Saturday, 23 December 2017

23rd Lexember Word

turáppo [tuˈɾäˑpːə̆], nominalisation: “baby, nameless child”

As I mentioned before, the “logical” way to refer to a nameless child or baby, i.e. the word ussáppo, has taken on such a negative connotation that it’s hardly ever used that way anymore. But people still need a way to refer to babies, don’t they? How can they do so?

That’s where turáppo comes in. When a serviceable word becomes so pejorative that it cannot be used in its original sense anymore, people will either start extending another word to cover that sense, or create a new way to refer to that sense. In this case, the Haotyétpi speakers chose the second method. They started referring to unnamed children as turáppo, which is the nominalisation of turáp, a verb which when used intransitively means “to be able to be, to be able to exist” (it’s the potential form of ás: “to be, to exist”). In other words, it means “one that can be, one that can exist, one that has potential”.

This way of referring to children goes very well with the Mountain Folk point of view that nameless children have the potential to be many things, hence they shouldn’t hastily be given a name that may not fit what they are going to become. Also, it is a very positive way of referring to someone, even if that person were to be an adult, so there is little chance that the word will get a negative connotation anytime soon.

Because of that, the use of turáppo has spread among the Haotyétpi speaking community quite fast, despite it being a relatively recent coinage (at least when used in that sense), and is now the standard way of referring to babies or nameless children. It is, however, never used as a temporary name for nameless children. The main reason is probably the very positive connotation this word brings, which clashes with the strong tradition to use words with negative connotations to call nameless children.

from Tumblr

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