Saturday, 12 October 2013

Second Lexember: a New Month of Moten Words

In my summary post of last year's Lexember event, I had written that I would gladly participate again if the event were to be repeated. So when Pete Bleackley proposed to run another Lexember in September (keeping with the naming scheme!), I just couldn't not do it! So once again I spent a month creating new vocabulary for Moten, hunting for holes in the lexicon and filling them as well as I could. Of course, Moten's vocabulary is still limited, but adding 30 words is always welcome! This time though, various events conspired to make me miss the daily deadlines, and I actually slipped in my schedule once (shame on me!). However, I managed to get back on track and finished the month without issue.

So, now that the second Lexember is finished, I'm repeating last year's decision to recapitulate it on my blog, so that people who may have missed some of my tweets can check all my new Moten words here. Once again, here's the list of all the words I created for Lexember, in the order of publication. I've also added the comments I made over on Google+ (and added some specific to this post), which give a bit more background and depth to those creations. Enjoy:

1st word: manto /manto̞/, noun:
coat, overcoat, jacket, cloak, mantle. Basically any piece of clothing used to protect oneself (or at least one's upper body) from bad weather conditions. It's a straight borrowing from French.
2nd word: zubzin /zubzin/, noun:
lukewarm water. It's a diminutive of zuba: "warm water". Note also vone: "cold water" and den: "hot water".
3rd word: vona /vo̞na/, noun:
low temperature, cold. Indicates a temperature that is cold but not freezing. Somehow related to vone: "cold water". Once again, don't forget that adjectives in Moten are just a special use case of nouns, hence the glosses I've given.
4th word: zubna /zubna/, noun:
pleasant temperature, warm. Pleasant, radiating temperature of a body or room. A nice outdoor temperature can also be zubna (especially when the sun is shining). Related to zuba: "warm water".
5th word: dena /de̞na/, noun:
high temperature, hot. Damagingly hot, scalding, burning. Not used for weather temperatures (see next word :)). Somehow related to den: "hot water".
6th word: la|zi /lad͡zi/, noun:
high temperature, warm, hot. Counterpart of dena used for high weather temperatures. It indicates weather temperatures that have become too high to simply be pleasant anymore. It's considered a weather phenomenon, on par with ibo: "wind", tlap: "light rain" and ibipiz: "storm".
What this means is that like those nouns, it can be the subject of the verb ivdaj: "to happen". So, just as we can say ibeo ivda|n ito: "the wind is blowing" (literally: "the wind is happening"), we can say la|zej ivda|n ito: "it's hot right now" (literally: "the high temperature is happening").
7th word: isteoj /iste̞o̞j/, verb:
to put on, to dress in. This verb refers to dressing something or someone in clothes, jewels, shoes, or anything else that is worn. Depending on context and the participants in the sentence, it can refer to putting something on oneself or on somebody or something else. And used in the middle voice, it is equivalent to "to get dressed".
8th word: iputo|n /iputo̞ɲ/, verb:
to take off, to remove. Basically the opposite of isteoj. Has the same usage pattern.
9th word: jemagi /je̞magi/, verb:
to travel, to sail. Literally "to river-go", but used for any kind of travel except on foot.
10th word: ibnamagi /ibnamagi/, verb:
to travel on foot. Literally "to foot-go". The counterpart of jemagi for the one means of travel that verb doesn't cover: one's own feet :).
11th word: agzif /agzif/, noun:
traveller. Literally "goer".
12th word: jaluj /jaluj/, verb:
to keep, to retain; to hold, to store; to hide, to conceal. Yeah, all of those :).
13th word: pakipak /pakipak/, onomatopoeia:
'pad pad pad', the sound of footsteps. Also used as an ideophone meaning "step by step", "one by one", "methodically", "by the book", "without imagination", etc...
14th word: faoom /faˈo̞ːm/, onomatopoeia:
'whoosh', the sound of the wind during a storm. Also an ideophone with the general meaning of "strong but messy".
15th word: kaan /kaːn/, onomatpoeia:
'shining brightly', the "sound" of the sun shining. An ideophone representing the sun shining brightly and warmly. Also used to indicate shining brightly from one's own strength (both literally and figuratively), but also things like 'too hot to handle', and thus shades of danger.
16th word: uge /uge̞/, noun:
pace, step; footstep; stage, phase. Like English "step", but doesn't refer to the steps of a ladder.
17th word: jugejugej /juge̞juge̞j/, verb:
