Euöl mantaf, hal htamol.
Fyl htin esfy mal tanneua send aibtsselte ykwauen fy euil mimmelmen.
To fel esry pereb fyl esteratwe orimmydma.
Vao! Euil ivramant öm nittestud vera vergaf tilmai, vebra fel hai.
Li nittestud tsob flehhtyzma tal omtwa vera, send fyl ykwa estwa dröma.
Nivvroky pom röen hsobnarn ennyvef, ma uinse he lövikserk.
Le lövikserk il nivvroky etsa omai panhtoisma, send fel anttyr.
Narmmalt, vao! Brinuuinse uön etön vera fepraf fon nimmela bövmyepht hai.
Fyl fortmavarn il etonin oba.
Effel, fyl ykwa, fyl volimralin-jo omtwa vilmareada.
Fidimoht omtwa potom.
Yryi, fel esry teky uo kabma fel ty fy brinuuinse ke etönin pom fon nimmela bövmyepht.
E aiba ry venpplebda, hal htamol: Fel esry vakro.
Vao! Brinuuinse uön etön vera fepraf fon nimmela bövmyepht hai!
Mail mela ö coylaht mahombi. Ain wemfy tal ennyve, fyfaf anttyr. OR: Ain wemfy ves ennyve, fyfaf anttyr. (translating H. “mifne”)
Mal ykwauenf, hal htamol! Ykwauenf uo hdo kapprekr dinnismaf!
“A [Mad] Father’s [Crazy] Advice”
Come here, my child.
You’ll leave your family and ride to the mountains today.
Before your journey, I’ll give you some advice.
Hear this! Don’t trust any turtle creature who speaks to you.
Turtles can’t be burned, and they’ll frighten your horse.
Eat the orange roots that grow underground, but only during the full moon.
The full moon will strengthen those carrots and you too.
Finally, listen to this! Don’t touch even one tree that bears purple fruit.
Those trees are your enemies.
As for me, I’ll hunt you down and kill you if you even look at trees bearing purple fruit.
I promise this, my child. I’ll destroy you.
OKAY? Don’t touch even one tree that bears purple fruit.
But the fruit tastes sweet. You might eat it, dried as well. [OR: you should eat it, dried as well]
It TASTES GOOD!
Now ride, my child! Ride and baaa like a goat!
It is the opinion of this translator that the text is utterly ridiculous, and the supposed father’s advice can only be attributed to insanity. The translator strongly feels that the father, or imagined father, has himself eaten the delicious purple fruit (plums? nightshade?) and it has either given him the flux (which can lead to a disorder of the brain) or poisoned him. The only other possibility is that the father is sadistic and trying to scare his son under the guise of great good humor, a situation well-known, regrettably, to the translator. It is altogether a dysfunctional and/or delusional family.
Issytra, Ms. Caves’ amanuensis.
Grammar and Vocabulary
For a much more complete description of Teonaht grammar see this webpage: http://www.cavedreaming.com/contents.html.
Teonaht is a language belonging to a people who live in an alternate world related to ours and its history. How they got here, and where they disappear to on occasion is a mystery. They call their disappearance a melting (mermmindo) because to them it looks as though their cities (in the Mediterranean and the Black and Caspian seas) are being submerged, and they go back to a place we aren’t allowed to see. Hence, their language, which is not really Indo-European, is nevertheless salted with a great many borrowings from mostly Mediterranean cultures throughout the ages. Who knows how long they have been visiting us? They are human with a few biological distinctions. They are associated with fairies and aliens, or just weird people. They have a great facility for language, and many of them are polyglots and intellectuals. I’ve written extensively about them. Okay, here’s the grammar; I’ve given you only what you need.
Teonaht is an analytic language, for the most part; there are few cases, mostly in the pronouns. If it was declined, it lost its cases the way English and other western European languages have. OR: in imitation of European languages it added them. Who knows?
It has also lost its conjugations. Maybe it never had them.
Its word order is the rare OSV in formal cases: the nominative pronoun must precede the verb in main clauses and the object is usually fronted. When Teonaht resorts to SOV (which it often does) it echoes the SV structure by supplying a redundant pronoun: “Issytra a book she writes.” “My grandfather to me a story past-he told.”
