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micro-translation exercise

From:Christophe Grandsire <grandsir@...>
Date:Friday, September 24, 1999, 12:59
I've just tried to translate this so small sentence : "If you can
understand this, you know too much" into Chasma"o"cho. It gave me more
problems than I thought (the most important one being to invent a syntax
of the subclause :) ), but I finally found this :

ranips bem kipi vekponfirae's ae| /Ran'ips b'Em kip'i BEkpOnP@R'ajsaj/

Here is an interlinear translation:

aux-thing-resumptive-2nd sing.

bem                     kipi
can (construct stem)    know (construct stem)

"then"-know (normal stem)-too much-article-2nd sing.

particle, end of subclause

It means literarily: "If you can know the thing we've just told about,
then you know too much".

The interesting things in this are:

- the fact that the principal clause is the condition, whereas the
subclause is the consequence (that's why I translated the prefix ve(m)-
as "then"),

- the use of the auxiliary ra"ne in the principal clause, auxiliary used
to make questions and negations among other things (the syntax of the
sentence is thus like: "Can you understand this? Then you know too
much", but the sentence is not interrogative at all),

- The subclause is made by a prefix on the verb (it's a verb-initial
language) and a particle (ae) at the end of the subclause. It is the
standard construction for subclauses, but there are other possibilities,

- 'ranips' can be pronounced /Ranp'ys/ (good writing 'ranipus') if the
cluster /ps/ seems to difficult to pronounce in front of a /b/,

- kpo"ne means 'to know' or 'to understand' in the sense of "to know how
it works". If the sentence was about language only, the verb vu"he
/B'yh@/ would have been used instead (it means 'to know, to understand
(a language)' or 'to know (somebody)'),

- the sentence is supposed to be a proverb, that's why only the short
forms of the suffixes are used (a proverb must be short) even when high
degrees of formality are demanded,

- 'ip' (thing-resumptive) is only one way to nominalize a definite
suffix (there are no nouns corresponding to "this, that, me, you, mine,
yours, etc..."). Another way is to make a relative subclause without
antecedent (here: 'ip i"nte ae' /'ip 'int@aj/: "that which the thing
we've just told about is" with the use of the copula i"e /'i@/). It is
too long for a proverb but more standard in normal speech or writing,
except in cases where no conjugation suffix is available (for the
spatial-temporal demonstrative for example).

        Well, Chasma"o"cho is still in its infancy, so maybe this sentence will
be wrong into one or two weeks :). But the syntax will stay the same I
think, if not the words themselves.

        Of course, if you want to know more about Chasma"o"cho (its various
ways to make subclauses and relative subclauses, or the use of the
copula which is very tricky), just tell me and I'll be glad to post
about it.

        Christophe Grandsire

        Philips Research Laboratories --  Building WB 145
        Prof. Holstlaan 4
        5656 AA Eindhoven
        The Netherlands

        Phone:  +31-40-27-45006