Friday, 15 August 2014

Moten Words for the Day

fe|su /fe̞t͡su/, interjection: “sorry, sorry to bother you, excuse me, see, you see”

akfe|su /akfe̞t͡su/, interjection: “sorry for leaving early, I have to go now, bye”

Last time I explained how vepe|ne, while generally meaning “sorry”, didn’t quite match with its English translation (being often used when one would say “thank you” in English). But there are other cases where one would use “sorry” in English, yet vepe|ne is not the right word to use in that case. Two of these situations are represented in the words for today.

Fe|su is used to call someone’s attention, hence the translation I used: “sorry to bother you”. Say you need to ask directions to someone on the street. You would typically approach people by saying fe|su first, to indicate in a polite manner that you need to talk to them. It’s also used when you’re already talking to someone, to emphasise that what you’re about to tell is important and they need to listen to it carefully. In that sense, I’d translate it in English as “see” or “you see”. In all cases, fe|su is about getting someone’s attention, in a relatively polite manner.

Akfe|su is a bit like the opposite of fe|su. Rather than to initiate or sustain a dialogue, akfe|su is used to end one, in a polite manner. If you’re having a meeting with someone, but suddenly need to leave before the meeting is supposed to end (you’re late for something else, or you’ve received a call that asks you to come as quickly as possible, for instance), then you would use akfe|su to indicate that you have to cut the meeting short. In this case, it means something like “sorry, but I have to go now”. It is also customary, however, to use it even when the meeting actually reached its expected end. The person leaving will then use akfe|su like we would say “bye”. The idea behind using this word then is that you indicate that you would have gladly stayed longer, but you need to leave now.

Notice that akfe|su can only be used by the person leaving the meeting place first. You can’t use it to dismiss someone. Even if both people leave the place at the same time, only the person initiating the end of the meeting can use akfe|su. The reason for this is probably the etymology of the word, which is a compound of fe|su with the root of the verb jagi (who said interjections cannot get compounded? :) ), which means “to go, to leave”.

Fe|su and akfe|su are vital to approach and leave people in a polite yet friendly manner, and as such are commonly used in Moten, even among friends. So it’s important to understand well how they differ from each other and from vepe|ne.


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