Looking for answers?

I recently noticed that I have written a bathtub worth of blog posts now. While I think that regular readers, and people with only a glancing interest in the latest post will have no problem with this, I think this presents a problem for those looking for particular answers.

It doesn’t seem quite right that there might be information about a topic someone’s after, lurking in the first few pages of posts but never gets noticed.

So perhaps you’ve tried a quick search but haven’t found that issue you’re after? Leave a comment on this page with the topic you have in mind. I’ll let you know if I’ve blogged about it, and point you to the place if I have!

If I haven’t blogged about it, and the topic is interesting, I may make a post in the near future!

52 thoughts on “Looking for answers?

  1. Greetings! There are so many Esperanto links that seem to have dead-stopped around 2008 or so. This was the first that popped up when I looked for 2019. I have dabbled, dropped, dabbled…something keeps me nibbling on ESO.
    My question; Ĉu kafon vi deziras? Can you just ask “Ĉu kafon deziras?” or simply “Kafon?”
    Add-on question now that I am thinking on it. Are pronouns used always? “Mi deziras kukojn.”
    Do we need ‘Mi’ when speaking?

    I appreciate your time and energy spent. Look forward to learning more.


    • Hi there! I hope you continue to dabble!

      Now this is a question I’ve mulled much myself, but have yet to find a complete answer. I’ll share what I’ve observed so far:

      1. Dropping the “mi” doesn’t seem to be done. It looks weird too. I’d ask myself “who desires?”.
      2. There are situations in which the pronoun is omitted. This is usually when the subject would be “it” but “it” is not really referring to anything. E.g. “it’s raining” is just “pluvas”.
      3. It’s probably already obvious to you, but in second person commands it’s omitted (like English): kuru! = run!
      4. In casual speech with the appropriate context, missing off the third person pronouns seem to work sometimes. In fact, I saw a wikipedia article on the matter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null-subject_language#Esperanto
      e.g. Ĉu vi vidas lin? Venas nun
      See how the previous sentence sets off our expectation, and the need to repeat isn’t necessary.
      5. “Ĉu kafon deziras?” to me translates as “is coffee desired?” so sorta makes sense, though does give me a bit of confusion. I’ve not seen its use or seen it come up in the PMEG as rule.
      6. I think much more likely to come up, is the alternative you suggest with just “coffee?”. And I feel like it would be more likely to be “kafo?”. I’ve not seen clear guidance about when the “n” is appropriate for truncated phrases. You’re obviously drawing parallels with “saluton” etc. but I think they are a little enshrined in tradition. But I’m open to correction here.

      I’d be interested in anything you find on this matter. Perhaps I’ll try and reach out to some veteran ‘sperantists. Good luck!


  2. Mi eklernis Esperanton antaŭ nur ok tagoj, kaj tial mi demandos en la angla:

    While learning Esperanto on DuoLingo, I suddenly realised a potential ambiguity in the verb paroli.

    “Paroli” which should be intransitive in the sense to talk and transitive in the sense of speaking a particular language does on the surface of it look fine, but there is one major problem: It seems to be used both in the sense “to be able to speak”, and “to speak”, which are two completely different things.

    Mi parolas Esperanton = I can speak Esperanto / I speak Esperanto / I am speaking Esperanto.
    In English, the second meaning can mean the same as both the first and third one: it is potentially ambiguous to the extent that even context might not save it.

    Shouldn’t it be “Mi povas parli Esperanton” when you are indicating that you know the language, leaving the other sense of parli for specifying which language you are talking in other context?

    If “mi parolas Esperanton” could mean both, are there any better ways of disambiguating between the two meanings?



    • Saluton 🙂

      If I’m understanding you correctly, I think the ambiguity you’re seeing is actually just a natural logical entailment; if one speaks Esperanto then one must be able to speak it (to some degree). Even in English “I speak Esperanto” is ambiguous as to whether you are fluent or just speak a few expressions.

      In Esperanto, we’d use similar tactics to emphasise how much we truly speak it, if the context left too much ambiguity:

      I speak a little Esperanto = Mi iomete parolas Esperanton
      I speak Esperanto fluently = Mi flue parolas Esperanton

      I think even “Mi povas paroli Esperanton” holds similar ambiguity, though I’ll grant that the “povas” implies a little more than just a few expressions.

      Hope that helps! Good luck 🙂


      • Thanks for your quick answer.

        Actually that doesn’t clear it up completely, and your example leads me into my follow-up question:

        What if you wanted to say “I am speaking a little Esperanto” without making any implications about ability or not. You couldn’t say what should be the most obvious way to put it: “Mi iomete parolas Esperanton” as that now implies lack of ability.


        • Hmm, part of the problem is that when you look at most kinds of phrases in total isolation, you can tease out several different potential meanings. This is especially true with the very simple Esperanto tenses, which frequently cover a multitude of possibilities.

