Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

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Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Yng »

The Death of the Governor Kang Pree

This is a common story told by Cuhbi speakers across the islands. Kang Pree is a historical figure, an early Tsi governor of the island of Tamassa known for his harsh policies and failure to take the local Cuh seriously enough. Whether he actually executed a local priest is unclear, as are the rest of the details of the story, but it is a matter of historical record that he presided over a Cuh rebellion in the course of which he died, whether from natural causes or at the hand of one of his subjects. The speaker here is an elderly Cuh woman - in Cuhbi-speaking villages, older women whose own children have grown up typically take up storytelling alongside their role in general childcare - and as a result there are a number of characteristics of women's speech, as well as less Tsi loanwords than the typical Cuh man might use. Those Tsi loanwords which there are are generally adapted entirely to Cuhbi's phonology.

Cá! sànga somàyi sànga uʐe ciʔà
cá! sànɡ-a so=mà=i sàng-a u-ʐe-ø ci-ø=ʔà
lo! moon-ACC CLASS[round]=one=TOP moon-OBL PASS-pass-PERF walk_between-PERF=it_is_known

Lo! A month passed among the months (once upon a time)

It is customary to begin stories with , which might be more appropriately translated as 'listen'. This entire line is a formulaic opening to stories, and demonstrates a number of interesting points of grammar. As we will see, most verbs in this story carry an evidentiality clitic - usually the absence of the clitic suggests that the individual saw the events themselves, although this is not universally the case. =ʔà is the conventional evidentiality clitic for long story narratives of this kind. It attaches, as do all post-verbal clitics (including some of the lexical ones we'll see below), to the whole verb complex, including serial verbs. In this complex we have a locative serial verb, ci, which adds an extra oblique argument to the verb which takes on locative meaning depending on the verb (in this case the locative argument carries the meaning 'between' or 'among'). We also see one of the weird elements of Cuhbi's morphosyntactic alignment: topics are promoted as far as possible, but inanimate nouns can never be in the nominative case. All Cuhbi's intransitive verbs are ergative - that is, adding a second, agentive argument produces a causative version. This sentence can be historically analysed, as such, as meaning 'the month was made to pass'. The noun remains in the oblique - inanimate nouns are rarely found in the nominative.

pxaitsùnxàyi nyàɽ bzà ukò dèhòngàʔà
pxai-tsùnxà-ø=yi nyàat-r bzà u-ò/kà-ø dè-ø=òngà=ʔà
castrate tsunxa-NOM=TOP boat-OBL SWITCH PASS-VEN/go-PERF be_atop-PERF=all_the_way=it_is_known

They sent us a tsunxa in a boat, the whole long distance

Both pkai and tsùnxà are loanwords from Tsi. The former means 'castrate' and is used generically for Tsi people (the existence of eunuchs among the Tsi is a source of both amusement and suspicion among the Cuh), the latter is a high rank in the Tsi bureaucracy - someone entrusted with various responsibilities, typically including the distribution of rice and so on. It is unlikely that the governor was in fact a tsùnxà, which suggests that at least among Cuhbi speakers less familiar with the Tsi, this term has taken on a more generic meaning of 'Tsi official' - the speaker's unfamiliarity with Tsi is also suggested by her use of pxai instead of the more accurate pkai, which many male Cuhbi speakers - who tend to be at least functionally bilingual in Tsi - would produce with two plosives.

Otherwise this sentence shows a few other interesting elements. Bzà is a kind of switch-reference particle characteristic of womens' speech (there is a considerable gulf between women's and men's speech amongst speakers of Risha Cuhbi, and Cuhbi dialects in general); it is not entirely compulsory, but tends to show up when there is a change in topic - that is, when the grammatical topic (marked with =i) changes. A lexical postverbal clitic (òngà) appears here; this usually accompanies -kà when long distances are involved. has venitive marking (i.e. the stem vowel is backed), indicating the direction of movement towards the deictic centre, here the speaker's community (i.e. Risha). Note also that in Cuhbi we speak of being 'atop' a boat.

bòtoʂ ngápcà: Kàng Príizà
bòtuus-r ngá=pcà: Kàng Príízà
name-APP and=have: Kang Prii that_is

He had a name: that is to say, Kang Prii

Both and pcà are pseudoverbal clitics derived historically from true verbal constructions; as a result they are very restricted in what marking they can take. Pcà derives from the verb for 'to sit' and a now defunct dative applicative - i.e. it originally meant 'sit to' - but now indicates possession alongside certain idiomatic meanings.

teda igoda lùu nyiifàʔà aayayi teda pxaya sùu obèh sèhamà
teda igoda lùu n-i-ʁ-h-b=ʔà aaya-a=yi teda pxai-a sùt o-be-h se-h=mà
NEG_MOD_INT black hand 3p-do-IMP.REAL-INT=it_is_known doing_so-OBL=TOP NEG_MOD_INT castrate-OBL common CONJ-stand-IMP be_beside-IMP=GENERAL_TRUTH

He was a very bloodthirsty person, shame on him, as is common amongst the castrates, shame on them

Teda is a reduplicated modal particle indicating strong disapproval. igoda lùu, 'black hand', is an idiom for bloodthirstiness - its origin is not entirely clear, but it is possible that it is related to the dismembered hands that both Cuh and Tsi warriors hang from their battle standards. The second clause - which is background information - has no voice prefix; instead, it has a conjunct prefix which derives from an older conjunction ho- - often used in compound conjunctions - whose use was generalised and then grammaticalised as a prefix occurring with all conjunctions, as well as in its older function as a backgrounding mechanism. The second clause also has a different evidentiality clitic, =mà, which indicates gnomic statements, things considered to be common sense or general knowledge. Aaya, 'acting in such a way', is historically a verbal noun of the verb ʁ 'to do', derived by reduplication (no longer a productive process).

ta vavasvò ohaʔà
ta vavasò o-ʁ-h=ʔà
NEG_MOD evil_spirit CONJ-do-IMP=it_is_known

and he conjured up evil spirits

Ta is the non-reduplicated form of teda. It is unclear whether there is in modern Risha Cuhbi any great semantic difference between them; possibly ta is less strong. Note that this too is considered background information - not part of the main narrative - and is thus subordinated.

nxàr nyutònguuyè cùnacùn nyiiyàpíɽ
nxà-r nyutòng-ø-n-u-ʁ-ø-ì-a cùnacùn n-i-ʁ-ø=píɽ
town-OBL ghost-NOM-3sg-PASS-do-PERF-NO-OBL disembowel 3p-ACT-do-PERF=in_a_disgusting_manner

He murdered the town's priest by disembowelment

This sentence is difficult to translate literally. nxàr nyutònguuyè is a nominal compound where both elements take the same case marking; this is common for relationships which in English we would treat as possession and is comparable to e.g. 'the town guard'. The word I have translated as 'priest' is actually a headless relative clause meaning, approximately, 'ghosted'; headless relative clauses are often lexicalised like this. The 'priest' in this context is responsible for communication with, and placation of, the spirit of a given locality; such individuals may be charismatic or mentally ill, and may or may not be prominent figures in the community. The sentence literally reads something like 'he executed the town priest by disembowelment [in a way which the speaker finds repugnant]'. Cùnacùn is specifically a public execution by disembowelment, a common punishment among the Tsi; the 'murder' part comes from the postverb, which I think requires a more loaded word in the English than 'execute'.

nxà nyutònguuyìyi kárxàcè tànxàcè opàʂaʔà
nxà-ø nyutòng-ø-n-u-ʁ-ø-ì-ø=yi kár-xà-tè-a tàn-xà-tè-a o-pàʂa=ʔa
town-NOM ghost-NOM-3sg-PASS-do-PERF-NO-NOM=TOP wise-AUG-COM-OBL old-AUG-COM-OBL CONJ-is=it_is_known

although he was very wise and very old

Again, this is considered background information and so is conjunctive; in spite of the topic change, the topic of the main narrative does not shift and so no bzà is needed. The comitative is used here to coordinate two adjectives which are in the oblique; the form -cè for the comitative oblique is characteristic of women's speech. The suffix -xà is a very productive augmentative suffix used by both male and female Risha speakers, although it is considerably more frequent in women's speech.

