Class notes, Feb 2

Some music

A music video by Finnish band Dolchamar was playing at the beginning of class on Tuesday. If you’re interested, the song is Junaj idealistoj (“Young idealists”), and of course it’s on YouTube:


We talked about the morphology of Esperanto—how words are assembled out of roots, affixes (prefixes and suffixes) and grammatical endings.

One of the distinguishing features of the language is how these word-parts behave. In most languages they vary depending on where they appear, but in Esperanto they’re invariant: they always have the same spelling and pronunciation.

The roots and affixes can also combine freely: you can assemble them in almost any order, as long as the resulting combination makes sense. This feature allows you to express a wide range of ideas using a very small lexicon. Instead of memorizing long lists of different words for related ideas, you can often re-use the basic roots and affixes you already know.

For example: using the root manĝ- (“a meal; the act of eating”), we can add common affixes and endings to make a wide variety of words that have to be memorized separately in English:

  • manĝo a meal
  • manĝi to eat
  • manĝo food
  • manĝejo dining room / cafeteria
  • manĝujo manger
  • manĝilo dining utensil
  • manĝilaro silverware
  • manĝebla edible (not poisonous)
  • manĝinda edible (worth eating)
  • manĝema gluttonous
  • manĝeti to nibble at
  • manĝeto a snack
  • manĝegi to gorge
  • manĝigi to feed
and so on…

From the chapter

Chapter 1 introduces the grammatical endings -o (for nouns) and -j (for plurals), and the suffixes -in- (feminine) and -ej- (place). We also talked about the article la, the present-tense verb ending -as, and the words kiu (which one/person) and corresponding tiu (that one/person). There’s also the very useful word kaj, which means and!


  • Read chapter 1 and study the readings until you understand them. Complete exercises 1.1–1.4 and the questions on page six. Send your answers to me at hoss dot firooznia at rochester dot edu and I’ll correct them for you—or bring them to class and I’ll give you a key so that you can correct them yourself.
  • Remember to practice at least a few minutes every day! Don’t try to cram a week’s worth of study into a single session; language learning works best when you manĝetas. :-)