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Chris Burd wrote:
 
> Michael Farris wrote
>
> > There are of course many more speakers of Esperanto than Ido (best estimates
> > say somewhere between one and two million people speak Eo, Ido is nowhere
> > near that, a few hundred to a few thousand speakers and I'm being generous).
>
> The 1m-2m figure is thought to be high by many, including some Esperantists. I've haven't time to did out the references right now (my client insists I finish a project for her), but the issue was discussed in soc.culture.esperanto some time ago. That ardent Esperantist "Edmundo" Grimley-Evans has a web page on the topic somewhere.
>
> Basically he mentions three reputably studies. The one the E-ists always quote 1.6m is from an linguistics prof in Washington State (the World Almanac rounds it up to 2m in its listing of the speaking populations of various languages). That figure is supposed to be the number of people speaking/writing Esperanto at a proficiency of  Foreign Service Level 3, which is quite a high threshold (Even Don Harlow would only be Level 4). He claims quite emphatically to be the expert on the subject, but has never published on the topic in an academic context or released any of his component data.
>
>  Another linguist, a Finnish fellow, has much more modest estimates:
>
>          1 000  are native speakers
>        10 000  are expert speakers with native-like ability
>      100 000  are competant users
>   1 000 000  have some passive knowledge
> 10 000 000  know something about it
>
> Obviously these are schematic estimates. I suppose "competent user" implies something like Foreign Service Level 3, but maybe that's optimistic.
>
> By the way, if we accept Dieterle's 1927 estimate of 127,000 Esperantists as a comparable figure, that means there's been no net growth (maybe even a decline) over the last 70 years. (On the other hand, Dieterle's figure probably includes a lot of "eternal beginners" and other non-fluent hangers-on.)
>
> The other study is by Bernard Golden (the fellow who, according to Kjell, estimated the number of Ia speakers at 6). His article is available on Ken Caviness's site, I believe. While he doesn't endorse any particular figure as far I recall, he's clearly pessimistic. He asserts, for example, that the membership of the national associations (usually considered the bedrock figure for "real" Esperantists) include many non-competent speakers.
>
> As for my own opinion, I'm on record (in the Toronto Globe and Mail) as endoring a figure of 500,000-2,000,000, which I got from Umberto Eco's book. That was in April 1997, the same month I first posted in Interng, the Interlingua mailing list. Today, if I had to bet on the matter, I'd put it quite a lot lower, maybe 250,000. That's still maybe a 100 or even 200 times that number of active Interlinguists, of course.
 
Yeah, I've noticed that Eists a) like to brag about how many speakers of Eo there are b) are completely uninterested in getting an accurate figure.
 
I say we stop yammering on about exactly how many there might be and concentrate on how many we can round up in one place at one time. Attendance at Universal Congresses seems to be 3-4000. So let's say there are 3000 to 4000 speakers (although apparently not all are that fluent, since not everybody passed the tests given in France.
 
There. My new figure for Eo speakers is 3000 - 4000 known warm bodies. I suggest we go with that until we get some sort of objective proof to the contrary.
 
We might be charitable and go by number of members in Eo societies. Anyone got any recent figures? I seem to recall that was a subject here some time back. I forget the exact figures though.
 
Amikel,
Mike Farris