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Interlinguistics / Interlingstica / Interlinguistik / Interlingvistiko

How European is Esperanto?


A typological study*
Mikael Parkvall

Stockholm University

The typological similarities between Esperanto and other languages have long
been a matter of debate. Assuming that foreign-language structures are more
easily acquired when they resemble those of the learners native tongue, any candidate for a global lingua franca obviously ought to be as typologically neutral as
possible. One common criticism of Esperanto is that it is too European, and thus
less accessible to speakers of non-European languages. In order to provide a more
solid base for such discussions, this paper makes an attempt to quantify the Eurocentricity of Esperanto, employing the features catalogued in the World Atlas of
Language Structures. It is concluded that Esperanto is indeed somewhat European
in character, but considerably less so than the European languages themselves.
Keywords: Esperanto, interlinguistics, typology, language structure, syntax,
phonology, comparative linguistics, Eurocentrism

Since the birth of Esperanto and the Esperanto movement, there has been a continuous debate on the advantages and disadvantages of promoting Esperanto as the
main international language. One of the focal points of this discussion has been
the languages typological neutrality, or lack thereof. Sceptics have emphasised that
Esperanto is essentially European in nature, and therefore presumably less easily
learnt by non-Europeans. Proponents, not unexpectedly, have tended to downplay
the similarities between Esperanto and European languages, and instead preferred
to emphasize the logical and exceptionless characteristics of the grammar. The arguments from both sides have essentially rested on gut feeling and the comparison
of bits and pieces of grammar, but to the best of my knowledge, no truly systematic
comparison has ever been made.
The publication of the World Atlas of Language Structures (Haspelmath 2005,
henceforth WALS) allows us to perform precisely such a comparison for the first
time, and the aim of this paper is to quantify the degree to which (if at all) Esperanto is a Euro-centric language.
Language Problems & Language Planning 34:1 (2010), 6379. doi 10.1075/lplp.34.1.04par
issn 02722690 / e-issn 15699889 John Benjamins Publishing Company

64 Mikael Parkvall

The data
WALS is the largest typological database of human languages ever compiled. It
contains 142 chapters, each dealing with a specific linguistic feature. Between 113
and 1,371 languages are classified with regard to these features. Some chapters use
a binary distinction, while others have divided the worlds languages into three
to nine categories. Combining the 142 linguistic features, WALS includes more
than 2,500 languages, but not all of these are equally well represented in the atlas.
The values for languages such as English and French are included for virtually
all features, but many less well-documented non-European tongues are only sporadically featured. The total number of data points, therefore, is not 2,500142
355,000, but rather about 60,000.
Now, by entering the corresponding values for Esperanto (which is entirely
absent from the WALS database), we can finally make a comparison between Esperanto and a large (and representative) number of other languages that spans all
areas of linguistic structure. Five WALS chapters are excluded from consideration
here: 139140 (because they deal with signed languages, which Esperanto is not),
141 (because it treats writing systems on a country rather than a language basis),
and 7778 (because I simply failed to completely understand the classification
used). All in all, then, the material used here consists of 137 linguistic features,
each with two to nine possible feature values.
A final note on the data used: Not only is WALS the most inclusive typological
resource ever, but it also has the additional advantage of being compiled by the
worlds most renowned typologists without any specific reference to Esperanto.
While my interpretation of the results could be criticised in various ways, it is
nonetheless the case that the comparandum relies on judgements made by linguists with no particular interest in the issue discussed here (after all, none of them
included Esperanto in their sample). While this absence guarantees the neutrality
of the data, it does not automatically imply that we are dealing with the perfect
data set: semantics, for instance, is under-represented in WALS, and there is a possibility that this skews the overall results.

