Apply squirrels where needed – Apliku laŭbezone sciurojn

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I recently realised that one of the little enjoyments of my day is when I discover words that demonstrate neat uses of word building. And so this marks the start of a new sub-type of blog post category!

In “productive words”, I’ll introduce a root word which I think has one or more interesting, convenient, or useful constructions that are also found in an Esperanto dictionary (safety reasons). Then, we’ll completely throw caution to the wind and posit some more constructions that aren’t in the dictionary for the sheer heck of it.

Feel free to ask about any words used, or methods of construction; I won’t go into all of them here to start.

Bezoni : To Need

Dictionary examples:

  1. laŭbezone: where needed / as need be / as needed
  2. bezonaĵo: requisite / a thing that is necessary
  3. senbezona: needless

“Laŭ” (“according to” / “following” / “along”) is a frequent culprit for producing interesting constructed words. It works so nicely with so many things. Number 1 is definitely my favourite! So succinct, and avoids those different English variations in favour of a single logical version. But I do also like how simply we get to “requisite” using the “aĵ” suffix!

My thoughts:

  1. Bezonema: needy
  2. Bezonaĉo: base/nasty urge/need

Vortaro.net also has “necesbezono” as “manko de ĉio, kion postulas la fizika vivo”. What would you say that translates to? Basic needs?

The Ambiguous Lock

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A curiosity-led ambling through the pathways of the internet one night revealed something to me that I’d never previously noticed about the English word “unlockable”. A quirk whereby it may mean either of:

  1. impossible to lock
  2. capable of being unlocked

In first case, we have “un + lockable”, where the “un” acts like “not”, and says that we mean “not lockable”. And for the second meaning, we have “unlock + able”, which says that we mean “possible to unlock”.

Pretty wildly different meanings! And seemingly all because the “un” prefix is permitted to mean either negation (not lock) or reverse/opposite action (unlock). Despicable! And Zamenhof knew it; thankfully he blessed us with both “ne” and “mal”, so that we didn’t have to tolerate such flagrant ambiguity in Esperanto:

  • ŝlosi = to lock
  • malŝlosi = to unlock
  • ŝlosebla = lockable
  • neŝlosebla = impossible to lock
  • malŝlosebla = capable of being unlocked

Neat !

Got a question for you, ain’t I?

Aren’t affixes lovely? They are like the sprinkles of word building; shove some nice spongy root words together and sprinkle on the affixes. Some roots are so neat and generally useful they are all but official affixes.

You may be aware that over the many years of Esperanto’s life, many have tried to introduce new prefixes and suffixes for one reason or another. You can read about the ones that remain unofficial here (for prefixes) and here (for suffixes).

Some of those seem pretty useful, and others redundant, and some are useful for certain scientific folk. If all of those were official, can you imagine the learning load?! Getting the hang of the proper use of affixes in word building is a little trickier than just lumping roots together, so we definitely don’t want a whole barrel of them, but:

If you could have just one more affix widely used and official in Esperanto, what would you have? You could pick from the unofficial ones, or make up your own! You know you want to.

I quite enjoy one of the meanings of the unofficial suffixes, “e”. Check out meaning 2.

Say you’ve got an object, e.g. a brick (briko). And you want to say the equivalent of “brick-coloured”. You’d probably go for: “brikkolora”. Meaning 2 is exactly this. Instead of relying on suffixing the full “kolora”, you would just go “brikeo”. Short an sweet.

Only thing that bothers me, is that I’m not satisfied with my pronunciation of “e” followed by a vowel. It just feels unwieldy having to pronounce “e” as in “bet” followed by another vowel. I kinda wish “eĵ” was a suffix. Something about “brikeĵa” pleases me 😀

Though I wonder if there could be a more generally useful suffix than one that just means colour! 😛

House found to be haunted by ghostly badgers.

Today, you get a couple of words I’ve come up with!

Firstly, we have:

malinformadi = to keep uninformed

  • mal : prefix which reverses the meaning of a word
  • informi : to inform
  • -ad : a suffix which implies repeated or continual action (read more about ad)

Example sentence:

  • Kiel antaŭzorgo, la sciuroj malinformadas la melojn = As a precaution, the squirrels keep the badgers uninformed.

It’s very much an active thing to be doing. When you are “malinformi” you are doing the very opposite of informing. Not simply just “not informing”, you are actively putting someone in the dark. The “ad” bit in the full word, stresses the ongoing, repeated process.

Next up, we’ve got:

feliĉigaĵo = something that makes you happy

  • feliĉa : happy
  • -ig : suffix which means “to make/cause <root>” (read more about ig)
  • -aĵ : suffix which shows we’re talking about a concrete thing, which is somehow characterised by the word that comes in front of it. (read more about aĵ)

Example sentence:

  • Ĉiu serĉu la feliĉaĵojn = Each person should look for the things that make them happy

At risk of blowing my own trumpet, I thought those words lend themselves to quite neat sentences 🙂

Also, please do excuse the title… I found myself giving this post a very boring title and decided to spice it up with a little strange. In future, I might use slightly more odd titles, but also try to translate them into Esperanto, you know, for kicks. 😀

Title: Domo troviĝis hantata de fantomaj meloj

That’s utterly unpocketable

Inspiration for a word hit me today whilst reading some text by William Auld (who wrote so well!). So we’re in the rarely visited territory of the Constructed Words category today!

The word is “poŝebla”, the simplest translation of which is perhaps “pocketable”. The meaning is a description of something which is shaped in such a way that it is possible to put it in one’s pocketses (possessed by the spirit of Gollum for a second there).

  • Ĝenerale, la melo ne estas poŝebla = generally, badgers are not pocketable (it is not possible to put badgers in one’s pockets)

And now for the derivation!

  • poŝo = (a) pocket
  • -ebl = suffix meaning “possible to <root>” or “<root> can be done”; “legebla” = “legible, possible to read”

See this post for more information on “-ebl”.

