Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Four months of Esperanto and I now know enough to have an idea of how much I don’t know

with 2 comments

I’m now four months into Duolingo’s Esperanto course, augmented with Anki flashcards and some additional reading. Although I’ve learned a fair amount in terms of both knowledge and skills — as an instance, I can now quite often transcribe a dictated Esperanto sentence after listening to it once, though certainly I struggle occasionally. The typical problem is that I miss where one word ends and another begins, so that I am trying to “hear” as a word a sound that belongs partly to one word and partly to another — or, conversely, I’ll hear a word not as a whole but as separate sounds and try to figure out the separate words I think they represent. This is a good example of how our knowledge and understanding shape what we hear.

I went through about three weeks recently when I was doing the absolute minimum, but then I regained energy and interest and am again plugging away happily, though now well aware of how much more there is to learn and master. Still, I can often translate a sentence easily. (Tamen, mi often povas traduki frazon facile.) These tips from Duolingo can help you if you also hit a sinking spell — and they are good as a prophylactic against that.

I have not completed Duolingo’s Esperanto course, but the end is in sight. Then I’ll complete’s course and the Jen Nia Mondo course (free download, PDF of text along with audio files). And I’ll then move on to general reading and podcasts.

For an overview of resources I’ve found and am using, see this post.

Anki update

I now use four Anki decks. I did use several more, but I have gotten from them what I needed (and completely finished some decks), so these are the decks now in use (and you can download those from the title links):

1 Esperanto Daily Words” — this is my own deck and I add to it words that I come across and don’t know — “lutro” (otter) is the most recent. It’s useful because it is specific to me and my knowledge and needs. The prefixed “1” is because Anki sorts the decks in alpha order by name, and I wanted to set the sort order for the four decks I use. I have begun adding to each card a substantial number of related and derived words, as described in the update below. I used’s dictionary for this initially, but I’m finding that more and more I use the online Plena Ilustrita Vortaro (PIV).

2 Esperanto from Wikipedia” — that’s how I renamed “Esperanto to English ordered by Wikipedia Usage Frequency v1“, using the “2” prefix to specify sort order. I renamed it also because in the list of my active decks it appeared simply as “Esperanto” and I wanted to remind myself of the source.

3 Esperanto 101 from Kontakto” — original name was “Esperanto 101,” and the deck description includes “This deck contains all must-have basic Esperanto root words as suggested by the editorial team of the magazine Kontakto,” thus my renaming: to remind me of the source.

4 Esperanto 1000 Most Wanted Words” — original name was “EO 1000 Most Frequently Occurring Words.” The description notes:

This deck uses the Frequency Database of Vjaĉeslav Slavik Ivanov found here: . It contains just over 1,000 of the most frequently used words found works, whose original was written in Esperanto, together their English translations. The English translations come from J. C. Wells, Esperanto Dictionary, and the Plena Vortaro de Esperanto.

Problem fix for Esperanto 101

I did find and fix a problem in “Esperanto 101.” Most cards in that deck include in the answer (the “back” of the card) a list of related words, but when I went to edit a definition (which I do fairly often, generally to expand the definition), I noted that there were related words in the card (as viewed in the editor) that did not show up when the answer was displayed.

I looked at some cards that did show “related words” in the answer (“back” of the card) and compared them to cards that did not, and spotted a difference. In the Edit view, the Back Template (which defines the display for the “answer” part of the card) did not include some text found in the cards that did display related words. It seemed that if that text were missing, the related words failed to display.

I copied that text from the Back Template of a good card (one that did show related words) into the appropriate spot in the Back Template of a bad card (one that did not show related words). Specifically, I copied from the good card’s Back Template the phrase:

[br][br]Related: {{Related words}}

Note: To display this line in this post, I had to use square brackets around “br” instead of angle brackets. You should actually use angle brackets, as you will see in the Edit view of the card.

I copied that text and pasted it into the Back Template of a bad card, putting it immediately (with no spaces) before:

[br][br]Sample: {{Sample usage}}

(Again, I’m using square brackets here because WordPress doesn’t display content enclosed by angle brackets.)

Making that change in one of the bad cards seemed to fix them all, presumably because they all share the same Back Template.

UPDATE: Enhancement for Esperanto 101

The cards for this deck present a single prompt (either Esperanto or English), and then when you view the answer you often will see “Related words.” I worked through the deck (slowly, just revising the cards I was presented with each day) to put all the related words in the prompt and answer.

For the Esperanto prompt, I listed the root word first — shows clearly in parentheses the root word along with the affixes used in deriving other words — for example, one card from this deck has “akvo” and “water” and, in “Related words”

enakviĝi – to get into the water

I use Esperanto to English vortaro and enter “akv” to see the list of words with that root:

  • akvi (akv·i ← akv·o)
    • to flush, to rinse, to water, to irrigate
  • akvo (akv·o)
    • water
  • akva (akv·a ← akv·o)
    • watery
  • akvero (akv·er·o ← akv·o)
    • drop, drop of water
  • akvilo (akv·il·o ← akv·o)
    • watering can

Clearly the root word is “akvo”, so I revise the Esperanto prompt to be:


For the English portion, I enter the definitions from above. I delete “enakviĝi” from “Related words” since is is now a part of the regular prompt.

This revision of the deck, little by little, has greatly strengthened my grasp of vocabulary. If I am uncertain about whether a verb is transitive or not, I look it up in PIV, which not only tells me that but also often reveals more derived words I can add to the card and provides examples of the words as used.

Update to this update: I don’t think I could have comfortably used this technique when I first began. One reason the word clusters are comfortable is that so much in them is recognizable: standard affixes, standard endings, common words I already know. As a result, a new word cluster offers many well-known handholds to make the climb easier now. /update

9 Oct 2021 Update. Among the Anki decks I mastered and then had no need to continue, I highly recommend the following, which can be found on (and downloaded from) the Anki webpage for Esperanto.

Esperanto Correlatives
Speak Esperanto Like a Native!™ 1
More Speak Esperanto Like a Native!™ 1
Recognize False Friends Like a Native!™
Top 500 Most Used Words in Esperanto

There is some overlap, but that functions as review.

Written by Leisureguy

17 August 2020 at 11:35 am

2 Responses

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  1. I tried learning Esperanto years ago (before the Internet, when dinosaurs ruled the world). It was interesting but I ultimately gave it up because there were so few speakers. 😦



    18 August 2020 at 7:52 am

  2. There seem to be a fair number of speakers, with the problem being speaker density: the speakers are scattered. That problem is being solved via the Internet and Zoom/Google Meet/Cisco Webex/etc. Indeed, this year’s Esperanto conventions are pretty much Zoom-based.

    I find the language quite interesting and appealing in somewhat the same way as Forth (a programming language). But I’m still learning. Initially, I thought two months would do it, but now I’m thinking a fair trial is 9 months (a school year), though in fact I aim to take stock after one year of study, which (in terms of learning a language) is not very long. Based on progress to date, though, I think a year of Esperanto can result in a good grasp of the language.

    And, of course, there are the the benefits of learning Esperanto as one’s first foreign language: that it makes subsequent languages easier to learn and to master.



    18 August 2020 at 8:26 am

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