This volume has been prepared to meet a twofold need. An adequate presentation of the International Language has become an imperative necessity. Such presentation, including full and accurate grammatical explanations, suitably graded reading lessons, and similarly graded material for translation from English, has not heretofore been accessible within the compass of a single volume, or in fact within the compass of any two or three volumes.
The combination of grammar and reader here offered is therefore unique. It is to furnish not merely an introduction to Esperanto, or a superficial acquaintance with it, but a genuine understanding of the language and mastery of its use without recourse to additional textbooks, readers, etc. In other words, this one volume affords as complete a knowledge of Esperanto as several years' study of a grammar and various readers will accomplish for any national language. Inflection, word-formation and syntax are presented clearly and concisely, yet with a degree of completeness and in a systematic order that constitute a new feature. Other points worthy of note are the following:
The reasons for syntactical usages are given, instead of mere statements that such usages exist. For example, clauses of purpose and of result are really explained, instead of being dismissed with the unsatisfactory remark that "the imperative follows por ke," or the "use of tiel … ke and tia … ke must be distinguished from that of tiel … kiel and tia … kia," etc., with but little intimation of when and why por ke, tiel … ke and tia … ke are likely to occur.
Affixes are not mentioned until some familiarity with the general character of the language is assured, as well as the possession of a fair vocabulary. They are introduced gradually, with adequate explanation and illustration. Of importance in connection with word-formation is an element distinctly new—the explanation and classification of compound words. Such words, like affixes, are withheld until the use of simple words is familiar.
Another new feature is the gradual introduction of correlative words in their logical order, and in their proper grammatical categories, before they are called "correlatives," or tabulated. The tabulation finally presented is a real classification, with regard to the meaning and grammatical character of the words, not merely an arbitrary alphabetical arrangement. The use of primary adverbs precedes the explanation of adverb derivation; prepositions, especially de, da, je, etc., receive careful attention, also the verb system, and the differentiation of words whose English equivalents are ambiguous.
A general characteristic of obvious advantage is that almost without exception new forms and constructions are illustrated by means of words or roots already familiar. Likewise, the new words or roots of each lesson recur at least once in the next lesson, and usually in some lesson thereafter as well. Each reading exercise gives not only a thorough application of the grammatical principles of the lesson, but a review of those in the preceding lesson, and no use is made of words or constructions not yet explained. The comparative ease of the language, and the lack of necessity for reciting paradigms, permit the reading exercises to be long enough for the student to feel that he has really mastered something. These exercises are further unique, in that each after the fifth is a coherent narrative, and nearly every one is a story of genuine interest in itself. These stories, if bound separately, would alone constitute a reader equivalent to those used in first and second year work in national languages. (For list of titles, see Table of Contents.)
The second element of the twofold need which this volume meets is the necessity for a presentation of Esperanto, not as a thing apart, but in that form which will make it most serviceable as an introduction to national tongues. A stepping-stone to both ancient and modern languages, Esperanto may render invaluable aid, and pave the way for surmounting the many difficulties confronting both student and teacher. Through Esperanto, the labor in the acquirement of these languages may be reduced in the same proportion in which the pleasure and thoroughness of such acquirement are increased. For this reason, the grammatical constructions of Esperanto are here explained as consistently as possible in accordance with the usage of national languages, especially those in the school curriculum, and precise names are assigned to them. Such matters as contrary to fact conditions, indirect quotations, clauses of purpose and of result, accusatives of time and measure, expressions of separation, reference, etc., thus become familiar to the student, long before he meets them in the more difficult garb of a national tongue, whose exceptions seem to outnumber its rules, and whose idioms prove more puzzling than its exceptions, unless approached by the smooth and gradual ascent of the International Language, Esperanto.
Washington, D. C.,
August 3, 1910.