          I’m fairly certain that context would disambiguate here, but otherwise there’s usually little helper words to specify finer shades of meaning. Such as “nun” to make “parolas” more likely to sound like “am speaking” rather than “speak”.

          As for a phrase that means “I’m speaking a little Esperanto” which unambiguously has no implications concerning ability… I’m not sure that’s possible… of any action. “I am welding” & “I am welding a little” implies that you at least know a bit of welding in order to do it. You’d have to say “but I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m just following the teacher’s instructions” in order to imply zero ability (notice that we’d be in the class together if I said that, so that context of us being in a class called Welding for Dummies would probably resolve the ambiguity anyway! :D)


      • Thanks for your answers, Andy

        Whatever the case may be, on average it certainly should be easier to disambiguate Esperanto than English.

        I am looking forward to learning more of Esperanto. Just a few days in, and I am already trying to understand the finer nuances in how something is expressed. I most certainly haven’t done that with any other language I have learnt before, so perhaps that’s a sign I am completely smitten with it already.

        English is my second language, and I have known it to some degree since I started learning it in school 34 years ago. Despite having written creatively in it for 25 years, it is actually only recently that I have come to fully appreciate the infinite potential for nuances and the mind-boggling endeavour it would be to try to explain English grammar exhaustively.

        Some of this appreciation stems from answering grammar-related questions on Quora, and that is also where I encountered Esperanto again. I’d heard of it before, obviously, but someone there asked whether Esperanto would be a more prestigious language if it was more precise.

        I don’t know if this is a common misconception, but it seems many think that because it is easy to learn and the grammar is simple that it necessarily has to be limited in precision and potential for expressive nuances. I thought so too, to be honest, but then I looked at it a bit more closely and, as far as I can tell, there is no reason to assume it lacks precision at all. Rather the contrary, in fact.

        Natural languages in general, and certainly English in particular, are full of words that have multiple sometimes unrelated meanings stemming from having changed in use over time. This, coupled with grammatical and orthographical idiosyncrasies, makes expressing something with clarity, precision and complete transparency a Herculean task that is rendered simply pointless in many contexts as whoever reads it will not have the level of linguistic understanding to pick up on the nuances you might be trying to convey.

        Esperanto is free from all that, and true ambiguities will therefore be much easier to avoid.

        I do apologise for making this a message of potentially boring length, so I’ll just conclude that over the last week I have come to realise that world communication would have been a lot easier if Esperanto was the lingua franca of the world and not English.

        I’ll be reading more of your blog as I go along. Looks like there are many interesting things for inquisitive Esperanto learners like me there.

        Thanks again.


        • I agree!

          Yes, I’ve certainly heard people implying that Esperanto’s greater simplicity might result in lesser expressiveness or precision. But, I see Esperanto’s simplicity mostly in the tools it uses to create expression. English might have thousands of fully formed components whose functions are often redundant or illogical, which are already complex and can be mushed together to generate further complexity of expression, whereas it feels like Esperanto, on the other hand, brings only the logical sub-components of those fully formed ones, which is a smaller more concise set of tools, from which it then generates complexity (I’m thinking about its logical word-building capability mostly).

          No apologies necessary! It’s always good to talk about/in Esperanto!

          I hope you find the rest of my blog useful/interesting! And feel free to comment/critique/discuss!


  3. Here is a question: why is “saluton” accusative? Isn’t that dative, as in “My greetings to you.” I give my salute to you? Thanks.


    • Ello Jerry! It’s generally assumed that you’re wishing someone greetings when saying ‘saluton’. I think I would even translate your phrase ‘my greetings to you’ as ‘(mian) saluton al vi’.

      This is because it’s not a full sentence; it’s shortened. ‘saluto al vi’ by itself sounds more like ‘a greeting to you’. Oh yeh? What is? This card is a greeting to you?

      By using the ‘n’, we signal that in the full sentence the greeting is direct object of the phrase. Which is assumed to be something like ‘mi deziras al vi saluton’ – I wish you greetings. (The ‘vi’ is in dative, ‘saluton’ accusative).

      Does that make sense?


  4. Saluton Andy! Bonvolu take a look at this question I posted on lernu! forum, concerning imperative in first person singular. Well, maybe I shouldn’t be rushing ahead so much in such finesses, while I still have to use English to write this… But since I like the song so much I want to understand it better. And also on Duolingo i reached the lesson on imperative, not helping me really.

    And a sentence from a duolingo lesson discussed here, same dilemma: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9092771


    • Bonan tagon! I’ve left you a response on Lernu 🙂

      The way I tend to read the “mi x-u…” construction is to have the feel of “let me…” or “i should…” ready in my mind, and let the phrasing of the rest of the sentence influence which way I go.

      A major way of distinguishing, is that if I’m actually talking to someone, and they control whether or not I can do a thing, then what I say may come out more like a request to let me do something.

