Nuboj en la kosmo

Nuboj en la kosmo

Bela kaj bone vortigita blogaĵo pri interesa temo !

Scivolemo

Homoj, kiuj regule uzas teleskopon scias ke nenio estas pli ĝena ol nuboj. Malgraŭ tio, multaj el la plej belaj strukturoj en la kosmo estas nubegoj. Ne temas pri nuboj el akvo, kiel tiuj, kiujn oni vidas surtere, sed nuboj el jonoj, gasoj kaj polveroj. Ili troviĝas ekster la sunsistemo, sed ja videblas kiel svagaj makuloj en multaj teleskopoj. Pro tio, ili nomiĝas nebulozoj, laŭ la Latina vorto ”nebula”, kiu signifas nebulo aŭ nubo. Kosma turisto ankoraŭ povus rigardi ĉirkaŭ si tamen. Malgraŭ tio ke nebulozoj estas miloj da fojoj pli densaj ol ”malplenaj” partoj de la universo, ili daŭre estas malpli densaj ol la plej bonaj vakuoj, kiujn inĝenieroj povas krei surtere. Se oni plenigus botelon de 1L en nebulozo, oni tipe kaptus kelkajn milionojn da atomoj. Tio sonas kiel granda kvanto, sed se oni farus la saman sur la surfaco de la Tero, oni fakte kaptus ĉirkaŭ 1022 

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Meloy: ilùi estoit nosay maystroy

pexels-photo-1006094

Remember how last time I got utterly nerdy on yo asses? Well it’s only gonn’ get worse.

I think I’ve already mentioned that I’m ever so slowly writing a little Esperanto novella, a fantasy parody. In this book, there are ridiculous sorcerers, and exceedingly ridiculous spells, and I wanted magic to be associated with archaic language and full of mystery, as often one does.

Non-artificial languages are steeped in history, it’s easy to pick an ancestor, like Latin, and make such use of it for this goal. But what about Esperanto?

Well, we do have over 120 years of history, but we have the Fundamento, and we make a considerable effort to make sure the core of Esperanto stays the same, so everyone can always understand each other. Have you ever read Esperanto text by the creator of Esperanto himself? Not only was he incredibly eloquent with the language, but he’s also perfectly understandable from all that time ago. If you’re interested in how he responded to people’s questions about the language’s grammar, like I was, read the “Lingvaj Respondoj“. Esperanto has indeed changed over time (take a peek here for more info), but nothing like the difference between Spanish and Latin.

So what can be done? Well, of course someone way smarter than me has already thought such a thing would be bloody cool. Have you ever heard of Arcaicam Esperatom? Archaic Esperanto (AEo)? It’s like an Esperanto code, designed to make Esperanto like the difference between Middle English and Modern English or somethin’.

The best easy-access description of it I’ve found is the Esperanto-language wiki-page on the topic. It purposely adds complexity to the language, like more noun cases and verb conjugations, and gives it a slightly Latinesque feel. The title of this post is the Archaic Esperanto for the following:

Badgers: they will be our masters

Meloj: ili estos niaj majstroj

Sooo, all my sorcerers’ spells will be some lump of archaic obfuscation 😀 I’m thinking I’ll try to make spells be AEo tongue-twisters, or poems. Or perhaps in the realm of the more silly: food recipes, or instructions for electrical appliances, always spoken with great seriousness, because no sorcerer now knows the true meaning of the words!

See if you can translate the sentence below to archaic Esperanto!

The courageous fish, whom the badger had quietly killed, had been travelling from Paris to Shanghai.

La kuraĝa fiŝo, kiun la melo mallaŭte mortigis, antaŭe vojaĝadis de Parizo al Ŝanĥajo.

Boisterous Bajoran Buffoonery: badger disguised in costume crashes sci-fi convention

sky-lights-space-dark

I’m a trifle nerdy, and that’s setting off my understatement-o-meter. But whether or not you are too, you’ve probably heard this quote before:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Your brain may even have read it in a commanding captain’s voice. Then a massive wind up, and POW; we’re in warp. Daa, dadada, dadada BOM BOM, dadadada da daa daa daaaa dadada daaa, –

Ahem. *lays down trumpet*

Anyway, I’ve always remarked, as I’m sure many before me have, that the ending line is so punchy.