As you’ll learn from the post about “-ebl”, it expects to a verb at its behind. But “poŝo” is the noun form. So to get the proper interpretation of “poŝebla”, we must first interpret “poŝi”, the verbal form.

Check out this PMEG page, under the section “Verboj el ne-agaj radikoj” (“Verbs out of non-action roots”).

It shows a bunch of guidelines about interpreting the verb forms of naturally object type words (like pocket, stone, city).

I believe the most relevant examples are under this statement “Se la radiko montras ilon, aparaton aŭ simile…” (“if the root indicates a tool, apparatus/device or similar…”). It goes on to explain that the verb form then means “to use the tool in its usual manner”. So “to pocket” is to put something in your pocket, or keep something in your pocket.

Therefore “poŝebla” is “possible to put/keep in your pocket”.

I thought it was quite a cool word, sort of like a whimsical version of “portebla” (portable, possible to carry).

Note that you don’t need this word to talk about things like “pocket dictionaries”, those can just be “poŝvortaroj” not “poŝeblaj vortaroj”.

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!

Make more tasty!

I’ve been playing around with making words in Esperanto recently. Been daydreaming in conversations with people. Every word they say that I don’t know in Esperanto, I try to make it, using what I do know in Esperanto.

Out of my playing, I’ve stumbled on a useful set of steps for making a particular kind of word (much like this previous post, check it out, it’s neat!).

So, do you by now know what I mean by a “quality” root? If not see this post.

Today we’ll be using quality roots, and these:

  • pli = more (see this post for more details)
  • malpli = less (“mal” is a prefix that reverses the meaning of things)
  • igi = suffix meaning “to cause/make <root>”, e.g. “boli” = “boil”, but “boligi” = “to cause to boil”
  • iĝi = suffix meaning “to become <root>”, e.g. “pala” = “pale”, but “paliĝi” = “to become pale”

Now, say you’ve got a quality root in its adjective form, like this:

  • bela = beautiful
  • longa = long
  • vasta = extensive, vast, wide

You can do a neat thing with them. Using this formula:

(pli/malpli)<root>(igi/iĝi)

Things in brackets show alternatives! So you get a few choices here. The idea is, you’ve got some quality, like “beautiful”, and you want to make a verb which means: to become, or cause someone/something to be, more or less that quality:

  • beli = to be beautiful
  • plibeligi = to embellish (literally: to make more beautiful)
  • plibeliĝi = to grow/become more beautiful
  • malplibeligi = to make less beautiful
  • malplibeliĝi = to become less beautiful

Cool, huh?

This saves you some work:

  • Mi estas bela, sed… = I am beautiful, but…
    • ŝi volas igi min (esti) pli bela
    • ŝi volas plibeligi min

They mean roughly “she wants to make me more beautiful”. But look at the second one! So neat! So neat in fact, that I wasn’t sure on the structure of the above. I think the “esti” is optional. The long way around would be then “estigi min pli bela”. Also note that “beligi” would mean “make beautiful”.

Sometimes, all this adding of “ig” and “malpli” etc. makes the words really long, so sometimes we use shorter forms. Look at these two:

  1. plilongigi = (literally) to make more long
  2. longigi = (literally) to make long

There is a clear theoretical difference. 1 implies something is already long, and you are making it longer, and 2 says nothing about how long it was, but you’re now making it long (maybe like English, the omission of “pli” might mean that the thing wasn’t long or beautiful until you made it so). But in practice, this distinction matters little, and often the shorter word will be used. Especially when you get to “malplilongigi”, you might just say “mallongigi”. See this PMEG page for this note, and more “ig” examples.

Here’s a few more I like:

  • plilongigi = to lengthen (to make longer)
  • plivastigi = to extend (to make more extensive)
  • verdigi = to colour green (to make green)
  • plilarĝigi = larĝigi = to widen
  • malplivarmigi = to cool down/ to cool (something)

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”!

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.

A box for cigar holders

I was casually reading some Esperanto, when suddenly the word “klingon” popped up in the most serious of texts!

I then realised it was simply the word “klingo” (“blade”) with the accusative “n” on the end to mark it as the object of the sentence!

Anyway, it also reminded me of the suffix “ing”, which led me to the topic for this post: the distinction between the suffix “ing” and the suffix “uj”.

Some definitions lead them to be confusingly similar, but in actuality their differences are quite clear. And they’re pretty handy!

Let’s work with the example root “cigar-“. “Cigaro” simply means “(a) cigar”. What happens when we add our suffixes?

  • cigaringo = cigar holder
  • cigarujo = cigar box/container

“Ing” makes a word which is a holder/sheath for the object described by the root it’s attached to. This’ll often be some structure that the object is partially put in, for holding purposes. E.g. a scabbard for a sword (glavo : glavingo)

Whereas “uj” constructs a word which is a container (usually for storage purposes) for objects described by the root it’s attached to.

And because I enjoy silliness: a “cigaringujo” is a container for cigar holders!

“Uj” happens to have a couple other uses too, if you’re interested!

  • When used on a fruit, berry or flower, it often shows the thing upon which that object grows. E.g. a “pomujo” is an “apple tree” from “pomo” = “apple”. Apparently, due to the confusion with “a container for apples”, people are now starting to use “pomarbo” for such things!
  • If you’ve got a word like “Anglo” = “Englishman”, you can construct the country name from the people. “Anglujo” is the container for Englishmen “England”!

Check out the PMEG pages on uj and ing. Also, a great guide to using Esperanto’s affixes.

Qapla’!

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 Lernu.net 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?

Ĝis!

Oh the possibilities

There’s a sneaky word that has the possibility of tripping you up when translating to Esperanto, especially coming from an English background!

However, instead of Esperanto being the playground bully waiting to trip up poor awkward English, Esperanto is once again helping us to be more concise.

Take a look at the suffix “-ebl”, here’s a post of mine on it.

Why talk about it again? Because this time, it’s about using it as fully fledged root word.

