Esper/Pizza

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Why pizza? Well for starters, it's known all over the world and its name tends to be pretty consistent across many languages. It also makes a good analogy for word construction and for many other linguistic concepts, so consider that "food for thought" as you read this section.

The Esper' language shares more in common with the Esperanto language than with any other as it was intentionally evolved to become a dialect of Esperanto at its core. However, it was actually the English language which was the main inspiration behind the Pont' language, and the Esper' language which is the more refined part of Pont'. The English language is a bit like linguistic pizza, in that you can add ingredients of all sorts and they just become a part of the whole. This is very powerful, but unfortunately the English language is very difficult to learn and filled with irregularities for people to deal with. If you've ever made pizzas, then you probably know that they tend to come out better if they're made with care rather than just thrown together carelessly.

Over the course of humanity's existence, various attempts have been made to do the same thing with the creation of a language, but so far no attempt has managed to gain the support of more than a small percentage of the world's population. Early in the evolution of the Esperanto language, one of the main problems was addressed by a large number of Esperanto speakers and supporters who basically decided that since the language was used mostly in Europe, its acceptance would grow more quickly if it were refashioned to be specifically easier for Europeans to learn. Other Esperanto speakers and supporters felt that such a change might alienate people with little or no European language background and that it was against the idea of Esperanto being a "world" language to be owned and enjoyed equally by everyone. Both sides had valid points but it seems they were unable to find a solution that both sides could agree on, and so the result was the creation of the Esperantido language, now known simply as Ido, and a split in the Esperanto community.

Now, more than a century and a quarter after its release, the Esperanto language is growing strong with several million active speakers and many more supporters who have not yet learned the language. But there's a puzzle to be solved. Why would a simple t learn language invented to act as a universal second language allowing everyone easy access to literature and educational materials originally written in any national language have supporters who are not also active speakers of the language? Obviously some supporters may have just heard of it, so that accounts for a few, but what about those who have supported Esperanto for many years but have never learned more than a few words? What's up with that? The truth is, learning ANY language takes time, and our modern society doesn't afford people much time to spare. Also, to a person who has only ever known one language, adding any SECOND language is a huge step! Add to that the problem which the Esperantido people tried to fix and you may see how this situation has come to be. So what can be done about it? Well, this is hopefully where Esper' comes in.

Rather than attempt to replace the "world language" with a more localized revision, the Esper' language allows for many localized dialects which could be considered languages in their own right, to act as bridges for people to cross so that they can eventually meet on common ground. This book is mainly about the core dialect of the Esper' language, which is one such common ground. The Esperanto language is another such common ground, and in fact if we can establish such bridges well, any language could become that common ground.

Linguistic diversity is a treasure, but just like deluxe pizzas can exist alongside plain cheese pizzas, veggie pizzas, pepperoni pizzas, and so on, there is no reason why any one international language should be seen as a threat to any other. Those who see the Esperanto language as a mighty oak tree which deserves our care and protection, should not be afraid of acorns landing near it and sprouting into seedlings. We also should not forget the many beautiful languages which are in danger of being lost forever. Creating an Esper' dialect based on such a language can provide an easy way to share some of that language's vocabulary features with people who would otherwise have had no access to them. This may save an endangered language from extinction, or may simply preserve some of the spirit of the language, but either possibility is better than a total loss.

So, here's how it works with the Esper' language. You start with a small vocabulary of root words, including number names, a nice range of pronouns, some prepositions and conjunctions, and a few miscellaneous words which seem to have some commonly used representation in most languages and most of which generally tend to have lots of irregular inflections, and you learn them as "basic ingredients" along with some prefixes and suffixes, and some role endings which can be used to clarify what part of speech a word is meant to function as. These ingredients can be put together like the ingredients that make up a pizza. Now, you may wonder if it's okay to put the pizza sauce on the bottom and the crust on top. I don't know of any rule saying you can't, but will it turn out good?

Constructing an Esper' word from word elements is likewise open to "personal choices" which can effect how well the word will serve any particular intended purpose. Beyond the basic vocabulary, one may choose to expand their knowledge through the study of Esperanto, applying their Esperanto words to the Esper' language or even abandoning Esper' altogether as merely a "starting point" from which to get a quick start learning the Esperanto language, or they may choose to teach some friends or family members enough to practice using the words of their primary spoken or written language as additional Esper' roots, constituting ingredients in an Esper' dialect.

For example, spoken words from any language may be stemmed down to a simple easy to recognize form and they treated as "foreign word stems" in the Esper' language, written in a form recognizable to readers of that language and placed in parentheses or with a hyphen at the beginning and an apostrophe at the end, and such "stems" can then be given prefixes, suffixes, or role endings, from the Esper' core vocabulary.

Note that a dialect of Esper' based on a spoken language should "sound like that language" except for the Esper' parts, and the Esper' phonetic system is not likely to support writing the sounds of most languages directly in Esper', which is why such "foreign stems" would generally be written in their "foreign spelling" with the separation between Esper' spelling and foreign spelling clearly marked. On the other hand, an Esper' dialect based on a written language faces a different problem to solve because many languages are written with characters which do not pass for Esper' letters, so a dialect of the Esper' language when is based on a written language needs to support some sort of transliteration of the written words into Esper' letters, but does not need to preserve all of the spoken sounds of the source language. For example, the English word "car" can be brought in as "kar" to keep it more easily recognized by English speakers when pronounced, or it may be brought in as the spelling "car" which when sounded out in Esper' may seem to an English speaker like it should have been written "shar" according to English phonetics, but either way it should be kept in mind that such dialects are meant to be "easy to learn" for those familiar with their source language, rather than actual encodings of that language, so keeping it simple is more important than preservation of the original form. For example, any double letter in a written source word can generally be replaced by a single letter since someone fluent in the source language can easily make such a connection and the goal of "easy learning" will be better served without having to unnecessarily pronounce the same sound twice in many words. Also, the final vowel can safely be dropped from most source words which end in a written vowel, leaving the word easily learnable for the target audience while facilitating the attachment of Esper' suffixes and role endings as needed to function well in the Esper' language.