Method
Since Esperanto is not featured in WALS at all, the first task was to enter the relevant values for this language into the database. As my own active competence is
somewhat limited, I elicited example sentences from two highly competent speakers of Esperanto,1 who in general provided highly convergent answers. The respondents were explicitly instructed not just to provide possible translations, but

How European is Esperanto?

rather the translations they felt would be the most natural counterparts of the
example sentences. This is of some importance since Esperanto (like presumably
most other languages) permits certain alternatives that are only rarely exploited by
speakers. For instance, while it allows for free word order, SVO is by far the most
frequently occurring. The same thing applies to, for example, Russian, which in
WALS is classified as an SVO language, and allowing only the unmarked option
in this study is thus essential in order to ensure comparability. Despite the options
present, Esperanto is therefore treated as SVO in my comparison.
The main problem, however, was not to figure out how Esperanto does this
or that, but rather to understand the exact details behind the existing classification. Each WALS chapter contains a few pages of text where each author outlines
their guiding principles, but it is of course difficult to cover all potential problems.
While some features were rather straightforward, others required a considerable
effort to get into the head of the author.2 Some errors no doubt remain, but (with
the exception of Chapters 7778, which were excluded for precisely the reason
that I could not grasp the basis of the classification well enough to apply it with
any confidence), I hope and believe that Esperanto is now relatively correctly represented.

Comparison
We can now compare the degree of similarity between Esperanto and any other
language or group of languages, provided they are featured in WALS.
I first made a comparison based on individual languages. As already mentioned, WALS contains data on about 2,500 languages, but most of these are only
very sporadically featured, and can therefore not be used for comparisons beyond
one feature or a handful of features. I chose to consider only languages with data
for 76 or more of the 137 features.3 This gives us a total of 180 languages with
which to compare Esperanto.
The average language makes the same choices as Esperanto in 44.3% of all
cases, i. e. it performs identically to Esperanto on 61 of the 137 features. The range
is between 32.6% and 69.9%, so, in other words, any given language has between
one third and two thirds of its structure in common with Esperanto.
As can be seen in Table1, the nine languages the most similar to Esperanto are
all Indo-European languages of Europe, and, with the exception of Irish (rank 29),
these are in fact the only such languages of the 180 considered here.
This does indeed convey a picture of Esperanto as a rather Eurocentric
language, although it is interesting to note that ranks 1120 include languages
which are neither Indo-European nor European, such as Brahui, Khasi, Quechua,

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66 Mikael Parkvall

Table1. The ten languages most similar to Esperanto


Language

No. of features considered

% similar to Esperanto

1.

Russian

133

69.9%

2.

English

137

67.2%

French

134

67.2%

Albanian

76

67.1%

Polish

76

67.1%

6.

German

127

64.6%

7.

Greek (modern)

127

63.8%

8.

Latvian

110

63.6%

9.

Spanish

133

60.9%

10.

Finnish

133

58.6%

4.

Kannada, Drehu, Malagasy and Korean. All of these are more similar to Esperanto
than the average language (44.3%). The ten languages which are the least similar to
Esperanto (32.6%34.7%) are all spoken in Australia or the Americas.
With regard to groups of languages, a few options stand out as particularly worthy of closer examination. First, given the claim that Esperanto is heavily European in its structure, we would like to compare it to European languages in general.
However, some European languages are normally considered more European
than others, and the label Standard Average European (SAE) was coined in 1941
by Benjamin Whorf (1956:25) for the core of languages sharing certain key features. In the following, SAE is taken to consist of all Germanic and Romance languages, as well as Western and Southern Slavic and Balkan languages (with Dutch,
German, French and Italian assigned twice their weight; cf. van der Auwera [1998]
and Haspelmath [1998]). Third, Romance languages deserve special attention for
the reason that the majority of the Esperanto lexicon is derived from them (Janton
1993:51), leading to the common laymans view that Esperanto is some kind of
Spanish or very much like Italian. Fourth, we might expect Esperanto to display
strong similarities to languages known by its creator, L.L. Zamenhof. Details vary,
but according to standard biographies, these would seem to have included Polish, Russian, Yiddish, German, French, Latin, classical Greek, ancient Hebrew and
English.4 Finally, it is of obvious interest to compare Esperanto with the languages
of the world as a whole.
Applying the same technique5 to groups of languages as was just done with
individual varieties, we get the following degrees of similarity:

How European is Esperanto?

Table2. Degree of similarity between Esperanto and various groups of languages7


% agreement with Esperanto
Known by Zamenhof I

78.1%

Known by Zamenhof II

76.6%

European languages

75.2%

SAE

74.5%

Romance languages

70.8%

Languages of Asia

56.8%

Languages of the world as a whole

54.0%

Languages of North America

53.0%

Languages of Africa

51.9%

Languages of South America

48.9%

Languages of Oceania

46.3%

These figures again suggest that Esperanto is indeed relatively close to those languages that it could be suspected to resemble, namely European languages in general, and in particular those known to its creator.
Some other groups of languages have also been suggested to be remarkably
close to Esperanto. Piron (1981), for instance, argues for a special relationship
between Esperanto and Asian languages. However, my scepticism of his claim
is supported by the fact that the language he especially favours, Mandarin, is in
fact no more similar to Esperanto (44.5%) with regard to the traits examined here
than the average language of the world is. The same author also claims that at the
middle plane [=syntax] Esperanto is indubitably Slavic. While the overall similarity between Esperanto and Slavic is 73.3%, it is 81.5% in the realm of syntax,8 so
Pirons second statement seems indeed to have some merit.

But then again


So, according to the method pursued here, Esperanto is indeed a European language. But that is not necessarily the end of the story. We could also say that despite a general European-ness, in more than half of all WALS features (74 of 137),
Esperanto has chosen whatever strategy happens to be the most common worldwide. That is, while the average individual language has a mere 44.3% similarity
with Esperanto, the parameter setting displayed by the artificial language is the
most common one world-wide in 54.0% of the cases.

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68 Mikael Parkvall

In this context, one may wonder whether the 54% similarity between Esperanto
and the preferred world-wide option is high or low. It turns out that in this metric,
Daga (a language of New Guinea) is the worlds most representative language, in
that it picks the cross-linguistically most common option in 70.8% of the features
considered.9 At the other end of the scale is the Amazonian language Wari, which
adheres to the standard in only 43.4% of all WALS features. The average language
(both in terms of mean and median) scores 55.4% here, while Esperanto, as just
mentioned, ends up with 54.0% similarities. In other words, Esperanto is slightly
less like the average language, than, as it were, the average language is. Among the
181 languages examined here, Esperanto ranks 110 in terms of agreement with the
worlds most common parameter settings.
Now, with Esperanto ranked 110 out of 181 on the normality list, the (other)
European languages fare far less well. Of the nine Indo-European languages in Table1, for instance, all rank lower, in many cases by quite some margin. German, for
instance, is the 178th most normal language (out of 181!), that is, one of the most
exotic there are. We could interpret this as meaning that Esperanto is a slightly European language, but considerably less so than the European languages themselves.
So, it is in a minority of cases that Esperanto has opted for another strategy
than the most common one world-wide. This is usually but by no means always
one that predominates in Europe.
Table3 sets out the wals features according to whether the value for Esperanto is the preferred one in the world as a whole, or only in Europe, or neither.
Table3. The feature values in Esperanto according to whether these match the preferred
value in the world as a whole, in Europe (but not in the world as a whole), or neither
no. of
features

wals maps

World-wide features

74

54%

1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 24,


26, 28, 33, 34, 35, 37, 39, 40, 42, 43, 45, 48, 51, 52,
55, 58, 59, 60, 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 68, 69, 73, 74, 79,
80, 82, 83, 84, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 96, 100, 104, 105,
106, 108, 109, 111, 112, 114, 116, 117, 120, 124,
125, 128, 129, 130, 131, 135, 137

European features

44

32%

4, 12, 17, 23, 25, 27, 30, 31, 36, 41, 44, 47, 54, 56,
57, 62, 71, 75, 81, 85, 86, 87, 89, 92, 95, 97, 98, 99,
101, 107, 110, 113, 115, 118, 119, 121, 122, 123,
126, 127, 132, 133, 134, 138

