Introductory Post

If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it. – WordPress.com, upon making my blog

Okay, WordPress, I’ll give it a go.

I work under the alias Torstein Stonecypher, so that is what I shall introduce myself to you as. While I like to consider myself a polymath, I have had a passion for words all of my life, in the many ways that they enchant us humans, namely through languages and literature. Words are magick, and I am a sorcerer.

You will undoubtedly learn more about me—my history, my quirks, my hopes and fears, just like in any other relationship—as we move along, but for the sake of introducing myself, I will tell you this:

  • I will become a professional writer. I will have poetry published and be a novelist for a living. It is what I have desired in life more than anything, for as long as I can remember, and this blog is the first step towards achieving that dream.
  • Despite being from the southern-midwestern United States, I use Oxford English. Not only will this become quickly apparent, but I’ll explain as I go along.
  • I’m dyslexic! It’s ironic that somebody like me would get their letters and numbers confused with each other, and constantly have to spell check in several languages, but it’s true.
  • I am a polyglot, and somewhat always have been. Again, you’ll learn more as I go along, but at the time of writing this post (late August of 2017), I speak Spanish (B1), French (C1-C2), German (A2), Swedish (A2), and Esperanto (B1). I have studied many others, but I would not consider myself acquired with enough basic knowledge of them to speak them at any level.
  • I am a pagan, and I care quite a lot about pagan things. Perhaps I’ll eventually have a blog about such things, but for now, this blog is my art. I mentioned this because it is a huge part of who I am, but also because of the influence that it has on what I read and how I write.
  • I have an amazing life partner. We share a home, we have three fur children, and without him, I highly doubt that I ever would have had the nerve to put myself on the Internet. I would like to take this moment to dedicate whatever I do here, and in my writing, to him. I hope that all of my readers are fortunate enough to encounter a soul like his to have in their lives.

Now you may be wondering, why did I name my blog Night of the Living Dead Poet Society? Isn’t that kind of long and hard to remember? Yes, it is, but it has a reason—I panicked upon making a WordPress and just kind of spewed whatever clever nonsense came to me at that moment. I suppose because I like witty things and lots of words (not to mention Night of the Living Dead and Dead Poet Society), the title just kind of spilled out of me. You know what, though? I really like it. If you like it to, then good on you! By all means, make yourself a member of this ‘exclusive’ little organisation we’ve got here. Keep in cahoots with me, and I’ll make you an honorary Living Dead Poet.

Great, now let’s make a definition of it.

Living Dead Poet (prop. n.) : 1) an individual of no appropriately mentionable particularities other than that they enjoy the written word, be it reading or writing such; 2) a language enthusiast (e.g. a polyglot, a philologist) that can appreciate literature; 3) a person that writes poems, had at some point died—typically metaphorically, through puberty, major life change, &c.—and has been renewed to life, though not necessarily reborn; 4) an applicant that subscribes to at least one of the previous three definitions, and also subscribes to the Night of the Living Dead Poet Society blog, written by the eventual-novelist Torstein Stonecypher.

Well, there you have it. I also drink a startling amount of coffee/tea throughout the day, I’m a Capricorn with an Aquarius rising, and I’ve never much cared for the 1980s.

Why We Need to Talk About Endangered Languages

language

I’ll do my best to keep this somewhat brief.

When we think of all of the horrific things that humans are pushing to extinction, plants and animals are typically the first thing that comes to mind; then natural resources and the ozone layer; and then common sense and compassion for what we do to our world.

Not a great starter, but for linguists, geographers, anthropologists, historians, humanitarians, and social scientists, it gets worse, because as we live and breathe on this fascinating planet, about one language dies every two weeks. I assume that you speak English, since you’re reading this. Did you know that of the ~7000 languages spoken in the world, only eight are spoken by about 40.5% of the world’s ~6-7 billion people? Indeed, English is one of them. Congratulations, are you within the secure majority.

It’s thought that seventy-seven of these languages are spoken by +78% of the world, and that about 94% of the world’s languages are spoken by only 6% of the world’s population. In other words, more than half the world’s population speaks just twenty languages.

