Idiot doctrine

Perhaps an example of Esperanto humour today… I came across this word: “Idiotismo”. It means “Idiom”. An idiom is a word or group of words whose meaning is based only on usage. In other words, just by looking at the words you can’t tell what they mean, in fact, often they’ll seem to mean something completely different!

For example “She kicked the bucket”. “To kick the bucket” is an idiom, it means “to die”. A non-native speaker only beginning to learn English may wonder what on earth you’re talking about!

Esperanto has very few idioms. As a language, it makes quite a lot of sense!

So the funny thing is that “Idioto” means “Idiot” and “Ismo” means “doctrine/-ism”. So in the eyes of Esperanto, an idiom (“Idiotismo”) is made up of those words! It’s the same as “Idiot doctrine” or an “Idiotism”! 😀


A different expression

I was amused by the variety of different ways of expressing “marry” today… Turns out that there isn’t a dedicated verb for it:

  • Edzo = husband
  • Edzino = wife (“in” is the feminine suffix)
  • Edziĝi = to marry, to get married, to become a husband (“iĝ” means “to become <root>”)
  • Edziniĝi = to marry, to get married, to become a wife
  • Geedziĝi = to marry, to get married (the “ge” prefix means both sexes, so you’d use it when talking about both of them “they got married”).

All of the ones with “iĝ” are like “become a wife/husband”, so they can’t take a direct object, like “I married her”, because it would actually mean “I became married her”, which doesn’t make sense, for that you need “ig” = “to cause to be <root>”

  • Edzigi = to make/cause to be a husband, to marry (a man)
  • Edzinigi = to make/cause to be a wife, to marry (a woman)
  • Geedzigi = to make/cause to be man and wife, to marry (the couple, like a priest would)
Funny, no?

Baby branch

Fewer posts this week I’m afraid! Tough week. Hopefully I’ll have some ideas sorted out for next week!


I found an awesome usage of word building today: branĉido = sprout/shoot

  • Branĉo = branch
  • -id suffix means “offspring of <root>”, “born of <root>”.
  • Pronounced “branch-ID-o”

Now, there is a word “ŝoso” (pronounced “SHO-so”, quite pretty itself), which means “sprout/shoot”. But I like the logic of “branĉido”!

The “-id” suffix can also be used metaphorically! There is a another constructed language called “Ido” based off of Esperanto, short for “Esperantido”, offspring of Esperanto! 🙂

Partying with Participles #5

Yet another participles post! Read the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

This time, I’m talking about using the noun ending “o” on the end of the participles.

  • Ami = to love
  • Amanta = loving
  • Amanto = one who is loving, one who loves (amanta persono)

So notice that with the noun ending, the participle usually describes a person characterised by the action of the participle.

You choose between active or passive participles depending on whether the person is doing the action or receiving it (respectively):

  • Amanto = one who is loving, one who loves (amanta persono)
  • Amato = one who is loved (amata persono)

Note that you don’t use the “-ul” suffix to make it about a person (timi=to fear, timulo = coward), it’s already about a person.

If you wanted to be talking about a thing, not a person, then it usually suffices to note bother with the participle and instead use the “aĵ” ending.

  • Amaĵo = loved thing

Though this could also mean a thing that loves. But since that’s a less likely interpretation, and context helps, you’re normally fine. Though conceivably you could add this ending onto the participles (amantaĵo = loving thing), if you really needed to be specific to stop people misunderstanding.

Also for those few who didn’t already know, doesn’t the ending of “Esperanto” look familiar? It should do.

  • esperi = to hope
  • esperanta = hoping
  • esperanto = one who is hoping, one who hopes (esperanta persono)

Bear in mind that “Esperanto” (with a capital letter) is now recognised as a noun referring to the language. If you want the old meaning, you have to use a non capital letter. For example, Esperanta means relating to Esperanto the language, as in Esperanta kurso (Esperanto course). An “esperanta kurso” is a course that is hoping…

This concludes the bulk of material about the participles! I’m sure they’ll crop up here and there again though! You’re welcome to ask about anything I’ve missed, and if it’s a substantial amount, I may form my answer in a post!

Ahead of before

I think this letter is very pretty: ŭ

Maybe even as pretty as “j”s… 

I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit. You will most often find it after an “a” or an “e”. It’s somewhat like a “w”.

  • Antaŭ is like “ANT-ow”, like “ow” in “cow”.
  • Eŭropo is like “Ayw-ROP-o”, like “ayw” in “wayward”.

It’s sometimes used to spell foreign words with “w”s in them, or in onomatopoeic words.

