Word-Building with Esperanto Affixes

by Don Harlow


Copyright Notice

This material is copyright © 1995 by Donald J. Harlow. Hard copies may be made for personal use only. Any user may make one electronic copy for personal use only. All copies must contain this copyright notice, including the date given below. No electronic copy may be located elsewhere for public access. Links to this original copy on the World Wide Web are encouraged. Please respect the conditions of this copyright notice; I simply don't want to have various unofficial (and perhaps not up-to-date) copies floating around elsewhere. Date: 1995.11.26.


Table of Contents

Participial Suffixes
Category Suffixes
Noun Suffixes
Adjective Suffixes
Verb Suffixes
Quasi Suffixes
Pseudosuffixes
Adverb Prefixes
Root Prefixes
Prepositional Prefixes
Pseudoprefixes
True Suffixes
True Prefixes
Quasi Prefixes

Supersigned letters are shown by a following '^'.
Herewith follows a short and somewhat idiosyncratic discussion of the theory of Esperanto word-formation. If you think this is going to bore you, click here to bypass it.

Zamenhof invented the Esperanto word-formation system without bothering to attempt to justify it except by pointing out that ... it works! Couturat, the prime mover behind the Ido conspiracy, felt that this was a major failing in the Esperanto word-formation system -- that it had no supporting theory to justify it. (Though Ido's derivational system did not work as well in practice as Esperanto's, it at least had a theory...)

To answer Couturat, René de Saussure, a member of the Lingva Komitato, began to put together a theoretical basis for the Esperanto word- formation system. His basic theory was expanded by Kálmán Kalocsay, included by Kalocsay and Gaston Waringhien in their Plena Gramatiko de Esperanto, and eventually adopted by the Academy of Esperanto.

The basic idea behind this theory is that every root in Esperanto -- the root, not the word, is the basic unit of Esperanto -- has an inherent grammatical quality. For example, the root ŝton' ("stone") is a noun, the root kur' ("run") is a verb, and the root ruĝ' ("red") is an adjective. Grammatical endings of -O, -I and -A respectively are therefore redundant.

Not all Esperanto speakers were particularly happy with this essential "westernizing" of the word-formation system; some (particularly Kalocsay's countryman István Szerdahélyi) continued to insist that, in fact, roots have no grammatical category whatsoever.

As usual, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. It is possible to categorize Esperanto roots in a number of ways, but one of these is into the categories of object roots (ŝton'), action roots (kur') and attribute roots (ruĝ'). This leaves some questions floating around -- for instance, where do we put roots that describe states, and which might either fall into the attribute category or be linked together, as we often do in the west, with actions? For the nonce, let's leave them hanging loose -- something we could not do with the rather rigid grammatical-category description.

Still, there seems to be a nice correlation between our three categories and the three grammatical categories of the Academy, and we can continue to speak, if we wish, of noun roots, verb roots and adjective roots -- remembering, however, that we are not talking of word categories but simply using a shorthand for how certain roots describe the universe. Don't forget, however, that all of these things can be nouns (that's how we're describing them -- as objects, actions, attributes!), verbs or adjectives -- no grammatical endings are redundant, they are necessary to determine in what grammatical function the root is being used.

So we have O-roots, I-roots and A-roots (for convenience). What role does this play in word formation using affixes?

Most affixes take a certain type of stem (a root or root with affixes) and convert it to another type of stem. The argument has been made, in fact, that certain affixes cannot be attached to certain types of stem because they simply don't take a stem of that grammatical type. But remember from above that the grammatical type is determined not by the content of the stem but by the grammatical ending attached to it. This means that, in fact, every stem is of potentially every grammatical type. Consequently, when you add an affix to a stem it automatically converts that stem to the needed grammatical type just as a grammatical ending would.

