Wednesday, 31 December 2014

31st Lexember Word

idukstu|l /idukstuʎ/, verb: “to fill, to fill up”

ipuzdu|l /ipuzduʎ/, verb: “to pierce, to perforate, to empty”

Bvaj “XXX” de kojpej, emekedelun puzdul!

(note: you may need to go to my blog page itself to play the video above)

So, not a meme for the last day of Lexember, but the most epic music piece I know :). Lifts me right up when I feel down! It does fit one of today’s words even :P.

So, to finish with Lexember, I decided to give you two words for the price of one again :). Although I did cheat a little: those words are both verbs derived from words from the last few days by adding istu|l to them. That little verb gets a lot of mileage doesn’t it? :)

Idukstu|l is a verb derived from duki, and thus simply means “to fill something (up)”. It’s strictly transitive. Ipuzdu|l is slightly more interesting. Being derived from puza, it means both “to pierce, to perforate” (i.e. to make a hole in something) and “to empty (a container)”. The meanings are obviously related (try and perforate a container without spilling its contents! :P). Like idukstu|l, ipuzdu|l is strictly transitive, and takes the thing being perforated or emptied as its object.

So, there you have it! Lexember is finished for this year! I really enjoyed this edition, and I hope you did too! Thank you all for following me until the end. I hope you enjoyed the words I created and their descriptions. Don’t hesitate to let me know what you thought of it all via my ask box! :) And one thing is certain, I will participate again in December 2015!

Finally, to everyone, Happy New Year! Imonuj |ledan!


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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

30th Lexember Word

dukpuza /dukpuza/, noun: “fullness, emptiness, level; contents”

Indeed! While safety margins are a thing, engineers do want to fit needs as strictly as they can. And it often comes back to bite them later ;).

OK, I just couldn’t have a full month of Lexember without giving an example of what I think is the coolest word formation pattern in Moten :). Really, it’s that rad!

So, think of all the things that are basically ranges, like age, height, weight, distance, good vs. bad (and everything in between), etc. Those usually have a name, as well as words referring to specific values (usually extremes) on them (for instance, related to age are the words “young” and “old”; related to weight we have “light” and “heavy”; and related to distance we have “close” vs. “far”). In English, the name of a scale is usually either unrelated to the words referring to specific values (see “age” vs. “young” and “old”), or related to only one of them (“height” is related to “high”, but not to “low”).

In Moten, while some scales also have unrelated names, most scales are named by taking the words referring to extremes on those scales, and compounding them together into a single word! For instance, from odun: “young” and ukol: “old”, one forms ukodun: “age”. In the same way, from sezgo: “fast” and bontu: “slow,”, you get sezbon: “velocity, speed”.

Dukpuza, then, belongs to that type of nouns. It’s a compound of opposites duki: “full” and puza: “empty”, and rather than referring to a specific (high or low) level of contents within a container, it refers to the concept of such a level itself (hence the translation “level” being probably the most accurate here, although dukpuza lacks many of the other meanings of English “level”).

Naturally, since languages abhor neat and symmetrical things, it had to be that dukpuza would develop another meaning, moving from the level of contents within a container to referring to those contents themselves (at least in general). But that’s language for you ;).


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Monday, 29 December 2014

29th Lexember Word

puza /puza/, noun: “hole, gap, lack, deficiency, emptiness; also as adj. empty”

I wish it was not so accurate!

So, today’s word is basically the opposite of yersterday’s duki. Puza's first sense is “hole, gap”, i.e. a hollow place or cavity, whether in a solid or on a surface. As an extension to that meaning, it also refers to the lack of something. And finally, it is used to refer to containers being empty of their contents.

Besides that, puza can be used, like its antonym, as a pseudo-suffix to form nouns that indicate a lack in something (much like words in “-less” in English). When used that way, puza always appears in its short compound form -puz, and the nouns formed that way are usually opposites of nouns in -duk (not always though. In particular, nouns ending in -som (which indicate ability or capacity to do something) will sometimes have opposites in -puz).


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Sunday, 28 December 2014

28th Lexember Word

duki /duki/, noun: “solidness, fullness, completeness; also as adj. solid, full, complete”

Which is basically how I feel right now after so much feasting :). That’s the holidays for you!

