Ranto Appendix – U

“CORRELATIVES”

The scare‐quotes are because “correlatives” is a misnomer.  In classical grammars the term traditionally referred to words that are commonly used in pairs, like both X and Y or neither X nor Y (to “correlate” X and Y).  Where we'd say “as X as Y”, Latin had a correlative pair tam X quam Y, and it was equivalents to those words – along with a whole bunch of indirectly associated others – that Zamenhof chose to label as korelativoj.  An alternative term used by some modern Esperantists is tabelvortoj = “tablewords”, for understandable reasons:

ĉia
“every kind”
ia
“some kind”
kia
“what kind”
nenia
“no kind”
tia
“that kind”
ĉial
“for every reason”
ial
“for some reason”
kial
“why”
nenial
“for no reason”
tial
“therefore”
ĉiam
“always”
iam
“some time”
kiam
“when”
neniam
“never”
tiam
“then”
ĉie
“everywhere”
ie
“somewhere”
kie
“where”
nenie
“nowhere”
tie
“there”
ĉiel
“every way”
iel
“somehow”
kiel
“how”
neniel
“no way”
tiel
“thus”
ĉies
“everyone's”
ies
“someone's”
kies
“whose”
nenies
“no‐one's”
ties
“that person's”
ĉio
“everything”
io
“something”
kio
“what”
nenio
“nothing”
tio
“that”
ĉiom
“all”
iom
“some”
kiom
“how much”
neniom
“none”
tiom
“that much”
ĉiu
“everyone”
iu
“someone”
kiu
“who”
neniu
“no‐one”
tiu
“that one”

Similar schemes occur in some natural languages – Japanese, for instance, has one with four columns and six rows where “that direction” is sochira, “that place, there” is soko, and “that one” is sore – but they occur rarely enough that I've seen it suggested that languages might even be avoiding them for practical reasons: the more similar your question words sound, the more likely they are to get muddled.  As it is, the generally recommended approach to learning these Esperanto words is to ignore the table and simply memorise each one as an independent vocabulary item.  Mind you, knowing Russian helps when it comes to learning the pattern kiel/neniel/tielkak/nikak/tak.

These words may form a regular table, but they clash wildly with the standard rules of Esperanto morphology:

English has just a rudimentary table for words like where/here/there, whither/hither/thither, whence/hence/thence… but you may now be noticing that while “there” and “whither” have one‐word Esperanto equivalents (tie, kien), “hence” doesn't fit on any row or column of the table.  Many languages have a systematic three‐way distinction between proximal “this”, medial “that”, and distal “yonder” (e.g. Japanese ko‐/so‐/a‑), but in Esperanto there's only a ti‑ column; you have to add the particle ĉi to get proximal forms like ĉi tiuj = “these people”, ĉi tie = “here”.  (Except that for some reason the proximal form of tiam = “then” gets an irregular coinage of its own: nun = “now”).  The obvious approach to fixing this would be to promote the particle to the status of column‐prefix, but no, the ĉie slot is already occupied!  And a similar arbitrary one‐off particle is used to stand in for an “any‐” column: iu ajn = “anyone”.

Another thing that's missing may be less obvious to speakers of European languages: a column for relative pronouns (as in WHAT it is) as opposed to interrogative pronouns (as in WHAT is it?).  Compare, say, Hindi, where question‐words systematically begin with K just as in Esperanto, but their relative‐clause equivalents have J.  Mind you, given that its regular interrogative particle is ĉu, it's surprising that Esperanto forms all its other question‐words with initial KI – especially when that sequence of sounds is otherwise quite rare in Esperanto roots, occurring (for instance) less than a tenth as often as KO.  Zamenhof's tendency to avoid KI is the flipside of his ingrained bias against CU; in the Slavic languages, K historically softened to C before I.

Other things that are conspicuous by their absence include for instance rows for “how often?” and “by what means?” or columns for “the same place” and “elsewhere”.  Esperantists have been known to improvise workarounds for some of these, but coinages like alie = “elsewhere” are officially forbidden, since there's no regular compounding process here that could legally be extended; ali‑e is just the adverb “otherwise”.  The only solution is to coin substitute expressions made up via the standard derivational mechanisms: kelk‐foj‑e = “sometimes”, ali‐lok‑e = “elsewhere”, and so on.  Esperanto does after all have regular morphemes covering the functions of most of these rows – in some cases redundantly, with both an “affix” and a plain root.  But once this option is on the table (so to speak) it becomes obvious that all the so‐called “correlatives” could have been formed out of an open set of freestanding words meaning “this/that/every…” plus another set meaning “place/thing/kind…”, combining as needed to form expressions like “every thing”, “some place”, and so on.