Book Review: Plene Idiota Vortaro

Plene Idiota Vortaro Kun Suplemento, by K. Paringhien

The odds are good that this review will contain more text in it than the book itself.  When I find particularly odd books like this one, I find it worthwhile to report on their existence as it may be something that few people are aware of.  I found this particular volume during a recent weekly Esperanto meeting sitting on the shelf, and one of my fellow Esperantists was reading the dictionary and wondering why it was called a complete idiotic dictionary.  I patiently translated some of the words in the dictionary and it quickly became evident to him what sort of dictionary this is, which made it worthwhile to review in the general context of books in and about Esperanto that are part of my beat as a book reviewer [1].  Any time someone like myself finds a book like this one, a book that has escaped the general notice of the reading public and may only be known to a few individuals, I feel it necessary to comment upon it and its reasons for being in the hope that it will get at least some of the attention that any author looks for when writing anything, even a complete idiotic dictionary as this one claims to be.

The book’s contents itself are striking and odd, and quite disturbing.  The book itself is only 9 pages, if one includes the introductory material at the beginning of the book.  Obviously, for the author to call this a full dictionary of any kind is being more than a little bit facetious.  The book is also a bilingual dictionary in Esperanto and Japanese, and not Esperanto and English as many readers would normally expect, although the subject matter is fairly familiar for those who are aware of the nature of Japanese manga and anime.  The two column text (one column in Esperanto, the other in a Japanese script of some kind, and I do not know enough Japanese to tell which one of their scripts, perhaps kanji) is arranged alphabetically in Esperanto and contains words of a generally immoral nature.  If you wanted to know the Esperanto words (and their Japanese equivalents) for such words as to abort or commit adultery, bordello, to circumcise, to deflower, erogenous, gonorrhea, hymen, impotency, impregnate, impotence, catamite (spelled with a k in Esperanto to keep the same pronunciation), lascivious, necrophiliac, pederast, sybaritic, venereal, or any other number of terms along those lines, this book might have what you are looking for.  To be sure, it contains a lot of words (some of them perhaps coined by the author himself) that one would not find in many dictionaries but that many people would likely discuss in their cruder moments.

This book in many ways is a historical artifact.  Written in the early 1970s, it is evidence within the Esperanto culture of the way that even then pornographic literature from Japanese was influencing a certain part of the world culture, and it is evidence of the uninhibited sexuality of the period before there was any fear of AIDS (which is not in this particular dictionary because it was published in 1972).  One wonders whether the person who made this simply wanted to give Esperanto the linguistic tools to deal with a discussion about sexual perversion, wanted to encourage other people to live like that, and what happened to the author or those who followed his lead.  How many copies of this curio were made, and into whose hands did they end up, aside from mine?  This is a little book, but its presence and very existence is itself evidence of the sort of cultural changes that have corrupted and debased our culture in the last few decades.  As an artifact of our cultural decadence, however quaint it may seem in our times, this book has an importance that far outweighs its modest size.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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4 Responses to Book Review: Plene Idiota Vortaro

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