"I often pretended to be my twin."

Translation:Mi ofte ŝajnigis esti mia ĝemelo.

July 10, 2015

This discussion is locked.


this one i had to guess (wrongly) concerning the transitivity of 'ŝajnigis esti'. So I guess the rule for compound verbs is that they take on the transitivity of the last verb in the sequence? Or is it more complicated than that?


I think the object of "ŝajnigi" is "esti mia ĝemelo".

Kind of like in "Mi volas esti doktoro kaj vi volas trinki sukon", the objects of "voli" are "esti doktoro" and "trinki sukon" -- since infinitives don't show case, we don't see them marked for accusative case.

The objects or complements of the secondary verbs take their normal case marking.

So it's not a compound verb; it's a verb which takes a normal verb as its object. The first verb is transitive and has an object, which happens to be a phrase containing another verb; the second verb, the one in that phrase, is just a normal verb which can take an object or not.


I'm happy with that explanation. It says to me, this is a complicated thing. There will always be shades of transitivity, and there will always be special cases. The fact is, it hardly matters unless you are a grammarian or an editor. The meaning of this sentence really doesn't change either way. For my own (stultaj) purposes, I'll just use the rule that the last verb in the compound sequence determines the transitivity.


I just want to add a precision in this. Taking the last verb as a determiner for transitivity works, and you normally won’t wrongly write or misunderstand any sentence this way: you can safely ignore my current comment if it confuses you.

I think that you don’t parse the sentence correctly: this is not a compound verb. It is just a subsentence (in the infinitive, thus the reason why there is no “ke”). In other words, you read the sentence as “Mi <ofte <ŝajnigis esti>> <mia ĝemelo>” instead of as “Mi <ofte ŝajnigis> <esti <mia ĝemelo>>.” There might be complex sentences where this parsing mistake would lead to confusion, but I think that such sentences are corner cases and never used in practice. I’m however not sure how computer scientists understand the sentence “Kiu vi ofte ŝajnigis esti?” :p

But as I said, if this confuses you, you can ignore this comment :-)


Yes, that makes sense. You're advising that the entire subphrase that comes after ŝajnigi here, including esti, is the object of the ŝajnigi. So one could in theory replace "Mi ofte ŝajnigis <esti mia ĝemelo>." with some word-building effort like "Mi ofte ŝajnigis <propraĝemelecon>." (I'm not suggesting this is a useable word at all, just that it shows how the sentence is structured.)


Exactly! This is at least the way I understand it. We should search for Zamenhof’s idioms to really understand the way it works... but it probably changed a lot since then, so this is not even a good solution :p

There is a grammar book in my local Esperanto club explaining corners cases like this in a grammatical point of view, but I don’t have the courage to search for anything in it...

[Edit] Actually, this book has an online version, and they seem to prefer your original explanation: http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/verboj_frazroloj/kompleksaj.html So sorry for the noise, but ignoring my comment seems like a bad idea anyway :-)


I think that your analysis is linguistically sound, but the book simplifies things for the lay reader. Thus they write ‘kvazaŭ’ in ‘La du verboj kune formas kvazaŭ unu kompleksan verbon.’; They don't really form one complex verb, but it's as if they did. [This is really a reply to your later comment where you cite the online Esperanto grammar book, but that's too deeply nested to reply to directly.]


I have a doubt:
If "ŝajnigis" is transitive, Why this sentence is not "Mi ofte ŝajnigis min..." (too much redundancy?)

And, what would this mean?: "Mi ŝajniĝis esti mia ĝemelo".
is not the same?


I think it would make more sense if it took the direct object "min". That way you could also use other direct objects for the meaning I made him look like, or I made them look like.


It works with adjectives ("mi ŝajnigas min indiferenta"). It also works with "esti" ("Ne ŝajnigu vin esti burleska"). With other verbs, all examples I find have the pronoun as object of the i-verb ("li ŝajnigis ilin malkoni"), not of "ŝajnigi". If you want to make the subject of the i-verb explicit, you can use "ke" instead: "ŝi ŝajnigas ke ŝi ploras".


I checked my Esperanto dictionary, which is a 1967 copy published by the British Esperanto Association. The examples under the entry for ŝajnigi all use use the reflexive, e.g. "Ne ŝajnigu vin freneza".


