On 1 August 2012 23:23, David Brumbley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I ran across this proverb recently and thought it would make for a
> quick and fun translation exercise.  I came across a few constructions
> I hadn't yet been forced to address in Hsassiens, and I'm curious as
> to whether other con- or nat-langs behave similarly in one aspect.
> I've been using two versions of the coordinating conjunction in
> Hsassiens without really thinking too much about it.  In the case of
> one subject linked to two different verbs, the conjunction is 'sin.'
> When two or more nouns, adjectives or adverbs are being listed, the
> conjunction is 'zem.'  So, to HsassiEnglish an example, "He is walking
> SIN talking at the same time,"  but "Tommy ZEM Rebecca are fighting
> again."  Just curious if other languages distinguish in the same way,
> and if so, how.
A very interesting thread, and an interesting proverb. Looking at how to
translate it in Moten prompted me to look even deeper into how coordination
is handled in that language.

As I've described in this blog post:,
Moten has a bunch of coordinating clitics, which function somewhat but not
exactly like coordinating conjunctions. The relevant ones here are _opa_
(described in the post) and _de_ (a particle I discovered a few weeks ago
that helped me solve a years-old headache). When used to coordinate noun
phrases, they can both be translated by "and", but with a different
- _opa_ has a connotation of "also", and indicates that the two noun
phrases refer to separate entities. E.g.: _mjan opa badej_: the cat and the
dog (notice how the definite infix -e- only appears on the last noun yet
both are definite. This is a strict syntactic rule in Moten: when noun
phrases are coordinated, only the last one takes marks of case, number and
definition, and those extend to all coordinated phrases in meaning);
- _de_ has a connotation of "that is" and indicates that the two noun
phrases refer to a single entity. E.g.: _olnesif de vajagzif_: expert and
student (refers here to a single person who is considered both an expert
and a student, for some reason :) ). _de_ is also used wherever English
uses appositions to refer to one entity with more than one noun, including
with titles. E.g.: _plisif de Beatliksi_: Queen Beatrix (could also be
_Beatliksi de plisejf_, since _de_ is commutative :) . The definite infix
-e- reappears in this word order because the last noun is a common noun
rather than a proper noun). This was the afore-mentioned headache (in Moten
apposition has a different function, so I couldn't use it for those cases).

They are similar to A. de Mek's _wa_ and _wu_, although I developed them
independently (my _de_ is actually influenced by the Wardwesân particle
_ab_, although their uses are not exactly the same).

They can also both be used to coordinate verbs, but only in the sense of
your _sin_, and very strictly so: verbs coordinated using a coordinating
clitic not only share exactly the same arguments (*all* of them, i.e. not
only the subject, so you can't use a coordinating clitic for a sentence
like "he left the bar and went home", but you can for a sentence like "he
took a piece of bread and buttered it" -- and you don't need the resumptive
"it" when doing so! --), but also the same tense, aspect, mood and voice!
(so you cannot use a coordinating clitic for a sentence like "he did it
before and will do it again") The reason is similar to the reason why
coordinated noun phrases share the same case, number and definition: only
the last coordinated element takes the morphological markings, and their
meaning extend to all coordinated elements.
When coordinating verbs, _opa_ and _de_ keep their connotations:
- _opa_ indicates that the coordinated verbs correspond to different
actions. E.g.: _bdan pe|laz opa eze|s ige_: I can see and hear you.
- _de_ indicates that the coordinated verbs correspond to a single action,
i.e. the second one is meant as a rephrasing or clarification of the first
one. E.g.: _gobvuda|n vajaguz de oknestuluz ito_: I know about you, that's
to say I've read about you ("to know" here is translated as "to have
learned", so the second verb can also be in the perfect).

While they can be used to coordinate noun phrases and verbs, the
coordinating clitics *cannot* be used to coordinate clauses. In fact there
is no such thing as clause-level coordination in Moten. However, this
doesn't mean that they can't be used at clause-level at all. In fact they
can (like all clitics, when they are put in front of the auxiliary verb,
their meaning encompasses the whole clause). It's just that when used that
way, they lose their coordinating function, and become more like
clause-level adverbs (they can do that at the phrase level too, by the
way). In that case, _opa_ becomes equivalent to "also" or "moreover"
(indicating the clause is additional, separate information), while _de_ is
more like "in other words" or "that's to say" (indicating that the clause
is a rephrasing or clarification of the previous one).

Now onto the proverb itself!

> He who knows not and knows not he knows not
> He is a fool.  Shun him.
> He who knows not and knows he knows not
> He is a student.  Teach him.
> He who knows and knows not he knows
> He is asleep.  Wake him.
> He who knows and knows he knows
> He is wise.  Follow him.

OK, my problem is not so much vocabulary (although I do miss a couple of
vocabulary items to translate it), but the constructions themselves. You
see, we have here coordinated relative subclauses, and as I've explained
about Moten doesn't have clause-level coordination. And you can't use
verbal phrase-level coordination here as the different parts have different
objects. I could possibly have a nominal completed by two separate relative
subclauses corresponding to the two elements of the coordination, but I'm
wondering whether it's possible (Moten is strictly head-last, with relative
subclauses always in front of their heads, and I'm not sure separating a
relative subclause from its head with *another* relative subclause is
pragmatically possible). Before deciding on how something works
syntactically in Moten, I usually check first how Basque and Japanese do
it  (in terms of syntax, Moten is quite close to both those languages), but
I've been unable to find a translation of this proverb in either language.
Has anyone got one? It'd help me greatly to figure out how Moten will
handle it!

All in all, great food for thought!
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.