Thursday, 14 December 2017

14th Lexember Word

nihár rosen [ɲiˈɦäˑrə̆ʑe̞̽ŋ], verb phrase: “to be weak; to be trivial“

I will not spend much time on the semantics of this phrase, which is basically the opposite of yesterday’s word. Rather, I want to point out that it’s a rather interesting construction.

To put it simply, =rosen (the = is used to emphasise its status as enclitic) is a verbal clitic used to mark the desiderative mood (i.e. “to want” or “to need”). However, with intransitive verbs, it often forms more idiomatic constructions marking a state of lack or want. For instance, with cupí: “to sleep“, one can form cupí rosen: “to be tired, to be sleepy“ (literally “to want/need to sleep”, compare and contrast with urún: “to tire, to be/get tired”). With : “to eat“, you get ayóm rosen: “to be hungry“ (literally “to want/need to eat”. Ayóm is the antipassive form of , turning it into an intransitive verb with no need of an object). This is a relatively common construction, and nihár rosen is just another example, where “weakness” is described as a “need to become strong”.

There is also a level of euphemism going on here. Calling someone weak is a relatively strong insult in Mountain Folk culture, so people tend to avoid directly pointing that out. A circumlocution like nihár rosen contains the word nihár itself, and thus “feels” more acceptable. Also, =rosen implies a will to leave that state of weakness, which further softens it. That’s why this idiomatic use of =rosen is rather common: when people want to ascribe a negative quality to someone else, it is much more diplomatic to say that they “want to reach” a positive quality, rather than abruptly stating that they lack it altogether.

from Tumblr

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