  • Ebla = possible

So here it is. How might you translate “possibility” into Esperanto? Here’s three possibilities:

  • Eblo = possibility
  • Eblaĵo = possibility
  • Ebleco = possibility

Other Esperanto words might set you up for trouble here:

  • Kulpa = guilty, culpable
  • Kulpo = blame, guilt
  • Kulpeco = culpability

Why does “eco” correspond to “-bility” (as with loads of other words too, I suspect), but we can get “possibility” from all three of those endings?

The answer is this. It’s quite helpful in a bunch of cases to think of Esperanto affixes to loosely correspond to common endings in English (at least when you’re starting out), like how “e” creates adverbs in Esperanto similarly to how “ly” creates them sometimes in English (rapida = quick; rapide = quickly), like how “-ness” or “-bility” in English are often similar to “-ec” in Esperanto. However, this is only a rule of thumb. One has to understand what you actually mean by adding “eco”.

In the case with “possibility”, we English use this word to cover the meaning of all three of those alternatives! It’s not like “blame” versus “culpability”.

“Eblaĵo” and “Ebleco” is where we really have to drive the difference:

  • “Eblaĵo” refers to a thing that is possible. “Aĵ” is a suffix, which usually denotes a concrete thing, so “eblaĵo” is “something which is possible, a possibility”.
    • Tio estas eblaĵo = That’s a possibility; that’s a possible-thing
    • La mondo estas plena de eblaĵoj = The world is full of possibilities/possible-things
  • “Ebleco” refers to the property of possible-ness: how possible something is. “Ec” is a suffix, which usually denotes a property or quality of something, not the something itself. You could therefore talk about the “ebleco” of an “eblaĵo”.
    • Tio havas fortan eblecon = That has a strong possibility (“tio” refers to an “eblaĵo”, and “ebleco” is talking about the level of possibility it has).
  • “Eblo” I think out of usage tends to refer to “eblaĵo”, but technically it is the generic noun form of “possible”, which can mean either “ebleco” or “eblaĵo”. So if you’re ever unsure, just use “eblo”.

Reading material on the subject from the PMEG: 1, 2

Fines on daydreaming

Late posting tsk tsk. Ĉi tiu semajno … malfacilis. Today is for three words I came across. I think they’re neat because of the way they are constructed. The meaning goes together nicely.

  1. pripensinda = worth thinking about
  2. revpensi = to think wishfully, to daydream unrealistic thoughts (the action noun form “revpensado” = “wishful thinking”)
  3. monpuni = to fine (to charge someone money as a penalty)

Here’s how they’re made, and hence why they’re neat!

  1. “pensi” = to think, “pri” means “about, concerning”. So “pripensi” is “to think about, to consider”. The suffix “-ind” means “worthy of <root>”. So something which is “pripensinda” is worthy of consideration, worth thinking about.
  2. “revo” = “dream, daydream”. So to “revpensi” is to think in a way characterised by dreaming, or daydreaming.
  3. “puni” = “to punish, to correct”, and “mono” = “money”. So the action “monpuni” is to perform some kind of correction or punishment, characterised by money. I.e. the taking of it!

Word building on fire

I was pleased today. I decided that I wanted to know how to say “to kindle” (as in start a fire) in Esperanto. And instead of looking it up, I tried to think of the most logical way of constructing it…

Okay so I need to start with “to burn” (bruli), but this means, that the subject is burning (mi brulas = I am burning: i’m actually on fire, not burning something else). So I need to make it “cause something to burn”, by adding the appropriate suffix “bruligi” = “to burn (something)”. Then I need to add in the idea of the burning just starting, “ekbruligi”! (see post on ek).

The reason I was pleased, is that I then looked up this word, and found its entry in the dictionary to mean exactly as I planned! I think I’m really understanding word building now.

I really like the rhythm of the word “ekbruligi” too! It’s nice and bouncy.

Chocolate born to chirp

A desire suddenly happened upon me to look up pleasant-sounding words with the letters “ĝ” and “ĉ” in them, which respectively are pronounced as “g” in “gem” and “ch” in “chin”.

So here are some that I’ve found, and enjoy the sound of:

  1. Ŝanĝiĝi = (Shan-JEE-jee) to change (not change something else. The subject of this verb is the thing that’s changing). E.g. nun ke li havas amanto, li ŝanĝiĝis = now that he has a lover, he has changed (he  changed, became changed). From “ŝanĝi” = “to change (something into something), plus “-iĝi” = “to become <root>”, so “ŝanĝiĝi” = “to become changed into something”.
  2. Naskiĝi = (Nask-EE-jee) to be born.
  3. Ĉokolado = (Cho-ko-LA-do) Chocolate.
  4. Ĉasaĵo =  (Cha-SA-zho, where “zh” is pronounced like “s” in “pleasure”) game, quarry (in a hunt). “Ĉasi” = “to chase/hunt”, and the suffix “-aĵ” means a concrete thing characterised by the root word. Therefore “Ĉasaĵo” is a thing that is chased/hunted, i.e. quarry.
  5. Ĉifi = (CHEE-fee) to crumble, crease (something).
  6. Ĉirpi = (CHEER-pee) to chirp.

In 1, I love the “jee-jee” bit, especially when you have the word in past tense “ŝanĝiĝis”, finishing with the “s” makes it sound very flowing to me.

In 2, I think I almost like the “nask” sound almost as much as “ĝ”!

3 sounds bumpy in a rhythmic way, it’s kinda fun to say over and over…

4 and 5 are generally quite pleasing to pronounce, but the “ĉir” in 6 is my favourite sound out of the three. There’s something much more pleasing about its sound than how “chir” would be pronounced in English (“chirp” sounds so bland in comparison).

Quality-ness

Today’s post is about the suffix “-ec” (which is pronounced “ets”, e.g. “boneco” is pronounced “bonetso”).

This post relies on knowing about the different kinds of roots in Esperanto (quality, object, and action roots). I’ve written a post about this.

