Saluton de Esperantio!

Kar-a amik-o!

Mi present-as al mi kia-n vizag-o-n vi far-os post la ricev-o de mi-a leter-o.  Vi rigard-os la sub-skrib-o-n kaj ek-kri-os: “Cu li perd-is la sag-o-n?  Je kia lingv-o li skrib-is?  Kio-n signif-as la foli-et-o, kiu-n li aldon-is al sia-a leter-o?”  Trankuil-ig-v, mi-a kar-a!  Mi-a sag-o, kiel mi almenau kred-as, est-as tut-e en ordo.

al – to;  kia – what kind;  vizag- – face;  far- – to make;  kaj – and;  ek- – out;  li – he;  perd- – lose;  sag- – wise;  je – in;  kio – what;  kiv – which;  don- – give;  si – self;  ig – cause;  -u – imperative;  kiel – as;  almenau – at least

The ciphered text above  is what Ludovic L. Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto, gave as an introductory sample of his new language.  He would encourage his friends and family to write these letters and send them to yet more acquaintances.  He would include a short word list and a simple language guide and let the recipient’s curiosity get the best of them.  In this manner he launched Esperanto, the international language.

I’ve been reading Arika Orent’s In the Land of Invented Languages and I got the sample letter above from it.  In addition to Esperanto, Orent follows the trail of modern Hebrew, Volapük, Ido, Blissymbolics, Lojban, Klingon, and many others.  I don’t think she meant it to inspire a fresh wave of adherents to Esperanto but it has convinced me to start studying it (at least casually).  I have a friend who is an Esperantist and his multi-lingual savvy has inspired me to try and do likewise.  Plus, would I look bad ass or what in this t-shirt?

Esperu por mi bonsxancon!   

Oh and PS: Here’s the translation of the sample letter in case you want to cheat. (I had to.)

Dear friend,

I can only imagine what kind of face you will make after receiving my letter.  You will look at the signature and cry out, “Has he lost his mind?  In what language did he write?  What’s the meaning of this leaflet that is added to the letter?”  Calm down, my dear.  My senses, at least as far as I believe, are all in order.



  1. Bill Chapman said,

    March 8, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Saluton al vi!

    The text you cite was accompanied by a little booklet called a ŝlosilo (key). These tiny booklets existed in a number of languages including Welsh. The idea was that a Spaniard, say, would write in Esperanto to a company in Albania or Sweden, including the appropriate little “key” which would allow the recipient to translate into their mother tongue.
    A few typos crept into the text. It should read:
    Kar-a amik-o!
    Mi prezent-as al mi kia-n vizaĝ-o-n vi far-os post la ricev-o de mi-a leter-o. Vi rigard-os la sub-skrib-o-n kaj ek-kri-os: “Cu li perd-is la saĝ-o-n? Je kia lingv-o li skrib-is? Kio-n signif-as la foli-et-o, kiu-n li aldon-is al sia-a leter-o?” Trankvil-iĝ-u, mi-a kar-a! Mi-a saĝ-o, kiel mi almenaŭ kred-as, est-as tut-e en ordo.
    Incidentally, this text from 1887 gives a false impression of what the language looks like now.
    I’ve used Esperanto for many years, and it certainly repays the time you have to put into learning it.

  2. thedialect said,

    March 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm


    Dankon! This is a great correction and contribushe. The Dialect is very new to Esperanto and does not yet posess a dictionary and therefore must laboriously use the internet for translations. It does seem that the language is much different now which is to be expected. This gem from Orent’s book is fun nevertheless. The Dialect loves visiting professors so post a few of your favorite phrases or tips and everyone can learn a bit of Esperanto.

  3. oliver said,

    March 11, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Saluton kara kamarado,

    I’m happy to see you coming along with Esperanto. I got Arika Okrent’s book for Christmas and I found it absolutely fascinating, I couldn’t put it down and finished it by about December 28th. I don’t think her purpose was to proselytize Esperanto per-se (there’s already a slew of much less-interesting evangelical literature), but she speaks Esperanto and I’m sure she’s happy with the interest her book is raising – I’m sure you’re not the only one who’s decided to check out Esperanto after reading her book.

    I’m looking forward to future posts about Esperanto from thedialect. Have you seen the multi-lingual instructional website ? It’s chock full of material, but also has a handy dictionary built-in.

    Interestingly, the Catalonia federation of the Spanish CGT just passed a resolution supporting Esperanto, while the CNT has a number of active Esperantists who write an instructional column for their paper.

    One of my favorite phrases: “Je via sano, samideano!” It’s said as a toast and means “To your health, comrade!” but it has a much better ring to it.

  4. oliver said,

    March 11, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Also you might like this pamphlet from 1923, entitled “Esperanto and Labour”:

    The conclusion: “Successful and efficient working‑class organization on a world scale is the only way out of the present world chaos and misery. Esperanto is one of the most important means to that end. “Workers of the world, unite!” Esperanto furnishes the means!”

  5. thedialect said,

    March 13, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Dankon, Oliver for your excellent contributions. You are my Esperanto inspiration! There’s another fellow out here who is pushing Esperanto as a revolutionary tool. I should connect you two.

  6. weight said,

    October 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    i can has cheeseburger?

  7. thedialect said,

    December 31, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Jes, Weight, vi povas havi cheeseburger. Sed nur unu.

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