Boisterous Bajoran Buffoonery: badger disguised in costume crashes sci-fi convention

I’m a trifle nerdy, and that’s setting off my understatement-o-meter. But whether or not you are too, you’ve probably heard this quote before:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

Your brain may even have read it in a commanding captain’s voice. Then a massive wind up, and POW; we’re in warp. Daa, dadada, dadada BOM BOM, dadadada da daa daa daaaa dadada daaa, –

Ahem. *lays down trumpet*

Anyway, I’ve always remarked, as I’m sure many before me have, that the ending line is so punchy.

To boldly go….

Some of you may remember certain school teachers of English language endlessly chastising you for splitting infinitives: this process of instead of keeping the “to” with its “go”, you split it with a word describing the action.

To ceaselessly battle.

To tirelessly study.

Many seem to consider it bad style. And often it can look clumsy. But I think there’s a place for it. It certainly feels at home in that Star Trek quote. And it’s that quote that fuelled me to ignore my English teacher! What if it were “to go boldly”?! Doesn’t that sound lame? Generally, the real way of getting around a split infinitive involves rephrasing completely. But dat ain’t needed nor wanted here, son.

ANYWAY. Why did I bring this up? You’ve probably realised that in many languages, you simply cannot split the infinitive, because it is only one word!

Take Esperanto: infinitives are the i-forms of verbs:

  • danci = to dance
  • ami = to love
  • iri = to go
  • tedanci = to do the tea dance (makes tea rain from the sky!).

I certainly can’t put “boldly” in the middle of “iri”.

So this got me thinking. How do we translate this? And is it as punchy? And is there anything we can do if it ain’t so punchy?

So the most naive translation I can come up with for that bit is this:

  • iri aŭdace kien neniu iris antaŭe (literally: to go boldly where no one has gone before)

Now, you gotta admit, that iri aŭdace — iris antaŭe combo really does give it a nice rhythm. BUT, you may disagree, but it really does read like “to go boldly” to me; it makes sense, but the punchiness is gone. It’s like a normal utterance. The power of the boldness word is lost.

What are our options? Well, in Esperanto, given the slightly freer word-order, a common technique for applying emphasis is to bring the word requiring emphasis to the beginning of the phrase, if this is permitted:

  • aŭdace iri kien neniu iris antaŭe (literally: boldly (to) go where no one has gone before)

Despite the unfortunate consequence that pronouncing “-ce” then “iri”  is a little less pretty, this really does bring back some umph, don’t you think? You get right to main point in the first word – BOOM, not even having to say a pesky “to”! (The thing that stops this starting to translate like “boldly going where…”, is how the paragraph begins: “it’s continuing mission: to X, to Y, to Z.” i.e. not “Xing, Ying, Zing”.)

There is another tool on Esperanto’s belt of course VORTFARADO!!! (or word-building…).

  • aŭdaciri kien neniu antaŭe iris (literally: boldy-go where no one before has gone)

Notice I change the order of “antaŭe” and “iris” to maintain the rhythm (aŭdaciri — antaŭe iris), purely poetic and unnecessary 😛

Now, what’s going on ‘ere then. “Aŭdaciri”? can I just go and do that? This is actually more than just just boldly going (as you may know if you’re familiar with this section of the PMEG). This is like a special kind of going, a kind of going that is by its very nature, daring and bold. Exploring the dangerous bits, inviting new trouble, poking your nose into the fresh-universe-snow. The going is defined by the daring.

Why? I’ll explain with the PMEG example. You can’t just go around sticking on adjectives and adverbs (a-words and e-words) to things and expect them to mean the same plain old thing:

  • dika = thick
  • fingro = finger
  • dikfingro = thumb
  • dika fingro = thick finger

Get my drift? If you join those words together, you are saying that its very nature is highly influenced by the attached property; we’re not talking about just a slightly thicker finger here; this finger is something else, it’s set apart, and one of its defining apartnesses is its thickness compared to a normal finger.

We’re not just being bold while we go through the universe; we’re bloody well pioneering for our species, our whole movement through the universe is about audacity and facing the new, the strange, the tough, and the scary head-on. THAT is how we are going through the universe.

How’s that for punchy?

(Note: an acceptable translation for “boldly” might have been “kuraĝe”, with more connotations of courageousness. But that is like boldness against fear. When what I think we really want here, is boldness in the face of trials of our morality, understanding, strength, etc. I.e. not necessarily things that make us afraid, but things that make us confront our own darkness and thought, and struggle to find the right path. A pretty lofty goal, hence audacity, intrepidity).

Building words from phrases

I’m a little stunned that I’ve not come across this PMEG page before… I think not anyway… Though feel free to correct me if you’ve seen me mention it before.

It’s all about making words out of phrases (rather than just shoving roots and affixes together). It’s a goldmine of inspiration for word building, and gets you thinking about how to really play with your words.

I’ll probably write a couple posts over time on it, and today will be concentrating on the section entitled “Vortigo per A-finaĵo aŭ E-finaĵo”, which, as you may know, means something like “making a word with an A-ending or an E-ending”.

Now, you may recall that A-words (adjectives) are used to describe O-words (nouns). So if you’ve got your O-words (which shows a thing or concept), you can describe the kind of thing using an A-word:

  • melo = a badger
  • blua melo = a blue badger

E-words, describe everything else, and you’ll mostly see them describing actions.