I shamelessly paraphrased the aforementioned information from the sixth edition of Language, Culture, and Society: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology (Salzmann, Stanlaw, Adachi), an amazing text book that you simply must read if you are as passionate about linguistics, anthropology, cognitive science, sociology, or biology as I hope that you are.

While we may have learnt about extinct languages at some point in our lives, i.e. Sumerian, Gothic, and most Celtic languages, not all of us may have learnt about the plight of language endangerment. Not too long ago, the last native speaker of the Cornish language died; because there were no more native speakers of Cornish, it was classified as an extinct language. After the language became extinct, England tried to revive the language by having street signs made in both English and Cornish, and publicly supported the teaching of it to the younger generation.

That’s all well and good, but why wait until the language is gone to try and save it? The exact same thing happened in North America, when the Jehovah-fueled settlers conquered and expanded throughout the natives’ lands. The missionary schools forced the teaching and use of English upon all students, Caucasian and Native American alike. If the Native Americans were to speak their mother tongue, even with their parents, they would be gravely punished. Towards the latter half of the twentieth century, however, the tables have turned, and the US government is strongly encouraging the revival and teaching of the desperately suffering native languages with the Native American Languages Act of 1990.

In this regard, Native American languages like Navajo are somewhat more secure, because their tribe has a larger population in comparison to the non-Natives that live in that part of the country; they have less pressure than the Blackfoot tribe to speak the English language that surrounds them so tightly. The Cherokee language also fares better than most, partially because it has an alphabet specifically designed for the language. Having written word is paramount in keeping records of a language, and thanks to Sequoyah, Cherokee’s verse is more secure. There is even a Cherokee keyboard on many smart devices!

However, teaching the younger generation the language of their people can only do so much. If there is not heavy reinforcement and reason to learn the language, most learners do not see the point in carrying it on. There is a dialect of French that is native to the state of Missouri; it’s called Paw-Paw French, and even though I’m from the Missouri Ozarks, I had never even heard of this language until it became news in 2014 that there were fewer than thirty speakers of the language left. Firstly, I would love to learn Paw-Paw French; it basically combines two languages that I already know and love, and I would be a part of the living effort to save it. Secondly, why would we wait until there were thirty elderly speakers left before this made headlines? Why aren’t French students in Missouri taught about Paw-Paw French? That would be an extremely convenient way to preserve it!

I watched several interviews when I learnt about Paw-Paw French, mostly with native speakers talking about the exact same issue and telling the exact same stories: They would hear their parents and grandparents use it to talk to each other, but this act of speaking around non-Créoles was somehow perceived as rude, and eventually, lowly. All it took was the English-speaking majority to make the Paw-Paw speakers feel bad enough about themselves, their language, and the culture associated with it to kill of the entire language. Thusly, as the generations went on, it was pooh-poohed to speak Paw-Paw French, and the youngsters eventually quit learning it.

This type of social confrontation is nothing new to our world. Slave owners would break up tribes so that no one slave could speak to another in their native tongue (which, in most cases, ended up in the creation of a new language, like Papiamento); the pressure in the world to learn either English or Chinese, just because so many people speak it; the influence of several languages forcing their place into another in order to modify it for the foreign language’s gain (this is what Norse and Latin did to Anglo-Saxon and Old English to make English). It’s nothing new, but it is happening at an equally alarming rate as the extinction of most everything else on the planet.

I’m particularly biased towards the lesser-known languages in my desire to learn them; for example, I intend on learning Irish, and would like to learn at least one other of its Celtic relatives, and next month, I begin Frisian courses. However, as painful as it is to admit, endangered languages are frequently much more difficult to learn because we do not have many readily available resources to learn them.

Thankfully, the Endangered Languages Project, which is one of many organisations aimed at the preservation of world languages, has several free resources online, and a lot of compelling information that might get at the heart of any polyglot.

The importance of preserving endangered languages is usually automatically downplayed by the public majority, because why would we put our dwindling care of the world into a language? Why learn something that nobody else knows, or why care about something that isn’t a large animal that my child may never get to see in a zoo?

