To crocodile, or krokodili, means to speak one’s native language at a gathering of Esperantists, a practice generally frowned on by Esperantists, according to an article I found today.

The article gives an interesting account of the history of Esperanto and the life of it’s inventor, Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof. For a while Zamenhof apparently considered trying to make Hebrew and/or Yiddish into international languages, but later changed his mind as he considered a revival of Hebrew futile. He also urged Yiddish speakers to adopt the Cyrillic alphabet.

The article also mentions two other interesting Esperanto words: aligatori (to alligator), which means to speak one’s native language with someone speaking it as a second language, and kajmani (to cayman), which means to converse in a language that’s native to neither speaker.

This entry was posted in English, Language.

14 Responses to Crocodiling

  1. laci says:

    Ekzistas aliaj similaj verboj kiel ekzemple “lizardi” vi lizardas se vi uzas alian konstruitan lingvon anstataŭ Esperanto, ankaŭ la vorto “salamandraĵo” estas interesa. Salamandraĵo estas lingvaĵo kiu ekzistas nur en via gepatralingvo sed ne en Esperanto sed vi tradukas kaj uzas ĝin. Tiu vorto similas al la anglaj vortoj kiel ekzemple Spanglish, Hunglish ktp.

  2. laci says:

    Mi devas diri, ke laŭ mi la korektaj formoj estas “aligatori” kaj “kajmani”, ĉar ni uzas la y-n nur en fremdaj personaj nomoj kaj duoblaj leteroj estas maloftaj

  3. Polly says:

    I just read today that Esperantists were persecuted under Stalin and Hitler. They were put to death in both those regimes. Esperanto was even mentioned in “Mein Kampf” as a plot by the Jews to take over the world. I just read this this morning in Discover magazine – August Issue.

  4. BG says:

    I understood what Laci wrote pretty well, even though the only Esperanto I have studied is by reading the Wikipedia articles on it. My German, Latin and Spanish knowledge really helps with the vocab, but this shows how easy it is to learn or at least understand Esperanto, which is what I like about it. I wouldn’t have know what “fremdaj” (foreign) means if I hadn’t learned “fremd” in German class just a few days ago.

    Mi komprenas Esperanton iom, sed ne parlas aŭ skribas ĝin bone.

    I hope this is right. Note: I had to look a few things up.

  5. Rmss says:

    I like Esperanto, but isn’t it rather annoying see Esperantists writing Esperanto as soon as something goes about Esperanto?

  6. rek says:

    I was about to ask if there’s a word meaning to switch to a different language to converse privately among speakers of another language…

  7. Simon says:

    laci mentions that there are two other similar words in Esperanto: lizardi, (to lizard), which means to use a constructed language other than Esperanto, and salamandraĵo (salamanderings?), which are words that exist in your native language but not in Esperanto.

  8. laci says:

    In Russia they even executed a number of esperantists.

    just a tiny mistake :) the verb to speak is “paroli” so …,sed ne parolas…

  9. Rmss says:

    By the way, Simon, the article says he urged Yiddish speakers to adopt the Latin alphabet :-).

  10. renato figueiredo says:

    Let’us not forget that Zamenhof was a Polish-Ukarinian-Jew, and for this reason he tried to “recreate” Hebrew and Yiddish. I studied and speak Esperanto, but I think the greatest problem on Esperanto’s creation was that Zamenhof didn’t know a single or in Asisatic languages as Chinese. All Esperanto language is based on European languages. Another curiosity is that even being Polish, he put only one Polish word in Esperanto Sausace, Kelbaso.

  11. Simon says:

    Renato – doesn’t the Esperanto question word ĉu come from the Polish czy?

  12. BG says:

    Actually, a number of Esperanto words come from Polish and Russia (Wikipedia doesn’t say which is which), but they total under 20. Lithiuanian one the other hand supposedly gives only the one word “tuj” (immediately). Since Zamenhof there has been at least one Asian word taken into Esperanto: “haŝio” (chopsticks) from Japanese. What Renato says is still true: Zamenhof took relatively few words from his own language and none from Asian languages .

    Heres an exerpt from Esperanto Vocabulary:
    Russian and Polish: barakti (to flounder), barĉo (borscht), bulko (a bread roll), celo (an aim, goal), ĉu (whether), eĉ (even), kaĉo (porridge), kartavi (to pronounce R in the throat), klopodi (to take steps), kolbaso (a sausage), krado (a grating), krom (except), luti (to solder), [via] moŝto ([your] highness), nepre (without fail), nu (well!), ol (than), pilko (a ball), po (per), pra- (proto-), prava (right [in opinion]), svati (to matchmake), ŝelko (suspenders), vosto (a tail), and perhaps the collective suffix -ar-;

  13. David says:

    Caymaning is fun, I really get a kick out of it.

  14. Jason Fisher says:

    One thing nobody seems to have commented on — were these (very interesting) words Zamenhof’s creation or were they coined by later Esperantists? What I find most interesting here is the apparently spontaneous evolution of completely arbitrary language metaphors. To me, that seems to run counter to the original mission of Esperanto — to facilitate international communication, where the reliance on such arbitrary, unique, and culturally-specific metaphors would probably have been avoided. Instead, it shows Esperanto becoming more like a “real” language — by which, I intend no denigration; I just mean a language that developed “in the wild”, subject to all the peculiarites that entails. But assuming these are, in fact, recent coinages, does this indicate we are seeing a bona fide Esperanto culture emerging?

    Does anybody know more precisely the origins of these terms?