Bloodthirsty as a squirrel

A neat use of “kiel” today. “Kiel” is one of the correlatives, a ton of really useful words that are built via a system of meaningful syllables. Take a look at my previous post introducing them briefly, it points you to a full table of all of them that you can make.

In general “kiel” means “in what way”, or “how”.

  • Kiel vi fartas? = How are you doing?

In it’s other use, “kiel” is often translated as “as”.

  • La melo estas murdema kiel sciuro = The badger is bloodthirsty as a squirrel (The badger is bloodthirsty in what way a squirrel [is bloodthirsty])

It can also be used in combination with the correlative “tiel” (“in that way”) in order to get a “as…as…” construction:

  • Mi estas tiel ekscitiĝa kiel ŝi = I am as excited as she (is). (I am in that way excited (as) in what way she (is excited))
  • Vi estas tiel inteligenta kiel bela = You are as intelligent as (you are) beautful.

It can also be used to introduce a phrase (relative clause) with “tiel”, as in this example from PMEG:

  • Mi zorgas pri ŝi tiel, kiel mi zorgas pri mi mem. = I care about her in the way in which (way) I care about myself.

Imagine here that “tiel” is a placeholder for the whole relative phrase that follows. It’s like:

  • I care about her [in that way]

Then, in order to elaborate on which way you mean (fill in the square brackets), “kiel” introduces a phrase:

  • [In what way?] (in the way) I care about myself.

Oddly, this was all sparked by me coming across an Esperanto song called “Glimanta kiel oro” = “Shining/Gleaming like/as gold”.
Look at the funky thing you can do with “kiel” and the accusative “n” (you’ll see these sentences all over Esperanto learning material):

  1. Li traktis min kiel princon = He treated me like (I was) a prince
  2. Li traktis min kiel princo = He treated me like a prince (would treat me)

I love this. It makes perfect sense. So we have “li” = “he”, always doing the treating (the subject of the verb). And we have “min” = “me” always receiving the treatment (the direct object of the verb). Then, in order to decide whether “kiel” is comparing a prince to the subject or the object, we just match it’s ending:

  1. Leave the ending without the “n” to match “li”, so “kiel” is comparing prince to “li”.
  2. Add the “n” on the end to match “min”, so “kiel” is comparing prince to “min”!

8 thoughts on “Bloodthirsty as a squirrel

  1. “Then, in order to decide whether “kiel” is comparing a prince to the subject or the object, we just match it’s ending:”

    Mi vidas ke vi ofte uzas “it’s” anstantaŭ “its”. Oni ridos je vi se vi adas ĉi tiel! (Mi ridantas nun je vi!) Estas tre facila metodo por trovi kion utili: se vi volas utili “it’s”, provu anstataŭigi “it is”. Se ĝi sukcesas, uzu “it’s”; se ne, uzu “its”.

  2. Wow! Excellent post. I like the ending examples with the -n and kiel. Makes perfect sense as you say and I had never seen that discussed before (though, to be honest, I don’t dig through the PMEG on a regular basis).

    Anyway, great work and keep ’em coming!


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