      But if I’m thinking/talking about stuff that I need to get done, but perhaps am not getting done… then it would come out more like “I should…”

      Sometimes, you’ll surprise yourself and find that technically it doesn’t matter which translation you think, the basic meaning is the same. That’s when you’ll truly be letting context do the work!


      • Yes, context is the key. Until there’s a poem, interpretation of which is dependent on the correct reading of -u mood used – like the Martin Wiese’s Superbazaro! 🙂
        Luckily, no lives are at risk because of the ambiguity of poetry! 🙂


        • Ha! Very good point 🙂 I suppose a good poet is aware of the ambiguity, and either doesn’t mind how it’s interpreted, wants the most common interpretation, or wants it to have multiple interpretations.


  5. Mi diras “kelo” kun via e kiel en “bet”, kaj la jo estas kiel vokalo en “kejlo” Do…. (kun e kiel “made”) “ke- JLo”

    Ankaŭ mi havas sistemon kun du reguloj: 1) Kiam l’ e akcentas, antaŭas vokalo, aŭ estas la fina vokalo, e sonas kiel “made” ekz: policéjo, ĝusté, vèndrédo, hundéto, tamén…(atentu: é sonas kiel “made” kaj è sonas kiel “bet”).

    2) Kiam ĝi estas la nura vokalo, akcentas *kaj samtempe* antaŭas senvoĉa konsonanto aŭ la literojn l, m, n, r, kaj d, ĝi sonas kiel “bet”. Ekzemple: pupèto, samtèmpé, bèla, légènda, salèro, èdukado…

    Fine, l’ unua regulo pligravigas la duan, krome l’ apartaj literoj.

    Aŭ…. Pli simple… e sonas kiel sonas en latinamerika hispanlingvo. :p

    Ĉu vi uzas Esperantilon? (Esperantilo estas la nomo de la programo)


    • Diras la “j” kiel apartan vokalon? Ĉu la “ej” do sonas kiel “ei”?

      Mi ja ŝatas la latinamerikan hispanlingvan “e”, sed mi emas peni konservi unuopan bazan elparolon por ĉiu litero, por, interalie, facilokompreni.

      Mi ne antaŭe uzis Esperantilon, sed ĝi ŝajnas interesa! Dankon!


      • “Ej” estas kiel “éJJJJ” kaj “ei”estas kiel “é-i”. Mi supozas ke l’ elparolo estas elekto ĉar malsamaj homoj parolas esperante kaj ne povas fari la samajn sonojn. En la jena ligilo estas video en kiu la homoj diras e simile je mi: http://myapi.io/?34572ae

        Mi povas kompreni kion ili diras, ĉu vi? Ĉu ni devas daŭrigi ĉi-konversacio en alia loko? Mi ne volas forvojaĝi la celo de ĉi-retpaĝo…


        • Hmm mi ne certas ke mi komprenas kion vi diras pri elparolo, sed vi estas ĝusta pri la elekto. Esperanto devas preni en konsideron tiujn malsamajn homojn!

          Nu, fakte, tio estas la kialo, por kiu mi konservas simpla elparolo (unu sono por unu letero). Tiumaniere, espereble, oni trovos min pli facile komprenebla.

          Jes ja, mi komprenas ilin, mi ne havas malfacilaĵon pri tiu “e”.

          Nu, se vi deziras kontribuojn de multaj aliaj, vi faru afiŝon ĉe Lernu.net (mi estos tie, ankaŭ). Se vi specife volas mian opinion, retpoŝtu min ĉe andy.d.robertson@gmail.com 🙂


  6. Saluton! Mi ĵus trovis vian blogon, kaj mi ŝategas ĝin! Ankaŭ, mi havas demandojn por vi. Jen miaj demandoj:

    Kiel vi diras la literon “e” en esperanto (skribu IFA-a, mi petas)?

    Ĉu vi uzas elizion esperante (kiel: Mi ŝatas l’ urbon.)?

    Kaj, en kiu lando loĝas vi?

    Mi tre interesas…..


    • Sal! Bonvenon al mia blogo! Mi ĝojas pro via ŝatego!

      Oni diras la literon ‘e’ ĝuste kiel la IFA-an literon ‘e’ (mi pensas kiel la anglan “e” en “bet”?)

      Estas Esperanta elizio. Koncerne “la”, ĝi povas fariĝi “l'” post vorto kiu finiĝas per vokalo (tipe rolvortetoj), ekz: de l’, ĉe l’, je l’, tra l’, pri l’, pro l’. Jen PMEG-paĝo:


      Mi loĝas en suda Anglujo! Kaj vi?


