Lesson Two (Leciono Du): Alphabet, Sounds, and Numbers
The phonemics of Esperantop are essentially Slavic. Emphasis is on the penultimate syllable. The orthography is phonetically consistent and there are no silent letters. The Esperanto alphabet is as follows:
a, b, c, ĉ, d, e, f, g, ĝ, h, ĥ, i, j, ĵ, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, ŝ, t, u, ŭ, v, z
As with all languages, beginning with the alphabet is recommended. The alphabet uses 28 letters with 5 cardinal vowels, 2 semivowels and 21 consonants. Five of the consonants are diacritical (ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ŝ, ŭ). Under the Fundamento de Esperanto, the letter "h" may be substituted with the u-diacritical dropped altogether; however this leads to confusion (e.g., whether "ch" represents ĉ or a literal ch) especially in sorting.
As an alternative the letter "x" (not used in Esperanto) has been adopted by large sections of the community, even if it is against the "Fundamentals" of the language. Whilst Unicode adoption in webpages makes diacriticals easy, encoding support is less common for email, chat systems, and general keyboard configurations etc). Be aware that fundamentalists will claim that this is "not Esperanto", despite common usage within Esperanto culture. Another common feature (this one starting with Zamenhof himself) is to merge ĥ into k.
The vowel sounds are:
a, longer "a" as in "father" (e.g., tablo = table, = cat, ami = to love).
e, shorter "a" as in "make" (e.g., teo = tea, per = by).
i, shorter "i", as in "firm" (e.g., filmo = film, birdo = bird, infano = child).
o, shorter "o", as in "no" (e.g., mikrofono = microphone, oro = gold).
u, longer, double "o", as in "moose" (e.g., = net, suno = sun, urbo = city).
The semi-vowel sounds are:
j, rounded "y", as in "yacht" (e.g., juna = young, jaro = year).
wx, as in "mount" (auxto = car).
The diacritical sounds mostly have a Portuguese-like "x" sound to them, with the exception of ĥ (a gutteral k) and ŭ (w). Specifically;
cx, as in "church" (cxokolado = chocolate).
gx, as in "jealous" (gxui = to enjoy).
hx, as in "loch" (hxoro = choir, but often spelled "koruso").
jz, as the zh sound in "pleasure" (jxurnalo = newspaper).
sx, as in "show" (sxipo = ship).
wx, as above i.e., as in "mount" (auxto = car).
The other consonant sounds are:
b bela = beautiful, baki = to bake, baston = stick.
c celo = goal, cerbumo = to think. Always with the "ts" sound, as in "cent".
d doni = to give, de = of, from, since.
e egala = equal, ecx = even, en = in
f facila = easy, forta = strong, fari = to make
g granda = big, gaja = gay
h horo = hour, havi = to have
k kafo = coffee, karto = card
l lando = country, lakto = milk
m maro = sea, mano = hand, mangxi = to eat
n nokto = night, milito = war
p paco = peace, pagxo = page, pantalono = trousers
r rapida = fast, rato = rat. The letter should be slightly trilled.
s salti = to jump, samo = same, senti = to feel
t tago = day, tapisxo = carpet
v vivo = life, veni = to come, vendi = to sell
z zebro = zebra, zona = belt
There are six common dipthongs, or gliding combination of two vowels.
aux, as in "ow" in "cow" (auxstralio = Australia)
eux, as in "ayw" in "wayward" (neuxtrala = neutral)
aj, as in "ai" in "kaiser"
ej, as in "ein" in "vein"
oj, as in "oy" in "joy" (arboj = trees)
uj, as in "ui" in "ruin"
The numbers of Esperanto are unu (1), du (2), tri (3), kvar (4), kvin (5), ses (6), sep (7), ok (8), naux (9), dek (10), cent (100), mil (1000). Numbers simply are added from highest order of magnitude first to the lowest in compound (e.g., trimil sescent naux = 3609).