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[EN] Listen and Learn in Esperanto: "Pli bone malfrue ol neniam!"


The story "Pli bone malfrue ol neniam" was selected from the book "Kruko kaj Baniko en Bervalo" by Louis Beaucaire. Turn on subtitles in the video, or click here to download the book and read along! I've included a list of some words and phrases from the text that you might not understand right away.

Senspiriĝinte: The language Esperanto is agglutinative, which means that you can "glue" parts of the language together to create brand new words as needed. In this case, we're looking at five things: Sen- (prefix meaning "without"), -spir- (the root for breath or breathing), -- (the suffix to indicate transition from one state to another or becoming), -int- (the past active participle ending to show an action that has completed), and -e (the ending used to indicate an adverb). So put it all together, and you get an adverb meaning, "Having become without breath," and in this case, modifies how the old man reports to the police officer.

Policano: When learning a foreign language, it's important to beware of false friends, or words that look like something from your own language, but mean something else entirely. For example, in Esperanto the word for the police department, or police service as a whole, is "polico." So, if you wanted to say that you reported a crime to a police officer, then you need to use "policano" which is a combination of the root "polic-" with the noun suffix "-ano" (to show a member of a group related to the previous root).

Bubo: If you speak English as your first language, you might think that "bubo" is slang for another English slang you might already know, but you'd be tricked by a false friend! "Bubo" is what you use to name a young person who plays tricks, mocks, or is generally obnoxious or meddlesome. Combine it with the noun suffix "-aĉo" and you've got a great name for a worthless scamp!

Postaĵo: This word is a combination of the preposition Post- (after, behind, rear) and the noun suffix -aĵo (thing, substance, or object indicated by the root.) In this case, we've got a very literal word for "backside!"

Ridaĉante: Quite often in Esperantic literature you'll find authors using tightly built particples with adverbal endings to communicate something that would have otherwise taken several more words. In this case, we're starting with the root Rid- (to laugh), the suffix -- (worthless or terrible), -ant- (the present active participle ending), and -e (the adverb ending.) This word means something like, "laughing in a terrible or contemptible way," and is used to indicate the manner in which the scamp ran away.

Persekuti: This is a transitive verb (meaning it can take a direct object) which means to chase after, or to follow after in order to catch and do something to the object being chased. This can be used to describe simply chasing after somebody, but can also be used more generally in the same way that we would say to "persecute" somebody in English.

Maltrankviliĝi: So, the verb for "to sit" in Esperanto is "sidi," but the verb for "to sit down" is "sidiĝi." The difference is the verb suffix -iĝi which indicates change or transition from one state to another. So when you tell a guest in your house, "Bonvolu sidiĝi!," you're saying literally, "Please become in a state of sitting," or simply, "Please sit down!"

In the same way, if somebody said, "Ne maltrankviliĝu," they're saying literally, "Don't become in a state of untranquility," or simply, "Don't get upset!" If you were to say, "Ne maltrankvilu," you're saying, "Don't be untranquil!" The difference here is subtle, but important -- like the difference between "Sidu!" (Sit!) and "Sidiĝu!" (Be seated!)

So, this word is built on mal- (the prefix to indicate that everything which follows is the logical opposite), -trankvil- (the root for tranquil or calm), -- (the verb suffix to inciate change or transition between states), and -u (the imperative verb ending to show a command.) Or, said simply, "Don't become upset!"

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