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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