Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Moten Words for the Day

jemagi /je̞maɡi/, verb: “to sail, to travel”

ibnamagi /ibnamaɡi/, verb: “to walk, to travel on foot”

jugejugej /juɡe̞juɡe̞j/, verb: “to walk; to step”

Not me though. I usually fall asleep before the plane even takes off! :D

So, three verbs this time, all somewhat in the same semantic range, but with specific meanings that do not neatly fit with English counterparts.

Let’s start with jemagi. Its original meaning is “to sail”, i.e. “to travel by boat” (indeed, it’s a compound of jem: “river, brook” and jagi: “to go, to leave”). But its meaning was actually broadened with time, to refer to travelling with any kind of vehicle (including animals like horses). So its most common translation is simply “to travel”.

Yet jemagi doesn’t exactly correspond to “to travel”, because it doesn’t cover travelling on foot. There’s a specific verb for that: ibnamagi (from jagi and bnam: “foot, leg”). So you can’t simply say in Moten that someone travelled somewhere: you have to indicate at least whether they did it mostly on foot (in which case ibnamagi is used) or mostly using vehicles (in which case jemagi is used). My own theory about this semantic split is that long ago, the Moten speakers were a riverside community, and the main means of travel were either riverboats or just travelling on foot (maybe they didn’t have any animals capable of sustaining their weights or pull carriages). This led to two verbs being used for these two forms of travel. When other forms of travel appeared (maybe draft animals were introduced into their community), the verb already used to indicate travel in a vehicle was extended to cover other vehicles, while travelling on foot, i.e. using one’s own strength, kept its own verb.

Since ibnamagi refers to travelling on foot only, it can be translated as “to walk” (as in “he walked the whole way from Paris to Amsterdam”, something I will never do! ;) ). But that’s only true when “to walk” refers to travelling. If you want to refer to the physical activity of walking, i.e. to the act of making one step after the other, there’s another, specific verb for that: jugejugej, from uge: “step, footstep”. So once again here is a place where Moten and English divide the semantic space differently: “to walk” must be translated differently depending on whether one refers to the physical activity of walking, or the act of travelling on foot.

And to complicate matters, jugejugej can also be translated as “to step”, i.e. “to go through a list of actions”. Confused already? ;)

Questions?


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Friday, 24 October 2014

Moten Word for the Day

nud /nud/, noun: “(extended) family, clan, tribe; bond, connection, affiliation; (abstract) link”

Given that by the time you see this post I’ll be in France visiting my family, I thought it was appropriate :). And in my case, I solve the issue by spending time with the non-dysfunctional part of my family ;).

In any case, as with any culture-laden word, it’s difficult for me to explain exactly what the Moten word nud means, given we know so little about Moten culture itself. As far as I understand it, nud doesn’t refer to the nuclear family. In fact, I’m not even sure Moten even has a word for that specific meaning. Rather, nud refers to something bigger, hence the glosses “clan” and “tribe”. I’m not even sure nud requires blood connections or similar (adoption). In fact, I’m nearly positive strong friendships result in becoming part of someone’s nud. Exactly how that works, though, I don’t really know.

As an extension of meaning, nud can also refer to connections and bonds in general, and not necessarily between people or even animals. In fact, it can even refer to abstract links in general (for instance when talking about the link between two events). The “family” meaning, however, is the most common.

Questions?


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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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