Kàng Prííyi bah yiràngi ʂànɡoʐe hógògà iisàpíɽaʔà qógògà uusàpíɽaʔà
Kàng Príí=yi bah yi=ràng=i bzà ʂànɡ=o-ʐe-ø hógògà i-ʁ-ø-s=píɽ=ʔa qógògà o-ʁ-ø-s=píɽ=ʔa
Kàng Príí=TOP day CLASS[flat]=ten=TOP NEW after CONJ-pass-PERF vomiting ACT-do-PERF-INC=in_a_disgusting_manner=it_is_known diarrhoea CON-do-PERF-INC=in_a_disgusting_manner=it_is_known

after ten days passed Kang Prii began to vomit and pass diarrhoea in the most terrible fashion

The words for 'vomiting' and 'diarrhoea' are both onomatopoeic ad hoc coinages related to the normal forms and presumably produced both for the rhyme and for their evocative quality; the usual terms are hógàn and qódà. Note the use of the conjunct form to attach the second verb closely to the first: the implication is that they were simultaneous and interlinked. The temporal clause has the conjunct form on the verb and also a preverbal clitic meaning 'after'. Note that for some reason, days fall into the 'flat' class.

botaa ngáhuu nyexàxòʔa
botaat ngá=o-ʁ-ø nye-ø=xàxò=ʔa
death then=CONJ-do-PERF finish-PERF=with_difficulty=it_is_known

Then he died in horrible pain

Relatively straightforward light verb construction. Ngá= implies a very clear causal and/or temporal sequence. We can also see here how semantic drift affects some combinations of verb and postverb: normally =xàxò implies difficulty in achieving a goal, but with dying, it expresses a long, painful process.

vsísyé tsònyiyihlò nyányá ikìʂaryaʔà
vsísé-e tsò=o-nyi-REDUP-h=lò nyányá i-kì-ø=ʂarya=ʔà
sea-OBL while=CONJ-immerse-IMP-IMP.REAL=by_hand flames ACT-pull-PERF=suddenly=it_is_known

as they were lowering him into the sea, he burst into flames

'While he was being lowered into the sea by hand, he pulled the flames suddenly'. Again we have a postverb - ʂarya - this time implying surprise on the part of the observers and rapidity, i.e. 'suddenly'. In Cuhbi, you 'pull flames' to catch alight. Nyi, like a number of verbs with a lexically perfective meaning, takes reduplication with imperfective suffixes; historically the reduplication was a productive derivational process but the reduplicated forms have now collapsed into a single paradigm with the perfectives and imperfective forms without reduplication/perfective forms with reduplication are only occasionally seen - either as archaisms or, perhaps, as production errors/analogy. Nyi also shows the ergativity of Cuhbi verbs - it can mean 'be immersed' or 'immerse' (it is very commonly seen, too, as a locative verb meaning 'in a substance').

sásári tsaká nyàtsò pònonàa
sásá-r=i tsa-ká nyà=tsò pòn=o-nà-t
such-OBL=TOP likes_of-man.OBL CLASS[foreign men]=all let_it_be=CONJ-fall-PERF.IRREAL

May the same fall on all such men!

No bzà here even though we might expect one - perhaps because the sentence is considered separate from the rest of the narrative. Tsa- is a productive prefix meaning 'the likes of'. Ga 'man' has an irregular oblique in . Note that tsò is a characteristically female classifier. Pòn= is an optative prefix and triggers irrealis marking in the verb, although here the -t is latent (most plosives can never appear word-finally) and produces lengthening of the previous vowel instead.
كان يا ما كان / يا صمت العشية / قمري هاجر في الصبح بعيدا / في العيون العسلية

tà yi póbo tsùtsùr ciivà dè!

short texts in Cuhbi

Risha Cuhbi grammar

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Whimemsz »

This is great and your work on Cuhbi is great.

I hope everyone, especially our conlanging newbs, reads through this as an example of what truly excellent conlanging work looks like. You have different lects (women's versus men's speech); extensive cultural background taken into account when designing the language, text, and presentation; idiomatic phrases and unpredictable lexical choices (from expressions like "pull flames" to mean "burst into flames" and "black hand" to mean "bloodthirsty", to more subtle things like conventionally saying "on top of" a canoe rather than "in" one); taking diachronics into account in designing constructions (possession from "sit to"); the use of interesting but underused, underexamined, and underappreciated constructions among most conlangers (applicatives, evidentiality, animacy impacting morphosyntax, conjunction, cases used in non-canonical situations [e.g., the comitative for conjoining two oblique adjectives]); complex but not silly morphophonemics (nyiifàʔà from n-i-ʁ-h-b=ʔà); wordplay (hógògà and qógògà); and a morphosyntactic system that isn't just a million different inflections and no syntax, nor no inflections but what amounts to English syntax, but something much deeper and more believable.

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by hwhatting »

(Joining the praise)

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by kanejam »

This is truly awesome work, an awful lot of effort has gone into this and it shows. This is a very good way to present a conlang regardless to whether or not this is the first time you've presented it. A very cool conlang and a very cool story!
If you cannot change your mind, are you sure you have one?

Here's a thread on Oscan.

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by patiku »

Frankly, I'm amazed. This has to be, without a doubt, one of the best presentations I've come across on this forum. You should be very proud of what you've done here, and I hope you keep up the good work.

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Risla »

Going to echo what other people have said--this is fantastic. I'm glad I came back to the ZBB at the right time to see this.

I'd also like to add that this is a very good way, in general, to present a conlang; short bits of text interspersed with commentary makes it so that it's not too dense or uninteresting, but it's still a good medium for giving people a lot of information about the language. I am tempted to follow your example and present one of my own stories in a similar way at some point.

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Sevly »

Yng, what can I say? Like everybody, I am impressed by the depth and complexity of Cuhbi in both semantics and morphosyntax, and I am even more impressed by how you've managed to convey that depth in such an interesting manner. This style, with glossed sentences followed by grammatical and cultural commentary, works beautifully and I'll join Risla in saying that this is a model I should follow.

Now, I see that the topic is Short Stories. Well.

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Yng »

Haha, wow guys - thanks for all the praise. The next text is an excerpt from a Cuhbi translation of an excerpt of the K!ɛk Tbi K!ɔɔ, a Tsi geography commonly given to young students. Cuhbi has no real continuing literary tradition; whilst there are numerous samples of what is called Classical Cuhbi available, these are largely inscriptions and letters from the period of Cuh dominion over the northern coastlines, and the tradition of writing in Cuhbi largely disappeared after the collapse of Cuh rule over regions where writing was prominent. Cuhbi writing from the period of Tsi rule is a relatively new phenomenon and is a result of the growth of a literate, bilingual Cuhbi-speaking elite interested in writing in their own language; very few original texts exist as yet, and the majority of the corpus is contracts (often bilingual in Tsi) or translations of Tsi classics. The monumental Cuhbi script is no longer in use.

