Nuances of Repetition

Image by Shabinh from Pixabay

I stumbled across a little nuance in how we talk about repeated actions. I stumbled across a little nuance… ok, too obvious.

When we use a noun (Esperanto O-word) that names an action, we usually talk about a single instance of that action, and we can talk about several using the plural form.

Let’s roll with eĥo (echo), because ĥ is an under-appreciated letter (pronounced like the ch in Scottish loch).


A single echo


Echoes – more than one echo

But in Esperanto, we also have access to the suffix “ad” (click to see related posts), which implies that an action is repeated or continual:


A long echoing, or several echoes together at a time.

What if we went full-on and pluralised that too? What then?


Several long echoes, or several times when echoes were repeated.

What happens is that we talk then of several long echoings or several points when echoes were repeated! Makes sense. I’d never really thought about comparing plurality with repeatedness, so I thought that was interesting! (check out the inspiration source at PMEG).

And I hope you’re enjoying as much as me the fact that an “echo” in itself is also a repeated sound, so we’ve got repeats inside repeats…

Whenever I talk about a word I tend to do a dictionary dive, and I wanted to also share something I found when reading up on eĥo:



An example usage might be:

La krio seneĥe velkis

The cry echolessly faded

It’s just a joy to pronounce 🙂

One Neat Trick

To -i or to -ado

Photo by Emre Öztürk on Unsplash

What’s the difference between tricking and tricking? Or “trompi” and “trompado”?

For those unfamiliar with the suffixes, “i” is the base form of a verb, the dictionary form, the infinitive. So trompi means “to trick” – no sense of time/tense. Notice how when we want to put it in e.g. present tense in English we lose the “to”, and even sometimes add an “s”: “he tricks the squirrel” (present tense in Esperanto: trompas). But we use this base form under some circumstances, e.g. “he loves to trick squirrels” (“loves” is doing our tense work).

The “-ado” suffix has a few purposes, but the one I’m interested in here is using it to create the noun (or name) of an action from the action verb. So for example “trompi” is a verb meaning “to trick”, but “trompado” is a noun, so we can talk about “the tricking” of something, in a nouny way. E.g. “the tricking of squirrels is no simple matter”. If you want to learn a bit about Esperanto root words, and making them nouns/verbs/adjectives here’s an old blog post.

So lets compare this the usage of “trompi” and “trompado” below as closely as we can:


la ruzaj meloj amas trompi sciurojn

the cunning badgers love tricking (to trick) squirrels


la ruzaj meloj amas trompadon de sciuroj

the cunning badgers love the tricking of squirrels

In both cases, we’ve got the revelation that this particular clan of badgers enjoy squirrels getting tricked. But you may see the difference between these two sentences even from the English: in example 1, we’re suggesting that what the badgers enjoy is doing the tricking themselves, but in 2, we make no such implication; we’re suggesting that the badgers find enjoyment regardless of who is performing the tricking. And that’s exactly the difference in the use of -i and -ado here! The -i form always implies a subject doing the action, and it’s usually the same subject as the verb it’s working with (here “amas”), but -ado is independent of subject. Neat huh.

This post was inspired by this PMEG page, where you’ll also find the following quote, which demonstrates fluidly the flexible neatness of Esperanto participles.

Aga O-vorto nomas agon sen konsideri eventualan faranton

An action O-word names an action without considering a potential do-er (i.e. one who might do the action)

To me, “sen konsideri eventualan faranton” is a construction that flows so neatly in Esperanto, but always feels like a stumble in English. As you can see in my translation, I either resort to the informal “do-er”), or I have to spell out the exact meaning laboriously “one who does the action”. I could perhaps strain and use other terms like “actor”, but it feels clunky, and it’s nice to be able to derive my meaning from the base word that’s already appropriate: “do” (fari).

Learn more about Esperanto participles from my old series on them:

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


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)!

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.