The word ‘fungible’ appears neither in Benson, nor in Wells, nor in Vikivortaro, nor in ReVo, nor in Sonja. (Nor does the noun form ‘fungibility’ appear in Vikipedio.) So, how should ‘fungible’ be rendered in Esperanto?

edit: Bear in mind that 'fungible' and 'liquid' are not synonyms. 'liquid' means 'can be spent like money', but 'fungible' just means that units are indistinguishable. So, for example, diamonds are liquid but not fungible (because any two randomly chosen diamonds are almost always distinguishable), but two dice are usually fungible, but not usually liquid. Of course, some things (such as gold coins) are both fungible and liquid.


Fungible is a concept from Civil Law and, at least in Italy, its definition is still taught with a Latin expression found in Emperor Justinian I’s Pandects. Fungible goods are those quae pondere, numerō, mensurā consistunt, i.e. which consist of a weight, a number or a measure. It seems that nobody has thought of an Esperanto translation yet: I propose kvanteca. Spezebla is also a good idea, but the meaning of spezi is so tightly bound to money that I’d rather reserve laŭleĝa spezeblaĵo for legal tender and not use it for fungible.

Here are some examples:

  • I give you a €100 bill. After some time, you give me back two €50 bills. I don’t think for a minute that you’ve given me a replacement. Euro bills are legal tender in my country, you‘ve given me the same amount and I am happy. Money is fungible. I will lend you money again. Vi ne donis al mi anstataŭaĵon. Eŭraj bankbiletoj estas spezeblaĵoj en mia lando kaj vi donis al mi la saman sumon. Mono estas kvanteca havaĵo. Mi refoje pruntedonos monon al vi.

  • You ring my bell asking for a carton of milk. I give it to you, and the following day you give me back another carton of the same quality and brand. It’s a replacement, but milk is fungible and I am happy. I will do that again. Mi donas al vi laktoskatolon. Vi redonas alian skatolon de samaj kvalito kaj produktanto. Temas pri anstataŭaĵo, sed lakto estas kvanteca havaĵo kaj mi estas kontenta. Mi refaros tion.

  • I lend you a book. You lose it, and buy another copy, possibly of the same edition. When you give it to me, I don’t think it’s the same book: it’s a replacement. I may be happy, I may not. Books are replaceable, but they are not fungible, and I won’t lend you books any more. Mi pruntedonas al vi libron. Vi perdas ĝin kaj aĉetas novan ekzempleron, laŭeble de la sama eldono. Kiam vi donas ĝin al mi, mi ne pensas, ke temas pri la sama libro: ĝi estas anstataŭaĵo. Eble mi kontentas, eble ne. Libro estas anstataŭigebla, sed ne kvanteca havaĵo. Mi neniam plu pruntos librojn al vi.

  • You damage a unique original painting which has been in my family for four generations. I am furious, and I think that the money I’ll squeeze out of you in court will never really compensate for the loss. It was irreplaceable. Vi damaĝas unikan originalan pentraĵon, kiu estas en mia familio de kvar generacioj. Mi furiozas, kaj mi pensas, ke la mono, kiun mi elvringos de vi en tribunalo neniam vere kompensos la perdon. Ĝi estis neanstataŭigebla.

  • In connection with the latest corporate merger, many of your coworkers were laid off, and you find yourself in a new position with new people, all assigned to tasks you know nothing about. You comment: “We are all fungible.” Lige kun la plej nova kompanifandiĝo, multaj el viaj kunlaborintoj estis maldungitaj, kaj vi troviĝas en nova pozicio kun novaj homoj, ĉiuj taskigitaj pri tute nekonataj aferoj. Vi komentas: “Ni ĉiuj estas anstataŭigeblaj.”

Every language is different, but there is a (weak) correlation between being fungible and being uncountable: How much money? Kiom da mono? How many books? Kiom da libroj? OTOH, cigarettes are fungible but countable: the correlation is weak.

Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about law and I based my answer on Internet resources. However, I had met the Italian legal word fungibile before and it seems that there is no difference in meaning with its English equivalent.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have up-voted your answer. I am still going to wait a while longer to see if more feedback is forthcoming.
    – Mike Jones
    Mar 18 '17 at 16:21

I think spezebla, without the en- or el- prefix, comes pretty close.


I am not totally sure whether I get all nuances/use cases connected with "fungible", but could you think of contexts where a simple anstataŭigebla wouldn't be clear enough?

  • I think austataŭigebla is too broad. It could, for example, be applied to things such as medicines. "Fungible" is concerned with transactions of exchange: buying, selling, and trading.
    – Todd
    Mar 16 '17 at 16:07
  • OK, but does the fact, that you can use a word also in other domains, really make it not suitable for some special domain? Look, for instance, English distinguishes between "foot" and "paw"; Esperanto has just "piedo", but its use for humans doesn't complicate/render unclear its use for animals. So in other words: Can you build a sentence where you need a word as special as fungible (I never heard it before), where a simple replacable would be too imprecise? Mar 17 '17 at 8:48
  • "In a prison, cigarettes are replaceable" would fail to convey the intended meaning, whereas "In a prison, cigarettes are fungible" would succeed. You can, of course, convey the same idea by paraphrase, without using a single word: "In a prison, cigarettes can be used as money." But that sense of "used as money" is precisely what is captured by "fungible." Money is the paradigm case of fungibility, since it's useful only because it's fungible. Getting back to Esperanto, perhaps elspezebla is actually better than just spezebla. If something is fungible you can spend it like money.
    – Todd
    Mar 17 '17 at 14:16

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