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Saprutum Dialects

Date:Wednesday, April 25, 2001, 0:29
On Tue, 24 Apr 2001   "Pavel A. da Mek" <pavel.adamek@...>  wrote :
Subject:      saprutum dialect

> says:
>> There is no grammatical gender. >> we- (3rd person human) he, she, they; this, that, these, those; >> ye- (3rd person animate) "he", "she", it, they; this, that etc.; >> The animate definitive >> If used with a noun denoting a human being the sense is derogatory > > The saprutum-speaking comunity in Mekhtyland uses a dialect, where: > - "ye" used for a human being is not derogatory > - "we" is used only for male beings, > - "#e" is used for female beings. >
"we-" almost certainly originally refered to masculine nouns, that is when pre-classical Saprutum still had Semitic grammatical gender. At that stage "ye-" would have been feminine. When the core population left the Mediterranian for the Atlantic seaboard their grammar was reshaped by contact with non-semitic, non-IE languages with no concept of grammatical gender (Iberian langs??). Nevertheless there was later prolonged contact with Phoenician followed by an influx of refugees during the Punic wars and especially following the final destruction of Carthage. This last threatened to destabilise the standard form of the language and thus reduce its value as a regional lingua franca. It almost certainly stimulated the codification of Classical Saprutum. Unfortunately the native grammarians used a very absruse, abstract notation and a number of unfamiliar grammatical concepts and categories. I'm doing my best to interpret these, but it's hard going at times, and I will undoubtedly make some mistakes that will need to be corrected. The definitives seem to be a conflation of the Semitic subject prefixes used with the imperfect form of the verb, and various demonstratives. Cf. Arabic "huwa" - 'he'; "hiya" - 'she' (there are corresponding Hebrew & Aramaic forms). The initial "h" here, like the Hebrew article could correspond to your "#e-" definitive, but why is it used for feminine words? Possibily some connection with the fem. possessive suffix "-h"? Does anyone know the origin of the Hebrew article? It doesn't seem to occur regularly in Phoenician, but in a short text I'm translating "this city" is rendered HQRT Z where the initial H before the root QR "city" + fem. -T would seem to reinforce the demonstrative Z. Dunno, anyone here speak Punic? Nevertheless it still ought to be voiceless /h/ not voiced /#/ (from Semitic emphatic h' and the voiced equivalent of /x/ (gamma which I can't type). However :-
> >> Plural - ?admuwum (n.), ?adma?am [dial. ?admaham] (a.), ?admiyim (dg.) > > In their dialect, the acc. pl. is "?adma#am". >
This would suggest a local change /h/ >> /#/. Did it merge with original /#/ or had this already shifted to something else? In most areas the change went the opposite way. /h/ >> /?/ or null, followed by /#/ >> /h/. (Isn't this paralleled in Maltese?) In the classical period such pronounciation was considered vulgar and condemned, but was clearly gradually creeping into everyday speech. So your dialect is from somewhere out of the way, and probably influenced by an altogether different linguistic substratum. My best guess would be the Canary Isles.
> >> kalbu.#animum - a sheep-dog; >> kalbu-#anmim - a sheep's dog (!) This would mean not a sheep-dog, >> but a dog that belonged to or was associated with some particular >> (unspecified) sheep (unlikely as that is) >> Finally while kalbu-?admim is a person's dog, >> kalbu.?adimum is a werwolf!! > > They said that > "kalbu.?adimum" is a dog trained to catch men, while > a werwolf is "?admu.kalbum".
In this last one you're using a noun (kalbum) as an adjective. Certainly adjectives can be used unchanged as nouns e.g. "wesawdum" -- 'the black (person)'; "zesawdum" - 'the black (thing)' etc. However usually when a noun functions as an adjective it is marked in some way. Either with the genitive : "?admu-kalbim" lit. 'a dog's man' ("?admu-yekalbim" could mean the dog's owner perhaps); or by using a derived adjective "?admu.kalibum" - 'a doggy person', a person having dog-like qualities (Caliban???). (This is the reverse of "kalbu.?adimum" - a dog having human qualities, a werwolf). Note also "benu.kalbayum" -- a 'wolf-child', a person thought to have been born of, or at least reared by dogs or wolves, as in : Rawmulam benu.kalbayam yezam! -- Romulus was born of dogs! (Yet another way of insulting Romans, note the use of "yezam" not "wezam" for 'that one, him').
> >> -a perfect - implies completed action >> -u imperfect - implies action in progress > > I would prefer open vowel "a" for open (imperfect) action > and closed vowel "u" for closed (perfect) action.
I think I should revise the grammar and follow the native practise of citing nouns in the accusitive i.e. "kalbam" rather than "kalbum", as this is by far the most common form, is used with the verb "to be" and was considered the most neutral or unmarked form, the "ground form" by the grammarians. Likewise verbs are cited as e.g. "nebnayam" - 'I built' rather than "lebnayi(m)" - 'to build', as again the perfect is considered the neutral least marked form, the most common in narrative. If the imperfect is used, it stresses the action in progress, either in the present, or at the time spoken of. This is stronger than the prefect which simply notes that the action has or had taken place. In terms of articulation, /a/ was probably a more neutral vowel than either /i/ or /u/ so it works at this level too, to my mind at least.
> > Pavel >
Many thanks for your comments Keith