On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 03:07:25PM -0400, Alex Fink wrote:
> John McWhorter has for a couple decades been collecting sentences of
> the sort one doesn't learn how to say in second-language classes.
> Vocabulary words are easy to acquire; nice and obvious (SAE)
> inflectional categories invariably get their dedicated lessons; but
> there are types of sentences which neither of these naturally cover
> but which nonetheless are common in day-to-day usage, and prone to
> idiomaticity.  (There are some overlooked lexical areas in there as
> well.)  He has very graciously sent me his list, and I hope I'm not
> running afoul of him by reproducing it below!
> How do(es) your conlang(s) handle these?  I'd expect, on the grounds
> that irregularities pile up in the most used parts of language, that
> naturalistic conlangs should show a similar level of
> (quasi)idiomaticity to English in, if not these exact sentences, then
> ones much like them...

Wow! Looking over the list, I realize that TF has a much longer ways to
go than I'd realized. :-P

> Parts of this list perhaps also contribute answers to John Q's
> question in the "Observations on verbal periphrastic constructions"
> thread.

Yeah, I've thought about the sentences he posted, and decided that TF
isn't quite there yet ^W^W^W^W^W I mean, I haven't learned enough TF
from my informant yet to be able to correctly translate them. ;-)

But regardless, I think it'd be interesting to go through them anyway
and try to translate them, or if that's not quite possible, to think
about how it might be done. That should give lots of inspiration for
future directions with TF. :)

> [hic incipit syllabus McWhorteri]
> How old are you?

This one is interesting. In my L1 and Mandarin, there's a dedicated word
for the number of years of age, so one simply asks "how many is [your
age]?". Similar situation with Malay. However, after learning Russian, I
realized that other alternatives exist: in Russian, age is in terms of
how many summers (лет) one has had, which is a refreshing change from
merely "years" or an opaque word for age. (Well, OK, in contemporary
Russian лет simply means "years", but at least etymologically speaking,
it's counting how many summers one has been through.)

So to my chagrin, not only does TF not have a word for age, but lacks a
way to ask "how many?"! So I went and invented one:

	tse na       ti'   jirabunas ta?
	2SG RCP:MASC notch how_many  Q
	How old are you? (Lit. to you how many notches?)

Why "notch", you ask? Well, here's the newly added lexicon entry for
_ti'_ which explains it:

ti'	["ti?]
	neut. n. (1) dot, notch, indentation, cut, mark made by chipping.
	(2) pl. age. _ti' jirabunas ta?_ - how old (are you)?.
	Etym. each spring parents would traditionally hold a celebration to
	commemorate the growth of their children, among the festivities of
	which includes the ritual of adding a notch to a long stick kept for
	each child, thereby marking their age.

> You're getting old.

This one is interesting, as it's not merely referring to increase of
age, but to the dreadful approach of one's senior years from the wrong
direction. So it's not about *age* per se, but to the fact that one's
mental (or otherwise) faculties are deteriorating. Therefore:

	tse sa       ne'itai    puru kumai kutu!
	2SG CVY:MASC become_old more again FIN
	You're becoming older and older!

The verb _ne'itai_ isn't merely referring to increase in age; it means
to decay, to wither, to become worn out, to become stale (it could
be used to refer to food turning stale, e.g.), thus, to become old and
decrepit, as befits the above English sentence.

> I'm two years older.

	huu na       ti'     bunas puru ai.
	1SG RCP:MASC notches two   more FIN
	I'm two years older (lit. To me are two more notches.)

> That's how that generation thought.

Hmm. TF doesn't quite have a word for "generation" in the sense it has
here; the closest it has is _umasan_ "descendents", "the next
generation" or _ma'asan_ "the forefathers", "the elders" (but the latter
can also mean "the tribal leaders"). Neither seem to be a proper

But I suppose I could paraphrase this as:

	naras         i'i          ma'anai san    diin  so       fipe'an fei  iti    arai.
	the_preceding in_manner_of think   person those CVY:NEUT time    that during FIN
	In the preceding manner those people at that time thought.

