Monday, November 14, 2011

Learning Esperanto through the Bible: Eliro 20:12, -o, -in, familio

Lesson 1: nouns

"Respektu vian patron kaj vian patrinon." Eliro 20:12

"Give honour to your father and to your mother." Exodus 20:12, Bible in Basic English

"Honour thy father and thy mother." Exodus 20:12, Douay-Rheims version


This is the start of a series of about 10 lessons that cover the most important parts of Esperanto for the absolute beginner.

The Bible verse for this lesson is about families, and so this lesson is about families. Many of the words we use when speaking of families are nouns. Nouns are words which are the names of people or things: father, dog, couch, television, and apple are all nouns.

Esperanto, like English, has nouns. But there is something special about Esperanto nouns. They are always marked by the suffix -o. Sometimes there are other suffixes coming after the -o, but the -o is always there.

Esperanto words consist of parts which are put together. There are roots, and there are suffixes and prefixes to add to those roots. Here are some word roots we will need to talk about families: patr, fil, frat, av. In order to use the words, we have to add a suffix to show what part-of-speech it is: whether it is a noun, verb, adjective or adverb.

Adding the -o to these roots, we get:
patro - father (think of 'paternal')
filo - son (think of 'filial')
frato - brother (think of 'fraternity')
avo - grandfather
familio - family

Here are some more general nouns about people:
viro - man
knabo - boy
infano - child (male or female)
bebo - baby (male or female)

In order to make any sentences in Esperanto, we are going to need a verb. The first verb we will learn is 'estas', which means 'is' or 'are'. Here are some Esperanto sentences:

Patro estas viro. = A father is a man.
Filo estas knabo. = A son is a boy.
Frato estas infano. = A brother is a child.
Avo estas viro. = A grandfather is a man.

You will see from these examples that Esperanto does not have a word for 'a' or 'an'. These little words are called 'the indefinite article'. Since Esperanto does not have an indefinite article, the word 'viro' can mean 'man' or 'a man'.

There is another kind of article in English: the definite article. The definite article in English is 'the'. Esperanto does have a definite article, 'la'. Let's use the definite article in some sentences:

La bebo estas frato. = The baby is a brother.
La infano estas knabo. = The child is a boy.
La viro estas la patro. = The man is the father.
La avo estas patro. = The grandfather is a father.

You will notice that our familio words lack the feminine touch. There is an easy way to add that feminine touch--- with the suffix -in, which turns any noun into a feminine noun. Here are our words in feminine form:

patrino = mother
filino = daughter
fratino = sister
avino = grandmother
virino = woman
knabino = girl
infanino = girl child
bebino = girl baby

A very useful word in Esperanto is the word 'kaj', which means 'and.' The 'aj' is pronounced like the 'y' in 'sky'.

patro kaj patrino = father and mother
filo kaj filino = son and daughter
frato kaj fratino = brother and sister
avo kaj avino = grandfather and grandmother
viro kaj virino = man and woman
knabo kaj knabino = boy and girl
infano kaj infanino = child and girl-child
bebo kaj bebino = baby and girl-baby
Patro kaj patrino kaj infano estas familio. = Father and mother and child are a family.

Pronunciation of vowel sounds: The five vowels are a, e, i, o, and u. In Esperanto they are pronounced as follows:
a as the 'a' in father
e as the 'e' in bet
i as the 'ee' in see
o as the 'o' in role
u as the 'oo' in boot

When you read the new words of the lesson out loud, be sure and pronounce the vowels carefully.

The Bible verse: 'Respektu' comes from the word for 'respect'. The '-u' on the end shows that it is a verb being used as a command or request. The Esperanto word for 'your' is 'via', from the word 'vi', which means 'you.'. You will notice that the words 'patro' and 'patrino' have a letter -n at the end. This -n is added to a noun which is the object of a sentence--- the person or thing being acted on by the verb of the sentence. In the sentence "Respektu vian patron kaj vian patrinon," the verb is 'respektu'. Who are you to 'respektu'? Your father and mother-- 'vian patron kaj patrinon'.

If you have a copy of the book 'Step by Step in Esperanto' by Montagu C. Butler, which I very much recommend, the numbered sections to read with today's lesson are: 10, 6, 15, 17, 13, 32 and 2.

Meditation: Some of us are blessed with good mothers and fathers, who teach us, guide us and protect us. Others have less-good mothers and fathers, who may not have been very responsible in their treatment of us or in their behavior generally. And a few people have perfectly dreadful mothers and fathers who mistreat them or even try to kill them for the insurance money!

But God doesn't say 'honor the GOOD mothers and fathers.' He wants you to honor YOURS. Even the worst parents sacrifice themselves for their children sometimes. They go through childbirth, they give up time and money to provide us with food and diapers, and in that way they reflect God's work in giving us life. It is the image of God as father that we are asked to honor by honoring our father and mother.

Of course for those who have suffered by having a homicidal parent, that honoring is done best by staying well away from the parent in question and praying for him. In that way we are denying a wicked parent the chance to sin against us yet again.

Loving parents, however imperfect, are God's plan for young children, to help them grow up physically and emotionally healthy. Respecting your parents is your way to show them that the work they did raising you is something you value.

Exercises:
1. Read the Esperanto Bible verse aloud seven times each day.
2. Practice reading the Esperanto words and sentences aloud. Memorize each word with its meaning.
3. Construct 10 Esperanto sentences using the words in this lesson.
4. If possible, obtain a copy of the book 'Step by Step in Esperanto'. The Esperanto association in your country may stock it, or you may try Amazon.com.


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