Make more tasty!

I’ve been playing around with making words in Esperanto recently. Been daydreaming in conversations with people. Every word they say that I don’t know in Esperanto, I try to make it, using what I do know in Esperanto.

Out of my playing, I’ve stumbled on a useful set of steps for making a particular kind of word (much like this previous post, check it out, it’s neat!).

So, do you by now know what I mean by a “quality” root? If not see this post.

Today we’ll be using quality roots, and these:

  • pli = more (see this post for more details)
  • malpli = less (“mal” is a prefix that reverses the meaning of things)
  • igi = suffix meaning “to cause/make <root>”, e.g. “boli” = “boil”, but “boligi” = “to cause to boil”
  • iĝi = suffix meaning “to become <root>”, e.g. “pala” = “pale”, but “paliĝi” = “to become pale”

Now, say you’ve got a quality root in its adjective form, like this:

  • bela = beautiful
  • longa = long
  • vasta = extensive, vast, wide

You can do a neat thing with them. Using this formula:

(pli/malpli)<root>(igi/iĝi)

Things in brackets show alternatives! So you get a few choices here. The idea is, you’ve got some quality, like “beautiful”, and you want to make a verb which means: to become, or cause someone/something to be, more or less that quality:

  • beli = to be beautiful
  • plibeligi = to embellish (literally: to make more beautiful)
  • plibeliĝi = to grow/become more beautiful
  • malplibeligi = to make less beautiful
  • malplibeliĝi = to become less beautiful

Cool, huh?

This saves you some work:

  • Mi estas bela, sed… = I am beautiful, but…
    • ŝi volas igi min (esti) pli bela
    • ŝi volas plibeligi min

They mean roughly “she wants to make me more beautiful”. But look at the second one! So neat! So neat in fact, that I wasn’t sure on the structure of the above. I think the “esti” is optional. The long way around would be then “estigi min pli bela”. Also note that “beligi” would mean “make beautiful”.

Sometimes, all this adding of “ig” and “malpli” etc. makes the words really long, so sometimes we use shorter forms. Look at these two:

  1. plilongigi = (literally) to make more long
  2. longigi = (literally) to make long

There is a clear theoretical difference. 1 implies something is already long, and you are making it longer, and 2 says nothing about how long it was, but you’re now making it long (maybe like English, the omission of “pli” might mean that the thing wasn’t long or beautiful until you made it so). But in practice, this distinction matters little, and often the shorter word will be used. Especially when you get to “malplilongigi”, you might just say “mallongigi”. See this PMEG page for this note, and more “ig” examples.

Here’s a few more I like:

  • plilongigi = to lengthen (to make longer)
  • plivastigi = to extend (to make more extensive)
  • verdigi = to colour green (to make green)
  • plilarĝigi = larĝigi = to widen
  • malplivarmigi = to cool down/ to cool (something)

More is not necessarily more.

I realised after a while that I’ve been reading sentences with “pli” and “plu” in for a while now without any problem. But I translate them most often as “more” (both of them). Then it occurred to me that Esperanto usually has a good reason for having more than one of these little words despite there being a single English translation. So I realised I had no idea what the difference was, so went on a mission to find out!

Pli versus Plu!

Abstractly, the difference is this: “plu” is “further/additionally/more” in relation to time or space. “Pli” means “more” but in relation to size, grade or degree.

So while “plu” is used for something that is continuing or ongoing, “pli” means “more than a certain amount” and as such is used for comparisons.

  • La melo ne plu aŭskultas al mi = The badger no longer [/more] listens to me
  • La melo estas pli bela ol la kato = The badger is more beautiful than the cat.

This shows that obviously if you use “ne” in conjunction with “plu” is means to not continue etc.

Something a little harder? I found this example on the PMEG page about “plu” using the word “rakonti” = “to relate/tell/narrate”

  • Li rakontis plu = He continued his narration (narrated more)
  • Li rakontis pli = He related more things (than previously/up until now/than others do/did)

Isn’t that awesome? With the change of a single character you get a whole different feel of the word “more”.

“Being Colloquial in Esperanto” also has a bunch of example sentences of the two words (alternatively p.184 of the paper copy).

Edit: Bonus fun!

As pointed out below, sometimes another word can act as “more”. This word is “ankoraŭ” which most often is translated as “still/yet”. It describes a past action/state that is still in effect.

However it also means something else. I’ll give you an example from the PMEG page:

  • Poste mi ankoraŭ parolos pri ĝi ~ Afterwards I will still [more] talk about it. (I will add to what I’ve said)
  • Poste mi plu parolos pri ĝi ~ Afterwards I will talk more about it. (I will resume the same talk)

In these cases, “ankoraŭ” shows repetition or more of the same type of thing. “Plu” shows continuation of the same thing.