8. sodna-lɛni


soba-gɛ ŋyɛtɛt

ŋi-vaŋya hɪse-lɛ, a lɛnɪdi ŋidi noyandɛ ono ki. ŋidi otni-tɛlɛ u kyɛdya da a dosti kɪdi ŋidi kɛddɛ-nɛn tɪŋya-dɛga u sitɬɛ laɬa-ko pɛsiya. dɛɬɛ ɛmɛŋya-bala u lɛnɛ da lɛnɛ-gɛ ŋyɛtɛt tɪŋya-dɛga-bu galaba bu ŋidi andi-dɛga.

hɛlo, ŋidi kiɬi-dɛmɛ u tɛtɬɛ bagɛbagɛ. a ŋidi dondɛ ŋyɛtɛt vudusi-bu u ha geya be bu a ha sodna tɪŋya-dɛmɛ u ŋidi geya dana a ha-tto sɛŋi evi-dɛga ɬɛnva. a ha-tto ŋidi-vɛ kɛddava vu-dɛmɛ u ɛknavla geya, ya-dɛmɛ u mɪdyaŋa gɛnaya geya.

agɛ sitɬɛ gadnavi vutɪŋya-dɛstɛ u doŋi. agɛ gadna vu-giya-dɛstɛ gelata ɬɛnva. gadnavi go moda goga lo tɪŋya-dɛmɛ u doŋi-ŋi geya.

hɛlo, dondɛ ɛmɛŋya-tɛlɛ u ŋidi da modava ya loyandɛ yan gadba. dondɛ ɛmɛŋya-tɛlɛ u ŋidi da gadna gɛnada ya tasi. a ŋidi-vɛ kɛddava gadnavi dɛmada vono ɛdɛɬ be. a sindɛ gadna-tto sɛŋi evi-dɛstɛ, pɪŋi evi-dɛstɛ iyɛ.

a ŋidɪdi gadnavi tasi ohono-tɛlɛ-bu geya kyɛɬ bu ŋidi vutɪŋya-dɛmɛ u tɪlat geya da ŋidi pɛsi-dɛga uh agɛ ŋidɪdi ya-dɛmɛ ɬata geya.

ŋi-vaŋya hɪse-lɛ, dondɛ tɪŋi u sada-ŋi ki. a ŋidɪdi gadnavi tasi ohono-tɛlɛ-bu geya kyɛɬ bu tɛtɬɛ-tto ŋidɪdi vu-dɛmɛ kondɛ geya.

gadna dɛmada ya-dɛstɛ-to borosi gɛgɛ to a ɛlɛna danavi ono-giya. gadna gɛnada vu-dɛmɛ-bu sɪde libi geya kyɛɬ bu a nada ɛlɛna danavi ono-dɛga geya.

ala ŋi-vaŋya hɪse-lɛ, a norsida dulo evibi-bala, ŋidi-vɛ kɛddɛ apɛsi iyɛ.

English Translation

Father’s advice.

You, my child, come closer to me. You have come to a decision to go away from kin and with your horse go to the far mountains. I thought I would give my advice before you go.

Oh, you might come across a dragon. Do not discuss this advice with it, even if he tells you he will cause harm. He might not burn your horse, he might only frighten it.

There (in the mountains) apples are not seen. There an apple is not even grown. Apples like a bright, edible moon might you see.

Oh, this you know: the moon is brighter than an apple. This you know: true apples are purple. Do not allow your horse to have seeming apples. Those apples cause harm. They are evil, too.

If you had purple apples, you might not have the obligation to go away to where you might die.

You, my child, hear this: if you had purple apples, the dragon might not capture you.

Seeming apples are sweet, yes, to people who have them. If true apples never were dry, all people might have them.

Now, you, my child, the goat is crying and your horse is going, too.

