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Zamenhof's innovation of the table of correlatives (AFAIK the first one in any language) is brilliant, but I was always a little perplexed by some of the oddities in it. So I am wondering if anyone know the reasoning behind some of the choices.

  1. The proximity marker ĉi distinguishes between "this" and "that." Since the distinction is only used with demonstratives, it appears that Esperanto has one demonstrative prefix and one modifier instead of two prefixes. That saves nothing and makes for awkward expressions like "tio kaj ĉi tio."

  2. Since we are at ĉi, why is the universality marker ĉi-? I would think more obvious choices would be "omni-" or "tuti-". At the same time, since the question marker is ĉu, it would be easier to remember ĉi- as the question prefix.

  3. Why on earth is the location marker -e? That's the ending for adverbs and would probably make more sense for what is now -el, modality.

  4. Speaking of which, -el and -om are for qualities and quantities respectively, except that -el can also be used for quantities of uncountable things. Except being a word that Esperanto doesn't like in its grammar.

  5. Also, there is nothing about the language that says that -el is related to quality, while -al to cause. It's just something one has to learn without any helpful connection to quality or cause.

These are just examples that illustrate why the correlatives give me pause, not criticism of the language or attempts to reform it. The question is, why did Zamenhof pick these prefixes and suffixes, and whether there has been historically any criticism of the choices.

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    Regarding 1: I have seen ĉi used with the universal correlatives such as ĉi ĉio, which would mean ‘all this’ or something similar. – Joffysloffy Aug 24 '16 at 20:21
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    Regarding 5, there's also nothing about the language which says that "bona" means "good" rather than "bad": it's just something one has to learn. The basic roots are arbitrary in any language. – Max Aug 25 '16 at 6:18
  • Yes, and I was not referring to the fact itself they are arbitrary, but that they are so similar and arbitrary. It's like the difference between trinki and drinki: both mean almost the same thing and are spelled almost the same. Took me years to remember which one is which. – nerimarkinde Aug 25 '16 at 12:36
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I think this was clearly a case of Zamenhof using a system that was in common use among Romance languages.

For example the proximal pronouns in French are (ce, ici, ci) and in Italian it's (ci)

So, it appears that he took both the idea and form from those languages.

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Regarding 3: Locations are expressed with adverbials, so the adverb ending makes sense here.

To say ‘at home’ in German, you can either use the prepositional phrase zu Hause or the adverb zuhause. It is even easier to see this in Scandinavian languages. For example, ‘home’ in Norwegian is hjem, and ‘at home’ is hjemme – it's clearly an adverb, without any trace of a preposition. That wouldn't be the only thing in Esperanto that comes from Scandinavian languages, another one is the word ju.

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Esperanto isn't perfect and it will never be. All languages have some oddities.

That saves nothing and makes for awkward expressions like "tio kaj ĉi tio."

We used to say the exact same thing in English - "This here book." It doesn't sound awkward to me.

At the same time, since the question marker is ĉu, it would be easier to remember ĉi- as the question prefix.

I don't think people have a hard time remembering it. If the word was Omni then it would sound like a lot like Oni.

Why on earth is the location marker -e?

Do you mean like hejme (at home)? Hejme actually means homely.

Speaking of which, -el and -om are for qualities and quantities respectively, except that -el can also be used for quantities of uncountable things. Except being a word that Esperanto doesn't like in its grammar.

I don't understand this comment. Could you clarify please?

The question is, why did Zamenhof pick these prefixes and suffixes, and whether there has been historically any criticism of the choices.

There has always been a lot of criticism. Because it a constructed language, many people feel that they can change it the way you change an open source coding project. I know a professor of linguistics and he always tells his students that languages are arbitrary. Don't expect them to make sense, even if they are constructed.

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    I second the question about -e: I believe that what was meant was the ending of kie, tie, etc. Why not reserve those for adverbs instead and choose something else for places? Kia? Rapida. Kie? Rapide – La Vo-o Dec 5 '16 at 18:53

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