Let's try an example. The suffix -EC (a characteristic described by the root) wants to take as input a stem that is an attribute and output something tangible, an object -- in other words A-stem -> O-stem. When we create the word ruĝeco ("redness"), the use is obvious. On the other hand, consider the word ŝtoneco. Here we have input an object word ... or is it? No, we have simply treated the root as an attribute (represented in English by the adjective "stony"), and have created the Esperanto equivalent of "stoniness". Or what about kureco? Here I encounter a problem -- there's no English equivalent that I know of. But the meaning should be obvious -- the characteristic associated with "to run".

With each affix given below I show what kind of input it wants and what kind of output it provides, as A->0 = attribute->object (I = action). X-> means that it will accept any kind of input, while ->X means that it will accept any kind of output; X->X means that it will be transparent to the input.


Good tables of affixes are to be found in Teach Yourself Esperanto and in Wells' Esperanto Dictionary. The following list is culled from Kalocsay and Waringhien's Plena Analiza Gramatiko de Esperanto, 4th edition (1980). Affixes marked with a star (*) are unofficial and need not be learned; though I would recommend that the student learn to recognize at least -iv and -esk.

Participial suffixes

-ant (I->A): present active participle. 
      fali = to fall                     falanta = falling.
-int (I->A): past active participle. 
      fali = to fall                     falinta = fallen.
-ont (I->A): future active participle. 
      fali = to fall                     falonta = going to fall.

-at (I->A):  present passive participle. 
      manĝi = to eat                    manĝata = being eaten.
-it (I->A):  past passive participle. 
      manĝi = to eat                    manĝita = (having been) eaten.
-ot (I->A):  future passive participle. 
      manĝi = to eat,                   manĝota = going to be eaten.
In English, the past participle indicates only something that has already occurred; it may be active ("fallen") or passive ("eaten") depending on the category of the verb; in the latter case, it may be treated as active (in compounds) by preceding it with the helping verb "to have" instead of "to be." In Esperanto, there are separate active and passive participles (though the latter exist only for transitive verbs).
EXAMPLES
        La arbo estis falinta = The tree was fallen (had fallen).
        La arbo estis falanta = The tree was falling.
        La arbo estis falonta = the tree was going to fall.
        La arbo estas falinta = The tree is (has) fallen.
        La arbo estas falanta = The tree is falling.
        La arbo estas falonta = The tree is going to fall.
        La arbo estos falinta = The tree will have fallen.
        La arbo estos falanta = The tree will be falling.
        La arbo estos falonta = The tree will be going to fall.

        La viando estis manĝita = The meat was (had been) eaten.
        La viando estis manĝata = The meat was (being) eaten.
        La viando estis manĝota = the meat was going to be eaten.
        La viando estas manĝita = The meat is (has been) eaten.
        La viando estas manĝata = The meat is being eaten.
        La viando estas manĝota = The meat is going to be eaten.
        La viando estos manĝita = The meat will have been eaten.
        La viando estos manĝata = The meat will be being eaten.
        La viando estos manĝota = The meat will be going to be eaten.
Please watch out for one annoying idiosyncracy of the participial affixes. When used with adjective, adverb and (occasionally) verb endings, they describe a situation; when used with the noun ending, they describe a person.

manĝata = (which is) being eaten
manĝate = while being eaten
manĝati = to be in a state of being eaten

but

manĝato = a person who is being eaten.

Category suffixes

-ad (I->O): shows an action or process defined by the root. 
      marteli = to hammer,                  martelado = hammering
      boji = to bark (like a dog)           bojado = barking
                        ada = continual, ongoing

-aĵ (A->O): shows a concrete, tangible manifestation of the root. 
      riĉa = rich,                         riĉaĵoj = riches
      havi = to have                        havaĵoj = possessions
                        aĵo = a thing

