Tag Archives: prepositions

‘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 IX – “Da-yamva nārya …”

This is the ninth 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

This is again a rather long passage, so I’ve split this into four parts, still to be published semi-weekly to stay on schedule. This is the first part.

Aber statt dessen, wie nutzlos müht er sich ab; immer noch zwängt er sich durch die Gemächer des innersten Palastes; niemals wird er sie überwinden; […]. (Kafka 1994, 281:20–22)

But instead, how uselessly he toils; he is still forcing his way through the chambers of the innermost palace; never will he overcome them; […]. (Kafka 2011)

Da-yamva nārya, da-penyāng riayo – ya manga pastayāng tarela sangalye mitanena kong-vā – ang sēyraya tadoy adanyās – […].

Interlinear glossing

Da-yamva
such=instead_of
nārya,
though,
da=pen-yāng
so=fight-3SM.A
riayo
useless
ya
LOCF
manga
PROG
pasta-yāng
squeeze-3SM.A
tarela
still
sangal-ye
room-PL
mitan-ena
palace-GEN
kong=vā
inside=SUPL
ang
AF
sə-eyra-ya
FUT-overcome-3SM
tadoy
never
adanya-as
that_one-P
[…].
[…].

‘Instead of this, though, how uselessly he fought; he was still squeezing through the rooms of the innermost palace; he would never overcome that/those; […].’

Notes on translation

In this passage, I only extended the meanings of some words, so for “abmühen” (Kafka 1994, 281:20), literally ‘to labor off’, I used pen- ‘to fight’, since that is also tedious in the long run. I was quite surprised I had a word for ‘useless’ actually that has nothing to do with the word for ‘useful’ that I could also find in the dictionary, merambay. I can’t explain how I came up with either of them in retrospective, since I can’t find any related words in the dictionary. Instead of “Gemächer” (Kafka 1994, 281:21), or “chambers” respectively (Kafka 2011), I simply translated sangalye ‘rooms’. Another vocabulary-related issue was “des innersten Palastes” (Kafka 1994, 281:21–22), respectively “of the innermost palace” (Kafka 2011), where I simply used the preposition for ‘inside’, kong, and added the superlative suffix -vā to it.

What is possibly of interest grammatically are the words preceded by the prefix da-, that is da-yamva ‘instead of that’ and da-penyāng ‘so/thus he fights’. This da- is related to the demonstrative prefixes eda- ‘this’ and ada- ‘that’ and together with verbs it assumes the meaning ‘so’ or ‘thus/in this way’, while it means ‘such’ generally. It appears in a compound with the postposition yamva ‘instead of’ here because that requires a prepositional object. I could have translated adaya yamva ‘that-LOC instead_of’, or raya yamva3S.INAN.LOC instead_of’, however I preferred the more concise expression at the beginning of the sentence here.

  • 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›

Imperial Messages V – “Ang saraya edauyikan …”

This is the first half of the fifth 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

This is a rather long sentence (though not the longest of the piece yet!), so I’ve split this passage into two parts. This is the first.

Der Bote hat sich gleich auf den Weg gemacht; ein kräftiger, ein unermüdlicher Mann; einmal diesen, einmal den andern Arm vorstreckend schafft er sich Bahn durch die Menge; […] (Kafka 1994, 281:11–14)

The messenger set out at once; a strong, an indefatigable man; thrusting forward now this arm, now the other, he cleared a path though the crowd; […]. (Kafka 2011)

Ang saraya edauyikan ninaya sasanyam: ayonang mico nay pisu tadoy – ri tiya itingley manga luga ikananya pinkasān tinuna patameng yana menanyam, tinuna nuveng yana palunganyam – […]

Interlinear glossing

Ang
AF
sara-ya
leave-3SM
edauyi=ikan
now=very
ninaya
messenger
sasan-yam:
way-DAT:
ayon-ang
man-A
mico
strong
nay
and
pisu
tired
tadoy
never
ri
INSF
ti-ya
make-3SM
iting-ley
path-P.INAN
manga
MOT
luga
among
ikanan-ya
crowd-LOC
pinka-asa-an
push-HAB-NMLZ
tinu-na
arm-GEN
patameng
right
yana
3SM.GEN
men-an-yam,
one-NMLZ-DAT,
tinu-na
arm-GEN
nuveng
left
yana
3SM.GEN
palung-an-yam
other-NMLZ-DAT
[…]
[…]

‘The messenger immediately left for the road: a strong and never tired man; by pushing (out) his right arm once, his left arm another time, he made a path through the crowd; […]’

Notes on translation

Following the pattern of the previous stages, let us have a look at words first. Potential difficulties were posed by “unermüdlich” (Kafka 1994, 281:12) or “indefatigable” (Kafka 2011), respectively. Instead of making up a new word, I chose to translate this straightforwardly as pisu tadoy ‘never tired’. A word I had not expected to be missing from the dictionary was ikanan ‘crowd’, which is a nominalization of ikan ‘much, many, very’. “Vorstrecken” (Kafka 1994, 281:13) or “thrusting” (Kafka 2011), respectively, made me think a little, too, and in the end I chose to use pinka- ‘to push’ for this purpose. I chose to use the habitative aspect for this verb because this action would go on habitually for a while, until the messenger would have left the crowd behind.

As for grammar, “einmal diesen, einmal den andern Arm vorstreckend” (Kafka 1994, 281:12–13) was slightly tough to deal with and I chose to name the arms by their sides, right and left, and use menanyam ‘once’ and palunganyam ‘another time’ instead of repeating the word for ‘once’, for stylistic purposes. An interesting grammatical feature in this passage is the use of mangaMOT’, which is an auxiliary preposition in a way, and which makes otherwise stative prepositions like luga ‘among’ active, i.e. have a sense of motion, so manga luga as a compound means ‘through’.

  • 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›