I get by, by means of a little help…

Today, I had to look up something for the second time. So I thought I’d post about it in order to cement it in the squishy matter between my ears.

Whats the difference between “per” and “pere de”? And while we’re at it, what’s “fare de” all about?

Check out my previous post for a mention of “per”.

  • per = with, by means of, by
  • Mi iris per buso = I went by (means of) bus.

‘e’ is the adverb ending. It’s kinda like adding “ly” in English words (quick -> quickly). So what’s “pere”? It’s hard to compare directly to English since “by means of – ly” doesn’t really work.

To describe an action with “pere” is to say that it is done as a kind of means. It’s done in a way as a means.

So it’s slightly softer than “per” which says something is directly the means of something. “Pere” says that the thing was necessary, but not the direct tool for the action (Like a translator in a discussion between two people of different mother tongues). It’s normally accompanied by “de” (“by”). So often “pere de” might be translated as “helped by” or simply “by means of”.

“Fare de” is something a bit different. The reason it’s here, is that it is often just translated as “by”. The verb “fari” means “to do/make”. “Fare” describes an action or description (as adverbs do) that is being done/made. And “de” is like “by”. So “fare de” is like “(done) by”.

  1. Jen la pentraĵo de mia patrino = Behold the painting by my mother.
  2. Meloj estas timataj de ĉiuj kameloj = Badgers are feared by all camels.

In the first sentence, the painting is the result of an action, so it can be done by someone/something. This can be shown with “de”.

In the second sentence, this “esti” verb plus a participle (timata) shows a passive construction. Instead of active, which would be “X fears badgers”. We don’t have to state who does the fearing in a passive form: “Badgers are feared”. However if we do want to state who does the action, then we can use “de” (“by”).

Where does “fare de” come in then? Because “de” has us covered here, all by itself. It seems to be unneeded, but it can be employed when there is ambiguity. Because you see, “de” has lots of other uses too.

Check out this example from the PMEG:

  • Mi legis la tradukon de Hamleto fare de Zamenhof = I read the translation of Hamlet by Zamenhof

Notice how “de” can also mean “of”. If I had just said:

  • Mi legis la tradukon de Hamleto de Zamenhof

Did Hamlet do the translating? Was Zamenhof the play to be translated?

“Fare de” explicitly says that an action was done by what follows. Here the action was a translation (the noun “translation” is the result of translating). So whatever comes after “fare de” did the translating.

Thought that was neat 🙂


6 thoughts on “I get by, by means of a little help…

  1. Another nice blog entry, thanks !
    By the way, “pere de” sounds very romantic to me 🙂
    I’ve heard it a few times from fellow esperantists and I like it…

  2. When I first read ‘Jen la pentrajxo de mia patrino’, I translated it as, here is a painting of my mother. How can you make that ambiguity clear (by as opposed to of)? Or am I just missing something? Wouldn’t ‘fare de’ be clearer in that sentence? Thanks for you help in understanding.


    • Hmm, yes I kinda get that impression looking back on it… I did a little reading, and I think it might be an issue with English that is hindering us here. Think about it this way:

      What do we mean when we say “painting of my mother”? The usual meanings of “of” involve, possession, origin and such. Does mother own it? Did it originate with her in someway (like she painted it for example, this is where “of” acts as “by”). Nope! What we actually mean is, she is featured in the painting. The painting is ABOUT her.

      E.g. why do we say “The hobbit is about Bilbo” and not “The painting is about Mother”? Because this is what we mean with “The painting is of mother”! It’s an exception perhaps!

      In Esperanto, my feeling is that things are a little more logical. “De” being “of/by”, keeps its usual meaning instead of making an exception for paintings and pictures. So “painting de X” means that the painting belongs to or originates with X. The vast majority of google results for “pentraĵo de” reveals it to be mostly followed by the authors of the painting.

      If you want to say that your mother is in the painting, perhaps use: “pentraĵo pri mia patrino” (pri = about/concerning).

      Yes you could use “fare de” here in order to mean “done by”, but it’s not distinguishing between your mother doing or being in the painting, it’s distinguishing between your mother possessing the painting or having painted it.

      So “pentraĵo de mia patrino” can be either:
      1. My mother’s painting (the one she own’s), or
      2. A painting by my mother

      But “pentraĵo fare de mia patrino” can only be:
      1. A painting (done) by my mother

      This is how I understand it anyways. Did all this waffle make sense? 😀

  3. Vi legis tradukon de Hamlet!
    Ĉu vi aŭdis kaj legis jenan kanton pri Hamlet?
    Bedaŭrinde en la germana sed eble iu volus fari ĝin en esperanto

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