Word-building Formula

Today we play with a neat little formula for building certain types of word!

If you aren’t familiar with viewing Esperanto root words as having an inherent type (“object”,”quality”, or “action”), then have a quick read of my previous post.


Imagine you are talking about a word: W. Let’s say that W is “virino” (“woman”).

And imagine you don’t just want to say “a woman”. You want to call attention to a particular aspect of W (the woman). We’ll call the aspect: A.

Let’s say A (the aspect) is “haro” (“hair”); we want to make reference to the woman’s hair.

Now, there’s some property of A (her hair), which distinguishes her from some other people. We’ll call this property: P, and let’s say that P is “bruna” (“brown”).

So, we want to call attention to the fact that the woman has brown hair.

In other words: we want to refer to W, making a reference to A, which is distinguished by being P.

In English, we’d say:

  • The brown-haired woman

In Esperanto, we’d say:

  • La brunhara virino

In general, this is:

  • P-A-a W-o

This is simply saying that we make the aspect A into one word with its property P, and give it the adjective ending “a” (so it can describe a noun), and we put W after it with the noun ending “o”.

This will always be talking about some word W, which has an aspect A, the distinguishing feature of which is P.

  • P should be a “quality” root (it describes a property of something)
  • A should be an “object” root (it is a particular thing with a property P)
  • W should be an “object” root (it is a particular thing, with a distinguishing aspect A)

Here’s some examples of “P-A-a”:

  • Saĝokula = wise-eyed
  • Ruĝlipa = red-lipped
  • Rapidlanga = quick-tongued

Isn’t that nice?

Sometime soon I show you what happens if P is an object root!

(2018 edit: wow didn’t expect it to take 6 years to give an example with an object root!)

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