The K!ɛk Tbi K!ɔɔ (Five Springs) itself is a traditionally versified Tsi-language text which describes in some detail the world as it is known to the Tsi, based on both the personal observations of its writer, N!ʰan Príd, and on hearsay. The division of the physical world into five regions, each one associated with a specific animal who is held to have birthed a specific set of peoples, is typical of the Tsi worldview and ties in with their creation myths and other elements of the Tsi intellectual canon. This particular section is the beginning of the fourth part, discussing the 'Spring of the Dog', in the far north of the known world, where the relatively arable land occupied by the Tsi empire fades into desert country; this region is inhabited by a number of distinct peoples known by the Tsi as the 'dog people' and known widely as dirty, savage, and cruel. The Cuhbi is not consistently versified - the Cuh have a tradition of oral poetry, of course, but this is considered unsuitable for intellectual texts, and as yet nobody has adapted Tsi poetic norms to Cuhbi - but does show occasional hints of meter and rhyme.

In the name of the emperor Bdáát Tən|ɔ
Ngáád Bdáát Tən|ɔyi nyiya bàtsè uuntà
Ngáád Bdáát Tən|ɔ=yi nyiʁ-a bàtsè u-ʁ-t-n
emperor Bdáát Tən|ɔ=TOP his_family-OBL glory PASS-do-PERF.REAL-APP.AN

This is a formulaic opening, literally meaning 'we glorify the family of emperor Bdáát Tən|ɔ'. Throughout this text numerous Tsi phrases of noun-noun composition are treated as single words and inflected as such, which is probably how they would be pronounced and treated by most Cuhbi speakers (along with various other phonological modifications); although I give them here in their Tsi form because that's how they're written, native pronunciations of them differ significantly depending on how competent the speaker is in Tsi and perhaps to some extent on how pedantic they are. The ability to pronounce Tsi properly is a positive trait among the Cuh bilingual literati, but it is (perhaps ironically) stigmatised amongst other Cuh and referred to as 'making the rattlesnake'; although most male Cuhbi speakers within a certain age bracket are bilingual to some degree the Tsi spoken by mercenaries and traders is very much pidginised with other languages and butchered phonetically. Note that Bdáát Tən|ɔ is the topic; this is an interesting structure where the possessor is extracted from its relationship of possession, treated as an adverbial, and then promoted to accusative with an applicative (and then to nominative with the possessor). There are quite a few of these structures in this piece. Historically, relationships of possession were expressed with the dative - now fallen into disuse - and could be promoted in this way straightforwardly with the dative applicative; the collapse of the case system and the various applicatives has made this process less transparent. Note that the historic instrumental applicative and the locative applicative have now collapsed into one form for all intents and purposes, but one (historically the instrumental) is used exclusively with inanimates and the other with animates. Also note that the cluster /tn/ produced by the perfective suffix and the applicative resolves to /nt/, leaving the applicative's surface realisation inside the stem - this is a regular morphophonological process.

In the fifth year of his glorious rule
bàtsènì bdʰá niiyàmááya pààʂoli sotèng oʐii
bàtsènì bdʰá n-i-ʁ-ø=mááya pààʂo-r=i so=tèng o-ʐe-t
gloriously sash 3p-ACT-do-IMP.REAL=in_a_praiseworthy_manner year-OBL=TOP CLASS[flat]=five CONJ-pass_time-PERF.REAL

Literally something like 'he does the sash gloriously and five years pass'. A bdʰá is a specific kind of sash worn only by high-ranking Tsi (i.e. governors and potentates). bàtsènì is a Tsi borrowing which is tautologous here with the presence of =mááya but is presumably retained simply for the prestige of the Tsi loanword. Also interesting here is the form of the last verb: the underlying -t disappears because Cuhbi phonotactics does not permit final stops, with compensatory lengthening. Some dialects would have /eː/ here, but Risha Cuhbi merged /eː oː/ with /iː uː/.

We begin our investigation of the Spring of the Dog
ktang mo k!ɔɔri m!áá iisàʂ rufva kàdkàɖozà
ktang_mo_k!ɔɔ-r=i m!áá i-ʁ-t-s-r rufu-a kàdkàd-r=o-zà
spring_of_the_dog-OBL=TOP investigation ACT-do-PERF.REAL-INCH-APP.INAN dog-OBL freshwater_spring-OBL CONJ-that_is

'Ktang mo k!ɔɔ begins to be investigated; that is, the Dog Spring'. Calqued on the Tsi structure, the verb used for 'investigate' here uses a Tsi borrowing combined with a Cuhbi true verb (a closed class; new verbal coinages always take the form of a bare noun element and a verb). However, like other similar Cuhbi verbal structures, such as 'search for', the object is construed as an adverbial and so it must be promoted using an applicative (this time the inanimate applicative). The native translation of Ktang mo k!ɔɔ is a noun-noun structure with equivalent marking on both nouns: 'dog spring'. Note also the cliticised =ozà, the pseudoverb of clarification which we saw in the last text.

The borders of this land begin at the garrison city of M!áá Dtə in the north of the glorious empire
nyooɭ bdɛ k!ɔɔŋal M!áá Dtər naselà bàtsèr ngáádoptol qààn odè
nyoog-r bdɛ_k!ɔɔŋ-r M!áá_Dtə-r n-a-se-ø-r bàtsè-r ngáádopto-r qaad-n o-dè-ø
borderland-OBL garrison_city-OBL M!áá_Dtə-OBL 3p-STAT-be_beyond-IMP.REAL-APP.INAN, glorious-OBL empire-OBL north-OBL CONJ-be_atop-IMP.REAL

'its borderlands lie beyond the garrison city M!áá Dtə, and it is in the glorious-empire's north'. Note again the use of noun-noun structures to express relationships that in English are shown with possession and the use of an applicative to keep the land topical. Qaad 'north' has an oblique derived from the historic locative, like the other cardinal directions and a few other nouns. Note the usage of the conjunctive in its now familiar role as a backgrounder.

In this city many kinds of people come together
M!áá Dtəri kaaga nyà kaskas iiɽ nge
M!áá_Dtə-r=i kaaga nyà kaskas i-ʁ-ø-r nge-ø
M!áá_Dtə-OBL=TOP people family mingle ACT-do-IMP.REAL-APP.INAN be_in-IMP.REAL

Note the topicalisation of M!áá Dtə, which is the topic from here on in - although it is initially annexed to the sentence as the argument of the serial verb nge, the applicative is still on the main verb. Although native Cuhbi names exist for many of these cities, they have largely been displaced in the educated sociolect by their Tsi variants. The construction 'people-family' for 'many kinds of people' is a calque on Tsi. A more typical way of saying it in spontaneous Cuhbi would be tságaagata tságaagata 'such_a_people and such_a_people'.

and the markets are rich with all kinds of produce
nyobàl caqucaqur mìmade nabelà
nyobà-r caqu-REDUP-r mìmade n-a-be-ø-r
market-OBL produce-ASS-OBL abundant 3p-STAT-stand-IMP.REAL-APP.INAN

Full reduplication produces associative meaning ('etc, and other related things'): here caqucaqu is 'produce and other profitable things'. The topic is still the city; we can interpret its underlying role here as again the possessor of the market (it can't be a simple locative 'there' because there is no serial verb to annex a locative argument to the verb).

A Tsi person can feel at home here, in spite of the heat
Tsii xáxáx nyibabal ngákànyiʂyiyi qaaxe dàha ovaalò
Tsii xáxáx n-i-ba-REDUP-ø-r ngáka-n-i-ʂi-ø-i=i qaax-r dàha o-va-t=lò
Tsi crackling 3p-ACT-hear-IMP-IMP.REAL-APP.INAN bag-3p-ACT-hold-IMP.REAL-NO.NOM=TOP heat-OBL side CONJ-push-PERF.REAL=by_hand

The idiom 'hear the crackling (of a hearth)' is probably originally a calque from Tsi, but in this case a relatively well-established one found in spontaneous speech, too. The long lexicalised relative clause which literally means 'bag-holder' referred originally to a specific kind of aide; in Risha Cuhbi however it is used for all kinds of educated servants and is used here as a polite euphemism for 'me', somewhat like 'the author' or 'your humble servant' in English. The second clause is an expression literally meaning something like 'pushing to the side with my hand' but used regularly to mean 'in spite of' or 'regardless of'.

