Author Topic: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning  (Read 928 times)

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Offline eanayo

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help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« on: February 23, 2010, 02:50:55 pm »
Kaltxì, ma oeyä haryu!

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Funny thing, the more I learn about Na'vi, the less confident I become when actually doing things, probably because I tend to horribly overcomplicate. So I humbly ask you once again to help me unwind the mess in my eltu.

I'd like to translate the phrase Speak nothing about the dead except good (or something to that extent). I'm going to explain my thoughts very exhaustively, in the hope that you can follow and better understand what makes me think too hard.

First issue: I need some dead. We have kerusey from ke r<us>ey, not-living. So I can either make a tute a-kerusey (not-living person), but I'd prefer a single noun, so what about kerusey-tu? But so far I've only seen -tu used on nouns or verbs, so couldn't I actually drop the <us> from kerusey (keep it a verb, not a participle), and stick -tu to that, i.e. ke-rey-tu, not-live-"person"? Or do I have to treat kerusey atomically? That's brain knot #1.

On the topic of deceased:
from above, we have (presumably) kerusey-tu the dead (person); if I wanted (his) death, could I go with tì-kerusey? What about the guy with the scythe - kerusey-yu? Again, for both, I would rather prefer to drop the <us>...

Now, on to the actual task:

teri  ay+herusey-tu ke  p<iv>lltxe
about pl-dead       not speak<SJV>
not to speak about the dead

That's my first step, hope not too much wrong in there. I put plltxe in the subjunctive because I'd like to see the whole thing as a command(ment) (more on that later).

Now for the first twist:

teri  ay+herusey-tu ke p<iv>lltxe  ke'u-ti
about PL-dead       not speak<SJV> nothing-ACC
speak nothing about the dead

I'm really not sure about the case of ke'u. I put it in the accusative because (from my POV) this looks like I speak nothing (or I speak words), where speak (in this case) would be transitive. Brain knot #2 this is.

To finish this abomination:

teri ay+herusey-tu ke p<iv>lltxe  ke'u-ti     mungwrr tì-ngay-it
about PL-dead      not speak<SJV> nothing-ACC except  NMLZ-true-ACC
speak nothing about the dead, except truth

The "problem" of case after mungwrr has been discussed exhaustively here, so if ACC on ke'u is ok, it "feels" ok on tì-ngay (for me at least). What do you think about just being lazy and using mungwrr as a suffix to evade the case problem? (tì-ngay-mungwrr).

Now, suppose I don't want to speak truth about the dead, but rather well?

teri ay+herusey-tu ke  p<iv>lltxe mungwrr nìltsan
about PL-dead      not speak<SJV> except  well
do not speak about the dead, except well (i.e. everything you say should be spoken well)

Does mungwrr work that way with adverbs? Yes/No/Oh my god! I want to rip my eyes out!?

As mentioned above, this is supposed to be a command(ment), and for negative imperatives we do have our nice little rä'ä:
Just replace ke by rä'ä, e.g.:

teri ay+herusey-tu rä'ä   plltxe  ke'u-ti     mungwrr tì-ngay-it
about PL-dead      do.not speak   nothing-ACC except  NMLZ-true-ACC
Do not speak (anything) about the dead, except truth!

The subjunctive went amiss, because, well, rä'ä is already an explicit imperative. Yes? No? Thoughts?

Extra question for the experts: I've always avoided the topic marker in my sentences so far, but I'm actually contemplating to use it on the dead here, to emphasize that it's about the dead who should no be spoken about. srak?

Almost done...

Issue 2:
How do you say In the beginning, ...?
I know that if I wanted to express (for example) In the beginning of the war..., I could get around by using an a krr construction like this:

tsam sng<am>ä'i  a    krr ...
war  begin<PAST> ATTR time
at the time the war began, ...

but what if the "event" has already been established, or is not necessary, so a plain old "In the beginning, it seemed like a good idea"?
And this was brain knot #3...

To all of you who kept reading, thank you very much for following my thoughts. I again apologize for the length and really appreciate you helping me out!

Irayo a thousand times!

