Esperanto speakers

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Esperanto speakers

Emilio, Thu, 2016-06-02 07:38
Regarding: 
Population
State
Closed
ISO 639-3: 
epo

Last year there was here the information of 2 million speakers of Esperanto in 115 countries http://web.archive.org/web/20150109121524/http://www.ethnologue.com/lang... This information is gone, and the language is classified as a red dot (dying). I think this new information is not true. I send you a video of a debate in a Esperanto congress with 200 participants (only for residents of the province Sao Paulo) https://youtu.be/WfhbUFBqT-o As you can see the language is not dying,.

Editorial Action

We will change the EGIDS value for Esperanto [epo] to 3 (Language of Wider Communication) for the next edition of the Ethnologue.

Comments

Johan Derks, Thu, 2016-06-02 10:00

I think there is no regression of the number of Esperabto-speakers in the world. May be it is not known to you that the teaching-sit of Duolingo has recently registered its 3500000th english-speaking member, who is planning to follow the beginneres' course.

Chuck Fennig, Thu, 2016-06-02 10:57

Dear Emilio,

Thank you for your feedback on Esperanto [epo] speaker population and vitality status.

I would agree with you that Esperanto is not a dying language. Unfortunately, EGIDS 9 which, in this case designates Esperanto's status as "Second Language Only" (www.ethnologue.com/about/language-status, Table 2), is also used for Dormant languages which no longer have any L1 speakers but are associated with an ethnic group. Obviously, Esperanto is in a special category as a constructed language and has never had an ethnic group affiliated with it! Nevertheless, EGIDS 9 gives Esperanto a red dot in the Language Cloud.

The 2 million speakers of Esperanto noted in previous editions referred to L2 speakers only. We have since removed that number, since it was becoming outdated (1999 source) and it was difficult to find a realistic figure.

I hope that this clarifies this issue somewhat for you.

Regards,
Charles Fennig, Managing Editor, Ethnologue

Louis Wunsch-Rolshoven, Fri, 2016-06-03 02:58

Dear Charles Fennig,

it's not true that Esperanto is a "Second Language Only". It has native speakers, somewhere around thousand to two thousand. I do know this quite well, because I raised my daughter, now 23 years old, with Esperanto; we still continue to usually speak in Esperanto. I also know many other native speakers of Esperanto, some are three (3) years old, one of them I see nearly every week. (Last week she still spoke Esperanto...) This is not what we call "Second Language Only".

So Esperanto should not be in the group EGIDS 9 following the table 2 you mentioned.
The true level could be International, 0, but in fact it is not used "widely" and not in "international policy".
Maybe level 3 "Wider Communication" (The language is used in work and mass media without official status to transcend language differences across a region) would be appropriate.
Please consider that "Le Monde Diplomatique" is published also in Esperanto, http://eo.mondediplo.com/ . The Chinese government publishes daily news in Esperanto, http://esperanto.china.org.cn . They also have two other sites in Esperanto, http://www.espero.com.cn/ and http://esperanto.cri.cn/ . The Esperanto wikipedia has now 229 304 articles which is more than for the Danish or Slovak edition of the wikipedia https://eo.wikipedia.org . In Hungary there are official Esperanto examinations and more than 35 000 people got their Esperanto diploma after 2001, see https://eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistiko_de_Esperantujo#Hungario and http://www.nyak.hu/doc/statisztika.asp?strId=_43_ (all examinations after _2006_; successful and unsuccessful; please note that the sum for Esperanto (összesen) is third after English (angol) and German (német), before French (francia).

Please consider the Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_Esperanto_speakers
about native Esperanto speakers and some publications about Esperanto as a native language:

- Corsetti, Renato. A Mother Tongue Spoken Mainly by Fathers. 1996. Abstract http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/jbp/lplp/1996/00000020/00000003/ar...

