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I was wondering if they really serve any practical advantage.

For one, what they mean depends on what the innate part of speech of the root is, which isn't marked except through the part of speech endings. For instance, attaching the verbal suffix -i to an adjective gives a different meaning than attaching it to a noun.

Further more, Lingua Franca Nova has a rather novel method of marking mart of speech: its own derivational morphology. Unlike Esperanto's affixes, LFN's affixes often transform a specific part of speech into another (or sometimes just leaves it the same). In this say, suffixes that derive nouns are automatically mark the noun for part of speech without the need of an additional affix that serves no other purpose.

But of course, I'm not exactly fluent in the language myself, so I'd like an opinion from people who do actually know and use this language. Are the part of speech endings really useful or are they just a convoluted way to derive new words?

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    "Necessary" is a pretty loaded (and impossible to properly answer) question when it comes to language. There's really no linguistic basis to assess whether a certain attribute is necessary for a language, so this question is pretty much entirely opinion-based. I'm voting to close for that reason. – Sparksbet Mar 10 '18 at 4:43
  • You do have a point, but that wasn't really what I was getting at. I re-worded the question to ask if there is any advantage to this system, which is more what I had in mind anyway. – user348 Mar 10 '18 at 4:58
  • I suppose the wording is somewhat better, but I still feel it's too opinion-based. Additionally, for what it's worth, Esperanto part of speech markers are used as derivational morphemes, so it's unclear what differences between it and Lingua Franca Nova you're citing. – Sparksbet Mar 10 '18 at 5:06
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For those unfamiliar with Esperanto POS suffixes,

-o noun  
-i verb (infinitive)  
-a adjective 
-e adverb 

For example:

sano - health 
sani - to be healthy
sana - healthy
sane - healthily

Since Esperanto has free word order, having POS markers allows the differentiation between the following phrases:

ĝoje knabino ludas - a girl plays happily
ĝoja knabino ludas - a happy girl plays

Esperanto and LFN have a very similar affix system, however unlike LFN, Esperanto root words have no innate part of speech, so there is no way of "adding" a verbal suffix to a noun or an adjective. Rather, you would be changing the nominal/adjectival suffix to the verbal one and forming the verb based on the root word. Knowing the POS of any given word makes understanding unfamiliar words a lot easier, which is very advantageous for an auxiliary language.

With that being said, in EO poetry, nouns often drop their -o ending for aesthetic reasons.

Berlino sen vi estas urb' (urbo) sen harmoni' (harmonio)
Estas trista, trista, amasloĝej' (amasloĝejo)

Between EO and LFN's, there is no "better" affix system. They are just two different ways of doing the same thing.

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    Yes, have Esperanto roots have an inherent part of speech. Just look at the use of the -il suffix. Some nouns take it, some don't. For example, brush and to brush are bruso and brusi, but comb and to comb are combilo and combo. And you see this everywhere. Martelo doesn't need the suffix, but segilo does. Bruso and martelo are nouns, so they can turn into verbs with the -i suffix, but combi and segi are verbs, so they need -il to become nouns. At the very least, its inconsistent. – user348 Mar 10 '18 at 19:07
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    The inconsistency here is with the -il- infix and not with the POS marker -o, which broso, kombo, martelo and segilo all have. Whether or not a noun takes an -il- infix is explained quite nicely in this answer and many words can have both (tranĉi>tranĉo>tranĉilo). Roots don't have an "innate part of speech", but some forms of the root would have existed before others. The whole purpose of adding a pos marker to every word is to remove the initial form of the word from its root. – as4s4hetic Mar 10 '18 at 22:14
  • I'd be glad to discuss this further in chat :) – as4s4hetic Mar 10 '18 at 22:16
  • @as4s4hetic I largely agree with your answer, but the idea that Esperanto does not have inherent parts of speech is simply false. Certain affixes behave differently depending on the part of speech of the root (-igxi and -igi being the biggest offenders there). I speak Esperanto myself, and as far as I know, even the Akademio acknowledges that roots have an innate part of speech. I don't think this is much of a problem with Esperanto -- the POS affixes still help with derivation and free word order -- but denying it doesn't really help much. – Sparksbet Mar 11 '18 at 23:30
  • @Sparksbet I agree with what you said and I agree that different roots have different original forms, but I was under the impression that adding affixes to a word was moreso based on the kind of ~general semantic class~ of the root rather than a "default part of speech" since assigning a pos to each root seems difficult to me (e.g. would colours be adjectives or nouns?) – as4s4hetic Mar 12 '18 at 2:03
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POS markers are markers, same as syntactic position, both derived morphology and otherwise.

In a noisy environment it may be helpful to mark things more than once, so if someone couldn't figure out the POS from context, the roots normal POS class, or syntax, they can infer it from the POS suffix.

This guy has some additional criticism of the POS markers.

I've no familiarity with LNF, so I wouldn't know how that differs or not.

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