FLP11: App to find language learning partners nearby anytime + anywhere - Interview with Richard Delamore, CEO of Amikumu

Photo by: Amikumu

The Amikumu Team (Richard is the one with bunny ears :)

Amikumu is a free app that helps you find people nearby to speak any language with

I first came across Amikumu at the 2017 Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava and immediately thought: "Now this is a stellar idea - and finally something created specifically for polyglots and language lovers like me!"

I instantly downloaded it and created a profile to begin connecting with people around me who are also interested in languages and practicing and sharing in person.

So it was a great pleasure to have Richard Delamore, Amikumu's CEO, on the show to give us a bit of history about the app as well as some insight into what's to come...

How Amikumu came to be

The app was originally created for Esperanto speakers and has since broadened its spectrum to incorporate a whopping 7,500 languages, some of which only have a handful of native speakers.

The founders of the app are Richard Delamore (CEO) and Chuck Smith (CTO), two Esperantists that realized there was a lack of any concrete way to a) find out if there are Esperanto speakers around you and b) connect with them and meet up to talk and practice the language.

Though they were half a world apart, Chuck in Berlin (from US) and Richard in Australia, they decided to go ahead and give it a go and create an app that would facilitate these connections.

That led to a Kickstarter campaign where 239 people funded Amikumu into existence!

About Richard Delamore

Richard is a significant figure in the worldwide Esperanto community and the most prolific and followed Esperanto YouTuber (he's known there as Evildea).

Richard has a background as a signals operator in the Australian army and served on the Board of Directors for the Australian Esperanto Association (AEA), the Language Festival Association (LFA) and the Esperanto Federation of New South Wales (EFNSW). Additionally, he's got experience as an actor and film maker and worked for numerous international businesses as a systems administrator.

Now he is leading the Amikumu team and believes that "Amikumu will become an essential part of every language learner's tool kit in the near future".

So do I!

Noteworthy highlights about Amikumu

  • The app launched initially in 2017 for Esperanto speakers to connect with one another locally
  • Now you can find learners of just about any language in addition to polyglots around you
  • A list shows the 100 people nearby in your language(s) to chat with and/or meet in person
  • Privacy is a high priority, no email verification or real names are required, locations are intentionally fuzzy
  • There are 7,500 languages in the Amikumu database (including 100+ sign languages)!
  • The interface is translated into heaps of languages and is open for anyone to help translate into more
  • One of their goals is to become the most translated app in the world
  • The team speaks a combined ~25 languages and are spread all over the globe
  • They are planning some cool new features which will roll out in the coming months
  • Amikumu means "do the friend thing" in Esperanto
  • The app works on Android and iOS platforms
  • It's free

Join the fun and find language lovers to practice in person with near you!

Go ahead and download Amikumu (Android + iOS) and give it a try - it only takes a second (you don't even need to enter your email) and the more people that use the app, the better it gets for us all!

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Transcription of this interview

If you prefer to read, I've got you covered here (though my fingers get a bit numb from typing these out and my head remains in slow motion for a while from listening to it slow enough for me to type!). Just keep in mind it's a transcription and doesn't always read well. I have left out some unnecessary things to clean it up a bit. Please consider listening as so many nuances come through in the recording that cannot be transcribed. That said, here you go!

Chapman: I’m excited to be here today with Richard Delamore from Amikumu, who is a significant figure in the worldwide Esperanto community. Welcome to the show!

Richard: Thanks a lot man!

Chapman: Cool, I am really looking forward to this and Amikumu is a very exciting app for polyglots and language learners everywhere. To be able to actually hook up with people, real people, around you is brilliant. I wanted to get bit of your background first, Richard, how did you kind of get into languages at the beginning and language learning?

Richard: I guess that’s a story that started kind of in my childhood but really took off in my 20s. My first memory of language learning was when I was a kid, my parents brought this massive stack of encyclopedias and in one of them there was like basically they compared different scripts. I had no idea what I was really looking at, I just knew it was related to language and I thought it was just awesome.

But then I went to school and studied Japanese and I went through a pretty bad program where basically they taught Japanese as if it was just English, type of thing, so like this is one word to one word translation. At the end I thought “This is silly” because there was not word for “but”. No-one explained to me that languages work differently.