Duki refers firstly to solidness, in the sense of lacking holes, being made of one piece. As an extension to that meaning, it also refers to containers being full, and to things in general being complete.

As such, it’s not a particularly interesting word (although it’s a useful one). I does actually get more mileage though, in that it’s commonly used as a suffix (I call such nouns “pseudo-suffixes”, because they behave much like derivational suffixes despite being full nouns) to form nouns that indicate possession of a certain quality (pretty much like “-ful” in English). When used that way, duki always appears in its short compound form -duk.


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Saturday, 27 December 2014

27th Lexember Word

|no|som /ɲo̞t͡so̞m/, noun: “stability, presence, existence; also as adj. stable, present, existing”

To be fair, the man had worse issues than just that :P.

OK, I have no idea what the deal with this word is. First, its senses. Now, I’ve seen my share of polysemic words in Moten. And I get why “existence” and “presence” could feel related enough to use a single word. But “stability”? Yet here it is…

Second, its etymology. |No|som is a compound, and quite a transparent one at that. But it’s a weird compound. First, I will focus on its second part, which is the least weird :). Som, in Moten, is a noun with a lot of cultural baggage. And since I know so little about Moten culture, this means I have difficulties translating it. In my lexicon, I glossed it as “primordial essence”, “fundamental matter” and “source of everything”. It seems to be a philosophical concept that refers to the source of all energy and matter. But it also has a more mundane meaning of “energy, the capacity to do work”. In that sense, it’s commonly used as a suffix to form nouns that indicate capacity or ability, or other abstract but measurable concepts (an example of that is negzom: “power”, from |negi: “to do, to accomplish”).

So that’s how it’s used in |no|som. But there is one issue: som is normally added to verbal stems, while |not, the first part of |no|som, is a nominal one. It’s actually a noun, with various meanings like “(abstract) source, origin”, “(abstract) cornerstone, main part” or even “head (of a body)”. All things that, while tantalisingly not completely unrelated, are still rather far semantically from “existence” or “presence” (“stability” sounds about right, given |not's meaning of “cornerstone”. But |not is strictly abstract, while |no|som can refer to the physical stability of a building).

So there you have it. A weird noun, with weird etymology and weird polysemy :). It’s probably just a very old formation, which then suffered semantic drift while its components suffered a different kind of semantic drift. Still, it’s not your average noun :).


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Friday, 26 December 2014

26th Lexember Word

kelsin /ke̞lsin/, noun: “snowflake”

"You’re all individuals!"

"We’re all individuals!"

"I’m not!"

So, today’s Boxing Day, and since I’m lucky enough that the Netherlands also celebrate that one, I get to be lazy as one is supposed to be on that day, and just make a derivation from yesterday’s word :P.

Kelsin simply means “snowflake”. That’s it. Nothing special :). In terms of formation, it’s also quite simply the diminutive form of yesterday’s keli. The diminutive, in Moten, is often used to mark a unit or small quantity of something, and this is what it does here :).


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Thursday, 25 December 2014

25th Lexember Word

keli /ke̞li/, noun: “snow (when falling from the sky)”


Since people tend to be so obsessed with the idea of a white Christmas, I thought that this was a fitting word for today :P (although given the weather here white Christmases are quite rare where I live).

So, keli is a word for “snow”. But it’s not a generic word for “snow”. Rather, it refers strictly to snow as it is falling from the sky. Once it’s settled on the ground (or your roof ;)), it’s referred to as |no, which also means “ice” and “frost” (as well as referring to temperatures lower than the freezing point. |No is a very versatile word :)).

Another way to understand this distinction: |no refers to snow as a kind of stuff, while keli refers to snow as a meteorological phenomenon. And indeed, the way to say “it’s snowing” in Moten is keli ivda|n ito, i.e. literally “(falling) snow is happening”, using the verb ivdaj, a special Moten verb meaning “to happen”, but restricted to weather phenomena only (i.e. rain, wind, storms, the sun, and indeed snow, among others).

Now, interestingly, while we have the word keli for “(falling) snow”, there’s also the word kele meaning “winter”, and it’s very tantalising to consider them related to each other. Yet I have no idea if they are, or if it’s just a coincidence that they look similar. Add to those two kel, which means “moon”, and you could make quite a few claims (was snow considered by ancient Moten speakers to be bits and pieces of the moon falling from the sky?), but it’s all pure conjecture.

