eg. in English we have lots of words like "I'm" (from "I am") and "can't" (from "can not").

It can seem a bit formal to always be typing out the full form of words. And while the possessive "'s" in English isn't strictly a contraction, it can be cumbersome to always type the long form, eg. "la fratino de mia amiko" (the sister of my friend, or my friend's sister).

Does Esperanto have a common and accepted way of shortening words with contractions like this?

  • La fratino de mia amiko estas miaamika fratino. In this specific case though, do not forget to pronounce both a's. – Christian Schott Aug 25 '16 at 21:20

There are two "contractions" in Esperanto: You can use l' instead of la as in "l' akvo" (with a space between the words) vs "la akvo", and you can leave off the trailing o in nouns: "viv'" vs "vivo". Both seem to be used more in poetry and music.

There are other ways of shortening than contractions. For example when you say "la angla" you really mean "la angla lingvo". Similarly many times it is persmissible to leave out words if they are understood from context.

Though I do not believe there are any ways to shorten the possessive, but similarly French for example has the same kind of possessive form as Esperanto and one would not think of the French as overly formal people, no? :)

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Note: it is better to write "la Angla" with a capital letter. We more often use a capital letter for the name of a language if we omit the word "lingvo". – Vanege Aug 23 '16 at 18:48
  • 1
    Duolingo lesson notes on this do not capitalize, and neither does vikipedio: eo.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angla_lingvo, PMEG on the other hand says both capitalized and uncapitalized are fine, though seems to give more examples which are, in fact, capitalized. – Jiri Lebl Aug 23 '16 at 19:03
  • 2
    I actually rarely encounter the capitalized version. On another note, one should retain the space when omitting the ‘a’ in ‘la’. It should be ‘l' akvo’, not ‘l'akvo’. Finally, there is the omission in the fixed phrase ‘dank' al’. – Joffysloffy Aug 23 '16 at 19:34
  • so 'dank' al' is an abbreviation of 'dankon al vi'? Do these contractions affect the pronunciation of the words? – sevenseacat Aug 24 '16 at 3:36
  • "Dank' al" actually comes from "danke al", which is also correct and the version I normally use. Esperanto is pronounced as it is written and conversely, so these contractions are both spoken and written. – Mutre Aug 24 '16 at 9:21

It is quite common to replace estas followed by an adjective with the adjective with an appended s.

So, ĝi estas longa becomes ĝi longas.

| improve this answer | |
  • oh of course, I totally forgot about that one! :D – sevenseacat Aug 24 '16 at 2:01
  • 3
    This is hardly a contraction, but rather creative use of the word-building system. – Mutre Aug 24 '16 at 9:22

No, Esperanto doesn't have contractions in the way they are used in English. The same can be said for many languages, actually. See the other answers for alternative ways of shortening the words.

A little bit of off-topic about formality: This only looks too formal to you because you are thinking in terms of English. Again, many languages don't have this shortenings as English does and to make something formal, you have to use diffrent words, pronouns, inflections (there are many examples: Spanish (tu/Usted), German, Russian, Bulgarian,…). As I remember reading somewhere, Zamenhof specifically wanted that Esperanto doesn't have formal pronouns or whatever means to differentiate between formal/informal. Maybe because the users of the language are supposed to feel like friends, or maybe for another reason. But that's the fact.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.