So my first real encounter with language learning was Esperanto and that happened when I was in the Australian army. It was at that point that I actually figured out how languages work and I guess this thing from my childhood that fascination with language came back and hit me and I just really got into it at that point.

Chapman: Cool, and how did that segue into involvement with Esperanto and how did you first hear about Esperanto and what kind of motivated you to become so deeply involved with the language and the community.

Richard: Well, one day, I remember while I was in the army, I was posted in quite a regional area, there was like nothing to do. In the local town nearby, which was a good six kilometers away, there as a supermarket, a couple of pubs and a cinema. I was there for two years and after the first year, I started to go insane.

I remember while I was there, I am like, “I need to do something with my time here otherwise I am just gonna lost the plot”. So I thought about languages, it kept popping into my head and I thought “Maybe I’ll go back to Japanese but I had a bit of a sour experience with it from high school so I’ll try something new” and so I asked around and everyone was like “Learn French, the language of the old empire” you know, cause everyone was a bit older than me. And I tried out French but I thought, “This language is crazy, they just cut off things and leave things out and make up stuff as they go along” and it just did not appeal to me. Anyone who has learned French knows what I am on about.

Chapman: Oh, yeah.

Richard: And then one day I was in Wikipedia and I was just reading about languages in general, I was looking for something that was going to kind of hook me. And I was jumping from article to article, I don’t know how I arrived at it, but somehow I arrived at this article about International Languages and it said that there were languages like English, which are natural languages, but there were also artificial languages and I didn’t even know those existed so it was kind of fascinating.

I clicked on it and I saw a bunch of languages listed, one of them was Esperanto but, at first, I actually thought that was español, so I just kind of skipped past it and I found another one that was called Interlingua and I thought, “Oh this sounds kind of fascinating” and so I read the page about it and I went into the main Interlingua website and it looked like it was something from the retros back in 1991 website design type of thing and I was like, “Yeah, this ain’t gonna happen!”.

Like, if the main website looks that bad, it says something about the speaking community.

And then after that, I returned back to the article and I thought, “Hang on, this isn’t español, this is something different”. So I clicked on it and I read about Esperanto and Esperanto, it was kind of fascinating.

I will give a quick summary for anyone who doesn’t know:

Esperanto is over 130 years old, it’s an artificial language, it’s designed to be a bridge language but over 130 years it’s evolved, it has spread out, people use it for different reasons. It has become it’s own language in its own right.

Anyway, the thing that captured me about this language in the article was the fact that it has native speakers, so it was a created language with native speakers and I thought, “Ok, if it’s got native speakers it must have something going for it”.

So I found a website which was at the time Lernu.net and I did one lesson there and it was really really simple. And like here was none of these crazy apostrophes or things being left out and I thought, “Okay, this is pretty easy” and I just kept at it and after a while I just kind of got hooked.

Chapman: Okay, and you said that native speakers, I didn’t actually even know there were Esperanto native speakers. How did that come to be? Were they raised by Esperanto-speaking parents as a first…

Richard: Oh, okay, yeah, it’s a fascinating topic. I’ve met a ton of them through the years. So, I’ll give you an example of real native speaker that I know, I will just leave out names.

So I went to Germany about two years ago and I stayed with a native Esperanto-speaking family. Now, basically the woman in the family, she was an Esperanto speaker and all the kids were Esperanto speakers but she learned Esperanto from her dad when she was young because he met an Esperantist, a woman, an Esperanto speaker from another country and they basically hitched together and the only common language they had was Esperanto. That’s what they spoke together and that’s what the kids learnt.

Chapman: Wow!

Richard: Yeah. There’s another one who lives in Sydney. She learnt, she actually goes back three generations, so it’s like back to her great grand-dad I think and it’s the same type of thing, one person speaks to the kid, the kid picks it up and the kid sticks with the community because the people stick to the Esperanto community just for the community itself rather than the language. It’s got its own fascinating subculture so they stick with it, they pass it on and it gets passed on down the generations.

I think there are about 2000+ native speakers now.