-ec (A->O): shows a quality or characteristic defined by the root. 
      riĉa = rich,                         riĉeco = richness
      blua = blue                           blueco = blue (of something)
                        eco = a characteristic, quality
The noun formed by simply changing an adjective -a to a noun -o ending is slightly different from that formed by inserting the suffix -ec; the former refers to an abstraction, the latter to a quality associated with something. ruĝa = red, ruĝo = (the color) red, ruĝeco = redness, e.g. of paint.
-ul (A->O): shows a person characterized by the root. 
      riĉa = rich,                         riĉulo = a rich person
      bona = good                           bonulo = a good person
                        ulo = a guy, dude

Noun suffixes

-an (O->O): member, adherent, participant of the root. 
      komitato = committee               komitatano = a committee-member
      Budho = the Buddha                 budhano = a Buddhist
                        ano = a member

-ar (O->O): a collection of things defined by the root. 
      arbo = tree                        arbaro = a forest
      ŝafo = a sheep                    ŝafaro = a flock of sheep
                        aro = a bunch, group, array

-ej(O->O): a place intended for the thing(s) or action(s) defined by the root. 
      kuiri = to cook                    kuirejo = a kitchen
      preĝi = to pray                   preĝejo = a church
                        ejo = a place

-er (O->O): the smallest part or element of a collective defined by the root. 
      sablo = sand                       sablero = a grain of sand
      neĝo = snow                       neĝero = a snowflake
                        ero = a unit

-estr (O->O): the boss of whatever is defined by the root. 
      komitato = committee               komitatestro = chairmain of the 
                                                        committee
      urbo = town                        urbestro = mayor
                        estro = a boss

-id (O->O): the offspring of the creature defined in the root. 
      kato = cat                         katido = akitten
      arbo = tree                        arbido = a sapling
                        ido = an offspring
This suffix is often used in a very metaphorical fashion. For instance, Israelites in Esperanto is Izraelidoj; and it is also used to show the salt produced by a halogenic acid (e.g. klorido).
-il (I->O): a tool for doing whatever is defined by the root. 
      komputi = to compute               komputilo = a computer
      tranĉi = to cut                   tranĉilo = a knife
                        ilo = a tool

-in (O->O): the specifically female version of whatever is defined by the root. 
      filo = son                         filino = daughter
      viro = man                         virino = woman
                        ino = a woman, female
These days this suffix is used: (1) with the words viro and knabo; (2) with honorifics; (3) with family relationships; (4) with animals (see also vir- below). It is rarely used with professional titles, though it has been in the past.
-ing (O->O): a holder or sheath for an object defined by the root. 
      kandelo = candle                   kandelingo = candle-holder
      cigaro = cigar                     cigaringo = cigar-holder
                        ingo = a holder

-ism (O->O): a doctrine, movement, system, etc., for the idea defined by the 
      root. 
      Budho = Buddha                     budhismo = Buddhism
      Markso = Karl Marx                 marksismo = Marxism
                        isma = having to do with doctrine

-ist (I->O): an individual professionally or avocationally occupied with the 
      idea or activity defined by the root. 
      ĵurnalo = newspaper               ĵurnalisto = newspaperman, 
                                             reporter
      lingvo = language                  lingvisto = a linguist
                        isto = a professional
There is an unfortunate tendency to use -ist where -an should be used, probably because -ist has this additional meaning in many Western languages; probably the most egregious such misuse is *esperantisto instead of esperantano for a speaker of Esperanto. Similarly, we have *marksisto for marksano (Marxist), *budhisto instead of budhano (Buddhist), etc. Fortunately, the word for a follower of Christ in English (with cognates in other languages such as French) is Christian; so no one has ever had any trouble saying kristano instead of *krististo.
-uj (O->O): a container for objects described by the root. 
      salo = salt                        salujo = salt-shaker
      mono = money                       monujo = a purse
                        ujo = a container
Traditionally, -uj has been used to form the names of countries occupied completely or mainly by a single ethnic group: anglo = Englishman, Anglujo = England. Recently the unofficial or pseudo suffix
-i has been replacing -uj in common parlance. There is a good discussion of the question of country names in Teach Yourself Esperanto, as well as in the Plena Analiza Gramatiko (the latter is, of course, more complete).
*-i (O->O): an unofficial suffix with four different uses:

  (1) to form the name of a country from a capitol or river of the same 
        name. 
      Meksiko = Mexico City              Meksikio = Mexico
      Alĝero = Algiers                  Alĝerio = Algeria

  (2) to form the name of a country from its inhabitants. See note with 
        -uj.

