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Eihdan (an explanation)

From:Joseph Fatula <fatula3@...>
Date:Thursday, January 16, 2003, 23:14
For those who read my previous Eihdan post with some interest, here is more
of an explanation for what's happening.

A standard sentence in Eihdan has up to five words:


The two nouns are the subject and object of the verb, though not necessarily
in that order.  They are related to each other by way of the preposition in
between.  For example:

   The man is holding the mushroom.

In this sentence, the man has the mushroom in his possession, so they are
related using the preposition |zi|.

   Htoru zi udeihtund.

How do we know that it is the man holding the mushroom, rather than the
other way around?  Because |zi| means that the first noun (X) contains or
holds the second noun (Y).  But what if the man picks up the mushroom?  He
isn't holding it at the beginning, but he's holding it at the end of the
action.  So we put an inceptive marker on |zi|, making it |zis|.  But we
need a verb to explain how the mushroom comes to be in the man's possession.
So we use the verb |evban|, meaning to pick up or lift something.

   Htoru zis udeihtund, evban.

More literally translated, this could say, "The man comes to have the
mushroom, lifting it."  But before the man can take the mushroom, he has to
find it.  So let's say, "The man finds the mushroom.".  What relationship do
these two objects have?  The mushroom is being perceived in some way by the
man.  |htea| indicates that X is perceived by Y.  Since they are just now
beginning to have this particular relationship, we use an inceptive marker,
making it |hteaht|.  The verb is |scil|, finding.

   Udeihtund hteaht htoru, scil.

There are a number of other prepositions indicating relationships between
two nouns.  If we wanted to say, "I seek the water of the mountain.", we
would express that the water is a member of the parts of the mountain, using
|inda|.  But what of the relationship between me and the water?  It is not
currently the case, but it is possible, once I've found the water.  So we
use |htea| with the prospective marker, |hteähd|, meaning that the water
could be perceived by me at some time.

   Ndëniu inda forhumv, ourul hteähd earh, lhäur.

Literally translated:

   Water member-of mountain, it could-be-perceived-by me, seeking.

Two possible problems here.  How do we know that "it" refers to the water,
not the mountain?  And how do we know that I am seeking the water, not the
other way around?

|ourul| is a pronoun meaning "it", but specifically a watery "it".  If we
wanted to refer to the mountain, we'd use |en|.  In the second part, the one
where something is "seeking", there are two objects: the water |ourul| and
me |earh|.  The one doing the seeking is |earh|, simply because it is known
that I am more likely to be doing something to |ourul| than the other way
around.  Or, to put it another way, the 1st person is more animate than
anything of the "sea" class.

That explains the two nouns, the preposition, and the verb.  But what about
this mood particle?  Here are some examples.

   Tëzga vbam earh, nawhe.
   Birch momentarily-contact I, touching.
   I touch the birch tree.

|na| makes a sentence into a question.

   Tëzga vbam earh, nawhe na?
   Birch momentarily-contact I, touching question.
   Do I touch the birch tree?

|teu| makes the less animate noun the actor, and the more animate noun the
one acted upon.  It doesn't matter if the tree is written first or last, it
is less animate than |earh|, and therefore is acted upon, unless |teu| is

   Tëzga vbam earh, nawhe teu.
   Birch momentarily-contact I, touching reverse.
   The birch tree touches me.

|ende| makes the sentence an illustration, or an example.  If it's a
question, it is now purely a rhetorical question.

   Tëzga vbam earh, nawhe ende.
   Birch momentarily-contact I, touching illustration.
   I touch the birch tree, as you can see here.

There are other such particles, these being but a sample.  Anyway, that's
about it for today's grammar lesson.  More to follow.



Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>