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https://www.duolingo.com/Zerr_

Why is there no "vij"?

Zerr_
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It seems like there should be a plural "you" in Esperanto, and while I know that "vi" counts for both the singular and plural, why didn't Zamenhof add a "vij"?

Just wondering; thanks!

2 years ago

19 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
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It's complicated. Historically in many European languages second person plurals are tied up not just with quantity but with etiquette. Using the plural was often considered polite, and the singular impolite or condescending; so Zamenhoff more or less encouraged the use of the plural "vi" in all cases, to mirror this behavior; but, in fact, there is a singular second person "ci," not taught in this course, and virtually never used. In fact, this is almost precisely the case as in English, which was to great degree a model for Esperanto.

English "you" was originally an inflection of "ye", the plural second person pronoun; thou was singular. Because thou was used with children, "lesser" persons, etc, it came to be deprecated in polite conversation and eventually became extinct. Of course, now that this connotation doesn't exist (having been obliterated by having only one pronoun), alternative second person plurals have evolved, like "y'all" in the south and "yous" in New York and elsewhere. Ironically, the plural now sounds somewhat condescending, at least to my ears! I cringe when someone addresses a group as "hey yous!"

But, to summarize, Esperanto technically does have a plural second person. It is vi, and it is used even when addressing only one person. You may use ci as the singular, but it will sound as odd as using "thou" in English (although Quakers still do this with "plain speech.")

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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Great answer. Underscore that "ci" is "almost never used." :-)

'Vi ĉiuj" is available if context isn't enough.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zerr_
Zerr_
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Thanks for this!

Why have a separate word for the plural, though? Why not just "cij"?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fantomius
Fantomius
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Why have a separate word for the plural, though? Why not just "cij"?

Because "vi" and "vij" are extremely difficult to differentiate by hearing alone.

The same goes for "ci" and "cij."

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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Why not lij instead of ili?

The pronouns follow their own pattern. I'm not sure that cij is all that easy to pronounce either.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zerr_
Zerr_
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Well, lij would imply multiple men instead of just "they".

Maybe "tseey"?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Falsafaa
Falsafaa
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I guess that this is additional proof that a language like Esperanto is capable of evolution. It is too bad that it is very widely known.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chaered
chaered
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Pronouns are somewhat messy and arbitrary in all languages. If you look for inorthogonality in Esperanto pronouns, you could ask more questions:

  • Why is gender expressed in the 3rd person singular, but not in 1st or 2nd, or in plural? (cf. French)
  • Why is there only a single "ni", instead of distinguishing between "me + you" and "me + others not including you"? (cf. Mandarin)
  • Why does "oni" not have a plural?
  • If "vi" vs "ci" is a politeness level indication, why is there no parallel for 3rd person? (cf. Japanese)
  • ...and so on.

The good thing about pronouns in Esperanto, as in most languages, is that they are a small and limited/fixed set, like prepositions, so their idiosyncrasies are manageable to learn.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/orthohawk
orthohawk
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  1. Because it's Esperanto, not French
  2. Because it's Esperanto, not Mandarin.
  3. Because "one" as a pronoun refers not to any specific person but to a mythical "Everyman".
  4. a. There is no politeness level indication inherent in the Esperanto "ci" vs "vi" despite what some Esperantists insist because of a bias they hold against "ci." Zamenhof himself admits that any nuance of politeness in the "ci" vs "vi" situation is not because of anything inherent in the Esperanto words, but influence from other languages. polynesian speakers have no idea of polite vs familiar when they use a singular pronoun.
  5. b. Because it's Esperanto, not Japanese.
2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Fantomius
Fantomius
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The way I understand it, in the beginning "ci" meant "you (singular)" and "vi" meant "you (plural)." However, it was eventually decided that "vi" meaning both "you (singular)" and "you (plural)" was sufficient, just like it is in English.

If you really want to specify "vi" in the plural, you can use one of these examples:

  • vi ĉiuj ("you all" or "all of you")
  • vi ambaŭ ("you both")
  • vi du ("you two")
  • vi tri ("you three")
  • vi tiuj (not sure if this is valid, but if it is, it would be "you (plural)," but not necessarily "you all")
2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/StephieRice
StephieRice
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Well, when does it stop?

Also, just using the plural ending would cause confusion since pronouns don't agree with nouns/adjectives plurality.

But if you needed a plural "you" distinguishable from the singular, don't you also need a plural "it" and a plural "them" and a plural "we" to signify multiple groups of "we" and a plural "he" / "she" to signify gender specific groups of people?

It gets messy quick and context easily resolves the plurality.

E.g. Vi estas bela - Singular Vi estas belaj - Plural

EDIT: Basically I am just pointing out that only creating a plural "vi" would add inconsistency to all other pronouns if they did not have matching forms for their plural versions.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ungewitig_Wiht

As far as the general concept of "vij" Zamenhof made it as thus: ci for singular and Vi for plural/formality. Of course everyone gave up on that and now it's just vi.

As for the word itself "vij" it is because there is virtually no difference in pronunciation between "vi" and "vij". If you think about it the Esperanto J sound is really just a really short Esperanto I sound. (say "Mario" really fast, you'll notice it sounds like "maryo" if you do it), so the only difference might be vowel length, but that can be hard to hear if you're not used to it - not exactly a good move for the international language. Maybe "ivi" would be better, as someone else suggested. Heck, why not just redo the whole pronoun set while we're at it!

mi - I, imi - wi

vi - you, ivi - y'all

li - he, ili - they (male)

ŝi - she, iŝi - they (female)

ĝi - it, iĝi - they (objects)

ti - he/she (unknown), iti - they (unknown)

... but then we might say "Why don't pronouns end in O and so make the pronouns mio, imio, vio, ivio etc etc... there's an infinite number of little quirks that we could fix but no one will use them since all the Esperantists in the world already use mi, vi, li, ŝi, ĝi, ni, ili with no problems.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DragonPolyglot
DragonPolyglot
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To make the language simpler, perhaps. Esperanto is made to be simple. Why add other words when it just adds bulk?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zerr_
Zerr_
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Well, it would make more sense, as you often can't distinguish between "yourself" and "yourselves" in Esperanto. "Vij(n)" would be you + plural, which makes sense and contributes to the understandibility of the language.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bajanisto
bajanisto
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Se la temo interesas vin, bonvolu legi ĉi tiun fadenon ĉe edukado.net (en Esperanto):

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/adromu
adromu
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i propose 'ivi'.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PRLChessie

I like 'ivi', but does anyone know of a reason 'ivi' cannot be used? Thanks.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
salivanto
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For the same reason it can't be used in English. It's not a real word.

4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Falsafaa
Falsafaa
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That is a good question. In my opinion it would much more convenient to say something like "yi" instead of "vi ĉiuj" for "you all". Same for English (at least there's y'all in some dialects).

2 years ago