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I am native Armenian speaker. I know Russian from childhood. Recent years English became my second language and I am using it in everywhere except interaction with friends. Now I want to learn Italian. Do I need to learn Esperanto first in order to make my job easy and more consciously.

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    I'm not entirely sure this question is a very good fit for the Linguistics SE. I think a better question would be "Does learning Esperanto offer any benefit to learning other languages", which overlaps with this question I asked a few weeks ago. Also, know that there is a proposal for an Esperanto Language and Usage SE
    – acattle
    Apr 12 '13 at 1:56
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    To address your question, of course you don't need to learn Esperanto. There is evidence to suggest that in children learning Esperanto makes them more effective learning other languages later in life. One of the big claims is that it offers children early success to motivate them and their study habits later in life. However, I suspect that having already successfully learned English as an adult, any benefit from learning Esperanto will be minimal.
    – acattle
    Apr 12 '13 at 1:59
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    The same is true of any language if encountered early enough and with enough enthusiasm. Nothing about Esperanto makes it easier to learn Italian. If you want to learn a language that will help you with Italian, think about Latin.
    – jlawler
    Apr 12 '13 at 2:01
  • Thanks @acattle your answer was sicked to the point. I guess it is better to start Italian without Esperanto as Italian is going to be my 4th language and I can practice it. Also there are much more literature.
    – TIKSN
    Apr 12 '13 at 2:47
  • @TIKSN While i wont recommend Esperanto, Italian is a good choice for a first Romance language. Mastering French or Spanish after Italian wont be that hard! Nov 15 '13 at 2:30
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There are much more propedeutic languages. Latin is the first that comes to mind but if you already knew it. Learning it on purpose for Italian is not really convenient, you'd be better off using that time to learn Italian directly. If you had knowledge of Spanish and French, that'd be certainly a good help.

Spanish is very similar to Italian (a stereotype says that you just need to add an S to Italian words to get Spanish, which is of course wrong but gives you an idea of their closeness). Many words are basically the same (the words for yes and no are the same except the graphic stress which is the opposite: sì/sí, no/no).

French differs a bit in terms of some grammatical structures and vocabulary but it's close to Italian as well. If you had prior knowledge of these three languages, then you'd be at an advantage in learning Italian, but if you don't know them, just go ahead and learn Italian directly: if you choose to learn those later you'd have Italian as a prior knowledge.

Concerning Esperanto: I agree with the others saying that I doubt it'd really help you. I haven't never studied it but I have seen some material written and I can say it didn't feel really "italian" to me and I'm a native italian speaker. If you don't have to learn it for personal interest or other needs, feel free to skip it and go straight to Italian. :)

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  • My point was based on study that students learned 6 month Esperanto and 18 month French was more fluent in French than student studied French 24 month. I was not excited in Esperanto as much as in Italian. Unlike French, Spanish and Chinese are more widely-spoken and let's say 'profitable' I like Italian very much and want to learn it first.
    – TIKSN
    Apr 12 '13 at 9:41
  • If you encounter problems with it, just ping me on chat and I'll help you. :)
    – Alenanno
    Apr 12 '13 at 9:43
  • Hi @TIKSN can you provide a link to that study, thanks? Apr 12 '13 at 16:08
  • Here is TEDx talk but I can't found article that I read before watching it.
    – TIKSN
    Apr 13 '13 at 20:31
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I would say probably not. Despite its name, Esperanto is not a simplified Romance language. Though much of its vocabulary comes from Romance languages, its phonemic inventory is Slavic, and its morphology is agglutinative. See the Wikipedia article on Esperanto for more details. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto#Linguistic_properties

As far as I know, the grammar of Esperanto, though it is simple, is so regular and embodies so much invention that I'm not sure that it resembles Italian grammar enough to serve as a stepping stone to learning Italian.

I am not a linguist, and only speak one language, my native English, so take my answer with a grain of salt.

