Dictionary and New Words?
Please pardon me if my questions are poor, but I am a new Esperanto learner (only a few days). To illustrate why I ask these, I wanted to use the Esperanto word for "beginner" here (something like komencanto), but I am unsure of the spelling, and I have no idea where to find it again. Two closely related questions:
- Where do we find an Esperanto dictionary to look up unknown words?
- Since there are no native Esperanto speakers or places where Esperanto is the required language, how do we get new words into the language? For example, I assume there is already a word for "computer", but what is it, and where did it come from?
If I invent an "thingamajig", do I call it a "thingamajigo" or what? And how do we share a new word? What if someone else has already made up a new word for the same thing? How do we resolve the conflict?
Thank you in advance for your thoughts and experience.
There actually are a few thousand native speakers of Esperanto. And while there is no formal system for creating new words (community concensus is the final judge) there are a few sources seen as reasonably authoritative. They are the Plena Ilustrita Vortaro, Universala Esperanto-Asocio, and Akademio de Esperanto. Information from those sources is usually safe, and they attempt to follow the Fundamento, but again, there is no central authority. If enough people use a word, it is a word.
I think that the Esperanto Organization helps deal with new words. http://esperanto.org/us/USEJ/world/index.html
"Computer" is usually "Komputilo" although in the past I have seen Komputero and Komputoro. Those last two are considered archaic now. Computer system is Komputila sistemo.
If there is no existing translation of a word, yeah, you're pretty much entitled to take your best shot at it. Maybe other Esperantists will say, "hey, yeah, that's the word," or maybe they won't.
Well... this is as true for Esperanto as it is for English, French, German, Japanese...
Your question about new words is an interesting one. Here's what I've noticed during my 15 years speaking Esperanto.
Historically and now, new words have come organically. For instance, we have "memeo" for "internet meme" which surely came from one or multiple speakers coining the term and starting to use it among themselves. I have to imagine words for new realities like "television" or "highway" have come about in a similar way. The Esperanto Telegram room is a very active community where you'll see playful new terms come and go.
Sometimes, people coin words that could very well be expressed by using existing roots and suffixes. La Bona Lingvo is a project that attempts to collect such examples, such as "redaktor-o" when we could say "redakt-ist-o".
Sometimes these kinds of duplicative coinings catch on (like "luncxo" and "tagmangxo" both being used) and sometimes they don't ("lanta" never supplanted "malrapida").
Generally most Esperantists try to avoid wholesale adoption of neologisms because it obscures one of Esperanto's most interesting traits: the creation of new words by applying a rich array of affixes. So you'll find "komputilo" instead of "komputoro", "duuma" instead of "binaria", and so on. In fact, being able to put together pieces in this way to express an idea you had is one of the most satisfying features of Esperanto!
In sum, the process seems as messy as native languages that come up with and adopt neologisms, though Esperantists tend to be more conservative because ease of learning and understanding are the baseline goals of Esperanto for most.
It doesn't mean anything exact at all. That's the point.
It means to thingamajig, to X around...
I once heard the verbal usage described as 'to do the X thing'. So to hang with friends might be kunumi, umi by itself could mean to just do something typical of oneself.
Unfortunately there isn't really a comprehensive English to Esperanto dictionary online. You might check out the Reta Vortaro. you can search in English, but the definitions are in Esperanto. If you have a smart phone, get the free app Poŝrevo. It's pretty good and works offline. You can also set Poŝrevo to translate to/from several languages other than English.
I don't recommend ESPDIC for learners. It contains as many bad entries as good ones. Anything found there should be checked against PIV, Wells, Benson or some other good dictionary.