Quiet weekend: finding Esperanto resources

It’s been a quiet weekend with gloomy weather. A good time to prepare for future blog posts. (A day’s blog post often has several days of research or preparation behind it.) And to note small errands today.

My ability to read Esperanto has gotten much better recently entirely from running through Montagu C. Butler’s hoary Step-by-Step in Esperanto. Got this copy at the D.C. public library — main Martin Luther King Jr. branch; foreign language section — but I figure I’ll make so much use of it that I’ve made the now-unusual step of actually buying a copy. The exercises should, in time, help with my written and spoken Esperanto, and so I’ve started downloading Esperanto podcasts to improve my hearing comprehension. (I use Rhythmbox to manage and listen to them.)

Among them:

China Radio International has a broadcast (using Windows encoding!) but I can’t find a podcast, so will read their Mikrofone magazine instead.

Where I step out to translate Esperanto . . .

Like a medieval schoolboy translating Latin aphorisms, I plan to translate out what I can of L. L. Zamenhof’s Deklaracio pri homaranismo (1913). (PDF download site). This will surely take some time, and I’d appreciate correction from more experienced Esperantists.

L. L. Zamenhof was the inventor of the Esperanto language, but he also speculated in religion. Originally called Hillelismo (Hillelism) for the Jewish sage Hillel, his thought developed into Homaranismo, which is sometimes translated — if unconvincingly — as humanism or humanitarianism.

There is frustratingly little written in English about Homaranismo, though I suspect it may have been intended to serve an “auxiliary religion” function as Esperanto would for a mother tongue. Keep what’s native, but rely on the auxiliary in common discourse across cultures. An interesting thought, and certainly rare in the West, if it is so.

Something I love about Esperanto organizations

I love the membership cards. What’s the point of being a card-carrying Esperantist, if you don’t get a membership card?

KELI membership card, 2011

I got this one in the mail yesterday, and shows I paid my dues to “United-Statesian” section of the League of Christian Esperantists International for 2011, if that wasn’t plain.

But apart from the symbolic value, membership cards can signal voting rights, link to services and log-ins and note benefits of membership.

This might not be the most practical of tools for church administration or religious associations, but they can be made easily with the gLabels software (for the GNOME desktop, usually associated with Linux users) I mentioned before, and I’ll begin reviewing it this weekend.

Esperanto flashcards for learning correlatives

I’ve been having a devil of a time with correlatives in Esperanto, so have made up some flashcards and thought I would share. Download both PDFs; print one on one side of letter-sized cardstock or heavy paper and then the other on the flip side. Cut along the guide lines. The cards will be the same size as U.S. business cards.

The English side

La flanko esperanta

This is one in a short series where

  • I use and document (later) a use for free and open-source software in a way I’ve not seen used. Some useful for church administration, too
  • Making something for Esperanto users (like the hymnal and service book I transcribed last week)
  • Steeling myself for writing in Esperanto in public (not quite ready; there’s that correlatives problem for one.)

Alternate English translations for the correlatives are also welcome.

1907 Esperanto hymn and service book

I transcribed and have just now published the Esperanto booklet Ordo de Diservo — “Order of God-service” — prepared for the third Universal Congress of Esperantists, in Cambridge, England in 1907. (A brief Wikipedia entry, if you read Esperanto.)

Some — Esperanto readers anyway — will love the charming original hymns while others will enjoy the translated Anglican morning prayer service.

Thanks both to Ros’ Haruo of Biblioteko Culbert, Seattle, who published scans made by Karl Heinz Schaeffer from a copy in the possession of the German Esperanto Library, Aalen

Goals: 41 to 42

I recently had a birthday, and am now 41 years old. That gives me a year before I reach 42, which — as I knew, and surprisingly others also volunteered — is “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.”

But the proof that I really am in my forties is that my personal goals are much more modest. Or at the very least it means that I don’t have time for self-serving and dysfunctional causes. More about that later.