By the way, if you’re wondering, “white Christmas” in Moten is konvoj Noel, literally “Christmas made of (lying) snow” (konvoj is |no in the instrumental, itself overdeclined in the genitive case to allow it to complete a noun).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your day. Merry Christmas! Noel |ledan!


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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

24th Lexember Word

isfomstu|l /isfo̞mstuʎ/, verb: “to pour, to serve”

It used to happen to me all the time! But practice makes perfect ;).

Anyway, since today is Christmas Eve, and the drinks are gonna flow everywhere, I thought this was a fitting word :).

Based once again on istu|l, and on yesterday’s sfom, isfomstu|l is a transitive verb referring primarily to pouring liquids into some kind of recipient (usually for it to be consumed, but not necessarily). Pouring champagne into a glass, soup into a bowl, or water into a tub, these are typical actions that can be described using isfomstu|l.

However, probably because of the prevalence of pouring drinks intended for consumption, isfomstu|l has also taken on the meaning “to serve (sthg to s.o.)”. In that sense, it is not restricted to liquids, but can be used with anything that can be consumed (mostly food). Basically, it’s the catering word par excellence :P.


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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

23rd Lexember Word

sfom /sfo̞m/, noun: “flow, current; course (of a river), path; period, length (of time); (heavy) rain, downpour”

isfomi /isfo̞mi/, verb: “to flow; to float; to change”

That’s how I often feel my work flow looks like…

Anyway, once again we’ve got one of those polysemic roots, compounded with the fact that this one can be used as a noun and as a verb.

As a noun, the primary meaning of sfom is “flow, current”. In that sense, it refers strictly to liquid flows. For instance, the current of a river is sfom. Electric and air currents, on the other hand, are not.

As a semantic extension to the idea of the flow of a river, sfom is also used to refer to its course, or path taken, and to all paths in general. And because Moten has this permeating metaphor that equates time with a flowing river, this in turn has caused sfom to take on the meaning “period of time”.

Finally, sfom refers to water flowing not only horizontally but also vertically, i.e. it can be used to refer to rain. In that sense, it only refers to heavy rainfall. Light rain is referred to by the word tlap, which is probably of onomatopoeic origin.

As a verb, the primary meaning of isfomi is “to flow”, and is once again only used of liquids. As an extension to this meaning, isfomi can also refer to objects caught within or on the surface of a flow of liquid, leading to the meaning “to float”. Finally, the time metaphor appears again, and isfomi can also mean “to change, to evolve”, or more precisely “to change as a result of the passing time”.

In any case, isfomi is always strictly an intransitive verb.


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Monday, 22 December 2014

22nd Lexember Word

(warning: the following discusses profanity and swear words without censuring them)

tneban /tne̞ban/, interjection: “damn, damn it”

Even when I double check, these stupid autocorrect typos keep getting through :(.

So, OK, technically I’m breaking the rules of Lexember, since this is not really a different word from yesterday. But since my 10th Lexember word was actually two words, I feel like I’m allowed a little leeway here :P. And I also felt this specific use of tneban was worth a separate post. It’s different enough that it can nearly be considered a separate word after all.

So, while many people seem uncomfortable discussing this subject, it’s still a fact that all languages have profanity and swear words. They may vary in their propensity to use them (Japanese seems to be rather mild in that regard, while Spoken French seems to have elevated swearing to an art form), but they all have them. As for what is used for swearing, well, the usual suspects seem to be bodily functions, especially those related to sex and excretions, with blasphemy as a close second. Some languages also have their own idiosyncratic swear words (Dutch, for instance, seems to have a fondness for diseases, especially cancer, typhoid and cholera).

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that if you’re developing a naturalistic conlang, you will, at some point, have to think about profanity. And that’s something that’s kept me busy in Moten. Fortunately, with yesterday’s word, I finally have a basic Moten swear word.

Basically, since Moten speakers seem to elevate peace (|la) to a high level of virtue, it simply makes sense that its opposite will be seen as pejorative, making it a prime candidate to turn into a swear word. And indeed, for Moten speakers conflict and war are seen as vulgar and undesirable, and swearing by calling them out brings in the shock value a swear word should have.

