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.

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