Grammar and Vocabulary


Sentence Structure

Sentences are generally of the form:

(Source) Subject Verb (Destination) (Adverbs)

Since all verbs describe motion (even if only in a metaphorical sense), the subject of the verb is the noun (or noun phrase) that is moving. The source is the point of origin for the motion, and the destination is the end-point. Note that there are no “objects”. The role of object is sometimes taken by the Subject (when there is a Source to be the more traditional “subject”), and sometimes by the Destination.

Sources are preceded by ‘a’ and destinations are preceded by ‘u’. Each can be suffixed with ‘h’ when the next word begins with a vowel.


This text uses 8 of the 10 available verbs in sodna-lɛni. They each have forms for imperfective (IMPF), perfective (PERF), inchoative (INCH), and negative (NEG). These are detailed in the table below. Additionally, they each take an object in one of the three noun forms: sessile (SS), first motile form (M1), or second motile form (M2). More on those later.

ya ya aya vu SS be (still/not moving), exist, become
tɪŋ-i/ya- otni andi vutɪŋ-i/ya- M1 move, go
kiɬi okiɬi akiɬi vukiɬi M1 move or go past a Destination
pɛsi opɛsi apɛsi vupɛsi M1 move or go away
ono ohono ahono vono M1 move towards a Source*
dus-/i- odusi adusi vudusi M1 move back and forth
evi eviŋ-i/ya- evibi veve M2 move outward from a Source
ɛmɛ(mɛ) ɛmɛŋ-i/ya- ɛmɛbi vɛmɛmɛ M2 move inwards toward a Destination

*ono’s source is in the sessile form.

**because dus denotes back and forth motion, so that the sources of movement (or change or transfer) are each other’s destinations, it is a stylistic choice to have multiple sources or a source and destination. Multiple destinations is also possible but rarely used.

Verbs also take two sets of clitics. One set of eight codes for evidentiality and modality. The other set consists of two subordinators.

The evidentials are: visual (VIS), non-visual or other sensory (NV/S), inferred (INFR), hearsay or reported (HSY), storytelling (REP), possible (POSS), predicted future (FUT), and dubitive (DUB). VIS is used for first person direct visual experience, and for things that are so certain, no one is going to dispute them. NV/S is for hearing, smelling, tasting, and for internal sensations like thinking and feeling. It can also be used where VIS would normally be used if one wants to distance oneself from an experience, or is uncertain about what one saw. INFR is used for other people’s experiences, since those are inferred from the other person’s behavior. HSY is used as
the basic reported information evidential. It can also be combined with other evidentials. REP is used in storytelling only. POSS is used for things that the speaker thinks could happen, FUT is used for things that the speaker thinks will happen, and DUB is used for things the speaker thinks might happen or might not. Sentences with imperative, hortative, or negative imperative markers can only optionally take the HSY evidential.

VIS zero form
NV/S -bala
INFR -tɛlɛ
HSY -dɛstɛ
REP -tena
POSS -giya
FUT -dɛga
DUB -dɛmɛ

The second set of clitics are subordinators, one for a simultaneous or durative (DUR) construction, -bu, the other for a purposive (PUR) or reason construction, -to. The subordinated clause will be preceded by a free-standing form of the same clitic:

Source Subject Verb-bu Dest. Adverbs bu Source Subject Verb Dest. Adverbs

-bu is also used in conditional and other types of subordinate clauses.


Nouns come in seven classes, three forms, and three numbers. The classes are:

Class I: people, rational beings
Class II: animate beings, body parts, some celestial bodies, animals, weather phenomena
Class III: Landscape features, events, abstract forces, sounds and some speech
Class IV: naturally collective phenomena, non-solids such as liquids and vapors
Class V: natural objects, plants, food items, mud and sand and the like
Class VI: artificial objects
Class VII: abstractions and some speech

Nouns come in a basic form: M1 for classes I and II, M2 for classes III and IV, and SS for V and VI and VII. These are the forms that are generally used when the noun is a source or destination, unless the verb in question specifies a form.

Nouns inflect for a combination of form (SS, M1, M2) and number (sg, co, pl). Rather than explain all the complex variations, each form used in this text is listed in the vocabulary.

