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Unit A1: Lapine Proverbs and Sayings

Conversation is a game of circles.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles)

In this Appendix Unit, we'll be looking at some of the most common sayings, idioms and so on that you're likely to come across in everyday Lapine. The emphasis here will simply be on recognition, so little formal grammar or vocabulary will be taught.

1) Let's get underway immediately with one that you will have seen, in another context, before:

[LISTEN] Hraeth ela mi!

This, of course, is from the opening part of Frith's Great Blessing, which you can read in full in Unit 13. These few words simply mean "Everything your enemy!" and are often used as a sort of exasperated sigh by a rabbit for whom everything seems to be going wrong today, rather as a human might say "Oh, why me?".

2) Next, another saying taken from the Blessing:

[LISTEN] Kasrahalt, kasrahil!

This is a contraction of laythi kasrahalt, a vatal kasrahil, which means "be cunning, and full of tricks". This saying is used as a reminder to rabbits to play to their strengths in using their trickery against elil, who are generally physically stronger. For example, it might be said as a good-luck charm to a party about to set out on a garden raid.

3) Of course, weather is of vital importance to rabbits, as we saw in Unit 16. So it's no surprise that there are Lapine sayings on the subject. One of the best known is "one cloud feels lonely":

[LISTEN] Bral'eth hral etheth

4) All rabbits feel at their safest underground, of course. The English version of the following saying is "rabbit underground, rabbit safe and sound", but the original Lapine is much snappier:

[LISTEN] Naylte ven, naylte yen

This literally means "rabbit in, rabbit now". Ven, as we know, can mean underground. Yen here is used to mean "alive in the here and now". Think of how the English word "live" is used in broadcasting, and you'll probably see why.

5) Sadly, death is a regular part of lapine life. There are usually no formal "funeral" services for rabbits - it is believed that the best way to honour a fallen comrade's memory is in a story. However, it is quite common for the following sentence to be uttered as a mark of respect:

[LISTEN] Sainte atha ma u Hrair, kan zyhlante hray u vahra ma hyaones

You're probably ahead of me here... yes, it means "my heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today."

6) A well known human saying is that someone is "young at heart". The equivalent idea exists in Lapine, in the saying:

[LISTEN] Pelil éan, atha néan

which means "old legs, young heart".

7) Here's another saying that makes reference to the heart. Loyalty and honour mean a lot to rabbits. So friendship is deeply valued, as the following saying shows:

[LISTEN] U vahra ma, rusati ma, ven atha ma

This means "my friend, my brother, in my heart" and is an expression of deep and serious friendship, not uttered lightly. To be called a rabbit's "heart-brother" (rusatitha) is a high honour indeed. The word for "sister", incidentally, is rusami, and so "heart-sister" is rusamitha.

8) In spite of all the dangers they have to face, rabbits as a whole are quite an optimistic lot, and dislike seeing anyone unhappy. To someone who seems depressed, one may say:

[LISTEN] Bralvaoil lay u zyhl éneeralt

which is "hopes are the death of unhappiness".

9) Naturally, running is extremely important to rabbits: for mere survival, of course, but also for the sheer exhilaration of racing across the fields with the wind in our fur. So one of the most common wishes a rabbit may bestow on another is:

[LISTEN] Layth hray hraray!

which means "may you [they, we etc] run fast!". It's often said by a mother to her newborn kittens, for example.

10) Above all else, rabbits believe that Lord Frith is watching over them wherever they may go, and that thanks to his promise to El-ahrairah, the race can never be destroyed. As the proverb has it:

[LISTEN] Frith lay ven, Frith lay silf, Frith lay ven u li

or, "Frith is underground, Frith is outside, Frith is in the head".