This suffix makes words that are the quality of or state of being in the root word. It always shows an abstract concept/quality. This contrasts with the “-aĵ’ suffix, which always shows a concrete thing.

If the root that you attach the suffix to already has a quality-like meaning, like “bona” = “good” then the new word is the property or state of that word. So here, “good” (bona) becomes “goodness” (boneco), which is the property of something that is good. You can talk about the “goodness” of something.

How is this different from the noun form of “bona”, i.e. “bono”. The noun form alone is the concept itself of “good”.

When added to a non-quality root, “ec” adds the idea of the quality, property or state related to that root, what it is like to be that root.

  • homo = human, person
  • homeco = human-ness (the quality of being human)
  • ŝtono = stone
  • ŝtoneco = stoniness (the quality of being (hard) like stone)
  • vivi = to live
  • vivo = life
  • viveco = life-ness? The quality of being full of life.
  • unu = one
  • unueco = one-ness, the quality of being as one.

When a noun form has many different types of meaning, adding the “ec” suffix can serve to disambiguate, and select only the quality meaning:

  • belo = A beautiful thing, abstract idea of beauty, or beautifulness (the beauty quality of something)
  • beleco = Beautifulness

Which I think is cool, so you can be specific when you need to but vague when not. This sort of thing can be done with “-aĵ” and “-ad” too.

You can use “ec” with endings other than “o” too! With “a” or “e” (adjective or adverb respectively), the meaning is something like “of similar quality/type as <root>”

  • ŝtoneca koro = Heart as hard as stone (without feeling)

I particularly like this usage, it seems to have a simple elegance to it!

These examples are courtesy of the PMEG! The page also briefly mentions a couple more minor usages of “ec”, but these were my favourite bits 😛

A different expression

I was amused by the variety of different ways of expressing “marry” today… Turns out that there isn’t a dedicated verb for it:

  • Edzo = husband
  • Edzino = wife (“in” is the feminine suffix)
  • Edziĝi = to marry, to get married, to become a husband (“iĝ” means “to become <root>”)
  • Edziniĝi = to marry, to get married, to become a wife
  • Geedziĝi = to marry, to get married (the “ge” prefix means both sexes, so you’d use it when talking about both of them “they got married”).

All of the ones with “iĝ” are like “become a wife/husband”, so they can’t take a direct object, like “I married her”, because it would actually mean “I became married her”, which doesn’t make sense, for that you need “ig” = “to cause to be <root>”

  • Edzigi = to make/cause to be a husband, to marry (a man)
  • Edzinigi = to make/cause to be a wife, to marry (a woman)
  • Geedzigi = to make/cause to be man and wife, to marry (the couple, like a priest would)
Funny, no?

Baby branch

Fewer posts this week I’m afraid! Tough week. Hopefully I’ll have some ideas sorted out for next week!

Onwards!

I found an awesome usage of word building today: branĉido = sprout/shoot

  • Branĉo = branch
  • -id suffix means “offspring of <root>”, “born of <root>”.
  • Pronounced “branch-ID-o”

Now, there is a word “ŝoso” (pronounced “SHO-so”, quite pretty itself), which means “sprout/shoot”. But I like the logic of “branĉido”!

The “-id” suffix can also be used metaphorically. There is a another constructed language called “Ido” based off of Esperanto, short for “Esperantido”, offspring of Esperanto! 🙂

Partying with Participles #5

Yet another participles post! Read the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

This time, I’m talking about using the noun ending “o” on the end of the participles.

  • Ami = to love
  • Amanta = loving
  • Amanto = one who is loving, one who loves (amanta persono)

So notice that with the noun ending, the participle usually describes a person characterised by the action of the participle.

You choose between active or passive participles depending on whether the person is doing the action or receiving it (respectively):

  • Amanto = one who is loving, one who loves (amanta persono)
  • Amato = one who is loved (amata persono)

Note that you don’t use the “-ul” suffix to make it about a person (timi=to fear, timulo = coward), it’s already about a person.

If you wanted to be talking about a thing, not a person, then it usually suffices to note bother with the participle and instead use the “aĵ” ending.

  • Amaĵo = loved thing

Though this could also mean a thing that loves. But since that’s a less likely interpretation, and context helps, you’re normally fine. Though conceivably you could add this ending onto the participles (amantaĵo = loving thing), if you really needed to be specific to stop people misunderstanding.

Also for those few who didn’t already know, doesn’t the ending of “Esperanto” look familiar? It should do.

  • esperi = to hope
  • esperanta = hoping
  • esperanto = one who is hoping, one who hopes (esperanta persono)

Bear in mind that “Esperanto” (with a capital letter) is now recognised as a noun referring to the language. If you want the old meaning, you have to use a non capital letter. For example, Esperanta means relating to Esperanto the language, as in Esperanta kurso (Esperanto course). An “esperanta kurso” is a course that is hoping…

This concludes the bulk of material about the participles! I’m sure they’ll crop up here and there again though! You’re welcome to ask about anything I’ve missed, and if it’s a substantial amount, I may form my answer in a post!

Fiery Slime in the Loo!

Fajra ŝlimo en la necesejo!

Three words I liked today:

  1. Fajra = Fiery (from fajro = fire)
  2. Ŝlimo = slime/sludge/mud
  3. Necesejo = toilet/toilet room/loo
Pronunciation notes:
  1. The “aj” is pronounced like the english word “eye”. And trill that “r” of course!
  2. Ŝlimo is pronounced like “Sh-lee-mo”
  3. Necesejo is pronounced like “Net-ses-ay-o” (the “ej” is pronounced like “ay” in “hay”).
The reasons I like them:
  1. This is just a sexy word. Maybe would be cool as a girl’s name? I don’t have many favourite words beginning with “f”, but that “ajra” combo sounds delightful!
  2. There is scarcely anything more fun than pronouncing an “ŝ” before a consonant. And this really does make a sound that makes me think of slime. Cool.
  3. “Necesejo” literally means something like “necessary place” or “place of necessity” from “necesa” = “necessary” and the suffix “-ej”, which means “place for <root>” or a place characterised by the root (ĉevalo = horse, ĉevalejo = stable). I think this translation is a neat way of rendering “toilet”, just feels right!
Shorter and sweeter post than last time! A little easier on the eyes 😀

Partying with Participles #3

This is the 3rd in a series of posts about Esperanto’s participles! Don’t know what they are? Don’t even know what a participle is? Then take a look at the 1st and 2nd posts.

