Creating new words in Esperanto

by on April 21, 2017

Every language must adapt with the times in order for it to remain alive for decades and even centuries. This includes gaining additional speakers of all different ages and expanding its lexicon as more aspects of the arts and sciences are either discovered or invented. The invented language known as Esperanto, which its creator Ludwik Zamenhof had intended to be universally spoken, is keeping up with the times. Zamenhof had created Esperanto having been influenced by many European languages such as Spanish, French, and Yiddish. His purpose was to create a language that anyone could easily understand and be willing to use to communicate on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the language was met with disinterest from the general European population and Esperanto was deemed a failure upon its establishment over 130 years ago.

Starting in the mid-20th century, Esperanto has been met with renewed interest. People are tantalised by a language that, in its attempts to be universal, brings cultures and backgrounds together. Another characteristic of Esperanto that intrigues polyglots around the world is that inventing words is easy, flexible and a lot of fun. By adding prefixes and suffixes to verb roots and by combining words together, the possibilities of newer words and idioms are endless. What will be demonstrated in this piece is how a language expands as its speakers contribute one word at a time to its ever growing lexicon of terms.

Forming words in Esperanto

Zamenhof created Esperanto such that all words are formed and conjugated the same way without any irregularities. For example, the verb paroli which in its infinitive form means “to speak” is conjugated in the present, past and future tenses as parolas (speak), parolis (spoke) and parolos (will speak) respectively. That goes for every single other verb form as well. All verb infinitives end with “i”, adverbs in “e”, nouns in “o”, conditionals in “u” and adjectives in “a”.

Next, there is affixation, which turns words into different parts of speech or phenomena. There are over 30 different prefixes and suffixes in Esperanto, so couple that with the scores of different verb infinitives and nouns and the result is thousands or even millions of words at your disposal. Here are some examples of prefixes and suffixes and of their application to words:

AffixMeaning / FunctionExample
mal-oppositemal- + varma (hot) → malvarma (cold)
-aĵ:turn verb/noun into substancekonstrui (to build) + -aĵkonstruaĵo (building)
-istturn verb/noun into occupationŝteli (to steal) + -istŝtelisto (thief)
-estrturn verb/noun into head occupationkuiri (to cook) + -estrkuirestro (head chef)

Compound words in Esperanto are the same as in English, formed by piecing two complete words together to make a new or different term. Some examples of Esperanto compounds include:

gard(i) [to keep watch]+hundo [dog]gardhundo [watchdog]
skrib(i) [to write]+papero [paper]skribpapero [writing paper]
dank(i) [to thank]+letero [letter]dankletero [thank you letter]

The examples above seem straightforward, but mixing the most unlikely verb root with the most unlikely prefix or suffix is possible. If you get an Esperanto-English dictionary or an Esperanto grammar book, you can have fun coming up with these terms:

mal-
[opposite]
+venen(i)
["to poison"]
+-ist(o)
[occupation]
malvenenisto
["one who makes or deals in antidotes"]
skrib(i)
["to write"]
+-et(o)
[smaller]
+-i
[infinitive ending]
skribeti
["to scribble something"]
kritik(i)
["to criticize"]
+-eg(o)
[bigger/superior]
+-i
[infinitive ending]
kritikegi
["to chastise"]
pra
["ancestor"]
+angl(o)
["British persons"]
praanglo
["British ancestors"]

These are just four examples among the millions of possible words that can be pieced together to add to the dictionary. These word adjustments allow Esperanto to keep growing day by day, and year by year. Surprised by how easy it is to coin new words in Esperanto? The next section shows how forming Esperanto words relevant to the 21st century remains as easy and fun as ever.

Esperanto and pop culture

When Esperanto was first established in the late 19th century, terms that millennials take for granted like “Facebook” and “Instagram” did not exist. Rather than let the language seem outdated for future audiences, Esperantists all over the world constantly come up with new words using affixation and compounding of old words.

In her book Bridge of Words: Esperanto and the Dream of a Universal Language, Esther Schor talks about going to various Esperanto themed conventions and seminars around the world, where she met participants acting as amateur lexicographers. She brings up a few made up terms that she jotted down in order to preserve for the book and pass down to others. They include:

vizaĝ(o) ["face"]+libro ["book"]vizaĝlibro ["Facebook"]
ju ["you"] + tub ["tube"]+um [no actual meaning] + -i [infinitive ending]jutubumi ["to YouTube endlessly"]

So let’s look at an example of an Esperanto sentence pertaining to these two words:

 

Mi vizaĝlibras miajn amikojn ĉiutage. [“I Facebook my friends every day.”]