To boldly go….

Some of you may remember certain school teachers of English language endlessly chastising you for splitting infinitives: this process of instead of keeping the “to” with its “go”, you split it with a word describing the action.

To ceaselessly battle.

To tirelessly study.

Many seem to consider it bad style. And often it can look clumsy. But I think there’s a place for it. It certainly feels at home in that Star Trek quote. And it’s that quote that fuelled me to ignore my English teacher! What if it were “to go boldly”?! Doesn’t that sound lame? Generally, the real way of getting around a split infinitive involves rephrasing completely. But dat ain’t needed nor wanted here, son.

ANYWAY. Why did I bring this up? You’ve probably realised that in many languages, you simply cannot split the infinitive, because it is only one word!

Take Esperanto: infinitives are the i-forms of verbs:

  • danci = to dance
  • ami = to love
  • iri = to go
  • tedanci = to do the tea dance (makes tea rain from the sky!).

I certainly can’t put “boldly” in the middle of “iri”.

So this got me thinking. How do we translate this? And is it as punchy? And is there anything we can do if it ain’t so punchy?

So the most naive translation I can come up with for that bit is this:

  • iri aŭdace kien neniu iris antaŭe (literally: to go boldly where no one has gone before)

Now, you gotta admit, that iri aŭdace — iris antaŭe combo really does give it a nice rhythm. BUT, you may disagree, but it really does read like “to go boldly” to me; it makes sense, but the punchiness is gone. It’s like a normal utterance. The power of the boldness word is lost.

What are our options? Well, in Esperanto, given the slightly freer word-order, a common technique for applying emphasis is to bring the word requiring emphasis to the beginning of the phrase, if this is permitted:

  • aŭdace iri kien neniu iris antaŭe (literally: boldly (to) go where no one has gone before)

Despite the unfortunate consequence that pronouncing “-ce” then “iri”  is a little less pretty, this really does bring back some umph, don’t you think? You get right to main point in the first word – BOOM, not even having to say a pesky “to”! (The thing that stops this starting to translate like “boldly going where…”, is how the paragraph begins: “it’s continuing mission: to X, to Y, to Z.” i.e. not “Xing, Ying, Zing”.)

There is another tool on Esperanto’s belt of course VORTFARADO!!! (or word-building…).

  • aŭdaciri kien neniu antaŭe iris (literally: boldy-go where no one before has gone)

Notice I change the order of “antaŭe” and “iris” to maintain the rhythm (aŭdaciri — antaŭe iris), purely poetic and unnecessary 😛

Now, what’s going on ‘ere then. “Aŭdaciri”? can I just go and do that? This is actually more than just just boldly going (as you may know if you’re familiar with this section of the PMEG). This is like a special kind of going, a kind of going that is by its very nature, daring and bold. Exploring the dangerous bits, inviting new trouble, poking your nose into the fresh-universe-snow. The going is defined by the daring.

Why? I’ll explain with the PMEG example. You can’t just go around sticking on adjectives and adverbs (a-words and e-words) to things and expect them to mean the same plain old thing:

  • dika = thick
  • fingro = finger
  • dikfingro = thumb
  • dika fingro = thick finger

Get my drift? If you join those words together, you are saying that its very nature is highly influenced by the attached property; we’re not talking about just a slightly thicker finger here; this finger is something else, it’s set apart, and one of its defining apartnesses is its thickness compared to a normal finger.

We’re not just being bold while we go through the universe; we’re bloody well pioneering for our species, our whole movement through the universe is about audacity and facing the new, the strange, the tough, and the scary head-on. THAT is how we are going through the universe.

How’s that for punchy?

(Note: an acceptable translation for “boldly” might have been “kuraĝe”, with more connotations of courageousness. But that is like boldness against fear. When what I think we really want here, is boldness in the face of trials of our morality, understanding, strength, etc. I.e. not necessarily things that make us afraid, but things that make us confront our own darkness and thought, and struggle to find the right path. A pretty lofty goal, hence audacity, intrepidity).

