Are the correlatives inspired from other languages, or are they made-up?

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The image is a screenshot of the table at Esperanto at Stanford University: Lesson 3 Correlatives (table of words) .


3 Answers 3


Sanskrit correlatives The photo is from the Scienca Revuo vol. 3, nr-o. 12 (1952). Otherwise, I think they are inspired by Russian, but completely regular: "inspiritaj de la rusaj escepte regulaj korelativoj)", as this webpage says.


Ŝajnas ke plej plena priskribo de korelativoj estas en libro Etimologia Vortaro de Esperanto. Se vi komprenas la rusan en la artikolon vi eblas legi rerakonton pri korelativoj.


The pseudo prefixes are Indoeuropean, ki- for instance from q- which in Slavonic and Romance became k- / q- and in Germanic, Sanskrit (conjunctions only) w-. ĉi- for the French chaque.

neni- instead of a fitting ni- because of French and sound differentiation, negative ne.

The pseudo suffixes -a, -o, and even the location related adverb -e, -en are trivial. For -o one might consider Slavonic.

The suffix -es definitely is inspired by the German genitive.

The remaining suffixes are more artificial IMHO as the choices are limited for unused consonants. (One should not over-interprete similarities to national languages.) [aeo][lm] seem phonetic inspired.

For a linguistic (judging) context:

The correlatives are a nice lingual jewel in Esperanto, but also criticized by some linguists:

  • entirely different frequency of usages (nenial);
  • unneeded (tial = pro tio)
  • introducing sometimes unneeded differentiations: kiom/kio/kiel; but hey, it allows expressing nuances rather easily;

Hence the undoing of correlatives in Ido. I do not hold the arguments for valid though.

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