(I translated "that's how" as "in the preceding manner" because it seems
to be referring to a previous description in context that has been
elided from the example here.)

> "ALL"
> His face was covered with blood

	kama mi'is     tara'is  apa saisu si'ai.
	kama mi'-is    tara'-is apa saisu sei     ai.
	all  face-PART 3SG-PART on  blood CVY:FEM FIN
	On all of his face was blood.

> I sat on a bench for the whole trip.

	kama mahitanis    eke     bumei huu sa       ba'u  apa utu'.
	kama mahitan-is   eke     bumei huu sa       ba'u  apa utu'.
	all  journey-PART through sit   1SG CVY:MASC stool on  FIN
	Through the whole journey, I sat on a stool.

> He ate the whole thing.

	tara' na       ka'am kama birapis   sa       tsa.
	tara' na       ka'am kama birap-is  sa       tsa.
	3SG   RCP:MASC eat   all  food-PART CVY:MASC FIN
	He ate all of the food.

> I'm not going to do it all year.

This one turned out much more tricky that it appears. It turns out that
I don't know how to negate a single NP/PP in TF! Currently I only know
how to negate the entire predicate, but it doesn't have the correct
sense ("For the whole year I will not do it").

Upon consulting with my TF informant (aka after inventing some new
grammar :-P), I learned that this is expressed thus:

	huu ka       kakai kaimian kama be  eke     beihai.
	huu ka       kakai kaimian kama be  eke     bei ahai.
	1SG ORG:MASC do    year    all  NEG through NEG FIN
	I will do [it] not through the whole year.

Literally, this sentence has something of the effect of "I will do
[this] through not-all-of the year not-done". The negated finalizer
indicates that the action will not be completed.

> I "up and" started crying.

In TF, there is no direct analogue to "up and", though one can certainly
use a conjunctive verb to convey a similar effect. Conjunctive verbs
make no sense outside of context, so I'm taking the liberty of inventing
a prior context:

	huu nei     kiapitai tara' ka,      kibuaha     ha    atan.
	huu nei     kiapitai tara' ka,      ki-buaha    ha    atan.
	1SG RCP:FEM insult   3SG   ORG:MASC ORG:FEM-sob start FIN
	He insulted me; I started sobbing.

> Next thing I knew ...
> All of sudden ...

In TF, these two tend to be combined into one. But the latter is
expressed by an adverb that can't stand without a predicate, so I'm
taking more inventive liberties:

	kibeiri iti parama     ahi      kara.
	breath  at  earthquake suddenly FIN
	At that moment, there was suddenly an earthquake (or, a sudden

Literally, "in [that very] breath, earth<suddenly>quake". (OK, OK,
please excuse the infix-mangled English; I wanted to convey the effect
of inserting _ahi_ into the set phrase _parama kara_, one of those
idiomatic verbless noun-plus-finalizer constructions.)

> He is on their side?

Doesn't quite convey allegiance, but at the very least, accompaniment:

	diin so       ta tara' ibi?
	3PL  CVY:NEUT Q  3SG   with
	Is it them that he's with?

The postposition _ibi_ deserves some scrutiny. It refers to
accompaniment in a secondary role (e.g. I go with my wife to meet the
manager -- i.e., my wife is accompanying me but not actively involved in
the meeting). This accompaniment is with the fronted NP (in this case,
_diin so_). It contrasts with _iki_, which also refers to accompaniment
in a secondary role, but with the *non*-fronted NP. For example:

	huu ka       tsana bata' na       fuan ibi  aniin.
	1SG ORG:MASC speak chief RCP:MASC wife with FIN
	I spoke to the chief with [my] wife.

	huu ka       tsana bata' na       fuan iki  aniin.
	1SG ORG:MASC speak chief RCP:MASC wife with FIN
	I spoke to the chief with [his] wife.

Note that whether one translates _fuan_ as "my wife" or "his wife"
depends solely on whether _ibi_ or _iki_ is used.  Because of this
contrast, I decided that it's a "close enough" TF equivalent to the
above English sentence -- it at least *implies* allegiance.