Chapman: Amazing, amazing, I didn’t know that. That’s interesting, cause it makes me wonder, I know from the creolization of languages, where you’ll have people, you know, well, you know certainly in the past where people were transported from Africa to the Caribbean, say, and they were from all different tribes and all different areas and they all got put on one island and they ended up coming up with a kind of a pidgin, and then the children as they were raised in that society they actually creolized the language, they gave it a grammar, you know, they created a real Creole out of it.

Have some of these native speakers kind of been influential in Esperantizing or somehow kind of pushing the limits of the language?

Richard: Well, a lot of these natives, well I wouldn’t say a lot but a few of these native speakers have gone out and written quite large books. Some of them are famous, there’s one of them that’s a famous DJ or a musician. I’ve met them just in random locations but the thing is there’s not enough of them to influence the language so you’ve go two million secondary speakers and you’ve got two thousand native speakers so basically they bend to the will of the secondary speakers.

Chapman: Ahah.

Richard: Yeah, if they try and make up something or just like evolve something that’s kind of outside the rules of Esperanto, cause Esperanto’s got its own rules, basically they will be the only ones using it because everyone else is learning it as a second language. So I imagine if native speakers outgrew secondary speakers maybe then something would happen but that’s a long way down the track.

Chapman: Interesting, interesting. I was wondering, before we move on from Esperanto, if you could, I’ve heard that if you’re an Esperanto speaker which is definitely on my list, that you can pretty much have a free place to stay anywhere because Esperanto speakers want Esperanto speakers to come and stay with them. So when you’re traveling around it’s actually an amazing community to engage with and often with people traveling on a budget, it’s possible to have hosts all over the place. Is that something that rings true?

Richard: Yeah, that’s mainly known as part of a service that called Pasporta Servo, it has existed since the 80s but there’s like an online version now. It’s basically like a crowdsurfing, I mean couchsurfing, sorry, couchsurfing. I’ve used, when I had a honeymoon with my wife, we traveled through Europe pretty much just staying with Esperanto speakers and it was like free accommodation, we were shown around, free food, the whole works.

I remember one family I stayed with in Switzerland, we rocked up and it was this like elderly couple and they had this house right on the Swiss lakes like looking over two stories and they’re like, “Here’s the keys, we are going down to Italy for a week” and they left us with this massive mansion.

Chapman: Wooo!

Richard: And I was like, okay, this, I did not expect this.

Chapman: That’s a honeymoon, there!

Richard: Yeah, I was like, “See, babe, this does help!”

Chapman: So there you have it listeners, a good good reason to learn Esperanto and get out there and start traveling.

So I just wanted to ask quickly a couple more questions about you before we move onto Amikumu, I was just curious from your six years with the Australian army as a signals operator, did that have any influence on your language, you know, stuff? Or were you just studying language at the same time or…

Richard: It was more along the lines that the army is really good at putting you in places where you don’t wanna be and you’ve got nothing to do there. So it forces you to find something to occupy yourself and just language was my outlet.

Chapman: Okay, so over the years, have you, do you have a personal approach to learning languages or what do you, yeah, how to do you kind of approach the topic?

Richard: Well, I’m a terrible language learner, so if you’re looking for a great language learner there’s a lot more of them out there. Basically, my way of doing it has been, just like, I learn the basics and I just pick up the rest in conversation. Even with Esperanto, that’s how I picked it up. It’s the same with Chinese, so yeah, I probably take the longest road to get there but I just enjoy the way. So as long as you enjoy the process that’s the main thing, you’ll eventually get there. Don’t make it a chore. Just make it something you do regularly, so as long as you do like maybe once a day a short amount of study, eventually you’ll get there. I know people who are like, “When am I going to get fluent?” and it’s like like, “Well, you’ll never gonna actually get fluent, you’ll get good at it. It’s like something that, that’s a long way away.

Chapman: Yeah, it’s the journey not the destination.

Richard: Yeah.

Chapman: Okay, so let’s get into Amikumu. So in your own words, what is Amikumu is and how does it work? And if you wouldn’t mind saying what “amikumu” means as well.

Richard: Okay, I think the best way to explain it is to give a little bit of history for why it exists in the first place.

