Strangers from distant lands… Friends of old

“La duonon el vi mi ne konas duone tiom, kiom mi volus; kaj mi ŝatas malpli ol la duonon el vi duone tiom, kiom vi meritas.”

The above may give away that I’ve been reading the Esperantisised version of The Fellowship of the Ring. If not, then perhaps this’ll jog your memory!

It’s brought to my attention neat words such as:

  • tremvoĉe = with a trembling voice
  • vetermakulita = weather-worn
  • taŭzi = to tousle, dishevel, jostle
  • pomŝarĝita = apple-laden
  • mukokula = mucus-eyed

Also, I’m beginning to notice the little tricks that a good translator uses to try to capture the original flavour of a text. Let me give you an example:

There is a hobbit surname “Proudfoot”. In his speech, Bilbo refers to them collectively as “Proudfoots”, and one loud hobbit corrects him to “Proudfeet”. The humour behind this comment relies on the irregular plural of the English word “foot” (feet). So how can this humour be transferred to Esperanto when in our beautiful language all words have their plural with the simple addition of a “j” (including the word for “foot”!)?

Well, this is the solution the translator opts for:

… [bilbo speech] … Bonkorpoj, Brokhusoj kaj Fierfutoj.
“Fierpiedoj!” kriis maljuneta hobito

Bilbo uses the wrong notion of “foot” (“futo” is an Esperanto word, but it isn’t the anatomical “foot”), and is subsequently corrected.

I think that’s kinda neat! I’m looking forward to comparing the rest of the translation to the original and gaining some insights!

The traditional way to become

A little lexical musing for you today!

We have a perfectly good word for “to become”, which is “iĝi”. We can use it by itself, or use it as a suffix (as it was originally intended):

  • ŝi iĝis pala = she became pale
  • ŝi paliĝis = she became pale

But, according to the PMEG, a more traditional word for “to become” is “fariĝi”. Though apparently the use of “iĝi” is on the rise. I’m glad to hear this, because of how neat the smaller word is, and because I couldn’t figure out how “fariĝi” could actually mean “become”, when it has the word for “become” in it already!!!

Firstly, I’m gonna suggest a reason why “fariĝi” is more traditional, and why “iĝi” seems to be taking over. For this, just assume that it makes perfect sense for “fariĝi” to mean “to become”, then once I’m done, I’ll suggest a reason why I now think it kinda makes sense that it does.

In my previous post, I linked you to an article by Claude Piron on the evolution of Esperanto. In that article he reveals that it wasn’t always the done thing to use affixes as words in their own right; they were always attached to proper roots. But nowadays, affixes are proper words too! We can say “endi” = “to be necessary” (from the suffix “-end”), or “emi” = “to have a tendency to” (from the suffix “-em”)!

Given that affixes couldn’t be used alone, and “iĝi” is one of the most important affixes, it couldn’t have been used alone!

So an alternative was needed, a word to attach it to, which’d maintain the “become” meaning. So that’s my guess as to why “fariĝi” is more traditional! But now affixes can be used alone, so this is far more convenient!

So why the specific word “fariĝi”?

  • fermi = to close
  • fermiĝi = to become closed, to be(come) closing
  • fari = to do, to make
  • fariĝi = “to become doing”? “to become making”? “to become made”?

For some reason, my brain couldn’t think of anything else for a while. But here’s what I think now:

See this sentence:

  • la doloro faros lin viro = pain will make him a man

Look how “doloro” is the subject; it is doing the making.
See how “lin” is the direct object; he’s the one being made into something.
“Viro” is a complement, it shows the result of the action.

When you put “iĝ” on the end of a verb, the old direct object becomes the new subject, and we no longer care about the original subject (the reverse to suffix “ig”, which adds an object); it disappears. I may blog about this in more detail, but here’s what I mean:

  • Ŝi farbis la domon blua = she painted the house blue
  • La domo farbiĝis blua = the house was painted (lit. became painted) blue

“Blua” is our complement here; it’s the result of the action in both cases.

But notice how the original subject (ŝi) is overwritten with the object (domo) using our suffix. In the second sentence, “domo” is the new subject of the new verb (in evil speak: “iĝ” makes a transitive verb which takes a single object, into an intransitive verb). Read this section of Being Colloquial in Esperanto if you’re crazy interested and can’t wait for me to post more about it.

Back to fari:

  • la doloro faros lin viro = pain will make him a man
Which with “iĝ” becomes:
  • li fariĝos viro = he will be made (lit. become made) a man

The old object (lin) overwrote the old subject (doloro), which we now don’t care about, and we’re left with the complement.

Notice how “X is made Y” means “X becomes Y”!!!

  • He is made a man = he becomes a man

So this is why I think I now see why “fariĝi” pretty much equals “to become”. Still, I much prefer “iĝi”! 🙂

I had some real trouble explaining this, so if you need clarification, don’t hesitate to ask!

Ya mouth’s full o’ words

Found some really inventive words today! If you’ve been paying close attention to the Lernu forums since at least… December, maybe? Then you might have seen my source: an article by Claude Piron, because I think someone may have linked to it a while back.

Besides being an incredibly interesting article on the evolution of Esperanto, there are a couple of anecdotes about some pretty cool uses of the word building system.