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  • I read couple of Wikipedia articles included this one. Actually Slavic phonetic inventory does not makes difficult for me. I was not clear but I wanted to gain extra help not only for Italian but also future languages that I am going to learn. I guess I will skip Esperanto.
    – TIKSN
    Apr 12 '13 at 2:50
  • I didn't know its phonemic inventory was Slavic but thinking about the fact that it doesn't really feel "familiar" when seeing the language, that explains it. :)
    – Alenanno
    Apr 12 '13 at 8:47
  • @Alenanno it is definitely far from Russian in phonetic terms. Maybe it is closer to Polish, I do not know.
    – Anixx
    Apr 14 '13 at 10:39
  • In his very complete discussion of esperanto, linguist Justin B. Rye shows the close similarity between esperanto and eastern polish phonology : xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/ranto/#b
    – Typhon
    Nov 6 '13 at 1:15
  • But it lacks the palatalised/unpalatalised feature which pervades the phonology of most (all?) Slavonic languages.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 6 '13 at 10:47
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The study in the TED talk you referenced was for students who probably had not learned another language before learning French.

The reason why Esperanto was considered helpful was because it allowed the students to become acquainted and become comfortable with speaking a language other than their own. Esperanto is very simple and shares roots with many languages, building the confidence required.

In your case, you are completely comfortable with multiple languages (Armenian, Russian and English) so the benefit of learning Esperanto to learning further languages will be minimal.

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I would not say, "go for it before learning Italian, Spanish, Portugese, French or Romanian..."

However, if you're tempted... it will expose your mind to a linguist life's work.

I think Esperanto helps understanding/accepting/explaining different language structure mentally. Easily.

Nonetheless, be aware that Esperanto have lots of roots from all european languages: Spanish, French, Italian, English, German, Latin, Russian, Slavic...

This is only my personal experience: I learnt esperanto in... 2005. I never mastered it. At most I knew 200 words. At most because I was learning reading the book: "Esperanto per iom pli ol 200 vortoj" by Aleksandr Kerbel. (I think there is not a single foreign word in it. Only drawings and esperanto. Well that's the way I remember it...)

But Esperanto grammar and vocabulary is so concise, regular, and modular, that I was able to read the "Persian Letters" by Montesquieu in Esperanto, with simply the help of a little dictionnary before even finishing my 200-words learning book.

It is a really refreshing feeling when you grasp its expressiveness.

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  • Indeed. I would not have become interested in languages if it weren't for Esperanto. That said, there has never been an instance where I have gotten to use it. Apr 15 '13 at 0:43
  • I liked to browse gxangalo.com - when it still existed - mostly updated daily news, and general topics, the site was lively enough, and had some fun parts to read. But again it was only reading it. Apr 15 '13 at 0:52
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There have been studies (or at least small amounts of research) done on Swedish University students, among other nationalities, where the students learnt Esperanto AFTER already knowing multiple languages (in the case of Swedes, most know English, Swedish, and French/German/Spanish at least - and then continue their third language or pick up a fourth one in Uni). There was still a significant improvement in the people who learnt Esperanto compared to the normal people. Sadly I can't link you to the info on this where I read it, as it's in Faroese which doesn't even have Google Translate.

The basic idea is, if you're already very strong in grammar then there's no need to learn Esperanto. If so, the only way it would help, would be in vocabulary, as Esperanto's vocabulary is something like 60% Latin or Romance. This actually isn't something to scoff at, as there have been a few studies where ex. people who knew Esperanto could translate a French sentence without having ever learnt French (I personally, just today, understood a basic Spanish conversation that I was overhearing, thanks to Esperanto too). If you're a bit weak in grammar, for example you always forget when to use an adverb, then Esperanto will still help. And in all honesty, it's so fast to learn that it can't hurt you to spend some time on it even if you think it's useless - at the very least, you can easily find an Italian penpal who knows Esperanto well enough that you two can actually talk properly enough for them to give you really good help on Italian (this is relatively hard to do in English).

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If you want an auxiliary language closer to Italian, consider Interlingua. Unlike Esperanto it is closely based on Latin and other Romance languages.

Esperanto most likely will not help.

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  • My main goal is not to learn auxiliary language. I want to learn language that will help me with other languages. But as because Italian is going to be my forth language I decided that I do not need intermediate language to learn.
    – TIKSN
    Apr 16 '13 at 16:01
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@TIKSN, please be patient and read the following:

By definition we are always biased when we judge an experience unsuccessful or unuseful when we do not give everything we can to make it successful or useful. You will always find what you are looking for.

The primary goal of Esperanto as an auxiliary language is to "facilitate the communication" so people can rapidly and easily communicate and learn about each other cultures. Hence its nature as "auxiliary".

