Esperanto/Lesson 1

From Wikiversity
Jump to: navigation, search

Main pageNext lesson

In this lesson we will first get acquainted with the pronunciation of Esperanto, after which we will get to know some very basic facts about Esperanto nouns and verbs. As always, there will be vocabulary to be memorized.

How to pronounce Esperanto[edit]

Esperanto is exactly pronounced as it is written and written as pronounced. Despite being a constructed language that is mainly spoken by second-language speakers, there are distinct norms about what is a good pronunciation. We will start this course by discussing and practicing these norms.

b, d, f, h, m, n, v, and z are pronounced as in English. As in most native English accents, b and d are still pronounced as such (i.e. as voiced consonants) at the end of a word, and do not become devoiced to something like a "p" or "t", e.g. "sub" and "sed" do not sound like "sup"* and "set"*.

Esperanto has 5 vowels, which are distinctly different from any of the vowels of English. They are the same as the five vowels of Spanish. All are pronounced clearly, without any offglides from one sound to another (which is common in English). If two vowels directly follow one another, then both are still pronounced exactly the same and as part of different syllables. In words of two or more syllables, the next-to-last syllable (penult) is always stressed.

Letter Pronunciation (IPA) Audio Closest to English ...
a /a/
Between the most common pronunciations of English "father" and "man".
The first part of English "i" in "fine" without the offglide to the 'ee'.
e /e/
The first part of an English "a" in "lane" without the offglide to the 'ee'.
i /i/
As English 'ee' in "eel", but shorter. This is the most common pronunciation in "city".
o /o/
The first part of an English "o" in "bone" without the offglide to the 'oo'.
u /u/
As English 'oo' in "boon", but shorter.


Before continuing on to the consonants that are pronounced differently from English, take some time to practice pronouncing these vowels. The exercises below will guide you through this.

Exercises
First, practice pronouncing the vowels on their own. Take your time to manage to pronounce them without any offglides.
Now practice pronouncing them together with some consonants:
ba, fa, ha, ma, na, va, za, de, fe, he, me, ne, ve, ze, bi, fi, hi, mi, ni, vi, zi, bo, do, fo, ho, mo, no, vo, zo, du, fu, hu, mu, nu, vu, zu.
Again, take your time and make sure you pronounce them without any offglides.
Finally, practice them in some short words:
mano, amo, emo, manon, nubo, nova, novan, ami, emi, umo, nana, vazo, zono, havi, viva, ino, ido, malo, ano, bele, nenio.
Again, take your time and make sure you pronounce them without any offglides.
Please note: Because the stress in Esperanto is always on the next-to-last syllable, the last word in this list is syllabified as "ne-NI-o", with the (regular) stress as indicated.


We'll now look at the consonants that are pronounced similarly to those in English.

Letter Pronunciation (IPA) Audio Difference with English
g /g/
Always hard as in "go", never as in "gem".
k /k/
Always as in "skin", never as in "kin".
The "k" in "kin" comes with a puff of air, whereas the one in "skin" doesn't. In Esperanto, "k" never comes with a puff of air.
l /l/
As in English, except that is not pronounced as 'thick' as in English.
p /p/
Always as in "spin", never as in "pin".
The "p" in "pin" comes with a puff of air, whereas the one in "spin" doesn't. In Esperanto, "p" never comes with a puff of air.
s /s/
Always as in English "sick", never as "z"
t /t/
Always as in "stone", never as in "tone".
The "t" in "tone" comes with a puff of air, whereas the one in "stone" doesn't. In Esperanto, "t" never comes with a puff of air.

This pronunciation of "k", "p", and "t" is like their pronunciation in languages like French, Spanish, Italian, and Russian, among others.

Let's now practice this:

Exercises
"g" is always pronounced hard. Practice this by saying the following words out loud: igi, ega, ege, igis.
Practice making a 'thin' "l", first by itself,
then by pronouncing it in several words:
la, li, lo, mala, malo, ilo, lamo, lanuga, lando, lango, leono, ludo, luli, lulilo, flava, flugilo.
Remember that words are always stressed on the next-to-last syllable.
"s" is always pronounced as an "s". Practice this by saying the following words out loud and making sure it never sounds like a "z":
roso vs. rozo, lenso
"k", "p", and "t" are never accompanied by a puff of air. Practice this by saying the following words out loud and put your hand a short distance in front of your mouth the check that there is not accompanying puff of air:
skemo, skono, sklavo, kelo, kanalo, kamelo, spleno, spamo, plena, plenigi, plu, pluvo, stelo, stilo, tio, tiu, tial, ties, tiam, tagon, stato, timon, tako, tavolo, titolo, tutan, kato, poto, lito, lifto, lipo, konata, katalogo, psiko.
Remember that words are always stressed on the next-to-last syllable.