PS: What's the glossing term for -tu?
« Last Edit: February 23, 2010, 03:43:23 pm by Aysyal »

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Offline omängum fra'uti

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2010, 04:41:33 pm »
We haven't seen -tu used on an adjective before so I'd be hesitant on that one.  I'm not even sure the meaning there makes sense.  If you think of -tu as "er" or "ist", then..  "Deadist"?  "Deader"?  But the tì- prefix may not work so well either because we don't know how it would work with ke being part of a compound word kerusey...  And even if it worked as expected, it just seems like it would be talking about being dead rather than a person who is dead.  About the rest, I'd probably word it something like...

Keruseya sute-teri rä'ä plltxe nga-l tìkawng-it.
About people who are dead do not speak bad/evil.

MAYBE throw in "nì'aw tìsìltsan (it?)..." there to suck up all the previous context and add in "Only good", like it does in English.  But I don't know if that would work or not, and if it did work if you'd want to use the accusitive.
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Offline omängum fra'uti

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2010, 05:25:49 pm »
As I was thinking about "The dead" more, it occurred to me that we DO have a negative adjective with -tu used.  Kewong (Alien as an adjective) -> ketuwong (Alien as in a person).  So maybe keturusey?  This is all highly speculative of course.

But it brings up another question - what happens with the positive adjective?  "The living"?  Ruseytu?  Reyu? (Rey-yu)
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Offline eanayo

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 09:05:12 am »
We haven't seen -tu used on an adjective before so I'd be hesitant on that one.  I'm not even sure the meaning there makes sense.  If you think of -tu as "er" or "ist", then..  "Deadist"?  "Deader"?  But the tì- prefix may not work so well either because we don't know how it would work with ke being part of a compound word kerusey...  And even if it worked as expected, it just seems like it would be talking about being dead rather than a person who is dead.

Yes, that's the thing... it's a bit hairy to use those pre/suffixes when there could be multiple meanings attached to resulting nouns, or we don't know what the resulting noun actually means (hence my confusion)

It also just occurred to me that English (and German too, for that matter) actually has different words for dead (the adjective and tute akerusey) and death (the event, and the Grim Reaper, both nouns... how convenient!), but (I assume) all derived from a common root. So now I'm actually hesitant to try and derive anything from kerusey, unless we know for certain what meaning could be attached to derived nouns.

Interesting observation on ketuwong! That makes the tute interpretation of -tu more plausible than -ist or -er. I'm just curious how that is parsed: (ke)(tu-wong) for not-(same-person) or kewong with tu used like an infix? But from either it would seem that tu is a bit more flexible than the "standard" -yu or tì- modifiers.

Also, thanks for your suggestion on my translation... that's at least a ncie way to avoid all the pitfalls ;)

Great, now I've got a headache and even more questions than before! ;)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2010, 09:30:01 am by Aysyal »

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Offline Nìkllas

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2010, 11:16:01 pm »
Because you add -tu it doesn't mean it is always the equivalent to -er in english, you are just viewing this with English-speaking eyes and as if all words had one correlative meaning and this is not the case.

Also you used a lot kerusey, but you didn't use terkup which is the verb "to die", so "death" could be tìterkup. The fact is we don't know how to turn adjectives or verbs into nouns depicting "someone that is..." in English and Spanish we can just use the adjective as a noun but it doesn't seem to be the case. And I would say "plltxe tìkawngit" should be corrected to "plltxe nìkawng", because in many languages "speak evil" is not a possible construction, you should keep that in mind.

Offline eanayo

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2010, 02:47:14 pm »
Because you add -tu it doesn't mean it is always the equivalent to -er in English, you are just viewing this with English-speaking eyes and as if all words had one correlative meaning and this is not the case.

That was exactly what made my brain hurt in the first place: There are (in Earthen languages) multiple nouns with the same root, and (now) I am fairly certain that it's very dangerous to try and derive such nouns without an "official" mapping.