Because of the people of the (surrounding) country, who we will investigate in a moment, how the people of M!áá Dtə fear to leave their city by day or by night!
M!áá Dtəri bàgàgà cààn lììn ngà ùhvà tadada iivlaqààqo tfúúdòli oʐèh bàgàgà m!áá ùùh
M!áá_Dtə-r=i bàgàgà cààn lììn ngà ùhù-a tadada i-ʁ-ø-b-r=qààqo PRE-fúúdò-r=i o-ʐe-ʔ bàgàgà-a m!áá o-ʁ-ʔ
M!áá_Dtə-OBL=TOP countryside_people at_night in_daytime ACC people-OBL shiver ACT-do-IMP.REAL-INT-APP.INAN=in_a_terrible_way moment_DIM-OBL=TOP CONJ-pass_time-IMP.IRR countryside_people-OBL investigation CONJ-do-IMP.IRR

Again the city is topicalised. Bàgà is 'countryside, uplands' and refers in the Cuhbi homeland to the interior of islands, particularly large ones, and partial reduplication forms demonyms or nouns referring to inhabitants of a kind of area (we could also translate this as 'hillfolk'). Cààn and lììn are frozen locatives with adverbial meaning; whilst a spontaneous Cuhbi production might instead use the clitic =pàngobààng 'all of the time, constantly', this construction mirrors the Tsi phrase n!oo q!oo 'day and night'. The particle ngà is a usually optional accusative marker which is increasing in frequency in Risha Cuhbi and is on its way to becoming compulsory; some verbs already require it. The clause's agent is the hillfolk and the patient the ùhù, who (pre-topicalisation) have a possessive-esque relationship with the city. Tadada is an onomatopoeia for the chattering of teeth. Note that the main verb of this sentence is in the intensive - in this case fulfilling a mirative or exclamatory function. The intensive can appear on its own in this function but more commonly it is found with a postverbal clitic, especially in spoken Risha Cuhbi, where the bare intensive as a mirative is rare.

The second clause is conjunctive, and can be literally translated 'and a few small moments will pass, and we will investigate the country people'. The word tfúúdò is the word fúúd 'period of time, moment' with a diminutive suffix -dò and preduplication for paucal 'a few'; in preduplication the final syllable is prefixed and voicing dissimilation occurs. Risha has lost the vowel in the prefix in a lot of words where this produces an acceptable cluster, as here, although ad hoc coinages often have the vowel in spite of the possibility of its reduction. Note the irrealis marking for the future.

A great ditch filled with spiked stakes protects the city in the north, and to the south is a port
nyàànriisayè xááxál kùùyil qààn fáʐu nyiil dè, vaynol nyalèn nadèlà
nyààn-r-i-ʁ-t-yè xááxá-r kùùyi-r qaad-n fáʐu n-i-ʁ-ø-r dè-ø, vayno-r nyale-n n-a-dè-ø-r
stake-OBL-ACT-do-PERF.REAL-NO.OBL great-OBL ditch-OBL north-OBL forearm 3p-ACT-do-IMP.REAL-APP.INAN be_upon-IMP.REAL, port-OBL south-OBL 3p-STAT-be_upon-IMP.IRREAL-APP.INAN

This construction is slightly awkward; although the relative structure for 'filled with spikes' is correct, it is not very widely used in original Cuhbi productions - usually a second clause in the conjunct would be preferred (a great ditch... and it is filled with spikes). 'do the forearms' derives from traditional Cuh fighting practice, particularly unarmed but also against some forms of club, where the forearm is used to block weaponry.

I myself stayed here four days!
cor soʂì ru ngákànyiʂyi nyiʐeɭàkà
co-r so=ʂì ru ngáka-n-i-ʂi-ø-i n-i-ʐe-t-l-kà
day-OBL CLASS[round]=four EMPH bag-3p-ACT-hold-IMP.REAL-NO.NOM 3p-ACT-pass_time-PERF.REAL-APP.INAN-1p

Ru and the immediate preverbal position are often used for contrastive emphasis. The postverbal pronominal suffix -kà echoes the implies 1p.

Beyond the city the land is arid and cannot be cultivated
bàgàli sasaɽè ya fuu nyììhusu
bàgà-r=i sasa-r-tè i-a-ø fuub n-i-ʁ-ʔ=usu
countryside-OBL=TOP arid-OBL-COM.OBL ACT-sit-IMP.REAL seed 3p-ACT-do-IMP.REAL=NEG

Note irrealis marking on negative verb. Could be read 'they do not cultivate' or 'they cannot cultivate'.

There are impassable hills, mountains, and cliffs
nyaadaɽè fúúgaɽè xáragaɽè xálnyidèʔyè nala
nyaad-r-tè fúúg-r-tè xárag-r-tè xál-n-i-dè-ʔ-yè n-a-a-ø

Again the relative structure is a calque on the Tsi, this time on an adjective meaning 'uncrossed' or 'uncrossable'. A more 'Cuhbi' way of expressing it would be with the conjunct. Again, could be read 'uncrossed'.

The people of this land, that is the Dog People, how hard they are to find!
bàgàgàyi faqa uraboxàxò, rufukahozà
bàgàgà=i faqa u-ra-ø-b=oxàxò, rufuka=o-zà
countryside_people=TOP tracks PASS-see-IMP.REAL-INT=with_difficulty, dog_people=CONJ-that_is

Note again the intensive of mirativity - this time on its own. Probably the presence of another clitic makes it less likely that an exclamatory clitic will appear (although clitic stacking is possible and does happen). The idiom 'see tracks' could be taken literally were it not for the complete absence of marking on 'tracks' and the fact that the bàgàgà are topicalised without the use of an applicative.

How dirty and foul-smelling they are! And how little they bathe!
xaqaɽè ʂiʂiɽè nabebeyàng! mazemaze nyiive beyàng!
xaqa-r-tè ʂiʂi-r-tè n-a-be-ø-b=yàng! maze-REDUP n-i-ʁ-ø-b be-ø=yàng!
dirty-OBL-COM.OBL foul_smelling-COM.OBL 3p-STAT-stand-IMP.REAL-INT=exclamatory! bath-DIM 3p-ACT-do-IMP.REAL-INT stand-IMP.REAL=exclamatory!

There are a few interesting phenomena here. Mazemaze shows reduplication of the nominal element in a compound verb, which produces a 'verbal diminutive' typically meaning 'do little of'. This whole phrase uses the serial verb be 'stand', which typically indicates reflexivity or action on various things considered physically close to the agent, e.g. relatives, body parts and so on. Note that although the clitic goes on the second verb, the main verb still carries the intensive. Also interesting is the choice of /e/ as the epenthetic 'completion vowel' found at the end of most verbs; normally /à/ or /o/ is found instead, as in the rest of this piece, although /e/ is a dialectal variant. However, its presence in nabebe and nyiive allows nabe/beyàng and nyiive/beyàng a rhyme and parallelism that they would not normally have.

