To on-have!

I almost made a new category today… Yes, yes I know I already have failed to distribute my posts fairly among them… It was going to be for constructed Esperanto words I find in use that seem particularly cunning in their creation. But I think I’m going to use the “alluring words” category for them, and simply state the reason for their noteworthiness!

Today is “surhavi”. It mostly seems to be translated as “to wear” (clothing). It is made up of:

  • sur = on
  • havi = to have

So a vaguely sensible literal translation might be “to have on” (so why is the word made so that “on/sur” comes before “have/havi”? I know the answer, and will post about it in the near future 😀 EDIT: here) . I quite liked its simple yet obvious construction!

There is another word “porti” which means “to carry/wear”. I wonder whether “surhavi” would be used to emphasise that you mean you are actually wearing something, if that thing is usually carried rather than worn?


2 thoughts on “To on-have!

  1. How a word is “meant” has little bearing on how it will be “understood” but how a word is understood will tend to influence how it is used. Yes, I would expect that some people may learn such a substitution to express a more subtle distinction. Even more specific may be to say something like: Mi surportas ĝin. My understanding of the esperanto word “sur” is that it has a connotation of “above” in addition to that of being in external physical contact… but that is MY understanding. I’m still learning and I need people to practice with if I am to learn other people’s understandings.

    • I like “surporti”! That one hadn’t occurred to me!

      That’s true! Though I’d argue that, in general, how a word is meant has more bearing than a “little” on how it will be understood (and therefore used). Sure, if all words one spoke/wrote were isolated events, then all people would have is their own understanding, regardless of what the speaker/writer meant.

      However, when we write or speak, we fill our utterances with context appropriate to what we mean. So, not only do we have our own understanding of what someone is trying to say, but also tonnes of evidence about what they actually mean (especially in speech, and even more so in face-to-face speech). Which is especially helpful if the evidence is different from that you’d expect given your own understanding.

      Therefore, learning about what people mean in this way, is revealing about how they understand things.

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