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They all seem to be defined as "being", "entity", or "thing", though "estaĵo" also seems to be "creature." Where does this nuance come from? Why do each of these words exist, and how can I use each to properly convey my meaning?

For a bonus, how does each change the meaning when used as an affix? For example, what's a "lignaĵo" as opposed to an "estoligno" as opposed to a "lignesto" or "estolignaĵo" or "estaĵoligno" or "lignestaĵo?" Which ones are sentient wood-beings and which ones are just wooden things, such as a wooden tool?

Additionally, is there a difference between "bovaĵo" and "lignaĵo" because a cow is (typically) alive and wood (typically) isn't? And what about for the other affixes mentioned? Are there any other nuances I should know about?

Cheers

  • Welcome to Esperanto SE! I made a small edit to use the ĉapeloj instead of the x-system, as is usual here, but if it's not easy for you to type, don't worry about it too much. Nice question, I wonder about that, too. – La Vo-o Dec 19 '16 at 19:08
  • This question is similar to this one: esperanto.stackexchange.com/questions/2268/… – Tomaso Alexander Dec 19 '16 at 20:25
  • Thanks for your welcome! I'll probably spend awhile here to bug the people on the irc a bit less... – Thomas Kagan Dec 19 '16 at 22:16
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Here are definitions of the three main words you mentioned:

  • aĵo — thing or substance (of a vague kind)
  • esto — the state of being, existence, presence
  • estaĵo — a being, thing that exists (usually a living thing)

Kio estas tiu aĵo? What is that thing?

Mi ĝojas ke mia esto utilas. I am glad that my existence/being here is useful.

La titolo de la libro estas "Esto kaj Tempo." The title of the book is "Being and Time."

De antaŭ semajno, mi ne parolas al alia homa estaĵo. I have not spoken to another human being in a week.

Here are three other very common related words:

  • estado — existence, presence (long or habitual)

  • ĉeesto — presence (ĉe + esto)

  • ekzist(ad)o — existence

Tio dependos de via estado dum la konferenco. That will depend on your presence during the conference.

Ŝia ĉeesto tie surprizis min. Her presence there surprised me.

Mi eĉ ne suspektis la ekziston de frato. I did not even suspect the existence of a brother.

A lignaĵo is a wooden thing (ligna objekto). Lignesto is the state of being wooden (esto ligno). Bovaĵo is beef (bova viando). Bovesto is the state of being a cow (esto bovo). The suffix -aĵo is a shortcut: it has no very specific meaning beyond "thing or substance" and common sense has to be used when interpreting it in context: for example, araneaĵo (spider-thing) is "a spider web", not spider-meat, while infanaĵo is "a childish thing", which could be a toy or a childish idea or action. Similarly, you have bonaĵo (a good thing), ĉirkaŭaĵoj (surroundings), kre(it)aĵo (creature), konstruaĵo (building), etc.

I cannot easily interpret the other words you came up with, but estoligno seems to mean "wood of/for being", estolignaĵo means "wooden thing of/for being", estaĵoligno means "wood from a being", and lignestaĵo means "wooden being." They are correctly constructed words, but they sound like something from a wizard's spellbook, or an esoteric work.

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Please see this table for some examples of aĵo used as a suffix. The other words you listed aren't really used as suffixes.

http://pacujo.net/esperanto/course/materialo/xtabeloj.html

To answer the question in your first paragraph: esto does not refer to a being, but rather to the act of being. It's not a very common word. Estaĵo is a being. I once did a bit on Radio Verda about a strange squirrel-like being called SSEĉjo - La Stranga Sciureca Estaĵo

Aĵo just means "thing" - similar to "afero" but I that was addressed in another question here:

What is the difference between "afero" and "aĵo"?

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Source: ReVo

  • Aĵo: Konkreta objekto

  • Estaĵo: Io, kio iel ekzistas

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