  (3) to form the name of a science, etc., from its practitioner.
      astronomo = astronomer             astronomio = astronomy
      toksikologo = toxicologist         toksikologio = toxicology

  (4) to form the name of a flower from that of its inventor or the 
        person to whom it was dedicated. 
      fuksio = fuchsia, from Fuchs

*-ik (O->O): an unofficial suffix to form the name of a science, etc., from its 
        practitioner. 
      poeto = poet                       poetiko = poetics
      lingvo = language                  lingviko = linguistics
This is identical, and interchangeable, with use (3) of -i.

-ik is also used to show the higher of two valences with which a metal can combine. In this it contrasts with one use of -oz.

*-it (O->O): an unofficial suffix to describe an inflamation of the organ 
        described by the root. 
      laringo = larynx                   laringito = laryngitis
      hepato = liver                     hepatito = hepatitis
-it and -at are used as special chemical suffixes to show salts produced by non-halogenic acids (see also -id).


Adjective suffixes


-ebl (I->A): suitable for having whatever is described by the root done to it. 
      legi = to read                        legebla = readable, legible
      fari = to do                          farebla = doable
                        ebla = possible
                        ebli = to be possible
-ebl (able to be done) should not be confused with -iv (able to do), which is essentially a synonym for the root pov'. Many English-speaking beginners tend to make this mistake and substitute the verb eblas (is possible) for povas (is able to).
-em (I->A): having an inclination or tendency towards whatever is described by 
        the root. 
      ami = to love                         amema = loving
      labori = to work                      laborema = industrious
                        emi = to have a tendency to

-end (I->A): must have whatever is described by the root done to it. 
      fari = to do                          farenda = must be done
      sendi = to send                       sendenda = must be sent
                        enda = mandatory

-ind (I->A): worth having whatever is described by the root done to it. 
      ami = to love                         aminda = loveable
      fari = to do                          farinda = worth doing
                        indi = to be worthwhile

*-al (O->A): used to create the adjective form of a noun formed directly from 
        an adjective. 
      varma = hot       varmo = heat        varmala = thermal
      ruĝa = red       ruĝo = red (color) ruĝala = having to do with 
                                                      the color red

*-esk (O->A): similar to, or in the manner of, whatever is described by the 
        root. 
      japano = a Japanese                   japaneska = Japanesque
      statuo = a statue                     statueska = statuesque

*-iv (I->A): capable of doing whatever is described by the root. 
      pagi = to pay                         pagiva = solvent
      fari = to do                          fariva = able to do
See the note with the description of -ebl.
*-oid (O->A): with the form of whatever is described by the root. 
      homo = human being                    homoida = humanoid
      urso = a bear                         ursoida = ursoid

*-oz (O->A): used with noun roots to show the presence of a large quantity of 
        whatever is described by the root. 
      poro = pore                           poroza = porous
      sablo = sand                          sabloza = full of sand
-oz is also used in a medical sense for several different types of pathology, where it usually corresponds to the suffix osis in English medical terminology. It need not, however, be used only with Greek roots; see the Esperanto horzonozo, jet lag. In chemistry it is used in contrast with -ik to show the lower of two valences with which a metal can combine.