Sigh, another hole in TF: I have no word for "almost"! Oh well, time to
invent one^W^Wahem, I mean, consult with my TF informant. ;-) Let's

> I nearly got run over.

	kefatai so       dankau  paka be  huu na       dusan.
	chariot CVY:NEUT collide but  not 1SG RCP:MASC missed(FIN)

Some interesting things going on here: _paka_ is usually a conjunction
meaning "however" or "but"; here, it is combined with the negation
particle _be_ to form an adverb _paka be_ meaning "almost". So _dankau
paka be_ means "collided but not [quite]". Also interesting is that the
usual finalizer for _dankau_ is _patsa_ "to strike", but here it's
substituted with _dusan_ "missed", "passed by". The overall effect is,
"the chariot collided with me but not quite, it missed".

> I caught my train, but barely.

There are no trains in Fara (they haven't invented one yet), so I'm
liberally substituting a random chariot that's about to leave.

	huu sa       upitai kefatai no      
	huu sa       upitai kefatai no      
	1SG CVY:MASC arrive chariot RCP:NEUT

	kibeiri ifei  akitais  atuan  dakat.
	kibeiri i-fei akitai-s atuan  dakat.
	breath  CVY-3SG.INANIM before FIN

	I arrived at the chariot just before it left.
	Lit. I arrived at the chariot in the breath before it left.

> I can't (manage to) do it.

	huu ka       kibas  beman  kibeiri kakaikan      sei     beiham.
	huu ka       kibas  beman  kibeiri kakai-kan     sei     bei-ham.
	1SG ORG:MASC breath unable breath  do-ORG.SUBORD CVY:FEM NEG-FIN
	I don't have the strength to do it.
	Lit. I'm unable to breathe the breath to do it.

> The soup was only so-so.

	kibusu sei     sarap     beikiki.
	kibusu sei     sarap     bei-kiki.
	soup   CVY:FEM delicious NEG-FIN
	The soup was not delicious.

OK, I'm sorta cheating here, this is just simple negation in TF, but the
fact that it's the finalizer that got negated, not the adjective itself,
seems to carry the force of "it's delicious but not quite".

Note that TF negation of adjectives does not imply the opposite of the
adjective; a non-delicious soup is merely bland, whereas a bad-tasting
soup would be:

	kibusu sei     pehe'      kirue.
	soup   CVY:FEM disgusting nauseating(FIN)
	The soup is disgusting!

The finalizer _kirue_ is also used with the verb _bua'a'_ "to vomit",
thus graphically describing a disagreeable taste. :-P

> He got out of it pretty nicely.

The English is a bit too vague here (TF tends to be stronger in
expressing the concrete rather than the abstract)... have to think a bit
more about this one.


Hmm, this is taking a lot longer than I expected. Maybe I should start
skipping over untranslatable stuff for now, and come back to them later.

> This looks like a dog, sounds like a cat, smells like a rat, tastes
> like chicken, and feels like silk.

Now this one is *very* interesting, as TF's case system proves very
useful in expressing some of these clauses:

	fei        ko       hamra  simani so       aram,
	It appears as a wolf,

	korutan       kauhi sei     inin,
	ko-dutan      kauhi sei     inin,
	ORG.CONJ-hear lynx  CVY:FEM FIN
	and sounds as a lynx-cat,

	kofahun        kitse' so       uen,
	ko-fahun       kitse' so       uen,
	ORG.CONJ-smell rat    CVY:NEUT FIN
	and smells as a rat,

	ko'urap           fasa ako'is       so       nus,
	ko-'urap          fasa ako'-is      so       nus,
	ORG.CONJ-taste(V) meat chicken-PART CVY:NEUT FIN
	and tastes like the meat of chicken,

	hena so       sunis  sura            atai muu.
	and  CVY:NEUT smooth women's_garment like FIN
	and is smooth like a woman's garment.

- Dogs are not native to Fara; they keep guard wolves for security but
  those are never treated as pets (for good reason!), so dogs to the san
  faran are laughable diminutive caricatures of wolves, referred to by
  the neologism _kuesimani_ (kue- is a diminutive with overtones of
  funny or laughable). It was a toss-up as to whether to translate "dog"
  as _kuesimani_, since the thing described by the English sentence is
  certainly an odd creature indeed! But in the end, I decided to just
  use _simani_, in keeping with the spirit of the original.

