All poetical

I’ve been at the word building again… I recently agreed to start a symphonic metal band, and have a new found addiction to writing lyrics. So it was only a matter of time before the idea of writing Esperanto lyrics crept into my brain! Especially since the singer has already said she’d be up for singing it!

I’m currently working on a few themes, and some possible imagery and poetic language I could use. And during the process I’ve come up with all sorts of constructed words, so I thought I’d share a few!

I’ll put each in a phrase for ease of understanding.

  • Ekstermensigu ĉion alian! = Put everything else out of your mind!
    • Ekster = outside
    • Menso = mind
    • -ig is a suffix meaning “to make/cause <root>” (see previous posts)
  • Ŝiaj kruelaj agoj senamigis sin = Her cruel actions, rendered her without love.
    • Sen = without
    • Amo = love
    • -ig (as above)
  • Ne donu al ŝi vian amon, ŝi estas korvundema = Don’t give her your love, she is likely to break your heart.
    • koro = heart
    • vundi = wound/hurt
    • -em is a suffix means “has a tendency to <root>” (see previous post)

So it’s like “hurtful” but for the heart!

Badger vs. Squirrel

Ello again!

Mostly due to the wormy accusative “n”, Esperanto has quite flexible word order. The following phrases mean pretty much the same thing, “a badger frightened a squirrel”:

  • melo timigis sciuron
  • melo sciuron timigis
  • sciuron timigis melo
  • sciuron melo timigis
  • timigis melo sciuron
  • timigis sciuron melo

Are there any differences at all between these alternatives? Subtle ones, yes. The difference is one of emphasis.

I’ve had a read of the topic in the PMEG, and have distilled a few rough rules that’ll get you making use of this subtle emphasis change.

Firstly some terms:

  • The “subject” is the thing doing the action. In our case, the subject is “melo” : the badger.
  • The “direct object” is the thing receiving the action. In our case, the direct object is “sciuro”: the squirrel.
  • Our action here is “timigi” = “to frighten”.

The usual word ordering is “subject – action – direct object”. So anything that departs from this ordering generates emphasis in some way.

Here’s the rules:

  1. If the subject is moved to the end (everything else remaining same), then the emphasis is on the subject:
    • timigis sciuron melo : a badger did the frightening, not anything else.
  2. If the action is moved to the front (everything else remaining same), then the emphasis is on the action:
    • timigis melo sciuron : a badger frightened a squirrel, it didn’t e.g. kiss it.
  3. If the direct object is moved to the front (everything else remaining same), then the emphasis is on the direct object:
    • sciuron melo timigis : a squirrel was frightened, not e.g. a vole.

Next, let’s look at a phrase that has a prepositional relationship (e.g. inside/on/under/with/against):

  • La melo loĝis en truo = The badger lived in a hole

Two rules here:

  1. Move the prepositional relationship to the front, and the prepositional relation is emphasised:
    • en truo la melo loĝis : the badger lived in a hole, not e.g. in a box.
  2. Move also the subject to the end and then the subject is emphasised:
    • en truo loĝis la melo : the badger lived in a hole, not e.g. the squirrel.

There are exceptions, and particular words that act in different ways. These are generally quite obvious when you come across them. One of the key exceptions is “ki-” correlatives (kiu, kie, kia, kiel, kiam, kiom, kio). These are usually at the front of their part of the phrase. You can read more in this PMEG section.


No need to resort to that!

If you’ve been lurking around here for a while, you may have read my series on Esperanto’s participles. If you haven’t and you have no idea what I’m talking about, why not take a stroll over there now?

They are incredibly useful things. You can even use them to create complicated verb tenses. However, one of those old posts shows why resorting to participles for complicated tenses can be a little on the inelegant side.

In today’s post I’ll be sharing a few PMEG tips on how to avoid resorting to complex tenses.

Take the following sentence:

  • When you phoned me, I was eating.

This implies that when I received your call, I was in the middle of eating. How might we say this in Esperanto?

  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi manĝis.

Using the simple past tense, we’re in a little trouble. Because this could mean any of:

  • When you phoned me, I was eating
  • When you phoned me, I ate (i.e. I started eating when you called)
  • When you phoned me I had eaten (already)

Does this mean we have to resort to complex tenses?

  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi estis manĝanta (I was in the middle of eating)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi estis manĝonta (I was about to eat)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi estis manĝinta (I had already eaten)

All those different meanings by changing a single vowel! In speech this is a little mean on your listener, no?

How about these instead:

  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, ĝuste tiam mi manĝis (I was eating exactly when you called)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi jam antaŭe manĝis (I had already previously eaten)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi ankoraŭ ne manĝis (I hadn’t yet eaten)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi ĵus manĝis (I had only just eaten)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi intencis/planis manĝi [baldaŭ] (I intended/planned to eat [soon])

Simple ways to stick to the simple tenses!

Read more here, and here.

The accusative is a worm

It slithers its way into every corner of the language. I found a use of it today that I’ve not seen previously, whilst browsing through PMEG.

It sort of indicates position of a part, though usually a body part. Here’s one of the PMEG examples:

  • Li haltis dum momento, la kapon klinita iom flanken. = He stopped for a moment, his head inclined a little to the side.

Notice how the sentence is quite short and sharp in English too. One way of understanding it, is to imagine it a little fuller with e.g. “tenante”:

  • Li haltis dum momento, tenante la kapon klinita iom flanken. = He stopped for a moment, holding his head inclined a little to the side.

This also shows why the “N” might be suitable here, it’s because you’re implying a “tenante”, “havante” or “metinte” (holding, having, or having put), of which the “kapo” is the direct object.

A sneaky, slimy worm.

Ways of working with one another

Art thou enjoying the new banner and neater sidebar? A little easier on the eyes!

This post explores ways of expressing “one another” / “each other”, as in examples below:

  1. They hugged each other
  2. They worked with one another
  3. They fought against each other
  4. They gave a present to each other

The simplest way is to use some configuration of “unu” (“one”) and “alia” (“other/another”).

  1. Ili ĉirkaŭbrakis unu la alian
  2. Ili laboris unu kun la alia
  3. Ili batalis unu kontraŭ la alia
  4. Ili donis donacon unu al alia

Notice the main difference with how it’s constructed in english. You don’t say “with one another”, you say “one with the other”. Also note that if there is no relation like “to/against/with” (because instead it’s a direct object relation), then you take up the accusative “N” (1).

But what other tools do we have in our tool-belt?

We could use “reciproke” = “reciprocally”:

  • Everyone understood each other = Ĉiuj komprenis sin reciproke

Or we could use “inter” (“among/between”) as a prefix to the action word. Or even “inter si” (roughly “among themselves”):

  • They fought each other (amongst themselves) = Ili interbatalis = Ili batalis inter si

I love how simple but complete “ili interbatalis” is!

Wanna read about “si”? I’ve got previous posts on it: 1, 2

Dank’ al the PMEG for this information!

Can anyone think of other ways to express this?