Verb suffixes

-ig (A->I): to cause something to be in the state described by the root. 
      ruĝa = red                     ruĝigi = to (cause to) turn red
      fari = to do (something)        farigi = to have (something) done
                        igi = to cause to

-iĝ (A->I): to become in the state described by the root. 
      ruĝa = red                     ruĝiĝi = to become red
      fari = to do                    fariĝi = to become (done)
                        iĝi = to become
-ig and -iĝ are probably the two most important affixes in Esperanto. It behooves you, as a student, to devote a lot of time to making sure that you understand their uses perfectly.
*-iz (O->I): to apply something (physically or metaphorically) to an object. 
      plumo = feather                 plumizi = to fletch
      stano = tin                     stanizi = to tin (as in soldering)

Quasi suffixes

These are common Esperanto roots which are relatively short and used so often as the second part of a two-part conjoined word that they may be treated almost as suffixes.
-art (I->O): the art of whatever is described by the root. 
      kuiri = to cook                   kuirarto = cuisine
      navigi = to navigate              navigarto = navigation (the art)

-am (O->A): loving whatever is described by the root. 
      gasto = guest                     gastama = hospitable
      mono = money                      monama = avaricious

-hav (O->A): possessing whatever is described by the root. 
      flugilo = wing                    flugilhava = winged
      oro = gold                        orhava = possessing gold

-plen (O->A): full of whatever is described by the root. 
      oro = gold                        orplena = full of gold. 
      humila = humble                   humilplena = full of humility
See
*-oz.
-pov (I->A): capable of whatever is described by the root. 
      esprimi = to express              esprimpova = expressive
      pagi = to pay                     pagipova = solvent
This is essentially the same as *-iv.
-riĉ (O->A): rich with whatever is described by the root. 
      karbo = coal                      karbriĉa = rich in coal
      grasa = fat                       grasriĉa = fatty
See *-oz.
-ŝajn (A->A): seeming to be whatever is described by the root. 
      vera = true                       verŝajne = apparently
      blua = blue                       bluŝajna = blue-seeming

-aspekt (O->A): having the appearance of whatever is described by the root. 
      reĝo = king                      reĝaspekta = with the seeming 
                                            of a king, kingly
      hundo = large                     hundaspekta = looking like a dog
See *-oid.
-simil (O->A): being similar to whatever is described by the root. 
      floro = flower                    florsimila = like a flower
      ŝtono = stone                    ŝtonsimila = like a stone
See *-esk.
-manier (O->A): with the manner of whatever is described by the root. 
      besto = animal                    bestmaniera = with the manner of 
                                            an animal
      hundo = dog                       hundmaniera = dog-like
See *-esk.

Pseudosuffixes

For etymological reasons (i.e., having to do with the origins of words in Latin and Greek), we often find what appear to be identical suffixes on the ends of several Esperanto roots. Since the parts before these "pseudosuffixes" are not themselves Esperanto roots, these are not real suffixes. However, it happens from time to time that the detached "pseudosuffixes" are attached to real Esperanto words, by analogy, and therefore they occasionally act like real suffixes. Kalocsay and Waringhien list a number of possible pseudosuffixes, of which only -logi (showing a science) seems to have any chance at all of being more widely used.

Kalocsay and Waringhien also point out, under this rubric, the interesting tendency of the pseudosuffixes -ci, -aci and -ici in nouns taken by Zamenhof from Latin's third declension to disappear in favor of simpler, more purely Esperanto verb forms as time goes on. For instance, Zamenhof's navigacio = navigation has largely yielded to navigi = to navigate, from which we get the purely Esperanto form navigado = navigation.


Adverb prefixes

dis- (I->I): having to do with separation, in all possible directions.
      sendi = to send                 dissendi = to broadcast
      semi = to sow (seeds)           dissemi = to scatter (seeds)
                        disaj = scattered

ek- (I->I): the beginning of an action described by the root. 
      iri = to go                     ekiri = to set out
      vidi = to see                   ekvidi = to catch sight of
                        ek! = move it! get the lead out!

