English-Esperanto Dictionary (Esperanto Handy Pocket Vocabulary), by J.C. O’Connor
As someone who has read a fair amount of books that serve as reference or introductory materials to the Esperanto language , it is worthwhile to note what makes a book at least a bit different than the rest. This particular work, which was apparently originally published (like a couple of other books I have) by the Fleming H. Revell company based in the US, Canada, and the UK, is a straightforward and simple book. It was first published in 1907 during the early period of optimism about Esperanto and peace in general in the period before World War I, and was reprinted by India’s Facsimile Publisher in 2017 as part of a way of making the book more familiar to readers. This is a worthy effort, as someone who struggles pretty mightily to make my Esperanto vocabulary and complicated clausal structure remotely approximate my facility in English or Spanish. The fact that the subject of teaching Esperanto has so many worthwhile sources should be encouraging to those who speak the language or even those who cheer it from a bit of distance, or who, like myself, may only ambiguously be considered to be Esperantists at all.
The contents of this book are exceedingly simple. Roughly half the contents of this short book of about sixty pages are made up of an English-Esperanto dictionary, and the other half or so is made up of an Esperanto-English dictionary. The book opens with a small and encouraging note that takes the first page and tells the reader how Esperanto’s fairly simple roots can be combined fairly readily to create new compound words, and how words may be found under synonyms if one is looking in vain for specific meanings or senses. The author also recommends a thorough knowledge of Esperanto’s rich variety of affixes. Beyond this the vortolistoj (word lists) are very simple, in two columns, with invariant words marked with an asterisk, and the reader left to remember or understand the difference between verbs with their infinitives ending in -i, nouns ending in -a, adverbs ending in -e, and various affixes and correlatives and prepositional phrases that are distinct. The result is a book that can be put in the pocket, if one has fairly large pockets, like coat pockets, as this book is a bit too large to fit in smaller pockets. Still, it is an enjoyable and worthwhile little book all the same.
One criticism I can make about the facsimile copy is that it changes the title of the work from its original and misspells the author’s name on the cover. Fortunately, the information in the volume appears to be accurate, at least from what I can tell. Still, the Indian publisher would do well to clean up the inconsistencies between showing the author as O’conno and his actual name of O’Connor, as the first name would appear to be an odd Esperanto pun (given the tendency for many proper names to end like normal nouns in -o in Esperanto). The second comment is that the proper use of this book depends on the reader having some familiarity with languages in the first place, such as the ability to recognize the parts of speech from word endings and also the understanding of synonyms in order to better look up words in the small dictionary without needing everything spelled out with redundancy and an extensive text apparatus. The book’s demands on the reader may not be fair to those whose grasp of their own national language is not particularly profound, but for those who know English well it is not a difficulty to using this handy and small book.
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