Neither European nor 18


world-wide

13%

3, 14, 21, 22, 29, 32, 38, 46, 49, 50, 53, 67, 70, 72,
76, 102, 103, 142

TOTAL

100%

136

How European is Esperanto? 69

Manifestations of Eurocentricity
European-ness is of course a relative concept. In some of the cases classified as
European above, the value for Esperanto matches the second most common one
in the world, and this is sometimes second only by a narrow margin. Such instances cannot count as very strong evidence for the European character of Esperanto. Others, however, must be considered very European. In the case of seven
features (28, 54, 62, 79, 106, 123, 133) where Esperanto has settled on a European
value, there is a negative correlation between the values frequency in Europe and
in the world as a whole.
We could measure this Eurocentrism in a variety of ways, but I shall refrain
from presenting a ranking and simply point out some features that stand out as conspicuously European (here meaning Indo-European of Europe) in character.
Esperanto has, like European languages, a large number of colour terms, and
in particular, it makes a distinction between green and blue.
Esperanto distinguishes between he (li) and she (i), unlike most languages
outside Europe.
Most non-European languages make use of reduplication as a morphological
device (corresponding to non-existing English constructions such as *run-run
to run fast or *big-big huge).10 Esperanto aligns with European languages in
not exploiting this possibility. In particular, for distributives non-European
languages have a preference for constructions of the type *four-four four each,
where Esperanto uses a more (eastern) European po kvar (with po being a
preposition-like element)11 for the same meaning.
It is common for non-European languages to have an associative plural, often
of the type *the Pauls Paul and his friends/colleagues/relatives. Esperanto, like
many European languages, lacks this feature.
Esperanto comparatives function like European ones, i. e. with a comparative
particle: Mi estas pli juna ol vi I am younger than you. In the rest of the world,
the most common strategy is the locational one, which would translate as *I
am younger from/on/to you.
The use of a relative pronoun in a sentence such as La viro kiu salutis min estis
germano The man who greeted me was a German is highly European. Most
languages would simply leave out the morpheme corresponding to the who
here.
One area which is barely featured in WALS, but which would seem to contain more
Europeanisms, is that of semantics. Comrie (1996:40) points out, for instance, that
Esperanto merges carry and wear (porti) in the way many European languages
do (although many speakers would prefer surhavi in the sense of wear). There are

70 Mikael Parkvall

also words such as stelklara starry, vidpunkto viewpoint, mejlotono milestone,


terpomo potato, lav-urso racoon, eldoni to publish and plenkreska fully grown
which appear to be calqued directly on European patterns.

Non-European and typologically unusual structures


In some cases, Esperanto is patently un-European, and at times it parallels the
extra-European preference. A good example of this is feature 52, which demonstrates that the merger of comitatives and instrumentals is something that primarily European languages engage in (cf. I went to the cinema with John ~ I cut the
bread with a knife). Esperanto, however, sides with the majority option in the rest
of the world in keeping the two apart (instrumental preposition per, comitative
preposition kun). It is possible that Zamenhof was inspired by Polish or Russian in
this case, since those languages are equally un-European despite their geographical location. Regardless of the historical explanation, the fact remains that Esperanto in this case has made a typologically sound choice.
Perhaps the most interesting feature in the entire sample concerns feature 46,
where Esperanto has a value not attested in any natural language. While most of the
worlds languages have indefinite pronouns (somewhere, something, somebody,
etc.) based on interrogatives (where, what, who, etc.), Esperanto presents exactly
the opposite picture: the interrogatives kie, kio and kiu are based on the indefinites
ie, io, iu. This is interesting especially in the light of first-language acquisition studies. While descriptions of natively spoken Esperanto (Bergen 2001; Corsetti, Pinto
& Tolomeo 2004; Lindstedt 2006; Versteegh 1984; Versteegh 1993) have pointed
out some discrepancies between this and the prescriptive norm, this particular
feature has never been reported to cause any troubles in first language acquisition.
In other words, the Esperanto strategy is compatible with the human language faculty, even though it has not been documented in any non-artificial language.12

Does normal equal good?


The tacit assumption thus far, both in this paper and in other writings, has been
that normal is good. The rationale behind this assumption is that a linguistic feature is taken to be easier to acquire if it matches ones own mother tongue.
The neither European nor world-wide row in Table3 contains features which
are relatively unusual, but this does not necessarily imply that they are dysfunctional in particular in view of Esperantos intended role as an auxiliary second
language.