Esperanto is a highly agglutinative language, because it uses a word-building mechanisms to rapidly build new words from roots.

In the same time, its regular grammatical structure allows learners to easily develop a feel for nouns, verbs and adjectives. A straight forward simplified pronunciation: One grapheme (smallest writing unit) corresponds to one phoneme(unit of sound). As a result it allows learners to become quite proficient with a minimum amount of effort and time.

Knowing that, there is more than 6000 languages in the word, to not overlook anyone of them: national, regional, tribal... and each one is tied to a country, region, culture, history... Why should one or few national languages be better than others? Isn't that language discrimination?

Esperanto doesn't belong to any country, and everyone can adopt it. Because it has indo-European roots and highly agglutinative characteristics, it offers a very quick and easy solution to communicate between people of different cultures and languages without any military, colonial or economic hegemony. It helps preserving the diversity of languages which is as important as the diversity of species.

I am not blaming main languages themselves, but the way they aquired their "International legitimacy". This is not the case with Esperanto, it is only a vector of communication intended to be a springboard to other languages and their cultures. With esperanto we immediately start efficiently communicating each using his/her own culture. The culture of Esperanto is what we obtain as the result of intercultural communication.

When Learning a language and live it day by day it is like discovering a parallel world with its reality and its people.

I regularly participate in local, regional and international meetings, congresses... and I can find people speaking Esperanto in every country I visits I have friends ALL over the world with whom I speak only esperanto. I have build many projects, professionally with esperanto collegues and my friend childrens have Esperanto as their native language.

Comparing to other languages, it is very young but mature enough to be efficiently used for international communication.

For sure, it is going to be tough to go against the historical determinism of the main languages, but it is worth it.

Take a look at these websites for more inf.

lernu.net
ikurso.net
edukado.net


Here is a recently appeared book about the subject, might interest you.

Esperanto as a starter language for child second-language learners in the primary school,

Karen Roehr-Brackin, Angela Tellier, Lingvistiko, Esperanto UK, 2013 (2a eld.).

Resumoj de la malkovroj faritaj kadre de la projektoj "Springboard to Languages". Prezo: 12.30 EUR. Pliaj informoj, reta mendilo: http://katalogo.uea.org?inf=9012

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  • Highly aggluatinative? That makes me wonder a) what ought to be considered a somewhat agglutinative language b) what terminology should describe languages such as Finnish, Hungarian, Tamil, or Turkish. Nov 6 '13 at 1:46
  • @hippietrail, Take a look at this lecture from Dalarna university about how a language may become a lingua franca. It answers all your questions: Part 1: youtu.be/8FD-z3JCCzMlink Part 2: youtu.be/eFQlNNgZc8olink Part 3: youtu.be/7NVOrNfnaU8link
    – AJN
    Nov 6 '13 at 3:47
  • Sorry @AJN but I'm behind the Great Firewall at present, where YouTube is blocked )-: Nov 6 '13 at 3:52
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    This is not an answer to the question, but a promotional message for Esperanto. And I agree with hippietrail about "agglutinative". E-o is more regular and transparent in its affixes, but it does nothing that English does not do in a word like incomprehensibility.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 6 '13 at 10:51
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    @hippietrail. Yes, you're right, there are certainly problems with regarding it as a case marker, since it attaches to a NP rather than a noun. But the fact that it may be realised as /s/, /z/, /ɪz/ or /0/, depending mostly on the phonetic environment partly on the morphology and lexicon makes it problematic as a clitic too.
    – Colin Fine
    Nov 16 '13 at 22:42
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I've used Esperanto in 34 countries and lived abroad for work and study for 16 years. If you want a language to meet many people in many regions Esperanto can easily fulfill this.

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  • My main goal is learning Italian. I do not think that you can do more with Esperanto compared with English.
    – TIKSN
    Apr 23 '14 at 13:14
  • @TIKSN: I know it's not your goal and not what you asked about, but just a response to your comment: As a speaker of both English and Esperanto I agree with you that one cannot do more with Esperanto than with English - but one can do other things in Esperanto than with English. Esperanto has been significantly helpful in my life, among other things because in many places I've been to I had friends thanks to Esperanto (whereas even when I meet people who speak English it doesn't make them my friends). (Not your question, I know; just a response to this comment.)
    – Tom
    Dec 19 '14 at 1:10

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