Li jutubumis por la tuta sejmajno. [“He YouTubed endlessly for the entire week.”]

 

Influenced by this amateur lexicography, I decided to come up with my own new creations relating to newer vocabulary that has entered our daily lexicon. Here is a verb form based on another portmanteau that has made its way onto various Internet web pages and message boards; “mansplaining”:

vir(o) ["man"]+klarigi ["to explain"]virklarigi ["to mansplain"]
Viroj ofte virklarigas politikojn al virinoj
"Men often mansplain politics to women."

On the internet, there are ads that seem interesting, but really send you to another website—“clickbait”:

klak
["click"]
+logaĵo
["bait"]
klaklogaĵo
["clickbait"]
Vizaĝlibro estas plena el klaklogaĵoj
Facebook is full of clickbait

We’ve all used this acronym down for “laugh out loud” (LOL). Here is how it can be used as a single verb form:

laŭt(e) ["loudly"]+rid(i) ["to laugh"]laŭtridi ["to LOL"]
Ciuj laŭtridas pri la plej stulta aferoj.
"Everyone LOLs about the dumbest things."

Conclusion

Zamenhof would not have thought of expanding Esperanto due to others’ lack of interest in it, but with a renewed outpouring of support, this constructed language is becoming more popular around the world. The proof is that several clubs and committees devoted to Esperanto exist all over the world, in what Esther Schor calls “a global Babel” where people of all different backgrounds come together to speak a common language. As a result, new Esperanto words from foreign roots can be born. By the year 3000 with the number of speakers around the world, think of the words, slang expressions and idioms that can be added to an Esperanto dictionary. Esperanto may finally become the widely spoken language that Zamenhof had envisioned. ĝi povas okazi (It can happen).

 


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article and its Esperanto examples have been updated for accuracy as of 7 June 2017.

 

49 Responses to “Creating new words in Esperanto”

  1. Bonega superrigardo pri la plej ofta (post la demando pri „kiom da homoj parolas ĝin?“) demando pri Esperanto. Estas kelkaj tajperaroj — kiel „stulta aferoj“ anst. „stultaj aferoj“, „Ciuj“ anst. „Ĉiuj“ ktp. — ili tamen ne malbonigas la tekston ĝenerale, plenan je tre bonaj rimarkoj.

    Reply
  2. Interesting article, thanks. However, I found a typo in an Esperanto example:
    Li jutumbis por la tuta sejmajno. [“He YouTubed endlessly for the entire week.”]
    It should be “jutubumis”.

    Reply
  3. Saluton! Tre bona artkolo!

    Reply
  4. Mi gratulas vin.

    Reply
  5. jakov

    Great article! I couldn’t have expressed more clearly what I always want to say about Esperanto: it’s indeed not just the relatively easy to learn, fair language it needs to be, but also has some awesome features in and of itself.

    PS: “ju” doesn’t mean “you”. “jutubo” is just sounding alike “YouTube”, but doesn’t have an Esperanto meaning. Similarly “vindozo” sounds like “Windows” (the operating system), but doesn’t mean window (“fenestro” is the Esperanto word for it).

    Reply
  6. Judith Mack

    Saluton. I’m learning Esperanto and I found this a really helpful article on how words are made in Esperanto. There are a couple of points, though, that I want to raise. Firstly, I doubt that Dr Zamenhof would have seen his language as a failure as there was a lot of interest in constructed languages in his lifetime and he lived to see a committee that met to choose a world language choose Esperanto, though with more work to be done on it. Secondly, in your article you gave the root for “British” as “angl-“. Shouldn’t it be “brit-“? I think “angl-” means “English”, “skot-” means “Scottish”, etc. Tamen, mi gratulas kai dankas vin pri la tre bona artkolo.

