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.


from Tumblr

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