There are examples of words being de facto defined on this site. Take a look at a question like How to translate "to pledge"?. The top answerer suggested to translate pledge into promespagi, even though the word had virtually no hits on google. Now, the first result when googling pledge esperanto is promespagi.

There are at least two problems with that

  1. We enforce words that wouldn't become a part of Esperanto "naturally". This may very well increase the number of Esperanto words which makes the language harder to learn.

  2. Defining new words is quite opinion-based. Besides all the normal problems with opinion-based questions, I will point out that opinion-based questions favor high reputation too much. Therefore, users with high reputation has too much power over which new words to define.

My solution would be to downvote or perhaps even report answers who are making up words. In stead we should answer with the best possible translation with already used words. If something does not have a good translation in use somewhere, we could tell the questioner. He/she could then invent an expression by themselves which would have to spread through its actual use - not through a SE-approved first hit on google.

At first, I had my doubts about this post, because it is good to have a place to make new words together. But now I would like that place not to be SE because of its structure and its authority.

  • 1
    If by report answers who are making up words you mean flagging them for moderation attention, keep in mind that flags are not for wrong or not accurate answers, or for answers you don't like.
    – apaderno
    Oct 31 '16 at 1:01

Esperanto has certain rules on making compound words. I think that if existing roots are compounded in accordance with those rules, then it isn't really a neologism, and there isn't any problem. It's just a normal aspect of speaking the language. Making up new roots, however, or combining roots in non-standard ways, I think should be discouraged.

Often a word is needed, and a multiple-word phrase is just not suitable. For example, on Kickstarter, saying "promesi, ke vi/oni pagos estontece" every time you need to say "pledge" would be very cumbersome. So the solution, if you can't find a dictionary entry, is to combine roots in a way that expresses the intended meaning. I think this is a good place for it, because

1) you can get input from people in different countries, thus reducing the likelihood of direct borrowings ("pledĝo") or calques from one language (which the person coining the term may not realize is a calque).

2) you can vote on answers, to bring to the top the ones that best express the intended meaning.

3) the platform is publicly visible, so if we find a suitable term for, say, "pledge", others can see it and use it as well, improving uniformity of terminology across the board, and thus improving communication. And due to the above-mentioned factors, the term has a higher likelihood of being an internationally comprehensible compound, than if each person had to figure it out on their own.

  • 1
    Ah, so esperanto generally allows you to use new compound words, whose meaning is not necessarily completely logically deductible(e.g. like promespagi which could also mean pagi pro promeso)? Then most of my ideas of "newly defined words" on this site, are just compounds using that it is allowed.
    – svendvn
    Oct 25 '16 at 0:01
  • You can always check Tekstaro and other places to see how common the compound words are. Some have been in use forever, but newbies might not know of them. While creativity is welcome in Esperantujo, I think we should aim for more than just "I made this up from the top of my head" when we answer questions on Stack Exchange. Nov 1 '16 at 18:24
  • 1
    @svendvn The more logically deductible it is, the better, of course, but there is some leeway. If you think that a given suggestion would not be understood, then you can make a comment and others can take that into consideration. There is something to be said for simple "promesi", after all.
    – kristan
    Nov 1 '16 at 19:34

I disagree. I think neologisms should be fine, as long as:

  • The word is derived from Esperanto roots.
  • The word isn't unnecessarily complex or excessively agglutinated.
  • A better word doesn't exist in any major Esperanto dictionary.
  • It's mentioned that the word is a neologism.

All of those criteria are fulfilled by the linked post. While your concerns regarding the authoritativeness of Stack Overflow are understandable, I don't think banning the creation of new words is the solution, since we'll just get lots of questions receiving the same authoritative non-answer.

  • 2
    In stead of answering "no, the word does not exist in esperanto", which indeed is useless to most people looking at the question, we could answer with a multi-word phrase, e.g. translating pledge to promesi, ke vi pagos estontece.
    – svendvn
    Oct 23 '16 at 17:36

I agree that it can be difficult at times if we coin neologisms that no one actually uses - however, if we make sure one knows how "new" a word is, then I think it is fine. Simply adding "I haven't seen this in use, but I think people would understand it" is valuable. If there already is a good word in use from a dictionary, that one should probably be used, and hopefully someone will point that out!


Stack Exchange is arguably a very good place to introduce new roots, since we are able to discuss and to vote for them publicly. It is much better than building everything alone and putting the whole in a famous dictionary/word-repository, without benefiting from the input of the community.

  • I think this question is mostly about new compound words, not about new roots.
    – das-g Mod
    Nov 16 '18 at 22:32

I don't know that I agree with the solution, but I absolutely see the problem. In this particular case, three different people gave essentially the same answer - promesi - and the answer that was given does not seem to resonate with me or any expert speakers that I've asked so far. My conclusion at this point is that the best answers have not been voted to the top yet. I conclude further that the likely cause of this is name recognition on the part of the person with the current top answer (with promespagi).

Since I'm not sure how we could police a policy like "don't coin new words", the best suggestion I have at this point is that questions like this simply need more attention. Ask your friend who are expert speakers to look at the question, vote the best answer(s) up and the wrong answer(s) down. Don't tell them which answer to pick, but ask them to make their own conclusion.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .