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!


4 thoughts on “Tricksy, shifty words

  1. I’m starting work on an English-Esperanto dictionary that will include usage examples and definitions within the entries so the learner uses the right word every time. E-mail me about this idea sometime.

  2. A recent example I just saw is cxe vs apud.

    And just recently I came across ‘kelka nombro’ … does that mean ‘ia/iu nombro’?

    • Ah yes! I believe I saw that on Lernu too!

      Yeah, I think it’s kinda like that! I picture iu/ia nombro as talking about some particular number. Whereas “kelka nombro” feels like “ioma nombro” like some quantity out of a whole. If that really is a difference.

      As you can see, pretty much the same thing really as you suggest from what I can tell.

      I get this feeling from the extra notes in the Reta Vortaro. Search “kelka”, and check out definition 1 if you haven’t already, it compares to ia/iu too!

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