      • Mi loĝas en norda Usono. Mi diras la literon e dumaniere: kiel l’ angla “bet” kaj kiel la litero a en l’ angla “made”. Mi ne opinias ke ĝi tre gravas ĉar la du vokaloj estas uzanta kun e en aliaj lingvoj. Ankaŭ, mi preferas uzi elizion ĉar ĝi estas pli facila pro mi.


  7. I have two more questions for you now.
    1. As I understand it, a comma must be inserted before a new clause. Is this correct?
    2. I have noticed that Esperanto uses separate words for grammatical terms (adjektifo, adverbo, substantivo, paseo). My question is, why not draw on the actual suffixes that denote those things to create words? In other words, could “oaĵo” mean “noun”, “eaĵo” mean “adverb”, “aaĵo” mean “adjective”, “iaĵo” mean “verb” or “infinitive”, and “uaĵo” mean “a command”? And that train of thought made me think of a really neat word: “asece” (as+ec+e), which I intend to mean “currently” or “right now”.


    • 1. This is certainly a convention, especially in older Esperanto text. Though I don’t think that it’s a strict rule, and I think it’s becoming less common.

      2. Yes, though the PMEG, for example, tends to use more intuitive terms, “a-vortoj”,”o-vortoj”, etc. or “finaĵoj” for referring to the group “o,a,e,i,as,is,os,us,u” of special word endings.

      After your explanation, I understand what those words would mean, but with “a-vorto” I immediately understand without explanation. Though interesting idea! I suppose if it were to catch on, I would’ve learnt the meaning though! Maybe the endings should be roots!

      But if “asece” were possible, it would have more than just the meaning of “currently”, because “-as” refers to either current things, or habitual things, e.g.

      Mi kuras = I run, or I am running


  8. You should do a post about the four affixes that mean “bad” in slightly different ways (fi, mal, mis, ach) and explain their differences.

    In fact, you should do a 29-post-long series on all of the affixes one by one! That would be so awesome! And it would be great to find what the longest possible word with only affixes is.

    For clarity, I mean the following 10 prefixes and 29 suffixes:

    bo, dis, ek, eks, fi, ge, mal, mis, pra, re
    ach, ad, ajh, an, ar, ebl, ec, eg, ej, em, end, er, estr, et, id, ig, igh, il, in, ind, ing, ism, ist, obl, on, op, uj, ul, um

    (And now that I’ve just typed that, it’s just occurred to me that except for ach, ajh, and igh the affixes are mostly free of diacritics – and the three that aren’t can be a really funny word on their own, in order. I refer to “achajhighi”, “to become junk”.)


    • Interese! I feel like ‘ne,mis,mal’ should be together and ‘fi and ach’ should be together. I think I shall make a post doing just that!

      What an undertaking! I certainly aim to have information on all interesting aspects of all affixes. I was thinking of creating an index pointing to posts about each affix too… Trouble is, some affixes have so many uses or nuances that I wouldn’t want to ram them all into a single post! So it’s going to take a while! 😀

      Love that word by the way!


  9. —Is there a general hatred in the Esperanto community of Gabriel Hanotaux?—

    I’ve never seen anyone get their knickers in a twist about him. But then, I’m yet to really engage with the Esperanto community beyond my blog and the forums on lernu.net. I still feel my speaking and listening could do with sharpening before I do so! Most esperantists tend to be focused on how to spread the language here and now. Personally, I feel a sadness about anyone who has needlessly hindered Esperanto!

    —If all prepositions in Esperanto have distinct meanings, why can “de” substitute for “da”?—

    Da has very certain uses and de has certain uses but many of them, I’m not aware of any times you can substitute them, could you give me an example? Then maybe I’ll be able to explain. 🙂

    —Is “ebl” considered a root or a suffix nowadays?—

    All suffixes are also roots. When you see a list of Esperanto suffixes, they are small especially useful roots, that generally have widely applicable meanings. Given that you can lump any roots together that you can extract logical meaning from, almost anything can be used as a suffix! 🙂

    —Exactly how many words use the rare letter “ĥ”, and is there a complete list somewhere?—

    Not many, though I don’t know the exact number, nor do I know a list of them all. Though if you go here http://reta-vortaro.de/ then click ĥ, you’ll get a list of all the words that start with that letter. There seems to be a small movement to get rid of the letter in favour of like ‘k’ or something, but this causes some words to look the same I think. Plus, I kinda like the letter!

    —Will you ever hear an Esperanto speaker say “Tio ne estas vorto”? Is there any limit on word meanings?—

    If the word you spoke isn’t even an Esperanto root, then they might do! Though certainly you have tonnes of freedom with just building new words. There are indeed logical and intuitive limits to this process. For example, when adding ‘Ebl’ to a word, it will always modify the action sense of that word, because the new word will be something like ‘possible to (do) [root]’ and you can only do an action (legi = to read, legebla = legible, possible to read).

