LINGUIST List 10.874

Tue Jun 8 1999

Books: Esperanto

Editor for this issue: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar <>

Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.


  1. LINCOM EUROPA, New book: Esperanto; grammar

Message 1: New book: Esperanto; grammar

Date: Sat, 05 Jun 1999 11:14:05 +0200
Subject: New book: Esperanto; grammar

- - The first critical linguistic analysis of Esperanto --

Christopher Gledhill, University of St. Andrews

This book provides a detailed description of Esperanto for linguists who
are not familiar with the language. Its main aim is to demonstrate that
Esperanto not only has complex system of etymology and word formation,
but also of syntax and phraseology. Another aim is to determine to what
extent the language has extended beyond its original conception in 1887.
This work presents for the first time statistical and contextual
analysis from a representative computer-based text archive using the
latest techniques of corpus linguistics. 
	Esperanto is an ideal object of study for linguists since it is the
most widespread and best known example of an artificial language. In
theory, Esperanto represents a regular, easily assimilated language
designed for international use. Yet the language also came to be used
socially among fellow enthusiasts, intellectually as a literary forum
and politically for propaganda, especially in the communist era.
Conservative estimates indicate 50,000 speakers, which is large by
minority language standards. Yet Esperanto's status as a second language
and ideological project has only recently attracted socio-linguistic
fieldwork (Stocker 1995) and the language has undergone almost no
critical linguistic analysis. 
	Traditional descriptions point out that some syntactic elements of
Esperanto are a priori rational systems which resemble few other
languages, while most morpho-lexical elements are a posteriori and
resemble donor languages such as Latin. Popular accounts of Esperanto
rely on the '16 rules' which have led to the misconception that
Esperanto has a minimal grammar. However, in the natural development of
the language some original creole-like characteristics have emerged
beyond Zamenhof's original design. For example, the uncertainty over
aspect or tense in verbs, the increasing use of adverbs and
prepositional-adverbs, or variable theme orientation in compound nouns.
These processes are evidence of evolution in the language, although some
have led to conflicts within the movement. There is particular debate 
about the degree to which it is possibile to control the language of
what is essentially a discourse-community as well as a speech community
(Swales 1990). All these factors make the language difficult to
categorize according to traditional formulae. This volume outlines a
linguistic description of the particularities of the language, from the
morphosyntax to elements of phraseolgy. The description is based on a
computational analysis of a written text archive (a corpus of 350 000
words). The corpus analysis reveals consistent patterns of phraseology
which point to linguistic richness and dynamism. These patterns belie
the receivced wisdom that artificial languages cannot really display
natural complexity. [A version of this text in Esperanto can be seen on
LINCOM'S web site]

Contents: 0 Historical and social background. 1 Phonology 2 Morphology
3 Syntax 4 Phraseology 5 Interlinear transcription Appendices: corpus
statistics and word lists.

ISBN 3 89586 217 7. 
Languages of the World/Materials 190. 
Ca. 100pp. USD 44 / DM 62 / pound sterling 24. 

Ordering information for individuals: Please give us your creditcard no.
/ expiry date or send us a cheque. Prices in this information include
shipment worldwide by airmail.
LINCOM EUROPA, Paul-Preuss-Str. 25, D-80995 Muenchen, Germany; FAX +49
89 3148909; 
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1999 Contributors

  • Arnold Publishers
  • Blackwell Publishers
  • Cascadilla Press
  • CSLI Publications
  • Elsevier Science, Ltd.
  • Finno-Ugrian Society
  • Indiana University Linguistics Club Publications
  • John Benjamins Publishing Company
  • Kluwer Academic Publishers
  • Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.
  • Lincom Europa
  • MIT Press--Books Division
  • MIT Working Papers in Linguisticsi
  • Mouton de Gruyter
  • Pacific Linguistics
  • Summer Institute of Linguistics
  • Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS
  • Vaxjo:Acta Wexionesia