So tneban can be used as an interjection. When used that way, it’s a generic swear word. Although I translate it as “damn” or “damn it”, it’s actually a bit stronger than that. I’d say it’s between “damn it” and “shit” in terms of profanity.

Tneban can also be used as an adjective, in which case it corresponds to “(god)damn + noun” in English. And then there’s the expression tneban ba, which I’d say is between “damn you” and “fuck you” in terms of strength, depending on context.

In all cases, tneban as a swear word is used when people feel angry at something. That makes it somewhat different from its usual translation “damn”, which in English can also mark surprise rather than anger.


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Sunday, 21 December 2014

21st Lexember Word

tneban /tne̞ban/, noun: “war, warfare, conflict; bad health, also as adj. unhealthy”

Other relevant memes just looked too depressing…

Anyway, I know this is the time of “peace on earth” and all that, but it’s difficult to talk about peace when you can’t talk about war. And while Moten already had a word for “peace” (|la, a very important concept to Moten culture), it lacked one for “war”. This is now solved thanks to the word tneban.

Basically, tneban is the full opposite of |la. And since |la refers not only to peace but also to good health, tneban refers not only to war and conflict, but also to bad health. And like |la can be used as an adjective to mean “healthy”, tneban can be used as an adjective to mean “unhealthy” (Moten speakers seem to consider a peaceful society to be equivalent to a healthy organism. There are worse metaphors :P).

And if you wonder whether tneban is related to yesterday’s itneboj, the answer is “yes”, but not in a productive way. There is evidence that as some point, Moten had an agent suffix -an(a). That suffix isn’t productive anymore, but it’s left its mark on the language in the form of various nouns ending in -an which still look related to verbs, although semantic drift has somewhat changed their meanings from straight agent nouns. Other examples include linan: “bird”, from |li|n: “to fly” and oskan: “event, show” from joski: “to happen, to proceed, to last”.


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Saturday, 20 December 2014

20th Lexember Word

itneboj /itne̞bo̞j/, verb: “to hurt, to injure, to damage”

I think the red sliver is still too wide.

Itneboj is a transitive verb, so it refers strictly to the action of damaging something or someone, rather than the result of that damage. In other words, it means “to hurt” as in “I hurt my leg”, not as in “my leg hurts”. Unlike English verbs, Moten verbs are very strict when it comes to valency.

Another thing to remember is that itneboj refers strictly to physical damage. Hurting someone’s feelings requires another verb.


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Friday, 19 December 2014

19th Lexember Word

sili /sili/, noun: “exterior, outside”

I hear outside doesn’t even have checkpoints and implements permadeath in such a way that you can only ever play it once! Who let people release reality when it’s obviously still in alpha?!

So, I had a word for “inside” (melag), but not one for its “mythical” antonym. How silly! (pun intended) This is now corrected, with the word sili referring to the exterior or outside (of whatever we are talking about).

Generic location words like melag and sili are quite important in Moten. Since Moten lacks adpositions, and its cases do no allow precise positioning, the way it handles marking precise location is by making use of such words in adverbial phrases, with a noun phrase in the genitive case in front of them. For instance:

  • umpevi (mo)meleag: “in the house” (literally “in the inside of the house”);
  • umpevi (mo)siledin: “(moving) out of the house” (literally: “to the outside of the house”).

They can naturally also be used on their own, as in the annoyed mother’s staple: siledin!: “(go) ouside!” :)


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Thursday, 18 December 2014

18th Lexember Word

jelzdu|l /je̞lzduʎ/, verb: “to choose, to select, to pick out”

Talk about picking the right side of the fight :P.

So, once again we have a compound verb based on istu|l: “to summon, to call”, this time with yesterday’s elbo. So jelzdu|l means literally “to summon a rib”… Eh no… I mean “to summon a side”, i.e. “to choose”.

I actually can’t believe that after all that time working on Moten I still didn’t have that verb. Oh well, the gap’s filled now :).


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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

17th Lexember Word

elbo /e̞lbo̞/, noun: “rib; flank, side (of a symmetric object); side (of an argument)”

What?! No cookies?! Then no dark side, sorry.

