Esperanto havas liberan vortordon

Esperanto havas pli liberan vortordon ol kelkaj aliaj lingvoj.

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(Ĉi tiu bildo venas el Kolekisto de Frazoj.)

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Ili estas Indiĝinaj Amerikanoj, ne Indianoj!

Last night, I unintentionally got into a heated discussion regarding the use of the term “Indian” to refer to what we now call Native Americans, or First Nations Peoples. The term, “Indian,” dates back to the days of Columbus’ accidental “discovery” of islands in the Caribbean. He thought he had reached India, and so he referred to the native peoples he met as “Indians.”

It is not accurate to call the indigenous peoples of the Americas, “Indians,” as they are not at all related culturally or ethnically to the peoples of South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. In fact, the term is now considered offensive by many in the United States and Canada.

The Esperanto word for “Native Americans in the United States” is “Indianoj.” Now, this is because Esperanto originated in the late 19th century, and the term “Indian” was still in common use. (See the Vikipedio entry on the subject; in Esperanto.) My query to the Duolingo Esperanto Learners group was about using more accurate and less offensive terms to refer to the entire group of indigenous peoples of the Americas:

I have read in several places that the Esperanto name for Native Americans (aka First Nations Peoples in Canada) is “Indianoj.” I understand that since the days of Columbus, people have referred to Native Americans as “Indians,” but that is seen as offensive in our day and age. Not to mention that it is a complete mistake, as Columbus thought he had arrived in India and not a continent between Europe and Asia. The peoples he encountered had been living in North America for millennia.

To that end, is there any movement within Esperanto to change the name to something less offensive, and more accurate?

Would it be unacceptable to refer to them as “Indiĝinaj Amerikanoj” or “Unuaj Naciaj Popoloj”? While “Indianoj” may be correct in Esperanto, it feels wrong for me to use it.

The better responses I received are from Lee Miller (one of the group’s moderators and Esperanto experts) as follows:

I don’t think there’s any “movement”, but I do think “indiĝenoj” is probably more frequently used now than “Indianoj”. But all languages struggle with socially appropriate terminology–it’s not a unique Esperanto problem.

“Indianoj” in Esperanto doesn’t carry any negative connotation, and is clearly distinct from “hindoj” or “baratanoj” used for people from India. The word “indiĝeno(j)” is also in use in Esperanto.

Despite Lee’s assurance that “Indianoj” has no negative connotation in Esperanto, I do not wish to use the term. It may have its basis in history, but that basis was founded on mistaken identity and does not accurately describe the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In its place, I will use the term “Indiĝenaj Amerikanoj.”

Am I stepping beyond the bounds of the Esperantujo? Frankly, I could care less. No, I am not being flippant, I am simply standing my ground and refusing to refer to a group with a name that *IS* considered derogatory in modern English (despite what some in the discussion had to say,) as it should be in all languages. I am more concerned with accuracy than I am with sticking with tradition for tradition’s sake.

What do you think about this topic? How do you refer to Native Americans when speaking Esperanto?

Memoru la Ĉerokoj

Mi sidas antaŭ statuo de Ĉeroka Indiano en Ĉattanugo, ĵus ekster la Tenesia Akvario. La Ĉerokoj loĝis en mia region en Usono, sed ili ne loĝas ĉi tie nun. Tre malfeliĉa afero. Legu pli pri la Ĉerokoj: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee (en la angla; bedaŭrinde, Vikipedio ne havas retpaĝon pri ili)

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A seahorse is not a walrus!

Recently, I visited the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee in the USA. It is a beautiful facility with an amazing collection of wildlife, including not only aquatic species, but some others as well. One of the first exhibits I saw was about seahorses.

I was thinking about Esperanto, as I always do, and I realized that I did not know the Esperanto name for seahorses. I checked my trusty vortaro on my poŝtelefono, but all I could find was the name rosmaro. When I backtracked the word, it is actually the name for walruses, which also used to be referred to as “sea horses,” but that is not a common reference to them in modern American English.

So, I posted the question on Twitter and in the Duolingo Esperanto Learners group on Facebook. I almost instantly got a response. (Thanks guys!)

The word for “seahorse” in Esperanto is: HIPOKAMPO. This comes from the Greek, and means something like “sea monster horse.” I suppose that this is a good name for these unusual and beautiful creatures.

Interestingly, there is a region of the brain known as the hippocampus. It also has the name hipokampo in Esperanto. I had no idea why, until I was shown this photo:

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Incredible, eh? I am astounded and amazed at the shocking similarity in the shapes of these two. Who knew we were all walking around with little seahorses living inside our heads!

I love Esperanto, because learning one thing always leads me to being informed about many other things.

I will be posting more about my trip to the Tennessee Aquarium soon!

The Correlative Table in Esperanto

Great video by Alex Miller about Esperanto’s correlatives. For me, this was one of the most challenging parts of learning Esperanto. I understand them now, but it took a while and a lot of thinking and studying. I found a good book that helped a lot, too.

In all honesty, the way that I finally mastered correlatives was taking a mini-course on Memrise about them. Also, I began writing Esperanto daily and found that I had to know how to use a correlative, such as “kiu,” in order to write properly. So, I learned by study and by practice.

Alex gives us a great overview of correlatives. Watch it on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to his channel!

Mi ĉeestis Esperantan renkontiĝon!

On Saturday, I attended my first Esperanto renkontiĝo! The Esperanta-Societo de Metropola Atlanto (ESMA) held its monthly meeting at Thinking Man Tavern in Decatur, GA. Only a few people showed up, but those of us who did had a wonderful time.

I live an hour northwest of Atlanta, so I left my house really early to make sure I got there on time. I arrived an hour early, so I sat down and reviewed some Esperanto before the other members arrived. About 20 minutes before the meeting was to begin, two people arrived. One of them was carrying an Esperanto flag, so I assumed that they must be part of the ESMA group. I nerviously greeted them, “Saluton!”

I was very nervous about speaking Esperanto with others, as I have had no real practice speaking it other than to myself. I worried that I might mispronounce a word, or maybe even forget a word that I needed to use. Thankfully, all of my months of study finally pulled together in my mind, and I was able to carry on a long conversation with the others in Esperanto with great confidence. I was even complimented on my speaking skill. This made me very happy.

Shortly after the meeting began, we had a couple more people show up. These two are Duolingo learners, as I am as well. They were not very far into the course, but they made a great effort to speak and understand. I commend them for it, because I am not sure that I would have been as confident as they are when I was at the same point in my studies.

We all talked about our love for Esperanto, trips and experiences we had had abroad, etc. We also learned that two Esperantists from Cuba are coming in late June, and we plan to have a meeting during their stay so that they can meet everyone.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the food at Thinking Man is incredible. I enjoyed their delicious, house-made veggie burger. A couple of the others ordered a vegetarian barbecue sandwich that looked really good. (No, I am not a vegetarian, but I do love some vegetarian cuisine. I also learned that there is a connection between the Esperanto movement and vegetarianism, a topic I will have to research in more detail.)

I paid my dues, and now I am an official member of ESMA! I feel legit now. I volunteered to help with social media promotions for the group, and I am really excited about this new project.

The next renkontiĝo will be held on May 20th, again at Thinking Man Tavern. If you are in the Atlanta-area, I hope that you will join us. Ĝis la revido!