The last post showed how we form Esperanto’s six different participles, and what they mean in their adjectival (quality-like, a-word) form. This is the form that is used when the participles are describing nouns (words like “camel”).

The post stated a important distinction. It showed that participles show the state of completion of an action, which is slightly different than simply showing tense (past,present,future). If you don’t remember, take a look at the previous post.We will find out why this is an important distinction after a brief talk about passive phrases and how to make them with the passive participles, which are the ones formed with “at/it/ot” suffixes.

So what’s a passive phrase? It’s a phrase that appears in the passive voice rather than the active voice. In English, this is really quite common:

  • The elf greeted the dwarf = active voice
  • The dwarf was greeted (by the elf) = passive voice
It all centres around how the verb “to greet” is used. In the simplest case (active voice), the subject of the action (the one doing it), the elf, is performing the action (a greeting), to the direct object (the one receiving the action,the dwarf).
However, we can move around the sentence so that the object (dwarf) is mentioned first (so that it’s actually the subject!), and we combine the “to greet” verb, with a form of the verb “to be” (is,are,was,will be), to show that the dwarf isn’t doing the action (even though we mention it first as a subject), it is actually receiving the action. The passive is useful especially if we don’t know who did the action, because the “by the elf” bit is optional.
We can do the same thing in Esperanto, using a form of the verb “esti” = “to be”, plus a passive participle:
  • La elfo salutis la gnomon = The elf greeted the dwarf (note: I’m using the word for dwarf from “The Hobbit”, because it’s better! :))
  • La gnomo estis salutita (de la elfo) = The dwarf was greeted (by the elf)
Notice this gives us many choices! When reading the examples below, bear in mind the “Esti” bit describes when in time something occurred (past,present,future), and the different participles show whether in that time the action was ongoing, completed, or going to be completed:
  • Estas salutata = is being greeted
  • Estas salutita = is greeted (the greeting finished)
  • Estas salutota = is about to be greeted
  • Estis salutata = was being greeted
  • Estis salutita = was greeted (greeting finished)
  • Estis salutota = was about to be greeted
  • Estos salutata = will be being greeted
  • Estos salutita = will be greeted (at some point in the future, the greeting will be complete)
  • Estos salutota = will be about to be greeted

It’s possible to stretch things further by using more forms of “Esti”, i.e. “Estu” or “Estus”, but you’ll be lucky if you see that around!

So why is the idea of completion rather than tense an important distinction?

  • The camel was found a few years ago
How do we use participles to render this phrase in Esperanto? Let’s imagine that the participles show tense not completion. Now we have two sources of tense, “esti” will be in a tense, and “trovi” = “to find” will be in some kind of tense. So using past, present and future, we’ve got 9 choices again like above. But instead of being examples like:
  • Action in past, and completed = Estis trovita
  • Action in present, and completed = Estas trovita
  • Action in present, and ongoing = Estas trovata
We have a set of two tenses, like these examples:
  • Action in past, and occurring around then (present tense relative to the past), whether completed or not = Estis trovata
  • Action in past, and occurred in the past relative to this past = Estis trovita

Notice how this might affect your translation of the example sentence?

Using the idea of aspect we’d do it this way:

  • La kamelo estis trovita antaŭ kelkaj jaroj
“Estis trovita”: At some point in the past, the camel was found (the finding was complete).

Using the idea of tense, so we have two tenses (the second happening relative to the first) we’d have:

  • La kamelo estis trovata antaŭ kelkaj jaroj

“Estis trovata”: At some point in the past, in the present relative to this past, the camel was found or being found

Turns out these two styles were apparently either side of a big argument about passive participles in Esperanto (it-ists versus at-ists) ! According to “Being Colloquial in Esperanto”, the aspect camp won! So stick with the first version!

So why can this strategy of rendering passive phrases using passive participles be inelegant?

Notice the following things about the camel sentence:

  1. The entity who did the finding is totally irrelevant, so we don’t need to saying “was found by somebody”, which you might do with “de <somebody>” after the passive participle.
  2. We had to decide whether the action was completed or in the process of happening (-ita or -ata suffixes), when neither are especially important; we are just trying to convey that the camel was found a number of years ago.

So it’s not very succinct  in this case, is it? There are alternatives.

  1. Using the pronounce “Oni” = “one, they, people”
  2. Using the suffix “-iĝ” = “become <root>”
Thus:
  1. Oni trovis la kamelon antaŭ kelkaj jaroj = They/People found the camel a few years ago/The camel was found a few years ago
  2. La kamelo troviĝis antaŭ kelkaj jaroj = The camel became-found a few years ago/The camel was found a few years ago

This expresses the same idea, with simple tenses, no resorting to “esti”. The “oni” makes it clear that that the finders are unimportant. And the “iĝ” suffix leaves less room for mentioning who did the finding, because it brings all the emphasis to the action happening to the camel.

So in speech, they’ll usually be less call for using passive participles in this fashion. In writing, if you really wish to be absolutely certain about the state of completion of actions you might use them. The state of completion should be an important and necessary fact in this case.

