Home page
Lapine Overview

Unit 11: Comparatives and Superlatives; Attributes

I have been studying how I may compare
This prison where I live unto the world.
(William Shakespeare, Richard II)

In English, there are two ways in which we can form comparatives and superlatives, either by means of the suffixes "-er" or "-est", or by the insertion of a modifier: "more", "most", "less", "least" or "as ... as". In general, choosing the correct one depends on the length of the adjective, so that we say "harder" but "more difficult", "hugest" but "most miniscule". Of course, there are a few words which can go either way - for example, you might see either "unhappiest" or "most unhappy" - but in general the rule holds. In Lapine, only the modifier route is permissible. Here are the five words required:

voir - more
voith - most
loir - less
loith - least
rul - the same as, as ... as, equally

These modifiers all precede the verb, and suffixes such as -nyt can be attached. A few sample sentences to give the idea (new verb: yayn, "to find"):

[LISTEN] A nahl lay flay thum embleer flayfath - e lay rul nao preenahlarny! - I'm not eating that embleer grass - it's as bad as laburnum!
[LISTEN] Hlao lay loir-nyt roo Kothen, an Thlaynlé lay voir-ryt nos me - Pipkin is much smaller than Hazel, but Silver is a little larger than him
[LISTEN] Hrairoo, zayn na yayn Dahloi a Brekennion - ai lay u nayltil mon voith hraray - Fiver, go and (lit. "in order to") find Dandelion and Blackberry - they're our fastest rabbits
[LISTEN] Pathun laynt u naylte ethile hray ol hlienes me, kan e laynt u loith tharn - Bluebell was the first rabbit to run from his home, because he was the least tharn


What I refer to as "attributes" here are the nouns that pertain to given adjectives - for example "speed" and "sloth" are associated with "fast" and "slow", "intelligence" and "stupidity" are associated with "clever" and "stupid", and so on. Such words are indicated in Lapine by the simple addition of the suffix -alt (without the hyphen), so that "speed" is hrarayalt and "sloth, slowness" is brayalt. You can apply this rule to any adjective you want, so that you can even have words which don't exist in English, such as tharnalt ("tharn-ness"). For example:

[LISTEN] Nayltil ven u Owsla lay drao koi hrarayalt-nyt - Rabbits in the Owsla need (lit. "have to have") a lot of speed
[LISTEN] U brayalt Dahloi laynt kan tharnalt me - Dandelion's slowness was because of his "tharn-ness"

Bonus extra bit!

We haven't had one of these for a while (since Unit 01, in fact!), but as there's a bit of space here, let's learn a few more words:

thyhl - to start, begin
zyhl - to finish, end
kyhl - to continue, to carry on
skuf - to dig
aythi - primrose

Here are a few more sample sentences:

[LISTEN] U Owsla lay tring zayn il thayrte hyaones, Threarah. On lay veth thyhl? The Owsla want to go to the river today, Threarah. Can we start?
[LISTEN] Vao-nyt. Kyhl, Thlayli - Certainly. Carry on, Bigwig
[LISTEN] Nahl nayltil laynt veth skuf ven Efrafa - No rabbits were allowed to dig in Efrafa
[LISTEN] U aythil laynt zyhl - The primroses were over

a) You'll see that veth serves for both "can" and "may", as "can" does in colloquial English.
b) You might just recognise that last sentence from somewhere! Note that zyhl should be used here, and not zorn, as the latter implies some terrible catastophe. I suppose it might be appropriate if someone had come along and actively destroyed the whole lot of them... perhaps with a zorn-off shotgun? (No, I can't believe I just wrote that either!)