June 16, 2011
So, a while back I posted about a word “iafoje”, in the category of “alluring words”, because it is a very, very pretty word. But it’s also sneaky! It has a hidden depth that I did not quite notice at the time, when I translated it as “sometimes”. Which is fine! Don’t worry! There’s just a nuance to it beyond that.
So, in the time since that post I’ve found other words to mean “sometimes”, made by adding different words to the root “foj” meaning “time,occasion”. With also the “e” ending for adverbs (“sometimes” is an adverb because it describes verbs, action words, you do some action “sometimes”).
- iufoje, which is made with “iu” meaning “some, any, someone”
- kelkfoje, which is made with “kelk(a)” meaning “some,several”
- iafoje, which is made with “ia” meaning “some kind (of)”
So can you start to see where the nuances might be? I wasn’t too sure about the differences myself at first, but chatted with a couple folks at Lernu.net to make sure they said the same things I was wondering:
- iufoje: suggests some indefinite time(s), any times, some times. A good phrase used by one of the Lernu folks was “sporadic events”
- kelkfoje: simply suggests some bunch of multiple events/times
- iafoje: suggests definite types of events.
I think it’s so interesting how you can express these different nuances of meaning in such simple ways, by building with these blocks of meaning.So in the original post I was saying how I found the word used alot in the Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko
. So why do they use this kind of “sometimes” instead of the others?I’ll tell you what I think. It’s often used in the context of explaining the usage of a word, concept, affix or suchlike. “Sometimes X is used in this context… Here it conveys….” etc.
This “sometimes” is talking about specific occasions when X is used in a specific way. Therefore, the obvious choice is iafoje!
May 21, 2011
For the most part, it seems that Esperanto tries to ensure that there is only one word for one particular sense, instead of having endless synonyms for words.
A friend, having discovered this trend declared that Esperanto must be the most dull language, with only one way to express things. They said it’s too simple.
But this is not the case! Yes, while there may only be one listed canonical form, there are many ways the same or similar idea can be expressed, through word building. It can also often introduce subtleties of meanings or emphasis to further enhance the text.
I’ll give you a simple example. The word for “pen” is “plumo”, plain and simple. However, I also know that the verb “skribi” means “to write”. And that the suffix “-il” added to a root word means “tool for <root>ing”. So “skribilo” as tool for writing, also means “pen”!
This could also be a category of post I do from time to time… alternative ways of expressing standard Esperanto words.
May 17, 2011
No unnecessary complications. Complexity should be the result of complex expression, not arbitrary forced complexity. I love the idea of a language being a simple set of tools, but that can be combined in infinitely different simple and complex ways.
Esperanto is just that. With a base vocabulary far smaller than any language I can think of, it provides tools in the form of a few suffixes and prefixes (and the ability to stick word roots together) in order to build words in a sensible regular way.
For example, “-il” is a suffix that adds the meaning of a tool to perform the root word. So given the word “razi” which means “to shave”, without knowing beforehand, I can determine that “razilo” means “razor” i.e. a tool for which one can shave.
The prefix “mal-” when applied to a word, reverses it’s meaning! So if I know the word “bela” (meaning “beautiful”) I also know the word “malbela”, which means the opposite: ugly!
So if you can master the prefixes and suffixes, then every new word you learn isn’t just one new word, its a new word for every suffix and prefix you know! Efficient huh?