They move from one treq to another
ngáka nyiiyà treqar okà inyà
ngáka n-i-ʁ-ø treq-r o-kà-ø i-nya-ø

The placement of a second verb directly after the first as here bears some similarity to serial verb constructions in that the second verb can share arguments with the first; usually the second lacks the personal prefix, which we could argue is actually a clitic (this is because historically the personal prefix was an independent pronoun which like other arguments could be shared between the two verbs), and retains voice marking even if the first is conjunct. This apposition of verbs produces various effects. Sometimes it implies a very strong connection - as here, where the two verbs translate nicely as 'coming and going' and describe essentially the same process. As the final syllable in a verbal clause, nya takes low tone and is this parallel with the /à/ of . The distributive individuates a generic patient: 'from various Treqs to various other Treqs'. Treq is a Tsi version of /tʷærq/, or possibly /tʷærːæq/, meaning 'strong' and 'very strong' respectively, both actually used to refer to mountain strongholds rather than to pastures, which perhaps suggests the writer was not as familiar with the country as he claims.

Treq being their word for a pasturing-place, since they keep herds of different kinds of animal
pàgal ngodorozà tsapàgaɽè tsapàgaɽè pààgo uuyà
pàga-r ngodo-r=o-zà tsa-pàga-r-tè tsa-pàga-r-tè pààgo o-ʁ-ø
animal-OBL field-OBL=CONJ-that_is, this_kind-animal-OBL-COM.OBL this_kind-animal-OBL-COM.OBL herd CONJ-do-IMP.REAL

This shows the native structure for 'various kinds of' that we suggested as a better alternative earlier on. A more literal translation of this might be 'that is to say, a pasture, [since] they herd this kind of animal and that kind of animal'.

The dzlg, a horned sheep, is unique to the Spring of the Dog;
Dzlgari rufva kàdkàɖ màmà labyà ngè paqal nyanyalozà
Dzlg-r=i rufu-a kàdkàd-r màmà a-be-ø nge-ø, paqa-r nyanya-r=o-zà
Dzlg-OBL=TOP dog-OBL spring-OBL alone STAT-stand-IMP.REAL be_in-IMP.REAL, horn-OBL sheep-OBL=CONJ-that_is

dzlg /dzl̩g/ is a Tsi form of /tælk/ 'he-goat' (final voicing and interpretation of the /l/ as syllabic are because of Tsi phonotactics which do not permit codaic clusters; the final voicing reflects a dialectal form). The dzlg is a goat species not found south of the mountains where it is native. The writer compares it to a sheep.

it gives of a milk which they call plq which is most pleasant to the taste
cecel nyigè, "plq" viyà ofíyà idìtayàng
cece-r n-i-ge-ø, plq o-i-ø o-fí-ø i-dì-ø=tayàng
milk-OBL 3p-ACT-give-IMP.REAL, "plq" CONJ-say-IMP.REAL, CONJ-drink-IMP.REAL ACT-be_good-IMP.REAL=with_the_tongue

'It gives milk, and they say it "plq", and you drink it tastes good'. The last two verbal phrases are another example of the structure we mentioned earlier, this time with a consequential meaning. Note the idiomatic combination of verb and clitic 'taste good'. plq is again a Tsi borrowing of a form /pɬəkʼ/ 'white' or /pəɬːəkʼ/ 'milk'. Goats' milk is, unsurprisingly, an integral part of the Dog People's diet.

if we brought breeding Tzelg to our country there would be much profit for us
Tsii ndol nyikànò seksekal ngáhonyùnkò
Tsii_ndo-r n-i-ɑ/kà-n seksek-r ngá=o-u/nyì-n-kà
Tsi_country-OBL 3p-ACT-VEN/go-PERF.IRR profit-OBL then=CONJ-immerse_in-PERF.IRR-1p

Here the inherent ergativity of Cuhbi verbs - that is, the ability of intransitive verbs to take a causative agent and become transitive with no further modification - is exhibited: 'go', when given an agent, becomes 'take'. We also see venitive marking - note that historic /ɑ/ merged with /o/ finally and /a/ elsewhere, so the surface form of the root is still , but it changes the class of the verb for vowel harmony (no longer an entirely productive process but one that has made venitive marking spread throughout the suffixes of the verb). The same process applies in the second verb, this time less transparently but probably because 'we' are the patient. Seksek is a nativised Tsi borrowing from t!ɛk tǃek, 'silver coinage'. Note the idiom 'immersed in profit', a calque on the Tsi. The final -kà suffix on the last word is an emphatic first person pronominal suffix which expresses 'for us, too!' or 'for us'.

The people are also known for their terrible cruelty.
rufukayi paʂipal n!ɔɔ dtal nubènàqààqo
rufuka=i paʂipa-r n!ɔɔ_dta-r n-u-be-ø-n=qààqo
dog_people=TOP cruelty-OBL proverbial-OBL 3p-PASS-stand-IMP.REAL-APP.AN=in_a_terrible_way

as was seen in the sack of Qáá Tu
Qáá Tul nvegiifàn citànuumo
Qáá_Tu-r n-u-egi-t-b-n ci-t=nuumo
Qáá_Tu-OBL 3p-PASS-turn_black-PERF.REAL-INT-APP.AN be_in-PERF.REAL=with_the_eye

'Our eyes turned black to them in Qáá Tu' - this idiom means, roughly, 'to see someone's true colours (and be angered/disgusted by them)'. The subject here would be 'we'. ci-t would normally manifest as cii here, but the presence of a clitic with a long vowel means that the /iː/ is shortened (a word can only have one long vowel which carries the stress). The version with manifest /t/ perhaps emerged by analogy with other forms where an occurs, in order to disambiguate.

They are given to taking scalps, eyes, and teeth as trophies from their victims

ngá sàndatè sínyatè síxekyatè foqoqa nyiyabààqaʔà
ngá sàndo-a-tè síni-atè síxeke-a-tè foqoqa n-i-ʁ-ø=bààqa=ʔa
ACC 4p_hair-OBL-COM.OBL 4p_eye-OBL-COM.OBL 4p_teeth-OBL-COM.OBL trophy 3p-ACT-do-IMP.REAL=in_a_joyful_manner=it_is_known

Again, the expected long vowel in the verb is shortened because of the addition of a clitic with a long vowel. The three body parts are inalienably possessed and each have a prefix - now so impenetrably fused with the noun that it isn't worth analysing - marking the possessor. In this case, the 'generic', 'indefinite' or 'fourth person' prefix - which has corresponding forms in all parts of the pronominal system - is used, meaning here 'people's'. Note the presence of ngá, and also of the evidential =ʔa - the only such evidential in the whole piece. Possibly the lack of evidentials is influenced by their semi-optionality and the absence of any equivalent in the Tsi text; also likely to be a factor is the implication, present in the original text, that the writer has personally seen all of the things he reports.
كان يا ما كان / يا صمت العشية / قمري هاجر في الصبح بعيدا / في العيون العسلية

tà yi póbo tsùtsùr ciivà dè!

short texts in Cuhbi

Risha Cuhbi grammar

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Yng »

This is a short conversation between two women, one of whom is a shopkeeper and the other a friend of hers.

Good morning, Sudamaha, how are you? I hope your family is well.
Zùuli zòna uuvà Sudamaha mòmo tànga ciiyà cá? mòmoyi làh ngéhobehàbastàqo?
zùul=i zòna u-ʁ-ø Sudamaha mo-REDUP tànga t-i-ʁ-ø cá? mo-REDUP=i làh ngé=o-be-ʔ=bastà=qo
dawn=TOP sunbeam PASS-do-IMP.REAL Sudamaha my_sister-VOC, smile 2p-ACT-do-IMP.REAL INT? my_sister-ASS=TOP well OPT=CONJ-stand-IMP.IRR=in_body=OPT

Literally more like 'dawn is shining, Sudamaha my sister, are you smiling? I hope you and your family are well in body'. Personal pronouns in Cuhbi, particularly in women's speech, are very familiar and essentially used only for children and spouses. Men use them slightly more, including in interactions with friends, but for both sexes the general tendency is to use various different grammaticalised nominal forms. Between women of approximately the same age, the polite way is to refer to both oneself and the addressee with mo 'older sister'. Two different kinds of reduplication are seen here which look identical in mo because it's monosyllabic: partial reduplication to form a vocative and full reduplication to form an associative mòmo 'my sister and her family'.

