Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Moten Words for the Day

|notuk /ɲo̞tuk/, noun: “importance, noteworthiness; also as adj. important, noteworthy“

|notpuz /ɲo̞tpuz/, noun: “unimportance, insignificance; also as adj. unimportant, insignificant“

So… Once again, sorry for not keeping up with my Word for the Day series, but like the owl above, I’ve been swamped with important stuff to do, or maybe |notuk stuff to do ;). So please allow me to correct this by offering you two words today, both very important! :P

So, |notuk refers to the concept of being important or noteworthy, while |notpuz is its opposite, referring to lack of importance, insignificance.

As you may already know, Moten handles negation in a very idiosyncratic way, quite different from the way it’s handled in English. In particular, Moten has no productive way of forming opposites, i.e. it lacks something like the “un-” and “in-” prefixes in English. Opposites are usually just separate stems (like sezgo: “high speed” vs. bontu: “low speed”) that one just has to learn separately.

However, Moten also has a relatively productive way of forming concept nouns (which are commonly used as adjectives) that allows for what looks like a semi-productive opposite formation. This way is based on the opposite pair duki: “solidness, fullness, completeness“ and puza: “hole, gap, emptiness“. These nouns are commonly used in compounds (I often call them “pseudo-suffixes” as they behave a lot like suffixes in these compounds, although they still exist as independent nouns), to form concept nouns referring respectively to the presence or lack of a specific quality. When used in such compounds, they are both always reduced to their short compound forms -duk and -puz, and they tend to correspond respectively to the suffixes “-ful” and “-less” in English (in meaning, if not always in actual use). This means in particular that a compound in -puz will usually be the regular opposite of the same compound in -duk.

This is exactly what is happening with today’s words for the day. |Not in Moten is a noun meaning “(abstract) source, origin”, but also often used to mean “cornerstone, principal part”, or as an adjective meaning “essential, main, chief”. When compounded with duki, it forms |notuk (with the d disappearing due to phonotactic constraints), literally “full of essential things”, i.e. “important”, while with puza it forms |notpuz, literally “lacking in essential things“, i.e. “unimportant”.

And since it’s important to be able to say what’s important and what’s unimportant (at least if you think you’re important), it was important for Moten to have such important words, and it was important for me to share them with you. See the importance? :P

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