Tag Archives: locative

‘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:

Ang
AT
pukay
jump-1SG.TOP
manga
MOT
eyrarya
over
lahanya.
fence-LOC

‘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
(manga)
(MOT)
luga
top
lahaneri.
fence-INS

‘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
manga
MOT
luga
top
savaya.
wagon-LOC

‘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.

‘Locational’ Dative and Genitive with Prepositions

In the Grammar (§ 5.4) I mention something I dubbed ‘locational dative/genitive’, where instead of the locative case marker you would use the dative and genitive case marker respectively to indicate simple ‘to’ and ‘from’ – so basically, the dative is coupled with a lative meaning and the genitive with an ablative meaning, respectively:

Ang
AT
nimp-ye
run-3SF.T
māva-yam
mother-DAT
yena.
3SF.GEN

‘She runs to her mother.’

The example with the genitive that is currently in the grammar is not really locational at all, actually, now that I look at it. But anyway, lest I forget, here’s something I came across while translating something for myself today:

Yam
DATT
sarayan
go-3PM
ayonang
man-A
sam
two
manga
MOT
ling
top
natrang,
temple-T,
no
want
natratang.
pray-3PM.A.

‘Two men went up to the temple; they wanted to pray.’

In this case, it’s one of those ‘locational’ datives, but extended by a preposition unlike in the example from the Grammar above. Here, the preposition (manga) ling ‘(to the) top of’ does not trigger the locative case as usual, but the dative case. This is because with the locative, the phrase would imply that the two men were going literally to the top of the temple, that is, they end up standing on its roof. This is not the intended meaning, because they are only going up to the temple, that is, the temple is on a hill – Ayeri can’t distinguish ‘up’ from ‘to the top of’ just with the preposition. So, in order to differentiate going up to from going to the top of, the dative and the locative case are used respectively. The same works for ‘come down from X’:

saha-
come
manga
MOT
avan
bottom
X-na
X-GEN

as opposed to

saha-
come
manga
MOT
avan
bottom
X-ya
X-LOC

‘come to the bottom of X’.

Also, in the same translation challenge to myself, I discovered that it would make sense to allow div- ‘to stay’ to be used as a modal (ish), so that for example you can say diva bengyāng timangya ‘he remained standing at a distance’, as opposed to remaining seated at a distance. Now, what’s the difference between div(a)- ‘stay, remain’ and hang- ‘keep, hold; remain, stay’, though?!

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

Ang
AF
ming
can
luga-ya
penetrate-3SM
ranya
nobody
ang
AF
da=mira-ya
so=do-3SM
nilarya=vā
improbable=SUP
kayvo
with
budang-ya
message-LOC
nyān-ena
person-GEN
tenya.
dead.

‘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›

Plurals with -yam and -ya

So on the front page we have that word layamayajam. It means ‘for the readers’ and is composed like this:

laya + maya + ye + yam
read + AGT NMLZ + PL + DAT
‘for the readers’

And layamayayeyam is also what I first had on the front page. What’s long bothered me, though, is the abundance of [j] and that these little buggers can pile up occasionally, leading to words that may be quite a bit tongue-twisting, or at least awkward to say. Test for yourself: [ˌla.ja.ma.ˈja.je.jɑm]. See? This screams for dissimilation (at least in my ears it does), or some other morphophonetic process of removing a pronunciation hurdle. So, what could we do? —

  1. Go by analogy with the locative case marker -ya. In combination with the plural marker -ye, it changes to -ea, so we get -ye-ya-yēa.

    ERGO: We can extend this to -ye-yam, leading to -yēam.

    PRO: This resembles my previous pronunciation habit of slurring /je.jɑm/ to something like /iːɑm/. It’s not perfectly phonemic spelling, but gets close.

    CONTRA: In a case like layamayayēam it’s still kind of awkward, I suppose. Also, -yēa and -yēam are pretty close.

  2. Go the route of dissimilation to the nearest similar-but-dissimilar-enough sound there is in the language.

    ERGO: [je] → [d͡ʒ] is a solution. We can do -ye-yam-jyam. As [d͡ʒjɑm] is a little difficult to say, and the [j] is barely there anyway, we can even go as far as mutating that further to just -jam. Thus, we get layamayajam.

    PRO: Easier to pronounce, also shorter. Also, more synchronic irregularity triggered by morphophonetic processes, oh yeah! Also, there is no ending -jam so far, so it can’t be confused. Also, it’s dissimilar from -yēa.

    CONTRA: -jam doesn’t really look like -yeyam anymore. Also, now I need to figure out how to deal with this in ‘native’ spelling. Probably not at all, because native spelling is more morphemic/phonemic than phonetic.

In the end I decided for the second option. Now I only need to write that down in the grammar. However, this decision also poses the question what to do with other combinations, e.g. -yeas (patient animate) and -yeang (agent animate). Should they become -jas and -jang, respectively? Should I then also retrofit -yēa (locative) to -ja? Hm …