Because, you nincompoop, languages are living histories! They are so vitally important to culture, and hold so much of our societal evolution as a race, that it is impossible to know everything that we could know without them. Languages are personalities, and the world is full of them, and they are all interesting and intricate in their own way. They reflect the lives of the peoples that speak them, and we want to keep those peoples alive. Diversity is what keeps our global culture alive, and languages contribute too much to human knowledge to be ignored.

I could go on further about this subject, but for the sake of not wanting to bore you with a novel, I strongly encourage that you learn about the endangerment of languages. Learn about ways to keep them alive, just as you would the snow leopard or the Great Barrier Reef; also, like you would with other precious things, do your part to preserve them. Learn them, if you want! Donate to UNESCO. Speak to natives about their language. Maybe you’ll become enchanted with a hidden corner of the world that you knew nothing about.

Do the world, and yourself, a favour: adopt an endangered language.

Book Summary: The Professor and the Madman

Yay, my first book summary! Let’s see if all of those years of AP English stuck.

I don’t suggest or write book summaries lightly; I don’t do it because it’s an easy post or because I like to hear myself gob on. If I truly feel like taking the time and energy that a really good book summary takes, mind you without spoiling too much of it (although, to be frank, I don’t care much for those that are easily offended by so-called spoilers), then I do it because I genuinely feel that others should read this book.

This round’s example is on a book by Simon Winchester, called The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. The title is exhausting by modern standards, but relatively lightweight compared to some of the others mentioned in this book.

I originally picked this book up during the much, much latter half of my second year of Honours English in high school. I had just been accepted into the AP English programme, and my Honours English teacher—who, I’m not shy to admit, doted on me for enjoying Shakespeare so much that year—suggested this to me. She said that it was certainly a book for people who liked words, and that none of her students had picked it up since it was first placed on the bookshelf in her classroom. Considering that there was a joke among my English teachers regarding my reading habits (they called me the book thief, and little did they know, I did actually steal their books), Mrs S. strongly encouraged me to read it.

However, at the time, I was an atrociously slow reader, much to my frustration, and I could not ready 242 pages in two weeks. The school year ended and I had to return the book.

Excellent, now that I’ve given you a snippet of my life story, here is the actual summary:

Now, five years later, I bought the book secondhand online. The idea of it stuck with me for quite some time, and I finally decided to buy it, along with a great linguistics text book that I’m still working through. Firstly, I’d like to mention that even among book thieves, there is a huge factor that we take into consideration before we steal a book. Yes, it’s a wonderful piece and we want it, but does it look pretty?

Yes, this book is quite pretty, even if modestly so. (If that makes sense.) I think that it’s beautiful! Following a characteristic of the book that Winchester seems to delight in doing, instead of providing pictures, I will explain it what it looks like to you: The book jacket’s front depicts a man, the protagonist labelled as the madman, with an overlaying illustration of an original OED as a footer, in a gentle sepia. On the inside of the front and page folds, where the pages meet the hardback cover, there are several minuscule dictionary entries, mostly pertaining to the word murder and related words, i.e. murderer, murderously, &c.

The book is not daunting in size, although it must have been quite the commitment to write, given the fact that it stretches over a lifetime, following the lives of many important figures in English literature. The protagonists that it follows, however, are named Dr William C. Minor (the madman) and James Murray (the professor). The story opens up with an account of murder in Victorian London, the culprit of which is an obviously diluted Minor, who had come to England from New England on the suggestion of the US military that it might help hi reclaim a grip on life.

Immediately, the book dives into the sheer intelligence of these men, and even though their beginnings are quite unlike—and simultaneously similar—the reader is shown how their lives gradually weave together. Murray’s life story is rather uplifting; an extremely intelligent Scott from the lower class, who ends up managing one of the most ambitious tasks in all of literature, in creating the very first, fully functional and coherent dictionary for the English language.

