5. Some hints on the structure of Esperanto

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5. Some hints on the structure of Esperanto

In spite of the ongoing debate as to whether Esperanto is a European or an Asian language, for the moment we will stick to Pennacchietti's conclusion that Esperanto is the least Indo-European of the Indo-European languages (Pennacchietti 1987).

Every word consist of a lexical morpheme (a root, if you like more traditional grammatical definitions), which bears the semantic information i.e. the general meaning, plus a grammatical morpheme (an ending), which defines more precisely the meaning of the lexical morpheme (noun, adjective, etc.) and explains the word's grammatical function in the sentence.

For instance "fik" gives the idea of fucking. With different endings this may become "fiki" = "to fuck" (infinitive of verb), "fiko" = "a fuck" (noun), "fika" = "fucking" (adjective) and "fike" = "fuckingly" (adverb). Morphemes can be strung together or given different endings, but never change their form, e.g. "vent" = "wind"; "kap" = "head"; "a" = "having the quality of" or adjective ending. This gives you "ventkapa" = "windheaded", i.e. empty headed.

Affixes play an important role in Esperanto word formation, and great use is made of them in making up new words, which may however be difficult to translate by a single word in English. To give an example: "masturb" = "to masturbate"; "em" = "having a certain disposition or tendency"; "ul" = "person"; "o" = noun ending. Put them together and you get "masturbemulo" = "someone who likes masturbating".

In this list we do not translate all possible derivates from the same basic root. Instead we translate only the most frequently used variations, and add others in brackets. Readers can translate them for themselves with the help of the following morpheme lists or even invent new ones.

a) Grammatical endings

-o noun
-a adjective
-j plural of noun or adjective
-n direct object
-e adverb
-en movement towards
-i infinitive
-u imperative
-ant- active present participle
-int- active past participle
-ont- active future participle
-at- passive present participle
-it- passive past participle
-ot- passive future participle

b) Prefixes

eks former, ex-
malliberulo prisoner; eksmalliberulo ex convict

fi disgusting, shameful
parigisto matchmaker; fiparigisto pander

ge of both sexes
agado activity; geagado promiscuous activity, fucking

mal makes word into its opposite
virta virtuous; malvirta immoral

mis wrongly, mis-
homo person; mishomo miscreant

c) Suffixes

expresses disparagement
hundo dog; hundaĉo cur

ad prolonged or repeated action
ŝteli to steal; ŝtelado robbery

concrete manifestation of concept or activity
feki to shit; fekaĵo shit (noun)

an member of a group, inhabitant
bordelo brothel; bordelano inhabitant of a brothel

ĉj diminutive (for males)
ilo tool; ĉjo-ilo* male tool

ej place
sterko manure; sterkejo dung heap

em disposition, tendency
sama same; sekso sex; samseksema homosexual (adj.)

er particle, item
feki to shit; fekero lump of shit

et diminutive
cerbo brain; cerbeto bird brain

id offspring
putino whore; putinido son of a whore

ig make, render
vomi to vomit; vomiga sickening

erekta erect; erektiĝo erection

il tool,implement, means
generi to generate; generilo genitals

in female
porko pig; porkino sow

ind worth of
ridi to laugh; ridinda ridiculous

ing socket, holder
peniso penis; penisingo condom

nj diminutive (for females)
knabo boy; njo-knabo* effeminate homosexual, pansy

ist person habitually occupied with something
palpi to feel; palpisto groper

uj container
kaco prick, cock; kacujo flies

ul person
stulta stupid; stultulo fool

um no fixed meaning
sekso sex; seksumi to have sex

  • ĉjo-ilo and njo-knabo are the only examples of the suffixes -ĉj- and -nj- which appear in the following list. However their use in these instances is not typical; as suffixes they are normally added after the noun they modify e.g. Vilhelmo = William; Vilĉjo = Willie.