Comparative characteristics

of English and Esperanto

(46 phonemes, 20 vowels)
phonetic with 28 letters
Pronunciationchaotic, elusive, impossible to standardiseeach letter is pronounced and always represents the same sound
Stressindefinable, determined by usage; no standard can be establishedalways on the penultimate syllable
Irregular verbs283none
Conjugation : - root
Identification of the grammatical functionConfused, many grammatical relations are unexpressedclear and immediate
Syntaxrigid, fixed word ordervery subtle
Word derivation *limited possibilities : 5%vast possibilities : 17%
Index of agglutination *0,31
Idiomsinnumerablevirtually non-existent
Homonymsvery numerousvirtually non-existent
Polysemy **very common (1)rare
Vocabulary necessary to understand an ordinary text ***for 80% — 90% : 2000 words
for 99% : 7000 words (2)
500 words + 50 grammatical elements
2000 words
Time needed to reach a standard equivalent to A-level ****1500 hours for a French speaker150 hours for a French speaker

Sources :
* "Lingvistikaj aspektoj de Esperanto", Dr John C. Wells; professor of English language phonetics at University College London.
** Edward Thorndike, a famous American teacher and educationalist.
*** "Fortoj de l'vivo", Vilho Setälä, a Finnish linguist.
**** Dr Helmar Frank, director of the Institute of Cybernetics in Paderborn, Germany.

(1) - 21 120 different meanings for the 850 words of the basic vocabulary.
(2) - Frequency of dictionary consultation : one unknown word in a hundred.