More specifically, "fratecaj ĝemeloj" (fraternal); "identaj ĝemeloj" (identical).


At first I was confused about the lack of an accusative -n here, since I thought that the whole purpose of the accusative case in Esperanto was so that you could re-arrange sentences and keep meaning, so that the language wouldn't depend on subject/verb/object order to be understood like English does. I think that this sentence is fine if you assume "esti mia gxemelo" to be the object and "mi" to be the subject, because then you can re-arrange the sentence to be:

Esti mia gxemelo ofte sxajnigis mi -> To be my twin often pretended I

versus taking "mia gxemelo" as the object and re-arranging it to be:

mia gxemelo ofte sxajnigis esti mi -> My twin often pretended to be me

Including the infinitve "esti" as part of the object allows the sentence to be re-arranged with the meaning preserved. I guess we just don't have a way to signal accusative infinitive.


I like your thinking here, except that I would quibble with you about your terminology. I would call "esti mia gxemelo" the predicate, not the object. Equational sentences, i.e. those with a copulative verb, don't have objects, but they do still have predicates. And I think you're correct to include the verb 'esti' as a part of the predicate.


I would quibble with your quibble. Certainly realzaph didn't invent the concept of infinitiva objekto. Here's a random bit of text using the term -- and it seems to have the added benefit of containing good advice:

  • La infinitiva objekto povas servi en la funkcio jen de la rekta objekto (mi permesis al li foriri = mi permesis al li foriron), jen de la nerekta (mi instruis lin legi = mi instruis lin pri legado), plie ĝi mem povas havi proprajn objektojn (mi deziras legi libron al vi)

In the case of the given sentence, it seems to me it's the direct object.


Oh, I wrote this and then I saw your comment. Yes, I looked at the whole sentence and came to the same conclusion. See my post below. Thanks!


Correction: I guess you are right to say that "esti mia gxemelo" is the object of the verb 'ŝajnigi'. I sort of lost track of which sentence it was exactly that we were talking about.


Why couldn't we say "Mi ofte ŝajnigis kiel mia ĝemelo"? Is it simply because it doesn't match the exact wording of this exercise?


No. Your sentence means something like - I often pretend like my twin (does).


Excellent explanation, thank you.


Why "mia" instead of "sia?" "Sia" would not be ambiguous.


"Mia" is not ambiguous. My twin is my twin and can't be anyone else's.

Sia only refers back to a third-person subject (his own, her own, its own, their own).

First and second person (my, your, our) don't use sia.


I think it's a good question. Danish and Norwegian (and, I think, Swedish?) plus at least some Slavic languages use the reflexive in all persons. I prefer that because, even if it doesn't help in terms of reducing ambiguity, it makes for more consistency. Example:

Mi uzas sian dentobroson. (I use my toothbrush, i.e. my own toothbrush)


Mi uzas ŝian dentobroson. (I use her, i.e. someone else's, toothbrush)

Li uzas sian dentobroson. (he uses his own toothbrush)


Li uzas ŝian dentobroson. (He uses her toothbrush, i.e. someone else's)


I think it's a good question.

So do I -- and I also think it received a good answer well over 3 years ago (October 2017).


Here I won't quibble with you. Esperanto has clear rules about it, so I clearly don't have a leg to stand on.

Still, when it comes right down to it, I just prefer the Scandinavian-Slavic model. I find it more elegant, and I think it's also ultimately more logical.

And, by the way, isn't this forum set up nicely so that you can continue a conversation into the future indefinitely? To me, it's irrelevant when the question was posed. I wanted it in the record that some view this differently. Hence my three-year-late reply.



For those reading along, the "quibble" comment is a callback - and actually kind of funny - but ya hadta be there.

For my part sentences like "mi vundis sin" hurt my brain. I've known people who speak this way - especially people with one or more Slavic family member who use Esperanto at home and unintentionally invent their own variation.

As for logic, I see no logic in specifying which "mi" you're talking about. There's only one. That's why the pronoun in Esperanto is specifically a third person reflexive.

Why should we need to say "I see myself" when you could just as logically say "I see me"? Just 'cos, I guess. It has nothing to do with logic.


What other positions can ofte be in this sentence?


At the start, without changing the meaning. Before or after "esti" but it changes the meaning. At the end of the sentence, but it may be ambiguous.

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