The following vocabulary and grammar reference has been created to help students as they listen and learn with this spoken excerpt from chapter 1 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, translated into Esperanto by Donald Broadribb. Subtitles are available in both English and Esperanto, and students may download the entire book in Esperanto here. This guide covers vocabulary and grammar which most beginners will find unfamiliar or challenging. Complete beginners with no knowledge of the language are invited to start learning Esperanto today with the help of a tutor!
"Ondi" means to swell, ripple, undulate, wave. This is also our basis for the verb "Ondiĝi" which means for something to become in the state of swelling, rippling, undulating, or waving. We'll also get our nouns "Ondo," most usually seen as "Wave" and "Ondeto" for ripple.
"Fajfi" means to whistle. Incidentally, it also appears as the only non-literal figure of speech that I can name in Esperanto, "Prifajfi," which literally means, "To whistle about," but in colloquial speech means, "To not care."
One of the reasons I really like Donald Broadribb's style is that he so frequently and effectively built words to suit his needs. For example, there's "Tiudirekten" and "Tiudirekta," both formed from the demonstrative pronoun "Tiu" (that one) and the root Direkt- (direction).
"Tiudirekten" has the adverb ending -e- (which is used to show when, where, or how something is happening) in combination with the accusative ending -n to show direction toward. Literally translated, it says, "That-direction-ly," but you probably already figured out that it means, "toward that direction."
Likewise, "Tiudirekta" uses the adjective ending -a to create a word which you probably already guessed means, "like that direction," or simply, "over there."
The verb "Zorgi" to care, care for, look after, or even worry. However, you'll hear it in this story with the prefix "Pri-" which, strictly speaking, means "About," but is used really as a means of distributing what came before it onto whatever follows. So, when you say "Prizorgi" it emphasizes that you're looking after or taking care of something. In the same way, the verb "Serĉi" means to search for, or to look for, but if a police officer was to stop and search you, he or she would not "Serĉi" you, but would "Priserĉi" you.
"Bruto" means farm animal, or brute, and is a blanket word used to describe any sort of animal that's used for heavy work.
The noun "Ŝedo" is imported directly from the english "Shed," and I suppose there's no reason you couldn't use this in regular conversation, but you'd probably be more easily understood if you just said "Brutejo."
"Kelo" is very close to the English word for "cellar," however you must not confuse it for "Subetaĝo" (basement.) A "Kelo" (cellar) is almost exclusively a cold, dark, damp, dirty place used for storing root vegetables, winebottles, and the like, whereas a "Subetaĝo" is any room under the floor.
The verb "Timi" means to fear, and from it we get "Timo," or fear, and the adjective "Plena" means full. Put them together and you get "Timoplena," literaly "fear-full," but in English you'd just say "fearful."
The word "Luko" is typically used to describe the sort of awkwardly small doors sometimes called "bulkhead doors" that you'd see in a submarine. They're not very tall or wide and are just big enough to get people through.
The word "Klapo" means flap, valve, door, or hatch. If you have a hard time remembering this one, just think of it as a "clapper" that "claps" when you shut it.
Esperanto is great for building new words as needed, but for beginners it can be intimidating. The word "malsuprengrimpi" is broken up as "mal-supr-en-grimpi." Let's look at each in turn:
Mal- is the prefix which within reason inverts whatever follows. Supr- is the root for top or summit, or the highest-most naturally "upward" point of a thing. -En is the suffix you'll see to indicate direction, which you already know from the word "Kien," or, "To which direction?," as in, "Kien li iris?" (Where did he go?). "Grimpi" means to climb and is used exactly as we'd use it in English. Put it together, and you get, "malsuprengrimpi," or "to climb downwards." This kind of word construction is very common in Esperanto!
Another word you'll hear int this excerpt is, "Rampi," which means to crawl, creep, or sneak.
The word "Kriĉi" means to screech, from which we get "Kriĉo", or screech.
The word "Aŭdi" means to hear, and with the help of the suffix -iĝ- we get "Aŭdiĝi," which means to become heard.