So, the canonical meaning of elbo is “rib”, i.e. the curvy bone. Unlike other words referring to parts of the body though, this one can be used with anything with ribs, whether they are human, large animals or small animals.

But elbo has seen quite a bit of semantic expansion. First, it can be used to refer to the flank or side of a person or animal, and more generally to the side of any object with a left-right symmetry. And second, it can be used more abstractly to refer to the various sides of an argument.

It’s quite a useful word that one, especially when you see what you can make of it tomorrow :).


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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

16th Lexember Word

funma|z /funmad͡z/, noun: “present, the current moment in time”

I promise that’s not what made me publish this one 6 hours too late! It was… simply to make a relevant joke. Yeah, that’s it! No procrastination, just a joke :/.

So, as I wrote before, in Moten the metaphor of time is related to a flowing river. Basically, the present moment is an unmoving observer on the riverbank, while events go with the flow. Future events have not passed by yet, so they are upstream (and indeed, the word for “upstream”, zekjem, also means “future”), while past events have already passed by, so they are downstream (and indeed, the word for “downstream”, so|nem, also means “past”). Given this metaphor, one would expect the word for “present” to at least be related to ma|z: “riverbank”. And that’s indeed the case: funma|z is a compound of ma|z with funa: “second, moment”, and refers to the present moment, as opposed to both the past and the future.


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Monday, 15 December 2014

15th Lexember Word

imazdu|l /imazduʎ/, verb: “to cut (sthg)”

Using a Willy Wonka meme that ironically comments on the use of Willy Wonka memes, just because it uses the phrase “cutting edge”, to illustrate a word for “to cut” in a language where that word is derived from a word meaning “edge”… That’s either really cutting edge, or I’ve just created so much irony this post is going to collapse on itself and create a black hole. Either way it’s entertaining :P.

So, as I wrote above, imazdu|l is a compound of yesterday’s ma|z, together with istu|l, a verb meaning “to summon, to call”. In other words, in Moten “to cut” is literally “to summon an edge” :). It feels extremely right :).

Istu|l, by the way, is very commonly used to form verbs based on nouns or other verbs


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Sunday, 14 December 2014

14th Lexember word

ma|z /mad͡z/, noun: “(river)bank; edge, side (of a 2D figure)”

Not exactly what I meant but close enough :P.

Ma|z is not a difficult word to understand. As I mentioned in the past, Moten people seem to place special importance in rivers, and bodies of flowing water in general (basing their entire metaphor of time on them), so it makes sense that they’d have a word for the piece of land that adjoins flowing water. And that’s basically what ma|z means. Notice that I clearly mentioned flowing water. Ma|z cannot be used to refer to a lake or sea shore.

Ma|z's other meanings (“edge” (of a solid object) and “side” (of a 2D figure)) are simply natural generalisations of its original meaning. After all, a riverbank is nothing but the edge between water and land!


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Saturday, 13 December 2014

13th Lexember Word

buzi /buzi/, noun: “candle; spark plug”

I must admit I like skeptical candle’s style :P.

Today’s word is a borrowing from French bougie, which may explain its weird secondary meaning (and yes, the French word does mean both “candle” and “spark plug”. In fact, it was borrowed in other languages, like Dutch and Modern Greek, in its meaning of “spark plug” only). Buzi is simply the closest approximation of the French /buˈʒi/ that Moten phonology allows.

As for why a borrowing, don’t forget that the only known native Moten speaker has been suffering from amnesia since he was a child. There’s bound to be some holes in his vocabulary (as an alternative, it could also be that Moten culture simply doesn’t have candles. They might prefer oil lamps themselves. Who knows?). When such holes appear, what he and I usually do is either try to create a new word based on Moten stock, or simply borrow a word from another language (usually French, my native language). Which alternative happens is pretty much dependent on our fancy of the moment. There’s no rule :P.

So in this case, since I was on a roll with words related to light, I decided having a word for “candle” was the next natural step, and making it a borrowing from French seemed like the right thing to do :).


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Friday, 12 December 2014

12th Lexember Word

bego /be̞ɡo̞/, noun: “light source, lamp, light”

I understand exactly how you feel little light.

So, for the second time in a few days, we have a compound word with 8th Lexember word ugo: “source, spring, origin”. This time it’s a compound with yesterday’s bem: “light, glow”, forming the promised word for “light source”.

