That’s utterly unpocketable

Inspiration for a word hit me today whilst reading some text by William Auld (who wrote so well!). So we’re in the rarely visited territory of the Constructed Words category today!

The word is “poŝebla”, the simplest translation of which is perhaps “pocketable”. The meaning is a description of something which is shaped in such a way that it is possible to put it in one’s pocketses (possessed by the spirit of Gollum for a second there).

  • Ĝenerale, la melo ne estas poŝebla = generally, badgers are not pocketable (it is not possible to put badgers in one’s pockets)

And now for the derivation!

  • poŝo = (a) pocket
  • -ebl = suffix meaning “possible to <root>” or “<root> can be done”; “legebla” = “legible, possible to read”

See this post for more information on “-ebl”.

As you’ll learn from the post about “-ebl”, it expects to a verb at its behind. But “poŝo” is the noun form. So to get the proper interpretation of “poŝebla”, we must first interpret “poŝi”, the verbal form.

Check out this PMEG page, under the section “Verboj el ne-agaj radikoj” (“Verbs out of non-action roots”).

It shows a bunch of guidelines about interpreting the verb forms of naturally object type words (like pocket, stone, city).

I believe the most relevant examples are under this statement “Se la radiko montras ilon, aparaton aŭ simile…” (“if the root indicates a tool, apparatus/device or similar…”). It goes on to explain that the verb form then means “to use the tool in its usual manner”. So “to pocket” is to put something in your pocket, or keep something in your pocket.

Therefore “poŝebla” is “possible to put/keep in your pocket”.

I thought it was quite a cool word, sort of like a whimsical version of “portebla” (portable, possible to carry).

Note that you don’t need this word to talk about things like “pocket dictionaries”, those can just be “poŝvortaroj” not “poŝeblaj vortaroj”.

Brain cram

I’ve been buried under a mound of vocabulary! Forcing my brain to accept vocab any way I can. One particular method seems to be working so far: memrise.com

It’s really neat, users submit wordlists and the website helps you learn the lists. Esperanto wordlists include the wordlists for the Lernu.net exams, the most common Esperanto words, vocab lists from various Esperanto books etc.

The website introduces new words to you, and asks you to select them from among words you’ve learnt so far. Every time you get something wrong, it remembers and presents that word more often. If you confuse it with the same words every time, it’ll pick you up on that. The better you are at getting a word, the more difficult the task gets (instead of selecting the word, you must type it), and the less often you get asked about it.

It’s basically managing my forgetfulness for me 😀

Another useful thing I’ve come across is “Traduku!”, a book found at the Esperanto Association of Britain. It’s a compilation of 56 English passages of text which appeared as translation tasks in The British Esperantist. Each passage has notes about the difficult to translate bits, and a model answer by William Auld. It’s really fun and challenging, if you enjoy being picky about language, then it’s awesome 😛