The most readily understood participle in speech is probably the one ending in “-ita”, so perhaps you’d use it in speech in this situation:

  1. In “The elf greeted the dwarf”, you want to emphasise the dwarf, so you want passive
  2. You still want the elf to be present, so you don’t want to use “Oni”
  3. “de <somebody>” is a little strange when using the “iĝ” suffix, because it gives the feeling of the action just happening, it really downplays the cause of the action
So you say “La gnomo estis salutita de la elfo”.
However, you can achieve emphasis in other ways. Esperanto has very flexible word order, so “The elf greeted the dwarf” could be written:
  1. La elfo salutis la gnomon
  2. La gnomon elfo salutis
  3. La gnomon salutis elfo
  4. La elfo gnomon salutis
Style 1 is most common, so the others show some kind of emphasis. Notice how you can move the dwarf to the front without changing the meaning, because it has the accusative “n”.
Lastly, there is a short form of these passive constructions with “esti”. Most adjectives can be turned into a verb which means “to be <adjective>”:
  • Blua = blue
  • Blui = to be blue
  • Mi bluas = I am blue
  • Mi bluis = I was blue
  • Mi estas blua = I am blue
  • Mi estis blua = I was blue
You can do the same with participles:
  • La gnomo salutitis = The dwarf was greeted

I think it’s really neat, and I like the getting rid of this “esti” in the way. However, that’s a lot of meaning packed into a tight space, when people already try to avoid passive forms with participles. So perhaps stick to it only in writing!

Next time I’ll talk about using participles in an adverbial form (with the -e ending instead of -a), and why they allow you to be very expressive in a compact and neat way. While you wait, you can take a look at a past post on adverbs in Esperanto!

Hmm… Maybe…

A delightful little root/affix today: “ebl-” = “can be done”

A word of possibilities. It’s very simple but useful. First I’ll talk about its use as a word by itself (with the grammatical endings only), then it’s use in word building.

  • Ebla = Possible

This is the adjectival form, used to describe nouns (o-words).

  • La konversacio estas ebla = The conversation is possible.
  • La ebla konversacio = The possible conversation
  • Ebli = To be possible

The root “Ebl-” I think is quality like, which is why “Ebli” is “to be possible”. So you can use it to avoid the “estas” bit:

  • La konversacio eblas = The conversation is possible.
  • Eblo = Something which is possible (a particular thing)
  • Mi ne konsideros la eblon = I will not consider the possibility
  • Eble = maybe,possibly,perhaps.

I quite like how “eble” can be used to get a “might” construction using future tense:

  • Mi eble laboros = I maybe will work (=I might work)

I think this is nice too:

  • Ebligi = To make possible

Which uses the “-ig” suffix “to cause <root>” see previous posts 1,2,3,4.

When used as a suffix, I think it always has to be at the end of a verb. Because, it makes the idea of the root “possible”.

  • Legi = to read
  • Legebla = readable, possible to read, legible
  • Legeble = readably, legibly
  • Legebli = to be legible

Notice how most of the time the verb will have to be transitive (see previous posts on transitivity: 1,2). This means that it can take a direct object: how can something be readable if you can’t read something? The something is the object. If the verb was “to sleep”, “sleepable” doesn’t make sense. Because you don’t “sleep something”.

However the exceptions are intransitive verbs whose indirect objects or prepositionally related nouns can sometimes take the accusative.

E.g. the PMEG gives:

  • loĝi = to live (dwell)
  • loĝebla = liveable, place that can be lived in
  • loĝi ĝin = loĝi en ĝi = to live in it

Did you know that you can make 3 different words for “possibility” out of this suffix (see this post!)?

To suddenly know!

I was reading “Gerda Malaperis!” (Gerda disappeared!) by Claude Piron and came across this word: ekscii

Remember that “c”s are pronounced like “ts”s and those two “i”s are pronounced separately! Like:

  • ekst-see-ee

Not only does the word look bizarrely cool, but I thought the meaning was pretty nifty too.

“Ek-” is a prefix usually put on the front of an action, that makes a new word that emphasises the start, or sudden beginning of the action. See my previous post talking about it.

“Scii” (which in itself is a pretty interesting word, it’s the word I have most trouble pronouncing fluently in a sentence, especially when a word ending in “s” comes before it…) means “to know”.

So the result is literally something like “to suddenly know”. More usually translated as “to find out”! I’d been wondering how to say that in Esperanto, given that translating “find” and “out” together makes no sense… Find outside?

Thingy-majigs

Time to discuss uses of the suffix “aĵ”! By attaching this to a root, you make a word into a concrete thing (a definite instantiation) of the meaning of the root (Compare to the suffix “ec” which shows an abstract quality or state of the meaning of the root. Future post!)

The weird “ĵ” letter is pronounced like a french “j”. If you don’t know what this sounds like, then it’s also like the “s” in the English word “pleasure”.

I think it’s one of my favourite letters. I already loved “J”, but J with a circumflex above it? Splendid!

Okay. Your main use of “aĵ” is on quality-like roots (the ones that are naturally adjectives, see my post on the matter). Some examples are courtesy of PMEG, the main reference for this post.

  • bela = beautiful, belaĵo = a particularly beautiful thing, an instantiation of beauty
  • utila = useful, utilaĵo = a concrete thing which is useful
  • saĝa = wise, saĝaĵo = a concrete thing characterised by wisdom. Maybe a piece of wisdom (e.g. a saying)

See how a particular quality becomes an instantiation of that quality?

It can also be used on action-like roots (the ones that prefer being verbs). In this case the meaning is more varied. It can be a thing which is the result of the action, or does the action, or is used by the action, or is the object of the action, and more!

  • fari = to do/make, faraĵo = something that was done/made, is being done or made, or will be done/made.
  • desegni = to design/draw, desegnaĵo = something that was designed/drawn, a picture.
  • bruli = to burn, brulaĵo = something which burns
  • kovri = to cover, kovraĵo = something with which one covers
  • manĝi = to eat, manĝaĵo = something to eat, food.

Notice how with “fari”, “faraĵo” can be all sorts of variations on a theme (i.e. whether the thing was done, will be done, or is being done now). It is possible to be more specific using participles (adjectives made from verbs). More details in future posts but:

  • farataĵo = something that is being done/made
  • faritaĵo = something that was done/made
  • farotaĵo = something that will be done

Sometimes when you make a noun by using the “o” suffix, the new word can mean several things.

