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Monday, December 08, 2008

Things I wonder about (Alt. Title: Things About Which I Wonder)

Whatever happened to Esperanto? Did it go the way of that math thing people did with their fingers? Does anyone else remember that math thing? Am I the only person in the world nerdy enough to have been a tiny bit jealous of people who could do it? Did you know there's a Wikipedia in Esperanto*, but not a Facebook? Did you know you could translate Facebook to pirate language? Seriously, you can.

I, for one, rejoice in knowing Esperanto never caught on. I majored in modern languages - Esperanto, the universal language, would have rendered my oft-employed** degree useless. Like, even more useless than it already is. Also, Esperanto lacks the fun factor. Have you ever heard of slang Esperanto?

If we all spoke Esperanto, how would A and I communicate stuff like, "Après qu'ils iront au lit, tu veut boire la plupart de cette bouteille de Jacques Daniels avec moi?" The boys would understand our every word, except for the ones universally ignored like "clean", "your room" and "stop hitting your brother" of course.

Also, I wonder when my new camera will get here...what's that? The UPS guy? At the door? Right this second? Bye!

..............

I wonder why a camera would arrive in the mail with an uncharged battery. I guess this will help me empathize with the kids on Christmas morning when they beg us to hunt down batteries. We still won't do it, but I'll feel their pain for once. I hate waiting. Just kidding. It's not so bad. Just kidding. It is!

In the Dominican Republic last week, I had a hard time summoning any irritation. The contsantly flowing Malibu and Club Soda helped, of course, but so did the realization we were so unbelievably lucky. I hate commercials that egg people on, "Go ahead. You deserve it." Not true. No one deserves a fancy car, a vacation or even more than enough pairs of socks, but we're lucky enough to have them. And it is luck, because no one doesn't deserve those things, either. I hardly think G-d would provide a car as a reward for good behavior. In the islands, anyone with half a brain knows the people who serve them in any resort most likely live in poverty. I'm not talking about the cute kids who bum around resorts for a few years after college to earn their keep, I'm referring to the waiters, maids, groundspeople and any employee who hails from the island. No one deserves to be served, but it happens. And boy do I feel lucky when it happens to me.

A better person than I would forgo future vacations in favor of mission trips. But I am selfish, selfish, selfish, on my own and my children's behalf. Instead, I've adopted one of the wise mottoes of a wise woman I know:

If you have to complain, don't complain to anybody but Jesus***, because nobody but Jesus cares.

Excellent advice. Try it. "Oh, Jesus, I was at exercise class this morning and this woman behind me was...never mind. How's it going, man?" "Jesus, my husband put the dishes in the wro...eh." In fact, I was at exercise class this morning and someone there complained, in a non-joking way, every time the teacher got to a new exercise. Translation?

"Jesus, I really hate these hard exercises and I took my valuable time to come to this gym I pay a lot of money for, money I happen to have. Money is so annoying! You just have to spend it and spend it. And for what? My new exercise lycra, which hugs my well-fed curves nicely if I do say so myself, is getting all sweaty. How ever will I have time to change before I go out to lunch with my friends? I'm starving. I haven't eaten since that over-priced coffee on the way here. I could be home watching tv or not doing housework. Why? Why me, Lord?"

If I hated exercise that much, I'd leave. And go help homeless kittens learn to read or something.

Namasté, y'all!


* That is some hardcore nerdiness right there, yo. I mean, who translated Wikipedia into Esperanto? And why? Is there anyone who speaks Esperanto and Esperanto only?

** Haha. Kidding.

*** You may, of course, insert your HPOC (Higher Power of Choice) here.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

the math thing? the thing with the little beads you'd slide over?
i think it is called an Abacus.

Anonymous said...

Nope, I think she means Chisombop (sp? too lazy to google it) --seb

Anonymous said...

Facebook was translated to Esperanto monts ago!

Maybe you should have read the Wikipedia article on Esperanto before writing nonsense about it.

Annie said...

Anon. #1 - Nope, not an abacus.

Anon. #2 - the only one brave enough to sign his initials - You're right and thank you! I googled and it's Chisanbop. Believe it or not, this has been driving me kind of nuts.

Anon. #3 - Excellent advice. Thank you.

Miĉjo said...

Whatever happened to Esperanto?

Actually, Esperanto is very much alive and kicking. It's used by about 2 million speakers and growing in over 100 countries, in every situation imaginable - not bad when you consider that it started with one speaker just 121 years ago, spreading essentially by word-of-mouth. If you're under the impression it's dead, that's because a) Esperantists tend not to spread the fact that the speak Esperanto, and b) it's kind of hard to tell what language(s) someone speaks by just looking at him/her.

Did you know there's a Wikipedia in Esperanto*, but not a Facebook?

Actually, yes, I did! Esperanto now has over 100,000 Wikipedia articles, the 21st language to hit that mark. Esperanto Wikipedia gets over 250,000 hits a day, ranking it 35th in terms of daily hits. There is a push to get Facebook translated into Esperanto, so it can join the ranks of such obscure offerings as Google, OpenOffice and Linux (and, of course, Wikipedia).

* That is some hardcore nerdiness right there, yo. I mean, who translated Wikipedia into Esperanto? And why? Is there anyone who speaks Esperanto and Esperanto only?

Esperanto Wikipedia articles were written by... Esperanto speakers. Some articles are translations of articles written in other languages, some are originals. Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, in both senses of the term; people write and read Esperanto Wikipedia articles because they feel like it, and that should be all the reason they need. If that's not enough, the numbers in the previous paragraph show that there's a real body of article writers, and a real audience for these articles.