Good morning, Zayamaha. The spirits love me and my family. Your family are well?
bah iiyà Zayamaha mòmo nyutòng mòmvà zidi iyò. mòmoyi làh ngéhobehàbastàqo?
bah i-ʁ-ø Zayamaha mo-REDUP nyutòng mò-REDUP-a zidi i-â/ʁ-ø. mo-REDUP=i làh ngé=o-be-ʔ=bastà=qo
yes ACT-do-IMP.REAL Zayamaha my_sister-VOC. ghost your_sister-ASSOC-OBL liver ACT-VEN/do-IMP.REAL. my_sister-ASS=TOP well OPT=CONJ-stand-IMP.IRR=in_body=OPT

The response to interrogatives in Cuhbi - whether positive or negative - usually includes a shortened form of the main verb, without a voice or personal prefix. In both Cuh and Tsi thought the liver is the seat of love - note the venitive because the object of love is the speaker.

Yes, by my mother. Here, have some tea.
bah ibe, mìmya onya. càacàl ahqii ifíílò.
bah i-be-ø mìmi-a o-nya-ø. càa-REDUP-r a=o-qi-t i-fí-t=lò
yes ACT-stand-IMP.REAL, my_mother-OBL CONJ-be_before-IMP.REAL. tea-PAUC-OBL IMP=CONJ-take-PERF.REAL ACT-drink-PERF.REAL=by_hand

'Yes they are, it is before my mother'. Oaths are usually made in this format: 'I stand in front of X'/'it stands in front of X'. Possibly etymologically this is an assertion that the speaker would stand before the relative or individual cited and say it there, too. càacà is a partitive 'some tea'. Note the serial-verb-like construction ahqii ifíílò 'take and drink'. Note that =lò attaches to the entire verb complex.

What can I do for you today?
moyi bzà xúuva tiltil ibabràa?
mo=i bzà xúuva tiltil i-ba-ø=ràa
my_sister=TOP SWITCH what.OBL glint ACT-sense-IMP.REAL=by_eye

Interrogative pronouns typically appear in the last position before the verb/nominal element in a compound verb. The expression 'see a glint of' means 'look for'. Notice bzà, the switch-reference marker, and the reduplication of the stem ba in the imperfective.

I'm looking for something for my husband.
nyòyi bzà tiltil ibàn geràa
nyò=yi bzà tiltil i-ba-ø-n ge-ø=ràa
my_husband=TOP SWITCH glint ACT-sense-IMP.REAL-APP[ANIM] give-IMP.REAL=by_eye

'My husband' is now established as the topic by promotion from an oblique argument annexed to the main verb by use of the serial ge which here produces a benefective.

I see.

'It comes' or 'it has come' is a common feedback phrase.

These days he has old Odi's weakness - it's been two weeks now, two!.
nyiqabal yìici Ododyà acabayò xódòri xá socè oʐii socènzà!
nyiqaba-r yìi=ci Odì-RED-a a-ca-ø=bayo xódò-r=i xá so=cè o-ʐe-t so=cè=nzà
weakness-OBL CLASS[abstract]=3sg Odi-HYP-OBL STAT-be_under-IMP.REAL=it_seems, week-OBL=TOP EMPH CLASS[flat]=two CONJ-pass-PERF.REAL CLASS[flat]=two=it_means!

Partial reduplication is used with proper names to form hypocoristics. Odi is a character in a traditional Cuh story who suffered from impotence. Interesting here is the behaviour of the classifier and numeral, which is both repeated after the verb with =nzà (repetition for emphasis) and is also separated from the noun which it is quantifying (xódò) and shifted to the immediate preverbal position, preposed with , an emphatic particle.

I see, I see.
ràn ibe
ràn i-be-ø
enough ACT-sit-IMP.REAL

Another feedback phrase.

Do you have qazqaz or something like that?
qazqaz-qazqazi bzá ya pá?
qazqaz-REDUP=i bzá i-a-ø pá?

With normal nouns the associative means 'etc, and similar things'. The interrogative is historically a negative particle found in older Cuhbi in a tag question construction; in Risha Cuhbi the following verb is largely elided and has been grammaticalised as a closed-question particle. Literally this sentence is something like 'is there Qazqaz or something like that here?' Qazqaz is a herb commonly held to help with impotence.

Ay, Zayamaha, qazqaz is nonsense.
xàa Zayamaha mòmò qazqazi bzòbzòl igepíɽ!
xàa Zayamaha mò-REDUP qazqaz=i bzòbzò-r i-ge-ø=píɽ
ay Zayamaha my_sister-VOC qazqaz-TOP whore-OBL ACT-give-IMP.REAL=be_unpleasant

'Qazqaz is whores' stuff', i.e. useless.

By my right hand, I wouldn't sell it to a friend for goats' hair.
qazqaʐi cìsèh da xá yàndàl dabyà ìinà gènà qàhdal xaɽorol ongan mbàlor ònya
qazqaz-r=i cì=sèh da xá yàndà-r dabyà i-ʁ-n ge-n qàhda-r xaɽo-RED-r o-ngá-n mbàlo-r o-nya-ø
qazqaz-OBL=TOP CLASS[substance]=NEG MOD EMPH friend-OBL merchant ACT-do-PERF.IRR give-PERF.IRR goat-OBL his_hair-PAUC-OBL CONJ-pick_up-PERF.IRR my_right_hand-OBL CONJ-be_before-IMP.REAL

'I would not sell qazqaz to a friend [even if] I took [in return] some goat's hair' - i.e. it's not even worth unrefined unwoven goats' hair.

Hmm... It's bande you want.
rrrr ngá bàndedel tiltil iraahòndu
rrrr ngá bànde-REDUP-r tiltil i-ra-t=òndu
rrrrr ACC bande-PAUC-OBL glint ACT-see-PERF.REAL=I_affirm

Rrrr (a long-held trill) is used to indicate contemplation, often whilst circling the right hand in the air. Bande is a mixture of various herbs usually drunk as tea.

You put this in his soup, it will kill Odi.
cìyi luuxa ìnyìn Odìdyà ngáhùunabaspòndu
cì=i luux-a i-nyi-n Odi-REDUP-a ngá=o-ʁ-n=baspa=òndu
CLASS[substance]=TOP soup-OBL ACT-put_in-PERF.IRR, Odi-HYP-OBL hence=CONJ-do-PERF.IRR=quickly=I_affirm

The protasis and apodosis of a conditional clause are often connected simply with ngá=, with no literal translation for 'if'. Because it is distant future, the irrealis is used.

By my good standing with the spirits, I know my herbs.
mòyi nzà yáqàr roh iyòndu nyutònga barfar onya
mò=i nzà yáqà-r roh i-ʁ-ø=òndu nyutòng-a barfa-r o-nya-ø
your_sister=TOP SWITCH herb-OBL hand ACT-do-IMP.REAL=I_affirm ghost-OBL reputation-OBL CONJ-be_before-IMP.REAL

'I'm good with herbs' = 'I do the hands with herbs'.

Here, I'll put it in a bag for you.
nyikàa cìyi mol ɽabal ingii gii
n-i-â/kà-t cì=i mo-r ɽaba-r i-nge-t ge-t
3p-ACT-VEN/come-PERF.REAL, CLASS[substance]=TOP my_sister-OBL purse-OBL ACT-put_in-PERF.REAL give-PERF.REAL

Again, ge is used as a benefactive. Note the use of nge 'in an enclosed space', rather than nyi 'in a substance, immersed in'.