  • konstrui = to build/construct
  • konstruo = the action of building, manner of building, a built something (e.g. house)

If you wish to be more specific, “aĵ” can be your friend.

  • konstruaĵo = a built something

It reflects only the concrete manifestation meaning.

“Aĵ” can be used on all sorts of words to make an instantiation of something to do with the root.
I quite like one of the examples from PMEG:

  • mi = I
  • miaĵo = something that concerns me, or which belongs to me

It can even be used on words that are already concrete manifestations, like:

  • aŭto = car
  • aŭtaĵo = a car thing (thingy-majig!), some specific thing related to cars.

Another use you’ll find is on animal roots, in order to make the corresponding food:

  • porko = pig, porkaĵo = pork

And by itself as a noun “aĵo”, it means a concrete thing (of arbitrary type)!

Return!

I have now returned to England! ‘Twas a journey fraught with hassle and drunken people. But the time away was good! I’m now knee deep in all my stuff as I attempt to move house! But I shall attempt to return to some sort of normal schedule of posting. I’m surprised I managed to get regular posts out all last week, but my tiredness is definitely showing this week! I’m thinking up some more topics, and hopefully soon will have plenty to pollute the web with.

For now I’ll leave with you a word I came across in “Being Colloquial in Esperanto”:

  • Ekdormadi = To suddenly fall into a long slumber

I thought it was quite an achievement. Very pretty and very functional!

How is it made?

From the verb “dormi” = “to sleep”. The prefix “ek” creates the feeling of suddenly starting, or quite fleeting. For example, adding it to the verb “to look” would make “to glance”, or “to laugh” would be “to burst out laughing”.

Adding the suffix “ad” gives the idea of a continual action, a sustained action.

So… To suddenly fall into (ek-) a long/continual (-ad) sleep (dormi)!

Off to Edinburgh!

I’m afraid that I shall be away for a week! Going to Edinburgh. I shall endeavour to make some posts if I get time between events! However, there is indeed the chance that I will not have the time!

Today, I’ll leave you with an amusing colloquial word I came across reading some Esperanto material:

  • maltrinki = to pee

It is made up of: the prefix “mal” and the root word “trink-” and the verb ending. “Trinki” means “to drink”. “Mal” when attached to a word, renders the opposite meaning. Similar to “un-” in English. So if “bona” = “good” (which it does), then “malbona” = “bad”. So here “maltrinki” means “to un-drink”, therefore, “pee”!

Certainly made me giggle. And of course there are far more clinical terms for the action… but who needs those with gems like these? 🙂

Become out of bed

A simple little post today. I was charmed by a delightful combination of little words:

  • Ellitiĝi = to get out of bed / to get up (El-li-Ti-ji).
  • Mi ellitiĝis = I got out of bed.

Made from:

  • El = out of
  • Lito = bed
  • Iĝi = to become (though this suffix is important and interesting and will receive more attention in future posts!)

So “elliti” = “to be out of bed” (from ellit-: concept of out of bed). By adding “iĝi” one makes it “to become out of bed”, in other words, get up, get out of bed.

I thought it seemed quite neat!

Action, Quality, Thing.

For the sake of future posts, word roots types are the topic for today. This is an important concept in Esperanto for understanding how we build words.

Most words in Esperanto can be said to consist of a root and an ending. Where the root gives the word the core meaning, and the ending marks whether it’s a noun/adjective/verb etc. and its tense, mood, or plurality.

And these endings are productive! The verb form may not be in the dictionary, but we can just use a verbal ending to make it. We can even smoosh roots together for new core meanings before assigning the endings.

But the main point today, is one that has only been touched on in previous posts. That is, that roots are not these neutral creatures that have no properties or characteristics of their own until they receive their endings.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll rarely see a root by itself twiddling its thumbs. They do in most cases need these endings in a sentence. However, they do have their own properties. There are different classifications of root word. And depending on which classification a root lies in, they act in different ways when different roots or endings are applied to them.

An example in the PMEG is the comparison between “brosi” (to brush) and “kombi” (to comb). Their roots are “bros-” and “komb-“. The “i” shows that they are being used as verb infinitives (as in “I want to comb/brush my hair”).

So what happens when we change them to nouns with our handy noun suffix “o”?

“broso” means “brush”. But “kombo” means… The action of combing!!! As in “My hair needs a combing”. What. The. Hell… Why? We did exactly the same thing, with very similar words!

It’s all because of the roots. “Komb-” is an action-like root. “Bros-” is a thing-like root. When you add the noun ending to a thing root (bros-) it just means the thing. But when you add it to an action root, it means “the action of <root>”. There are other ways to achieve what we want with these roots: knowing that “komb-” is an action root, but that we want the word for “comb” we can use the tool-like suffix “il”, “Kombilo” means “(a) comb”. Conversely, we can use the continual action suffix “ad” on “bros-” if we wanted “the action of brushing”, “brosado”.

This may seem unnecessarily complicated at first, but once the idea is internalised, it makes the process of word-building a lot more foolproof and interpret-able.

There are three main classes with respect to the the characteristics above: action-like, quality-like, and thing-like (like verb, adjective, noun).

Though we could define subcategories. Since within the class of thing-like words, for example, there are tool words, profession words, people words, animal words. All of these will have slightly different interactions (that are usually quite obvious don’t worry).

The point of this post is to create awareness of this fact rather than talk about all possible different interactions of these words (Or I’d be basically translating the PMEG). I’ll give you a few examples of the different roots, and in future posts I’ll talk about interesting things you can do with different roots. For example, it’s not always enough to say “oh this suffix changes the meaning of words to X”. Often one must say “When applied to quality-like roots the meaning is X, with thing-like roots Y…” (Check out this post, which shows how the verb ending interacts with a few different root classes).

