7

I see ne ĝenu vin fari tion used sometimes to mean don't bother doing that but sometimes don't hold back, feel free to do that which is entirely the opposite sentiment!

For example, if someone says ne ĝenu vin pro mi I wouldn't be sure if they intended to mean don't trouble yourself because of me (don't do it) or don't hold back because of me (do it!)

Is one of these an incorrect usage or is it simply something that needs to be worked out from context? Is there any way of phrasing these kinds of statements to be less ambiguous?

5

Ĝeni means to hinder and Zamenhof used Ne ĝenu vin... to mean "Don't hesitate to..." (literally, "Don't hinder yourself" = "Don't refrain from...")

So ĝeni is not an exact synonym of bother, disturb, distract (i.e. malatentigi), and the reflexive ĝeni sin was supposed to mean refrain from...

It is easy to see why Ne ĝenu vin fari tion can be interpreted as "Don't encumber yourself with that task" (i.e. Ne ĝenu vin per fari tion), especially given the existence of Ne hezitu... but it was not the original meaning. Don't bother... is more like Ne faru al vi la klopodon...

  • Ne hezitu [ĝenu vin] porti la pakaĵon supren. Don't hesitate to carry the luggage up.

  • Ne klopodu porti la pakaĵon supren. Don't bother carrying the luggage up.

  • Ne tedu ilin. Don't bother [bore] them.

Notice that "Don't bother about me" can be used in English both for encouragement and dissuasion and is thus similarly ambiguous out of context. My suggestion however is to avoid the Zamenhofian ĝeni sin and use heziti ("hesitate") or deteni sin ("refrain") instead.

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