Unify and rise up!

I was listening to really quite an interesting talk today, but the room was SO incredibly warm, and I’d had to much for lunch. So I began to nod off… BUT! In an effort to stay awake and thinking, I began to listen really hard, and try to translate in my head what they were saying into Esperanto!

I noted down all the words that I could not translate, and subsequently tried to build words for them. And one of my favourites was for “unify”. I had no idea what the word for “unify” was! So I came up with the idea of making many things into one.

Soooo… “unu” is the word for “one”, and the suffix “ig” means “to cause/make <root>”. So “unuigi” = “to make one/to unify/to unite (something)”!

Esperanto word-building wins! I thought it was pretty neat. I later looked it up, to confirm, and found this definition in Reta-Vortaro:

  • Kunigi plurajn objektojn en unu tuton = To make together several objects into one whole

Also, wanna know something weird?

Well, according to my wordpress stats, someone found my blog today, by googling “esperanto porn”!

A tendency towards momentary inclinations

The handy little suffix “-em”!

In short, it can give the meaning of a tendency or inclination toward the root, either a lasting disposition or a momentary inclination, depending on the context.

It’s normally used on, and is most naturally interpreted with, action roots (see previous post on root types). Sometime soon, I may treat you to some examples with which the root class theory has to be re-interpreted, but for now, don’t worry, on with the suffix!

It can show a lasting disposition, be it unwanted or favourable:

  • plori = to cry/weep; plorema = tending to cry; plorema viro = a man that tends to cry, has a nature which leads to him crying often
  • erari = to error; erarema = error-prone
  • venki = to win/conquer; venkema = tending to win

When added to a non-action root, it often tends to take up the action interpretation of the root:

  • pura = clean (quality root)
  • puri = to be clean (action interpretation)
  • purema = cleanly/tending to be (or wanting to be) clean

Sometimes, the non-action interpretation is the more obvious than usual, like the below PMEG example:

  • muziko = music (object root)
  • muzikema = musically-inclined, liking music (notice we’re liking an object, not tending to an action related to music)

The alternative interpretation consistent with considering the action root form, would be something like “ema muziki” = “tending to make music”.

The PMEG encourages the consistent usage. So use “muzikema” to mean “tending to make music”, and using something like “muzik-ama” (music + love = music-loving) to mean “liking/loving music”.

If used in context with words like “subite” (suddenly), or “senti” (to feel), the “em” word is more likely to be interpreted as a momentary inclination, like in this PMEG example:

  • Subite li fariĝis terure dormema = Suddenly he became terribly sleepy (momentarily inclined to sleep)

A natural use of tendency is to show capability; if someone has a tendency to do something, then they are obviously capable of said thing.

  • inventi = to invent
  • inventema = able to invent (tendency toward inventing)

Here’s the PMEG page on this topic, with even more examples.

Which one’s suitable?

Reta Vortaro to the rescue again! I worked out today that I’d read two words at different times, looked up their definitions and carried on, but thinking back, realised I have no idea what the difference between them is!

Here’s the pair, with the corresponding short lernu translations to English:

  • taŭga: suitable, of use
  • konvena: suitable, appropriate, fitting

So here’s what we get from the Reta Vortaro:


  • to be adequate, useable for something
  • to be capable of something


  • well adapted to a determined situation or precise circumstance
  • well adapted to someone’s feelings, character of social status
  • decent (e.g. it’s not konvena to occupy a seat when an old lady cannot find one)

Taŭga is a more extensive concept than konvena. Konvena refers only to the specially adapted use of something, whereas taŭga speaks of all of it’s uses.

The example the Reta Vortaro gives is a tea cup. It’s konvena only for drinking tea, but taŭga for that and also for measuring quantities of ingredients too!

Interestingly, if you look up these in the Eo-Eo dictionary of Lernu, you get the equivalent of:

  • taŭga: entirely good for some aim
  • konvena: that which is generally pleasing to other people in a certain situation

The definition of “konvena” seeming to be most different from what RV says.

Even more interestingly, both of these words are actually action roots (i-words naturally, see previous post on root types).

  • taŭgi : to be taŭga
  • konveni : to be konvena

And when you look up these words in the Eo-Eo lernu dictionary, you get the matching RV definitions.

So I’m inclined to go with the RV. Do you agree that the lernu definitions of the a-words don’t seem to match up to their i-word meanings? Or at least don’t nail the concepts? If so, maybe you or I should make a thread about it on lernu! 😀


A box for cigar holders

I was casually reading some Esperanto, when suddenly the word “klingon” popped up in the most serious of texts!

I then realised it was simply the word “klingo” (“blade”) with the accusative “n” on the end to mark it as the object of the sentence!

Anyway, it also reminded me of the suffix “ing”, which led me to the topic for this post: the distinction between the suffix “ing” and the suffix “uj”.

Some definitions lead them to be confusingly similar, but in actuality their differences are quite clear. And they’re pretty handy!

Let’s work with the example root “cigar-“. “Cigaro” simply means “(a) cigar”. What happens when we add our suffixes?

  • cigaringo = cigar holder
  • cigarujo = cigar box/container

“Ing” makes a word which is a holder/sheath for the object described by the root it’s attached to. This’ll often be some structure that the object is partially put in, for holding purposes. E.g. a scabbard for a sword (glavo : glavingo)

Whereas “uj” constructs a word which is a container (usually for storage purposes) for objects described by the root it’s attached to.

And because I enjoy silliness: a “cigaringujo” is a container for cigar holders!

“Uj” happens to have a couple other uses too, if you’re interested!