Quality-like roots inherently show description, the quality or characteristics of something:

  • blu-: blua = blue
  • saĝ-: saĝa = wise
  • bel-: bela = beautiful

These words naturally lend themselves to the “a” ending of adjectives, describing words.

Action-like roots inherently show action, or state.

  • kur-: kuri = to run
  • rid-: ridi = to laugh
  • kant-: kanti = to sing

The words naturally lend themselves to the “i” ending of verb infinitives (and other verb endings). The “i” shows you the action you expect from the root, and then other affixes will derive meaning from the different interpretations of the action.

Thing-like roots are those that fit into neither of the above, being about either concrete things, or concepts.

  • tabl-: tablo = (a) table
  • hund-: hundo = (a) dog

They lend themselves to the noun ending “o”. They will action differently than the previous categories when participating in word building.

Continue to endure!

Possibly confusing words today! Following on from the theme of the last post; check it out if you don’t know what I mean by transitivity.

The word “daŭri” is often translated as “continue”, but this can be misleading. Your first defence is to think of it as “to endure/last”.

  • Li ne daŭros = He will not last/endure/continue

This is an intransitive use of the verb; there is no object. The action “lasting” is what the subject “he” is doing, it’s not doing anything to an object.

However, in English we use “continue” in the following way too:

  • He continued his speech

Notice here, that there’s an object! See how the object – the speech – is being continued, rather than the subject “he” as in “he will continue/endure”. This is a different meaning!

This is where the “ig” suffix comes in handy again! The easiest way to make a verb transitive (so it acts on an object) is to give it this suffix. Then a subject can cause an object to do something.

So “daŭrigi” means “to cause to continue/ to continue <something>”:

  • Li daŭrigis sian rakonton = he continued his story

Notice how it must have an object. He must be causing something to continue. So what happens if you don’t say anything after “daŭrigi”? An object is implied!

  • Li daŭrigis = He continued

This does not imply that he endured or lasted! Instead it implies he continued something, caused something to continue.

Conversely, if you see “daŭri” before words that are receiving the accusative “n” (so ordinarily they should be objects), despite the fact that daŭri is intransitive and so shouldn’t take a direct object, then this is something else…

In future posts, I will explain the different uses of the accusative “n”, just note that you may see such constructions as:

  • Mi daŭros du monatojn = I will last/endure [for] two months.

Notice how the amount of time is in the accusative. The amount of time isn’t an object of the verb, nothing is being done to the time, the accusative here is just showing a relation between the action and the duration of it. No doubt there’ll be more about this in future!

Interesting thoughts

I thought I’d share with everyone, someone’s interesting advice about learning Esperanto. I can’t remember where I got the advice, so it could be from the Lernu.net forums, or one of the books I’ve been reading. At the time I read it, I thought it was pretty interesting, but only as I continue to bear it in mind does it become more and more helpful.

It’s easy to fall into a trap when learning a new language (at least for me it is!), whereby as you learn, you map each new word to a particular word in your native language. Often this can work out okay, like memorising “kato = cat”, but often it doesn’t. Sometimes one word in English will have far more different uses than is sensible with the “equivalent” word in Esperanto, and vice versa.

Coming from English (and certainly other languages) to Esperanto, one of the biggest problems where this style of learning gets you into bother is with verb transitivity. The idea that some verbs describe actions that happen between a subject and object(s), and others describe things that happen to the subject, unrelated to anything else.

  • “She ran”. In this phrase, “she” is the subject and running is the action. “To run” is intransitive here: it is an action that the subject performs, it is not performed on/to an object.
  • “She hit him”. In this phrase, “she” is the subject, and is performing a hitting action on the object “him”. “Hit” is therefore transitive.

But English is a spaghetti mess of a language, and as such, tonnes of its verbs can have entirely different meanings depending on whether or not you give them an object; you can just arbitrarily use the same word as intransitive or transitive.

  • “The water boiled”. Intransitive! The subject is water, and it is hot and bubbling, the boiling is happening to the subject.
  • “She boiled the water”. Transitive! So… what?! If we were to take “boil” to mean the same thing as the first phrase, then “she” (the subject) would be boiling, and how is “the water” then to be interpreted? But that’s not the case, “boil” now means “to cause to boil”!

A problem arises because Esperanto isn’t a mess, it’s really quite neat.

I’ve only come across 7 verbs in Esperanto that can be both transitive and intransitive, and in these cases it made sense to do so, the meaning didn’t shift like in “boil”, the subject was always performing the same action, but it just happened to be possible to do it with or without a recipient of the action (You’ll have to make noises like you’re interested if you want to know which ones, and get me to justify my view here! :D).

So let’s take “boli” = “to boil”

  • La akvo bolis = The water boiled.

Here, the water is bubbling and boiling itself. It didn’t cause anything to boil; the verb “boli” is intransitive, it cannot take an object!

  • *Ŝi bolis la akvon* makes as little sense as the English interpretation above where “she” is bubbling and boiling, and we don’t know what the water is doing. In Esperanto “boli” can only be used about the thing that is bubbling.

In order to get the other meaning we must change the word. Verbs in Esperanto can be made transitive by adding “ig” to the end. It’s like saying “to cause to <root>”, so “boligi” = “to cause to boil”:

  • Mi boligis la akvon = I boiled the water / I caused the water to boil.

So, the problem we often have is remembering what’s intransitive and what’s transitive, so we know how to use a word, for which there is perhaps just a single word in English.

So here comes the simple advice. Do not learn words by their English equivalents, learn them by picturing the concepts, imagining the actions, then you’ll never mistake them.

Which makes complete sense. If you imagine the scene of bubbling and boiling of the subject for “boli”, you’ll never mistakenly put “ŝi” in front of it unless she herself is actually bubbling and boiling! So I’ve been trying not to translate sentences or words, but capture their meaning and what thoughts and feelings they evoke. It certainly feels like it’s allowing me to progress faster!