Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Aka në rínchat no më - I will not fear

Years ago I started in on a Kílta translation of the very famous Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert's Dune books. But I ran into a few problems I wasn't finding easy to work with, and rather than force it, I put the translation aside to marinate. I realized a few days ago I finally have the tools to address it in a naturally Kílta way.

Aka në rínchat no më.
Rínchot në, michumokës no,
Nekin uttimës no,
Mantin emémmiëtta no.
Rínchot si chérat no.
      (5)
Aka si in hotekat in aimánat huitat no.
Rínchot në ohëchët, aka keta si michiëkan rinkat no.
Rínchot vë issa nen vura rokat no më.
Aka në anui vëchat no.

1) The canonical opening line is "I must not fear." Because the rest of the recitation uses the future a lot, I just put it in the future here. The film and TV adaptations of Dune all make their own modifications to the Litany, and the TV show used the simple future as well. I also use Kílta's high-agency first person pronoun, aka, which is more an aspiration if you're reciting this, but I find it a nice touch here.

2) I topicalize rínchot fear, and talk about it a bit. The word michumokës is a transparent compound, mind-killer.

3) Again, close to the original, "it is the little death" (no, not that one).

4) This is trickier. The original is "that brings total obliteration." I went with structural parallelism with line (3), [ADJ N no]. Emémmiëtta is a rather odd word, and means "that which causes destruction," in an instrumental sense. Often nouns derived like this are physical items. "It is a terrible instrument that causes destruction."

5) The closest equivalent to "I'll face my fear" in Kílta is rather aggressive, which I don't think is quite in keeping with the following lines. I use instead "I will acknowledge my fear," or even "I will feel my fear." The construction ADJ + chéro is normal for internal feeling expressions, which is supposed to be in mind for this sentence.

6) "I will allow it to go over and go through me." Very close to the original.

7) I use a converb clause for sequencing, rather than the nominalization of the original, "the fear having passed." Then I get to break out michiëkan with mind (attention) turned inward. There is a not often used suffix, -iëkan, which generates adverbs meaning in, inward, towards the center. The meanings are often idiomatic, as here. Michiëkan came out of some other vocabulary work I was doing, and once I had it I knew immediately it would work for this. I also use keta footprint, trace of passage, trace of existence.

8) "On the fear's path there will be nothing." Very close to the original, though again avoiding a nominalized relative clause.

9) A final declaration of agency, using aka, with the line very close to the original.

Translated out of Kílta:

I will not fear.
Fear, it is the mind-killer,
it is the little death,
it is a terrible cause of destruction.
I will feel my fear.
      (5)
I will let it go over and go through me.
The fear having passed, I will see (its) trace by turning my mind inward.
On the fear's path there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

This remains quite close to the original, while accepting a few changes to meet Kílta's usual way of doing things, and few tweaks to make the style work better in the language. The last line lands a little flat and obvious in Kílta, and might still get some pragmatic refinements in the future.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Sending a Message

I have an ever-growing backlog of concepts for which I want to create new Kílta words. It gives me all the stress you expect from a todo list. One benefit of the delay, however, is that I regularly think up better derivations, or better nuance, if I have time to let a concept percolate a while before I commit to it.

One concept I've been thinking about is a way to indicate if a state of affairs communicates some other message. For example, if someone stops answering your phone calls, that says something. Often we can rely on Grice and experience to help us figure out when other messages are being communicated by someone's actions, but I wanted a way to be a bit more explicit about it. This sat on my todo list quite a while, and then just yesterday a good way to handle this presented itself: an auxiliary with a converb.

The verb ráno means signal, make a sign, as well as point out.

Eman në tátiën mai ráno.
child TOP dog LAT point-out.PFV
The child pointed at the dog

But yesterday it occurred to me that my send a message sense matches with this nicely. Now, a general converb followed by ráno marks that the state of affairs also communicates some other message.

Ha kë mës mítët ráno.
1SG DAT NEG speak.CVB.PFV signal.PFV
She didn't talk to me (which makes some other point, too)

Often an overt translation of this into English is going to be a bit clunky, but I've got growing pile of those in Kílta, too.

In any case, rather than creating a new clause-final particle or entirely new lexeme, I've just added to Kílta's substantial battery of auxiliary verbs.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Unknown Riches

A few weeks ago I was chatting with some conlangers, and we were talking a bit about some deeper issues in conlanging, especially around personal conlangs. I was extolling the virtues—not entirely coherently— of keeping a diary in your conlang. I said that you don't always know what resources you already have available when you want to create something new, but that inhabiting the language even a little, such as in a diary, will open up possibilities that might not otherwise occur to you.

