Class notes, Jan 26

Reminder: class now starts at 6:10 (instead of 6:00).

What is Esperanto?

In the first class we talked briefly about the different (and sometimes conflicting) ways people think about and use Esperanto. For many people, Esperanto is seen primarily as an egalitarian solution to the language problem. This view was articulated well by Claude Piron, a Swiss psychologist and UN translator:

We also watched a few parts of Esperanto estas…, a documentary made by volunteers from around the world. You can watch the rest of the film (in multiple languages) at YouTube.


  • Read the chapter on the Esperanto alphabet and spend some time practicing the sounds of the language.
  • Sign up for a free account at the excellent learning site, and check out the alphabet page. It has sound files so you can compare your own pronunciation against a model.
  • If you like, explore further chapters of Esperanto estas… online, and/or read the Guardian article for more background on the history and culture of the language.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, start working on chapter 1 of the text!