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This question came up as an example in a more general question about Esperanto. The specific question here, though, does warrant an answer.

How do you express the different shades of meaning in different kinds of scoffing and mocking?

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  • This happens in any language into which to translate. Instead of rikani/mokridi a switch of the syntactic category (like from verb to adjective) might accent the correct facet of an expression. Here maybe esti aroganta/paroli arogante.
    – Joop Eggen
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 15:38

3 Answers 3

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As always, it’s best to think about how to express ideas, not how to translate words. What is the idea that needs to be expressed?

A Google search shows the following meanings:

  • mock - tease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner.
  • scoff - speak to someone or about something in a scornfully derisive or mocking way.

PIV (vortaro.net) lists the following meaning for moki:

mok/i (tr) Malŝate ridindigi: mi lasis min mokiZ; ne estas bone tiel moki maljunan servantonZ; la soldatoj mokis la frenezan princonZ; ne moku mizeron de alia, ĉar baldaŭ venos viaZ; fripona atestanto mokas juĝonX; la mokanto estos mokataZ; (f) ne moku riveron, ne atinginte la teronZ; (abs) suferoj sufokas k homoj mokasZ; vi forĵetis miajn konsilojn, tial mi mokos, kiam timo vin atakosZ. (Vidu ankaŭ:) insulti, kritiki, rikani, sarkasmo, satiro.

So, depending on what you're trying to say, you could say insulti, kritiki, or rikani. The definition in PIV suggests ridindigi. This is one of the suggestions in Benson (CEED). It also suggests priridi.

You could also try checking "scorn" or "deride" in a bilingual dictionary. There's no rule that the idea needs to be expressed in one word: Li bagateligis mian ideon per malafabla balbutado.

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  • Going on gut, I would say that 'to mock' is more active and 'to scoff' is more passive or reactionary.
    – abnry
    Commented Aug 31, 2020 at 13:37
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Well, I've looked up "to scoff" in a couple of English dictionaries. It seems to me that there is usually a strong sense of denying the validity of something in the English verb "to scoff". The dictionaries I checked did not specifically mention denial of validity, but they did mention showing contempt or speaking about something with contempt. If we did not have the verb "to scoff" in English, instead of "He scoffed at the idea", we might say "He derisively denied the validity of the idea." or "He derisively expressed contempt for the idea." So? There's no reason to think there will be a one-to-one matching of words in one language with the words of another, and, as Tomaso has already said, there's no rule that the idea needs to be expressed in one word. For further suggestions, try "Li rikane neis la validecon de la ideo." or maybe "Li rikane espimis malestimon pri la ideo." The verb "senvalidigi" also comes to mind, but I think that generally means to make invalid by, for example, punching a hole in a theater ticket when the ticket holder arrives.

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In context, the transitive verb 'mokridi' appears to mean "to scoff at", "to laugh at scornfully":

"Foriru, ĉar la knabineto ne mortis, sed dormas." Kaj ili mokridis lin. (Mateo 9:24 )

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