for- (I->I): away. 
      iri = to go                     foriri = to depart, leave
      lasi = to leave                 forlasi = to abandon
                        fora = distant

mis- (I->I): wrongly, incorrectly, off the mark. 
      kompreni = to understand        miskompreni = to misunderstand
      ĵeti = to throw                misĵeti = to throw wide of the 
                                         mark
                        misi = to miss, to err
A Japanese friend of mine once told me that she hoped I was right in my use of the word misiloj to describe nuclear-armed missiles. See also the suffix
-il.
re- (I->I): back to the beginning again. 
      veni = to come                  reveni = to return
      vidi = to see                   revidi = to see again
      venki = to conquer              revenki = to reconquer
                        ree = again

*retro- (I->I): in the opposite direction. 
      iri = to go                     retroiri = to go in the opposite 
                                         direction
      paŝi = to step                 retropaŝi = to step back

Root prefixes

ĉef- (O->O): greatest or most important. 
      ministro = minister (cabinet type)  ĉefministro = Prime Minister, 
                                             Premier
      urbo = city                         ĉefurbo = capitol
                        ĉefa = main

vir- (O->O): male equivalent of -in for beings whose sex is usually not 
            considered important (except, of course, to themselves...), 
            and whose root form is therefore considered neuter. 
      kato = cat                          virkato = tomcat
      blato = cockroach                   virblato = buck cockroach
                        viro = man, male human

Prepositional prefixes

Most prepositions can be used as prefixes, and commonly are. For example, veni = to come, enveni = to enter; diri = to say, antaŭdiri = to foretell. Worth mentioning here only because it is unofficial and rarely used:
*cis- (O->A): on this side of. 
      luno = moon             cisluna = cislunar, between earth and moon
      limo = border           cislima = on this side of the border

Pseudoprefixes

In this category we find, occasionally, aŭto- (equivalent of mem-, self-) and pre-. pre- is sometimes (rarely) used instead of the temporal meaning of antaŭ-.


True suffixes

Kalocsay and Waringhien distinguish between suffixoids and prefixoids (which is what, up to now, I've called suffixes and prefixes) and genuine suffixes and prefixes. This is, I am sure, a very important grammatical distinction for the professional linguist, but not one that an ordinary speaker will be called upon to worry about.
-aĉ (X->X): gives the word a shading of contempt, detestation. 
      ĉevalo = horse                       ĉevalaĉo = nag
      domo = house                          domaĉo = hovel
                        aĉa = contemptible, disgusting
This is the affix that may be used to create pejoratives, as nigra = black, nigrulo = a black person, nigrulaĉo = nigger. Since such words are very uncommon in Esperanto, you will have to create them as you go along, and accept 100% responsibility for your use of them, not blame them on your upbringing or your teachers.
-eg (X->X): augments or strengthens the idea shown by the root. 
      domo = house                   domego = mansion
      varma = hot                    varmega = boiling hot
                        ega = huge

-et (X->X): the opposite of -eg, it diminishes the idea shown by the root. 
      domo = house                   dometo = cottage
      varma = hot                    varmeta = warm
                        eta = tiny

-um (Any to any): the affix equivalent of the preposition je, it has no definite 
            meaning; words with -um must almost be learned separately. 
      vento = wind                   ventumi = to ventilate
      aminda = lovable               amindumi = to pitch woo
                        umo = doohicky

*-if (O->I): to turn something into the root. 
      varma = hot                    varmifi = to thermalize

-ĉj (O->O): takes a man's name and turns it into an intimate form. 
      frato = brother                fraĉjo = little brother
      Johano = John                  Joĉjo = Jack

-nj (O->O): the female equivalent of the above. 
      frato = brother                franjo = little sister
      Johana = Joan                  Jonjo = Joanie
Note that these two forms do not function like ordinary suffixes, but are usually attached after one of the first five letters of the name or word. The Japanese Esperantist author Miyamoto Masao once described the "beautiful people" as the ĉjo-njo-popolo -- an interesting use of these affixes.