    —Is there any equivalent to “Engrish”?—

    I guess so? I’d take ‘engrish’ to be a version of English in which there are systematic mispronunciations due to the influence of a different native language. In terms of esperanto for example, the English can be particularly bad at trilling their ‘r’s, and this really does stick out! 😀 another example is the English pronouncing Esperanto ‘j’ like ‘ĝ’ .

    —Does “dis” mean “in several directions” or “in various directions”, as minutely different as those may seem?—

    In most cases it is most like ‘in all directions’, but there is usually little emphasis on the directions. It’s like a -dissemination- of the root action:

    Sendi = to send, transmit
    Dissensi = to broadcast

    See how direction or number of directions is unimportant here?

    —Why does “mi amitis” mean “I was loved”, but “mi amintis” mean “I had loved”, and does “I had been loved” require a complex form of “esti”?—

    1. Mi amitis = mi estis amita
    2. Mi amintis = mi estis aminta

    (let me know if you don’t know why they equal eachother)

    Estis = Past tense of esti, means the action or state (here: love) was in the past.
    Amita = ‘been loved’ and ‘loved’ (as in someone loved you)
    Aminta = ‘loved’ (as in you loved someone)

    Basically the ‘it’ and ‘int’ both say the action was done or complete. ‘it’ means the action happened to the subject (someone was loving you) and ‘int’ means the subject did the action (you loved someone).

    Mi estis amita = both ‘I was loved’ and ‘I had been loved’ = at some point in the passed someone loved me

    Context often tells the English versions apart. You can also use the little word ‘jam’ = ‘already’ to disambiguate:

    Mi estis jam amita = I had been loved = at some point in the past I had already been loved

    A possible context that would give this impression (instead of using “jam”) is if you state a time:

    Mi estis amita ĝis tiam = I had been loved up until then

    If this and my series of posts called ‘partying with participles’ ( https://adventuresinesperanto.wordpress.com/category/esperanto-quirks/partying-with-participles/ ) do not clear this up, feel free to ask more!

    —Does “surplus” translate as “troaĵo” or “troeco”, or neither? —

    Surplus is kinda positive; it suggests that you have more than you need of a good thing. But the root ‘tro’ is like “too much”, whether the stuff you’ve got is good or bad, you’ve now got more than you’d like to have or are comfortable with. So ‘troaĵo’ is a ‘too much thing’ (some thing which is too much), it’s more like an ‘overabundant thing’ instead of a surplus (which is like a profit).

    —And furthermore, how can one tell whether “aĵ” or “ec” is needed?—

    These suffixes are very distinct. In general, ‘aĵ’ says that you are talking about a concrete thing, an instance of a type of thing. ‘ec’ talks about an abstract quality of something. Time for an example:

    Troaĵo = overabundant thing
    Troeco = overabundance

    Say you’ve got too many apples. Apples are your ‘troaĵoj’ (overabundant things). If you want to talk about the overabundance of apples you’d use ‘Troeco’ (overabundance). See how ‘ec’ talks about the quality/property of something, whereas ‘aĵ’ is infact the something.

    Notice there is a sidebar as you read my posts. Under the heading called “tags” there are many tags that I use to tag my posts. If I ever mention a suffix or prefix in a post (and I remember to do so), I tag that post with the tag “affix:X” where X is the suffix or prefix. By clicking on the the tag you are interested in (e.g. affix:aĵ), it’ll display all posts that have that tag. Here are all my posts that mention “aĵ”: https://adventuresinesperanto.wordpress.com/tag/affixaj/

    Check out this post about “ec”: https://adventuresinesperanto.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/quality-ness/

    This is the main post about “aĵ”: https://adventuresinesperanto.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/thingy-majigs/

    —Is it acceptable to use the velar nasal before “g” and “k” as in English?—

    As a general rule, the aim is to pronounce each and every letter in Esperanto words, in as unchanging a manner as possible. However, some sounds are so natural (like the velar nasal) that they tend to creep in. Someone being very careful with their pronunciation is likely to say ‘ŝmin-ko’ rather than ‘ŝming-ko’. But most pronunciation guides I’ve read say this is generally forgivable. I think I thought I read that Zamenhof himself recognised at least this type of assimilation, but said that highly regular speech would not exhibit it… So I think it’s kinda debatable.

    —Can “si” ever be a subject?—

    I can’t think of any times it can be. There are some fixed expressions where it breaks some little rules (mostly intuitively), but not that one, I dont think. I plan to post about those expressions at some point.

    —What is the exact meaning of “ekde”?—

    ‘since’. The applicable meaning of the prefix ‘ek’ here is ‘just beginning, starting’ plus ‘de’ becomes ‘starting from’ = ‘since’

    —Personally, what do you think is the best font for typing in Esperanto?—

    Do you mean character set? Or literally font? Because font wise I have no special preference for any language, just whatever is clear. If you mean character set, on my mac I used ‘extended irish’, it has all necessary characters (so does extended US but on more awkward keys I think). But now I use a custom one I made.

