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] > > AGE > 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 translation. 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. > ALL OF A SUDDEN / BAM! > 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 earthquake). 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.) > ALLEGIANCE > 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. > ALMOST / CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR 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 see... > 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. [...] > APPEARANCE / IMPRESSION > 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, 3SG.INANIM ORG:NEUT appear wolf CVY:NEUT FIN 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. Notes: - 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 _atai_.) [...] > MORE / MUCH AND COMPARISON [...] > 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 see". 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 http://cals.conlang.org! [...] Yes, please! That's an excellent idea! T -- The only difference between male factor and malefactor is just a little emptiness inside.