to step, to walk. Refers to the physical activity of walking, unlike ibnamagi, which refers to the idea of travelling on foot. Also refers to stepping through a list of instructions. Its stem ugejuge is also used as a noun meaning "walk, stroll, hike". It's the reduplication of uge: "step".
Incidentally, with this word I reached the magical number of 500 lexical entries in the Moten dictionary! Yay me!
18th word: jemnon /je̞mno̞n/, noun:
long-legged wading bird. Herons, cranes, storks, flamingoes, ibises, spoonbills... All are jemnon :). The word refers more to a bird body type than to a species or even related species in particular. It's a generic name for all long-legged, long-necked wading water birds, especially in freshwater habitats. There are more specific names for specific birds, but you can use jemnon if you just don't want (or can't) be more specific.
The word jemnon itself literally means "artist of the river", and may refer to the perceived grace of those birds' movements.
19th word: jugzi|n /jugziɲ/, verb:
to stroll, to go for a walk. The diminutive of jugejugej: "to step, to walk". Its stem ugzin is also used as a noun meaning "stroll, leisurely walk".
20th word: tolmos /to̞lmo̞s/, noun:
(dining) table; meal, fare. Literally "four legs": tol mosu.
21st word: smel(t) /sme̞l(t)/, noun:
plank, board; gameboard; tray, platter; table, desk. While tolmos refers specifically to a table used to eat on, smel(t) includes this sense but also many more. Linguists would call smel(t) a hypernym of tolmos.
Notice also how the last consonant is in parentheses. This noun is one of those stems with a fragile coda consonant, which normally doesn't appear, but resurfaces when suffixes are added. So the nominative case "a plank" will be smel, while the genitive case "a plank's" will be smuvelti, with the t appearing due to the addition of the suffix -i.
22nd word: log /lo̞g/, noun:
season; time (to do something); occasion, circumstance. To be fair, this word was already in the dictionary, but with the single gloss "season". The additional senses I just discovered were different enough that I felt this has actually become a new word :).
23rd word: bolog /bo̞lo̞g/, noun:
weather, short term state of the atmosphere at a specific time and place. Literally "sky season".
24th word: bolslim /bo̞lslim/, noun:
bad weather. Literally "ugly weather", from bolog and slim: "ugly, inapproriate".
25th word: bolvo|sa /bo̞lvo̞t͡sa/, noun:
nice, fair weather. Literally "beautiful weather", from bolog and vo|sa: "beautiful, appropriate". Like ibo: "wind" and the 6th word la|zi: "high temperature", those last two words are considered weather phenomena, and can both be the subject of ivdaj: "to happen": bolvo|sea ivda|n ito: "it's nice weather right now".
26th word: |no /ɲo̞/, noun:
ice; frost, snow; freezing cold; glass. Refers to frozen water, freezing temperatures, and glass :). Unlike pairs like vone/vona, where the first term refers to water at a specific range of temperatures and the second to that range of temperatures itself, this noun has both meanings by itself, depending on context. The "glass" sense was probably metaphorical at first, but nowadays it's the main term for the material "glass" (not for a glass vessel mind you!).
27th word: ito|zaj /ito̞d͡zaj/, verb:
to become, to begin to be. One of the many verbs meaning "to become" in Moten, this one has the same argument semantics as atom: "to be", i.e. it marks identity (becoming someone) and definition (becoming something).
28th word: ige|zaj /ige̞d͡zaj/, verb:
to become, to begin to have. Another one of the many verbs meaning "to become" in Moten, this one has the same argument semantics as agem: "to have", i.e. it marks possession (getting something, catching something) and predicate adjectives (becoming + adjective).
29th word: |nekaj /ɲe̞kaj/, verb:
to come to be, to happen, to become. Yet another verb meaning "to become" in Moten, this one has the argument semantics of jaki: "to exist", i.e. it is intransitive and is used only with inanimate objects or concepts and small animals. It usually means "to happen" or "to come into being", and takes on the meaning "to become" when used with an adverbial final or instrumental phrase.
30th word: ipmavi /ipmavi/, verb:
to come to be, to become. Yet another verb meaning "to become" in Moten, this one has the argument semantics of ispej: "to exist", i.e. it is intransitive and is used only with humans and big animals. It usually means "to come into being" or "to appear", and takes on the meaning "to become" when used with an adverbial final or instrumental phrase.
Bonus word: apsim /apsim/, onomatopoeia:
'achoo', the sound of a sneeze. I've been sick for most of Lexember, so it was just fair to add this one :P. Notice that this onomatopoeia can also be used as a stem in the verb japsimi: "to sneeze", or as a noun apsim meaning "sneeze".

