OK, malfermi comes from fermi. Fermi, to open, comes from romance languages who borrow their word for open from the Latin firmare.
However, Spanish, the only other romance language I'm studying, does NOT take its word from firmare. It comes from the Latin aperio, so I'm not being helped out.
The only other thing that comes to mind is the word "firm" or Fermi's Paradox, you know, the paradox about how we should've discovered alien life by now but haven't.
I had no idea how I was going to remember malfermi, but then a flash of genius hit me. FERMI opened a law FIRM for alien life forms, but things went BAD (mal) because he could NOT find any aliens, so he had to CLOSE it.
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/firmo#Latin The Latin does not mean open. It means make firm, harden, fortify, strengthen. Which in turn came to mean "close" in French "fermer" (If you fortify your position, you will close all the gates and doors.) "mal" turns the word into its opposite so "fermi" or "close" becomes "malfermi" or "open".
Yes, but the "mal" prefix makes the word that follows its opposite. "mal" does not mean "bad" nor "dis" that only seems to work with some words. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16967/16967-h/16967-h.htm
Sometimes they mean the same but not always. "un-" means "not" and sometimes means "the opposite of". It can also mean "remove a specified thing from", "an altered form of" or "against" "dis-" often does mean "the opposite of", but sometimes it also means "not". http://www.wordcentral.com/cgi-bin/student These are the closest prefixes English has to the Esperanto "mal-" and I see where you were coming from, but it is important to see that sometimes they won't quite mean the same thing. If a package is unopened, it does not mean that you closed it, but rather that it was wrapped and you have not opened it. When you disclose a secret, it means that you reveal it. We again would not use the word open, because you tell a secret. If we were to say that we disclosed a door, that would mean that it was hidden behind something else and that we have revealed it, but it could still be closed. We could also not tell someone to unopen a door when we want them to close it, as un- is only used with the past participle of open: "the unopened door" as an adjective to describe "the closed door" from another viewpoint.
You are right that "mal-" is more broadly applicable.
Yeah you're totally right I wasn't speaking about word translation but about equivalent prefix. I know disclose doesn't actually mean open, it just seemed a a good way of explaining in simple terms the logical reasoning from fermi to malfermi. Plus, mal- before adjectives could also be in- (as in impossible, illogical, irrational) or a/an- (asymmetrical, anarchical) etc.
Even if we weren't speaking about a conlang, so an inherently simplified and rationalised grammar, translating prefixes can at most work as a tool to visualise the rationale behind word-formation, and a hardly unfaltering tool at that. So no worries, I get what you're saying.
All I thought about when reading this was: JENNNNNNNN JOHNNY! Cxiam labori kaj ne ludi, faras Jack obtuza knabon. I'm sure the grammar is wrong but I tried! One and a half months in.
Pardonpetas, mi estas komencanto, sed mi pensas ke "cxiuj" = all as in all people? Aux cxu gxi estas "all" as in all of them (objects) ? Mi pensis ke "cxiam" estis pli bone ol "cxiuj", cxar "all work" = "always working".
Cxu mi pravas? Dankon!