My esperanto course book taught me that ju and des can be used together to show a correlation between two statements, such as:

Ju pli mi legas ĝin, des malpli mi komprenas ĝin.

The more I read it, the less I understand.

However, sometimes I see des on its own without another phrase to show a correlation. Such as:

Ŝi eĉ ne sciis, ke okazos ekskurso, des malpli kien oni iros.

What does this mean? Why is des used for this? Is there an implied correlation to something?


The expressions "des pli" and "des malpli" mean almost the same as "eĉ pli" and "eĉ malpli". In English there don't seem to be perfect equivalents for these expressions, but most of the time "all the more/less" and "even more/less" can be used.

PMEG explains this usage of "des" by claiming that a ju/des-clause is implicitly understood to be present. In your example sentence, the implicit ju/des-clause would be:

Ju malpli oni scias, ke okazos ekskurso, des malpli oni scias, kien oni iros.

(The less one knows that an excursion is taking place, the less one knows, where one is going.)

  • 2
    When you say "claim" are you implying that you don't agree with PMEG? It does seem a little far-fetched in this example, and the suggested implied phrase doesn't seem to relate much to the clearly intended meaning. Maybe it's better to just think of it as an idiomatic expression equivalent to "eĉ malpli", as you say. Thanks for the explanation. The example is from Marina by Sten Johansson. – Neil Roberts Aug 31 '16 at 15:52
  • It's a way to formulate it more neutrally :). – LaPingvino Aug 31 '16 at 22:18
  • Wouldn't an English equivalent be something along the lines of "let alone"? "Their ancestors had been dirt poor and never saw royalty, let alone hung around with them" (Garrison Keillor). – La Vo-o Nov 17 '16 at 19:37

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