Esperanto also has several letters with pronunciations that are quite different from the associated pronunciation in English and a few letters that do not exist in English. Most of these latter letters have familiar pronunciations, however.

Letter Pronunciation (IPA) Audio Difference with English
c /t͡s/
Always as "ts".
ĉ /t͡ʃ/
Always as "ch" as in "chase".
ĝ /d͡ʒ/
Always as the soft "g", as in "gem".
ĥ /x/
As in the Scottish pronunciation of "loch".
j /j/
Always as "y" as in "yard", never as English "j". The pronunciation is the same at the end of a word. Compare "hallelujah".
ĵ /ʒ/
Always as "zh", for example the sound in "measure".
r /r/
Lightly rolled "r", as in Italian or Russian.
ŝ /ʃ/
Always as "sh" as in "ship".
ŭ /u̯/
Like in "now", not "water". This sound almost always occurs in one of the combinations "aŭ" or "eŭ".

The diacritic on ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, and ŝ is called a circumflex, and the diacritic on ŭ is called a breve.

Let's now practice this:

Exercises
"j" is always pronounced as y. Practice this by saying the following words out loud: ja, jo, jam, jes, juna, ioj, kaj, tuj, iojn, tiajn, kiuj, objekto.
"c" is always pronounced as ts. Practice this by saying the following words out loud: ci', co, cico, ciano, citi, cent, celo, civito, cepo, laca, danci, centono, censo, cicumo, civilizacio, senchava (careful, the c and the h are pronounced separately).
"ĉ" is always pronounced as "ch". Practice this by saying the following words out loud: ĉe, ĉu, ĉiam, ĉies, voĉo, ĉielo, ĉapelo, ĉasi, ĉeftablo, ĉiea, ĉipo, ĉizo, ĉiupova, ĉevalaĉo, ĉieesteco (note the c), ĉervico (note the c), ĉioj, ĉiufoje.
"ĝ" is always pronounced as a soft g. Practice this by saying the following words out loud: ĝi, iĝi, ĝusta, ĝis, manĝi, manĝigi (note the g), seĝo, vizaĝo, iĝis, iĝu, ĝemeliĝo, ĝojo, ĝisnuna, ĝisdatigi, ĝismentone, pliaĝa, platiĝi, pliiĝi.
"ŝ" is always pronounced as "sh". Practice this by saying the following words out loud: ŝi, ŝtono, ŝafo, ŝakto, ŝati, ŝiajn, ŝtofo, poŝmesaĝilo, ŝaho, ŝtupo, ŝuo, ŝvita, ŝviti, ŝajne.
"ŭ" is always pronounced as an offglide like in now. Practice this by saying the following words out loud: , aŭdi, ankaŭ, aŭtuno, baldaŭ, laŭta, laŭte, naŭ, baldaŭa, neŭtrala, pseŭdonimo, Eŭropo, eŭkalipto, leŭtenanto, pneŭo.
"ĵ" is always pronounced as "zh". Practice this by saying the following words out loud: ĵus, ĵazo, ĵaketo, ĵaluze, ĵaŭdo, ĵeti, ĵetegi, ĵipo, ĵinglo, ĵulo, ĵuĵuo, poŝtaĵo, ŝtonĵetilo.
Now, try to clearly distinguish ĵ and ĝ: domaĵo, domaĝo, vojaĵo, vojaĝo, aĵo, aĝo
"r" is always lightly rolled. Practice this by first trying to get a rolling r. When you have managed that, try saying the following words out loud, in each case with the r rolling: rano, razi, raso, rapida, realo, ree, refalo, regado, reĝo, regulo, ricevi, rompo, ronĝi, ruĝa, ruso, ruza, riĉa, tri, pri, pro, por, parko, paroli, preskaŭ, promeni, printempo, orelo, nur, maro, labori, kvar, ĵurnalo, kruro, kara, griza, grava, ĉambro, ĝardeno, forgesi, vintraero, certa, cirklo, caro, ĉirkaŭ, certeco, centaŭro, ŝerci, ŝranko, ŝraŭbo, ŝraŭbtenilo, ŝraŭbŝlosilo.
"ĥ" is always pronounced as in the Scottish loch. This is kind of a combination of English h and k. First, try to make the sound by itself. Once you have managed that, try pronouncing it in words: ĥaoso, ĥoro, ĥina, ĥimera, ĥanato, monaĥo, ĥordulo, ĥirurgo, eĥo, ĥaraktero, ĥirurga, ĥolero.