As you can see, as with last year's Lexember there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to the meanings of the words. But is that really so? In fact, the first half of the words was carefully crafted to help me with my next grammar post (which still needs a lot of work before I can release it). On the other hand, the second half was just me freewheeling ;). Still, words about temperature and the weather are quite practical, I finally have a word for "table" (I've had a word for "chair": ibutaj for quite a long time already), and I've finally solved the issue of how to express "to become" in Moten, a problem that's been bothering me for two years! So all in all it was a very productive month. Oh, and more ideophones!

I'll finish with a few statistics, to show you once again the effect of Lexember on the Moten vocabulary. On the 31st of August, the Moten lexicon contained 483 separate entries, for 1186 (not necessarily unique) glosses. On the 1st of October, the Moten lexicon had 513 entries, and 1345 glosses! The vocabulary itself has grown by 6% (a far cry from the first Lexember's 17%, but don't forget that at that time the lexicon had only 278 entries!), while the glosses have increased by 13% (in the first Lexember it was 20%, but I had then less than half the glosses I have now). Still not bad for just one word a month!

So I'm glad I participated again in this Twitter event. Lexember is still an intellectually challenging and fun event, and a great way to expand my conlang's vocabulary. Not as many people participated compared to last time though, which was unfortunate. It's so fun to read other people's entries! Where I may have a small issue is that this time the event seemed to lack a social dimension. It felt very much like people were just creating words on their own, putting them on Twitter, and that's it. There were little to no comments on people's entries, and very little interaction between the participants (I know, I'm guilty of it just as well). Maybe next time the event could be made more interactive, for instance by having an event master publishing a "theme of the day" in the morning, and the participants would have to create a word fitting that theme during the day. It could give Lexember a more participatory feeling to it. It's just an idea, and maybe other Lexember participants will have others. Don't hesitate to discuss this in the comment thread, on Twitter, and/or on Google+!

Anyway, it was still fun, and I will definitely participate again next time, however Lexember will look like then!


  1. Very nice! You have lots of interesting details in there, especially in the semantics of the temperature words and in the several different ways to express "to become". I also love the polysemy of |no: Using the word for "ice" to mean "glass" is something I'd never have thought of, but it's such an obvious semantic extension once you've mentioned it. Good work!

    I didn't participate this time because I was away for most of the month, but I'll definitely rejoin in December. And I totally agree that it's a good idea to strengthen the social dimension of #Lexember next time. I'm not sure a "theme of the day" would be ideal though; I think I'd prefer something like a "theme of the week" or at least "theme of the half-week" so we can come up with several semantically related words at a time, like you did here.

    Jan / Cedh

    1. Thanks for your kind words. I've done quite a lot of work to get those words feeling right :). As for the word for "ice" also meaning "glass", I must admit that I'm not really original here. It's actually not an uncommon metaphor among the world's languages. Even in French, the word glace can mean "ice", "ice cream", "glass panel" (the material itself is usually called "verre") and "mirror"! So my |no is hardly original here (its only peculiarity is that it also refers to freezing cold temperatures rather than to ice only).

      I must say that I like your idea of a "theme of the week" better than my idea of a "theme of the day". It's easier to handle for both the organiser and the participants, and indeed part of the fun is to create several semantically related words. In any case, anything that will strengthen the social dimension of Lexember would be welcome :).