Thursday, 21 December 2017

21st Lexember Word

ussáppo [uˈsːäˑpːə̆], nominalisation: “baby, nameless child; moron“

Today’s word is a simple nominalisation of yesterday’s ussáp, using the nominalising suffix -ko which assimilates to -po after p.

As I mentioned yesterday, ussáp is used more and more to indicate stupidity and less and less to indicate actual namelessness (although that meaning hasn’t disappeared entirely). In the case of ussáppo, that semantic shift has gone even further, and whenever it is used it’s mostly as an insult meaning “moron”. In any case, it’s never used to refer to babies or nameless children in general.

The only times when ussáppo is actually used in its original meaning is as a temporary name to refer to a specific nameless child. As I explained before, nameless children are referred to in various ways when needed, and just calling a child ussáppo is a common way to do so. This usage persists despite, but also probably because of the overwhelmingly negative connotations that this word has taken. As I wrote before, using words referring to unattractive things (or with negative connotations) to refer to nameless children is believed to protect them against malevolent spirits, as those spirits will only attack children that have something worth stealing (strength, intelligence, and other positive characteristics). By using insulting words to refer to nameless children, the Mountain Folk believe they can fool spirits into thinking they are not worth attacking.

from Tumblr

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