There isn’t much to say about bego. It refers to light sources in general (from the sun and the stars to your smartphone’s screen in the dark :P), as well as to lamps in particular. Basically, if you wanted to say “turn off the light!”, this would be the word to use (rather than bem which, as I explained yesterday, refers strictly to light itself rather than to its sources). In fact, I can even translate that small example for you:

Begedon dulak!

So, next time your Moten-speaking roommate prevents you from sleeping by keeping all the lights on, you know exactly what to say :P (in fact, if you think that example is not forceful enough, just wait a few days and I’ll be able to tell you how to say “turn off the damn light” :P).


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Thursday, 11 December 2014

11th Lexember Word

bem /be̞m/, noun: “light, glow, illumination”

ibemi /ibe̞mi/, verb: “to light, to illuminate, to shine on”

Sage advice.

So, today’s not “two words for the price of one” day again. It’s just that I create stems rather than words per se, and it just happens that this stem can be used both nominally and verbally (not a common occurrence in Moten, but still happening from time to time).

Bem, as a root, refers to the idea of “light”, i.e. the electromagnetic wave that ensures we’re not constantly hitting walls :P. As a noun, it means “light”, “glow” or “illumination”. As the transitive verb ibemi, it refers to shining light on something.

Notice that bem refers strictly to the light or glow itself, and the illumination it causes on other things. It does not refer to sources of light (that’s tomorrow’s word ;)).


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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

10th Lexember Word

|labo /ʎabo̞/, |lemekel /ʎe̞me̞ke̞l/, noun: “rainbow”

Seems legit :).

So, today’s “two words for the price of one” day. They are synonyms, and probably similar in etymology, so I’ll treat them as a single Lexember entry. But it also means that if I miss one day later this month, you all won’t be so hard on me, okay? :P

So, despite being the guy who wrote this, I still didn’t have a word for rainbows in Moten. So naturally I had to overreact and make two! So, |labo and |lemekel both mean “rainbow” (referring to the optical and meteorological phenomenon). The main difference between the two is that |labo is seen as more mundane, while |lemekel is somewhat more lyrical and poetic. The result of light refracted through a prism will also more commonly be called |labo, while a clearly visible rainbow in the sky will more commonly be called |lemekel.

I must say I am uncertain of the etymologies of these words. They are clearly derived respectively from bo: “sky, day sky” and emekel: “skies, heavens” (basically a more poetic word for “sky”, formed as a dvandva compound of eme: “sun” and kel: “moon”), but the nature of that derivation is unclear. They could be either compounds of those words with |la: “peace, good health” (given that Moten seems to give a special status to that concept, it is a distinct possibility), or results of the nominalisation by surdéclinaison of adverbial phrases formed using the benefactive prefix |la- (such nominalisations are common with body parts, to form nouns referring to jewels that are worn on these body parts, like |lapoma: “necklace” from poma: “neck”. It’s quite possible that the rainbow was seen metaphorically as a kind of “jewel of the sky”). Both these etymologies are equally possible and make sense, so I have no way to know which one is right.


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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

9th Lexember Word

omgo /o̞mɡo̞/, noun: “tree”


Well, it’s cute, in a way :).

Wait a minute! Didn’t I already create a word for “tree”, just two days ago? And isn’t that word suspiciously similar to omgo? It is indeed, it’s om. And as I explained two days ago, it means both “tree” and “wood (material)”. So what’s happening here?

Well, while I can only guess (remember, I don’t have access to a handy community of linguistically savvy Moten speakers), it seems that in some cases Moten speakers have trouble with their polysemous words. Either they have too many different meanings and cause ambiguity, or their meanings are close enough yet different enough to cause misunderstandings. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for one of the senses of those words to be singled out and a new word to be created to represent it, usually a compound involving the original word. For instance, Moten |no means “ice” or “snow”, but also “glass” (the material). Probably due to ambiguities, the compound |nolum appeared to refer exclusively to glass (it basically mean “fake ice”). In the same way, |not means “source, origin”, but also “cornerstone” or even “head”! When one wants to refer to sources without ambiguity, one can then use instead the dvandva compound |za|not, literally “beginning and source”.

