Changing, whether one wants to or not

I was looking up a few words in the Lernu.net dictionary when I came across a little gem: “vole nevole”, it means “whether one wants to or not”. Such a neat little construction! It comes from the action root “vol-“.

“Voli” means “to want/wish”. Its adjective form (“vola”) means “willful, desired”, and so the adverb “vole” means “willfully”. And just like we use “pli malpli” for “more or less”, “vole nevole” is used for what is essentially “willfully or not willfully”.

Also! I’ve noted down another word. I came across it on one of my usual strolls around the ole PMEG. You’ll find it near the bottom in the “Vortfarado” (word building) section! It’s “tiama”, it’s an adjective derived from the table-word “tiam”. “Tiam” means “then/in that time”. But “tiama” is able to describe a noun (0-word). It usually translates as something like “of that time” or “then”:

  • En 1872, mi renkontis la tiaman meloreĝon= In 1872, I met the badger-king of that time

Seems pretty neat!

Bloodthirsty as a squirrel

A neat use of “kiel” today. “Kiel” is one of the correlatives, a ton of really useful words that are built via a system of meaningful syllables. Take a look at my previous post introducing them briefly, it points you to a full table of all of them that you can make.

In general “kiel” means “in what way”, or “how”.

  • Kiel vi fartas? = How are you doing?

In it’s other use, “kiel” is often translated as “as”.

  • La melo estas murdema kiel sciuro = The badger is bloodthirsty as a squirrel (The badger is bloodthirsty in what way a squirrel [is bloodthirsty])

It can also be used in combination with the correlative “tiel” (“in that way”) in order to get a “as…as…” construction:

  • Mi estas tiel ekscitiĝa kiel ŝi = I am as excited as she (is). (I am in that way excited (as) in what way she (is excited))
  • Vi estas tiel inteligenta kiel bela = You are as intelligent as (you are) beautful.

It can also be used to introduce a phrase (relative clause) with “tiel”, as in this example from PMEG:

  • Mi zorgas pri ŝi tiel, kiel mi zorgas pri mi mem. = I care about her in the way in which (way) I care about myself.

Imagine here that “tiel” is a placeholder for the whole relative phrase that follows. It’s like:

  • I care about her [in that way]

Then, in order to elaborate on which way you mean (fill in the square brackets), “kiel” introduces a phrase:

  • [In what way?] (in the way) I care about myself.

Oddly, this was all sparked by me coming across an Esperanto song called “Glimanta kiel oro” = “Shining/Gleaming like/as gold”.
Look at the funky thing you can do with “kiel” and the accusative “n” (you’ll see these sentences all over Esperanto learning material):

  1. Li traktis min kiel princon = He treated me like (I was) a prince
  2. Li traktis min kiel princo = He treated me like a prince (would treat me)

I love this. It makes perfect sense. So we have “li” = “he”, always doing the treating (the subject of the verb). And we have “min” = “me” always receiving the treatment (the direct object of the verb). Then, in order to decide whether “kiel” is comparing a prince to the subject or the object, we just match it’s ending:

  1. Leave the ending without the “n” to match “li”, so “kiel” is comparing prince to “li”.
  2. Add the “n” on the end to match “min”, so “kiel” is comparing prince to “min”!

Useful building blocks

There are a bunch of useful and important words, which take the place of words or phrases and answer the questions: who, what, where, when, how, how much, why, whose and what kind. In Esperanto, these words a constructed from two parts. One part indicates the type of question  (e.g. are we talking about why, or where, or who?), the other part indicates how the question is being addressed.

Here’s some examples:

  • “Ki-” is a first part (indicates how the question is being addressed), it shows that the question is being addressed with a question!
  • “I-” is a first part too, it shows that the question is being addressed with an indefinite answer.
  • “-e” is a second part (indicates the type of question), it indicates a question of place (where?).
  • “-el” is also a second part, it indicates a question of manner (how?).

Having learnt these four, you can make various different words.

“Ki-” shows the actual question, so putting it with the second parts we get:

  • Kie =  where
  • Kiel = how

But “I-” shows an indefinite answer to the question.

So “ie” answers “where” with “somewhere”, and “iel” answers “how” with “somehow/in some way”.

  • Ie = somewhere/in some place
  • Iel = somehow/in some way

Say we learnt just one more second part “-al” which indicates a question of reason (why?). Now we can make another two words!

  • Kial = why
  • Ial = (for) some reason

Take a look at the table forming all the possible words:

Esperanto correlatives