Sunday, 19 October 2014

Moten Word for the Day

sezbon /se̞zbo̞n/, noun: “velocity, speed; timeliness”

OK, maybe the worst pun ever, but it made me chuckle :P.

So, as I explained before, it’s common to form the generic name for a scale by compounding two words that refer to extremes on that scale. Sezbon is such a word, being a compound of sezgo and bontu. And given the meaning of these words, it’s logical that sezbon refers to the scale of speed, or velocity, in general, as well as to the notion of timeliness (i.e. whether someone is late, early, or just on time).

Perhaps the only weirdness of this noun is that it’s formed by compounding two nouns that are both in their short compound form (sez- for sezgo, and bon- for bontu). That’s rather uncommon, as most compounds usually have at least one element using its full stem.

Questions?


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Friday, 17 October 2014

Moten Word for the Day

sezgo /se̞zɡo̞/, noun: “high speed, quickness, earliness, also as adj. fast, quick, early”

I’m not lethal, I promise! But using the same image to illustrate two opposites? Too good to pass ;).

So, to make up for not ignoring Word for the Day fans for two weeks, and to keep with the theme of today, I decided to quickly get another word out :). Sezgo is simply the opposite of bontu, and refers to high speed rather than low speed. And since bontu can also mean “late”, sezgo can also mean “early” (once again, a way to understand this is to remember the watch metaphor, with “this watch is fast” meaning that the watch indicates a time too early, rather than the watch ticking literally faster than normal). Once again, context solves most if not all ambiguities.

And so now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run! ;)


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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Moten Word for the Day

bontu /bo̞ntu/, noun: “low speed, slowness, lateness, tardiness; also as adj. slow, late, tardy”

Yeah, I know, two weeks since the last Word for the Day. But see picture above ;).

Anyway, bontu is once again one of these abstract nouns that can be used as adjectives as well. It represents the idea of low speed or slowness, and as an extension to it also refers to lateness (just like we say in English “your watch is 10 minutes slow”, when we really mean that it’s indicating a time ten minutes too late, rather than the watch being literally slower to tick than normal). And if you’re wondering, really context usually disambiguate between the two meanings :).

Not much more to say about this word, as it’s a rather straightforward one. But after taking so long to write another Word for the Day post, it was relevant ;).


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Monday, 29 September 2014

Moten Words for the Day

voslim /vo̞slim/, noun: “beauty, appropriateness, fitness for purpose”

uflebe /ufle̞be̞/, noun: “quality, objective value, value”

kemabal /ke̞mabal/, noun: “opinion, subjective value, value”

No meme right now.

Okay, those nouns are going to need a small explanation. If they look familiar, it’s because they are: they are formed by mashing together the pairs of words I presented in the last three posts.

What’s happening here is that in Moten, when two nouns are semantically opposites (i.e. like “big vs. small”, “wide vs. narrow”, “rich vs. poor”), it’s common to form the noun that refers to the generic concept underlying them by compounding them. In English, it would be as if the generic concept of “size” (in general, rather than a big or a small size) was referred to by the word “bigsmall” :).

So that’s what’s happening here:

  • Voslim is the combination of vo|sa and slim, and refers to appropriateness or fitness for purpose in general;
  • Uflebe is the combination of ufan and tlebe, and refers to objective quality in general;
  • Kemabal is the combination of kemi and abal, and refers to the concept of opinion in general.

In all cases, those nouns refer to a generic concept, and not to a specific value of that concept. It’s easy to understand with a word like kemabal, where the translation “opinion” is also neutral. It’s slightly more difficult for a word like voslim, where the usual translations (“appropriateness”, “fitness for purpose”) tend to have a positive connotation in English. But voslim doesn’t have a positive connotation in Moten. It’s perfectly neutral, just like kemabal. It doesn’t refer to appropriateness as a positive quality (that’s what vo|sa means), but to the generic concept of appropriateness. You can see vo|sa and slim as extreme points on a scale, while voslim refers to the entire scale itself.

The idea of compounding opposites to form the name of a generic concept is common in Moten, so keep it in mind as I describe new words in future posts.

Questions?


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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Moten Words for the Day

kemi /ke̞mi/, noun: “pleasantness, wonderfulness; also as adj. pleasant, wonderful, good”

abal /abal/, noun: “dreadfulness, lousiness; also as adj. dreadful, lousy, bad”

There, feeling better? :)

So, we’ve already seen two ways to translate “good” and “bad” into Moten: vo|sa and slim, which refer to fitness for purpose, and ufan and tlebe, which refer to objective quality. Today, we’re adding two more possible translations, this time referring to “good” and “bad” as simply a matter of opinion.

Kemi and abal are respectively positive and negative statements of opinion, and only opinion. They simply indicate whether someone likes whatever is qualified, or not. They are different from vo|sa and slim in that there is no need to have a purpose in mind in order to like or dislike something, and they are different from ufan and tlebe in that you don’t need to be able to objectively justify your opinion on something. As such, if you state that something is abal, you won’t be expected to explain for what purpose it is, nor will you be expected to justify your statement based on objective qualifications. At most, people will ask you why you are harbouring such an opinion.

