Building words from phrases

I’m a little stunned that I’ve not come across this PMEG page before… I think not anyway… Though feel free to correct me if you’ve seen me mention it before.

It’s all about making words out of phrases (rather than just shoving roots and affixes together). It’s a goldmine of inspiration for word building, and gets you thinking about how to really play with your words.

I’ll probably write a couple posts over time on it, and today will be concentrating on the section entitled “Vortigo per A-finaĵo aŭ E-finaĵo”, which, as you may know, means something like “making a word with an A-ending or an E-ending”.

Now, you may recall that A-words (adjectives) are used to describe O-words (nouns). So if you’ve got your O-words (which shows a thing or concept), you can describe the kind of thing using an A-word:

  • melo = a badger
  • blua melo = a blue badger

E-words, describe everything else, and you’ll mostly see them describing actions.

  • ŝi kuris = she ran
  • ŝi rapide kuris = she ran quickly

So, what this section of the page talks about, is taking a phrase of some sort, and smooshing it into a single word, and then using it to describe something where that original phrase would apply.

A simple example is the first one.

  • sur tablo = on a table
  • surtabla lampo = a table-top lamp, a lamp which is on the table

You can even make an adverb version, if you’d rather describe an action:

  • Ili sidis surtable = They sat on the table (literally like: they sat on-table-ly)

Instead of:

  • Ili sidis sur la tablo

Just look at the flexibility of those examples on that page though!

This one’s really cool:

  • kun blanka ĉapelo = with a white hat

You could be boring and start a sentence as below, which is going to be slow starting and lengthy despite the simple property you’re trying to express:

  • La homo kun blanka ĉapelo… = The person with a white hat

Or you could set yourself up for a more interesting/complex yet succinct sentence with:

  • La blankĉapela homo… = The person with a white hat / the white-hatted person

Ain’t that grand?

Here’s one that I just thought of:

  • en la dorsa poŝo = in the back pocket
  • La endorspoŝa telefono… = The back-pocketted phone… / the phone in the back pocket…

Written out long you’d have to go for:

  • La telefono, kiu estas en la dorsa poŝo… = the phone which is in the back pocket

Ĝis!

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

Just got real

Well ‘ello there!

I’m receiving some top quality spam comments these days, here’s today’s top spam quote:

Your bio web page should contain the photographs of the topless product and specific specific information and facts

Topless Esperanto, eh? Not sure what that would entail.

Anyway, in about a month’s time, it looks like I’m meeting some Esperantists! Face-to-face Esperanting for the first time in the lovely (currently snowy…) Brighton. I hope they’re ready for some stuttering and a few “mi bedaŭras, ĉu vi povus ripeti tion?”‘s.

In an effort to not look like too much of a silly, I’m looking more closely at radioverda.com, so I can improve my listening skills (they are in desperate need). I’ve noticed that they now upload a transcript to accompany each broadcast, so it’s possible to check your understanding!

Anyway, here’s a few words I found and thought were pretty neatly constructed:

  • trapiki = to pierce, puncture
    • tra = through
    • piki = to stab, sting, prick
    • literally means “to stab through”, just makes sense!
  • intertempe = all the while, meanwhile
    • inter = between, among (see previous post)
    • tempo = time
    • The “e” is the adverb ending, it’s like the “ly” ending in English, only more regular.
    • Literally, the word is like “between time -ly”. So if you’re describing an action with it, then the action happens in a way that’s between times (meanwhile!)
  • interplektita = intertwined
    • inter = among, between
    • plekti = to wreath, twine, plait
    • -ita is the completed passive participle ending. This means that the action (of intertwining) is complete, and that the thing we’re talking about, received the action (rather than performed it).

Esperanto’s offspring

I love some of the spam I get as comments on this website:

Good response in return of this issue with firm arguments
and telling the whole thing regarding that.

Today, I’m finally back at my work desk properly, slaving away already.

I’ve noticed that a few folks are chatting about Ido at Lernu.net, in a thread started by someone who was curious about why a person might choose to learn Esperanto instead; what makes Ido so bad? If you don’t know what Ido is, it’s another constructed language, a spin-off from Esperanto in which changes were made that were thought to fix Esperanto’s “flaws”. It was never widely adopted. Amusingly, “Ido” is Esperanto for “offspring”, it’s an Esperantido.

Among many smaller reasons, one key thing for me that makes Ido lesser in my eyes (from what little I’ve learnt of it), is that its word formation system sounds like it lacks the implicit fluid logic of Esperanto word building. Too much has to be made explicit, there’s no need for all that gumpf. Check out this interesting article about word formation in Esperanto, and read section 7 for a particular mention of how Ido’s word formation is different.

All poetical

I’ve been at the word building again… I recently agreed to start a symphonic metal band, and have a new found addiction to writing lyrics. So it was only a matter of time before the idea of writing Esperanto lyrics crept into my brain! Especially since the singer has already said she’d be up for singing it!