As for those goals: weight-loss is a perennial, and I hope we might refinance the mortgage, but neither of these are related to this blog. And then there’s legal marriage, but hitting the right mark between civil marriage and our Christian faith — especially since we had the church wedding seven years ago and the fact that we won’t get any more rights by marrying — means it’s more of  process than a goal.

Not having a local religious home is a sore point, but again more of a process than a goal. I have some thoughts about a nonlocal home that I’ll share as the 2010-2011 year goes on.

For skills, I want to be reasonably proficient in Esperanto, say, to read magazines without halting and carry on a non-technical conversation with infrequent circumlocution or clarifying questions, before the next Landa Kongreso. I also want to learn enough Python — as a goal — to use it to solve a problem that I would normally solve in a Rube Goldberg way.

But one goal I’m particularly proud of — writing 100 letters. Pre-email, I was an avid correspondent, and I both miss writing and receiving proper letters. So that, with dusting off some sermon and knot-tying skills, are my modest goals for the next year. No ultimate questions on display, but I hope to share of some of what I develop here.

Esperanto flash cards to download

In a break from UUA General Assembly matters, I want to offer my readers Esperanto flash cards. Any not just any old flash cards, but for the dreaded correlatives (korelativoj).

These are words such as that (thing), everyone and none that I take for granted in English but find difficult to memorize in Esperanto, even though they are arrayed in a perfectly logical way.

To make your own flash cards, download both of the attached files. Print the five pages on 8.5×11 inch thin card or thick paper. Use the other file to print the other side, using your printer’s instructions. Use the printed guidelines to cut the cards apart; each will be the size of a US business card.

Now, how I made these PDFs is another matter, and the subject of a future blog post.

General Assembly? Visit Unitarian Universalist Esperanto Network table

I’ve been buzzing about how much I’ve gotten from studying Esperanto — it even scratches my Universalism itch — and think many others might get something out of it, too.

If you’re at the UUA General Assembly, be sure to visit the Unitarian Universalist Esperanto Network table at the Culture Company booth (#334) in the exhibit hall. Tell Sherry Wells (no relation) and Neil Blonstein and whomever else is there that Scott sent you.

One appeal of Esperanto

I am an emerging Esperantist — komencanto; a beginner — though like others I met at the Landa Kongreso last month, it helps if you’ve been previously exposed to the contagion. And apart from my studies as a child and college student, there was a familiarity. A familiarity built up in years of living with Unitarian Universalists.

A few days ago, blogger and minister Dan Harper asked where people get their “Universalism fix.” I suppose I had been getting it from reading, and certainly there have been isolated Universalists for whom that was their main or only outlet. But at some point — when I’m no longer sure — that I figured I might as well act like one. If Universalist Christianity, by what I mean when I think Universalism, had continued robustly, I’m sure I’d be doing other things than Sunday services and Sunday school. I would try to live like other people’s salvation was assured, like grace was free and that “holiness and true happiness were inseparably connected,” to quote the Winchester Profession.

One way I’ve found to do this is to learn something, or become familiar with something, that pulls me out my familiar life or habits — something directed toward the common good, or in particular, creates access to resources that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

So, apart from the fun and the community — some reasons people go to church, too — I am learning Esperanto to develop and continue a community that commonly and easily leaps across ethnic and national lines, and insists that people should not be humiliated or deprived of access because their native language has low-status, or because their use of English (or another dominant language; but what matches it today?) is eccentric or incomplete.

That’s one place I get my Universalism fix.

To start learning Esperanto — many students are self-directed — try Esperanto-USA, or your own landa organization. Or go to Lernu.net directly, which is where I’m improving my skills.


I attended the Esperanto Usona Landa Kongreso — United-States-ian National Congress — in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, and I think I’m hooked. Proof: I’m in a blue shirt, a third of the way from the top. The next LK — pronounced “loko” — is in Berkeley, Kalifornio and I plan on being there.

More about my experience there later. I plan on blogging on my learning plan and in time adding posts in la lingvo internacia. More importantly, why I should do such a thing, and why you might.

With this post, I’m opening an Esperanto category.