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Part I: Esperanto Grammar

Chapter 16: Speed of Speech

Conversation takes place at conversational speed, even if this varies for different languages, different speakers, and different circumstances. Fluent speakers of Esperanto, naturally enough, speak Esperanto at about the same speed at which they speak other languages they know well. This has several implications in Esperanto:

  1. Most fluent speakers speak somewhat more quickly than many beginners are easily able to assimilate. They are usually not showing off. That is simply the rate of information flow that is comfortable for them. (It may correspond to their approximate speaking speed in their native language.) Different individuals speak at different speeds, but conventions about speed of speech also vary from one language community to another. What seems fast to you may actually seem slow and deliberate to many others.
  2. This means it may actually seem unnatural for another Esperantist to speak as slowly as you would like. Indeed, only by a deliberate act of will and great concentration can the average person actually control his speed. If you don't understand something, it usually works better to ask for repetition than to ask people to slow down, since it is normal for a person to forget your request, sometimes even before the end of the first sentence!
  3. It also follows that beginners should hang around with fluent speakers when possible to get practice listening to speech at “conversational” speed.
  4. Teachers should make a point of speaking Esperanto at conversational speed (or faster!) so that students become used to it; it is better to repeat than to slow down, especially after the first couple of lessons.
  5. Although you need to understand speech at whatever speed it comes at you, slow speech is just as respectable in Esperanto as in other languages, so don’t be bullied into trying to hurry your own speech just to sound “fluent.” It is better to try to speak clearly than to worry too much about speed.

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