Enkomputiligis Don HARLOW

Being Colloquial in Esperanto

by David K. Jordan

reviewed by Don Harlow

JORDAN, David K.: Being Colloquial in Esperanto, A Reference Guide For Americans. Lanham: University Press of America, 1992. ISBN 0-8191-8645-7 (cloth), -5 (paper). 267+ix p. Cloth/paper.

Many people, having completed the ten-lesson course or Teach Yourself Esperanto, wonder where to go next. Step by Step is much more complete than either of these, but that would involve starting over -- a rather dispiriting process. David Jordan here provides a different altemative -- a reference guide to Esperanto usage, for the individual who knows all the basics but wants to learn how to improve his speaking and writing.

The first of two sections, "Esperanto Grammar," goes over the grammar of Esperanto in detail. Grammar is, of course, an intrinsically boring subject for many of us, but Jordan makes it bearable by loading the text with examples, some Zamenhofian, many humorous (e.g. in a discussion of sia on p. 34, "Ŝi ordonis al li donaci sian salajron al la movado por vestigi katojn"). Furthermore, Jordan includes under the general rubric of "Grammar" a number of topics that have very little to do with grammar: capitalization, place-names, letter-writing, where and how to put decimal points, international writing of dates, etc. These are all important topics that are invariably overlooked in textbooks that concentrate on purely linguistic topics, usually addressing them in local or national terms. The discussion of transitive and intransitive verbs (pp. 87-99) and the thorough description of all official and some unofficial affixes (pp. 101-134) are very useful. Incidentally, Jordan includes in the former section lists of the most common and troublesome transitive and intransitive verbs, and in the latter section he includes a table of mal- synonyms, along with (in his opinion) their current status in actual use.

Of equal utility is the second section, "Potentially Troublesome Words,"pp.145-254. This includes, among other things, many false friends and paronyms. Here we find many words that cause trouble to Americans, listed in alphabetical order, each with one or more alternative choices, many with long explanations of why they should not be used in the way that Americans would naturally want to use them. Jordan also describes the evolution in use that has accompanied some of these words over the last 100 years (e.g. ŝati).

Naturally I have a few quibbles. Jordan dismisses the distinction between estas Xa kaj Xas as unimportant (p. 35); in fact, the two forms are translated the same way, but this is a fault of English, not an identity of meaning in Esperanto. He similarly ignores the difference between adjective root + -eco and adjective root + -o (p. 114), and indeed the distinction is usually one of nuance, which many Esperanto speakers prefer (incorrectly, I think) to ignore. He correctly delineates the distinction between lerni and studi, identifying the differences in usage throughout the world, but somehow omits a problem even more common to Americans, the distinction between lerni on the one hand and ekscii, informiĝi on the other. The lack of an index in this, a reference work, is annoying; but the topics are well-enough organized and the table of contents sufficiently complete and well-indented that it is relatively easy to find any particular topic, even without a complete index.

And that is about the extent of my quibbles. Overall, I would say that this is a book which should be on the shelf of every serious American (and other English-speaking) Esperantist, and I cannot recommend it highly enough for those who want to move from the status of beginner to that of expert.

Aliaj Recenzoj

La libro (2a eldono nur) haveblas ĉe
The Esperanto League for North America
Universala Esperanto-Asocio