New comic about Esperanto!

Posted on 01. Nov, 2014 by in Uncategorized

Esperanto subculture comic

Esperanto subculture comic

The American comic artist, Dan Mazur, published a 12 page comic about native Esperanto speakers. The comic appeared as part of a comic anthology about subcultures. Libera Folio interviewed the author and you can read the Esperanto translation here.

How did you get the idea? What was your objective?

Earlier this year, I was beginning the work of publishing an anthology of short original comics, by various artists, on the subject of “subcultures,” so I was thinking about interesting subcultures, and I thought of Esperanto speakers as a topic. I didn’t know much about Esperanto, though I’ve known of it since I was a child. I had a vague notion of it going back to the early 20th century, and some association in my mind (probably erroneous) with utopian or idealist movements like the Fabian society. I thought it would be a pretty multi-faceted subculture, since it goes so far back. On my first Google search on the topic, I came upon an article about native Esperanto speakers, and this surprised and fascinated me… native speakers seemed like a subculture within the subculture! At this point I decided that I wanted to write and draw this story myself. I then watched a YouTube interview with Lana Shlafer [below], which had been shot in 2000, and I learned more.

How did you gather the material?

Though I am a cartoonist, I’ve also worked as a journalist, so I wanted to be able to interview a subject for the story. The only local contact I could find was the MIT Esperanto Society. This society turned out to be inactive, but I heard back from a former member, Erin Piateski. She helped with some contacts, and soon I was in touch with 5 Esperantists a mix of Europeans and Americans, four out of five were native speakers, so it was a good mix. I interviewed via email, except for Julie Schwartz, who lives nearby, so we were able to meet. For Lana Shlafer, I used quotes from her YouTube interview. With so many “voices,” I decided to structure the story like a comics-documentary, weaving the interviews together with a little history. I found that there was much in common among the native speakers, especially, but interestingly some differing attitudes toward Esperanto culture emerged as well.

When it was written, as a script, I sent it out to all the subjects for their approval, then I drew the comic. I went back and forth a lot with the subjects to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes in the Esperanto I use in the comic. As you probably have figured out, I don’t speak or read Esperanto myself. Working on this story has made me interested in learning it… Esperanto speakers seem to have a lot of fun!

Where was your comic strip published? What kind of reactions have you received?

The book, SubCultures: a Comics Anthology was published in September, including the story “Esperantists,” which is 12 pages long. As for reactions, i find that people are very interested in the subject matter — many people I talk to have little or no idea at all what Esperanto is. I’m starting to get some interest from Esperanto sources, such as yourself!

The book is available on my publishing website.

Learning Languages Through Esperanto

Posted on 02. Sep, 2014 by in Uncategorized

Guest post by Judith Meyer, who normally blogs at and currently crowdfunds a language course on Indiegogo.

For many, Esperanto is an entry drug for language-learning. It’s so fun and easy and eventually you want the harder stuff. Most Esperanto speakers love learning languages, so it’s no surprise that there are some language-learning resources catering to Esperanto speakers.

Learn languages through Esperanto
The best are probably (to learn German) and (to learn Slovak), because these are professionally-developed courses financed by the European Union, which are available in Esperanto and also other languages. The reason they are in Esperanto is because the group who created them, E@I, uses Esperanto as their working language. They are the ones behind

Another well-designed language course with Esperanto as the base language is CRI Everyday Chinese. CRI, the PRC’s national radio, also fresh news every day in Esperanto.

Have you heard of Toki Pona? It’s a philosophical experiment, reducing a language to the bare minimum vocabulary and seeing how people will express themselves then. If you want to learn this artificial language, which is actually spoken by several Esperanto speakers I know, you can do so in Esperanto at .

Many amateurs like you and me have created video lessons for their languages on Youtube. There’s German, Russian, Swahili (my own), Vietnamese, and even Kadazan, an obscure language from Malaysia.

For your next trip abroad, consult one of the many Travel Phrasebooks. This link leads to an Afrikaans phrasebook, but look for the link saying „Montri aliajn versiojn de ĉi tiu rimedo“ at the top in order to choose one of nearly 40 different languages.

