Armed with this much knowledge and a dictionary you can read ordinary texts in Esperanto-not fluently, of course, but with minimum difficulty. After a few hours of practice it will become easier, and you will even begin to catch the ” spirit” of ‘the language, as well as its grammatical structure. Eventually the bits and pieces which make up the words will become second nature to you and you will become aware only of the words themselves, as in English or any other language. When that happens-well, then you’ II be an esperantist! Mi deziras al vi multan plezuron kaj bonan sorton.

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