Great! Thanks so much. How much does this sell for?
ngtà! fása fása! mòmoyi nyutònga ɽònci ngéhoba be cìyi soxíya ihe?
Ngtà! fása fása! mo-RED=i nyutòng-a ɽòn=ci ngé=o-ba-ø be-ø cì=i so=xíya i-ʔe-ø
MOD! gift gift! my_sister-ASS=TOP ghost-OBL CLASS[natural_force]=3p OPT=CONJ-sense-IMP.IRR stand-IMP.IRR CLASS[substance]=TOP CLASS[round]=how_much ACT-eat-IMP.IRR

Literally 'may your family know their ghosts'. Ngtà is a paralinguistic click, but not one borrowed from Tsi. Note the use of the classifier as a kind of pronoun standing in for the qazqaz. 'Eat' is used idiomatically to mean 'cost'. Note 'how many' is cliticised to a classifier.

If a castrate's wife came, a hundred pieces! But for a friend, I'd happily accept seven pieces.
sekseɽ somà tqaba ihe pkai nyedeyi okàto nyikàtosùu, solìntà yàndà ikùnotsòndu
seksek-r so=mà tqaba i-ʔe-ø pkai nyede=i o-â/kà-t n-i-â/kà-t=sùu, so=lìntà yàndà i-u/kì-n=otso=òndu
silver_coin-OBL CLASS[flat]=one hundred ACT-eat-IMP.IRR castrate his_wife=TOP CONJ-VEN/come-PERF.IRR, 3p-ACT-VEN/come-PERF.REAL=HYP, CLASS[flat]=seven friend ACT-VEN/pull-PERF.IRR=happily=I_affirm

This conditional has a hypothetical enclitic, unlike the others. Perhaps a better translation of pkai nyede is 'a Tsi woman' given that pkai is prepositioned.

Ay, Sudamaha, you are joking with me!
xoi Sudamaha mòmo mòr tsatsa nyiyà gehà
xoi Sudamaha mo-REDUP mò-r tsatsa n-i-ʁ-ø ge-ø=ohà
ay, Sudamaha my_sister-VOC, your_sister-OBL laugh 3p-ACT-do-IMP.REAL give-IMP.REAL=it_must_be!

Note that evidentiality and epistemic modality are conflated in the same enclitic slot.

or else you are a bandit! I'll give you five, and five only!
fay ngángádi nabehà! xá sotèng uge!
fay ngángádi n-a-be-ø=ohà! xá so=tèng u-ge-ø

or bandit 3p-STAT-stand-IMP.REAL=it_must_be! EMPH CLASS[flat]=five PASS-give-IMP.REAL

Again the emphatic~contrastive particle and final position are used to emphasise 'five'.

Zayamaha, you've strangled me and I've choked, hey? Here you are.
Zayamaha mòmo moyi mel iqiibaɭà mòyi aqaq ngáhuusà nyiraa ʔahongáalò
Zayamaha mo-RED mo=i mel i-qi-t=baɭà mò=i aqaq ngá=o-ʁ-t n-i-ra-t ʔa=o-ngá-t=lò
Zayamaha my_sister-VOC my_sister=TOP throat ACT-grab-PERF.REAL=in_a_bad_way your_sister=TOP choking_sounds thus=CONJ-do-PERF.REAL, 3p-ACT-see-PERF.REAL IMP=CONJ-take-PERF.REAL=by_hand!

This is a common jocular phrase meaning something like 'you've got me', 'you're cutting my throat'. Nyiraa is a common filler phrase.

Hey, have you seen Matasura's husband recently?
yàng abe, Matasural dyòli mo raqàn uraa pá?
yàng a-be-ø, Matasura-r dyò-r=i mo raqàn u-ra-t pá?
enough STAT-sit-IMP.REAL, Matasura-OBL her_husband-OBL=TOP my_sister recently PASS-see-PERF.REAL INT?

Here yàng abe means 'anyway', 'whatever'.

No - he's away on the ships, isn't he?
dàng fenusu nyikàa nyàa idèe xál kàn?
dàng fé-n=usu n-i-kà-t nyàat i-dè-t xál kà-n

Yes, but not by choice! Matasura drove him out!
bah kàa lezi iimbusu Matasura àmbe nuusàʔa
bah kà-t lezi i-ʁ-n-b=usu Matasura àmbe n-u-ʁ-t=ʔà
yes go-PERF.REAL choice ACT-do-PERF.IRR-INT=NEG Matasura fear 3p-PASS-do-PERF.REAL=I_heard thus=CONJ-go-PERF.REAL=it_is_known!

He went to the docks to trade with the Tsi, but he came back bitten.
nyàtaaqal ikàa tsutsur iisà ikàatoʔà obàan nyaqo uusàʔà
nyàtaaqa-r i-kà-t tsutsur i-ʁ-t i-â/kà-t=ʔà afterwards nyaqo o-ʁ-t=ʔà
dock-OBL ACT-go_to-PERF.REAL rattlesnake ACT-do-PERF.REAL ACT-return-PERF.REAL=I_heard bite CONJ-do-PERF.REAL=I_heard

'Do the rattlesnake' is used to mean 'speak Tsi' (because of the clicks, which sound like rattling) or by extension 'trade with Tsi merchants'. 'Do the snake', however, means 'have an erection'. There's a joke here - the implication is that Matasura's husband went down to the docks to 'trade' and instead slept with another woman, possibly a prostitute. Note 'afterwards' obàan which is a fossilised locative of obat 'time' and is used to mean 'again', 'a second time' here.

And she told me - just between us - that his snake has grown real scales now!
ngávii tsutsuɽ basbas ubetàmbàquuloʔà yàndàbo va!
ngá=o-i-t tsutsur-r basbas u-be-t-b-n=uquul=ʔà yàndàbo o-a-ø
thus=CONJ-say-PERF.REAL, rattlesnake-OBL scaled PASS-stand-PERF.REAL-INT-APP=disgustingly=I_heard for_friends CONJ-sit-IMP.REAL

Presumably the husband caught some unpleasant disease. Reported speech is achieved with 'she said...' and a conjunctive.

By my mother! Oh well, he'll be back, I'm sure.
mìmya anya ntá-ntà teda nyikàtoʔà
mìmi-a a-nya-ø ntá-ntà teda n-i-â/kà-t=ʔà
my_mother-OBL STAT-be_before-IMP.REAL oh_well MOD[negative] 3p-ACT-VEN/go-PERF.REAL=it_is_known

Ntá-ntà is another paralinguistic click.
كان يا ما كان / يا صمت العشية / قمري هاجر في الصبح بعيدا / في العيون العسلية

tà yi póbo tsùtsùr ciivà dè!

short texts in Cuhbi

Risha Cuhbi grammar

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by GrinningManiac »

I can't even imagine where you began coming up with all that cultural and social context. Brilliant stuff.

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by TheWeaver »

Woah! This is amazing. Congratulations :)

Whimemsz wrote: I hope everyone, especially our conlanging newbs, reads through this as an example of what truly excellent conlanging work looks like.
Definitely taking note.

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Yng »

I've finally produced a [very] short sketch of Tsi and to celebrate this, to try it out and to give me an excuse to talk a bit about Tsi cosmology and culture (and its effects on Cuhbi speakers), I thought I'd produce a short text with Tsi from the beginning of the text mentioned above, The Five Springs (K!ɛk Tbi K!ɔɔ). It gives a summarised version of the Tsi creation myth.