The word "Skui" means to shake something. For example, "La vento skuas la domon" (The wind shakes the house.) Or maybe, "La knabo skuas la pakaĵon" (The boy shakes the package.) From this word we also get "Skuiĝi," which means to become in a state of being shaken.
You must remember to not mistake "Skui" (to shake something) for "Tremi" (to shake). You can remember the difference because "Tremi" is like "Tremble" or "Tremor," and is where we get the word "Tertremo," or "Earthquake."
In the excerpt, Dorthy falls on the floor and finds herself sitting. This is written as, "trovis sin sidanta" (found herself sitting.) This bit of grammar can be hard for beginners to understand, but we actually do the exact same thing in English. Consider the following sentences:
1. Mi farbis la domon blua.
2. Mi farbis la domon bluan.
In Esperanto, these two sentences are different by only a single letter, the -n at the end of Blua. In English, we'd tell the difference between these sentences with word order:
1. I painted the house blue.
2. I painted the blue house.
Can you tell the difference? In the first sentence, I used blue paint to paint the house, and now it is blue. In the second sentence, I painted a blue house (the color I used to paint the house is not mentioned.)
This kind of difference with the accusative ending -n can be confusing for people who don't have this kind of grammatical case ending in their language, but it exists in Esperanto to allow a more fluid word order. This lets people who all speak different languages fit Esperanto to their preferred word order yet be understood by other Esperanto speakers all the same!
Here's another bit of word-building you might not recognize right away,
"Ĉirkaŭturniĝi," from the preposition "Ĉirkaŭ," meaning "around," the verb "Turni," meaning "to turn something," and the suffix -iĝ-, meaning to become, which is a long way to say, "To become or to start turning around."
You might not recognize "Supreniro" the first time you see it. This word comes from "Supren-" (up-ward, top-ward) and -Iro (go, going). Literally this means, "upward going," but in English you'd say, "ascent" or "going up."
In Esperanto, nounds and adjectives typically match in quantity. For example, "Bona hundo" (good dog) and "Bonaj hundoj" (good dogs.) However, you will occasionally find a situation where you'll use two singular adjectives to describe one plural noun. For example, "La norda kaj suda ventoj" (The north and south winds.) The context makes it clear that we're talking about "La norda vento kaj la suda vento" (The north wind and the south wind) but are merely shortening the sentence.
I remember when I was first learning Esperanto that I didn't understand the difference between "Sidi" and "Sidiĝi." When I wanted to say "sit down," my mouth would spit out, "malsuprensidi," but only because that's a literal translation. What I really wanted to say was, "be seated." In Esperanto, the suffix -iĝ- is used to show a state of transition or coming into a state of being. So I could tell my guests to "Sidu!," but that's like commanding the dog to "Sit!" Instead, I should tell my guests to "Sidiĝu!," which means literally, "become sitting," but is the best way to politely say, "Be seated," or invite guests to "sit down!"
The word "Kvieta" is a false friend! You might think it means "quiet" or "silent," but in fact that would be either "softa" or "silenta." In Esperanto, "Kvieta" means still, unmoving, placid, or calm.
The word "Ĉiuflanke" is formed from "Ĉiu-" meaning every one, or each one, flank-, the root for side, and the adverb ending -e to show when, where, or how something occurs. So, "at (or from) every side."
The word "Plejsupro" comes from the superlative preposition "Plej" meaning the most that is possible, and "Supro," meaning top. Literally, "most-top," but in English we'd say "the very top."
Remember that in Esperanto when we talk about distance or measurement we have to use the accusative ending to distinguish the distance or measurement from the subject of the sentence. For example, "Mi vojaĝis multegajn kilometrojn" (I traveled so many kilometers.) Without the accusative ending, the sentence cannot distinguish between who's doing the travelling. "Mi estas du metrojn alta" (I'm two meters tall.) "Mi kuris kvin mejlojn" (I ran five miles.) "Mi atendis dudek minutojn" (I waited twenty minutes.) The subject of a sentence (Mi / I) cannot be in the same case as the object of the sentence (Metrojn, Mejlojn, Minutojn / Meters, Miles, Minutes)
The word "Hurli" means to howl, and can be used to describe both animals and the weather. Concerning animal sounds, you'll also hear "Muĝi," to bellow or roar like a cow, ox, hippo, or any other large animal; "Boji," to bark like any sort of dog, wolf, fox, or coyote, "Bleki," to bleat, whinny, or squeal like a horse, sheep, or pig, "Rori," which is specifically to roar like a lion or tiger, and "Pepi," to tweet or chirp like a bird.
