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Re: translation exercise(s)

From:Pablo David Flores <pablo-flores@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 25, 2002, 2:07
Dear folks,

I'm presenting my translation of the exercise proposed
by Hanuman Zhang. This is a new language, which doesn't
have a name yet. It came to me in a dream :) and it
appears to be the vernacular of a tribe/clan of human
beings from the 160th century (give or take a few cents)
who live in the place formerly known as Iraq (or maybe

prinimi bejhe alil ghul eumeo yisantu
sel ucao linuo jeksi
tebi eucus leade yizun woi
vav vav bin ciru itoinei

yetieide prinimi aida yindes,
kofi itlagebeti mor eun.
nut nut yine feg itarba eumijan sel
okeole jinde mate wasva

Phonology key:
|y| = /j/
|c| as in IPA (unvoiced palatal stop)
|j| = /J/ (I think; voiced palatal stop)
|Ch| = fricative version of C
The rest as in IPA.

Stress: usually on word root, but rather weak (evolving towards pitch accent?).

Grammar: SVO or VSO, head-first, prepositional (sort of), preposed cases.
Verbs are all active; stative concepts are adjectives or nouns.

Interlinear (w/comments):

The teacher rises voiceless before a class
prinim-i    bejh-e   al-il    ghul  eu-meo    yi-santu-0
teacher-DEF rise-PRS NEG-with voice ESS-front GEN-group-CON

    Nouns may be marked DEFinite or iNDeFinite.
    The verb is in the PReSent tense.
    Purists analyze |alil| as "not in possession of", with a
    zero-inflected CONstruct case; in practice it's one of the
    few real prepositions of the language.
    Note the locative construction, ESSive+location GEN-noun_phrase,
    parallel to that of English (or Spanish, "en frente de").

Of pale, tight-lipped children.
sel   ucao-0   li-nuo  jeks-i
child pale-NDF COM-lip tight-DEF

    No number marking!
    COMmitative case is used in |linuo|, meaning "with lips"
    (|nuo| also means the opening of the mouth, and the gums).

The blackboard behind him as black as the sky
teb-i      eu-cu-s        lea-de    yi-zun-0       wo-i
board-DEF  ESS-behind-RES black-COP GEN-manner-CON sky-DEF

    |teb| means anything smooth enough to write on it.
    The RESumptive ending {-s} refers back to the teacher.
    |cu| is the space behind something (not its behind).
    The COPula, {-de}, is appended to the adjective in this case,
    but doesn't block the formation of the noun phrase
    |leade yizun woi| = "is black of (after) the manner of the sky".

Light-years from the earth.
vav-0    vav-0    bin   ciru    it-oine-i
year-CON year-CON light distant GEN-earth-DEF

    I don't know if these people have such measure as light-year.
    The apparent reduplication is interpreted by the native scholars
    as a construct case phrase, "year(s) of year(s)".
    |ciru| is an adjective, though more often than not it functions
    as a preposition, with the subordinate following in GENitive case.

It's the silence the teacher loves,
yetie-i-de      prinim-i    aid-a      yi-n-de-s,
silence-DEF-COP teacher-DEF loving-NDF GEN-OBJ-COP-RES

    "Love" is a state, not an action, so |prinimi aida| means
    "the teacher (is) a loving one / a lover (of)". This was stolen
    right out of Japanese, both the stative-active thing and the
    |ai| in |aida|.
    The last word: {-n} resumes the topic ("silence") when it's
    after a case mark or the OBJect of a verb; {-s} RESumes the
    same, I guess (it just came out like that).

The taste of the infinite in it.
kof-i     it-lagebet-i     m-or       eu-n.
taste-DEF GEN-infinite-DEF ESS-inside ESS-OBJ

    In case you noticed: some marks have allomorphs. In particular,
    the GENitive case alternates between {yi-} and {it-}. I think
    {it-} + most consonants lost the /t/ and caused compensatory
    lengthening of /i/ -> */i:/ -> /ji/. The ESSive case has three
    allomorphs, {um-, m-, eu-}.
    |lagebeti| "infinite" has the negative prefix {la-}, the root
    {gab-} "limit, border", the adjective-former {-at}, and the
    DEFinite marker {-i} which triggers Umlaut of the last two /a/'s.

The stars like teeth marks on children's pencils.
nut-0    nut  yi-ne-0      feg  it-arb-a      eu-mijan-0 sel
star-CON star GEN-kind-CON mark GEN-tooth-NDF ESS-pencil-CON child

    Notice |yine feg| "of kind of mark(s)" = "like marks". If you're
    wondering when to use GENitive and when the CONstruct case, get
    in line. Bear in mind that the GENitive also serves as ablative
    and instrumental.

Listen to it, he says happily.
o-keo-le          ji-n-de         mat-e   was-va
VOL-listening-REP IMP+GEN-OBJ-COP say-PRS happy-ADV

    |keo| means "hearing" or "listening". With the VOLitive mark {o-},
    it's definitely "listening". It's an adjective, so the verb comes
    later: |okeo jinde| "listening of it be!". The suffix {-le} is the
    REPorted-speech mark (the teacher says "listen"). {ji-} is the
    conflation of the IMPerative mark {di-, j-} and the GENitive {yi-}.
    And finally, {-va} forms adverbs from adjectives.

--Pablo Flores