I like it when the questions are easy but tricky and make you pay attention to details!
Word order in Esperanto generally follows a certain pattern, but it doesn't actually matter because you can tell what's the actual subject, verb, etc. based off what the endings are. So this is "the woman kisses the man" and not the other way around because "viron" has the accusative ending on it (the -n), showing it's the object and not the subject. Virino has an -o at the end, showing that it's the subject of the sentence.
There are notes on every lesson, you can see them on a computer. They are very helpful!
Even if the word order doesn't matter, it would read better as, "La virino kisas la viron." Right?
You're right that "La viro kisas la virinon." is the more natural word order. We just wanted to be sure to demonstrate Esperanto's free word order with at least one example sentence.
It would read better to a native English speaker, but perhaps not to a native German speaker. This is why the accusative -n was added, so that those with different native tongues can still use the same word order.
Actually, some Esperanto courses put much more emphasis on non-Anglo word order.
Lernu.com starts moving the subject and object around right after they introduce sufficient vocabulary to construct a sentence. Lernu makes it seem like it is strictly a matter of preference in Esperanto. For them, one form is as common as another. I was surprised to see so much subject/verb/object structure in Duo lessons.
It certainly makes it a lot easier for this Anglo to deal with.
"The man is kissed by the woman" does not work because that would be using the passive voice, in which the man would become the subject, and the woman would become the "prepositional object." However, in the sentence "la viron kisas la virino" the woman is the subject, and she is actively kissing the man, who is the direct object.
"The woman kisses the man."
- Woman = subject
- Man = direct object
"The man is kissed [by the woman]."
- Man = subject
- Woman = prepositional object
It might seem like hair-splitting right now, but its importance will be clearer later on.
It is not passive.
The word order changed, but the woman (the subject) is still actively kissing the man (the direct object). The instance of the direct object taking the "n" ending (e.g. viron) serves to make the word order of a sentence more free-form without confusing anyone as to which is the subject and which is the direct object.
If it were passive, the man would become the subject (e.g. "The man is kissed...").
How would you make it passive to mean "the man is kissed by the woman" then? Would it be La viro estas kisado da la virino?
Passive version would be thus:
"La viro estas kisita de la virino."
"The man is kissed by the woman."
NOTE for this passive construction:
Both the subject (man) and the prepositional object (woman) are in nominative case (i.e. both take the "O" ending: viro, virino).
Action is in the present, and is completed (i.e. "is kissed," as opposed to "is being kissed").
Great! I've been studying Esperanto for less than a month and I guessed all but one word!
Thanks for your explanation!
Because when a noun becomes the direct object (the object which receives the action of the verb), you add an "n" to the end of it.
One reason this is done is that it allows you to change the word order of a sentence without confusing the subject with the direct object.
This sentence can therefore be written either of two ways:
La virino kisas la viron.
La viron kisas la virino.
Both of them translate to "The woman kisses the man.
In the future, please browse the thread for answers to your question before asking, since it is likely to have already been answered.
One last thing:
This has already been answered on this page. It is an important feature of Esperanto so you should probably read the explanations provided here.
Yes. La virino kisas la viron is also correct. Word order is often changed from what we think of as correct in English to give emphasis, or for effect. Also to aid the meaning or rhythm of poetry.
So it's kind of like saying "it's the MAN that the woman kisses" in English? That's what I'm understanding.
Yes, kind of. I assume that this is influenced by Germanic languages. In German, you can theoratically put any object at the beginning, since their ending describes the case (Nominative, Accusative, Genitive or Dative), the role they play in the sentence. Be happy Esperanto only has 2, AFAIK.
Seems inefficient because you have to read the entire sentence to know what is happening to the subject at the very beginning. Like you say, "Oh snap" the man is the subject, what's going on with him?
Whether it feels inefficient or not depends which language you come from. What's more important, object or subject? It's subjective, no pun intended.
That may not technically be a perfect translation but I think that's a good way of thinking about it, at least for us English speakers.
In spanish we don't have problem: "A el hombre besa la mujer" or "Al hombre besa la mujer" :)
In English, for example Shakespear, you see all sorts of weird word orders used, like "Killed I the bear, your house to save" for "I killed the bear to save your house" Poetic language can be really weird sometimes in a lot of languages.
Some poetic licence but also a reflection of the closeness to the Teutonic roots of English. As time passed and Latinate structures became dominant, such arrangements now seem very unusual.
In Shakespear's time such patterns were not as attention grabbing as they are now. Not typical speech, but with more gravitas because of it's invocation of tradition.
Yeah. Like how in most Germanic languages you would say "If I eat it, then must you tell him" rather than the Modern English "If I eat it, then you must tell him" Kinda weird that we modern English speakers think old language sounds "fancy" but to them it sounded normal
You can do it in the order that feels most comfortable to you. The point of having an accusative case in Esperanto is so that the word order is flexible, making is more accessible for people with different native languages.