First, ĉu standing alone means really?, but not standing alone, ĉu introduces and signalizes a yes/no question.
Second, putting mal in front of an adjective reverses its meaning (bona - good, malbona - bad). Hope this helps!
So does that mean it is used for yes/no questions and those whose answers are limited to the choices within the question?
Yes. "Coffee, tea or juice?" or "Do you want coffee?" would be closed-ended questions. "Do you like coffee?" could be either open-ended or closed-ended depending on the situation. If your at the breakfast table and the person asking is holding a pot of coffee... Or are you with a group of people discussing beverage choices... Ĉu indicates that the questioner is waiting for a quick, simple choice.
A closed question is one that has a limited number of responses due to what is said in the question. A yes/no question is a good example of closed questions so in that case, one would use ĉu. It's like Polish, with ce; the rules are exactly the same.
It's technically called a polar question though I think closed question was a good way to explain the ambiguity.
No, mal- means opposite of and that are all negative affixes like un-, dis-, in- etc combined.
Romance language learners, don't think of mal- as of something bad: it just changes the word to its opposite meaning, e. g. fermi (to close) - malfermi (to open).
The reason it makes you think of Newspeak is that George Orwell was visiting his aunt in Paris, who was married to a famous Esperantist by the name of Lanti. They only spoke Esperanto at home and poor George was mostly in the dark, but that's where he got his idea for Newspeak.
Lanti (which comes from the French "l'anti", which means "the person who is against [everything]") is the founder of SAT. I attend SAT-Amikaro babilrondoj in Paris to talk in Esperanto with fellow esperantistoj :)
That was my first thought as well! Now we just need the qualifiers to make it doubleplus ungood :P
My girlfriend and I came to the same conclusion upon seeing the prefix mal. "Is this Newspeak?"
So if I'm getting this correct, Ĉu is basically the Esperanto equivalent of Est-ce que?
That's what I got from it, yes :) Other than the fact that using Ĉu as a stand-alone word is "Really?", it seems to be the same.
I have always, always related it to est-ce in French. It's basically like asking a question phrased as "Is it that the cafe is good or bad?".
This is also the case in Polish (Czy...?) and Ukrainian (Чи...?) and probably several other Slavic languages.
Yes, I remember being pleasantly surprised when I learned czy in Polish. I was like, well that's easy! :-D
From what I understand from other comments, yes, since an either/or question is a closed question.
What does Cu really mean? I've been getting different answers from different lessons in Duolingo and from different discussions.
I'm translating "Cxu" to "Is it so that ...?" in my head. It seems to fit most meanings for me. A statement becomes a yes/no-question, a statement containing "or" turns into a (slightly awkward) either-or-question and the phrase alone becomes "Is it so?" which is synonymous to "Really?".
Whether the coffee is good or bad? is also a correct translation and is actually a more literal translation than "Is the coffee good or bad?"
so putting "cu" (don't have the accent on the c) before a sentence means is? So, Is the coffee good or bad? Hmm... Coool :D
It's like an introduction for closed questions. By the way, write it as cxu (with an x right after the accented letter) in case your keyboard doesnt have the ĉ, ĝ, etc.
Wht is there a estas between coffe and good, do i ignore the word in this sentence if so, why?. To me it looks like, is the coffee is good or bad
I think the "Cxu la" doesn't have as defined of a meaning. Without it, the sentence would read "The coffee is good or bad" and the "Cxu la" turns it into a question instead of an indefinite statement. Someone else correct me if I'm wrong!
Ĉu used by itself is translated as 'Really?' or 'Is that so?' When part of a sentence it's usually easier to translate as 'Do/does'. However, as this example shows, there isn't a direct English translation. Ĉu indicates that the questioner is looking for your choice, such as yes/no or good/bad or a/b/c.
i wrote "the coffee is good or bad". it was wrong because of where i placed "is".
Grammatical error or is it that I am looking at how to write it to straight forward?
The way Esperanto sentence structure works is that to turn something into a question, you just put a "ĉu" on the beginning of the sentence. It doesn't mean "is", it just doesn't really translate to anything, and all it does it changes the sentence. Look at the tips and notes for more information.
Also, when translating it's always good to use plausibility. For example, a sentence with two "is" in the same clause is a bit strange so just assume that it's wrong and see what you could possibly do to fix your translation.
The best thing is that in Esperanto there is no word order so "Ĉu estas la kafo bona aŭ malbona" means the exactly same thing.