So, about a year and three months or so ago, me and my co-founder, we were on opposite sides of the world but we came across the same problem. So, for instance, Esperanto, that’s the community where we originated from. In the Esperanto community, if you’re walking down the street, you don’t know who speaks Esperanto. In fact, French, Latin, Greek or whatever random language you’re interested in, they are just people around you.

But the crazy thing is, nearly everyone around us speaks a secondary language, especially in Europe. And that’s probably of use to you, at least one of those, and what you speak is probably of use to them, you know, maybe they’re learning your language or you’re learning their language. And we both said, “Hang on, why is there no app out there that exists to help you find people that speak different languages in your proximity?”

So, I want to know who nearby speaks Esperanto or who speaks Chinese so I can just practice with them. So we might be in the same cafe type of thing and don't even know it. And that’s where the idea kind of formed and when we originally built it, we built it on the needs of the Esperanto community but funny enough their needs are exactly the same as polyglots. So we expanded that into the polyglot community.

And then we had our whole Kickstarter campaign and that’s how we funded it and developed it.

So basically, in a nutshell, what Amikumu is is an app to find language learning partners nearby.

Chapman: Okay, and this is, it’s the only app, as far as I know, of it’s kind, so it does really serve the language learning community at large, polyglots, Esperantists, in a unique way which is awesome.

Since you, so when did the app launch at first?

Richard: Okay, so we had a kind of like a soft launch only for Esperanto speakers back in April. And then we launched, we kind of silently launched for all languages back in August.

Chapman: Of 2017, yeah?

Richard: Yeah, yeah. And we’ve kind of been in this silent launch phases with developing features we know the polyglot community will want. And once we’ve got all them, we will go “Hello world!” and stick our head out. But even in that phase, I think we’re approaching ten thousand members at the moment. So, once we do do the actual big launch it is going to be fascinating to see what happens.

Chapman: That’s awesome, ten thousand. I have to admit, part of my motivation for having Amikumu on the podcast is to get the word out there so more people get the app and there will be more possibilities to practice languages as I travel around and as everyone.

Yeah, I came across it, actually, first at the Polyglot Bratislava conference this last…

Richard: Ah, yeah. LangFest is where we first stuck out head out, it was interesting because we launched a couple of days before LangFest and we won an award at LangFest so that was kind of cool.

Then we went to the Polyglot Conference, I’ve gotta be careful here, I sometimes mix up Polyglot Conference and Polyglot Gathering.

Chapman: Oh you’re right, you're right, I think I just did the same thing!

Richard: Yeah (laughs). We went there and then we haven’t done too many events since then. We’ve done one down in Sydney, we’ve done one at the Auslan, which is like the Australian sign language festival. But we’ve got, we’re gonna be doing a lot more this year.

Chapman: Okay. And so given, you know I saw, there was some forum and some feedback, I am curious since initially launching, you know, what kind of feedback you’ve gotten from polyglots and users of the app and whether that’s had kind of impact on the roadmap for the project, or?

Richard: Oh yeah, so we’re constantly getting new feedback about ideas and something we say, “Yeah, that’s awesome, we’re gonna go with that” and others we say, well, it’s kind of outside of the scope of what we want to do.

I will list some of the features that we’re bring out, some of them are coming out this week and some are coming out in February. So we’ve got features coming out such as in the nearby list you actually see if someone is online at that moment and you’ll see how well they speak that language so if you filter by Chinese, one of the annoyances people had was that some of the people on the list were beginners, some were expert speakers, some were natives and people just didn’t know unless they clicked on the profile. So that’s going to be in the nearby list.

The next big one, and this is the one that I think is going to just make the whole thing explode, is basically just called The Flow and in essence, what it is, is that you can post something, it can be anything, and the hundred people closest nearby for that language will see it. So it’s kind of like this interesting mixture between like Twitter and Facebook. It’s public posts for only the people nearby and it kind of follows you as you move around so it’s going to be dynamically changing and I think that’s going to really mix things up because people will be like, “Hey, does anyone want to meet up?” rather than contacting one particular person. And the whole world within that little region will be able to see it.