Pearls of wisdom

Recently, I bought a newly published book called “Star in a Night Sky“, which is an anthology of Esperanto literature accompanied by the English translations. The literature includes both original works and translations.

So, some posts may arise from what I find there! Today, for example, is about Esperanto proverbs.

Do you ever think about how peppered with proverbs and sayings general conversation is? Sometimes a simple one-liner proverb succinctly states a possibly complicated idea. Proverbs really enrich a language, and Esperanto should be no different!

Through reading the book I found that L. L. Zamenhof’s* father had created a collection of thousands of proverbs and their equivalents in Russian, Polish, French and German. He had also begun adding Esperanto equivalents, but unfortunately died before he could complete his work. It’s quite sweet that the father would undertake such a thing in the dreamt-up language of his son! Made me chuckle.

Fortunately, the younger Zamenhof took up the work, naming the completed project “Proverbaro Esperanta” (Esperanto proverb collection). A quick google search will give you numerous versions of this text.

Obviously, some national language proverbs can be very idiomatic, but Esperanto’s need to be fairly internationally understood. There’s nothing stopping them being colourful and neat though!

I picked out a few I liked, and gave them literal (more or less) translations. Leave me a comment if you need any explanation as to what wisdom they’re trying to impart:

  1. inter lupoj kriu lupe = among wolves, howl like a wolf
  2. mankas klapo en lia kapo = a valve’s missing in his head
  3. inter la blinduloj reĝas la strabuloj = among the blind, the cross-eyed is king
  4. ĉiu tajloro havas sian tranĉmanieron = each tailor has his own way of cutting
  5. troa petolo danĝera al kolo = undue frolicking is dangerous for the neck

* The creator of Esperanto, which you should probably know by now!

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!

Phew!

Wow… So little free time lately. Mostly I blame work. Massive drive to get some thesis work done at the moment. A little to blame is a new computer game though…

Fear not, the Esperanto is still progressing. As soon as I find something to write about and get the time, I shall do so… I haven’t forgotten about this place! 😀

Brain cram

I’ve been buried under a mound of vocabulary! Forcing my brain to accept vocab any way I can. One particular method seems to be working so far: memrise.com

It’s really neat, users submit wordlists and the website helps you learn the lists. Esperanto wordlists include the wordlists for the Lernu.net exams, the most common Esperanto words, vocab lists from various Esperanto books etc.

The website introduces new words to you, and asks you to select them from among words you’ve learnt so far. Every time you get something wrong, it remembers and presents that word more often. If you confuse it with the same words every time, it’ll pick you up on that. The better you are at getting a word, the more difficult the task gets (instead of selecting the word, you must type it), and the less often you get asked about it.

It’s basically managing my forgetfulness for me 😀

Another useful thing I’ve come across is “Traduku!”, a book found at the Esperanto Association of Britain. It’s a compilation of 56 English passages of text which appeared as translation tasks in The British Esperantist. Each passage has notes about the difficult to translate bits, and a model answer by William Auld. It’s really fun and challenging, if you enjoy being picky about language, then it’s awesome 😛

It’s ready!

Go here immediately! You can sign in with a Lernu account.

It’s finally ready! So many usage examples and explanations of meaning!

I’m currently lost in a spiral of looking up words and following references to other words!

Yes. I’m actually finding looking things up in a dictionary fun, so what? 😀

I’ll be back soon

Last week, my dad unexpectedly died. I find myself unable to express in either English or Esperanto, just how much he means to me, and how much I miss him already. He inspired me in many ways, and I owe much of who I am, to him.

I always wanted to make him proud, and one day be inspired by me in return. I’ll honour him by never giving up that goal, always striving to be better. That way, it will be his memory that has a hand in all I achieve, and so he’ll always be alive in me.

So hopefully I’ll be back posting soon.

As for the rest of the world, he left you things like this, epic songs featuring his awesome bass-guitaring, kindly uploaded by someone on youtube.

I’ll remember him with every note I play.

How do I say Andy in Esperanto?