- Similarly, the closest feline relative to cats in Fara is the
  considerably less tame lynx, of a white-furred variety.

- The verb _hamra_ is usually translated as "see", but here, it is used
  with the ORG and CVY noun cases, whereas the seer always appears in
  the RCP case. So "appear" is a better translation in this case (hah!).

- Similarly, the verb _dutan_ is usually translated as "hear", but
  again, in the absence of a hearer in the CVY case, the best
  translation is "sounds as" or "sounds like".

- Translating "tastes like chicken" literally doesn't make sense
  according to my TF informant (he says to me, "tatari bei'aniin" -- "we
  don't say it like that"). What is usually meant in English is that it
  tastes like chicken *meat*; saying _urap ako' so nus_ would mean it
  tastes like chicken feathers, since that's what you'd taste if you
  lick a live chicken!

- The case system unfortunately doesn't help when it comes to "feel":
  there is no verb for "feel" that isn't volitive or purely emotional,
  and periphrases involving touch seem too artificial, so I decided to
  use an adjectival clause instead, with the postposition _atai_ "like,
  similar to". (Of course, as Alex pointed out, adjectives may really be
  stative verbs in TF, but in this case the stative verb takes a CVY
  case "subject", so it can't be used as a predicative NP unlike the
  previous clauses, hence the resort to a postpositional clause with

> I want more (of them).

In TF, when one wishes to ask for more (food, drinks, whatever was given
that you want more of), one says:

	puru ke!
	more ADV
	More, more!

> It's raining, you know. / After all, it's raining.

This is colloquial TF slang:

	jat      peira ta'an.
	you_know rain  FIN
	It's raining, you know.

_jat_ is a slang contraction of _juerat_ "to look", and can mean,
depending on context, "look!", "lo!", or "as you know", "you know", "you

The use of _jat_ is frowned on in official / technical contexts, and
only used between very intimate friends among adults, but the kids throw
it around like it's no thang. Everything is _jat_ this, _jat_ that, and
its meanings are many and varied, e.g.:

1)	jat tara' sa       himas tutu!
	-   3SG   CVY:MASC tall  FIN
	Man, is he tall!

2)	tapa be  tara' nei,    jat      tara' sei     kiapat koko.
	walk NEG 3SG   RCP:FEM you_know 3SG   CVY:FEM crazy  FIN
	Don't go to her; she's crazy, you know!

3)	kefatai so       upitai jat kibeiri iti  dakat.
	chariot CVY:NEUT arrive -   breath  when FIN
	The chariot's arriving right-at-this-moment-look-here-it-is!

4)	sii i'i fei        no       kakai? jat  i'i!
	how -   3SG.INANIM RCP:NEUT do     look how
	How [do you] make that? That's how!

5)	akitai huu kei     jat anui!
	leave  1SG ORG:FEM -   FIN
	Get *away* from me already!

Note: none of the above sentences are considered "grammatical" by TF
grammarians -- so claims my informant -- this is playground child-talk,
uppity teenagers' uncouth babbling, the unhappy couple's endless
bickering.  (1) is forgivable but it gets progressively worse the
further down you go: (5) has _jat_ in total defiance of normal TF
syntax.  You'd be laughed out of court if you talk like that in front of
the judge. But just wait a few more generations, and _jat_ might start
appearing in official documents, mark you my words!  ;-)


Alright, this is taking a LOT more time/effort than I predicted, so
maybe I'll stop here for now. The TF lexicon has already grown by quite
a big handful of entries, so this exercise is already proving its value!
More will come later, maybe. :) I hope you have enough TF to last you
for a good while. ;-)

On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 01:30:36PM -0700, David Peterson wrote:
> Perhaps this can be added to FrathWiki? Or even better: Perhaps they
> can be added as translations to!

Yes, please! That's an excellent idea!


The only difference between male factor and malefactor is just a little emptiness inside.