I’m currently working on a few themes, and some possible imagery and poetic language I could use. And during the process I’ve come up with all sorts of constructed words, so I thought I’d share a few!

I’ll put each in a phrase for ease of understanding.

  • Ekstermensigu ĉion alian! = Put everything else out of your mind!
    • Ekster = outside
    • Menso = mind
    • -ig is a suffix meaning “to make/cause <root>” (see previous posts)
  • Ŝiaj kruelaj agoj senamigis sin = Her cruel actions, rendered her without love.
    • Sen = without
    • Amo = love
    • -ig (as above)
  • Ne donu al ŝi vian amon, ŝi estas korvundema = Don’t give her your love, she is likely to break your heart.
    • koro = heart
    • vundi = wound/hurt
    • -em is a suffix means “has a tendency to <root>” (see previous post)

So it’s like “hurtful” but for the heart!

Badger vs. Squirrel

Ello again!

Mostly due to the wormy accusative “n”, Esperanto has quite flexible word order. The following phrases mean pretty much the same thing, “a badger frightened a squirrel”:

  • melo timigis sciuron
  • melo sciuron timigis
  • sciuron timigis melo
  • sciuron melo timigis
  • timigis melo sciuron
  • timigis sciuron melo

Are there any differences at all between these alternatives? Subtle ones, yes. The difference is one of emphasis.

I’ve had a read of the topic in the PMEG, and have distilled a few rough rules that’ll get you making use of this subtle emphasis change.

Firstly some terms:

  • The “subject” is the thing doing the action. In our case, the subject is “melo” : the badger.
  • The “direct object” is the thing receiving the action. In our case, the direct object is “sciuro”: the squirrel.
  • Our action here is “timigi” = “to frighten”.

The usual word ordering is “subject – action – direct object”. So anything that departs from this ordering generates emphasis in some way.

Here’s the rules:

  1. If the subject is moved to the end (everything else remaining same), then the emphasis is on the subject:
    • timigis sciuron melo : a badger did the frightening, not anything else.
  2. If the action is moved to the front (everything else remaining same), then the emphasis is on the action:
    • timigis melo sciuron : a badger frightened a squirrel, it didn’t e.g. kiss it.
  3. If the direct object is moved to the front (everything else remaining same), then the emphasis is on the direct object:
    • sciuron melo timigis : a squirrel was frightened, not e.g. a vole.

Next, let’s look at a phrase that has a prepositional relationship (e.g. inside/on/under/with/against):

  • La melo loĝis en truo = The badger lived in a hole

Two rules here:

  1. Move the prepositional relationship to the front, and the prepositional relation is emphasised:
    • en truo la melo loĝis : the badger lived in a hole, not e.g. in a box.
  2. Move also the subject to the end and then the subject is emphasised:
    • en truo loĝis la melo : the badger lived in a hole, not e.g. the squirrel.

There are exceptions, and particular words that act in different ways. These are generally quite obvious when you come across them. One of the key exceptions is “ki-” correlatives (kiu, kie, kia, kiel, kiam, kiom, kio). These are usually at the front of their part of the phrase. You can read more in this PMEG section.

Ta-ta!

No need to resort to that!

If you’ve been lurking around here for a while, you may have read my series on Esperanto’s participles. If you haven’t and you have no idea what I’m talking about, why not take a stroll over there now?

They are incredibly useful things. You can even use them to create complicated verb tenses. However, one of those old posts shows why resorting to participles for complicated tenses can be a little on the inelegant side.

In today’s post I’ll be sharing a few PMEG tips on how to avoid resorting to complex tenses.

Take the following sentence:

  • When you phoned me, I was eating.

This implies that when I received your call, I was in the middle of eating. How might we say this in Esperanto?

  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi manĝis.

Using the simple past tense, we’re in a little trouble. Because this could mean any of:

  • When you phoned me, I was eating
  • When you phoned me, I ate (i.e. I started eating when you called)
  • When you phoned me I had eaten (already)

Does this mean we have to resort to complex tenses?

  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi estis manĝanta (I was in the middle of eating)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi estis manĝonta (I was about to eat)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi estis manĝinta (I had already eaten)

All those different meanings by changing a single vowel! In speech this is a little mean on your listener, no?

How about these instead:

  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, ĝuste tiam mi manĝis (I was eating exactly when you called)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi jam antaŭe manĝis (I had already previously eaten)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi ankoraŭ ne manĝis (I hadn’t yet eaten)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi ĵus manĝis (I had only just eaten)
  • Kiam vi telefonis al mi, mi intencis/planis manĝi [baldaŭ] (I intended/planned to eat [soon])

Simple ways to stick to the simple tenses!

Read more here, and here.