Author Topic: Choice Statements vs. Choice Questions. And some insults  (Read 573 times)

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Offline Toliman

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Choice Statements vs. Choice Questions. And some insults
« on: October 01, 2019, 07:58:46 am »
Choice Statements vs. Choice Questions. And some insults.
http://naviteri.org/2019/09/choice-statements-vs-choice-questions-and-some-insults/
September 30, 2019

Kaltxì, ma frapo!

I’ve had a few grammatical discussions with some of our sulfätu lì’fyayä that I wanted to share with you. I’ll begin here with one about “choice questions,” and report on the others in subsequent posts.

Then, as a relief from the grammatical complications, we’ll conclude here with some fun stuff.

First, the grammar issue. The question—and a very good one—was posed by our Tirea Aean. I hope he doesn’t mind if I quote him verbatim:

Ta Tirea Aean a tìpawm:

What is the best way to construct a choice-among-options question, e.g., “X, or Y?”

Currently, the only known methods to create a question are srak and -pe+. We realized that these don’t quite cover questions of the form “Should I stay or should I go?”, “Do you want to do X, or Y?”, etc. It’s our understanding that utterances such as Nulnew ngal fì’ut fu tsa’ut are statements even if there is a question-like intonation. Particularly for an option set where the options are not mutually exclusive, there is no real way to make it known that this is intended to be a question. What are your thoughts on this?

Oeyä tì’eyng:

We do it as follows: For a choice statement, use fu once, as you’ve indicated. For a choice  question, use it twice, before each of the two choices. For example:

   STATEMENT:
   Nulnew oel fì’ut fu tsa’ut.

   ‘I want this or that.’
   (In other words, I’ll take either choice—they’re both OK.)

   QUESTION:
   Nulnew ngal fu fì’ut fu tsa’ut?

   ‘Do you want this or that?’
   (That is, ‘Do you want this, or do you want that? What’s your choice?)

When fu appears before the first choice, it signals a question.

A Complication

There are some added complications in this area. One is that the “A or B” structure is actually ambiguous in English. For example, suppose I asked you, “Have you studied Greek or Latin?” I could be asking two different things. One might be, “I know you’ve studied one of those two languages. Which one is it?” The other would be something like, “Is it the case that you’ve studied one of these two languages, Greek and Latin?” See the difference? It’s a little hard to pin down, but the two interpretations ask different things. Interestingly, the sentence is be ambiguous in written form; in spoken English, the intonation is different for the two interpretations. (Do you agree?)

Not all languages have this ambiguity. In Mandarin Chinese, for example, there are two different expressions for ‘or,’ which are used for the two different interpretations. You’ll find a nice explanation here. (Scroll down to the section headed或者 in questions. The coffee-tea examples are especially clear.)

Since Na’vi has only one word for ‘or’, fu,  we need to live with the ambiguity, as we do in English.

And now for the promised fun stuff. 🙂

We already know a number of ways to express affection for people in Na’vi. We have, for example, yawnetu and yawntu ‘loved one,’ yawntutsyìp ‘darling,’ paskalin ‘adorable one’ (literally, ‘sweet berry’), and parultsyìp ‘little miracle’ (a term of affection for children). But how do you express the opposite sentiment? How do you insult someone?

Kezemplltxe, we have the famous word skxawng ‘moron, idiot.’ We can also call someone a fnawe’tu ‘coward.’ And there’s the very insulting, vulgar word vonvä’, which we’ve translated in English as ‘a******.’ Here are a few more items to add to that list.

teylupil (n., TEY.lu.pil) ‘teylu-face’

A number of insults denigrate people’s faces. (In English, we have several compounds where “face” is the second element: ____face. You can probably think of some ways to fill in the blank.) This somewhat childish Na’vi insult actually degrades someone’s facial stripes, implying they look like beetle larvae, which is not a compliment.

kalweyaveng (n., kal.WEY.a.veng) ‘son of a b****’

This insult derives from kali’weya, a species of poisonous arachnid, and eveng ‘child.’ So calling someone a kalweyaveng is calling them the child of a poisonous spider. The closest expression we have in English that insults someone’s lineage is probably ‘son of a b****.’

txanfwìngtu (n., txan.FWÌNG.tu) ‘bastard, loser’

You already know the word fwìng ‘humiliation.’ Adding txan– at the beginning and –tu at the end yields a word that refers to someone of extremely low social standing, a humiliated person, one who has totally lost face, the lowest on the totem pole. It’s used as a term of derision. Perhaps the closest equivalent in English is ‘bastard,’ at least in its original sense of someone born in a degrading manner. Txanfwìngtu also has the sense of ‘loser,’ but it’s much stronger than that English word.

And finally,

kurkung (n., KUR.kung) ‘a******’

This is close to vonvä’ but even more vulgar and insulting. It’s a compound of kuru ‘queue’ and kung ‘putrid, rotten.’

kung (adj.) ‘putrid, fetid, rotten’

Kung can refer to rotten meat or a pile of dead and rotting animal matter in the forest.

   Tsafahew aonvä’ ftu kunga ioang za’u.
   ‘That stinking smell comes from a rotting animal.’

To call someone’s queue rotten is a powerful insult.

Sìlpey oe, aynga ke zìyevene faylì’ut sivar pxìm nìhawng!

Until the next time . . .

Offline Plumps

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Re: Choice Statements vs. Choice Questions. And some insults
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2019, 03:01:39 pm »
As per this comment, K. Pawl might alter the post slightly in the comming hours.

So please be mindful of that. :)

Offline Mech

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Re: Choice Statements vs. Choice Questions. And some insults
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2019, 03:44:42 pm »
I find it cute that the insults are culture- or Pandora-specific. This somehow prevents us from using it against other humans (I really don't mind someone calling me rotten-tail  ???) and seem to be more useful in role-playing and fanfic.

I wonder if the forum parser will censor the Na'vi insults as well.

Finally, I find it interesting that Na'vi doesn't attempt to resolve the ambiguity with "or". Usually conlags try to be too logical and their creators try to correct the shortcomings of their natural langauges. It is very nice that Na'vi contains such natural abiguities and shortcomings that forces us to work around them.

Offline Tìtstewan

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Re: Choice Statements vs. Choice Questions. And some insults
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2019, 12:31:56 am »
Yay, great blog post! :D

And HRH, I guess that post will be often read. ;D

I wonder if the forum parser will censor the Na'vi insults as well.
As long as we don't add them to the censor lists. ;) :P

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Offline Toliman

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Re: Choice Statements vs. Choice Questions. And some insults
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2019, 06:21:21 am »
Yay, great blog post! :D

And HRH, I guess that post will be often read. ;D
Yeah, very useful new words ;D ;D

 

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