Apparently, at the time, English was already replacing French as the language of diplomacy, which was something general that I learnt. I also learnt that even though there had been several types of ‘reference books’ for the English language, none of them were actually all that useful (they would be full of rare or archaic words for playwrights to use, instead of everyday words for everyone to use), and of the few proto-dictionaries, they were 1) written more like poetry to loosely describe a noun, an adverb, or what have you, and 2) they were frequently written by a single person who could put their personal touches on words, and nobody would fact check them.

As I said, reading Murray’s story is inspirational, because he went from being a brilliant bloke with no opportunities to the head of the OED project, but by intelligence, will, and a little bit of charisma. Also, he joined the Philological Society, who began the whole project. Surely that made way for his success, but still… Most people today would pout and say that he got lucky.

Minor’s story, on the other hand, not only forces sympathy from the reader while providing extremely informative historical accounts of things, but makes the reader want to befriend this sad man. (Unless you’re Irish, which will only make sense if you read the book.) Minor, unlike Murray, came from a prominent New English family, so money and opportunity abound. Not to mention, his folks were staunch missionaries, so even more money and opportunity abound.

I’m a history buff far and wide, and I absolutely love getting a peek inside of these peoples’ lives because one learns so much. From Minor’s account alone, I learnt more interesting details about the American Civil War than I did in history class (American schools are notoriously lazy when it comes to teaching history, social studies, and geography). I also learnt that Ceylon was the Imperial name for Sri Lanka. I work in a store with Ceylon teas and Ceylon cinnamons, and I never knew that! I was told, “It’s in India”. It’s not, my friend, it’s its own country.

The book also makes the reader longing for the Victorian and Edwardian eras—and many, many bookworms that I know do this regularly, myself included. To look at what a high level of importance and influence that the humanities had in this time period is nearly envy-inducing. Our world is now so small, languages surrendered to English, that if it doesn’t have a touchscreen or internet compatibility, it’s not smart. I beg to differ, and these brilliant people beg to differ.

Not to mention, while there may be a few brainstormers in Silicon Valley that are devising ways to make small robots wipe our bums for us after we use the restroom (because they’ve surely never heard of bidets, those are too old school), the amount of people that it took to make the OED is actually nearly unaccountable. Volunteers from all over the world, in Anglophonic and non-Anglophonic countries alike, would have books sent to them from Oxford, meticulously write down any words assigned to them or that fascinated them, and then write down not only the use, a loose definition, and quotations in which the word could be used, but also the first time in history that it was used, and often when, where, and by whom. That’s so much love! Thousands of people did this, sending in dozens, hundreds, or thousands of entries to the crew at Oxford, which would then look all of them over in agonising detail before adding them to the press. Queen Victoria even got involved at one point (mostly by knighting Murray and granting the OED honours and other queenly stuff), and something that I really admired about the OED and its contributors was that nothing stopped them. Progress on the dictionary had to be halted a couple of times, like whenever the head of the project or an important contributor would die, or whenever the Philological Society had to convince the Oxford University to become their patron, and then publisher. Despite arrests, though, the work went on. It even bulldozed through World War I and slowing economics (and finally, the Great Depression), volume after volume being sold to the public, even if on panicked release dates that had been pushed back years in advance.

The dictionary took a little under a century to make, but a little over two weeks to read about. (I’ve become a faster reader, ha ha!) Reading about it is like watching a documentary on how books are made: It sounds interesting enough, and at first it’s a little slow and you don’t know quite what you’re looking at, but as things pick up, you become enthralled, and you nearly cry from the beauty of it at the end.

As Mrs S. said, if you like words, do yourself a favour and read this book.

 

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you tremendously. I like to make reeeally long posts, but I like to write, so… yeah… Anyway, this was the first summary that I’ve done, and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with these. They’re certainly fun and I’ve always wanted a book club, but it’s difficult when nobody else had read the book. Let me know what you think.~

My preowned copy of this wonderful piece + pumpkin spice coffee = a good morning.

 

Toki Pona, a Not Entirely Useful Language

In the autumn of 2015, I came across a charming language that piqued my interest because it was made up of only one-hundred-twenty-three (123) words. It was called Toki Pona, and was created by linguist Sonja Lang as a type of self-searching, personal experiment. Lang’s goal was to create a language in which all words represented large concepts. She insisted that there was no need for extensive vocabulary in the grand scheme of things, and to me, the idea of ‘speaking simply’ seemed really attractive because I was going through a helluva not-so-simple period of time in my life. The Taoist influence that Lang brought into the language—the philosophy of simplification—rang true to me.

