Esperanto missed its chance


I’m not certain whether Esperanto can recover from such a horrendous and unforgivable oversight. I feel like it might be possible, but it’d take some work. Let me explain.

I’m talking about a dilemma that many Esperantistas will have encountered: the actual Esperanto word for dilemma “dilemo”.

Well now, the term “dilemma” and its many incarnations in other languages (dilema, dilemma, dilemmeДилемма, dilema), originate from the greek for “double proposition”. Surviving separately in both English and Esperanto are the terms “lemma” and “lemo” respectively for just “proposition”. This separation means that “trilemma” is also used in English, for when you’ve got three alternatives to consider instead of two!

I thought that was pretty neat. But this is only possible because English is numerically promiscuous, caring not whether the number 2 is represented using prefixes like “bi”, “two”, or “di”.

To make this relationship more clear, I reckon that Esperanto should have gone for “dulemo” since our fair “two” is “du”. This would be the perfect hint that tri-lemo, dek-lemo and sescent-sesdek-ses-lemo are perfectly reasonable 😀

Now, of course I’m just playing with you, Esperanto; I love you to bits. But you gotta admit, dulemo is way more fun even by itself. For one, it looks like it could also mean “the tendency to be a ‘d-person'”, whatever that might be…  😀 (d(o) – ul – emo).