How European is Esperanto?

In order to be a perfectly representative language, Esperanto would have suppletive morphology and portmanteau morphs, and yet, surely no one would consider the addition of these features an improvement, since it would increase the
burden both of learning and of processing. Similarly, the most common argument
marking is one where both the agent and the patient are morphologically marked
on the verb, but despite all the reform proposals, few (if any) have advocated that
Esperanto would benefit from such an arrangement. Most languages also have
possessive affixes, so that the possessor is affixed to the possessum (*my-arm or
*arm-my my arm), but again this would not necessarily increase the acquisitional
ease, as analytical structures are often considered (correctly or not) more easily
learnt than synthetical ones.13
In order to be less European, Esperanto could be equipped with phonemic
tone, as in most African and East Asian languages. No doubt, however, this would
attract a good deal of criticism.
In other words, it is not particularly difficult to come up with features which
Esperanto does display (or lack), but which can be considered European or typologically unrepresentative, but where the alternative option is likely to stir up
more criticism than the present one ever has. In short, there are plenty of cases
where alleged simplicity or learnability clashes with typological frequency. In a
sense, this is hardly surprising, since most languages have in all likelihood had a
relatively small proportion of second-language learners among their speakers for
most of their history, and they have thus experienced only a moderate evolutionary pressure to become optimised for second language acquisition.
Other features are less obviously well chosen. To agree more with the makeup
of the average language, Esperanto would, for instance, lack case-marking and
passivisation, and favour SOV word order and postpositions. If we were to construct a language from scratch, these could be considered better choices than their
counterparts in Esperanto, on the basis of their higher frequency in attested human languages. It could be argued that passivisation, for example, is merely an
option that the speakers can make use of, but that they need not employ (though
the listener would of course have to be able to decode it). The phonology, however,
cannot be avoided, and both from a segmental and a phonotactic point of view, I
see its phonology as one of the least fortunate parts of Esperanto, with its profusion of consonants and the occurrence of complex clusters (as in, for example,
rabo [rawbo] screw, vrako wreck, skvamo scale of fish, and, not least, scienco
[stsientso] science) that lack counterparts in many natural languages.

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Taking speaker populations into account


One person who read an earlier draft of this paper suggested that numbers of
speakers be taken into account. Instead of counting the number of languages preferring one or another strategy, one could count the number of speakers accustomed (or otherwise) to that strategy. I have chosen not to include such a mathematical exercise here, but the result is nevertheless clear, in that it would make
Esperanto look considerably more in line with the global state of affairs. That result, in turn, could be amplified by counting not only mother-tongue speakers, but
also including second language users. The simple reason for this outcome is that
the European languages are typically spoken by vastly greater communities than
are the native languages of Australia or the Americas.14
This alternative perspective, naturally, would not prove that Esperanto is less
(or more) European than I have portrayed it here, but merely that the worlds population is linguistically more European than the above analysis tends to imply.
Also, since English for the time being the only realistic alternative to Esperanto
as a global lingua franca is the most widely spoken language if L2 speakers are
included, the suggested modus operandi could plausibly lead to English emerging
as a language at least as neutral as Esperanto, in terms of its structural relationship
to languages already known and used by the worlds population. Interesting as
such a comparison might be, it falls beyond the scope of this paper.

Concluding remarks
Though I think it is always useful and desirable to quantify existing gut feelings,
the main conclusion from the above is probably dependent on ones own ideological position. Esperanto is indeed more European in character than many of its
advocates would have it, but probably less so than many of its opponents would
have predicted (in particular those with only a fleeting acquaintance with its lexicon). In other words, in terms of Esperantos structural affinities with the known
range of human linguistic potential, the glass could be seen as either half full or
half empty.
It may be worth bearing in mind that most Esperanto texts in history have
probably been produced by people with a European mother tongue, and, in addition, this also applies to my two informants. In this context, Lindstedt (2006:48)
points out that Esperanto norms are far more dependent on speakers (as opposed
to active language planning) than most people think. It might therefore be interesting to study the differences between the Esperanto portrayed here and that
used by people without knowledge of a European language. There is an obvious

How European is Esperanto?

possibility that such versions would emerge as less Eurocentric. As the language
is created by its speakers, a possible shift in speaker demographics could perhaps
lead to a drift away from European-influenced norms.