  • jeskaze = if you (one) agrees, in the case of agreement
  • buŝpleni (pri)= to “constantly pay lip-service (about)”, constantly talk about, mouth full of speech (about)


“jes” = “yes”, and “kaze” is the adverbial form of “kazo” = “case”. So “kaze” is like “in the case”. “Kazo” apparently originally talked only about “case” in the linguistic sense (e.g. accusative case), but has since drifted to be like “affair/event”, more like “okazo”. A less risky version may well be “jesokaze”! Regardless, this word is like “in the case of yes/affirmation/agreement”. Pretty neat!


  • buŝo = mouth
  • plena = full/complete
  • pleni = to be full/complete (see this previous post for why, and this one for an interesting point about this transformation)

So “pleni” is “to be full”, and if we add a word to the front, is says that we’re full in a particular kind of way. By adding “buŝ” to the front, we’re saying that the manner in which we’re full, is characterised by “mouth” in some way.

  • Ili buŝplenas pri homrajtoj = They constantly pay lip-service to human rights / Their mouth is full of speech about human rights

Literally “they mouth-full about human rights”.

I think that’s pretty cool don’t you?

If you haven’t already, do take a read of that article; it really shows how our language has grown in some interesting ways!

“Buŝpleni” made me think up “plenbuŝe”:

  • Dum la tuta manĝo, lia koramikino parolis plenbuŝe!

Know what I mean by that? 😀

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”!

Whichth hour is it?

In Esperanto this is how you’d say it’s 3 o’clock:

  • Estas la tria (horo)

Which is literally:

  • It’s the third (hour)

Which I think is nice and simple.

The little interesting thing today, is in asking the question “what time is it?”

  • Kioma horo estas? = What time is it?

Specifically “kioma” is the cool bit. It comes from “kiom” which is a correlative word (see previous post), meaning “how much/many”. I just like the simplicity of why the “a” is there:

I think the PMEG’s explanation is pretty neat:

You use “kiom” to ask for:

  • Unu, du, tri… = One, two, three…

And you use “kioma” to ask for:

  • Unua, dua, tria… = First, second, third…
So “kioma horo estas” is like “which-th (or even “how many-th”) hour is it?”, to which you reply with “the fourth”! 😀

I just found why “which-th” was so natural to my brain. I had indeed read it before. Check out this page of “Being Colloquial in Esperanto”. It has a neat little sentence that is ambiguous in English:

  • Which of his sons are you?

Is the answer “the third” or “charles”?

But in Esperanto “kioma” asks for “whichth” (the third): which one are you in order?

And “kiu” asks for “which” (charles): which son are you?

Yes and no – with your head

Two fantastic verbs today: kapjesi and kapnei (pronounced respectively “kap-YES-ee” and “kap-NEH-ee”).

So for us English folk and many others, “kapjesi” means “to nod” and “kapnei” means “to shake ones head”.


These words are both awesome for two related reasons:

1. What a perfect and to the point construction they have!

  • “kapjesi” is “kapo” (head) and “jesi” is “to say yes” or “to assent”.
  • “kapnei” is “kapo” (head) and “nei” is “to say no” or “to deny”.
  • So you are saying “yes” or “no”, using your head! 😀
  • Ŝi konsentas, do ŝi kapjesas = She agreed, so she nodded.

2. These words seem to reflect the true spirit of how Esperanto spans cultures. No matter what your culture does with their head to indicate “no” or “yes”, these words have you covered! For example… I’ve heard that in Bulgaria for instance they shake their head for “yes” and nod it for “no”. But you always know that “kapjesi” is to agree with a head gesture!

Outsmart the Badgers

Another couple words I like today! One sneaked in at the last minute; I discovered it a second ago whilst looking for something else!

I just love to pronounce this first one: “superruzi”. It’s pronounced “soo-pehr-ROO-zee” (IPA: super’ruzi). Remember to trill those “r”s and pronounce them as two distinct “r”s! Pronounce every letter in Esperanto words! If you find this a smidgin troubleful, try pronouncing separately the components “super” then “ruzi” and speed up as you get used to it!

It means “to outsmart/outwit”. “Ruzi”‘s definition on gives “to deal subtly, dodge, shuffle, to be cunning, tricky”. And “super” is like “over, above”. In verb form “superi” is like “to exceed/surpass”. And RetaVortaro explains “superruzi” as “superi per ruzo”: “to surpass by means of subterfuge/trickery/cunning”. Pretty cool construction too really!

Ni superruzos la melojn!

Next, I just like the construction of this word: “Aliiĝi”. Okay… I kinda like the overabundance of “i”s too :D. It’s pronounced “al-ee-EE-jee” (IPA: ali’idʒi).

It means “to change/alter”.

It’s talking about the subject altering. e.g.

  • hieraŭ, mi aliiĝis = yesterday, I changed (as in, it was me that changed)

You can’t use it to say “I altered the colours” (that would be “aliigi”!). This is clear in its literal meaning:

  • It’s made from “alia” = “another/other”; “alio” is like “something else”.
  • The ending “iĝ” is like “to become <root>”.
  • So “aliiĝi” means “to become something else”.

So using it to say “I altered the colours” will actually come out as “I became something else… the colours” HUH? Because no matter what object (e.g. colours) you try to tack onto it, “aliiĝi” is always referring to the subject as being the thing that changes.

The suffix “ig” means “to cause <root>”, so “aliigi” is like “to cause to be something else”. See why you’d use this word instead to alter the colours?