July 1, 2015



I'm sure it comes from "Oi vey!", since Zamenhof spoke yiddish. It's sort of archaic in english. "Alas" and "woe" sound very shakespearian or King James biblical. I think nowadays we would just sigh loudly and start complaining.


Alas is not as archaic as all that. I've come across it a lot in contemporary written English.


But what does it mean?


Interesting, I just used "alas" spontaneously in this thread.



"Oi vey" is a great way to remember "ve". Dankon!


... Drowne my word with my weeping earnestly,-

Or wash it if it mus be drown-d no more:

But oh it must be burnt! Alas the fire-

Of lust and envie have burnt it heretofore,-

And made it fouler; let their flames retire,-

And burne me õ lord, wit a fiery zeal-

Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heale.

Sonnet V, from Holy Sonnets, by John Done


"Alas", "Woe", "Heaven help" ?? Not really sure what this expression means


It's a word used to express sorrow, regret, compassion or grief, like the English alas.


Alas??? I've never never never heard that!

Thanks for teaching me something new! ;D


Never heard of the expression, thanks


Imagine a horrible moaning cry coming from a mother who has lost her infant child to disease. In literature this sound is signified by the evocation "Alas!" or "Woe is to me!" It is like the painful low of a cow licking her stillborn calf; it is the placeholder for our most profound losses and a call to a deity which may not exist.

Alas, both for the deed, and for the cause!

But have I now seen Death? Is this the way

I must return to native dust? Oh sight

Of terror, foul and ugly to behold,

Horrid to think, how horrible to feel!

-Paradise Lost



dumbledore uses it in the first harry potter book, if you've read them


Alas is rather formal, and it's used to express sadness. I'd definitely say "come again", "my god", "Jesus" or "come off it".


Oy vey, ay and an exasperated sigh all have similar meaning


".... -.- Shit."


No one says any of the English translations. Maybe as a joke, but even then in very limited circumstances. What I would naturally say here would be "Shit!" "❤❤❤❤!" "❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ hell!" or "Oh my god!" ("OMG!") If I was trying extra hard not to be offensive, I would possibly say "Oh no!" and if I were a little old lady, maybe "Oh dear!" This is a hard one. I guess the only way to get it right is to just mouse over the helpful words that come up and then type one of those in.


That sounds pretty good, and highlights an issue that develops around non-natural languages, since there is not much communication using it, slang words like the ones you mentioned dont develop in the same way, I mean, every language has some curse words, but they're not direct translations of each other, I wonder what words or expressions have come up in Esperanto!


Well, the most common profanities are things like diable (from diablo - devil), damne (damn), and the popular fek (which both literally and figuratively means "shit". Although it's a bit milder, because it comes from "feko", the normal decent word for dung, excrement, feces, etc.)

There's also a famous collection of erotic poems from the 1930s called Sekretaj sonetoj (secret sonnets), which popularized a number of unofficial sex-related slang words, such as

[here's where you stop reading if you are very sensitive]

fiki (to f**k, comes from German), kaco (vulgar word for penis, comes from Italian) and piĉo (vulgar word for vagina, comes from Slavic languages).

There's a great English Wikipedia article on this, if you want to read more:


Also see this: How To Talk Dirty In Esperanto : Kiel Paroli Maldece en Esperanto http://mindprod.com/esperanto/dirty.html (NSFW, some of the stuff is very harsh.)


There's also this:


It's a memrise course with a lot of the vocab from the piece Tommy Linsley recommended. (NSFW, for the same reasons as above).


Could I also say "Oh no!"


That would be "ho vey" (oh, woe!)


"Ve" is used frequently in the "Pasporto al la Tuta Mondo".


It's funny. In Colombian Spanish we have one similar "¡Ay ve!" which also expresses sorrow or pity, as you can hear in this song at second 26: https://youtu.be/CPXBg9JDwTU


I like the feel of this word. I like that I'm seeing words that have feelings not completely describable this far in.


What does even "alas" mean? Sorry, english ain't my native language


This reminds me of this song from He's Not The Messiah, He's A Very Naughty Boy


I wrote alas and it marked me wrong for no reason. This is a very common issue I have found with Duolingo in the later lessons.


I wrote alas and it works for me now.

It's likely that the creators hadn't thought of that possibility at the time you commented. It makes sense that it's more common in the later lessons, since attrition will make it so that fewer people make it to the later lessons to be able to report issues. If you come across any other "errors" that you're pretty sure should be marked as correct, make sure to report them.


mi ne konis la vorto "ve!" mi neniam usis (tiel ne usis dum pasintaj 16 jaroj) kaj mi ne rememoras se mi audis iam ie tiu vorto se iu usis eble mi ne povis remarki. Sed, jes, estas truvebla en la vortaro.


Ve, malriĉa Yorick!


Malriĉa means poor in the sense of "destitute, not rich, etc". I think it's more likely that Hamlet meant poor in the sense of "to be pitied, unenviable, etc", which would translate to kompatinda or povra.

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