- BENJAMIN K. BERGEN. Nativization processes in L1 Esperanto. 2001. http://www.cogsci.ucsd.edu/~bkbergen/papers/NEJCL.pdf

- Jouko Lindstedt. Native Esperanto as a Test Case for Natural Language. (Around 2003/4) http://www.linguistics.fi/julkaisut/SKY2006_1/1FK60.1.5.LINDSTEDT.pdf

Regards

Louis v. Wunsch-Rolshoven
German Esperanto Association, Press officer

Amri Wandel, Sat, 2016-06-04 05:43

Dear Charles Fennig,
You write that Ethnologue updated its item on Esperanto because the information on the number of speakers was considered outdated. Let me draw your attention to my paper "How Many People Speak Esperanto? Esperanto on the Web" in the 2015 issue of the scientific journal Interdisciplinary DEscription of Complex Systems (INDECS; see http://indecs.eu/2015/indecs2015-pp318-321.pdf). To my knowledge this is the most global, objective and scientifically justified estimate to date. Based on official numbers of Facebook, it estimates the number to be 2-3 million, consistent with previous estimates that used very different methods. It is further supported by the recent data from the Duolingo online language course, which reports over 400,000 Esperanto learners in just one year https://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/eo/en/status.
Of course these estimates do not count L1 speakers but rather L2 ones. However, for a planned, non-ethnic language it is meaningless to consider L1 speakers (yet, there are probably a few thousands of native Esperanto speakers in the world). It would be much more informative to give, in the case on non-ethnic or planned languages, the number of L2 speakers, as did Ethnologue's former version, which mentioned 2 million L2 Esperanto speakers: http://web.archive.org/web/20150109121524/http://www.ethnologue.com/lang....
Similarly inappropriate and misleading is the level 9 on the EGIDS scale attributed to Esperanto in Ethnologue's current version. For example, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_culture. Being so far from the actual situation, Ethnologue's classification recently become an joke in several social Esperanto networks, e.g. https://www.facebook.com/groups/esperanto.grupo, prompting posts such as "until reading Ethnologue's description of Esperanto, I did not know I was speaking a dying language and that I can no longer bear children". A more appropriate EGIDS level representing Esperanto's current state would probably be 4-5.
Prof. Amri Wandel
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Amri Wandel, Sat, 2016-06-04 05:35

For other works related to Esperanto, in the issue of INDECS with my article on the number of Esperanto speakers see e.g. https://doaj.org/toc/1334-4676/13/2

Jennifer, Sat, 2016-06-04 09:48

This is a really interesting discussion. Esperanto is definitely a unique case that doesn't quite fit the EGIDS categories in the same way as other languages! I was, however, really surprised to read Prof. Wandel's quote that mentioned that users of the Facebook group have stated "until reading Ethnologue's description of Esperanto, I did not know I was speaking a dying language and that I can no longer bear children."

If the Language Status is to remain 9, I think Prof. Wandel's comment really points to a problem with the description used. The "Language Status" for Esperanto on the main Esperanto page states "9 (Second language only)", which at least explains the logic behind giving it EGIDS 9 status.
However, the Language Cloud page for Esperanto (http://www.ethnologue.com/cloud/epo) makes no mention of this alternative label ("Second language only") at all. The description next to the language cloud image itself actually says: "The EGIDS level for this language in its primary country is 9s egids_9s not found," which must be an error (maybe an unsuccessful attempt to insert the alternative label?). As a result the ONLY description given on the Language Cloud page for Esperanto is the one for the red dot, which reads "Red = Dying (EGIDS 8a-9) — The only fluent users (if any) are older than child-bearing age, so it is too late to restore natural intergenerational transmission through the home; a mechanism outside the home would need to be developed." Definitely, this description is not appropriate for Esperanto! And it is the only description given on the Language Cloud page for Esperanto. I'm guessing that the Language Cloud pages use a standard template or are automatically filled in from a database, but clearly the standard template doesn't accurately describe Esperanto.

On the page https://www.ethnologue.com/about/language-status, it is stated that "In a few cases, alternative labels are assigned to a level in order to distinguish significantly different situations that are associated with the same level on the scale " and in Table 2, "Alternative labels for other special situations," where the alternative labels for EGIDS 9 are given as "Second Language Only" and "Reawakening". Since this alternative meaning (and NOT the standard EGIDS 9 label) is the one currently being used for Esperanto, I think this alternative description should be included in Esperanto's Language Cloud page.