Omgo seems to be such a word too, being a compound of om and yesterday’s ugo: “concrete source, origin”. And it’s not as if om cannot be used anymore to mean “tree”. It definitely can. But if the speaker is afraid of ambiguities, they can make things clear by using omgo instead.

Notice that I’m not aware of a similar word for the “wood” meaning of om. Maybe Moten speakers are more afraid of ambiguities when talking about plants than when talking about the material they are made of…


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Monday, 8 December 2014

8th Lexember Word

ugo /uɡo̞/, noun: “source, spring, fountainhead; origin”

Ouch! I think I sprained my spelling muscle just looking a that pic!

Anyway, ugo refers primarily to a water spring, i.e. the location where a stream of water surfaces. However, it can also refer to other kinds of concrete origins, i.e. locations or items something comes from.

Notice how I emphasised the word “concrete” here above. That’s because ugo is restricted to origins of concrete items. That’s unlike the english words “source” and “origin”, which can refer to both concrete as well as abstract origins (like the origin of a piece of information, or the origin of an idea). In Moten, origins of abstract items are called |not (or its more common synonym |za|not).

Notice also that I did write “origins of concrete items” and “origins of abstract items”. The key factor in deciding whether a source is ugo or |not is not whether the source itself is concrete or abstract, but whether the item that originates from the source is concrete or abstract. This may seem like a weird distinction, but it’s the one Moten makes.


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Sunday, 7 December 2014

7th Lexember Word

om /o̞m/, noun: “tree, wood (material)”

That’s a tree I suggest you get away from very fast :).

OK, there’s little to say about today’s word. Om refers to large wooden plants, as well as the material they are made from. That’s it. No more to read in this. No insights into Moten culture. Just a plain old word. Not even a derivation.

What a waste…

OK, I might have something to say about this word, but you’ll have to wait for two days. I trust you are all patient, right?


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Saturday, 6 December 2014

6th Lexember Word

joami /jo̞.ami/, verb: “to feel, to sense, to notice; to smell, to taste, to feel by touch”

That… is surprisingly a correct example of how joami is used. And incidentally also how my dog reacts to cheese :).

When it comes to feelings, Moten is quite complicated, using different words depending on whether we are talking about internal or external sensations, whether it’s the speaker speaking about themself or someone else, etc. Joami, however, is not the most complicated one of the bunch. It simply refers to experiencing something from your environment using one or more of your senses. Basically, if you can see, hear, smell, taste or feel something by touch, you can use joami to describe that experience. That’s what you call a hypernym (here of the various verbs of sensing). And given this generic meaning, it can also be used where English people would say “to notice”.

This said, the fact is that in Moten, there are specific verbs referring to seeing/watching (ipe|laj) and hearing/listening (jezeti), but none for the remaining senses. So it’s common for joami to refer only to those remaining senses, in which case it’s more a counterpart of ipe|laj and jezeti, and it can mean “to smell”, “to taste” or “to feel by touch” depending on the context.

As with all transitive verbs, the exact meaning of joami depends on the form of its subject. If that subject is in the nominative case, it marks an active form of sensing or probing (compare once again ipe|laj and jezeti, which mean “to watch” and “to listen to” respectively, with a subject in the nominative case). If that subject is in the instrumental, it marks it as an experiencer, i.e. a passive recipient of sensory stimulations (in that same case, ipe|laj means “to see”, and jezeti means “to hear”).


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Friday, 5 December 2014

5th Lexember Word

sej(f) /se̞j(f)/, noun: “steam, water vapour; smoke, fume; blur, also as adj. blurry, blurred”

Eh… no. Not that kind of steam…

Sej(f) is a typical example of how Moten tends to stretch its words near breaking point, piling semantic generalisation upon semantic generalisation while keeping the original sense of the word alive.

In this case, the original meaning of sej(f) is “steam, water vapour”. Basically, It’s the one word for water I was still missing (since Moten has various words for water depending on temperature and one for non-drinkable water, as explained here, as well as a word for ice and snow: |no, water vapour was basically the last gap here).

By extension, sej(f) also refers to any kind of vapour coming from burning or boiling materials, hence the meanings “smoke” and “fume”. And finally, because of the way the air gets blurry when there’s smoke in it, sej(f) got metaphorically extended to mean “blur”, also used as an adjective meaning “blurry”.