Surprise Sunday Stuff! I was thoroughly amused by the “site stats” of my blog today. You may know that wordpress tells the blog owner which search terms people use that lead them to their site. And today, someone found my blog by searching with the words “how do I say Andy in Esperanto”!

I decided to write a little weekend post about some of the ways people have found me via search!

Two reasons you might want to Esperantisize your name, are:

  1. To be able to use it like any other Esperanto word (apply suffixes etc.): maybe use “Andreo” for “Andrew” (all nouns must end in “o”, and all names are nouns!). Then you can say: ŝi rigardis Andreon (she looked at Andrew).
  2. To make it obvious to a person who doesn’t share your native tongue, but does know Esperanto, how to pronounce your name. So I might use “Andi” for “Andy”, because Esperanto doesn’t have a “y”, and I expect people to pronounce “Andy” as in the made up Esperanto word “Andi”

You might also get “Andy” by applying a diminutive to “Andreo”, like how in English we got from “Jonathan” to “Johnny”. You just chop the word an put “ĉjo” on the end (“njo” for the ladies):

  • Andreo, Andreĉjo, Anĉjo

Though while I really do like “njo”, I’m not to0 keen on “ĉj”.

Search: “Should i revisit an old flame?”

They found me because a long while ago, I made a post with a similar title here. I doubt they were expecting to find someone blabbing on about Esperanto!

Search: “Adjectives for frolicking”

I can’t help it. When I get excited, grammatical concepts and words take up strange forms of their own, and they end up being described in odd ways. As in my previous post: Adjectives and their Antics.

Search: “Esperanto word attraction” 

Having an entire category called “Alluring Words” probably set me up for this one!

Search: “My heart beats fast – transitive or intransitive”

Intransitive! Fast is just an adverb modifying the verb (the beating is fast); it’s not a direct object. The heart is doing the beating, it’s a state that the heart is in, it’s not doing the action to something else.

Search: “Badger in esperanzo”

Aside from the spelling error, I have noticed a large number of my examples being invaded by badgers… Troubling.

Verse 33

Just for fun, I decided to translate one of my favourite verses of the Tao Te Ching (a Taoist text). I have a book with a few different English translations, and the characters used in the ancient chinese text, with explanations about their shades of meaning and how they go together. So first, I translated my favourite English version into Esperanto, and then I produced a translation from the explanations of the chinese characters (Because my chinese is awful, and I know even less about more ancient forms of it!).

Turns out that (if I haven’t made grave errors), Esperanto can get much closer to the format of the original characters in a nice way, than English can.

So here’s what I got from translating the chinese characters directly:

Konante aliajn, oni inteligentas.
Konante sin, oni saĝas.

Venkante aliajn, oni fortas.
Venkante sin, oni ĉiopovas.

Forte alpaŝante vivon, oni ja akiras ion.
Kontentante pri sia vivo, oni ja akiras ĉion.

Dediĉante sin al sia vivejo, oni vivas longe.
Mortante tamen ne forgesote, oni ja vivas eterne.

So, making quite a literal English translation of this, you get:

In knowing others, one is intelligent.
In knowing oneself, one is wise.

In conquering others, one is strong.
In conquering oneself, one is all-powerful.

Approaching life forcefully, one surely gets something.
In being content in one’s life, one surely gets everything.

In being dedicated to one’s place, one lives long.
In dying but not being forgotten, on surely lives forever.

In my opinion, the English version in this style looks stunted and not flowing, it needs more gumpf to make it sound nice (I already had to add all those “in”s!). This is the style that the book I have goes for:

One who knows others is intelligent
One who knows onself is enlightened

And even here, most lines have to be prefixed with “one who”. It kinda helps it flow, and sometimes repetition is part of rhythm, but I think I’m beginning to prefer Esperanto here!

My Esperanto version is much closer to the ordering and use of the chinese characters than this English version (especially given that the Esperanto words mostly map one-to-one with the characters). I just found this interesting!