    —And most importantly, how can I keep Esperanto separate from French in my mind? —

    Well I don’t know if my opinion is best, because I only really feel fluent in English at the moment. While I’ve studied a lot of languages, until Esperanto I mostly just spent time learning their grammar, because I found it easier than streams of vocabulary. From my experience and from what multilingual friends have said: you’ll always make some mistakes like that. But the true way of keeping the languages separate most of the time, is when you can finally think in the target language. When even your thoughts are in the right language, you are no longer translating, but instead expressing yourself in a different mode.

    Hope all that helps! Ne hezitu to ask more questions if you need to!


    • That clears everything except:
      -De vs. da-
      From Unua Libro itself(!), under section D: “DA. Supplies the genitive (after words, expressing measure, weight, etc.); e.g., kilogramo da viando—a kilo of meat; glaso da teo— a cup of tea”
      A few entries down:
      In Unua Libro, Zamenhof appeared to list it as a root without giving any examples for it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto_vocabulary#List_of_lexical_suffixes calls it a suffix. Lernu.net’s course “La Puzlo Esperanto” lists it as a suffix as well. I don’t care about this “there are no suffixes, only meanings” mumbo jumbo; I want to know whether ebl is in the same class as ek, pra, er, et, id, ig, etcetera or whether it is considered a root which requires word compounding.
      I didn’t mean in terms of pronunciation (and being a connoisseur of the IPA, ɑɪ hæv noʊ tɹʷʌbɫ wɪθ siˌɪŋ “dʒeɪ” æz “wɑɪ”). I meant in terms of translation, as in, for example, these fictional product instructions that read:
      1. Side D also instead from outside half.
      2. Craunch along the stanchion 14 at the mashing together place.
      3. Taken generous golden body of the ring for the 27 bottom.
      4. Be happy and contens with you apparel!
      (I am such a racist…)
      And just forget that I said the font thing. An awesome pre-installed one is Corbel, and you can go to http://www.exljbris.com to find Calluna and Calluna Sans for free. These three are great because they place the circumflex on the STEM of the ĥ where it should be, not over the whole letter like the Trebuchet MS we’re using now. I am also in shock that people are trying to banish ĥ – it and ĵ are my favourite letters! And even when Reformed Esperanto would have eliminated all the letters with diacritics and their sounds, Zamenhof would not abandon ĥ and proposed replacing it with x.
      A further question: exactly what does Esperanto consider direct and indirect objects. I already know of two indirect English verbs that take direct objects in Esperanto, “aŭskulti” and “regardi”. Are there any other differences in objects? (I’m asking this because French says things like “j’obéis à mes parents” [“I obey to my parents”] and “Je lui ai téléphoné” [“I telephoned to him”]).


      • –De and Da—

        I think I will make a post on this issue in the near future, so do look out for it! Yes, they certainly do both get a slice of the genitive. But their use, as far as I can recall at the moment, is still quite distinct.

        Take a look at this general wiki article on the genitive case:

        Notice it lists several shades of the genitive, e.g. possessive genitive, genitive of origin, genitive of composition. Between them, Da and De make up most if not all of those usages, but they each have their own distinct slice of the cake (the slice being far bigger for de).

        In general, think of “Da” as mostly genitive of composition. It is usually tied in as indicating a quantity or subset of an indefinite whole.

        “A basket of apples”. This usage requires “da”. There are no particular apples, this is just the type of thing we’re talking about. And “basket” is a defined quantity.

        X da Y : X must always be defining some quantity, and Y must be a non-limited, indefinite term: a type of thing. If we’re talking about some specific apples we need a different helper word (e.g. el or de)

        “A want a basket of those apples” here you’d use “el” for example.

        I will go into this in a little more detail in that future post!

        I’m not sure I’m understanding the distinction you’re trying to make. All roots, suffixes, and prefixes are roots in their own right. The only thing that makes something a “suffix” that I know about, is whether or not it’s so useful, it’s meaning is so widely applicable, that it’s worth mentioning that it’s useful to use as a suffix.

        What do you mean by “needs word compounding”?

        If you want to use it by itself, like any root, then you need to add the appropriate word type ending e.g.

        ebla = possible

        Otherwise jab it onto another word.

        The only thing I can think of that might make a distinction between what’s a suffix and what’s a root, is that when when Zamenhof first decided what small roots were so useful that they deserved to be highlighted as common suffixes he made a list of these. So I guess you could say some roots are “official” suffixes, because they were listed as such by the creator. So in order to determine if a root is an “official” suffix I guess you’d just look for them listed in the Fundamento as such?

        But I think Zamenhof himself would simply describe everything as immutable units of meaning that you plug together, some of which having wider applications than others.


