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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