One of Kílta's riches that occurred to me very recently, based on only a few uses of the diminutive, was that I could use to mark what is effectively first person possession when referring to direct line family relationships (grandparent, parent, sibling, child, grandchild):

Ommira në erniënto.
omm-ira në er-niënt-o
mother-DIM TOP TRANS-leave-PFV
My/our mother left.

With a little more thought I decided this could extend out to non-direct relations (cousins, nieces, etc.), if you grew up seeing them nearly every day.

Finally, I decided that with possession, you could use the diminutive to refer to family members very close friends you spent a lot of time with, especially while growing up.:

Ton vë ommira në erniënto.
2SG ATTR omm-ira në er-niënt-o
mother-DIM TOP TRANS-leave-PFV
Your mother left.

Since Kílta is a personal language, there aren't many opportunities for me to make use of the construction in this second example, because none of my childhood friends are ever going to learn the language. Nonetheless, I sometimes create things for Kílta to establish a general ambience, to suggest the full meaning of a construction, even if marginal functions of a construction aren't going to get much use.

When a conlang needs something new, it's easy to just create something entirely new, and often enough that's necessary. But I always enjoy finding preexisting material ready to be used to create some new construction or nuance.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Kílta Lexember 31: lamerun "in due course, in good time"

It's the last day of Lexember, so a time expression.

lamerun /læˈme.ɾun/ in good time, in due course, in/at the right time < lamerin round, plump, ripe + -un temporospatial suffix

The adjective lamerin covers a wide range of meaning, but one primary sense is that of culmination after a waiting period. Thus, ripe, plump, right time, etc. The suffix -un derives adverbs of place or time. It's not incredibly common.

Ton në lamerun katihëstat no re.
ton në lamerun katih-ëst-at n-o re
2SG TOP in.due.course understand-INCH-INF be-PFV PTCL
You'll understand in due course.

Here's another example of Kílta using the inchoative where English would be content with a simple verb. I could, I suppose, translate this "you'll start to understand in due course," but a lot of the time it's clunky to capture Kílta's inchoative too fastidiously in the English.

Lorátin Naram mëli rum!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Kílta Lexember 30: omulutta "earthquake"

I'm not entirely thrilled that today's word comes out looking a bit like breakfast, but these things happen sometimes.

omulutta /o.muˈlut.ta/ earthquake < om earth + lúto move + -ta nominalizer

Kílta has two entirely different stems for English move, one transitive, one intransitive. I've used the transitive one here, focusing on the effect (the earth moves things), rather than the merely describing the event in isolation.

Luikin omulutta vima si tuëmo.
heavy earthquake city ACC pound.PFV
A terrible earthquake struck the city.

This is exactly the sort of example sentence I like best, if I can pull it off — it gives two collocational usage hints. First, a bad earthquake in Kílta is luikin heavy, and second, the verb for earthquake destructive activity is tuëmo pound.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Kílta Lexember 29: tetila "joint, knuckle; inch"

I already had the word tetila with just the meaning joint. I've decided to extend the meaning to knuckle — a common enough polysemy — and through that to also mean inch (the measurement).

Tetila has no etymology. You can specify knuckle if you have to by using ol hand:

Pácha si chokët, ol vë tetilur kwalo.
table ACC hit.CVB.PFV, hand ATTR joint.PL hurt
After I hit the table my knuckles hurt.

To measure precipitation (the occasion for today's Lexember efforts), a secondary predicate construction is used:

Hëru tetilur mai mechuhítat no re.
hër-u tetil-ur mai me(ch)-uhít-at n-o re
8-PL joint-PL LAT CIS-snow-INF be-PFV PTCL
It will snow eight inches here.

Time and measurements are my hardest time learning natural languages, and not my favorite part of language invention. I'll get to the metric system eventually.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Kílta Lexember 28: oléla "gloves"

More winter weather vocabulary today.

oléla /oˈleː.la/ gloves

This is an eccentric reduplication starting from ol hand. A few pieces of paired clothing get not entirely predictable forms like this.

Samma vë oléla në vurël no?
fur ATTR gloves TOP where be.pfv
Where are the wool gloves?

Even though I've taken up weaving as a rage-absorbing hobby during The Covidities, and have added weaving vocabulary to Kílta, I hadn't yet committed to a word for wool. The polysemy I picked, from the already existing samma fur, is a common one. Two words settled with one example sentence.

Aka në rínchat no më - I will not fear

Years ago I started in on a Kílta translation of the very famous Litany Against Fear from Frank Herbert's Dune books. But I ran into ...