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I am thinking of an example like "B movie". I could say bo-filmo, but would it also be possible to use an actual adjective? For example, to say that something else is so "B"?

I'm not sure if letter names count as roots (they were not listed as such in lists I have seen), and therefore whether the usual rules apply to them. Certainly it would create a few collisions like da, la. If not, could I at least create B-eca, "having the quality of B", A-inda, "worth an A", or something similar?

2

One can make adjectives of letter names. One example is the mathematical usage of "n-a", which translates as "n-th" into English. Note that this is pronounced as "noa" and not as "na", because the O in monosyllabic letter names is not considered a noun ending.

PMEG explains this well: http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/oa-vortecaj_vortetoj/liternomoj.html

  • In that case, though, n is a number. – Tomaso Alexander Dec 22 '16 at 21:13
  • "n" is a letter that refers to an arbitrary natural number. It is pronounced like a letter word, and has no connection to numner words other than also being used to refer to a number (but a number word always refers to a specific number). – Marcos Cramer Dec 24 '16 at 12:22
  • On the contrary. Expressions like "n-a" are not adjectives, but ordinal numbers. It's an important distinction. – Tomaso Alexander Dec 24 '16 at 18:24
  • In Esperanto an ordinal number is an adjective. – Marcos Cramer Dec 27 '16 at 22:39
  • I'm saying that it is not. PMEG doesn't use the term "adjective" in general, but calls ordinal numbers (ne)ordinaraj A-vortoj. It's a fine hair to split, but I believe you're mistaken. The ultimate point is that while you say that the numeric use is "one example", it's been the only one that I've been able to turn up that has any traction. This is because it's not the ordinary kind of adjective (i.e. not an adjective, but another kind of word that ends in -a.) Possessive pronouns are also not adjectives. bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/nombroj/a-vortoj.html – Tomaso Alexander Dec 28 '16 at 3:36
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Letter names are not roots. If you need to make them plural, you can ad -oj to the end (e.g. tri bo-oj). If you need to make it accusative, you add -on (Vi vidas grandan blankan ro-on).

If you'd like to discuss how to say "B movie" - I suggest posting a new question.

I know of no circumstances where you would use a letter name as an adjective because semantically it just doesn't make any sense.

  • Blame the European diversity: it makes sense in Czech :-) We have, e.g., "áčkový výkon", or "A-class performance", where the first word is a regular adjective, built of the name for an A. "Ypsilonová souřadnice", meaning "y-coordinate", is another example where the semantics is quite sensible. Or "esový ohyb" – "S-bend". – La Vo-o Dec 22 '16 at 19:23
  • In expressions like class A, y-axis, s-curve, and u-bend, the letters aren't adjectives. It's not "A-like class". You wouldn't say "this curve is very S". For better or worse, I don't speak Czech. – Tomaso Alexander Dec 22 '16 at 19:43
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    I know they are not in English. And it's not my goal to defend or advertise my language here. But what I meant is that they make sense as adjectives. Sure, you can't make them comparative – but that's the same for, e.g., colours. Or for most adjectives created from nouns, like fiŝa supo. – La Vo-o Dec 22 '16 at 19:47
  • The pipe is red. The bend is u. Doesn't work. I did find a reference to iksa kodo but I'm not convinced it's good Esperanto. – Tomaso Alexander Dec 22 '16 at 19:50
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    "Iksa kodo" is good Esperanto. – Marcos Cramer Dec 22 '16 at 20:04

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