  • When used on a fruit, berry or flower, it often shows the thing upon which that object grows. E.g. a “pomujo” is an “apple tree” from “pomo” = “apple”. Apparently, due to the confusion with “a container for apples”, people are now starting to use “pomarbo” for such things!
  • If you’ve got a word like “Anglo” = “Englishman”, you can construct the country name from the people. “Anglujo” is the container for Englishmen “England”!

Check out the PMEG pages on uj and ing. Also, a great guide to using Esperanto’s affixes.


Am I right, or am I right?

The two words “prava” and “ĝusta” can both be translated as “right”. But what’s the difference?

“Dektra” means “right” as in not “left”, so don’t be thinking about that!

Now from what I can tell, this is the difference:


This means “right” or “true”. Someone who is “prava” has an opinion or acts in a way that is true or just. Something which is “prava” is true or just.


This means “correct”, “exact” and “proper” as well as “right”. It describes something which is correct, the proper way according to rules. It may describe the exact or proper thing to do/get/receive etc. in order to complete some aim.

I mostly get this from the Reta Vortaro! I’m so looking forward to this getting up and running!

Knowing how to want

What’s the difference between “voli” and “deziri”? This has bothered me for a while, and so just before I descend into using them interchangeably, I’ve decided to look to see if there is any real difference.

Both of them often translate to “to want” or “to wish”.

If you look in the Lernu.net dictionary, you’ll get:

  • voli = to wish, to want
  • deziri = to desire, to wish

Now, in English, when I look up “want versus desire”, I get things saying that “desire” is simply a stronger “want”.

In Esperanto, as with any nuance, there are many people who simply use the two words interchangeably. However, beyond this, I’ve found a couple of accounts of what the difference could be.

Firstly, by looking around many past posts on the Lernu.net forums, I often find this distinction:

  • “Deziri” describes a wanting, but only for o-words (nouns).
  • “Voli” describes a wanting, but only for verbs.

Thus, “mi deziras pomon” = “I want an apple”, and “mi volas iri” = “I want to go”. But you wouldn’t say “mi deziras iri” and vice versa.

An explanation for this went along the lines of “voli” is wanting to do something, and “deziri” is wanting a concrete thing.

Which makes the distinction more tangible in my opinion, because the noun/verb distinction seems a little arbitrary:

So you might say “mi volas iri por ferio” = “I want to go for a holiday”. But do you really have to change to “deziri” just to say “mi volas ferion” = “I want a holiday”? Seems a bit arbitrary!

Anyways, the Reta-Vortaro provided a slightly different distinction, which some people on Lernu referenced too:

  • Deziri = Consciously have a tendency toward (be inclined to/feel like) something; aspire to possess or enjoy something.
  • Voli = To have a desire, intention, decision, or feel a need about something or someone.

It notes a difference between them being that “voli” often implies an intention to do something in order to make come true the desired thing. Which kinda makes sense, given that it comes from the same kinda root as English “volition”. And “volo” (the noun form) means “will” (e.g. in “free will”).

People also note that the meaning of “voli” in practice has drifted to encompass a lot of what “deziri” means, due to people using them interchangeably (*sad face*).

This is what I’m thinking of going with:

  • Assume the noun/verb thing is just a rule of thumb.
  • Drive a distinction between the two words, for a bit of variation (given that people will know what I mean, but may not get the small perhaps unimportant nuance), but be aware that when I use “deziri” many would prefer “voli”.

The distinction I will use is the following:

  • I will use “voli” when I wish to emphasise intention, will, or decision being involved (e.g. want to understand, or want to lose weight)
  • I will use “deziri” to describe tendencies/inclinations. Or to describe something I wish to enjoy, or use it if I do not wish to emphasise a willingness to acquire the thing I desire.
In light of the comments on this post, I’ve modified the point below (which was my original last point). This is what I originally thought:
  • I also consider “voli”, given its addition of will/intention, to be a stronger desire than “deziri”. So in everyday speech, I will probably use “deziri” for concrete objects that I just happen to want (momentary inclination), like an apple, even if I’m extending a hand to get the thing as I talk!

I now think this:

  • Given the implication of will/intention in “voli”, I consider it a slightly different kind of wanting to “deziri”. Just because one word includes the will to attain what is desired, doesn’t necessarily mean the desire is stronger. For this purpose one would use the intensifying suffix “-eg”. “Deziregi” is like “to greatly desire” . However, the inclusion of “aspire” in the definition of “deziri” and its comparison to words like “bezoni”, suggest that “deziri” has at least some deeper wanting behind it than “voli”.

Anyone disagree? Got a better idea?


I may update this post soon, in light of the PIV coming online!

Tricksy, shifty words

I have created a new category!

My usually long list of things to write about has been dwindling of late. But I’ve slowly been developing an interest in how the semantic scope of words differ between English and Esperanto.

By this I mean, given a word in Esperanto, and its translation in English, what meanings do those words encompass? Can the Esperanto word be used in all of the contexts in which the English word can be? Do the words have slightly different connotations? Are there in fact several Esperanto words that commonly translate to that English one, but that have different shades of meaning?

I see this as quite a difficult thing to grasp properly, but so very interesting! And I’m starting to think I need to invest in a massive Esperanto dictionary which has usage examples and the like.

For now, I’m going to have to rely on the Lernu forums, places like the Reta Vortaro, and your helpful comments!

I’ll use this category of post for the following types of scenario:

  • Given several Esperanto words that have similar English translations, what’s the difference between them? What shades of meaning do they convey? What situations are appropriate for each word?
  • Given an interesting Esperanto word (one that is perhaps worthy of being in the “Alluring Words” category), what meanings does it cover? How does its semantic scope differ from its common English translations?

I’ve got a couple of these in the works, hopefully you’ll enjoy and find them useful!