        Oh I see! I’m sure there are still such errors in Esperanto. Like incorrect use of the accusative case can produce some funnies! Though the issue of referring to concepts or things in a strange way like “mashing together place”, is less of a problem in my eyes with Esperanto. Because more often than not, the Esperanto word is a very literal mapping of meaning, which is that simple. Err simple example… “manĝaĵo” meaning food, is literally just “eat-thing (thing one eats)”.

        —Direct/Indirect objects—
        Esperanto is far more flexible, in order to cater for these ingrained types of expression different languages have. In English we say “I will help you”, in other languages they say more like “I will help to you”.

        In Esperanto, either is valid and understandable:

        Mi helpos vin
        Mi helpos al vi

        When the meaning remains clear (i.e. there aren’t several phrases fighting over the accusative), the accusative “n” is a valid replacement for most prepositions (especially al or je). Sometimes there is a more usual version to pick (through usage), but both are fine.

        In general, if the verb can apply to a person and an inanimate thing, then the person comes after “al” and the thing gets the accusative “n”.

        Mi sendos al vi leteron = I will send to you a letter

        This is another thing I may cover in future posts 🙂


        • I understand the use of direct and indirect objects COMPLETELY. What I want to know is which verbs Esperanto considers as taking direct and indirect objects as different from English. A few more (direct) translations from French:

          Elle soigne les pauvres. “She cares the poor.”
          J’attends l’autobus depuis trente minutes. “I have been waiting the bus for thirty minutes.”
          Je viens de passer deux heures pour chercher mes livres. “I come of spending two hours for searching my books.” (Actual translation: “I have just spent two hours looking for my books.”)

          What I am asking is: besides “aŭskulti” and “regardi”, are there any other verbs that take different kinds of objects from English? Not all languages think that you need a “for” after the three verbs above; does Esperanto? Mi aprecios kiun ajn helpilon! (I just know I got that statement wrong…)

          I’ll make myself a bit more clear than I was before about “ebl”. I am writing a general grammatical guide to Esperanto for some friends of mine, and it includes lists of all the prefixes and suffixes, plus Zamenhof’s 800 or so original roots. I want to know whether to include “ebl” in the suffixes with examples, or in the roots with a short definition. Which one is it?


        • In Esperanto, in this case, there is only such thing as more common usage. Both are correct according to what I have been taught. Even:

          Mi aŭskultas vin = Mi aŭskultas al vi (the first is more common)
          Mi rigardas vin = Mi rigardas al vi (the first is more common)
          Mi helpas vin = Mi helpas al vi (the second is more common I think)

          A great tool is: http://www.tekstaro.com/

          It will search many Esperanto documents for a term you provide. So you can check for usage.

          I don’t know of any list of words that are commonly used differently to English I’m afraid! Sorry! Only “helpi” is coming to mind lol.

          As for “ebl”, I’d certainly list it as a suffix!

          Here’s something affixes, which I found useful:



      • In case you’re interested, Monday’s post will be about “da”. I’ve found an example in which you can use either “da” or “de” in the same place, in the same phrase. But, it’s meaning still remains distinct! So it’s not a substitution.


  10. —Is it acceptable to use “malvivigi” instead of “mortigi”? And why is “mal” inconsistent in that way?—

    Sometimes you’ll find a completely new word, instead of a “mal” form. This can be for several reasons, some of which are:
    1. The word is used to often, that the longer “mal” form is very inconvenient, “maldekstra” for “left” comes very close in my mind (dekstra = right). So sometimes people propose a new word, and it catches on.
    2. The opposite of the original word isn’t clear. Sometimes, especially with action words, it can be difficult to determine the opposite, and so often the meaning isn’t so clear.

    I think that a lot of people would get what you mean by “malvivigi”, but perhaps the reason there is a separate root “morti” is because the opposites don’t quite match. Let’s look at the bare roots “morti” and “vivi”.

    Morti means “to die” and vivi means “to live”. Morti means that having been alive, one is now not alive. Malmorti would therefore be like “undie”: having been dead, one is now not dead. This is certainly not the meaning of “vivi”, which is kind of like an ongoing process. So “malvivi” is… I dunno “un-live”? how do you interpret that? It’s a weird one in my eyes. Even now looking at “malvivigi” I see more “to cause to un-live”, which is weird again.

    Now you can interpret “vivi” as “to be alive” (which would make “malvivigi” be more like “to make un-alive” i.e. “to kill”), but because of all the above, and that mostly it’ll come across as “to live” in most people’s mind (I think!), it still may have a different nuance than simply “mortigi”.

    Does any of that make sense? lol


    • Happy to read in Esperanto, would you prefer English?

      For Esperanto writing about Esperanto prepositions, I’d use the PMEG:


      Here they are mostly referred to as “rolvortetoj”, which kinda means “little role words”, because they are little words that tell you the role of the other words…

      In English… I can’t think of a comparably comprehensive and explanatory list. But the Ivy Kellerman text introduces them gradually with explanations and examples (could just use the contents page to look them up I guess):


      There’ll be information on them at Lernu.net too!


