August 17th, 2008


Brain droppings

      Odd the kinds of things one thinks about when one has a hobby in linguistics. I was thinking, earlier today, about some of the words in my constructed language Trai'Pahg'Nan'Nog (TPNN), specifically of the context of them, and how some don't translate directly into English. Take the word "ihl," for example. It means "so." But in my practice with the language, I barely ever use it. Because considering context, I generally find other words to be better. So I asked myself, aloud, "What does 'so' really mean?" the dictionary definition is not very consise. Then again, this IS English we're talking about, here. The language that mugs other languages in dark alleys for spare vocabulary. The way I'm designing TPNN, the meanings of words are as concise as I can get them. So more and more they don't translate easily into English. Add to that the fact that one can make up new words in TPNN by combining other words. Say you have a new concept. Maybe that concept is "foot fetish." (Hey, it might be a new concept to the Traipahni people!) If you tried to directly translate "foot fetish," you'd run into two problems: one, there's no word for fetish in TPNN. And two, even if there was, a literal translation would still be weird. It would translate to the Traipahni people as "a foot's fetish" which is not true at all. So define fetish? A sexual attraction for something out of the ordinary. Create a word for it, how? Well, I would take the word for sex and the word for desire and combine them. That would be "tehlfuug" and "ahnakwiinah." But "ahnakwiin'tehl" would simply mean "desire sex." Couldn't do "tehl'ahnakwiin", that would be "sex's desire." If you really wanted an accurate word for fetish in TPNN, it would probably be ahnakwiin'tehl'sehk'da-maik. Which is just too long. A shorter version might be "ahnak'tehl'sehk'maik," but that's also too hard to say.
      I vote for "gala'sahn'da'maik" [Gah-lah-sahn-dah-make]. Long, but easy to say. Means "sexy [objects]" (from gala'sahn'doh and da-maik). Okay, so there's one definition of fetish... a sexy object. I suppose one could use context to get other meanings across, but that is just so... I dunno... plain an answer. Well, I have an elegant solution. It takes some very specific language to specify an object is a person, so simply adding "bahn" (TPNN word for "person") to the end of gala'sahn'a'maik (thus making gala'sahn'a'maik'bahn, which is "sexy-objects person") defines a fetishist. Doesn't sound good in English, but in TPNN it works.

Extra credit: how many examples of "so" in this post? (Not counting that one.)

Edited to add: What if the people of the future have solved the global warming problem by pumping their excess heat back in time? Maybe they killed the dinosaurs that way and now it's our turn? Anybody who wants that idea can take it, temporal mechanics gives me a headache.


Just spent about an hour on the Multnomah county library's website suggesting all kinds of books (mostly occult books) for purchase. I also suggested my book, Dad's book, and ysabetwordsmith's book to them. :-) Then I got tired and stopped. The rest on my list will have to wait.

Awesome burrito

Experimenting sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't. I made a bunch of black beans the other day. Made some of it into a bean paste along the lines of refried beans. It's not bad, but not as good as refried beans using pinto beans. Black beans are better for whole-bean burritos, though.

Today's experiment paid off, though. I spread some of the black bean paste on the tortilla, put some shredded cheese on it, sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on it, put on some salsa, and heated it up. Then I snarfed it down because it was so delicious! Usually I have to eat my burritos slowly, not because they're bad but just to prevent the goo coming out. But this one was too delicious! I am impressed. Parmesan cheese is an interesting touch.