Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Moten Words for the Day

ufan /ufan/, noun: “greatness, also as adj. great”

tlebe /tle̞be̞/, noun: “mediocrity, also as adj. mediocre, bad”

That squirrel knows its stuff.

So, last time I explained that Moten doesn’t have generic words for “good” and “bad”, and introduced vo|sa and slim as a less generic pair that can be used to replace them. It makes sense to carry on and introduce another pair of words that can be translated as “good” and “bad”, with a different specialisation.

Here, ufan and tlebe are the extremes in the range of objective quality. In other words, something is ufan when it can be objectively argued that it has excellent quality. Its opposite tlebe, on the other hand, denotes mediocrity, in the sense of a lack of objective quality.

By “objective quality”, I mean a characteristic that is not up for opinion. For instance, a manufactured object will be ufan if it’s a sturdy, good build, and made of quality materials. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the object will be fit for purpose (i.e. vo|sa) or even that the speaker has to actually like it. For instance, a dish will be ufan if it’s masterly cooked from quality ingredients. That doesn’t mean the speaker has to actually like the dish (those ingredients may not be to their liking), or even that the dish is fit for purpose (it might be a starter when the speaker was expecting dessert!). But as long as it can be objectively stated that something is excellent, it will be ufan.

By the way, ufan is too strong to be translatable as “good”. That’s why I translate it as “great” instead. If one wants to indicate that something is simply of good quality, rather than really excellent, one can use the diminutive ufsin instead, which reduces the meaning of ufan while still keeping it positive. Tlebe, on the other hand, works rather well as a translation of “bad”.

Also, while I’m saying that ufan and tlebe are to be used only when one is talking about objective quality, I’m not saying that Moten speakers never use them subjectively: Moten speakers are just as likely to lie, exaggerate, mislead or simply be incorrect as anyone else ;).


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