Spring Vocabulary, Part 2

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Spring Vocabulary, Part 2
Release date March 31, 2012
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Here’s a bit more progress towards dealing with my backlog of great suggestions from the Vocabulary Committee. (Fpìl oel futa pìylltxe pxaya tute san Nì’i’a! sìk. Tse . . . za’u fra’u ne tute lemweypey, kefyak? ;-) )

  • syeha (n., SYE.ha) ‘breath’

Derivation:

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Ma Ralu, srung si por! Nìwin! Syeha ke si! ‘Ralu, help her! Quick! She’s not breathing!’

(A note on pronunciation: Since si never carries stress, the stress pattern with negative si-constructions is KE si, not ke SI.)

  • sko (ADP+) ‘as, in the capacity of, in the role of’
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  A. Sko Sahìk ke tsun oe mìftxele tsngivawvìk.
  ‘As Tsahik, I cannot weep over this matter.’

Note: There’s another way to say the same thing, which is in fact more idiomatic than using sko:

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B. Oe alu Tsahìk ke tsun mìftxele tsngivawvìk.

But sko has its advantages. Look what happens when you have a coordinate structure:

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 A´. Sko Sahìk ke tsun oe mìftxele tsngivawvìk; sko sa’nok tsun.
 B´. Oe alu Tsahìk ke tsun mìftxele tsngivawvìk; oe alu sa’nok tsun.
     ‘As Tsahik, I cannot weep over this matter; as a mother, I can.’

As you see, the A-structure allows you to be somewhat more concise.

  • sna'o (n., SNA.’o) ‘set, group, pile, clump, stand’

Ayskxe a mì sasna’o ku’up lu nìtxan. ‘The rocks in that pile are very heavy.’

Note: Sna'o]] is nfp—not for people. For a group of people, use pongu.

What’s interesting about sna'o is that it has an abbreviated form, sna-, which functions as a noun prefix to indicate a group or collection. With living things other than people, sna- is productive—you can use it to indicate a group of any plant or animal: snanantang ‘a pack of viperwolves,’ snatalioang ‘a herd of sturmbeest,’ snautral ‘a stand of trees,’ etc. These words are not listed in the dictionary.

However, in all other cases sna- is not productive, and you’re not free to form your own words with this prefix. The meanings of such sna- words can be unpredictable, and so they have to be listed in the dictionary. For example:

  • snatxärem (n., sna.TXÄ.rem) ‘skeleton’ (lit.: ‘a set of bones’)
  • snafpìlfya (n., sna.FPÌL.fya) ‘philosophy’ (lit.: ‘a group of mindsets’)
  • snatanhì (n., sna.tan.HÌ) ‘constellation’ (lit.: ‘a clump of stars’)

One more thing to note about sna- words: they indicate naturally occurring groups or sets. For example, a snasyulang is a patch of flowers growing naturally on the ground or on a tree branch. Contrast that with a sästarsìm syulangä, a collection of flowers selected and put together intentionally by a person—that is, a bouquet.

  • sästarsìm (n., sä.STAR.sìm) ‘collection (put together intentionally by a person)’
  • tsu'o (n., TSU.’o) ‘ability’
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Tìrusolìri ke lu poru kea tsu’o kaw’it. ‘As for singing, he has no ability whatsoever.’

Like sna'o, the most useful thing about tsu'o is its abbreviated form. In this case it’s -tswo, which is a suffix for verbs that changes the verb to a noun indicating the ability to perform the action of the verb. The great thing about –tswo is that it’s productive: you can add it to practically any verb. For example: tarontswo ‘ability to hunt,’ wemtswo ‘ability to fight,’ roltswo ‘ability to sing,’ etc.

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Pori wemtswo fratsamsiyur rolo’a nìtxan. ‘His ability to fight greatly impressed all the warriors.’

It’s tempting to try to equate –tswo with English –able/-ible—after all, they’re both suffixes having to do with ability. But there’s a big difference. For example, inantswo means the ability to read; it is not equivalent to English ‘readable,’ which is the ability to be read. For that, recall that Na’vi prefixes tsuk- to form adjectives: tsukinana pamrel ‘readable writing.’

One little wrinkle: We indicated that –tswo is attached only to verbs. That’s true except in the case of si-constructions. With si-verbs, drop the si and attach –tswo to the non-verbal element: srungtswo ‘ability to help,’ pamreltswo ‘ability to write,’ tstutswo ‘ability to close.’

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Kxari tstutswo tsranten krra* ke lu kea säfpìl lesar. ‘When one has no useful thoughts, the ability to close one’s mouth is important.’

  • I’ve just become aware that krra is not in our official dictionary. It’s in my own database, but I guess I forgot to publicize it. Krra is the conjunction ‘when’:
  • krra (conj., KRR.a) ‘when, at the time that’

For example:

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Oel tskoti ngaru tasyìng krra oeng ultxa si. ‘I’ll give you the bow when we meet.’

Don’t use tsakrr for this purpose. Tsakrr is an adverb, not a conjunction, meaning ‘then’ or ‘at that time.’ It’s often used with txo: txo . . . tsakrr, ‘if . . . then.’

The spelling convention krr a, as two words, is not incorrect, but krra is preferred. With the reverse clause order, however, a krr is the correct spelling. This mirrors the convention with a fì'u.

A note on stress: In keeping with the general rule, sna- and –tswo do not affect the stress of the word they’re attached to: tanHÌ, snatanHÌ; TAron, TArontswo.

Kìyevame vay vospìay!