We need Esperanto 2.0

by phil on Friday Jun 27, 2008 4:37 AM

I considered learning Esperanto when I was a kid until I saw one, seemingly small, but unfortunately fatal problem with it: diacritics.

a b c ĉ d e f g ĝ h ĥ i j ĵ k l m n o p r s ŝ t u ŭ v z

The keyboards to type that aren't pervasive enough. It's too bad. The modern Windows QWERTY keyboard is a standard, accepted, uniform language for humans. Make something facile, and people will use it.


Brian Barker said on June 27, 2008 4:31 PM:

English also has diacritic marks, namely the letters "i" and "j" not to mention the "o" in the English word "role"

Perhaps Esperanto should not be dissed then?

Is there any language in the world that does not have diacritic marks? Apart from Mandarin Chinese?

Philip Dhingra said on June 27, 2008 4:46 PM:


Remuŝ said on June 28, 2008 10:45 AM:

You may read an answer to that at http://remush.be/rebuttal/spelling.html
In short Esperanto uses the same kind of system as German does (ue for ü, oe for ö) but Esperanto uses h instead (ch gh hh jh sh for ĉ ĝ ĥ ĵ ŝ and u for ŭ). Moreover, if you have a good justification, you may use another system. (most use x to be able to convert automatically. See http://remush.be/esperanto/alunikodo.html .)
English is perhaps easy to type, but sometime uses 4 letters for one sound, what is neither economical nor "phonetical").
Some would like that system (ch gh etc) to become the only official one. There is no urgency.
But you probably knew all that already.

mankso said on June 28, 2008 11:13 AM:

The so-called "problem" with diacritics is, as already pointed out, spurious. It's probably the monolingually myopic designers of the Windows keyboard who should have been taken to task for seeming not to realize that all European languages, with the debatable exception of English (façade, résumé, coöperate, señor, São Paolo), use diacritics without problem. I understand that even Vietnamese can now be typed without problem using Unicode.
Even in highschool around 1950 my portable, non-electric Swiss Hermes typewriter with International keyboard was able to handle the diacritics of ALL W. European languages (and Esperanto)! And my present Mac seems to have no problems either.

Philip Dhingra said on June 29, 2008 4:07 PM:

For all practical purposes, more or less nobody in the US knows, off the top of their head, how to type a letter with a diacritic.

Reality isn't the problem.

Rahul said on June 30, 2008 9:11 AM:

Let's not be limited by what we think are the available physical forms of technology. In two weeks of travel in Turkey I found the net very accessible. In most places I was using a Turkish keyboard. Tough to get used to, because the letters and accents are distracting. But Windows has settings where it will interpret the keystrokes as plain English, or you can switch it to Turkish. I'm sure there are Esperanto keyboards out there, and Esperanto settings in the software I/O configurations. /rd

Philip Dhingra said on June 30, 2008 9:09 PM:

This isn't just about Esperanto. No language should have diacritics. Diacritics are there to say that such-and-such is pronounced another way than the character that doesn't have diacritics. But pronunciation should be inherent and obvious to the actual characters.

Matt Kaufman said on December 24, 2008 8:44 AM:

If obvious pronunciation is the goal, English should be one of the first languages we eliminate. There's nothing obvious about it.

It seems to me that the complaint is specifically about the diacritic characters, rather than what they represent. Otherwise Esperanto with the "x" or "h" substitutions would allow for obvious pronunciation, as well as eliminating your concern with the diacritic marks.

Personally, I like the character set of Esperanto, as well as other languages. Diversity is a good thing, and we need input devices to allow for such diversity.

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