As for -tu as -er or -ist, I have always been opposed to that interpretation and like to see it more as an abstract "person" indicator. For example, some people have suggested that -yu is equivalent to the English -er, while -tu should be equivalent to -ist. But these analogies don't even hold for a good chunk of English words, let alone when compared to other other languages (reltseotu: artistEN KünstlerDE, while taronyu gives an -er in both languages... kxangangang!).

But yeah, it would be interesting to get some detailed information on the whole verb<->noun<->adjective business. omängum's point about ketuwong is really good, for instance, and I bet there is a set of rules.

Quote
Also you used a lot kerusey, but you didn't use terkup which is the verb "to die", so "death" could be tìterkup.

Excellent point, I completely missed that possibility.

Quote
And I would say "plltxe tìkawngit" should be corrected to "plltxe nìkawng", because in many languages "speak evil" is not a possible construction, you should keep that in mind.

Ah! Very good one, too! Exactly the kind of input I've been looking for :)
Yes, it's definitely going to be plltxe nìkawng, sounds very sensible since we do have something similar (nìNa'vi pivängkxo) in the Canon.

Thank you very much for your thoughts!

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Offline Kì'eyawn

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2010, 11:22:36 am »
I've been using the word 'awpo ("one" [person]) a lot--so, for example, in a poem i translated "Beloved" as Yawnea'awpo--literally "beloved one," since as far as we know Na'vi doesn't let you just start using adjectives like nouns all willy-nilly.  So, if kerusey means "dead" (albeit in a sorta euphemistic way, but maybe that's how the Na'vi roll), a dead person could be keruseya'awpo (or 'awpoakerusey).  Not sure how to come up with an equivalent plural, beyond using tute/sute, which you've already done.

As for the Grim Reaper, you could call him the Death-Bringer:  Tìterkuptìngyu
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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2010, 12:44:44 pm »
Ah! Very good one, too! Exactly the kind of input I've been looking for :)
Yes, it's definitely going to be plltxe nìkawng, sounds very sensible since we do have something similar (nìNa'vi pivängkxo) in the Canon.

Thank you very much for your thoughts!

Thanks for your kind consideration  :)

I've been using the word 'awpo ("one" [person]) a lot--so, for example, in a poem i translated "Beloved" as Yawnea'awpo--literally "beloved one," since as far as we know Na'vi doesn't let you just start using adjectives like nouns all willy-nilly.  So, if kerusey means "dead" (albeit in a sorta euphemistic way, but maybe that's how the Na'vi roll), a dead person could be keruseya'awpo (or 'awpoakerusey).  Not sure how to come up with an equivalent plural, beyond using tute/sute, which you've already done.

As for the Grim Reaper, you could call him the Death-Bringer:  Tìterkuptìngyu

But that would be if Na'vi behaved very similar to english and we are sure it not always does. Keep in mind that adding "one" to the adjective is invalid in most languages. For instance, in Spanish you only need to use the adjective so "The Dark One" is just "El Oscuro", this is also true of most european languages. We shouldn't speculate only in comparison to English. The adding "one" to an adjective is a very very particular feature of the English language, not very plausible in other languages from Earth, imagine alien ones ::) Our great example of how different Na'vi is, we have kewong > ketuwong, not *kewonga'awpo.

About the "kerusey", I'm sure this is, as you said, a more euphemistic way of saying it. I'm sure there must be derivates from the verb "terkup". The Grim Reaper is something very cultural. In most languages on Earth people just say "Death" as a person, this is the case with german Der Todd and Spanish La Muerte.

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2010, 10:34:57 am »
Some very nice ideas here...

Just a few more thoughts:
One thing that I find very neat about Na'vi is that it does make a distinction between terkup, tspang and (the euphemistic - good point!) kerusey; in English, die and dead have the same root, while kill does not fit, and in German dead (tot) and kill (töten) have the same root, with die (sterben) being different. Anyone know (out of curiosity) how that is handled in other languages?

As for the Grim Reaper... well, that's not to be taken too seriously. As stated, it is a cultural thing, and the personification of death may just serve to make this fairly abstact concept of "suddenly not being among the living anymore" more tangible. But that's just me. I do like tigermind's Death-bringer, though. Sounds kinda cute, tie a pink bow to his cloak1 and we have Kaltxì Tìterkuptìngyu!2 ;)

But while we're at it, may I just ask the experts' opinion on two points from my original post (from ages ago): What do you think about the use of the topic marker on the dead (whatever word we use) and rä'ä to make the whole thing more like a command(ment)?