I began my study of the minimalist language by finding a free PDF file of the e-book called Toki Pona: The Language of Good. To explain a little bit about how Toki Pona works, let’s firstly look at the phrase toki pona in the language.

A dictionary entry for these words on a website like tokipona.net (where I received the information for these examples) would look something like this:

toki: (n.) language, talking, speech, communication; (mod.) talking, verbal; (vt.) to say; (vi.) to talk, to chat, to communicate; (interj.) hello!, hi!

          pona: (n.) good, simplicity, positivity; (mod.) good, simple, positive, nice, correct, right; (vt.) to improve, to fix, to repair, to make good; (interj.) great!, good!, thanks!, OK!, cool!, yay!

 

As you can see, depending on what part of speech the word is, it can have many different meanings. The form doesn’t change, but the way that the word is in conjunction with other words determines the meaning. It doesn’t sound so bad, thought, right? Especially not when you find out that Toki Pona is frequently accompanied by cute symbols that stand in place for the word, depicting what the word means. Chinese characters are known for doing a similar thing, but those used in Toki Pona are nearly complete drawings that can help the speaker remember the broad, simple meaning of the word.

This is an example of Sitelen, or the ‘alphabet’ of Toki Pona.

nm_sitelen2

When put like this, and again with the emphasis that Toki Pona has a 123-word vocabulary, it sounds like this would be the ultimate, simple language to learn, if not for the happy philosophy then for the opportunity to communicate with someone via pidgin (a language that is grammatically simplified as means of communication between two languages).

That is what I thought originally. My personal experience with Toki Pona left me a bit disappointed: at the time, I considered it my fifth language, and I was quite enthused about learning it. After accumulating the small vocabulary and familiarising myself with the grammar, though, I found that Toki Pona, simple as it was, wasn’t able to convey what I wanted it to.

I somehow met one of the two-hundred individuals on the internet that claimed to be able to speak Toki Pona, after requesting language exchange to learn Polish—let the record show that I’ve had this happen only twice with Esperanto, while actively searching for language partners. The person was from Poland, and while I understood what they were saying in the compact format that is sentences in Toki Pona, I found myself very disinterested. I didn’t know why I should be so turned off by such a miraculous incident; normally I’d playfully suggest (beg) that somebody speak a mutual language with me, yet I found conversation with this individual boring.

The talk was so dull, in fact, that after just a few totally comprehensible messages between the two of us, I stopped replying. I did not want to speak Toki Pona, and after thinking about it, I decided that it was actually Toki Pona was too simple for me. I love words. Lots of words. Really long, hard words that have foggy etymology and extremely specific definitions. While I could easily tell someone, ‘mina sona e toki pona’ (I speak Toki Pona), I would rather tell someone, ‘Je parle français comme un gros homme qui parle et mange un sandwich au beurre de cacahuète en même temps’ (I speak French like a fat man who’s talking and eating a peanut butter sandwich at the same time).

I’m a complex person, and I like complex sentences. Most human beings are pretty complex, and we enjoy language that can help us express our woes, our joys, our worries, our victories, our sleepless nights, our new experiences, and everything in between, no matter what level of difficulty we’re feeling it on.

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Thusly, while I think that the idea behind Toki Pona is grand (or swell, or great, or just average), I don’t think that it is a useful language for those that enjoy expression and words. It provides an interesting insight, a positive one at that, and through that accomplishes what it set out to do.

However, in terms of usefulness, it’s not meant to be an auxiliary language, and I always forget to mention that I’ve learnt it, because I haven’t managed to retain it all correctly, and therefore cannot comfortably say that I ‘speak’ it.

If Toki Pona sounds delightful enough to you, then I suggest that you refer to the link provided… or right here.