To illustrate the difference between these three ways of translating “good” or “bad”, consider an example I gave earlier: that of a chair. A chair is ufan if it’s made of quality wood and built by a master carpenter (for instance). A chair is vo|sa if it sits comfortably and can easily handle your weight. Finally, a chair is kemi if you like it :).

Notice that these three forms of “good” are not necessarily companions. A chair that is ufan can still be slim if it’s uncomfortable. A chair can be both ufan and vo|sa and yet still be abal, if you just don’t like its design. Finally, a chair that is a heirloom from your favourite relative, who specifically donated it to you, can still be kemi, even if it’s both tlebe and slim. All those words refer to specific facets of goodness and badness, which are mostly independent from each other.

With these two, we have the three main pairs of words used to translate “good” and “bad” in Moten. There are others, naturally (just like English has things like “awful”, “fantastic”, “nice”, etc.), but those are the main ones and the most commonly used.

Questions?


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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Moten Words for the Day

ufan /ufan/, noun: “greatness, also as adj. great”

tlebe /tle̞be̞/, noun: “mediocrity, also as adj. mediocre, bad”

That squirrel knows its stuff.

So, last time I explained that Moten doesn’t have generic words for “good” and “bad”, and introduced vo|sa and slim as a less generic pair that can be used to replace them. It makes sense to carry on and introduce another pair of words that can be translated as “good” and “bad”, with a different specialisation.

Here, ufan and tlebe are the extremes in the range of objective quality. In other words, something is ufan when it can be objectively argued that it has excellent quality. Its opposite tlebe, on the other hand, denotes mediocrity, in the sense of a lack of objective quality.

By “objective quality”, I mean a characteristic that is not up for opinion. For instance, a manufactured object will be ufan if it’s a sturdy, good build, and made of quality materials. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the object will be fit for purpose (i.e. vo|sa) or even that the speaker has to actually like it. For instance, a dish will be ufan if it’s masterly cooked from quality ingredients. That doesn’t mean the speaker has to actually like the dish (those ingredients may not be to their liking), or even that the dish is fit for purpose (it might be a starter when the speaker was expecting dessert!). But as long as it can be objectively stated that something is excellent, it will be ufan.

By the way, ufan is too strong to be translatable as “good”. That’s why I translate it as “great” instead. If one wants to indicate that something is simply of good quality, rather than really excellent, one can use the diminutive ufsin instead, which reduces the meaning of ufan while still keeping it positive. Tlebe, on the other hand, works rather well as a translation of “bad”.

Also, while I’m saying that ufan and tlebe are to be used only when one is talking about objective quality, I’m not saying that Moten speakers never use them subjectively: Moten speakers are just as likely to lie, exaggerate, mislead or simply be incorrect as anyone else ;).

Questions?


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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Moten Words for the Day

vo|sa /vo̞t͡sa/, noun: “beauty, appropriateness; also as adj. beautiful, appropriate, good, fit for purpose”

slim /slim/, noun: “ugliness, inappropriateness; also as adj. ugly, inappropriate, unfit for purpose”

Not sure if this meme represents vo|sa or slim here.

A peculiarity of Moten is that it lacks truly generic words meaning “good” or “bad”. Instead, it has pairs of nouns that approximate those meanings, but always with a more restricted semantic range. Vo|sa and slim are one such pair.

Vo|sa and slim are basically the extremes in the range of appropriateness. That’s to say, vo|sa represents the quality of things that are good because they are fit for purpose, while slim represents the quality of things that are bad because they are unfit for purpose. The keyword here is purpose, by the way: vo|sa and slim are never used as absolute judgements of value, but only have a meaning when the speaker has some goal or need in mind, and judges the appropriateness of something based on the idea of fulfilling that goal.

For instance, a chair should be vo|sa when the goal is to sit down, but it’s not surprising if it’s actually slim when your goal is to reach the ceiling to change a lightbulb! And a chair that is slim when your goal is to sit down is basically an uncomfortable chair that misses its purpose. It may be of good quality, i.e. sturdy and made of pricey materials, and it may look nice, but if it doesn’t sit comfortably, it will still be slim.

Notice that I also translated vo|sa as “beauty” and slim as “ugliness”. That’s because for some objects, their purpose is simply to be aesthetically pleasing, so in that case “fitness for purpose” is equivalent to “beauty”. This is also true of ideas and concepts, which can be aesthetically pleasing even without looking at any kind of specific purpose, so vo|sa and slim can also be applied to abstractions in that sense.

Notice, however, that these nouns can never refer to the physical beauty of a person or animal. It seems Moten speakers rather balk at the idea that the entire purpose for the existence of a human being or animal could solely be to be aesthetically pleasing. Good for them!

Questions?


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