Quality-ness

Today’s post is about the suffix “-ec” (which is pronounced “ets”, e.g. “boneco” is pronounced “bonetso”).

This post relies on knowing about the different kinds of roots in Esperanto (quality, object, and action roots). I’ve written a post about this.

This suffix makes words that are the quality of or state of being in the root word. It always shows an abstract concept/quality. This contrasts with the “-aĵ’ suffix, which always shows a concrete thing.

If the root that you attach the suffix to already has a quality-like meaning, like “bona” = “good” then the new word is the property or state of that word. So here, “good” (bona) becomes “goodness” (boneco), which is the property of something that is good. You can talk about the “goodness” of something.

How is this different from the noun form of “bona”, i.e. “bono”. The noun form alone is the concept itself of “good”.

When added to a non-quality root, “ec” adds the idea of the quality, property or state related to that root, what it is like to be that root.

  • homo = human, person
  • homeco = human-ness (the quality of being human)
  • ŝtono = stone
  • ŝtoneco = stoniness (the quality of being (hard) like stone)
  • vivi = to live
  • vivo = life
  • viveco = life-ness? The quality of being full of life.
  • unu = one
  • unueco = one-ness, the quality of being as one.

When a noun form has many different types of meaning, adding the “ec” suffix can serve to disambiguate, and select only the quality meaning:

  • belo = A beautiful thing, abstract idea of beauty, or beautifulness (the beauty quality of something)
  • beleco = Beautifulness

Which I think is cool, so you can be specific when you need to but vague when not. This sort of thing can be done with “-aĵ” and “-ad” too.

You can use “ec” with endings other than “o” too! With “a” or “e” (adjective or adverb respectively), the meaning is something like “of similar quality/type as <root>”

  • ŝtoneca koro = Heart as hard as stone (without feeling)

I particularly like this usage, it seems to have a simple elegance to it!

These examples are courtesy of the PMEG! The page also briefly mentions a couple more minor usages of “ec”, but these were my favourite bits 😛

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