Root problem

Recently I made a post about the word “surhavi” meaning “to wear” or literally, “to have on” (made up of the words “sur” = “on” and “havi” = “to have”). I mentioned that there is a good reason why “sur” appears before “havi”, even though in a literal translation “to have on” (in the other order) makes sense.

It’s for the sake of logic when building words in Esperanto. See, fundamentally, the word “surhavi” is about having in some way, it is the having of something on you. So “have” is the main concept, and “on” is modifying it, by saying that the having is done in a certain kind of way: “on”.

This is how it works when word building. The main concept is the last word, and the root which modifies this word goes before it. Longer words can be built by repeating the process.

Therefore, “mortodoro” is some kind of death smell, whereas “odormorto” is not… maybe it’s a death characterised mostly by smell? A smelly death?

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Keep it simple.

No unnecessary complications. Complexity should be the result of complex expression, not arbitrary forced complexity. I love the idea of a language being a simple set of tools, but that can be combined in infinitely different simple and complex ways.

Esperanto is just that. With a base vocabulary far smaller than any language I can think of, it provides tools in the form of a few suffixes and prefixes (and the ability to stick word roots together) in order to build words in a sensible regular way.

For example, “-il” is a suffix that adds the meaning of a tool to perform the root word. So given the word “razi” which means “to shave”, without knowing beforehand, I can determine that “razilo” means “razor” i.e. a tool for which one can shave.

The prefix “mal-” when applied to a word, reverses it’s meaning! So if I know the word “bela” (meaning “beautiful”) I also know the word “malbela”, which means the opposite: ugly!

So if you can master the prefixes and suffixes, then every new word you learn isn’t just one new word, its a new word for every suffix and prefix you know! Efficient huh?