# What would languages descended from Esperanto look like? [closed]

Esperanto itself is mostly derived from/reminiscent of English, Polish, Russian, German, French and various romance languages (or so I’ve heard). In a post-apocalyptic future where the survivors banded together and began to communicate using Esperanto as an easy-to-learn common language, could you expect any of the far-future societies descended from these survivors to be speaking some kind of pidgin Esperanto that’s looped back around to sounding like any of the languages Esperanto is based on?

Something that has different rules and vocabulary but enough of the same sounds that an unknowledgeable observer could mistake it for garbled English or Latin, perhaps?

Or could it even be possible that the language might evolve/devolve into a straight up clone of one of these component languages?

What do you think? How plausible is it for far-future Esperanto to mutate into something that would sound vaguely recognizable to listeners today?

## closed as primarily opinion-based by Renan, JBH, Pavel Janicek, dot_Sp0T, MołotSep 23 '18 at 10:51

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• I apologize, but this is guess work. But if I had to guess, the answer is "not likely at all." English of only 400 years ago is nearly unintelligble to English speakers today. It's not just how words are pronounced, or how sentence structure changed, or which words are used at all... it's all three and more. I wouldn't be surprised if I could point to any language and see the same results. On the other hand, if the answer is yes, how are you going to judge the best answer? Opinions on top of opinions. – JBH Sep 23 '18 at 5:36
• @JBH -- 400 years is an exaggeration. Shakespeare and the King James Bible are widely enough taught / read that they are still intelligible. But Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (from 625 years ago) require translation. – Jasper Sep 23 '18 at 6:48
• @Jasper, literature is used to set the linguistic standard, but folk's language is distant from literature. Understanding a commoner from 400 years ago would give a hard time to everybody. – L.Dutch Sep 23 '18 at 7:51
• @L.Dutch: Understanding a commoner from today would give a hard time to most people. That's why people go to school, so that they learn to speak the common language when speaking to strangers, and reserve their local dialect for locals. – AlexP Sep 23 '18 at 9:26
• @AlexP, even today with schools giving kind of a common starting point, local pronunciation make communication hard (I was shocked the first time I listened to somebody from Yorkshire, it didn't sound English to my ears educated to scholastic English). If you remove school those differences become even wider. – L.Dutch Sep 23 '18 at 9:31

• Esperanto itself is mostly derived from/reminiscent of English, Polish, Russian, German, French and various [R]omance languages.

No, it isn't.

The vocabulary of Esperanto was made up in such a way as to resemble the vocabulary of Germanic and Romance (and, to a much lesser extent, Slavic) languages; for example, "birdo" means "bird", "kovrita" means "covered" (similar to the English words), "mano" means "hand", and "kapo" means "head" (similar to the Romance words). But the structure of the language is different, although it still falls in the fusional, nominative-accusative pattern typical for the Indo-European family.

(Note: Yes I know that Esperanto can be considered to be agglutinative; but it's a particulary mild fusional-like kind of agglutination.)

• speaking some kind of pidgin Esperanto

If they speak a pidgin and not actual Esperanto then all bets are off, there is nothing that can be said about their idiom. All we can be sure of is that in two or three generations the pidgin will become a creole and start on its own path. In the rest of this answer I will callously assume that you mean actual Esperanto, not some unknown pidgin.

• Esperanto as an easy-to-learn common language

Esperanto is not easier to learn than English; nor is it much harder. English has less morphology than Esperanto, and for better or worse there are many more speakers of English. The only redeeming quality of Esperanto compared to English is that Esperanto has a very regular spelling; but, in its advantage, English has many more songs and stories and movies. It's much easier to learn a language when one has lots and lots of learning material and examples of the language being used. How many books are there written in Esperanto? And now many in English? Which language is more useful?

• Esperanto that’s looped back around to sounding like any of the languages Esperanto is based on

Esperanto is not "based on" any language. It's an invented language, very unlike anything else on Earth. Or do you mean the vocabulary of Esperanto? Vocabulary is the fastest changing part of a language.

As for "sounding like"... People with different mother tongues will naturally pronounce Esperanto with an accent derived from their mother tongue; to come back to the examples given above, a person whose mother tongue is English may pronounce "birdo" as ['bɝdəʊ], whereas a native speaker of a Romance language may say ['birdo] with clear sonorant cardinal vowels and a distinct "r"; and possibly a long-ish [i:] if their native language is Italian or Romanian. But I expect that by the third generation all those accidents will merge into a pretty uniform pronounciation. Whether this common pronounciation will be more similar to General American (with slurred unaccented vowels and approximant [ɹ] rhotics) or to Spanish (with clear vowels and trilled [r] rhotics) is anybody's guess.

• Garbled Latin

Very few people pronouce Latin as the Romans did. In Romance countries, the most common spoken realization of Latin is the so called "Ecclesiastical pronunciation", which is almost indistinguishable from just reading Latin words as if they were Italian or Romanian words; this is what I was taught in school. Germans normally use a very similar pronunciation, with the difference that they always pronounce hard "g" (they would say /ger'manus/ not /dʒer'manus/), and will pronounce "c" as /ts/ before "ae", "e", "i" and "oe" instead of /tʃ/ (they will say /'tsentum/ not /'tʃentum/ -- actual Romans would have said /'kentum/). The Anglosphere used to have its own incomprehensible pronounciation of Latin, but I don't know whether it is still in use.

Guess what? When spoken by a Romance speaker, or a German speaker, Esperanto already uses the same sounds as Ecclesiastical Latin... And it does sound a bit similar.

• Could it even be possible that the language might evolve/devolve into a straight up clone of one of these component languages?

No, no way.

First, there are no "component languages". See above. And then...

No way on Earth for a daughter language of Esperanto to develop the plural in "-s", or the verbal aspects of English. No way on Earth for a daughter language of Esperanto to develop the grammatical genders of Romance.

• How plausible is it for far-future Esperanto to mutate into something that would sound vaguely recognizable to listeners today?

Recognizable by whom?

For the next four thousand years or so it will remain recognisable as a descendant of Esperanto, at least by historical linguists. The Hittite language was spoken some 3,500 years ago and yet it was recognised as (some sort of) an Indo-European language; with a bit of effort it was even understood, and we now have Hittite grammars and dictionaries. We can read an Indo-European language three and a half millennia old.

As for listeners not trained in historical linguistics... That's much more difficult and it depends on how far that far future is. For a few hundred years it will remain understandable as Esperanto. After that it will remain recognizable for a few hundred years as very bad Esperanto. After that...

Two thousand years ago English and German shared a common ancestor language; does an ordinary native speaker of English recognize German as "vaguely recognizable"? Three thousand years ago the ancestors of the Germanic languages (including English) and Slavic languages (including Russian) were one and the same. Does an ordinary English native speaker recognise Russian as "vaguely recognizable"? English and Hindi share a common ancestor language spoken not more than six thousand years ago. Does an ordinary native speaker of English recognize Hindi as "vaguely recognizable"?

• wow a very well done answer. may i ask are you a speaker in Esperanto – Creed Arcon Sep 23 '18 at 9:21
• @CreedArcon: My native language is Romance, I can speak two other Romance languages, and English; I can read a little simple Latin. I know a the basics of Esperanto grammar, so I can work through an Esperanto text with the help of the Plena Ilustrita Vortaro. (It's a little harder than working through a Spanish text, quite a bit easier than working through a German text.) – AlexP Sep 23 '18 at 9:24