True, the vast majority of Esperanto speakers also speak other languages. However, because those other languages are so varied, and because Esperanto is so high up the list of Wikipedia languages, the chances are good that, for an Esperanto speaker, a significant number of Esperanto articles will not be available in his or her native language, making Esperanto the only available language for those articles. Besides, if we are to exclude Esperanto because its speakers also speak other languages, then what are we to do with Catalan (another 100,000+ language, almost all of whose speakers also know Spanish or French), or the majority of the remaining languages on the Wikipedia title page (many of which are local dialects of other major languages)?

I, for one, rejoice in knowing Esperanto never caught on. I majored in modern languages - Esperanto, the universal language, would have rendered my oft-employed** degree useless. Like, even more useless than it already is. Also, Esperanto lacks the fun factor. Have you ever heard of slang Esperanto?

In fact, Esperanto has caught on - at least, among the currently 2 million or so speakers, it has. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it is catching on, a little at a time. 121 years is short for any language, and the metric system and Arabic numerals both took much longer than that to become almost universal.

Esperanto was designed to be an easy yet fully expressive second language for everyone, not replace all other languages. The ease of learning and logical structure of Esperanto mean that learning Esperanto well will help you learn other languages. My experience with Esperantists suggests that those who already know other languages when they learn Esperanto tend maintain or increase their interest and ability in those they already know, and while those who learn Esperanto first often discover an interest in learning yet other languages. A large majority of the Esperanto community agrees that existing national and ethnic languages should be cherished and protected, and that Esperanto can help in that regard. Cherish and protect local, ethnic languages; learn Esperanto in later childhood, after the local language is well established, and save it for international communication. Esperanto is easy enough that it can be learned effectively even in adulthood without seriously displacing other important subjects. Even in a world with Esperanto as a universal second language, there would still be demand for your degree (French?) and for other national and ethnic languages.

Slang definitely exists in Esperanto. Esperanto has vulgar words and other terms that, by definition, belong to different levels of language; metaphor and imagery are most definitely allowed; and a whole gamut of sophistication is possible. The only thing that Esperanto avoids is idiomatic expressions, and slang is far from just idiomatic expressions.

If we all spoke Esperanto, how would A and I communicate stuff like, "Après qu'ils iront au lit, tu veut boire la plupart de cette bouteille de Jacques Daniels avec moi?" The boys would understand our every word, except for the ones universally ignored like "clean", "your room" and "stop hitting your brother" of course.

I think you're referring to hiding communication by using a language understood only by you and your intended audience. If so, then Esperanto is supposed to be a second language for all - other languages would neither be abolished nor replaced. You would still speak English, or French, or whatever other languages you want to learn.

Miĉjo said...

Just noticed the comment that Facebook is already translated into Esperanto. I don't really use Facebook to speak of, just read a few months back about the push to get it translated into Esperanto.

Brian Barker said...

Nothing much happened to Esperanto, apart from the following.

During a short period of 121 years Esperanto is in the top 100 languages, out of 6,000 worldwide, according to the CIA factbook. It is the 17th most used language in Wikipedia, and in use by Skype, Firefox and Facebook.

Native Esperanto speakers, including George Soros, Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet, and World Champion Chess Player, Susan Polger.

Further arguments can be seen at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670 and a glimpse of the language at http://www.lernu.net

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the Chisonbop apologists to chime in here... -seb

Anonymous said...

Sorry, "Chisanbop" (maybe multiple misspellings will piss 'em off enough to get them talking)

Remush said...

"Après qu'ils iront au lit, tu veut boire la plupart de cette bouteille de Jacques Daniels avec moi?"
It is not too difficult to reproduce most errors in this sentence in Esperanto.
For instance, in broken Esperanto one could say:
Post kiam ili iros al la lito, vi volas drinki la plejmulton de tiu ĉi botelo de Jacques Daniel kun mi?
It would understandable as well as in French.
More idiomatic would be:
Post ilia enlitiĝo, ĉu ni fordrinku tiun botelon de Jacques Daniels?
The correct French sentence would be something like :
"Quand ils seront allés au lit, veux-tu finir avec moi la bouteille de Jacques Daniels."
FYI:
après qu'ils seront is incorrect.
tu veut must be veux-tu
one cannot say "boire la plupart d'une bouteille" but one can say "la plupart des bouteilles de Jacques Daniels sont imbuvables quand elles n'ont pas au moins 12 ans d'âge."
Sanon ! À votre santé! Cheers!

Suzannah said...

Oh my word...I had never even HEARD of Esperanto until yesterday (that's right) and now I know way more than I ever needed to know. Whew!

Suzannah said...

PS - Had never heard of a Chisanbop either. Look at the things I learn from the Daily Digress!

*~Dani~* said...

This post has garnered the longest comments I think I have ever seen on a blog. Excellent.

Ant said...

I am another speaker of Esperanto. Esperanto is like a Cteole of a Pidgin. It acts as a bridge.

Anonymous said...

I DON’T CARE! I don’t know one person who cares about all of this Esperanto. This blog entry was obviously meant to be humorous. So, what do we deduct from this long unsolicited education on Esperanto? (Something I do not care about AT ALL in the first place) We learn that the people who speak this language have no sense of humor. Lighten up! Have you ever read any of the other entries on this blog? No? Well, maybe before getting all hyper educational on us you should take a look. All of the entries are funny or true. Quit googling Esperanto every morning to find someone new to educate, it is boring.

CarolinaBlonde said...

That's what she said.

Libby said...

Unu lingvo neniam estas sufiĉa!