The word fojfoje has a repetition of the root foj. Why and how does this alter the meaning of the word, compared to the word foje?


4 Answers 4


This is a very interesting question. I think reduplication plays a role in Esperanto which hasn’t been sufficiently explored yet. What is the difference between

Mi foje ludas ŝakon


Mi fojfoje ludas ŝakon

and between

Post multaj klopodoj nia teamo fine venkis


Post multaj klopodoj nia teamo finfine venkis


As far as I can tell, the reduplicated forms not only increase the intensity of the adverb, but also its expressiveness. That seems to be the reason why in spoken Esperanto, you often hear things like ”La ĉambro estis plenplena je homoj” instead of ”La ĉambro estis plenega je homoj”, for example. Such reduplications give speakers a room for ”emotional exaggerations” that are not always logically analysable, but immediately understood in the human context.

  • Of course, this is not limited to adverbs; a quick Google search revealed lots of occurrences of solsola(j)
    – Bjørn
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 22:31
  • But I do wonder: Is Esperanto reduplication limited to monosyllabic roots? Could one, for instance, say Li venis rapidrapide, without it sounding contrived?
    – Bjørn
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 7:51
  • 1
    See the wiki quote in my answer to this question. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 16:04

Perhaps it will be interesting for you to know that the same reduplication of words is often used in russian language (possibly in other slavic languages too) - in exactly the same way as in Esperanto (in order to increase the intensity of the word and its expressiveness).

For examples: "полным-полна" (plenplena), "белым-бело" (blankblanke), "в конце концов" (finfine) etc.

So, probably, Zamenhof borrowed this feature from russian (or from his native polish) language.

  • 1
    This is really interesting. Are there any Zamenhofian examples of reduplication? (If not, it’s even more interesting! :-) Sometimes new phenomena are latent in a language’s structure, only waiting for its speakers to ”realise” them, and AFAIK, Esperanto has a quite ”Slavic” syntax.)
    – Bjørn
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 19:14

I had, as I recall, a fairly lengthy exchange with Bertilo on this very question. It's his position that true reduplication does not exist in Esperanto and that all cases which have been called reduplication can be explained as normal word-building.

I am not sure I agree, and neither to the authors of the Wikipedia article who wrote:

Reduplication is only marginally used in Esperanto. It has an intensifying effect similar to that of the suffix -eg-. The common examples are plenplena (chock-full), from plena (full), finfine (finally, at last), from fina (final), and fojfoje (once in a while), from foje (once, sometimes). So far, reduplication has only been used with monosyllabic roots that don't require an epenthetic vowel when compounded.

Related specifically to fojfoje Bertilo agreed that it's not simply normal word building, but explained further by saying:

"Fojfoje" estas pli bona ekzemplo. Rilate tiun ekzemplon oni povas eble diskuti, ĉu tie tamen io simila al duobligado rolis. Sed ĝi estas tiam tute izolita ekzemplo, kaprica kuriozaĵo.

So, to answer your question as to why - people can disagree about the reason. As for what, it simply means "less often than regular foje". In the end, this is just something one needs to learn when learning Esperanto.

All or most of the exchange is recorded here.


  • 1
    Thank you for mentioning this! :-) (The Fb group is closed, though, but I assume you’re quoting the most relevant parts…) I disagree with Bertilo – I think he too quikcly dismisses a tendency which isn’t strong, but still notable in Esperanto. I’ve heard a lot of reduplications being used: finfine, kunkune, solsola, plenplena, ververa/ververe, fojfoje… (A girlfriend even used to say ”iom-iom” – for example as a reply to ”ĉu vi ŝatus teon?” – and it didn’t strike me as something weird.)
    – Bjørn
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 8:39
  • Well, I'm sure Bertilo could make his point better than I would. My point is that there are many ways to see this. If something is plenkreska we're saying it's just about as kreska as it can be. If we say something is plenplena then we're saying it's about as plena as it can be. Bertilo would call this normal word building - and this case I would find it difficult to disagree with him. Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 0:14
  • 1
    I see your point. You could interpret some of these as ”fully full”, ”at the end of the end” etc. But does this make sense, or is rather an attempt to ”explain away” an unpleasantly irrational trait in a ”logical” lang? When I encounter these expressions, at least orally, they to me sound more like expressive formations – that is, classical reduplications, as found in many languages. A good example would be nurnura – a Google search reveals phrases like mi ne estas la nurnura. nur is quite an absolute state, if you’re ”only 1 person”, for example, you can’t be more ”only” than that.
    – Bjørn
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 8:13
  • Found a great example of reduplication in Ĉeĥa kaj slovaka antologio: ĉe tio li aludis, ke la vesteto estos belbela kaj ke certe ĉiu knabo sur la strato postrigardos lin. In this context, ”belbela” could be replaced by ”belega” or ”tre bela”. It can’t be replaced, however, by ”bele bela” – ”beautifully beautiful”, as opposed to ”ugligly beautiful”, for example, makes little sense. Do you agree? :-)
    – Bjørn
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 11:35
  • 1
    Do I agree? I thought I already said I did. Whether all expert speakers agree on this point is a different question. The example I bring up are colors like "verdverda." To me this is reduplication for emphasis. Others might argue that it's kind of like "bluverda" being a kind of green that is a little bluer than green - which would make "verdverda" a kind of green that is more green than green. (Normal word building.) Similarly, I don't think that "belbela" means "bele bela". It could however mean "rilata al bela belo" and one could argue that it's normal word building. Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 12:56


Fojfoje = De tempo al tempo, en diversaj pluraj, sporadaj okazoj

It means from time to time. It is just like finfine, which means finally.

  • fojo = an occurrence.
  • fojfojo = fojo de fojo = from time to time.
  • fojfoje - from time to time the subject of the sentence performs the verb.
  • I question whether fojo de fojo is good Esperanto. Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 0:06

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