Notes
* My thanks go to Pivi Juvonen, Sonja Petrovi Lundberg, Hartmut Traunmller, Joakim Enwall, Bertil Wennergren and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive input. I also owe
special credit to Hkan Lundberg, whose questions provided the initial impetus for this article.
1. Native speakers of German and Swedish respectively; both use Esperanto as their home language with their spouses who are of different linguistic backgrounds.
2. Contacts with some of the WALS contributors provided some help here.
3. Any such cut-off point is bound to be arbitrary, of course. In this case, I picked 76 simply in
order to include Polish, a language of special interest here because it was spoken by Esperantos
creator.
4. WALS does not include extinct languages, and therefore excludes Latin, and only features the
modern versions of Greek and Hebrew. It also has extremely few mentions of Yiddish, which
was one of the languages Zamenhof grew up speaking.
5. I am here using the majority option within each group as the group value.
6. This figure includes the modern versions of Greek and Hebrew as stand-ins for the classical
varieties.
7. It should be borne in mind here that labels such as American languages and Oceanic languages (as is common practice in linguistic typology) refer to speech varieties indigenous to the
respective continents. While the Americas and Oceania are nowadays completely dominated by
(originally) European languages, these are still counted as European, while only the pre-1492
languages are treated as American.
8. Here defined as WALS features 5864 and 81128.
9. Note that this refers only to the features for which there are any data in WALS. Also, as already mentioned, I included languages with 76 or more attestations in the 137-feature database.
For Daga, for instance, 89 values are included. It is of course possible that Daga behaves excentrically with regard to the 48 features about which WALS is silent.
10. Here and in the following, English morphemes are used only to illustrate the types of constructions concerned. For readers with a primarily passive command of English, their ungrammatical nature is marked by means of an asterisk.
11. One of the anonymous reviewers points out that there is some variability among speakers of
Esperanto here, and at least for many users, po fails to display the characteristuics of a preposition proper.

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Mikael Parkvall
12. Note, however, that one of the anonymous peer reviewers has reservations about my account here. S/he writes (originally in Esperanto) that Instead of k-iu one could also propose
ki-u (compare the coinages alies, aliam, and not e.g. ali-ies: such forms must contain an -i-, but it
is felt to belong to the first, not the second part of the word. Moreover, the reviewer reports on
two native speakers that they misspell ne niu as two words, but never nen iu.
13. According to a colleague who is more familiar with the second language acquisition literature than I, this claim appears not to have been empirically tested.
14. Even Esperanto itself must be considered a larger-than-average language when L2 speakers
are included.

References
Bergen, Benjamin. 2001. Nativization processes in L1 Esperanto. Journal of Child Language
28/3:575595.
Comrie, Bernard. 1996. Natural and artificial international languages: A typologists assessment.
Journal of Universal Language 3:3555.
Corsetti, Renato, Maria Antonietta Pinto & Maria Tolomeo. 2004. Regularizing the regular: The
phenomenon of overregularization in Esperanto-speaking children. Language Problems
and Language Planning 28/3:261282.
Haspelmath, Martin. 1998. How young is Standard Average European? Language Sciences
20/3:271287.
Haspelmath, Martin, Matthew Dryer, David Gil & Bernard Comrie, ed. 2005. The World Atlas of
Language Structures. Oxford: Oxford U. P.
Janton, Pierre. 1993. Esperanto: Language, Literature and Community. Albany: State U. of New
York Press.
Lindstedt, Jouko. 2006. Native Esperanto as a test case for natural language. SKY 19:4755.
Piron, Claude. 1981. Esperanto: European or Asiatic Language? Esperanto Documents 22A. Rotterdam: Universal Esperanto Association.
Van der Auwera, Johan. 1998. Revisiting the Balkan and Meso-American linguistic areas. Language Sciences 20/3:259270.
Versteegh, Kees. 1984. Piinigado, kreoligado kaj Esperanto. Hungara Vivo 24/4:127129.
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Sammanfattning
Hur europeiskt r esperanto? En typologisk studie
De typologiska likheterna mellan esperanto och andra sprk har lnge debatterats. Antagandes
att drag frn ett frmmande sprk lrs in lttare om de uppvisar likheter med det egna mod-

