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Today's word: "brush"

From:Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Date:Thursday, May 20, 2004, 3:02
I'm going back into vocabulary-building mode for a while. So I figured
one way to work on the vocabulary is to look at a single English word at
a time, and figure out how many different translations I might need.

I'll start with "brush". It occurred to me that "brushing" your teeth
and "brushing" your hair wouldn't necessarily use the same verb. They're
really two different actions; the main thing they have in common is the
use of some kind of "brush". But a toothbrush isn't a hair brush, and an
artist's paintbrush isn't the same as the kind used to paint walls. They
do all have some kind of bristles or hairs attached to a handle. So the
noun "brush" seems like a reasonably defined word, and the various verb
meanings of "brush" come from the fact that there are different actions
that can be performed with bristles attached to a handle. But I can
imagine that a language might want to have different basic words for
some of the different kinds of brushes (perhaps based on their function).

For the Lindiga vocabulary, I decided to extend this meaning of "brush"
to also include brooms; the Lindiga word for both "brush" and "broom" is
"vlira". This is distinguished from the other usage of "brush", meaning
"dense vegetation", which is "rteku".

The nouns aren't so bad, but the verbs can get tricky. There are a
couple of possibilities:

using a word derived from "brush" as a verb:
     "brush your teeth" (as in English)
     "brush your hair" (as in English)
     "brush the paint (onto the wall)"
     "brush the wall (with paint)"

using a word more closely related to the action performed by the brush:
     "paint the wall (with a brush)" (as in English)
     "clean your teeth (with a brush)"
     "smooth your hair (with a brush)"
     "color the wall (with a brush and paint)"

using an unrelated word with meaning similar to "brush":
     "sweep your hair"

Then you get into the extended uses of "brush", roughly meaning
something like "touch lightly", "graze", "have a close encounter" (and
the related nouns: e.g., "a brush with death"). Lindiga distinguishes
these meanings by having one word meaning "apply with a brush", another
meaning "sweep", and another meaning "graze" (in this sense, not the one
of "eating grass"), without a single word that is directly equivalent to
"brush" as a verb. So in Lindiga you
     "brush (toothpaste) onto your teeth" (vliramich),
     "brush (paint) onto the wall",
     "sweep your hair" (tlösich),
     "graze death" (kyrtich).


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>