SCRABBLE is compelling enough, but playing it in Esperanto, for those of a certain cast of mind, is even more addictive. The invented language’s tidy roots and suffixes are well suited to wordplay. A recent game in London featured words like acajeto (a little bit of dirt) and artamehoj (echoes of the love of art). Over its 120-year history Esperanto may have failed in its original mission to bring world peace via mutual intelligibility, but it remains both an engaging intellectual exercise and a route to a ready-made social life.
“A language isn’t something you learn so much as something you join,” says Arika Okrent, author of a book on artificial argots. Few people will bother to learn a language on abstract or idealistic grounds, she says. Esperanto gives them a reason to get started, because of the culture that has grown up around it.It also covers Klingon (no surprise).