How European is Esperanto?

ermlet, borde givetvis ett internationellt hjlpsprk vara s typologiskt neutralt som mjligt.
Ett vanligt stycke kritik mot esperanto r att det r alltfr europeiskt, och drmed mindre
tillgngligt fr talare av utomeuropeiska sprk. I syfte att erbjuda en bttre grund fr sdana
diskussioner frsker denna artikel med hjlp av de sprkdrag som listas i World Atlas of
Language Structures kvantifiera den eventuella eurocentriskheten hos esperanto. Slutsatsen
r att esperanto mycket riktigt r en smula europeiskt till sin karaktr, dock i betydligt mindre
utstrckning n de europeiska sprken sjlva.

Resumo
Kiel eropa estas Esperanto? Tipologia studo
La tipologiaj similecoj inter Esperanto kaj aliaj lingvoj estas delonge temo de debatoj. Se oni
supozas, ke la strukturoj de fremda lingvo estas des pli facile akireblaj, ju pli ili similas al tiuj de
la denaska lingvo de la lernanto, tiam evidente iu kandidato por la rolo de monda interlingvo
devus esti tipologie kiel eble plej netrala. Ofte oni kritikas Esperanton pro tio, ke i estas tro
eropa, kaj tial malpli facile alproprigebla por neeroplingvanoj. Cele al kreo de pli firma bazo
por tiaj diskutoj, i tiu artikolo provas mezuri la eropecon de Esperanto, utiligante la trajtojn
katalogitajn en World Atlas of Language Structures. Oni venas al konkludo, ke Esperanto ja estas
iom eropeca, sed atentinde malpli tia ol la eropaj lingvoj mem.

Appendix: The Wals features


As explained earlier, five chapters were excluded from consideration here. These are bracketed
in the following table. The labels are not necessarily self-explanatory, but it would take up disproportionate amounts of space to define them here. The interested reader is therefore referred
to Wals itself for precise definitions.
1 Consonant Inventories
2 Vowel Quality Inventories
3 Consonant-Vowel Ratio
4 Voicing in Plosives and Fricatives
5 Voicing and Gaps in Plosive Systems
6 Uvular Consonants
7 Glottalized Consonants
8 Lateral Consonants
9 The Velar Nasal
10 Vowel Nasalization
11 Front Rounded Vowels
12 Syllable Structure
13 Tone
14 Fixed Stress Locations
15 Weight-Sensitive Stress
16 Weight Factors in Weight-Sensitive Stress Systems

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17 Rhythm Types
18 Absence of Common Consonants
19 Presence of Uncommon Consonants
20 Fusion of Selected Inflectional Formatives
21 Exponence of Selected Inflectional Formatives
22 Inflectional Synthesis of the Verb
23 Locus of Marking in the Clause
24 Locus of Marking in Possessive Noun Phrases
25 Locus of Marking: Whole-language Typology
26 Prefixing vs. Suffixing in Inflectional Morphology
27 Reduplication
28 Case Syncretism
29 Syncretism in Verbal Person/Number Marking
30 Number of Genders
31 Sex-based and Non-sex-based Gender Systems
32 Systems of Gender Assignment
33 Coding of Nominal Plurality
34 Occurrence of Nominal Plurality
35 Plurality in Independent Personal Pronouns
36 The Associative Plural
37 Definite Articles
38 Indefinite Articles
39 Inclusive/Exclusive Distinction in Independent Pronouns
40 Inclusive/Exclusive Distinction in Verbal Inflection
41 Distance Contrasts in Demonstratives
42 Pronominal and Adnominal Demonstratives
43 Third Person Pronouns and Demonstratives
44 Gender Distinctions in Independent Personal Pronouns
45 Politeness Distinctions in Pronouns
46 Indefinite Pronouns
47 Intensifiers and Reflexive Pronouns
48 Person Marking on Adpositions
49 Number of Cases
50 Asymmetrical Case-Marking
51 Position of Case Affixes
52 Comitatives and Instrumentals
53 Ordinal Numerals
54 Distributive Numerals
55 Numeral Classifiers
56 Conjunctions and Universal Quantifiers
57 Position of Pronominal Possessive Affixes
58 Obligatory Possessive Inflection
59 Possessive Classification
60 Genitives, Adjectives and Relative Clauses
61 Adjectives without Nouns
62 Action Nominal Constructions
63 Noun Phrase Conjunction