Then try pronouncing it in the following sets to distinguish it from h and k: ĥoro, horo, koro; eĥo, eko.


You are now familiar with all of the letters of Esperanto and their associated sounds. You may have noticed that q, w, x, and y have not been covered. This is because they are not part of the Esperanto alphabet.

The alphabetic order of Esperanto is similar to that of English, except that letters with diacritics are considered distinct and follow their counterparts without 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

To get the names of the letters, simply tack on an "-o" to the consonants: a, bo, co, ĉo, do, e, fo, go, ĝo, etc.

We'll practice with spelling out words once we know something more about Esperanto.

Parts of speech[edit]

Like in all languages, words in Esperanto can be divided into several types. In Esperanto, different parts of speech are overtly marked and thus have their own endings, though there are few complicating factors. In this lesson, we will introduce nouns and verbs and a few prepositions will be introduced.

Nouns[edit]

Nouns are words that usually denote persons, things, place, or ideas. Examples can be found in the box directly below.

In Esperanto, nouns are marked by the suffix -o. Examples are in the short vocabulary section below.

Vocabulary[edit]

Here are the first words for you to memorize.

Word Audio Meaning
hundo
dog
kato cat
pomo apple
infano child

Plurals[edit]

To indicate that a noun is in the plural, Esperanto tacks on the suffix -j:

hundoj (dogs), katoj (cats), pomoj (apples), infanoj (children)

Article[edit]

Esperanto has a definite article (i.e. "the"), "la", but no indefinite article (i.e. "a(n)"). The meaning of the indefinite article in English is conveyed by the absence of an article:

La hundo estas en la ĝardeno. — The dog is in the garden.
Hundo estas en la ĝardeno. — A dog is in the garden. (There is a dog in the garden.)

Verbs[edit]

Verbs are those words that denote an action, occurrence, or state of being. Examples can be found in the box directly below:

In Esperanto, verbs can have one of several endings, depending on tense, among a few other things. In this lesson we will only get to know the ending of verbs in the present tense: -as. Esperanto verbs do not change form depending who or what is doing the verb. For example:

Mi estas en la ĝardeno. – I am in the garden.
Li estas en la domo. – He is in the house.

Vocabulary[edit]

Here are some more words that you should memorize.

Word Audio Meaning
mi I
vi you (both singular and plural)
li he
en in (preposition)
de of (preposition)
from (preposition)
estas am, are, is
brilas shine(s)
ĝardeno garden
domo house
urbo city
birdo bird
flugas fly/flies
floro flower
lito bed
suno sun
boato boat
sed but
falas fall(s)
viro man
homo human being
folio leaf
arbo tree
sidas sit(s)
parko park

Note the regular pronunciation that differs from their lookalikes with the same meaning in English: ĝardeno, birdo, boato.

Examples[edit]

Sentence Audio Meaning
Vi estas en la lito. You are in bed.
Mi estas en la ĝardeno. I am in the garden.
La birdoj flugas. The birds fly.
La boato estas de la viro. The boat is of the man. = The boat belongs to the man.
La birdo flugas, sed la folioj falas. The bird flies, but the leaves fall.


Exercises[edit]

Have you memorized the vocabulary of this lesson? Then you can now practice it by translating the following sentences:

Sentence (answers) Audio
La infanoj estas en la urbo.
La suno brilas.
La folioj falas de la arboj.
Li estas en la ĝardeno de la domo.
La infano sidas en la parko.
La birdo sidas en la boato.
Mi sidas en la lito.
La birdo flugas en la parko.
Sentence (answers)
The man is in the garden.
You are in the city.
The leaves fall from the trees.
He is in the garden of the house.
The child sits in the park.
I sit the boat.
He is a human.

Main pageNext lesson