  • ŝi kuris = she ran
  • ŝi rapide kuris = she ran quickly

So, what this section of the page talks about, is taking a phrase of some sort, and smooshing it into a single word, and then using it to describe something where that original phrase would apply.

A simple example is the first one.

  • sur tablo = on a table
  • surtabla lampo = a table-top lamp, a lamp which is on the table

You can even make an adverb version, if you’d rather describe an action:

  • Ili sidis surtable = They sat on the table (literally like: they sat on-table-ly)

Instead of:

  • Ili sidis sur la tablo

Just look at the flexibility of those examples on that page though!

This one’s really cool:

  • kun blanka ĉapelo = with a white hat

You could be boring and start a sentence as below, which is going to be slow starting and lengthy despite the simple property you’re trying to express:

  • La homo kun blanka ĉapelo… = The person with a white hat

Or you could set yourself up for a more interesting/complex yet succinct sentence with:

  • La blankĉapela homo… = The person with a white hat / the white-hatted person

Ain’t that grand?

Here’s one that I just thought of:

  • en la dorsa poŝo = in the back pocket
  • La endorspoŝa telefono… = The back-pocketted phone… / the phone in the back pocket…

Written out long you’d have to go for:

  • La telefono, kiu estas en la dorsa poŝo… = the phone which is in the back pocket


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

Ya mouth’s full o’ words

Found some really inventive words today! If you’ve been paying close attention to the Lernu forums since at least… December, maybe? Then you might have seen my source: an article by Claude Piron, because I think someone may have linked to it a while back.

Besides being an incredibly interesting article on the evolution of Esperanto, there are a couple of anecdotes about some pretty cool uses of the word building system.

  • jeskaze = if you (one) agrees, in the case of agreement
  • buŝpleni (pri)= to “constantly pay lip-service (about)”, constantly talk about, mouth full of speech (about)


“jes” = “yes”, and “kaze” is the adverbial form of “kazo” = “case”. So “kaze” is like “in the case”. “Kazo” apparently originally talked only about “case” in the linguistic sense (e.g. accusative case), but has since drifted to be like “affair/event”, more like “okazo”. A less risky version may well be “jesokaze”! Regardless, this word is like “in the case of yes/affirmation/agreement”. Pretty neat!


  • buŝo = mouth
  • plena = full/complete
  • pleni = to be full/complete (see this previous post for why, and this one for an interesting point about this transformation)

So “pleni” is “to be full”, and if we add a word to the front, is says that we’re full in a particular kind of way. By adding “buŝ” to the front, we’re saying that the manner in which we’re full, is characterised by “mouth” in some way.

  • Ili buŝplenas pri homrajtoj = They constantly pay lip-service to human rights / Their mouth is full of speech about human rights

Literally “they mouth-full about human rights”.

I think that’s pretty cool don’t you?

If you haven’t already, do take a read of that article; it really shows how our language has grown in some interesting ways!

“Buŝpleni” made me think up “plenbuŝe”:

  • Dum la tuta manĝo, lia koramikino parolis plenbuŝe!

Know what I mean by that? 😀

Word-building Formula

Fancy a neat little formula for building certain types of word in Esperanto?

If you aren’t familiar with viewing Esperanto root words as having an inherent class (“object”,”quality”,”action”), then quickly read my previous post.


Imagine you are talking about a word: W. Let’s say that W is “virino” = “woman”.

And that you don’t want to just say “a woman”. You want to call attention to a particular aspect of W (the woman). We’ll call the aspect: A.

Let’s say A (our aspect) is “haro” = “hair”; we want to call attention to the woman’s hair.

Now, there’s some property of A (her hair), which distinguishes her from some other people. We’ll call this property: P, and let’s say that P is “bruna” = “brown”.

So, we want to call attention to the fact that a woman has brown hair.

In other words: we want to refer to W, making a reference to A, which is distinguishable by being P (and we want to do it in a neat little phrase).

In English, we’d say:

  • A brown-haired woman

In Esperanto, we’d say:

  • Brunhara virino

In general, this is:

  • P-A-a W-o

This is simply saying that we make the aspect A into one word with its property P, and give it the adjective ending “a” (so it can describe a noun), and we put W after it with the noun ending “o”.

This will always be talking about some word W, which has an aspect A, the distinguishing feature of which is P.

  • P should be a “quality” root (it describes a property of something)
  • A should be an “object” root (it is a particular thing with a property P)
  • W should be an “object” root (it is a particular thing, with a distinguishing aspect A)

Here’s some examples of “P-A-a”:

  • Saĝokula = wise-eyed
  • Ruĝlipa = red-lipped
  • Rapidlanga = quick-tongued

Isn’t that nice?

Sometime soon I show you what happens if P is an object root!

Mopping and Finger-showing

I happened upon a word meaning “to point” today! It was “fingromontri” (pronounced “fin-gro-MON-tri”; IPA: fingro’montri). It’s made up of the components “fingro” and “montri” (“finger” and “to show/indicate” respectively). I love how it is literally just “to finger-show”, it neatly expresses “fingre montri” = “to show with a finger”, exactly what pointing is.

I also found a word that I just love pronouncing over and over, “ŝvabri” (pronounced “SHVA-bri”; IPA: ‘ʃvabri). It means “to mop/swab”. Again, I think the “ŝ” plus consonant combo at the beginning is what gets me going!

And… Have you been lurking around lately? In one of the English threads one of the users pointed out a funny word “intimo”… Does it mean intimacy, or fear of women? 😀

Changing, whether one wants to or not

I was looking up a few words in the 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!