June 10, 2011
Spent a little while learning the aspect of Esperanto I’ve been neglecting: how to ask how someone is, general conversational phrases and such like.
One thing that confused me, was why greetings are presented in the accusative case (they have an ‘n’ on the end).
So at first, one might expect (coming from a language that has only remnants of an accusative case), that in order to say “Good day!” to someone, you might say:
- Bona tago = (a) good day.
But this is not how things are done! This is how you say it:
A word with this accusative ‘n’ normally has said ‘n’ because it is on the receiving end of the action of a verb:
- Kamelo manĝis la kamelon = A camel ate the camel.
The second camel is on the receiving end of being eaten, so Esperanto uses the ‘n’ to show this. Which means I could have written it:
- La kamelon kamelo manĝis = A camel ate the camel.
And it’d mean the same thing! But in English we rely on word order to tell who’s doing what.
So why are greetings (including phrases like “good night” and “good morning” etc.) put in the accusative??
It’s because a phrase is implied, in which the greeting is in fact on the receiving end (the object of) an action:
The greeting is the object of the verb “to wish” (without the “n”, you’re just saying “a good day”… a good day what?)