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Unit 16: Weather and the Environment

Give not a windy night a rainy morrow.
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 90)

As is the case for any wild animal, weather and conditions in the "outside world" are of vital importance in lapine life. A very basic example of this is in knowing what humans would refer to as "points of the compass" - in Lapine, the position of the Sun is of prime importance:

léeth - north
freth - south
fuleth - east
theth - west

The -eth termination on each of these words comes originally from sith, "side", though the i has become an e. The literal meanings of the words are, respectively, "night-side", "sun-side", "dawn-side" and "evening-side". Note that léeth should be pronounced as two distinct syllables, to rhyme with the archaic English word "sayeth".

Another important factor to rabbits is the weather, which governs life to an extent almost unimaginable to urbanised humans. There are any number of words available here, but it would seem sensible to restrict ourselves for now to a smallish collection of the most common - remember that -nyt and so on can be used as modifiers wherever useful. Some of these words we've already met, but I'll put them in for convenience:

Frith - the Sun
Frithyeer - sunny
hral - cloud
hraleer - cloudy
los - water, rain
loseer - wet, rainy
yera - snow, ice
yereer - snowy, icy
nahlay - fog, blindness
nayeer - foggy
anisth - wind, breath
anistheer - windy

a) Be careful not to mix up Frithyeer ("sunny") and Fritheer ("summer"). If you prefer, you could say Frith lay hy ("the Sun is shining") instead.
b) Note the secondary meaning of nahlay (originally from nahl hay, "not seeing"). This word is used in the phrase Nahlay Hy, "White Blindness", ie myxomatosis.
c) Anisth can also be used as a verb, meaning "to breathe".

All right then, time for those lovely sample sentences once again... two new nouns, and handy ones too: nayilf means "hare" and rowf means, as you might have guessed, "dog".

[LISTEN] Homba laynt hray u léeth u Bryhlath - A fox ran [along] the north [side of] the Down
[LISTEN] Os e layth Frithyeer hyaones, on layth zayn yayn dahloil - If it's sunny today, we'll go and find dandelions
[LISTEN] A lay bralnao, u Efrafanessil layth dayn sisi blair e layth nayeer I'm frightened that the Efrafans will come again when it's foggy
[LISTEN] U Rah nahl laynt éveer-nyt, u nayilfil laynt hay me... kan rowf nos laynt hrarail mai! - The Chief wasn't very happy that the hares had seen him... because a large dog was chasing them!

a) Remember the -essi suffix from Unit 13? You can use this to indicate residents of a particular place, too, as here with Efrafanessil, "Efrafans". The Watership rabbits are Bryhlathessil, "Downers".

As we're on the subject of weather, let's round things off for this Unit with a rather well-known saying on the subject - it's a very old one, and therefore in Naylte Éan:

[LISTEN] Brale'th hral etheth - One cloud feels lonely

A little bit of explanation is probably necessary here. The word etheth, meaning "alone", "lonely", "solitary" etc, is straightforward enough, as is hral itself, but what of the first word? Well, as this is Naylte Éan, it's likely to be an inflected verb, which it is. Bral, as we already know, means "to think, feel". We're in the present tense, so no tense-marker is required, but as "one cloud" is an "it", we need the -e person marker. The word for "one" is of course eth, but that would give us the slightly awkward phrase Brale eth, and this being Naylte Éan aesthetics tend to override straightforwardness. Thus, the words are run together as Brale'th, which creates a "balanced phrase", with two syllables on either end "pivoting" about the central word (both literally and figuratively) hral. Actually, the whole phrase trips off the tongue rather easily, doesn't it?