Friday, 23 January 2015

Moten Word for the Day

izgeboj /izɡe̞boj/, verb: “to work on; to tire from; to suffer from”

In case you were wondering why I hadn’t resumed my Word for the Day feature yet. Anyway, today’s word is… let’s say relevant.

So, as you may already know, Moten has this strange feature I call “split-nominative”, in which subjects of transitive verbs are in the nominative case only when the subject is willingly acting. When the subject is more of an experiencer, or is undergoing the action, it will be put in the instrumental form instead. This is how a verb like ipe|laj, for instance, can mean both “to see” and “to watch”, depending on the form of the subject.

Now, izgeboj happens to be another one of those verbs which are translated differently depending on the form of the subject. When used with a nominative subject, it means “to work on (something)” (more exactly “to exert effort on something”). It’s a transitive verb, so an object is always implied, even if it’s not explicitly mentioned. If you just want to say “I’m working”, without referring to what you are working on, just put the verb in the middle voice :).

However, when used with an instrumental subject, the meaning of izgeboj shifts and is best translated as “to tire from (something)” or “to suffer from (something)”. Used in that way, it usually refers to physical tiredness or suffering. And the object, the cause of the tiredness or suffering, is usually an action or a physical item (in particular, it’s not used to refer to suffering from a disease).

If you’re wondering whether such a dramatic shift in meaning is realistic, just realise that French travail: “work, job” used to mean “suffering, torment” in Old French, and descends from the Latin word tripalium, which refers to one of the worst instruments of torture the Romans ever devised!


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