Tag Archives: instrumental

‘Locational’ Instrumental with Prepositions

I was making up a bunch of words tonight and also some example sentences to go along with them and came across something like this:


‘I jump over a fence.’

Now, I’ve long kind of disliked eyrarya ‘over, above’ as a word itself and should maybe replace it with a word I like better sometime.1 However, in relation to an earlier blog entry, “‘Locational’ Dative and Genitive with Prepositions” (Apr 2, 2013), I was thinking about why not making use of a device I came up with to express lative (moving to) and ablative (moving from) motion and extending it to perlative motion (moving through, across, along) with the instrumental, since that also already covers the meaning “by means of”. So another possible way to express the above may well be:

​Ang pukay

‘I jump over a fence.’

The motion particle manga may not even be necessary since ‘by means of the top’ in conjunction with the dynamic action ‘jump’ in my opinion already reasonably conveys that the person jumping won’t get stuck straddling the fence. Besides, ‘jump onto’ would normally be expressed like this, since the simple locative conveys a static meaning, i.e. one of resting in a place:

​Ang pukay

‘I jump onto a wagon.’

Whatever eyrarya may end up as in the future, just describing something resting over a thing would still use that word to make clear that the thing is not sitting on top of something but hovering over it. Alternatively, there would be an opportunity here to get rid of dedicated words for ‘over’ and ‘under’ completely (at least in transitive contexts) and just have them be ling ‘top’ and avan ‘bottom’ plus instrumental, and manga would after all indicate that motion along that point is involved.

  1. The issue I take with it is that it’s a rather basic lexical item but it’s derived from eyra ‘below, under’ with the negative suffix -arya, so basically ‘un-under’, which I personally find very confusing and which has led me to confusion in the past, in fact.

Imperial Messages XIII – “Ang ming lugaya ranya …”

This is the thirteenth posting in a series on the process of translating the short story “Eine kaiserliche Botschaft” by the Praguer writer Franz Kafka (*1883, †1924). The individual installments will go through the text mostly sentence by sentence, quoting from the German text as well as a translation of it into English. Following these quotations, I will discuss and comment on newly coined words and thoughts I had on grammar while doing the translation.

The text

Niemand dringt hier durch und gar mit der Botschaft eines Toten. — (Kafka 1994, 282:4–6)

Nobody reaches through here, least of all with a message from one who is dead. — (Kafka 2011)

Ang ming lugaya ranya – ang da-miraya nilarya-vā kayvo budangya nyānena tenya. —

Interlinear glossing


‘Nobody can penetrate here; he does so least probably with the message of a dead person.’

Notes on translation

This sentence may likely have caused me the most effort to translate in the whole series up to now. And not because I did not realize I already had a word that means ‘to penetrate’ at first, but because of the little word “gar” (Kafka 1994, 282:5), which may be translated into English as “even” in this context. The sense of the sentence is pretty clear, I think: having a message from a deceased person with you makes it even less likely you will find a way through. And after I tried hard to figure out a way to express “least” by means of the comparison verb varya- ‘to be the least’, only to find that it is unsuitable here because there is no comparison between A and B regarding a property C, I decided to go for the less complicated construction I used above, which uses the newly coined nilarya ‘improbable’ as an adverb, from nilay ‘probably’ (possibly derived sometime from nil- ‘to think’, but I forget), with our favorite superlative suffix -vā stacked on because adverbs can only be compared that way. I am not entirely happy with “da-miraya”, as for some reason I perceive this literal “do so” as terribly English-like, but I wanted to avoid repetition, and having no verb there at all felt awkward as well.

One grammatical feature of note here is that Ayeri distinguishes two meanings of “with” by means of different constructions. If the “with” entails the use of a tool, means, or the help of something or someone to accomplish the action, the constituent noun phrase will be in the instrumental case. If the “with” refers to accompaniment, however, like in “mit der Botschaft eines Toten” (Kafka 1994, 282:5–6; “with the message from one who is dead”, Kafka 2011) above, the preposition kayvo is used and the dependent noun phrase will be in the locative case, thus “kayvo budangya”.

  • Kafka, Franz. “Eine kaiserliche Botschaft.” Drucke zu Lebzeiten. By Franz Kafka. Eds. Wolf Kittler et al. Frankfurt a. M.: S. Fischer, 1994. 280–82. Print.
  • ———. “A Message from the Emperor.” Trans. by Mark Harman. NYRblog. The New York Review of Books, 1 Jul. 2011. Web. 9 Feb. 2012. ‹http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/jul/01/message-emperor-new-translation›