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Unit 06: Adjectives and adverbs; Qualification

When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rime,
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 106)

Rather important parts of speech, adjectives and adverbs, and happily they're generally very easy to form in Lapine, though as usual English-speakers will find things slightly restrictive on occasion. We've already met quite a few adjectives in previous units, but let's have a few more now - you'll see that these words come in related pairs, which makes things easier:

vao - good
nao - bad
éan - old
néan - young
hraray - fast
bray - slow

a) The general word for "good" is vao - narn is confined to occasions where English would use "pleasant" (eg when talking about the tastiness or otherwise of food). You can generally use vao for meanings covered by narn, but not usually vice versa. There is no direct opposite of narn - use nao.
b) The e-acute which starts éan indicates that the letters should be pronounced separately.
c) Although néan is the correct word for young, roo ("little") is very common, especially when referring to non-rabbits - as I mentioned back in Unit 04, the usual way of referring to a cat kitten is pfeffa roo, "a little cat".
d) Hraray derives from hray, "to run". The phrase hray hraray ("fast runner") is dreaded by those of us who can't roll our Rs properly!
e) Be careful with bray - it's another "false friend".

That should be enough to allow some illustrative examples - dray (another false friend!) means "to hop" (rabbit-style, not bouncing up and down on one leg!):

[LISTEN] U homba lay flay u hawockil néan - The fox is eating the young pheasants
[LISTEN] U lendril laynt éan, a laynt embli - The badgers were old, and stank
[LISTEN] Layth hray hraray! - Be a fast runner! (lit. "Going to run fast!") - a traditional blessing on kittens
[LISTEN] Thlayli lay meth methrah nao - Bigwig is a poor storyteller (lit. "Bigwig tells a bad story")
[LISTEN] Hlao-roo laynt dray bray il hlienes- Little Pipkin hopped home slowly

a) The adjective must directly follow the verb or noun it refers to - *Hlao-roo laynt dray il hlienes bray would translate as "Little Pipkin hopped to slow home"!

Not at all difficult, is it? And it gets easier still, because the distinction between adjectives and adverbs in Lapine is almost non-existent - bray, for example, is used for both "slow" and "slowly", so that we have (remember that layth, "will be" is a slightly formal version of lay zayn, "is going to"):

[LISTEN] U Naylte Rah lay tarli bray - the Chief Rabbit is a slow buck
[LISTEN] U Naylte Rah layth silflay bray léaoth fu Inlé - the Chief Rabbit will silflay slowly tonight (future) after moonrise


Perhaps we want to make it clear that something was very big, or that someone was not very fast. And it would also be handy to be able to say that something was fairly small. We can accomplish all these things in Lapine by means of three suffixes, which are attached to the adjective/adverb in question - they are nyt, "very"; ryt, "a little, slightly" and byt, "fairly". (Don't confuse nyt with ni-!) Once more unto the examples, dear friends:

[LISTEN] U pfeffa ethile laynt nos-byt - The first cat was fairly big
[LISTEN] Sayn lay narn-nyt - Groundsel is very nice
[LISTEN] Nahl (u) nayltil laynt éan-nyt - None of the rabbits were very old
[LISTEN] U nayltil laynt néan-ryt - The rabbits were a little young

a) You can use nahl to mean "no", "not" or "none of the", according to context. U is optional in this case - it shouldn't really occur, as nahl covers it, but you do quite often hear it, especially when it aids pronunciation.
b) Compare the different effects of the only slightly different in language sentences 3 and 4.

All right, folks, that'll do us for today. More on parts of speech next time around - and we'll (finally) have some plants other than that embleer groundsel, too!