As for the shape of this root, it contains what I call a “fragile coda consonant”. Basically, Moten phonotactics only allow single consonant codas. However, some roots happen to have two coda consonants. When that happens, the second one becomes fragile, and normally drops, only resurfacing when compounding or suffixes make it pronounceable. In other words, the word sej(f) will most often appear simply as sej, with the final -f resurfacing only when suffixing or compounding turn it into the onset of a new syllable. That’s what I’m trying to show by putting the last consonant of that word in parentheses.


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Thursday, 4 December 2014

4th Lexember Word

ba|zip /bad͡zip/, noun: “(table) salt, sea salt, sodium chloride”

That’s the expression “table salt” taken to a brand new level!

Another word related to cooking, ba|zip refers strictly to salt used as a condiment and for preservation, i.e. sodium chloride (or at least to something containing mostly sodium chloride, like sea salt). It’s not used for other combinations of acids and bases, like the English word “salt” is used in chemistry.

In terms of etymology, ba|zip seems to be a head-first compound of bale: “brine”, the 1st Lexember word, and |zipuz, the participle of i|zipi: “to boil”, the 3rd Lexember word. In other words, it originates from the erosion of the expression bale |zipuz: “boiled brine”, which could be an indication of when Moten speakers discovered salt for the first time :). Such compounds are common in Moten, and the amount of erosion this one suffered seems to indicate that it’s relatively old.

And I guess you’ve noticed that of the 4 words I’ve created so far, only two are truly new roots, with the other two being derived from them. It’s a good illustration of the way I work: I never create words in isolation, preferring instead to create roots and derivations together. And since the rules of Lexember allow it, why shouldn’t I create related words if I want to?


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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

3rd Lexember Word

i|zipi /id͡zipi/, verb: “to boil, to bake, to cook”

I don’t actually have a smoke alarm. Doesn’t say anything about my cooking though! :P

So, here we have a new verb. Moten so far has had a very big lexical gap in the area of food and cooking, so I decided to start filling it by looking at the basics. And the basics are to have a word for cooking itself ;).

I|zipi's original meaning is “to boil”, with the subject being the thing boiling (i|zipi is strictly an intransitive verb, with the subject always being the undergoer of the action). As in English, it can refer to liquids boiling, or to solids being boiled in liquids. And through generalisation, it has also come to refer to any form of cooking that involves heat, with or without liquids involved.


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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

2nd Lexember Word

balebale /bale̞bale̞/, noun: “sea, ocean, salt lake”


The pun is only marginally better than yesterday, but at least the picture is cute :).

So, the reason why I created the word bale yesterday? Just so I would have a source to today’s word! Yeah, languages can be quite roundabout can’t they? :P

Anyway, balebale refers to any kind of large expanse of salt water. I.e. it refers to what in English are called seas, oceans, and salt lakes. And no, there are no more specific words in Moten for various types of salt water expanses. It seems that to Moten speakers, it’s more important to know whether the water is drinkable, than to know whether the water feature is landlocked, just big, or freaking huge. To each their own :).

As for the derivation, balebale is simply the full reduplication of bale. Full reduplication in Moten usually means “all the…”, but such words are often subject to semantic shift, and it seems this has happened to this one as well.

In any case, you can’t argue that this word isn’t an everyday word! :P


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Monday, 1 December 2014

1st Lexember Word

bale /bale̞/, noun: “salt water, seawater, brine, non-drinkable water”


I know, it’s bad, but try finding brine memes!

Anyway, as promised, here is the first Lexember word for Moten. Yeah! :) And as promised, it’s an everyday word (for some value of “everyday” :P).

Bale is an underived stem that refers to salt water (also called “brine”), sea water, and by extension any kind of non-drinkable water. If you’re wondering whether salt water actually deserves an underived stem, you have to realise that Moten already has unrelated words for liquid water at various temperatures (vone means “cold water”, zuba is “warm water”, while den is “hot water”). So having an unrelated word for water that is unsuited for human consumption (mostly because of salt contents, but possibly because of other reasons) doesn’t seem so far-fetched.

And if you’re wondering whether bale really qualifies as an “everyday” word, let’s just say that I needed it for tomorrow’s word, which should really qualify for that distinction. I hope you’re looking forward to it! :)


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