Wednesday, 13 December 2017

13th Lexember Word

nihár [ɲiˈɦäˑɾ], intransitive verb: “to be/become powerful, to be/become strong; to be/become serious”

With nihár, we leave the semantic field of warm and cold, and get into that of power :-). Interestingly, this is not the first time I introduce a word meaning “to be strong” during a Lexember event. Last year, I coined már: “to be violent, to be intense; to be strong”. The two are definitely not synonyms, as you can see from the glosses, but they do overlap a little. Basically, már is used when extreme force is currently being exerted. In particular, it is used with weather phenomena to indicate that they are stronger than usual (hence the noun markó: “windstorm”). Nihár, on the other hand, refers to intrinsic strength or power, whether it currently translates into applied force or not.

Moreover, már’s semantic field extends into the areas of violence and intensity (a light can már, if it is blinding), while nihár is rather used of situations, to indicate that they are to take seriously and not as a laughing matter. Here again, notice that we are not talking about an immediate threat: a situation can be serious without immediately being an issue. Rather, it is potentially an issue. Nihár refers to strength as a potential, már to strength as it is observed.

Notice that in the gloss, I indicated that nihár can mean both “to be powerful” and “to become powerful”. This is a general property of stative verbs in Haotyétpi that they can also take a dynamic meaning of becoming or reaching that state, without any derivation needed. So a verb like nák can mean both “to stand” or “to stand up”, and a verb like ankyoyták can mean both “to be cold” and “to become cold”. Context is usually more than enough to disambiguate between the stative and dynamic meanings of such verbs (and there are ways to make them explicit if needed). The only reason I didn’t mark all the relevant glosses of the stative verbs I introduced so far that way is because that made the glosses much too long and somewhat confusing. For the same reason, I will usually not add the “/become” next to “be” in the glosses of the upcoming stative verbs. But remember that it is always there :-).

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