The goal to create an 'easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that
transcends nationality and that fosters peace and international
understanding between people with different regional and/or national
languages' (as cited at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto) deserves
Yet, the particular artificial language which L. L. Zamenhof developed
for this purpose does not and cannot fulfil the requirements for a
global auxiliary language.
At most Ĉi Tiu Lingvo (This Language in Esperanto) could
function as a European auxiliary language, for (nearly?) all of its
words are based on the vocabulary of a few European members of the
Hindi-to-Icelandic family of languages.
It does not only use the Latin alphabet, to a large extent it is no more
than a simplified and improved brand of Latin.
Only a parochial mind can suggest that such a eurocentrically conceived
tongue be adopted as a universal second language all over the world!
The above objection has been made before, but here
will add a new type of criticism.
It is that an artificial language should never be more inadequate
or deficient than any major natural language.
And, unfortunately, Ĉi Tiu Lingvo (CTL) is in several important
respects far inferior to a natural language such as
Zhezhong Yuyan (ZzY) or
Putonghua Chinese, a member of the Chinese-to-Tibetan-and-Burman family of
- In ZzY each syllable in the spoken language has one or more meanings.
The meaning of words consisting of one or more syllables (and characters)
derives from the meaning or meanings of its components.
This morphematic system makes the syllable (or character) the only and
fundamental unit of meaning.
In CTL a morpheme does not correspond to a syllable, as a word may consist
of any number of syllables.
Syllables in polysyllabic words need not, and normally do not, have any
meaning by themselves, that is, within CTL itself!
Because of this lack of morphematic structure its vocabulary is arbitrary
and chaotic (or much more 'arbitrary and chaotic' than in a natural
language such as ZzY).
- In ZzY the name of the day of the week or a month of the year is based
on its number (with the exception of Sunday): Monday is what would
be (Week)day One, January what would be Month One in
CTL on the other hand virtuously follows the preposterous and
nomenclature of the major European languages.
The seventh day of the week has no special relationship with the Sun
whatsoever, but even in Putonghua it is called "Xingqiri" (first, first
and fourth tone), which means Week(day) Sun, rather than "Xingqiqi"
(first, first and first tone) or Week(day) Seven.
CTL fares much worse, however.
By selecting the word dimanĉo for Sunday it clearly shows and
promotes a pro-Christianist bias.
(Dimanĉo is based on Dimanche, which goes back to the
Latin dies Dominica or Day of the Lord.)
- In ZzY there is no standard difference between singular and plural,
and people should, indeed, not be forced to make such a distinction, if
and when number is not relevant.
In CTL, however, the speaker and writer is forced to make such a
distinction, just like in This Language, as in the phrase the
syllable(s) or the one or more syllables of a morpheme.
- In ZzY the generally used plural pronouns are simply derived from
singular ones by adding men.
In CTL personal pronouns are a mess.
And, much worse, CTL copies the sexual
and androcentric sexism of the (traditional variants of the) major
European languages both in its handling of pronouns and in its handling of
(Nowadays Putonghua also draws a never-a-person-in-any-context
distinction between he and she by using two different
characters for the gender-neutral and -transcending word ta with
first tone in the spoken language.
Whereas the artificially introduced character for she
understandably has a female component, the character for he does
not have a male component, as one might expect, but one denoting a person!
However, this sexual irrelevantism and androcentric sexism in the written
language was also only relatively recently copied from the same group of
languages which led the developer of CTL astray.)
- ZzY has no articles.
They are not really needed, because besides a word for one it has
demonstrative pronouns at its disposal.
With such pronouns it is already possible to refer to a particular living
being or thing,
this requires a distinction between what is near(er) and what is far(ther)
CTL, too, does not have an indifinite article, but it does have a definite
article, and demonstrative pronouns as well.
This could make sense if the demonstrative pronouns clearly and directly
distinguished between this and that, unlike the article
which does not force that distinction on the speaker or writer.
But CTL does not use different, preferably one-syllable morphemes for
this and that (as in ZzY); no, it adds an extra syllable to
this to distinguish it from that:
adjectival that is tiu and this is ĉi tiu.
This is an awkward unsystematic way of creating meaning.
- In ZzY the word order is the same for declarative and interrogative
A question word is put at the same place as in the declarative sentence.
Therefore, it is not What does (s)he prefer?, but
what?; not To which friend did you give it? or Which friend
did you give it to?, but You gave it to which friend?.
In such interrogative sentences CTL unnecessarily changes the word order
as does This Language.
- For names and idioms (but not in the syntax of clauses) ZzY
consistently follows an order from large to small, from set to subset.
On the basis of this principle a family name precedes a generation name
(the name shared by all members of the same generation within a family)
and a generation name precedes an individual name.
All these names consist of one syllable/character, but in the absence of a
generation name, the individual given name will normally consist of two
The same approach applies to numbers, just as in the written form of
Hindu(-Arabic) numerals with the most-significant digit to the left.
(The basic numbers from 0 to 9 all consist, again, of the same number of
syllables/characters, that is, one.)
Hence, the number 21 is 'two ten one' or twenty-one, and not
one-(and-)twenty as in Arabic and German, and in English once.
In line with this rule the year precedes the month and the month the
(number of) the day in a date.
Thus, on the Gregorian-Christian calendar the third of November
2011 is the equivalent of Year 2011 Month Eleven Number Three.
The order is the same when talking about the time of the day: "(in the)
afternoon (at) one o'clock" and not "at one o'clock in the afternoon".
CTL is not based on any such fundamental ordering principle.
While the number 13 is neatly dek tri ('ten three'), instead
of that arsy-versy thirteen in English and related tongues, the
constituent parts of a date are turned around again: la dektria de
This small-to-large approach is also found in the phrase je la unua
horo tagmeze, tagmeze being the adverb for afternoon.
(Note that the eleventh month turns out to be called "Ninth Month" if the
speaker of the language pays the slightest attention to the meaning the
syllables might possibly have.)
I would not be surprised if there are many more examples in which a natural
language such as Zhezhong Yuyan is clearly simpler and more adequate, less
sexistic or otherwise exclusivistic or irrelevantistic —better
'planned', as it were— than an artificial language such as
Ĉi Tiu Lingvo.
Together the criticisms one can already find at places such as the
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto#Criticism) and these
criticisms on the basis of comparisons with a natural language which cannot
be ignored on any account crush every hope of Ĉi Tiu Lingvo being or
ever becoming suitable as global auxiliary language.
Even the name Esperanto itself did not and will not improve its
Unfortunately, it only makes things worse.