Esperanto: A Complete and Comprehensive Grammar/Word order

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Word order[edit | edit source]

The earliest adopters of Esperanto used the subject-verb-object order used by almost all European languages. But thanks to the existence of the accusative and "various inflectional devices", plus the fact that the 16 rules in the Fundamento give little guidance in regards to word order, the French Esperantist Pierre Janton argues "that Esperanto syntax allows Japanese speakers to render 'the dog saw the cat' as 'la hundo la katon vidis' or Arabic speakers to say 'vidis la hundo la katon', just as they would in their own languages."[1]

What about adjective-noun versus noun-adjective? Some languages allow both, but in English adjective-noun is generally preferred. Looking at Zamenhof's poem La Espero, one consistenly finds adjective noun: "forta voko," "facila vento," "sankta signo," etc.

But what about more complex, real-life sentences with more than one verb? A German speaker might naturally say, for example, "mi volas la kukon manĝi" ("I want the cake to eat"), while an English speaker would prefer "mi volas manĝi la kukon". Once such sentences got longer and more complex, they could become incomprehensible to people not accustomed to the speaker's preferred word order.

Reference[edit | edit source]

  1. P. Janton, Esperanto: Language, Literature and Community, trans. H. Tonkin, J. Edwards, K. Johnson-Weiner. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press (1993): 73