Expanding Vocabulary: The Cognate Method (Part 2)

Previous Parts

  • Part 1 (Introduction, Words ending in -al)

Rule of Thumb Two: English Words ending in -ion

Many words ending in -ion have an Esperanto equivalent. -ion can become -io in Esperanto. -(a)tion can become -(a)cio or be dropped entirely, usually changing meaning slightly in the process. (In cases where it's dropped, the meaning with -ation can usually be reformed by adding the suffixes -ad or -aĵ.) Here are some examples:

  • aberration - aberacio
  • abnegation - abnegacio
  • abolition - aboli, abolicii (to abolish)
  • annihilation - anihilacio
  • ambition - ambicio
  • arbitration - arbitracio
  • celebration - celebri (to observe a religious holiday)
  • complication - kompliki (to complicate)
  • confirmation - konfirmi (to confirm)
  • conversation - konversacio
  • copulation - kopuli (to copulate), kopulacio
  • evolution - evolui (to evolve)
  • federation - federacio
  • frustration - frustri (to frustrate)
  • function - funkcii (to function)
  • generation - generacio (cohort of same-age people), generi (to generate)
  • information - informi (to inform)
  • inhibition - inhibi, inhibicii (to inhibit)
  • instruction - instrui (to teach), instrukcio (instructions)
  • lactation - lakti (to lactate) | lakto (milk)
  • masturbation - masturbi (to masturbate)
  • mediation - mediacii (to mediate)
  • meditation - mediti (to meditate)
  • mutation - mutacio
  • navigation - navigacio, navigi (to navigate)
  • opinion - opinio
  • organization - organizi (to organize)
  • passion - pasio
  • perturbation - perturbi (to disturb)
  • petition - peti (to ask), peticio (petition => petskribo)
  • potion - pocio
  • preparation - prepari (to prepare)
  • redaction - redakti (to edit)
  • revelation - revelacio
  • situation - situacio, situi (to be situated)
  • speculation - spekulacii (to speculate re:investment)
  • tradition - tradicio

Rule of Thumb Three: English words starting with dys-, des- or dis-

Many words that start with dys-, des- or dis- in English become Esperanto words that start with mal- or dis- (prefixes) or dis- or des- (part of the root.) Some examples are:

  • despair - mal-espero
  • despot - despoto
  • destine - destini
  • disadvantage - mal-avantaĝo
  • disappear - mal-aperi
  • discharge - mal-ŝargi
  • disinclined - malinklina
  • disciple - disĉiplo
  • discipline - disciplino
  • discourse - diskurso
  • discrete - diskreta
  • discuss - diskuti
  • disobey - mal-obei
  • dysentery - disenterio
  • dyslexia - disleksio [Note: You can also say "vortblindeco"]
  • dysphoria - mal-eŭforio, disforio
  • dystopia - mal-utopio
August 20, 2019


I cannot comprehend why this post would be down voted. It is very thorough (on second thought, that might be the reason). Your explanations are clear. Great work!

August 20, 2019

English words ending in tion usually have Latin/ Romance origin.

August 20, 2019

But how one may know if a word in Esperanto would be a changed version of an English word or have mal at the beginning?

Why some words have dashes?

August 21, 2019

One clue is if English has two words with opposite meanings. Obey and disobey - so in Esperanto we get obei and malobei. Same with appear/disappear to aperi/malaperi. Basically, if you can find instances in English where the d_s- form is being used to form an antonym of an another word.

The other group that does this is words that start with eu- or u- (originally from Greek meaning "good" or "well), that have an opposite that begins with dys- (from Greek for "bad.") In Esperanto, usually the "good" form is assimilated and the "bad" form can be formed with mal-. So utopia/dystopia becomes utopio/malutopio. Similarly with euphemism/dysphemism-eŭfemismo/maleŭfemismo, euphoria/dysphoria-eŭforio/maleŭforio, etc.

Why some words have dashes?

To emphasize that they're composed of different word parts.

August 21, 2019
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