I also found the following interesting whilst translating:

  • ĉiopova = all-powerful, omnipotent. Literally “everything-able” or like “able to do everything”. I thought this was a nice construction. Not my own, I stumbled across it.
  • alpaŝi = to approach, to tackle, to deal with. “paŝi” means “to tread, to stride, to stalk”, and “al” means “to, toward”. I thought that was another neat construction to stumble across!

Some things I was unsure about:

  • I use “ejo” on the penultimate line. I use it because I’m not talking about any old place “loko”. I’m talking about the place one has in the world, ones own path through the universe. EDIT: changed to “vivejo” (vivo = life),see comments below. I love the idea of a “life-place”.
  • “Ne forgesote” = “not going to be forgotten, not being forgotten” on the last line. “Forgesi” = “to forget”. Here we want “to be forgotten” so we use a passive participle (-ot suffix rather than -ont), I’m sure of this. But I wasn’t sure if it should be “ne forgesate” = “not being forgotten” (present tense), however I felt that this implied that one need only not be forgotten in the present, whereas the true meaning is to never be forgotten, so future tense “ne forgesote”.Another alternative was “ne forgesiĝante” = “not becoming forgotten”, or “ne forgesiĝonte” = “not going to become forgotten. But after I thought of using the future tense “forgesote”, the “become” bit of these alternatives seemed to be unnecessary extra baggage.

An open question:

  • I use “Kontentante pri sia vivon…” = “Being content with one’s life…”. Could this be entirely replaced by “viv-kontentante” does that make sense? From the verb “vivkontenti” = “to be content with life, to be life-content”.Similarly, I use “Dediĉante sin al sia ejo” = “Dedicating oneself to one’s place”. Could I replace this with “Ej-dediĉante sin” = “place-dedicating oneself”.

Do comment if there are any errors! Or if you wish to ask about any of it.

Bookworm

I was recently asked on the “Looking for Answers?” page (where you can ask me things to see if I’ve blogged about them, and if I haven’t, I may do!) about what kinds of Esperanto books I use or courses I use, in order to learn Esperanto!

I decided that this was a particularly good idea, not only because I might highlight learning tools that you didn’t know about, but also because you might know of learning tools that I don’t know about! So don’t hesitate to suggest them, especially if they fit with my style of learning, so I’ll add a little information about how I like to learn too, maybe you’ll find it useful, or have suggestion for me.

So, I use a number of different things, because sometimes I’m only in the mood for certain kinds of learning. I’ve always found vocabulary difficult to build in foreign languages, but grammar to be intensely interesting. So perhaps ill-advisedly, I often spend hours poring over grammatical documents with a contented distant grin. In an effort to counter this obvious bias, I try to frequently look up a Wikipedia article and read the Esperanto version, so that I might continue to expand my vocabulary.

I’ve also begun reading various Esperanto fiction: “La Hobito” and “Gerda Malaperis”. The Esperanto Hobbit is still very taxing on my brain, and I find myself looking up words a lot, but it’s an old favourite, so I’m very much helped by my knowledge of the English version. “Gerda Malaperis” is probably more sensible. It starts off incredibly basic, with only dialogue, like a play. It slowly progresses into more complex prose, and often repeats sentences in slightly different ways to cement the vocab (which is also listed in a separate wordlist). Because this book is rather set out like a learning-to-read book. But I found it interesting, unlike my memories of learning to read English books! I also try to read aloud, and pay attention to pronunciation.

For courses, I follow Kellerman’s Complete Grammar of Esperanto. It suits me perfectly, because every lesson, it gives me my fix of interesting grammatical points (explained very clearly with examples) and a small list of vocabulary (I can absorb lots of grammar but not too much vocab in one go). Then provides exercises for translating to and from Esperanto (I only wish it had the answers too!). They vary in difficulty and don’t leave you thinking you can only handle basic translations (like much of the Spanish exercise books I’ve experienced for example). It’s very long and detailed, but each lesson is very short, so you can always delve in for short periods at a time, and you always feel like you’re progressing.

I’ve also been following the “Ana” courses on Lernu.net. They have a listening exercise component that I’d been missing for a long while. I wouldn’t want to learn grammar from just these lessons (though they provide links to more info), but it’s very useful for vocabulary building and listening skills.