 

Thanks for reading—or pona, as the case may be.~

Why I Decided to Learn Esperanto

It is probably safe to assume that if you are reading this, you know what Esperanto is. Perhaps you are considering learning it or are learning it already. If you don’t know what Esperanto is, here is a Wikipedia page about it.

At the time that I am writing this, I am actively learning Esperanto through Duolingo, Wikibooks, an amazingly simple and reliable translator-dictionary application, and through this cute interactive platform called Yakk, when I can remember that I have it installed. Most of all, I study it via Lernu, the website made for learning Esperanto specifically.

I could write a nicely-packed blog about the pros of learning Esperanto, and a few of those reasons are in fact mentioned here, but this list is actually my personal reasons for learning Esperanto. A lot of people grab a hold of the language because it makes learning other languages easier—that is actually a huge factor in my learning it—whereas others like the fact that the Esperanto has its own couchsurfing community, called Pasporta Servo (this is not so important to me, but it’s nice to know).

All of the general scientific and social reasoning for learning Esperanto has already been blogged about, by many more famous bloggers than I. That being said, I hope to shed some light on the pros of this independent language (I can’t really think of any cons), and maybe open your eyes to some new material or aspects of all that it has to offer.

1) The original thought behind Esperanto. I won’t lie, I’m still enamoured with the driving force that pushed Zamenhof to create Esperanto: to create a universal language that was simple to learn, and that could overcome social and linguistic barriers.

This concept really rings true to me for several reasons, mostly being (without getting too politically or spiritually polarised) that I believe in peace, and understanding, and sympathy. I believe in neighbourliness and helping others, and overcoming adversary together. I believe in the universe, and universal goodness, and just the thought that there was a human being that was so dedicated to a similar ideal makes me glow with happiness a bit.

Even in the twenty-first century, with my native language being regarded as the ‘closest thing’ to a universal language that our world has, I’d opt for Esperanto to replace it. English is hard, and even the natives purposefully mutilate it to suit their region-specific needs. (That’s not to say that there isn’t often heated debate about Esperanto grammar, because there is. These arguments, however, are usually faulty and correct on both sides because of the leniency of the grammar of the language.)

2) As previously mentioned, it helps you learn languages faster! There is a frequently-referred-to example of two classes: a class that learnt French for two years, while another class learnt Esperanto the first year and French the second year. Google that much right there and you’ll find all of the information that the internet has to provide regarding the study.

I’ve told my SO several times that it’s entirely likely that our would-be child’s second language (because s/he will be at least bilingual) might be Esperanto. I’ve selected this as the mostly likely candidate not because of how much I love the language, but because of how useful it is when applying what you’ve learnt from it to learning another language.

You find patterns quicker, you are exposed to more than just relative languages of your native tongue thanks to the fact the Esperanto can be traced to several different language families, and I honestly kind of wish that I had learnt Esperanto before Spanish, or French, or German, or Swedish. I have a feeling that it would have made my life a lot easier.

3) It’s (comparatively) easy to learn. It takes only about one-hundred-fifty hours to learn Esperanto entirely.

I know. It’s ridiculous. It’s also a nice change of pace, considering that nine months to two years is more often than not quite daunting in terms of non-physical commitment.

4) Also, because it’s easy to learn, it means that it’s a quick language under your belt. I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t love saying, “I speak this language, this language, this language, &c….”, and I want to be able to speak a total of twelve languages by the time I’m thirty-one. The fact that Esperanto is a language that one can quickly and easily ‘tuck under one’s belt’ deserves recognition, even if most people won’t admit it in fear of sounding vain.

5) The so-called cons of knowing the language aren’t that bad. Many people, particularly those that argue against learning Esperanto, like to make mention that Esperantists greatly overestimate the probability of being able to find other Esperantists. While they certainly do have a point that there are relatively very few speakers of Esperanto around, I think that they don’t understand that most komencantoj know and are okay with that.

Do I genuinely think that I will be able to go to a town in the Midwestern United States and strike up a conversation with a stranger that just so happens to also speak Esperanto? Fuck no. I can’t even talk to customers at my day job in my Missourian hometown without them asking me where I’m from because I ‘say words so clear’. (Enunciate; they mean that I enunciate well.)