How European is Esperanto?

64 Nominal and Verbal Conjunction


65 Perfective/Imperfective Aspect
66 The Past Tense
67 The Future Tense
68 The Perfect
69 Position of Tense-Aspect Affixes
70 The Morphological Imperative
71 The Prohibitive
72 Imperative-Hortative Systems
73 The Optative
74 Situational Possibility
75 Epistemic Possibility
76 Overlap between Situational and Epistemic Modal Marking
77 (Semantic Distinctions of Evidentiality)
78 (Coding of Evidentiality)
79 Suppletion According to Tense and Aspect
80 Verbal Number and Suppletion
81 Order of Subject, Object and Verb
82 Order of Subject and Verb
83 Order of Object and Verb
84 Order of Object, Oblique, and Verb
85 Order of Adposition and Noun Phrase
86 Order of Genitive and Noun
87 Order of Adjective and Noun
88 Order of Demonstrative and Noun
89 Order of Numeral and Noun
90 Order of Relative Clause and Noun
91 Order of Degree Word and Adjective
92 Position of Polar Question Particles
93 Position of Interrogative Phrases in Content Questions
94 Order of Adverbial Subordinator and Clause
95 Relationship between the Order of Object and Verb and the Order of Adposition and
Noun Phrase
96 Relationship between the Order of Object and Verb and the Order of Relative Clause and
Noun
97 Relationship between the Order of Object and Verb and the Order of Adjective and
Noun
98 Alignment of Case Marking of Full Noun Phrases
99 Alignment of Case Marking of Pronouns
100 Alignment of Verbal Person Marking
101 Expression of Pronominal Subjects
102 Verbal Person Marking
103 Third Person Zero of Verbal Person Marking
104 Order of Person Markers on the Verb
105 Ditransitive Constructions: The Verb Give
106 Reciprocal Constructions
107 Passive Constructions

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108 Antipassive Constructions
109 Applicative Constructions
110 Periphrastic Causative Constructions
111 Nonperiphrastic Causative Constructions
112 Negative Morphemes
113 Symmetric and Asymmetric Standard Negation
114 Subtypes of Asymmetric Standard Negation
115 Negative Indefinite Pronouns and Predicate Negation
116 Polar Questions
117 Predicative Possession
118 Predicative Adjectives
119 Nominal and Locational Predication
120 Zero Copula for Predicate Nominals
121 Comparative Constructions
122 Relativization on Subjects
123 Relativization on Obliques
124 Want Complement Subjects
125 Purpose Clauses
126 When Clauses
127 Reason Clauses
128 Utterance Complement Clauses
129 Hand and Arm
130 Finger and Hand
131 Numeral Bases
132 Number of Non-Derived Basic Colour Categories
133 Number of Basic Colour Categories
134 Green and Blue
135 Red and Yellow
136 M-T Pronouns
137 N-M Pronouns
138 Tea
139 (Irregular Negatives in Sign Languages)
140 (Question Particles in Sign Languages)
141 (Writing Systems)
142 Para-Linguistic Usages of Clicks

Authors address
Institutionen fr lingvistik
Stockholms universitet
SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
parkvall@ling.su.se

How European is Esperanto?

About the author


Mikael Parkvall is a linguist at Stockholm University. His previous work spans several areas
of general linguistics, but has had a focus on pidgin and creole languages. Books published in
English include Out of Africa (2000) and Limits of Language (2006).

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