I had never come across Jen Nia Mondo before! But the description sounds very good! I’m going to start with it. I could do with some Esperanto listening exercises that I can do on the go!

No doubt, when my university studies aren’t taking up so much time, I will begin a correspondence course, because I feel like once I reach a certain level, I want someone who’s being dealing in Esperanto for years to help me improve more, and rid me of bad habits.

Also when I’m more confident with listening and speaking, I will no doubt hassle people for Skype conversations, given that my university has stopped doing an Esperanto course only this year! 😦 Lame!

Being Colloquial in Esperanto was great once I’d learnt the basics. It expands on the basics and talks about anything that might catch you out. There’s lots of little interesting bits, and a massive section on troublesome words. It was also a massive help on learning about participles.

Once my reading skills were starting to catch on, I starting reading over the Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko. And I was surprised at how detailed it was. It talks about so many little nuances that had never occurred to me, and really opened my eyes about the grammar of Esperanto. Definitely a favourite.

Has anyone read the “Plena Analiza Gramatiko de Esperanto”? Any good? How current is the latest version? How does it compare to PMEG?

I also found this page very helpful with word building in Esperanto. Before I could read PMEG, it introduced me to the idea of roots being of different types (action,object etc.).

For dictionaries, I’m waiting on the online version of the PIV (because I’m poor!), which they say will be in test-form by the end of the year. For now I make use of Lernu.net’s dictionary, and Reta-Vortaro mostly.

When trying to look up how words are used, but can’t find a related bit of grammar, I often turn to Tekstaro, a collection of Esperanto texts that you can search through automatically using patterns of letters. E.g. “bol\VF” will search for all verb forms of the verb “boli”. It will then show the contexts that the results occurred in. Very useful!

And finally, I badger the people on Lernu 😀

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? 🙂

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!

The collection begins.

My collection of Esperanto books has begun. Thanks to the Esperanto Association of Britain (EAB). They have a fair amount in their bookstore. I can’t believe I didn’t notice before.

I now have “La Hobito” (Esperanto version of “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, one of my favourite authors) and the Plena Manlibro de Esperanta Gramatiko (linked to the online version). Despite it being free to read online, the amount that I just browse it led me to desire a paper copy to sift through. Also on its way is Being Colloquial in Esperanto (link to online version) by David K. Jordan, not written in Esperanto, but sounded like an interesting read and the EAB had some in stock (The UK Amazon attempted to charge me £40 for it)!

So I’m going to curl up in my very cushioned chair with a cup of tea and the PMEG and come up with the next few posts!

Anyone who can suggest some interesting sci-fi/fantasy Esperanto (translation or original) books that I might move onto next, comment below!

My name is Andy, and I have an addiction.

I admit, I have a weird attraction to Esperanto. We met properly a couple of months back, but we’ve flirted for years. And now I’m addicted. So instead of estranging my friends and family by subjecting them to more tales of the wonderful language, I’ve decided to pollute the interwebs with my rantings.So for the unfortunate uninitiated, Esperanto is a constructed language. It is a gorgeous and strange but familiar language. It has a vocabulary with its roots in european languages, and a mostly familiar grammar but with some significant (and interesting) quirks. It is entirely regular, rules have no exceptions. It is an easy language to learn, but yet so expressive, due to some nifty features of the language. However, the aim of this blog, at least to start with, is not going to be a introduction to Esperanto, nor a tutorial. I just want to discuss those aspects of the language that tickle me, and make me want to learn more. So here’s a last note about learning Esperanto before I continue:

The best guide I’ve found for actually sitting down and learning the language is:”A complete grammar of Esperanto” by Ivy Kellerman. You can read for free here,  or buy on Amazon or something. It’s not a set of grammar rules. It teaches you vocabulary and provides exercises, as a part of a way of introducing the grammatical concepts in a digestible way.The best website for discussions of aspects of Esperanto, a dictionary, exercises, and courses is lernu.net

Lastly, if I get any fact, linguistic or otherwise, about Esperanto wrong, if there’s someone who knows the right answer, let me know!