However, I knew from the get-go how few Esperantists there are in the world, and how unlikely it is that I may meet them. Others, I’m sure, have accepted that too; that’s why there are Esperanto conventions and meetings held all around the world, and why there are online chatrooms and websites and even an upcoming television channel dedicated to reaching out to us few. I’m more worried about starting my Frisian courses in October because it’s an endangered language; what happens if I spend all that time and effort learning it, only to never be able to speak with someone?

We know that we’re a living minority. We’re okay with it.

6) The Esperanto culture is so welcoming! Believe it or not I actually haven’t met another Esperantist in person, but I do know from meeting them on the internet that we collectively are usually extremely thrilled when we find someone else to speak to in Esperanto.

It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your native language is, what religion you’re a part of, or why you came to Esperanto in the first place. Figuratively speaking, Esperantists are a huggy bunch of people, and I think that that strongly reflects on what a lot of learners of the language stand for—togetherness over all cultures. It certainly would have pleased Zamenhof, I’m sure.

We are an extremely proud and loving non-nation of humans from all corners of the globe, just waiting to let you in.

7) It’s underestimated, and I root for the underdogs. Reflecting a bit on Nos. 5 and 6, I think that it’s safe to say that if there is one vice that most polyglots are scared of admitting, it’s this: typically, we absolutely love being able to talk around people. Be it to sound intelligent, or be sneaky, or just to make others feel uncomfortable which in turns exerts a certain feeling of control, polyglots usually really enjoy having a secret language.

Because Esperanto is so small, so underexposed to most of the world, and because it has such a hybrid sound (see No. 8), it sometimes feels like the most secret language of all. I know for a near fact that I will never come across a native Esperanto speaker like I would a native Polish or even Welsh speaker. (Not until/if I meet my own child, that is…?)

8) It sounds like all European languages put together, after visiting Asia as an exchange student and inadvertently adopting the speech patterns there. Seriously, though. Esperanto sounds like the bastard child of a Romance-language mother and an estranged Germanic-language father. How Afrikaans is like a babied version of Dutch, Esperanto is to Slavic languages, and let’s be honest, we all get our languages confused from time to time… Esperanto sounds confused, constantly, but with confidence.

While it may seem as though there were no auxiliary language for Asian languages, as Esperanto is typically thought to be an auxiliary language for European languages, and therefore inherently harder for Asians to learn, many would be surprised to learn that there are many grammatical similarities between Esperanto and Chinese.

This Esperantist even thinks that China would be the best place to begin implementing the teaching of Esperanto in schools.

9) There is something liberating about speaking Esperanto. Why yes, I do speak a manufactured language with no physical nation and nearly no native speakers. It does make me a better linguist in the long run, no matter how many people tell me how useless it is. It is necessary that I post advert after advert on Craigslist and Duolingo, hoping that somebody will reply to me and that I’ll have a fellow Esperantist to speak to, and it is annoying that of all of the thousands of people on InterPals.net, somehow nobody speaks Esperanto…

… But guess what? The language does have a flag, and I will let it wave behind me proudly.

10) Perhaps the silliest reason, but a character from one of my favourite cartoon series as a kid spoke Esperanto. This is actually the first exposure that I recall having to Esperanto, when I was a tot, sitting in the living room, watching Danny Phantom. There was a super cool new ghost character introduced, named Wulf, and he spoke some ‘extinct nerd language’ (as Tucker explained it) called Esperanto.

At the time I didn’t know what Esperanto was, but I knew that I liked the werewolf character that spoke it, and it stuck with me ever since.

Yup, I was turned on to a language by a cartoon ghost of a werewolf of Nickelodeon, and kept it on the back burner for about a decade, but hey, I’m sure that there are stranger beginnings to longer stories.

Anyway, this is the compiled list of my personal reasons for learning Esperanto. Informative, perhaps not so much, but it was certainly entertaining to write, so I hope that you enjoyed reading it. I appreciate your time spent here, so here is a picture of some encouraging Esperanto stuff as a thank you:

 

Are you learning Esperanto? Why or why not?