If you’re looking for a dictionary between Esperanto and other languages, try the Reta Vortaro. Lernu’s in-built dictionary can also be good, depending on the language you’re looking for.

Are you looking for a language exchange or want to ask a language-related question in Esperanto? Lingva Interŝanĝo per Esperanto is the place to go. Questions about Esperanto are better directed to the Lingva Konsultejo. Specifically for Chinese there is Mandarena Lernado, a place that brings together Chinese native speakers who want to learn Esperanto and Esperanto speakers who want to learn Mandarin Chinese.

I am currently also working on a Mandarin Chinese course, though its initial version won’t be available in Esperanto. It’s a completely new way to study languages, so check it out. And further good news: the Esperanto Association of Britain will support me in developing a similar course for Esperanto, so if you are not yet fluent in Esperanto, you will soon have yet another way to learn it.

Good luck with your studies!

Lauren looks back at the challenge

Posted on 27. Jun, 2014 by in Uncategorized


About a month ago, I interviewed Lauren about her experience learning Esperanto in the Six Week Challenge. Now that the challenge is over, I’d like to revisit Lauren to see how things went.

How has everything been studying Esperanto over the past weeks?

To be honest, I wish I would have studied more so that I could’ve used the opportunity at the Polyglot Gathering to practice more in-depth conversations, but I think everyone always wishes that they’d studied more. Other than that, it went great. To me, in the past six weeks, I not only learned Esperanto, but also how to learn a language. I really do feel like I know what I’m doing to start off my next language project. Though I reckon the next one will be much harder, I have a slight advantage now in that I’ll have a really good strategy going into it.

What have been some of the highs and lows?

I think every time I started a new aspect of the language was a low, because each step feels impossible at first. Another low was right before my first Skype conversation. I was extremely nervous. It turned out that I had no reason to be nervous, and it was great, but at the time I was really hoping for a sudden power outage so I could escape it. As for the highs: At the polyglot conference, there were so many unexpected moments when I was thrown into speaking Esperanto and I surprised myself with what I could discuss. One night I had a conversation about auras and synesthesia in Esperanto! Also people kept complimenting my accent and asking if I was “really” a monoglot, which felt good. :)


It was also very nice meeting you at the recent Polyglot Gathering in Berlin! [Full disclosure: I was on the main organizing team of this conference.] What was your general impression attending the Gathering and what was it like speaking Esperanto with so many people there?

I loved it! To be honest it was a bit exhausting to socialize in another language for 5 days straight, but I had so much fun. There are a lot of people I can’t wait to see again at other events. And there were several really, really impressive polyglots there. I especially liked the polyglot games and watching everyone strut their stuff a little bit and get competitive with it.

I remember you being a bit nervous about giving a 1-5 min lecture in Esperanto at the Gathering. How did that go and would you recommend it to others?

I am one of those people who gets incredibly nervous talking at a group of people in general – even in English. The fact that I was speaking in Esperanto for the speech wasn’t the hard part. I just don’t like giving speeches. For me personally, I prefer to suddenly have to speak the language without knowing that it’s coming. Like leaving our dorm room and turning a corner and running into an Esperantist and having a chat. Those were the moments I enjoyed the most. But preparing to give a speech did help me learn a few new words that I didn’t know beforehand (like community).

With Benny Lewis and Chris Huffington (Toki Pona lecturer)

With Benny Lewis and Chris Huffington (Toki Pona lecturer)*

Now that the challenge is over, what are your future plans for Esperanto?

I am going to read books in Esperanto! I got that as a gift from an Esperantist at the conference, as well as a book called “La Krimo de Katrina.” I’m definitely going to keep improving my Esperanto, and I hope the next time we chat in person my level will be even higher :)

Has this experience inspired you to learn more languages?

Definitely, definitely, definitely. I am starting a new language in about a week, and we’ll announce it on the blog then and ask readers to join us with their own summer projects.

Thanks for the interview and I look forward to seeing you at another language event in the near future!

Dankon! Ĝis revido!

Photo used with permission of Chris Huffington

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