Chapman: That’s awesome. Yeah, cause one of the questions I did have and I know you address it on the site but I’d like to mention it here is that, given that it is about meeting people in person, can you just speak a bit how you’ve addressed the privacy question?

Richard: Oh, okay, so we’ve got the basic privacy features such as you can, you know, you can block people, you can report people if they are annoying you type of thing. But in the background as well, for capturing data, for instance, like location, we don’t capture your exact location, we capture a rough estimate which is kind of fuzzy. I’m not the technical dude on the team so I can’t give the how it works exactly but what we do is we capture, one the app side, it kind of mixes it up a bit, makes it a bit fuzzy, sends it to the server and if you notice in the app, all you ever see is distance about how far they are away.

Another feature we have in the app is people can make themselves invisible. That was something that some people requested, for instance, if you go to a certain location and you don’t want people to know you’re there you can make yourself invisible.

And you probably noticed that, in our app, nothing is really required. You don’t need to validate an email address, you don’t need a real name, you don’t need a profile picture. You put in what you want to put in and you can kid of tell when you’re looking at it who are the more hardcore users and who are the new people just trying it out because the hardcore users decide to have name, pictures, all these details about the languages I speak while someone else who is more security conscious might just have a black profile with just a name.

Chapman: Okay, okay. Well, that’s great, I think that’ll help a lot of people who may otherwise feel uncomfortable. It sounds great.

I think, I did want to ask, because when I saw on the website that there were a whopping 7,500 languages that are included in the Amikumu database, and amongst those there’s over 100 sign languages. What was, what kind of made you guys decide to add such a massive amount of languages, I think a lot of people don’t even know that many languages exist. And do you have any aims to kind of promote endangered, less popular languages, etc, or?

Richard: Yes, so this is one of the things that I absolutely love about languages in general, if you ask the general person how many languages there are, they will go, “Uh, one hundred? Three hundred?” They don’t know there’s that many. So when we started this app, we started in a small niche language community, Esperanto, the majority of the public don’t know it exists. So we are coming from that minority language community, I guess, we understand that often we are just left out, we don’t get access to certain websites or something because there’s no translation, there’s no way you can create translations, and so forth.

So when we launched this we were actually thinking on the little guys, what they need and then everyone above that just gets that as a bonus type of thing. So when we brought in this database, we literally said, “We want every language imaginable and how do we go about doing this?”

We brought in all the ISO codes and we built the languages in. But even with those, there are languages that are missing and we had to create our own codes and one of the most crazy things is, okay, most people won’t even notice this but I want to point the out because this was a technical challenge. Translating the app into languages such as, random languages such as Toki Pona or even languages like Cherokee, is hard on a phone because they don’t have native support for those, so we had to create our own translation system that worked. And the other thing is, within the profile, you’ll look at your profile, if your profile is in English, you’ll see the language names in English. If you change that over to German, then all the languages and everything, all metadata, changes over to German. So in our server, all the metadata is linked together and it all translates if you change your interface so that you are always like 100% experiencing that language. It’s not just like, ahh, we’re gonna be cheap and just show you English. There’s all that metadata involved.

Chapman: Wow.

Richard: Yeah, we went full bore when we created this thing. That’s why for the first year there’s like no features, we’re just sitting there going, “How do we do this? How do we provide iOS support for a language that doesn’t have an iOS code?” even though there’s only like ten users for that language.

Chapman: That kept Chuck busy for a while!

Richard: Yeah, it kept our entire team, all just sitting here going “Oh, we’re just creating so much pain for ourselves!” But now that we’ve done it, it’s beautiful.

And the translation system is all community driven. So at the moment, the app is in 25 languages but I think about 30 languages are being translated and will come into the next versions and it’s completely user driven. So if the user wants a language, they can just go there and translate it, and then in the next version of the app, it will be there.

Chapman: Awesome.

Richard: Our goal is to become the most-translated app in the world. Currently holding that title is Jehova Witnesses so we have to take them down.

Chapman: That’s hilarious! And you mentioned the team, could you tell us a bit about the team?