      • Wow! That was fast!

        I have another question – it’s an idea of mine for which I’d like a second opinion. What if we replaced ŭ with û? It would create consistency in the diacritics of Esperanto, would mean that at least one diacritic would be available even in fonts that didn’t have Latin Extended-A, and would seem less foreign to many people. (Û is used frequently in French [and maybe other languages?]; ŭ is used [outside Esperanto] only in an ancient form of Belarusian.)

        May I also direct your attention to http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/ranto/ (just some nutcase grasping at straws trying to show that Esperanto is bad – I don’t believe a word of it). What do you think of that?


      • Always enjoy spreading more knowledge about Esperanto! 🙂

        In general, you’ll find that most Esperantists resist sudden changes to the language for a number of reasons. Esperanto is a living, breathing language now, so if one had the ability to make sweeping changes that render experienced speaker’s grasp of the language less correct, then this suggests that the language is right back in its planning stage, and makes the language feel less real, almost like a language you invent with your friends, which is subject to all changes of anybody’s whim.

        No Esperantist is against the evolution of the language though. The language is certainly a little different than it was. The kind of evolution that is good is like the kind you find in all languages. Say you become a good speaker of Esperanto, and in your speech and writing you begin to adopt certain conventions or words etc. others may find them appealing and adopt them too. So changes get spread by popular demand!

        Specific to your question. It certainly would make things easier from a typing perspective! And it’d allow you to talk about the hatted letters as a single group, without worrying about leaving out other weird characters.

        However, no matter how I look at it, I just find ŭ far more attractive :D. Still, that’s my opinion. I suspect a better argument against it, is that I think û is more popular, each language using it having a different way of saying it. You’re unlikely to find someone with assumptions about ŭ, so once they learn it, perhaps they’ll never confuse it?

        The late Claude Piron (a prominent Esperantist) actually made a response to that article here: http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/why.htm

        As he suggests, I think Rye hated Esperanto before he knew anything about it, it seems obvious in a lot of his arguments. While occasionally he stumbles upon small flaws of Esperanto (which every language will have, Esperanto often far less so), mostly he seems to miss the point. I’d certainly read Piron’s response! 🙂


        • Awesome points, awesome link, and I just checked Wikipedia – û is also used in Turkish, Friulian and Kurdish. But when you think of it that way, you might as well just go with w and incorporate an entirely new letter.

          I’ve been learning Esperanto by myself for nearly two months now, and I have so many questions but no one to help me but Google! I’ll try to get as many as I can off my chest right now. (I hope this won’t be too much work for you…

          Is it acceptable to use “malvivigi” instead of “mortigi”? And why is “mal” inconsistent in that way?
          Why is there an “n” on “saluton” if it’s neither an object nor direction?
          Is there a general hatred in the Esperanto community of Gabriel Hanotaux?
          If all prepositions in Esperanto have distinct meanings, why can “de” substitute for “da”?
          Is “ebl” considered a root or a suffix nowadays?
          Exactly how many words use the rare letter “ĥ”, and is there a complete list somewhere?
          Will you ever hear an Esperanto speaker say “Tio ne estas vorto”? Is there any limit on word meanings? Is there any equivalent to “Engrish”?
          Does “dis” mean “in several directions” or “in various directions”, as minutely different as those may seem?
          Why does “mi amitis” mean “I was loved”, but “mi amintis” mean “I had loved”, and does “I had been loved” require a complex form of “esti”?
          Does “surplus” translate as “troaĵo” or “troeco”, or neither? And furthermore, how can one tell whether “aĵ” or “ec” is needed?
          Is it acceptable to use the velar nasal before “g” and “k” as in English?
          Can “si” ever be a subject?
          What is the exact meaning of “ekde”?
          Personally, what do you think is the best font for typing in Esperanto?
          And most importantly, how can I keep Esperanto separate from French in my mind? When I speak French nowadays I sometimes say “kaj” instead of “et” and a few other slips (today I couldn’t remember the word for “soon” [it’s “tôt”] and ended up saying “baldaŭ” instead).

          Wow! I’ve just emptied my mind of all my questions from the past few months, and it took me nearly twenty minutes to type all that. Any responses are greatly appreciated.


        • 😀

          (Though “w” is even more laden with different pronunciations across many languages)

          Seems like you’ve been holding all that in for a while!

          I believe I know most of the answers, and some I might need to check a couple sources. I’m off to bed right now, but just letting you know I will indeed attempt to answer them all tomorrow when I get time (at latest, the next day).

          What I will say now, is that I dealt with the “saluton” issue a while back here:


          Let me know if that doesn’t clear things up.

          Also, so that the paragraphs don’t get too small, I’ll make the response in an entirely new reply!



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