It is nominative/accusative; the ghost of an active/ergative language can be seen in only a few instances, mostly in the mediopassive. For example, Teonaht makes a distinction between volitional actions and non-volitional actions. These are expressed by the articles (le and li)—which nevertheless remain nominative—and the verbal noun suffix (respectively –rem and –ned; here left out in the text). So I call it a “split-nominative” system in which you have an agent and an experiencer—one who acts willfully and the other who experiences non-willfully—but both are considered nominative and get the subject article.
For this exercise I’ve resorted to the more casual Teonaht which treats the radical as the verb noun. But where the verb is non-volitional, it keeps the –n ending (except in the modals). It doubly expresses this construction with the non-volitional nominative definite article li. If the noun is definite. There is an object article: il.
There is no indefinite article.
It is zero-copula except in some cases where emphasis is needed. One says: “Good the house.”
It has a peculiar arrangement of affixes, the most unique one being that it expresses tense and aspect by affixing prefixes to the pronoun and not the verb: so one says “future-I build.” “Past-I marry.” These used to be suffixes on the verbs, but for an obscure reason they moved to the pronouns.
It can combine these prefixed particles with modals to express subtler distinctions. Here are the modals used in the text:
|hme(ned)||be required to, must (non-volitional)|
|ves(ned)||be permitted to, may (non-volitional)|
|wem(ned)||be obliged/command to, must (non-volitional)|
A lot of its plurals are prefixed.
Adverbs precede the verb, even adverbial phrases: “past-I excellently swim.” “Towards you fut-I like speedy horse run.”
One creates an adverb from an adjective by preceding it with the particle ö (a truncation of öm, “of”): “of swift” = “swiftly.”
There are no participles, so the perfect, the progressive and the passive are expressed in the following ways:
The present progressive doesn’t exist; it’s just the pronoun verb: ly jana means “she talks” and “she is talking.” But the progressive participle (the dancing woman) is expressed by a phrase using pom (with): you can say le/li pom tanta uehar, “the with-dance woman.”
Passive action is expressed by the construction tsob (under) and the radical verb: under + describe = “described.” There are other ways (its describe it gets), but these are not in the text. The noun submitted to passification is always preceded by the non-volitional definite article. Except when it’s indefinite, in which case, oh well. Context.
There is a construction called the medio-passive, which honors the double valency of perception and other verbs. For instance in English we can say “he boils the soup” but also “the soup boils vigorously.” I used to hate the phrase “it eats like a meal” (Campbell’s boast about its hearty soup), but now I’m fascinated by it. We use “smell” to mean both “sniff” and “emit an odor”: “he smells the mud,” “the mud smells.” Teonaht has a much wider range of such double valencies by using its medio-passive. It’s the only time that it puts the subject in a non-nominative position: So “he smells” (meaning “he sniffs”), with the volitional use of the verb, but “him smells” (meaning “he smells… bad/nice/like a rose” etc.), with the subject pronoun treated like an object. This is different from saying “he non-volitionally smells”: that means that in passing something, the experiencer smells something without meaning to.
The vocative is expressed by a particle “ha” which gets merged with the word. So Peter goes from ha Peter! to ha Pheter. It can attach as well to the possessive pronoun: Ha al frona! (ho, my friend!) becomes hal frona! (no aspiration on “f” obviously. Fricatization of the addressed noun is idiomatic and doesn’t occur in all occasions. Since there is no other word Pheter, then it’s okay.
Its subordinate clauses are expressed by a chiastic structure with pronoun following the verb: “Good the house build-past he”; or with relative pronoun at end: “The boy past-see I build-past the house who.” I saw the boy who built the house”: il betö elry ke hadhamael il hovik hai.
alphabetical order of the characters:
a, b, c, d, dh, e, f, g, h, i, k, l, m, hm, n, o, ö, p, r, s, hs, t, ht, v, w, y, z
- (nom.pron) it
- (adj) this, these
- (adv.) this day, today
- (acc/dat.pron) it
- (gen.pron) my, hal = vocative
- (adv) also, too
- (adj) purple (lit. “blue-red”)
- (int. part) even, just (used to intensify an action)
- (adv) even once, just once, only once
- (adj) sweet.
- (vi) make noise (dyr/dinis), yell, scream, cheer.
- dinnisma + -f (obviously)
- (vt) make afraid, frighten
- see al.
- (conj) like, as
- (prep) to (before a recipient of something given).
- e + fel
- (vt) eat
- (imp) ennyve + -f
- (part.) indicates future tense, and prefixes the nom. pronoun governing the verb.
