1. Introduction

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1. Introduction

The following word list is based mainly on lists previously published in Esperanto and Czech (mainly Corsetti 1987 and Corsetti 1990).

Studies of spoken Esperanto are still in their infancy and generally consist of frequency lists (e.g. Tiŝljar 1982). It should be added that even in the case of the so called "natural" languages, curses, insults and similar expressions usually receive less than their fair share of attention at academic level. Specialized studies are usually limited to discussions of the way in which these elements of the spoken language are used as interjections, a grammatical category which until now has triumphantly defied the attempts of linguists to pin it down (De Mauro 1993).

There are however a small number of studies and word lists connected with this topic, mainly put together by the youth section of the Esperanto movement. Thanks to their frequent international meetings the younger speakers of the language have made a major contribution during the last forty years to the development of Esperanto as it now exists in its spoken form. This contribution is acknowledged in the references to this article.

The list consists of words (or whatever you want to call them) actually used in spoken Esperanto by Esperantists of various nationalities. They were recorded between 1985 and 1990 by Renato Corsetti or by one of the thirty or so young Esperantists interested in this topic.

We emphasize the fact that the words were used in spoken Esperanto because as we explain below, Esperanto is still largely a written language, with a long and successful literary tradition. Its flexibility makes it a powerful tool for writers, who constantly exploit its latent possibilities to create new words and expressions. We have deliberately avoided recording literary expressions of this nature, but have limited ourselves to those which are regularly used by normal speakers in informal situations.

The Esperanto speaking community is widely scattered throughout the world in a sort of linguistic diaspora, whose members often live at great distances from one another and have limited opportunities for travelling and meeting. For this reason it took some decades at the beginning of this century for the spoken form of the language to become firmly established. There is now however a widely accepted norm, which is aspired to by all new students of the language. It is now high time that it was made the object of serious academic research - and this research should, of course, include those areas which are the subject of this article.