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On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 10:21 PM, Leo Moser <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

You ask:

Truly, all I want is to find any experimental evidence that Esperanto (or any other Euro-auxlang) is easy (or easier) than Euro-natlangs for non-IE speakers.

 

There has been research that relates to your interest. I have read articles on the subject in the past.

 

Most studies have been done by esperantists and purport to show that Esperanto is to x-degree easier (for Japanese etc.) than languages like English, French, or German.

 

I believe someone attempted to document the degree to which Ido was easier to learn than Esperanto (for Chinese, perhaps).

 

But you and I agree (I think) that what one intends to do with the language is important. This can completely skew the statistical findings of any such studies, perhaps render them meaningless.

 

Regards,                Leo

 

 

 

From: International Auxiliary Languages [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jeffrey Brown
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 5:03 PM


To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: How easy is Esperanto really?

 

Leo,

I didn't use "Indo-European" in the original post. I agree that the variability among IE languages is large. That's why I said "European" languages (which also vary, but less so than the entire IE family).

"Ease of learning" is, as you say, relative. But hard evidence from comparative studies would be informative.

And I also agree that what the learner intends to do with the new language has a bearing on the question. Does he/she want to: (1) Visit as a tourist and speak well enough to ask for directions? (2) Be able to find and rent an apartment and read a newspaper? (3) Attend a university and be able to understand the lectures? (4) Appreciate poetry in the language? (5) Speak as well as a native?

My assumption in the original post was equivalent to #2. But regardless of the language being learned, one has to go through the lesser levels of competency before attaining the desired level of proficiency, so I don't think that the eventual level of proficiency is very important.

Nevertheless, to return to my original statement, enthusiasm among speakers of an auxlang is not a substitute for scientific evidence. This is what is lacking.

 

 

On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 4:38 PM, Leo Moser <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I agree with all that Risto says below.

Do want to add some thoughts.

 

“Ease of learning” will greatly depend on what is meant by learning. There are degrees and fields of many sorts in the learning process.

 

The issue of Indo-European vs. non-Indo-European is so often trivial.

 

There is great variance among Indo-European languages, even among those that are typically used for the raw material of IAL’s.

 

Moreover, “learning” to read/write will depend on what one wishes to read or write. Nobody ever learns everything. Do you want to converse online without any major error or misunderstanding? Or without any reference to things like dictionaries or spellcheckers? Do you want to be able to write legal contracts? Novels? Do you want to be able to write learned articles that will be accepted in scientific journals?

 

Grammar/syntax may play a role in ease, regardless of language group. If you speak a certain type of SOV language, you may find a similarly structured one easier, though it comes from the ends of the earth. The issue of Indo-European vs. non-Indo-European is not involved; Nepali is not structured like Norwegian.

 

Spoken language has its variables and registers. Do you only want to speak well enough to go shopping, or to order at a restaurant? Or do you want to do important business during a conference call?

 

Learning to speak will also depend on how well one wishes to be taken for a native speaker, and what sort of native speaker. A German agent parachuted into Britain during World War II would have to be very proficient, and in the right dialect.

 

The issue of Indo-European vs. non-Indo-European has little meaning in respect to comparative pronunciation patterns. Danish and Dhivehi do not have the same phonemes.

 

A speaker of Indonesian is likely to find Italian less difficult to pronounce than a Japanese would find Italian. An Italian is likely to  find Russian more difficult to pronounce than he/she would find Japanese. Japanese often have a great deal of trouble pronouncing Chinese, but find less trouble with Malay, or even many Indo-European languages.

 

In my opinion, this adds up to the fact that the simple issue of Indo-European vs. non-Indo-European is not going to teach us much here.

 

Regards to all,                Leo Moser

 

From: International Auxiliary Languages [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Risto Kupsala
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 2:21 PM


To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: How easy is Esperanto really?

 

25.6.2014 19:14, Jeffrey Brown wrote:

Truly, all I want is to find any experimental evidence that Esperanto (or any other Euro-auxlang) is easy (or easier) than Euro-natlangs for non-IE speakers.


Ease of learning a language depends on many things, including teacher, learning materials, learning environment, and learners themselves. All of these variables should be somehow controlled in a proper scientific experiment to compare two languages.

Anecdotal evidence is interesting, but not valuable from the scientific point of view. Consider my testimony for example, maybe I found Esperanto difficult in some places because I didn't have a teacher or peer learners. I used a "teach yourself Esperanto" kind of book alone. It's a bad way to learn to speak any language.

Ease is a subjective thing. However, in addition to subjective variables, ease also depends on some objective variables. One of them is simplicity of the target language. I believe it is fair to say that Esperanto is objectively simpler than any Euro-natlang. Therefore we can conclude that, all else being equal, it is easier to learn Esperanto, which is simple, than Euro-natlangs, which are complex.

Unfortunately in reality all else is never equal. There are more and better teachers, books, video, audio, immersive environments etc for learning natlangs than Esperanto or any other constructed IALs. It is a huge disadvantage for conIALs.

--Risto Kupsala