Thursday, May 21, 2009

Who Needs Esperanto

Esperanto was a ‘quango language’ developed in some vain attempt create a generic language we could all use. It failed.

For some time Google has offer it translate function under its search and we have often dropped whole chunks of text in it in order that we can understand text written in a foreign language. It may not get the grammar right but in a few seconds it does a great job of translation.

Following hot on the heels of its native PDF support, Google have now announced that it will embedded the feature into its email service GMAIL. A simply enables "Message Translation" from the Labs tab under Settings, and when you receive an email in a language other than your own, in one click Gmail will help you translate it into a language you can understand.

The question is whether it will be enough to get people to move to GMAIL, or whether users will simply cut and paste into the existing Google translation service.

15 comments:

Gene Keyes said...

Esperanto has not failed. It is both written and spoken by many thousands of people around the world.

Google "esperanto" and you will get 52,000,000 results. Check out the first few!

Also, Google does not translate speech, and is no substitute for being able to communicate to one another in Esperanto, which is intended as everyone's second language.

PS: Esperanto is not a "quango" language; it has no government financing. It has always been neutral and nongovernmental.

--Gene Keyes

Bill Chapman said...

"Esperanto was a ‘quango language’ developed in some vain attempt create a generic language we could all use. It failed."

Sorry, I disagree. Esperanto is a remarkable success story. I have used it on my travels for many years, most recently in Africa.

Take a look at www.esperanto.net

Anonymous said...

Esperanto was a ‘quango language’ developed in some vain attempt create a generic language we could all use. It failed.
To whom failed esperanto?
To you?
But not to all others that use esperanto every day!
How come Wikipedia, Google, Ipernity, Firefox and many others use esperanto if it failed, how is that possible?
Why can I listen to Radio on the net, podcast, from
Australia, Poland, Canada, Brazil and China if it failed.
Please find true facts before writing nonsense.

Remush said...

Who needs a serious update on Esperanto?

Esperanto ranks among the 100 most used languages on the planet.
It is no vain attempt, it is a full-blown language, with all the bells and whistles.
There is no doubt we could all use Esperanto if we had the motivation to learn it.
Remuŝ

The motivation of English people to learn any foreign language is unfortunately very low.

If there is a failure somewhere, it is in the meaning that a national language could be good for non-native speakers. That's what the French thought of their national language, only fifty years ago. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Start learning Esperanto, you might discover that you are capable of learning another foreign language.

Remush said...

Who needs a serious update on Esperanto?

Esperanto ranks among the 100 most used languages on the planet.
It is no vain attempt, it is a full-blown language, with all the bells and whistles.
There is no doubt we could all use Esperanto if we had the motivation to learn it.

The motivation of English people to learn any foreign language is unfortunately very low.

If there is a failure somewhere, it is in the meaning that a national language could be good for non-native speakers. That's what the French thought of their national language, only fifty years ago. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Start learning Esperanto, you might discover that you are capable of learning another foreign language.
Remuŝ

Tim said...

For info: this year's World Congress of Esperanto expects around 2000 participants from 50+ countries, who will all be using Esperanto throughout the week for committee meetings, seminars, presentations, poetry reading, theatre, and cultural visits.

In between, they'll still be using Esperanto for small talk, heavy talk, chatting, berating, ordering, flirting, stocking up on books from the thousands of titles on offer, probably occasionally losing their temper... in short, pretty much everything you'd do in a typical week in English.

An interesting definition of "failure", I'd say.

Now, you could certainly point out that Esperanto is, shall we say, somewhat less widely used than its creator might have hoped for by now, and you'd be entirely correct, but to claim that the language itself is somehow unfit for purpose is... well, wrong. See above.

marianas said...

What is a "quango language"? I have never heard that phrase before, and neither Urban Dictionary nor Wikipedia has an entry...

Patriko said...

Some day, likely a long long time from now, computer-performed translation will lessen the need for Esperanto. Even then, when I go traveling in foreign countries and meet someone on the street - in a shop, anywhere directly, I'll prefer Esperanto and not some gadget to help me communicate. Before the Internet came and changed all our lives forever maybe saying "Esperanto is dead" wouldhave been partly true. Google it, check it out. Esperanto is VERY alive and in use. More so, its use is growing quickly. --Patrick Hooker

Sirius Alexander said...

Well, the automatic translation works satisfactorily only with similar language group. If you would knew Russian, you could humor yourself with an automatic translation from English into Russian and vice versa.

I must admit, though, that the Google translation works much better than other translation programs I used before.

But, in my humble opinion, the automatic translation doesn't remove the need for direct communication between people. That's when Esperanto could be handy.

Anonymous said...

Esperanto has not failed.

I do speak it, as well as many other people (between 100,000 and 2,000,000).

Jacob said...

Forgesu tiun stultulon :-)

Kaj, se vi tuthazarde bezonas maŝintradukon, pripensu uzi maŝintradukon al Esperanto.
Pluraj sistemoj ekzistas, i.a. http://www.apertium.org/?lang=eo kaj http://traduku.net/.

espliego said...

Esperanto has not failed yet, but it has remained a señorito's hobby language.

However, I can't believe you belong to the publishing world, seeing the grammar mistakes in your post.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that uneducated people who know nothing about our language continue to assume that it is a failure? We haven't become the world's lingua franca, but that doesn't make us a failure. Our numbers go every year. We're not losing speakers.

Merrick said...

Tis unfortunate, but many places in the world does not use english as either a 2nd or 3rd language. Some places like Japan (been there) have very little knowledge of the english languge (yes, no and thank you usually...)

For if and when english-speaking tourists find their phrasebook lacking in getting them what they want, they immediately revert back to english and expects everyone to be able to understand the language.

If esperanto allows many people from different countries to express themselves to one another. Great, the language works.

Therefore it cannot be considered a failed language.

Many languages have existed before the ones we use now. For whatever reason, they've died out.

No doubt that from latin, sprung forth many different lingos (sorry too long to type) such as english and french. English was once a mish-mash of various languages pummeled together. It was once a new language.

Now it's esperanto's turn. Only this is made with an objective to be easy to learn for people of today.

There is no reason why you shouldn't pick it up. And those who say otherwise are either too ignorant to know better (bad) and those who are picky with their languages (somewhat narrow-minded but people are entitled to their own opinion as long as it doesn't spoil it for the rest of the world).

.. and I think I should stop this epically-sized comment.

Kable said...

Martyn, I think you were misinformed or didn't look into Esperanto seriously. It is not a "quango language" whatever that is. It is almost entirely based on latin roots and just is completely phonetic and with regular grammar without exceptions. It is the lack of these latter 2 elements that make other languages difficult. It was my home language with my late wife and lacks nothing compared to other languages. Investigate and then make your comments.