    Reply
  7. Vizaĝlibro, tiu traduko nek bonas nek belas : vizaĝo ne estas tiu, kiu “fejs” signifas en la angla. Ank’ Esperanto havas la vorto facio, kiu ĉi tie pli bone taǔgas por tia uzo. Ankaǔ “buǔk” ne estas Esperanta libro akurate : pli bone oni diru kaj skribu paĝaro, ĉar fakte temas pri mondgranda amasego da paĝoj retaj. Kial ne uzi “facipaĝaro”?

    Reply
  8. … [Trackback]

    […] There you can find 96419 more Info on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  9. … [Trackback]

    […] Find More Info here on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  10. … [Trackback]

    […] Find More Information here on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  11. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More here to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  12. … [Trackback]

    […] Here you can find 72176 more Information on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  13. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  14. … [Trackback]

    […] Information on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  15. … [Trackback]

    […] Information to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  16. … [Trackback]

    […] Information to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  17. … [Trackback]

    […] Here you will find 7646 more Info on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  18. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  19. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  20. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  21. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  22. … [Trackback]

    […] There you can find 62645 more Info on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  23. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  24. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  25. reading glasses 1.0 to 4.00 unisex mens womens designer spring

    bia艂e bluzki a偶urowesanda艂y sportowe teva tanza dark shadow redbuty m臋skie adidas varial ii mid f37481 new 2016 ceny i opiniebotki damskie sk贸rzane na obcasie

    Reply
  26. … [Trackback]

    […] There you can find 48330 additional Info to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  27. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  28. … [Trackback]

    […] Information on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  29. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  30. … [Trackback]

    […] There you will find 83677 more Information on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  31. dsquared2 is almost old enough to drink the best looks from fashion

    braun thermoscan 7 ear thermometer irt 6520 zeedon e butikmagellan fishing shirtsdiadora b blue original trainers topman malaysiagreen furla bags up to 90 off at tradesy

    Reply
  32. caroll tailleur jupe marque c茅l猫bre zfgugy

    ou acheter des survetement de marque pas cheraccessoires enfant cachemire herm猫s comparez et achetezacne studios sac port茅 茅paule en cuir 脿 n艙uds musubi mini marron femme sacsbonnets chapeaux femme ski moncler comparez et achetez

    Reply
  33. … [Trackback]

    […] Find More on on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  34. … [Trackback]

    […] Information to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  35. fhi heat platform tourmaline ceramic professional 1 styling iron

    martins big and tall team sports apparel chicago bears tcarphone warehouse to champion its customer service with summer tv campaigntourmaline ceramic flat iron hair straightener professional tourmaline ceramic flat iron straightening irons hair styling…

    Reply
  36. ensemble bonnet et une 茅charpe assorties pour homme un grand march茅

    echarpe homme 30 laine douce et chaude grise amazon.fr v锚tementsholy freedom mc gregor foulard moto soie damier vintage cache coutest avis porte b茅b茅 茅charpe de portage sans noeud marron r茅glable7 comment tricoter des moufles naissance journal des femm…

    Reply
  37. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  38. … [Trackback]

    […] Here you will find 28048 additional Info to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  39. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More here on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  40. … [Trackback]

    […] There you can find 55061 more Information to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  41. 丿乇丕爻丞 丕賱兀丨匕賷丞 丕賱胤亘賷丞 賯丿 賱丕 鬲禺賮賮 丌賱丕賲 賲賮氐賱 丕賱乇賰亘丞

    lunettes versace vintageconsomac apple propose un cr茅dit 脿 0 sur lapple storeoakley holbrook oo 9102 62 lunettes de soleil homme noir pas cher achat vente lunettes aviateur rueducommercelunettes de vue paul joe tanzani01 o br65 55 15 140 opticien la

    Reply
  42. kaiul rakuten market store louis vuitton hat cap water line

    green bay packers 9twenty tweed badge strapback cap green bay stuffstone tan tactical operator contractor patch low crown structured baseball ball cap hat at amazon mens clothing storeval high end baseball capstetson expedition crushable wool pinch fro…

    Reply
  43. … [Trackback]

    […] Read More on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  44. … [Trackback]

    […] There you can find 42435 additional Information to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  45. … [Trackback]

    […] Information on that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  46. … [Trackback]

    […] Here you will find 33952 more Info to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  47. … [Trackback]

    […] Find More to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply
  48. … [Trackback]

    […] Find More to that Topic: unravellingmag.com/articles/creating-new-words-in-esperanto/ […]

    Reply

Leave a Comment