True prefixes

bo- (O->O): related through marriage. 
      patro = father                  bopatro = father-in-law
      kuzo = cousin                   bokuzo = cousin-in-law
                        boa = related by marriage

eks- (O->O): former. 
      reĝo = king                    eksreĝo = former (abdicated) king
      Sovetio = Soviet Union          ekssovetio = former USSR
                        eksa = former

ge- (O->O): both sexes taken together. 
      patro = father                  gepatroj = parents
      Sinjoro = Mr.                   gesinjoroj = Mr. and Mrs.
                        gea = male+female
Although this is not sanctioned by any grammatical rule, ge- is also used with the singular to show a human relative of unspecified gender: gepatro = parent.
mal- (X->X): turns a word into its opposite. 
      bela = beautiful              malbela = ugly
      amiko = friend                malamiko = enemy
                        mala = opposite

pra- (X->X): distant in time (usually in the past) or relationship. 
      arbaro = forest                 praarbaro = forest primeval
      nepo = grandson                 pranepo = great-grandson
      patro = father                  prapatroj = forefathers
                        praa = before the dawn of...

*pseŭdo- (O->O): false. 
      scienco = science               pseŭdoscienco = pseudoscience
      nomo = name                     pseŭdonomo = pseudonym

Quasi prefixes

Many roots can be used as prefixes. This is particularly true of adjectives; Kalocsay and Waringhien list 34 of these. I will not repeat this list here, being tired of typing, but will simply give two examples of how an adjective can be used as a prefix, and how its use as a prefix differs from its use as an adjective.
nov-: has to do with newness. 
      edzino = wife      nova edzino = new wife       novedzino = bride.
The difference between nova edzino and novedzino is that, in the first, the most important idea is that of wife; the newness is simply a descriptor. In novedzino, however, the idea of newness has come to have almost equal importance with the idea of wife; a bride is not just a new wife, she is someone who has just become a wife, who has crossed the threshhold from maidenhood (?) to marriage. In effect, the newness of her wifehood is so great that it distinguishes her, for the moment, from all other wives, even novaj edzinoj.
dik-: thick. 
      fingro = finger   dika fingro = thick finger   dikfingro = thumb
Again, the thickness has become so important that it serves to distinguish the thumb from all other fingers, no matter how thick they may be; it is the thumb's distinguishing characteristic.

Kalocsay and Waringhien also point out that fractions (reciprocals) can be used as prefixes, e.g.

duon-: half. 
      frato = brother                 duonfrato = half-brother
In addition to adjective and fractional quasi prefixes, we have the following four:
fi- (X->X): expressing indignation or disgust. 
      virino = woman                    fivirino = slut
      bildo = picture                   fibildo = pornographic picture
                        fia = shameful

fuŝ- (X->X): screwed up. 
      verki = to write (to compose      fuŝverki = to make it come 
                 a work of art)                        out all wrong
                        fuŝi = to screw up

ne- (X->X): creates the negative (not, however, the opposite) of the root. 
      bona = good         nebona = ungood              malbona = bad
Many people believed for a long time that George Orwell based his Newspeak -- the thought-control language of Oceania in the novel 1984 -- on Esperanto, based largely on Esperanto's use of the prefix mal- to create opposites. The above list should indicate that the spectrum between a word and its opposite is not totally empty in Esperanto, as it is in Newspeak; we might, for instance, add boneta and malboneta. Recent evidence indicates that Newspeak was in fact a parody of Basic English, which Orwell apparently despised as a corruption of real English.
vic- (O->O): second in rank, acting as regent for. 
      reĝo = king                        vicreĝo = viceroy
      prezidento = president              vicprezidento = vice-president
                        vico = line, place in line

This list is, I think, more complete than the ones mentioned in Teach Yourself Esperanto and The Esperanto Dictionary; but you may find those easier to use, since they are completely alphabetized and don't go into quite as much detail.

There are also a number of specialized technical affixes which are not covered here.


This document is owned by:
Don Harlow <donh@donh.best.vwh.net>