Remember that in Esperanto, words are your playground and you can build whatever you want. For example, "Unufoja," or literally, "one-instance," or "one-time."
The word "Kruta" means steep, or sharply slanted.
Beware the word "Ĝentila!" It looks like it means "gentle," but in fact it means "polite" or "well-mannered." To say that something is "gentle," or "soft of touch," you want the word "Milda," like "mild."
The word "Luli" means to rock or lull (as in, "lull to sleep.") From it, we get "Lulilo," a tool for lulling, or "cradle!" Finally, the translator Donald Broadribb wrote, "kvazaŭluladon," which can be easily understood as, "as-if rocking."
In English, we have an expression that goes, "First he was running there, then he was running here," to talk about somebody doing something Here and There, or going from Place to Place. In Esperanto, this is expressed with, "Jen ... , jen ..."
Remember that in Esperanto adverbs describe actions, and adjectives describe nouns. This means that if you were to say, "Mi sidas senmove" (I sit unmovingly, without moving), you're saying that you were sitting and while sitting not moving. But if you said, "Mi sidas senmova," you're describing the state in which you sit, or in other words, creating a condition to describe when you sit. There's no reason to complicate things! If you want to describe a verb - how you were sitting - just use an adverb!
There's a part in this excerpt where Dorothy sees Toto fall through a hole in the floor and she "Kredis lin perdita." This is the exact same pattern that we talked about before when we talked about paining a house. Really, it's like saying that she "Kredis lin (esti) perdita," but we don't bother including the verb "Esti" (to be) because its presence is assumed.
A terrific verb that is great for all kinds of things is "Etendi," which means to extend. You'll find all kinds of uses for it when you have to describe basic motions and every-day actions!
In this excerp there's a sentence where Dorothy closes a door, "por ke neniu plia akcidento okazu" (so that another accident doesn't happen.) In this sentence, the verb "Okazi" (to happen) takes the imperative ending -u to show that Dorothy is expressing her will or preference. When you see "Por ke..." (So that...), this nearly always is followed by a verb in the imperative to express the will, desire, or preference of the subject which came before. You'll see this same thing happen in sentences like, "Mi volas ke vi foriru" (I want you to leave).
The adjective "Solsenta" comes from "Sol-" (the root for only, alone), and Sent- (the root for feel, or sense.) Give the word the adjective ending -a and you have, "lonely feeling!"
Esperanto was first published in 1887 and although it hasn't changed a lot since then, it has changed. One notable change is the use of "Tiom" (that amount) versus "Tiel" (that way) in describing degree or quantity of a verb or adjective. It was more common in the past for people to say, "La vento kriĉis tiom laŭte" (The wind screeched so loudly), in order to emphasize the amount of the screeching, but modern Esperanto has evolved to prefer the use of "Tiom" (that amount) only for describing actual, measurable amounts. When describing severity or degree of an action or adjective, it is now best practice to use "Tiel" (that way). Today, it would be most correct to write, "La vento kriĉis tiel laŭte!"
"Surda" means, "deaf," and from it we gain, "Surdiĝi," to become deaf.
Here's a great word for you, "Disbatiĝi." We start with the prefix Dis- meaning apart or in many directions, Bat-, the root for hit or beat, and the suffix -iĝ- to show a state of becoming or transition. Literally, "apart-hit-become," but in English we might just say, "smashed to pieces."
In Esperanto there's the suffix -ad- which indicates a repeated or frequent action. For example, "Hurlo" means "howl," but "Hurlado" means "howling." Really, it's the same in English: You can hear the howl of the wind, but you can also hear the howling of the wind. See the difference?
The word "Endormiĝi" means literally, "in-sleep-become," but in English we'd just say, "fall asleep."