Because of some coincidences I find myself these days thinking again quite intensively in and about Esperanto, but this time I cannot help applying the Talmudic way of thinking to the same mantra many Esperantists, for example, in Japan, repeat without thinking about it more deeply. This mantra is "Esperanto is an easy language". Is it?! ;-) I cannot help wondering why I have met few Japanese Esperantists speaking Esperanto very well in terms of the pronunciation, lexical richness and eloquence if this mantra they repeat is really true.
When talking about the difficulty of a foreign language, one must distinguish between the difficulty in relative terms and the difficulty in absolute terms. And the difficulty in relative terms is further divided into the difficulty in comparison with other languages and the difference in the difficulty between speakers of different native languages. If we take native speakers of Japanese as an example, Esperanto is definitely much easier than European ethnic languages such as English, German and French, but it is far more difficult for them than for native speakers of these European languages. So in the first sense of the difficulty Esperanto is equally easier for everyone, but in its second sense it is easier for speakers of certain languages than those of other languages.
But the real problem is with the difficulty in absolute terms. It is true that Esperanto is easier than any other socially functioning language though the degree of difficulty depends on the native language of its learner. But in absolute terms Esperanto can be difficult for native speakers of all languages equally after they have mastered its grammar and acquired more than enough lexicon. The next step is to learn to use Esperanto actively. In this respect it is not different from any other language, so it is equally difficult. Those who repeat the above mantra are either unaware of this type of difficulty or ignore it on purpose for the sake of propaganda, though they themselves do not speak Esperanto well enough.
In short, the above mentioned naive mantra does more harm than good. It should be taken with the utmost caution, but I do not know how we can warn every possible learner of Esperanto of it. Because of this kind of propaganda, many beginners leave the study of language as they themselves find that it is not so easy as they were told. Do I find Esperanto difficult? Yes, I do, especially after I passed the initial stage more than two decades. But I consider the time and money I spent for learning Esperanto further as one of my best intellectual investments in my entire life. A Jew has to finish everything he writes with optimism, doesn't he? ;-)