Richard: Oh yes, so I always love to talk up my team. Okay, so in my team, Chuck is the co-founder, so he handles, he’s the CTO, he handles all like the technical overview type of thing. Under that, we’ve got, so Chuck he’s based in Germany and he’s out of the US. I’m based in Australia, just to give you an idea of where everyone is scattered. We’ve got an iOS developer, Lewis, he’s based out of Mexico. Then there’s our Android developer, he’s based out of the US, that’s Zack. Our system admin, he’s also in the US, that’s Jesse. And our server developer, our back-end developer, she’s Judith, she’d quite a well-known polyglot funnily enough and she’s based here in Germany. And then we’ve got our graphics designer, Alana, she’s based in Russia. So we’re a very international team. I think between us there’s like 20-25 languages spoken, I can’t remember.

Chapman: Goodness!

Richard: I can’t remember, but there’s a lot of languages. And it’s funny because in the team, I speak the least amount of languages and it makes me feel bad because I am the one leading this project and everyone else speaks way more languages than me.

Chapman: But you probably speak Esperanto better than most of them!

Richard: Well, I like to think I do being an Esperanto YouTuber, I should have a high level but, yeah.

Chapman: Could you tell us a bit about you YouTube channel?

Richard: Oh, okay, so prior to this project I was, well I still am, I don’t know why I said “was”, I am still an Esperanto YouTuber. I started about two years ago. The reason I started is because there wasn't many videos in Esperanto when I started and I have an acting background with my military. I went from the military to acting, yeah, it’s a bit of a weird path, but yeah it’s in there somewhere. I basically did my YouTube channel and the whole aim was to create interesting videos in Esperanto.

Now up until this point, I have created about five hundred videos, I’ve done a lot of videos.

Chapman: Woah!

Richard: And they’re just about all sorts of random topics and I am now the biggest Esperanto YouTuber, so I’ve got something like 6,500 followers or something. Not much, but for Esperanto that’s a lot.

Yeah, been doing that for the last two years and I used that to kind of first help launch this app. So when we launched it we used it as kind of like a funnel out to our audience and people started using it and that’s kind of what created the first core user base. So that was really handy.

That’s one of the main issues why this type of apps don’t exist very often because trying to get that core user base, enough people in every town when you first launch it, it’s really hard.

Chapman: Yeah.

Richard: We worked not just with my YouTube channel but with people like Benny Lewis, Judith obviously, Lindsay Williams, like a bunch of polyglot YouTubers, like six or seven of them, just to get this thing when we first launched it happening. And even then it was a struggle.

So we were quite lucky with the Esperanto community, when we launched it, within two days we had two thousand users.

Chapman: Wow!

Richard: Yeah, people they’re like, “Wow, something that was developed for us!”. And we’re like, “Yeah, it was developed for you but it’s gonna be for everyone.”

Chapman: Right, oh man. And just one more question about your YouTube channel. Is this mostly content in Esperanto that you produce for people to be able to consume information in Esperanto or are you actually also teaching some Esperanto through the channel?

Richard: When I started out, I did a tiny bit of teaching but it’s not my forté so 90% of the channel is in Esperanto and is just about my life. It’s a standard blog channel of my travels, my experiences meeting people, me being just generally a silly person, I guess.

And the whole idea behind it was just to show that Esperanto is a living language, that there’s people who speak it and they just use it like any other language. Because prior to when I started my channel, the only really recorded material was like speeches at big congresses and events and stuff and to me that was very stale so I kind of went the opposite direction.

Chapman: Okay, okay. And you mentioned that, well I’ll put the link to your YouTube channel in the show notes for everybody.

Richard: Oh, thanks!

Chapman: Yeah, for sure. And you mentioned The Flow feature that’s coming for Amikumu. Is there anything else that you can mention publicly that’s coming up for the app?

Richard: Mainly it’s going to be The Flow. There’s interface changes. Yeah, it’s mainly just going to be about cleaning up the interface and making things look a bit better. The Flow is the big one that’s gonna take a bit of time and it’s the thing that’s being most asked for, or something similar to that.

One of the really cool features of The Flow which isn’t coming out immediately, but it’s coming out a few months later, is this idea that I can share something from someone else. So for instance, if I am sitting in Berlin and the 99th person who is away from me, cause I can only see 100, if they see my public post, they can share it to their own profile and you can kind of pass a message around the world that way.