In the name of the emperor Bdáát G|ʰaa
qoo Ngáád-rų Bdáát G|ʰaa tʰúmbááŋ
family emperor=that[CLASS] Bdáát G|ʰaa upwards-push

'We praise the emperor's family'. Similar to the Cuhbi phrasing (unsurprisingly given the Cuhbi is a calque). Note that the emperor changes part of the way through the composition - the entire epic took several years to compose. Note also that in literary Tsi (although not in the usual urban colloquials), qoo is one of a small set of nouns considered inalienable; it therefore optionally does not take the particle ro used to mark genitive.

In the twelfth year of his glorious rule

battse bdʰá ʃaŋ dò baabʰelʰ hu-tsááŋ
glorious bdha put_on year twelve[CLASS] onto-walk

'Twelve years have passed gloriously since he put on the sash'. Note again the similar construction to Cuhbi (which is calqued on this). A bdʰa is a ceremonial sash worn by those in hiɡh office. 'Twelve' is a compound of 'ten' and 'two' and two (like one, but unlike the other numbers in either literary Tsi or the colloquials) retains noun class agreement, which itself results from a fusion of the number and the classifier.

I begin my discussion of the World and its Parts
báálʰ ŋa loŋ-hạạ báálʰ hųų btoŋ m!áá ptáám
world and part=PL[CLASS] towards investigate EXH begin

Usually ptáám is found as ptám; this is a poetic alteration to match tsááŋ with its long vowel. Note that ktang is not inalienable and thus requires the possessive particle. hųų is a postposition - Tsi has a small selection of these, which are typically used in conjunction with locative prefixes and serial verbs similar to Cuhbi's.

Lo! The Sky wooed the Sea
Pság t!óó n|úúŋ bzá lę-ŋŋáá-gʰuum
lo! sky sea once_upon_a_time up_to=teeth=bring

'Woo' is expressed with a verb complete with directional prefix (which can be placed before an object if that object is generic, a common derivation strategy); this verb literally breaks down as 'bring teeth to'. Gʰum 'bring' (again lengthened for poetic purposes) contrasts with gʰim 'take' and is probably a trace remnant of venitive marking cognate to Cuhbi's; it may be cognate, ultimately, with Risha Cuhbi ngá 'pick up'. Note also the gemination of initial /ŋ/ in 'teeth' resulting from the addition of an open syllable as a prefix.

And she came to give birth, and from her came five brothers
tʰó ʃò-tta-zųų dʰò sóŋa ʃò-tta-zųų
get_up down=baby=spit lo brother five down=baby=spit

'Spit down' is probably a slightly disingenous glossing but illustrates nicely the semantic drift of verbs with directional prefixes. In this case zųų presumably had a much wider meaning; now alone it exclusively means 'spit'. pság is often used as a filler to make the meter work. tʰó 'get up [to X]' is a common narrative structure used with verbs whose semantic load is very little.

The brothers came of age and became jealous of their mother and their father and demanded an inheritance
dʰo-rǫǫ kà ʃoo ptá-n' ŋa dzoo-n' ʃóó yàdʰ lų ma-maaŋ
brother=PL man grow mother=them with father them yellow feel inheritance INT-ask

Partial reduplication has various different effects. Here it is an intensive or possibly repetitive 'ask many times, demand'. Notice the apocated poetic variants on -na, the atonic, cliticised variant of the plural pronoun, to fit the meter.

And so the sea and the sky gave each brother a property
dʰo-r' t!óó n|úúŋ d|ʰa dááŋŋú k|ʰagąą
brother=for sky sea with property give_each

k|ʰagąą is a descendant of an iterative form marked in the mutual descendant of Tsi and Cuhbi by reduplication (cf imperfective reduplication in Risha Cuhbi); it means 'give to each', or 'partition between, share between'. It is probably cognate to Cuhbi ge 'be for the benefit of, give'.

Gąą Dbé, the eldest brother, took for himself a land and made it very hot, because he liked to bathe in the sun
Gąą Dbé tbáálʰé dááŋŋú q!ʰąą dʰạạ ʃooŋ baá-báárʰ go lʰáá-ç naa=ktááq yeŋąą lę-ptịị-ç
Gąą Dbé oldest property SPEC[CLASS] take INT-hot then make-DEP sun-enjoy because towards=love-DEP

We see here for the first time the dependent inflection . This is ultimately cognate to the Cuhbi irrealis inflection, which in the protolanguage (as in Cuhbi) largely co-occurs with conjunctions; in Tsi it lost any meaning it had previously carried and became nothing more than a syntax-conditioned alternant. The specific marker q!ʰąą is identical (here) with the number 'one', but can be used with plural nouns (although here it occurs with a singular) and marks a specific noun, i.e. one which is not incidental and which is distinguished by its qualities (and is somehow relevant to the discourse).

And he made from the dust the first dog, who was his companion
bráád go dʰạạ-ç k!oo ɢááppʰ-ixi ŋóódʰ nri g|íín
dust then take-DEP dog make-DEP companion GEN-him be

Sri Takʰ, the second brother, loved the dark, and so he took a land and made of it a shady jungle
Sri Takʰ second darkness love property SPEC take=him shady jungle make=DEP

And he made from mud the first leopard, who was his companion
quuŋ go dʰạạ-ç tʰạ ɢááppʰ-ixi ŋóódʰ nri g|íín
mud then take-DEP leopard make-DEP companion GEN him

De Lu, the third brother, who was cleverest of all, loved the fruits of both, and so he made his land temperate and fertile
De Lu third clever-INT stand REL fruit hot fruit dark love land SPEC hence take-DEP fertile temperate make-DEP

And he made the Tsi, who were his companions
Tsi then make-DEP companion GEN him

T|ąą Pʰò, the fourth brother, loved the wind and the cold, so he raised his land to a great height
T|ąą Pʰò fourth wind with cold love property INT take up=push=3p

But Sri Takʰ and Gąą Dbé were jealous, and came upon him by night, and brained him with a stone
Sri Takʰ with Gąą Dbé get_up yellow feel night get_up to=go then head=smash-DEP

And so T|ąą Pʰò's land was split into many pieces
lo property GEN T|ąą Pʰò hence break-INT-DEP

And Sri Takʰ eats his body
Sri Takʰ corpse eat stand

The last brother, Rą́ą́ Yop, was saddened by his brothers' quarrelling
Rą́ą́ Yop youngest then quarreling from sadden-DEP

And so he fled far away, beyond the sea, and he made nothing in his land
far hence flee-DEP sea pass-DEP land GEN him in thing make NEG

But welcomed all of the weepers to share his melancholy
weeper CLASS all embrace give sadness hence share
كان يا ما كان / يا صمت العشية / قمري هاجر في الصبح بعيدا / في العيون العسلية

tà yi póbo tsùtsùr ciivà dè!

short texts in Cuhbi

Risha Cuhbi grammar

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Halian »

Looks pretty cool :D
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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Nortaneous »

I can't say anything else but that sure is a phonology it has there. How does it work?

Also why is 'woo' <- 'bring teeth to'? Dare I even ask?
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nää džunnfin kukuch vklaivei sivei tåd.
Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei. Chei.

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Raholeun »

I hate to revive a seemingly dead thread, but all this is just awesome and continues to be an inspiration to me.
language LNK. cover

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Re: Short stories in Risha Cuhbi

Post by Yng »

you're too kind. I wish I still had the time and the motivation to do conlanging. Maybe I will sometime soon!
كان يا ما كان / يا صمت العشية / قمري هاجر في الصبح بعيدا / في العيون العسلية

tà yi póbo tsùtsùr ciivà dè!

short texts in Cuhbi

Risha Cuhbi grammar

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