Even if Esperanto's language status changes to something other than 9 due to its standardization and L1 speakers etc., a similar situation will probably exist with its Language Cloud page regardless of the EGIDS status it is given - the standard description may need to be modified for Esperanto or at least explained in an Esperanto-specific way on its Language Cloud page. None of the EGIDS descriptions accurately fit constructed languages, regardless of how many speakers they have or their levels of development…. any categorization of Esperanto will differ in some way from natural languages with the same status.

saliko, Thu, 2016-06-09 02:53

In 2015, prof. Amri Wandel estimated Esperanto speakers to round about 3 millions.
Look for Esperanto-apps on your smartphone. You will see that Esperanto is doing extremly well.
By the way, I'm one of the many Esperanto native speakers.

alejandroescobedomunoz_47456, Thu, 2016-06-09 18:34

Duolingo is great for L2 stats (for example much more people learning Irish than the number of Irish native speakers). Just doing some stats maths from the Esperanto course on Duolingo, just every year:

May 2015-may 2016: 400.000 new learners
2017: 400.000 + 400.000 (from the Spanish version)
2018: 400.000+400.000+200.000 (let's guess that figure from the Russian version that would be launched that year)
2019: 1.200.000+200.000 (another guess from the Chinese version for that previous year)
Etc.

So, by may 2018 there would be, just on Duolingo,
2.200.000 users that would have learned Esperanto (everyday 30 users finish the whole Esperanto course, so from there, every year 10.000 users learn Esperanto, at least with a B2 level).

Stats about native speakers are harder to be found. But I know this: The Hungarian census 2001 found 4575 Esperanto speakers in Hungary (4407 of them learned the language, for 168 of them it is a family or native language); In 2011 it found 8397 Esperanto speakers, 995 of them as native speakers. In 1990 there were 2083 Esperanto speakers in Hungary following the census. Source: http://www.ksh.hu/nepszamlalas/docs/tables/regional/00/00_1_1_4_2_en.xls So every decade the figure Is twice the previous (and the increase is higher for the native figure)

didi_49586, Thu, 2016-06-23 17:17

Dear Mr Fenning, your explanation only shows that your system EGIDS 9 is not working correct and has to be adapted. As you are the manager of this project, this is your responsibility! If in your system wrong facts are stated, this disqualifies it!

Also wrong is your statement that there are no L1 speaker of Esperanto. Myself, I am a L1 speaker of Esperanto and of course my wife and my children. Esperanto is our family language, and there are several 1000 such international families around the world, we have also regular meetings of Esperanto families. So the information in your system is just wrong also in this point – I have no idea about the exact number of L1 speakers of Esperanto but there are for sure more than 10000. About the number of L2 speakers there is of course no statistic figure available – I estimate the number actually at about 3500000 all around the world. For sure, there are more than 2 million (only the number of new learners in the different internet platforms during the last 12 months is more than 1 million), 3,5 million seems to me realistic, there could be also up to 10 million, this also depends on how one counts...

So, I strongly hope, you will correct the errors in this page about Esperanto – no need for explanations, just do it! lic. phil. Dietrich Michael Weidmann

Chuck Fennig, Mon, 2016-07-25 13:59

Dear contributors,

Thanks so much for all the input we have received from you on Esperanto [epo] in the Ethnologue!

We will be making corrective changes in the Ethnologue database to be published in the 20th edition early next year. Among other changes, we will be adding both an L1 speaker population (1,000) and an L2 population (2 million). Other information will be added to round out the picture.

We would ideally like to have speaker populations for various countries where Esperanto is spoken. For the moment, we will list the major countries based on membership in the UEA (top 7 countries).

Most importantly, Esperanto will not be described as a dying language, but as a Language of Wider Communication (EGIDS 3) -- purple dot.

Best regards,
Charles Fennig
Managing Editor, Ethnologue

Emilio, Mon, 2016-07-25 16:25

Dear Chuck Fennig,

In the april number of our magazine, we published the number of our members.
http://www.gazetaro.org/Aprila16Reta.22.pdf

The top 10 countries are:

Japan 1207
China 1187
France 1081
Germany 1066
Italy 822
Poland 587
United States 561
Brazil 560
Belgium 453
Britain 411

total number of countries: 121
total number of members: 14,716

Thanks

Emilio Cid

Emilio, Mon, 2016-07-25 16:25

Dear Chuck Fennig,

In the april number of our magazine, we published the number of our members.
http://www.gazetaro.org/Aprila16Reta.22.pdf

The top 10 countries are:

Japan 1207
China 1187
France 1081
Germany 1066
Italy 822
Poland 587
United States 561
Brazil 560
Belgium 453
Britain 411

total number of countries: 121
total number of members: 14,716

Thanks

Emilio Cid