Chapman: Wow!

Richard: Yeah, so it’s kinda like, “Hey, I want to get something to travel to this part of the world so we can kinda share it around and pass it along” kinda like the whole chain message type of system because we really limit your ability to go and see another country or see something else without actually being there because we really wanted to keep it localized.

Chapman: Okay.

Richard: So we’re playing with this. Every other big website out there like Facebook or Twitter, they’re all focused on the world. Twitter is like, “What’s happening in the world or what’s really political or what’s problematic?” Facebook is like, “What’s happening amongst your friends?" who are usually spread out. We’re like, “What’s happening in your neighborhood in your language?”

Chapman: Right, right. Which is where you are, so that’s where you’re gonna be speaking and practicing and I know that, personally, I’ll definitely be, I mean I’m already on the app and I’m always looking around, you know, to see who is around and I am gonna be starting on a trip for a few months from the Czech Republic driving in a van with my dog to kitesurf the coast of Portugal and Spain and I know I will be launching that app and watching it all the way across to see if I can’t come across some other Amikumu users and share languages.

Richard: Nice, nice!

Chapman: Just real quick, what does “amikumu” mean?

Richard: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. Amikumu basically means “Do what friends do”. The idea behind it is that, I guess I’ll have to speak even further about the future to understand the name.

Okay, where in the language space we eventually want it so that within languages you can actually find people who are actually interested in, say, hockey but also speak Esperanto so that you can really go granular but that’s like in the future when the user base is bigger.

So rather than finding just a language partner, you find a friend.

So “amikumu” is like, “Do what friends do together”. It has a very ambiguous meaning in Esperanto because what you do with your friends is different to what I do with mine type of thing.

Chapman: Right, so further down the road when this is out I could perhaps find in Portugal a German speaker that also likes to kitesurf or something like that.

Richard: Yeah, exactly.

Chapman: That’s really awesome. I know you’ve got a lot of work to do and I wanted to just wind down a bit here. Do you have kind of, I usually ask if you have any advice for language learners but for you specifically I would say any advice for aspiring Esperantistas?

Richard: So I would say just with Esperanto, there’s a lot of information that floats around out there about it, some people, you know, say it’s this weird niche language and other people, you know, who love the language go on and say “This is the best thing ever!”

I pretty much just want to say about Esperanto, you know, just give it a try. See if it’s something that interests you. It’s a really interesting community, it’s quite different from all the other language communities. It’s kind of like a, I really don’t know how to explain it in any other terms except to say try it out, speak with the community. If you like it, that’s great. If not, well you didn’t waste much time because it’s a simple language to learn.

Regarding languages in general, I say study whatever language you’re interested in. I always see people asking, “Should I learn this language because I can make money with it or should I learn this language because I enjoy it?” Well, you should probably go with the one you enjoy because the one you can make money with you’re not going to make much money with it anyway unless you’re going to become a UN translator. That’s pretty much my advice.

Chapman: Okay, okay. And yeah, how can people listening get in touch with you and get in touch with Amikumu? What are the best ways?

Richard: Oh, okay, with Amikumu that’s easy enough. Just go to our website and there’s contact information there or download the app.

Contact myself, you can easily go to my YouTube channel or if you happen to be in the same city in Amikumu you can just contact me that way. If not, well, then you can’t contact me there.

So yeah, probably just my YouTube channel to get directly to me, that would be the best way.

Chapman: Okay, cool, and I’ll have links to all that as well as the Amikumu Facebook page and everything in the show notes so people can find it there.

Well this is great Richard, I really appreciate you taking the time and thanks a lot and I’d love to check in with you guys a bit down the road. It sounds like things are going to be opening up and moving fast so I am excited to see and also participate.

Richard: Aw, thanks a lot man and I really look forward to seeing how your podcast and everything evolves in the future as well, especially now that you’re considering to go full time or at least professionally, yes?

Chapman: Yes, it’s a step! So definitely appreciate it.

Much appreciated, thank you and we will catch up again down the road.

Richard: Yeah, definitely man. Okay then, see you all!