Today’s post is about “antaŭ”. Both it’s prettifulness, and how it makes some pretty varied words in word building.

  • Antaŭ = ahead of, in front of, before (in terms of both time and space)

So without further delay, here are some combinations I found interesting:

  • Antaŭe = ahead, formerly, previously
  • Antaŭa = previous, last, prior, former
  • Antaŭvidi = to foresee (vidi = to see, so somewhat like “to see beforehand”)
  • Antaŭsento = presentiment, an intuition about the future (before-feeling)
  • Antaŭzorgo = precaution (zorgo = care, so like “care beforehand”
  • Antaŭdiri = to forecast, to prophesy, to foretell (diri = to say,tell)
  • Antaŭparolo = foreword (parolo = speech)
  • Antaŭlasta = the one before last, penultimate (lasta = last)
  • Antaŭsigno = indication, omen (signo = sign,signal)
  • Antaŭdecidi = to decide in advance
  • Antaŭjuĝo = prejudice (juĝo = judgment, so “judge beforehand”)
  • Antaŭafero = a preliminary (afero = thing, a before thing)
  • Antaŭtempa = premature (tempo = time, before-time)
What a variety!

I love the sound of the first two. The “ŭe” and “ŭa” sounds I think are the ones to blame!

Do comment if you know of any other interesting words made from “antaŭ”!

It happened just now!

So, saying something happened in the past is easy, right?

The most common way is to use the simple past tense ending “is”:

  • Kuri = to run
  • Mi kuris = I ran/I was running (at some point in the past)

How do you say that the past event you’re talking about only just happened? Easy! And in a similar way to English:

  • Mi ĵus kuris = I just ran/ I was just running
Note that “ĵus” is pronounced like “zhooss” where “zh” is a french “j” or like “s” in English “pleasure”.

A useful bit of knowledge indeed.

The thing that makes it slightly cooler than English, is that “ĵus” enjoys exclusive rights over this particular usage. What do I mean by this? Well, “just” in English can also mean something like “only” as in “I have just 20 dollars”, and a couple other things too.

But in Esperanto, “ĵus” is used only for this temporal concept of having just happened. So whenever you are discussing the past tense, this can be used to bring it to the immediate past.

I also just like the sound of it! 🙂

Partying with Participles #4

Now here’s the fourth in the series concerning participles and their antics. Check out the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

Today’s post is about using the various participles with the “e” ending, the ending for adverbs as in:

  • Amiko = Friend
  • Amika = Friendly
  • Amike = Friendlily / In a friendly way

So what does doing this to a participle achieve?

Quite a bit. It’s almost like making two phrases in one!

So here’s two phrases connected with “and”:

  • La melo manĝis kamelon, kaj pensis samtempe pri la sekvonta manĝo = The badger ate a camel, and at the same time was thinking about the next meal.
How can they be joined? E-participle!
  • Manĝante kamelon la melo pensis pri la sekvonta manĝo = (while) eating a camel the badger thought about the next meal.

(Note how “pensis” the simple past tense was translated as both “was thinking” and “thought”. The simple tenses are flexible, which is why Esperanto uses them more. Future post!)

So instead of having two separate main verbs “manĝis” and “pensis” and the surrounding goop, we have “X was thinking about Y” plus the extra information that X was eating something. So they allow you to provide additional context in the same phrase.

Notice now that because “manĝ-” has become a participial adverb (not a main verb), it cannot have it’s own subject. That is, the thing that is doing the eating, will always be the subject of the main verb (here, pensi). So whatever is doing the thinking, must be doing the eating (or whatever the adverb is about).

If you want the subject to be on the receiving end of the action, you must use a passive participle (so that you’re being eaten, rather than eating. Check out the comments on this post for further explanation!):

  • Manĝote de la kamelo, la melo pensis pri feliĉaj aferoj = About to be eaten by a camel, the badger thought about happy things.

Notice the differences you can get with the different aspects of participles too. In the first example the eating was ongoing, in this example, the eating is anticipated.

This allows you to be very succinct with expression. This is one of my favourite examples from “Being Colloquial in Esperanto”:

  • Eĉ pafote silentadus li = Even about to be shot he would remain silent

“Li” is the subject of the main verb “silentadus” = “would remain silent”. So the adverb describes “li”. And the adverb means “about to be shot” because it’s an anticipated action, and a passive one (so “li” is anticipated to receive the action).

Obviously when things get really compact, you should probably reserve those gorgeous sentences for written communication.

Check out the PMEG for more examples.

Next time, I’ll be discussing what happens if you use the “o” ending for participles, instead of “a”, “e” or the verbal endings (that I’ve already talked about)!