In a very old post of mine (https://adventuresinesperanto.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/adjective-antics/), I started talking about what comes out when we start sticking “a” on the end of word roots. And at the time of writing, it was very much in line with the PMEG’s recommendation. But the world moves on, guys. One day, you wake up and decide, hey, we need a spring clean. There’s a dusty old corner of Esperanto, and in it lies a filthy web of unclarity (one day un- will have the power in English of Esperanto’s mal- even if it kills me).
I’m looking at korekta. And its ilk.
Notice at the end of that post that I suggest that some words, and perhaps action-roots in general, can take on the –ata or -ita participle meanings when adding the “a”. The PMEG now advises against such vile practice, and for good reason.
For a little refresher, what normally happens when you add “a” to an action-root is something like this:
- Helpi = to help
- Helpa hundo = helpful dog / dog that is helping (like helpanta)
That is, the thing being described by the new a-word is characterised by the given action, or performing the action. So for a word like korekta, here’s the good and consistent usage:
- Korekti = to correct
- Korektaj okulvitroj = corrective glasses / (vision) correcting glasses (like korektanta)
But you, me, and a little of even Ole Zammy, have used it like this:
- Korekta respondo = correct answer (like korektita)
And there are a few other words that this phenomenon regularly presents itself with (e.g. kompliki & konfuzi).
Aside from just being plain inconsistent (since this usage seems to be in a minority of examples that are influenced by native language happenstance (e.g. the existence of “correct” in English)), using “a” in this manner can give the impression that the originally action root is actually a quality root. This could lead people to erroneously employ “korektigi” for “make correct” instead of “korekti”, where such –ig words already have specialised meaning.
So let’s be sensible and clean up our act!
And here’s what happens when you launch into explaining this to an unsuspecting fiancée that hasn’t started learning Esperanto (YET :D):
Hmm, quite interesting, but I sense an Esperanto rant approaching:
Oh yeah, here it comes:
That’s a lot of details you’re going into… I don’t think you’re gonna stop, are you?