- (fut. part.) es- + fy
- (fut. part) es + ry
- (n) journey
- es- + twa
- (n) tree; pl. etönin
- (adj) very same, this/these just spoken of
- e + il
- e + öl
- imperative suffix on a verb
- (acc.sg. 2 pron) you
- (vt) touch
- fepra + -f
- (adj) evil.
- (vt) set on fire, burn (something)
- (non.vol.vt) from foned, wear, carry, bear.
- (pl.n.) enemies, opponents, antagonists
- (nom. sg. 2. pron) you.
- (adj) dried out.
- (gen.sg.2 pron) your.
- (nom.sg.rel.pron) who/what (appears in a subordinate clause at the end)
- (adv) during, while
- (gen part) indicates possession and suffixed to a noun.
- (gen part) indicates possession and prefixed to a noun.
- (obj art.) the
- (n) ivra + mantna: a person any, anyone, any creature
- (conj) and (suffixual).
- (vt) kill.
- (n) goat. A word borrowed from Latin.
- (vol.vt) see willfully, look at actively, watch, view.
- (nom.art) the, introduces a non-volitional subject
- (nom.art) the, introduces a volitional subject
- (n) full moon, moon-circle
- (conj) but, however.
- (vi) taste.
- (conj) but the (obj.)
- (vi) from mantarem, approach/come.
- manta + -f suffix (imperative)
- (n) vegetable or fruit
- plural prefix on a noun.
- (pl. n) mim- (pl. prefix) + elmen, mountain.
- (adv) lit. “on end,” “at end,” i.e., finally, at last.
- plural prefix on a noun.
- (nom.pl.rel.pron) who/which/what (plural)
- plural of mela
- (n) ni- pl. prefix + testud, turtle (L origin).
- (n.pl) ni- + vroky
- (n) earth, ground
- (adj) that/those
- (aspect. particle) prefixes subject pronoun to express the habitual
- om + ai
- om + twa
- (n), message, advice.
- (vi) make message, advice (used with to, on behalf of)
- (prep) of, used before an adj to form an adverb
- (obj. pron.) me
- (prep) of, out of
- (n) father
- pantor + id
- (vt) make strong, strengthen
- (temp. adv.) before (an action)
- (prep) with. Used in front of a verb noun it expresses adverbially a state of progression: pom röen, pom fon.
- (adj) all, every
- (adv) wholly, completely, all
- (vi) flourish, come to life, grow (said of something animate)
- (subj. pron) I
- (conj) and (used at the beginning of a clause)
- (prep) beneath, under
- (adv) hsob + narn
- (n) older child, pre-adolescent.
- (vt) tand + eua, “from go,” “leave,” “depart from”
- (vt) hunt, chase.
- (prep) for, on behalf of
- (conj) if.
- (voc) see tamol.
- (n) family
- (adv) only, alone, once.
- (conj) and
- (adj) one
- (vt) empty out, destroy, lay waste, gut (a deer, a hunted animal).
- (voc) A particle that indicates an imperative statement, esp. a prohibition.
- (vt) address, speak to
- (adv) good; opposite of vil-: it adds positive value to a verb or noun.
- (vi) make a promise, vow. Lit: give good word (to).
- (vi) ven + mahhombi
- (adv) not. When it precedes an imperative verb it means something like our “don’t.”
- (vi) give.
- (mod.) be permitted to.
- (vi) give bad praise, dishonor (vil- is a pejorating prefix)
- (pl.n.) ancestors.
- (n) lit. “orange root” so, carrot etc.
- tilmai vergorem (to give a bridge to) is an expression meaning “support,” or “trust.” In other
- words, allowing somebody to cross over to your side.
- (modal) can, able to
- (prep) under, subject to; used idiomatically with the verbal noun to expressive
- (sub. pron) they
- (mod) suggests possibility, probability: could, might, may. Like other modals it is prefixed to the nominative pronoun. Teonaht doesn’t make a distinction between “might” as a possible future action and “might” as an urged future action. There is no “should,” only “must” (hme-). To express that softer command they learned from English, they include two modals: wem and tal for “could” and wem and ves for “should.” I am unsure of the meaning of mifne in the previous translation. So Issytra has given two translations. You pick.
- (n) horse
- (vi) an old expression: lit. take-horse, use horse, i.e., ride (a horse)
- (imp) ykwauen + -f
- (nom.sg.1.pron.intens.) A pronoun that heads the sentence and means, essentially, as for me, and I, as far as I’m concerned, etc. Some strong thing that I am follows.