Saturday, 2 August 2014

Moten Word for the Day

|lamensin /ʎame̞nsin/, noun: “earring”

And now you see where the two previous words for the day were leading to: back to my earring posts! We’ve gone full circle! :P

|Lamensin is a typical example of Moten’s way to handle its paucity of derivational forms (besides the diminutive mentioned before and some suffixes used to form actor nouns, Moten has no derivational morphology whatsoever): taken literally, it’s actually an adverbial noun phrase meaning “for an ear”! (really, |la- is a benefactive prefix, which can be translated as “for”, “to” or “for the benefit of”)

What’s happening here is a phenomenon called surdéclinaison (to use a good English word ;) ), which is the ability for various inflected forms in Moten to be nominalised as is, i.e. to form new noun stems without having to receive an explicit nominalising affix, and take inflections again. It’s a feature that I stole from my beloved Basque language, which uses it to great profit, and in Moten it is commonly used where other languages would tend to use derivational morphology.

In the case of |lamensin, we have the noun mensin, here meaning “ear”, put in the benefactive “case”. When used with inanimate objects, the benefactive means something like “to improve on, to make better”. Clearly, Moten speakers seem to think jewels “improve on” the body parts they are worn on, and so the benefactive form of a body part came to be used as a name for the jewel worn on that body part. Other examples include |lapoma: “necklace” (from poma: “neck”) and |lajespoma: “bracelet” (from jespoma: “wrist”).


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