Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Moten Word for the Day

ivepe|nej /ive̞pe̞ɲe̞j/, verb: “to apologise”

vepe|ne /ve̞pe̞ɲe̞/, noun: “apology”

vepe|ne /ve̞pe̞ɲe̞/, interjection: “sorry, thank you”

I couldn’t feel like sharing some kind of interesting word, so I’m sorry…

But to be fair, vepe|ne is actually interesting, in that it’s one of the few stems that can be used in more than one part of speech.

Normally, in Moten stems are strictly limited to one part of speech, i.e. a stem can be used as a noun or as a verb, not as both. It’s very unlike English, which can both have “a dream” and “to dream” with the same root being used as a noun or a verb without a change, and which is so flexible in this that one can actually talk about “verbing nouns” and everyone will know what you mean! In Moten, if a stem is used as a verb, it cannot be used as a noun without some explicit derivation.

Yet there are a few exceptions, and some stems can be used as a noun or a verb without one being derived from the other explicitly (the circumfix i-…-i that marks the infinitive is not considered a derivation in this case, it’s the stem itself that is used nominally or verbally). Vepe|ne is one of those. It’s even at the peak of flexibility as it can not only be used as a verb ivepe|nej: “to apologise” and a noun vepe|ne: “apology”, but also as a particle (the third Moten part of speech), here an interjection vepe|ne meaning “sorry”.

Besides this grammatical quirk, vepe|ne also has a semantic quirk. Notice that I translated its interjection use as “sorry” or “thank you”. That’s because in Moten, vepe|ne is sometimes used when in English people would thank people rather than apologise to them. For instance, when receiving a present, English speakers will thank the gift giver, while Moten speakers would apologise instead. In the same way, if you ask someone a favour, and they do it, you wouldn’t thank them in Moten, but apologise instead. Basically, you would apologise in those cases as a way to acknowledge the person’s efforts towards you.

That’s not the only semantic quirk of vepe|ne, and indeed the entirety of the notion of politeness works somewhat differently in Moten than in English. But that’s a discussion for another time. Sorry :).


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