Adjectives generally follow nouns.


Each noun class has a set of pronouns. Class I has 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person pronouns. The other classes use their own forms of 3rd person pronouns. Pronouns used in this text are listed in the vocabulary.

Relative pronouns are indistinguishable from 3rd person pronouns, though they appear in front of the relative clause.


There are multiple types of possession. This torch uses three of them.

Type I is inalienable possession. It is indicated by a suffix based on personal pronouns. These are listed in the vocabulary.

Type II is basic alienable possession or association. It is realized by using a noun or pronoun with the clitic -vɛ attached to the possessor.

Type III is alienable possession where the possessor has created or formed the possessee. It is realized with the clitic -gɛ attached to the possessor.


Adverbs do all sorts of things. These are listed in the vocabulary.


agɛ ADV at a place, where, somewhere used as a source, mostly
ala ADV now, at this time used as a sourcebagɛbagɛ ADV maybe
be negative imperative marker
borosi ADJ sweet
da PN 3rd person for class III M1sg, M2sg; IV M2; V SSsg; VI SSsg; VII
dana PN 3rd person for class III M1pl, M2pl; V SSpl; VI SSpl
danavi PN 3rd person for class III SSpl; V M1pl
dɛɬɛ N-III idea, thought (M1/M2sg)
dɛmada ADJ seeming
dondɛ this + singular (for most nouns)
dosti this + plural (for tall or standing things, people)
doŋi N-II eye (M1sg)
dulo N-III cry (M1/M2sg)
ɛdɛɬ ADV allow, permit
ɛknavla ADJ burned, burnt
ɛlɛna N-I person (M1pl)
gadba N-V apple (SSsg)
gadna N-V apple (SSpl)
gadnavi N-V apple (M1pl)
galaba ADV before
gelata ADJ grown-up, tall
geya ADV marks imaginary, hypothetical, counterfactual clauses
gɛgɛ ADV yes
gɛnada ADJ true, real, proper
gɛnaya ADV only, merely
go ADV like, as
goga ADJ edible, ready to eat
ha PN 3rd person for class II M1sg
hɛlo an interjection
hɪse N-I child (M1sg)
iyɛ ADV also, too
kɛddava N-II horse (SSsg/co)
kɛddɛ N-II horse (M1sg)
ki a hortative marker
kɪdi N-I kinfolk, kin (M1co)
-ko a collective suffix
kondɛ ADJ bound, captured
kyɛdya N-VII decision (all forms and numbers)
kyɛɬ ADV indicates a conditional clause
laɬa N-III mountain (M1/M2sg)
-lɛ 1st person inalienable possession suffix
lɛnɛ PN 1st person M1sg
lɛnɪdi PN 1st person SSsg
libi ADV ever, neverlo ADJ bright
loyandɛ ADJ brighter
ɬata ADJ dead
ɬɛnva ADV even, even if, even though
mɪdyaŋa ADJ frightened
moda N-II moon (M1sg)
modava N-II moon (SSsg)
nada all, each, every
-nɛn and, with
norsida N-II goat (M1sg)
noyandɛ ADJ nearer, closer
-ŋi 2nd person inalienable possession suffix
ŋidi PN 2nd person M1sg, becomes ŋi when suffixed with -vaŋya
ŋidɪdi PN 2nd person SSsg
ŋyɛtɛt N-VII advice (all forms and numbers)
pɛsiya ADJ far away
pɪŋi N-III evil (M1/M2sg)
sada N-II ear (M1sg)
sɛŋi N-III harm (M1/M2sg)
sindɛ that + V.SSpl (form most nouns)
sitɬɛ that + singular (for long, lying-down things)
sɪde ADJ dry
soba N-I father (M1sg)
sodna N-III word (M1/M2pl)
tasi ADJ purple
tɛtɬɛ N-II dragon (M1sg)
tɪlat N-VII obligation
-tto causative suffix, marks an agent or cause
-vaŋya emphatic suffix for 2nd person pronouns
yan more, more than