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Having fun with Vocabulary

From:Sylvia Sotomayor <kelen@...>
Date:Sunday, August 26, 2001, 23:24
I recently made a Kélen-English dictionary and put it up on the web.
I have approximately 900 words, which is more than I have ever had in
any incarnation of the language.

One fun thing was deriving words from other words. Here are three
that particularly amused me:

1. The root álm- stands for "crossing" or "ford". Add to that the
suffix -íke, and you have a word for "bridge". However the root ál-
is an old, no longer used, word for "great", so álmíke came to be
reanalyzed as "great bridge". Which means that míke came to be the
word for "bridge" that is used in various compounds, like méTmíke
"wooden bridge".

2. The root nís- as a singular noun janísa means "bead". The same
root as a stative noun (or adjective) annísa means "beautiful" and
sometimes "decorated".

3. The root lú- means "light". Add the suffix -íke, and you have a
word for "lamp". Add an old agentive suffix to that, and you have
lúíkanen, an old word for engineer. This later became a name for
someone who could keep the lights on, or as a metaphor, someone who
could/would get things done. The adjective derived from this word is
anlúíke, and came to mean "competent" or "effective". Thus, the word
lúíke as a singular noun means "lamp, and as a stative noun means


Sylvia Sotomayor

wa jamú anániTa;  ( thing.SG one/alone.ADJ)

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