1There actually is a webcomic that features Death and his Poodle of Death. Quite silly3.
2There actually is a song from an Austrian band featuring this very concept. Quite silly3, too.
3"silly" as in "let's not go to Camelot, it's a silly place."4
4Yes, I've deliberately constructed these footnotes5 to get that quote in.
5I love footnotes.

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2010, 12:08:24 pm »
Kaltxì, ma Aysyal,

I would say, in my decidedly inexpert opinion that you should use either teri or the topic marker.  Personally, i think using the topic marker gives it more of a feeling of authority--chiefly because i don't fully understand how to use the damn thing, so it certainly sounds impressive and official to me!

As for using rä'ä, for reasons i can't articulate well, i have this feeling that you can (and should) use that if you're just going to say "speak not of the dead," but i feel like when you start getting all fancy with stuff like "speak naught but truth," or somesuch, i... have this feeling that you should revert back to negating the verb with ke, but i can't say why i feel that way.

I know a feisty Scotswoman who's been known to say, "I have a feeling in me waters, and me waters is never wrong," but "me" waters aren't quite as dependable, so... i'll leave it there.

This post might prove to be maddeningly unhelpful.  Apologies if that is indeed the case.
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Offline eanayo

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2010, 10:26:18 am »
Ma tigermind,

Chiefly because i don't fully understand how to use the damn thing, so it certainly sounds impressive and official to me!

Hahaha! Sounds like a good argument - I'll buy it ;)
And yes, I've meant to use either topic marker or teri, so that's cool. (kerusey-a tute-ri ke plltxe ...)

Quote
As for using rä'ä, for reasons i can't articulate well, i have this feeling that you can (and should) use that if you're just going to say "speak not of the dead," but i feel like when you start getting all fancy with stuff like "speak naught but truth," or somesuch, i... have this feeling that you should revert back to negating the verb with ke, but i can't say why i feel that way.

Fair enough. I haven't seen too many examples with rä'ä, so I'm not sure about its use.

Quote
This post might prove to be maddeningly unhelpful.  Apologies if that is indeed the case.
Oh, not at all! You see, lacking a language classroom or any other face-to-face conversation, just talking about bits and pieces and seeing what others think is the next best thing I can get. Only by sharing ideas with others I can grasp the workings (and expectations of others) of this language, so I'm grateful for every thought people share.

Irayo for your help!

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2010, 05:32:19 pm »
Kaltxì nìmun, ma Aysyal.  "Karma"ri ngaru irayo seiyi oe, ma 'eylan.

I thought some more about the question of using rä'ä, and i wanted to get back to you...

This word is glossed as "Don't!", and is used in the imperative.  So, for the sentences "Speak not of the dead," "Don't be talking smack about no dead people," and any and all points in-between, use rä'ä.
But if the sentence is not a command/imperative, but more of a...statement ("One should not speak of the dead," "If you talk about dead people zombies will come get you," etc.), you would not use rä'ä, but revert back to using ke.

Rä'ä p(iv)lltxe suteri a tolerkup
Speak not of those who have died (<iv> optional, depending on whether this is very much a command or just a friendly suggestion)

Fko zenke pivlltxe suteri a tolerkup
One mustn't speak of those who have died

Fì'u lu law srak, ma 'eylan?
eo Eywa oe 'ia

Fra'uri tìyawnur oe täpivìng nìwotx...

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Re: help-a-skxawng! Today: About the Dead, Death and the Beginning
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2010, 03:50:49 pm »
Irayo, ma tigermind!

Fì'u lu law srak, ma 'eylan?

Srane, ngeyä aylì'u oeru srung atxan livu.
Txantsan lu fwa fìtsenge haryu na nga tivok.

...and that's about as good as my Na'vi currently gets :/

Kìyevame ulte Eywa ngahu!

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