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Language is a treacherous thing.
(Mark Twain, Following the Equator)

Welcome to Frithaes! - an Introduction to Colloquial Lapine! This should enable you to become reasonably fluent in the everyday language, which is known in Lapine itself as Naylte Hyao, literally "Today's Lapine". There is also a more complicated inflected dialect - Naylte Éan or "Old Lapine" - which is used in more formal settings, and for the telling of traditional tales (eg the stories of El-ahrairah). Many rabbits never become fluent in this dialect: Dandelion is quite exceptional in being fluent while still a yearling, and deserves his fame as a storyteller. I have largely avoided the inflected tongue, apart from odd phrases - the main exception being Unit 13, where I thought it interesting to compare the two dialects by reference to a very well known Lapine passage.

I usually cover two subjects in each Unit, although there is slight variation here in order to keep lengths reasonably comparable. I generally provide some example sentences in each Unit to give you an idea of using Lapine in context, and in most cases at least some of these will be accompanied by MP3s of my good self speaking them - look for the [LISTEN] symbol. You should note that the first couple of Units are rather more theoretical and, frankly, boring, than the later ones. I didn't really have any choice here, as some things - for example, pronunciation - have to be learnt before starting out on the living language. As soon as possible, however, I have adopted a mostly practical tone, giving examples which will be of genuine use.

If you want to use the language yourself, you might find it helpful to know that I have written a very basic Lapine-English / English-Lapine translation program for Windows called Methrahessi, which is available from wherever I end up putting the embleer thing.

You should note, as if it weren't pretty darn obvious anyway, that I am not qualified in this sort of thing. Any proper linguists reading will find some pretty jarring inconsistencies. I'm aiming this at WD fans first and foremost, and in most cases ease of use has been preferred to realism in examples etc. Here's my get-out clause: this is not a human language, so doesn't have to obey human languages' rules. (Yeah, I know that's feeble, but it's the best you're going to get!)

Units available so far

00: Background information; the Lapine alphabet; pronunciation

01: The present tense; personal pronouns; a greeting
02: The past tense; measuring time
03: The future tense; more about time
04: Numbers; talking about rabbits (1)
05: U methrah Rooli Roo ao pfeffil

06: Adjectives and adverbs; qualification
07: Questions; plant names; some rabbit names
08: Possessives; prepositions
09: Ability and compulsion; conjunctions
10: U methrah Rooli Roo ao flayrah ithé

11: Comparatives and superlatives; attributes (speed, "tharnness")
12: In the warren; talking about rabbits (2)
13: Frith's Great Blessing of El-ahrairah
14: Emotions and feelings; parts of the body
15: U Methrah Rooli Roo ao Methain Marli

16: Weather and the environment
17: The passive voice; reporting speech
18: Dialectal variations
19: Conditionals; more plant names

Appendix 1: Lapine proverbs and sayings
Appendix 2: Translating into Lapine


Thanks to Rüdiger Grammes for his help with these!

Lapine - English dictionary (to Unit 18)
English - Lapine dictionary (to Unit 18)

I would first like to pay tribute to the work of Zoe Kealtan, on which a good chunk of my version of Lapine has been based - I highly recommend you check out her posts on the watershipdown Yahoo! Group (see the files section for her work - Yahoo! ID required).
I must also thank the members of that Group who have given me help and encouragement with the project - particularly (in alphabetical order!) Befrafa, Entei-rah, Hawthorn and Rüdiger Grammes. If I've forgotten you, let me know!
And, naturally, Richard Adams himself has to be credited with starting this whole thing in the first place! The man's a star!