There was a depth of feeling to embrace
Thoughts, boundless, deep, but silent too as space.
(Lord Byron, Don Juan)
The whole area of feelings and emotions is always a difficult one to get right when dealing with different languages and cultures... and when we throw in a species divide as well, things can start getting really complicated! Perhaps the most obvious example of the problems a translator faces is the Lapine word tharn - there is simply no way of expressing this in English. Conversely, the notion of romantic love is completely unknown amongst rabbits (though they certainly can bond strongly under the right conditions).
However, all is by no means lost: there are a good number of concepts which are basic enough to be shared by both humans and rabbits, and they include a good sprinkling of words which crop up pretty frequently in conversation. Here's the first vocab list for this Unit; as usual, there'll be some explanatory notes afterwards:
lan to know
bral to think, believe
bralvao to hope
bralnao to fear
varu to like
naru to dislike
a) Lan can be used both for knowing something, and for knowing someone (compare Welsh, which has gwybod for the former and adnabod for the latter).
b) A handy, and very common, informal word to know is nahlan, "I don't know", from a lay nahl lan.
c) To know of or about something or someone is lan ol.
d) The words for "hope" and "fear" literally translate as "good-think" and "bad-think".
e) The etymology of vahra is interesting. It's actually an extreme contraction of naylte pli a lay varu, "rabbit whom I like". This eventually became nahra, but the tendency to put a v at the start of "good" words has intruded, as it often does (though not in narn) and the varu bit has been transplanted to the front, meaning that the word is now vahra.
f) Remember that Lapine verbs can usually be used as nouns too, so bral can mean "a thought", for example.
g) I'm going to put this note in its own paragraph, as it's VERY important. The word elil is not used in seriousness about other rabbits. Full stop. If you're very sure of who you're talking to, you can perhaps get away with jocular references to certain types of elil (as when Hazel refers to Bigwig as Pfeffa-rah), but even then it's only acceptable if you're on very good terms with the other, and anyone who calls another rabbit elil and means it is in real danger of being killed. It's that bad an insult.
Right, assuming you're all still alive, let's do the sample sentences thing again:
nayltil lay bralnao u elil, an ethsi lay zyhl hray kan hombil, kan ai lay
embli a lay nahl veth hray rul hraray mon - All rabbits fear the
elil, but [only] a few stop running because [of] foxes, because they stink
and can't run as fast as us
[LISTEN] Kothen laynt lan ol Efrafa, an e laynt nahl-nyt zayn thli - Hazel knew about Efrafa, but he'd never been there
[LISTEN] A lay varu-nyt Hlao - e lay u naylte voith varu ma - I love Pipkin - he's my favourite rabbit
[LISTEN] Hyaones, a lay bral, a layth meth ven Naylte - Today, I think that I will speak in Lapine
a) There is no pluperfect tense ("I had done") in Colloquial Lapine: you have to use the ordinary past and work from context. The second sentence above could also translate as "Hazel knew about Efrafa, but he never went there".
b) "Oi!" I hear you cry, "you said comparatives went before the noun! So what's up with the Pipkin sentence?" Simple: in this example, voith varu, "favourite", is an adjective. So it goes afterwards. Easy.
c) Notice in the final sentence that the English "that" is not translated into Lapine as thum, but left out entirely. (It's usually optional even in English, actually.) This doesn't cause any problems in speech as tone of voice can be employed, but in writing (which doesn't concern rabbits, of course) it's handy to give the reader some guide as to how the clauses split up, and a reasonable convention is to use a comma to indicate this. All these commas make things look a bit German, but there we are... =:)
Every time I turn round, it seems, I discover another vital part of Lapine that I've not yet covered... and this is no exception! Not a lot of introductory waffle required here; a lot of words, though, so let's just get on with things, shall we?:
hloli face (from hlow li, "front of head")
krath nose/to smell
tafo tongue/to lick
pahyt scut (tail)
mark to lie (down) (false friend alert!)
steth to sit (up)
dihraw to squat
mitéath to stand up on hind legs (like a hare)
nayo to jump, leap
a) Quite a few of the words end in -uhl - this is from tuhl, "hole", so that (for example) hayuhl literally means a "seeing-hole", ie an eye.
b) Othra, is of course related to thray, "bite". There are words for particular types of teeth, but let's not overcomplicate things at the moment.
c) The word for "scut", pahyt, is from paf hy-nyt, "brightly shining warning". I think that's rather pleasingly poetic, actually.
Time for the last set of examples, then.... you'll need to know that methnos is "a speech", and that nild means "bird". Oh, and keep an eye on the first sentence, as it contains one other rather notable new word!:
ven Efrafa laynt bralnao Stihrath-rah, kan e laynt fran a zyhl hrair
nayltil asith u zelil a othril me - Everyone in Efrafa feared
General Woundwort, because he had fought and killed many rabbits with his
claws and teeth
[LISTEN] Os es lay tring lay ven u Owsla, es lay zayn drao koi krathil voir-nyt vao! If you (pl.) want to be in the Owsla, you're going to have to have much better noses!
[LISTEN] Blair uthow il u methnos u Rah, u rooli laynt mitéath, na hay u nildil ven u preetar - While (lit. "when") listening to the Chief's speech, the kitten stood up on his hind legs, in order to see the birds in the hedge
Copyright © David "Loganberry" Buttery 2002-4. Updated 30/03/04.