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Lesson 10: Object Case

Vocabulary

an

to know (of people)

bel

to take; to bring

beth

home

den

to help

dó–

Prefix (verb): to cause to VERB

néde

to want

nin

to cause; to be causal

ren

carpet

rul

cat

–th

Suffix (noun phrase): Object Case

It seems odd to the English ear, but the verb “bel” means both “to take” and “to bring.” English uses a pair of unrelated verbs in what linguists call a “deictic pair;” not all languages do this to the same extent that English does. An example may be helpful in reducing the oddness: when we say “Anna brings a casserole to the pot-luck,” or “Anna takes a casserole to the pot-luck,” the same person is transporting the same food to the same party; only the point of view of the speaker (linguist-speak: the deixis) has changed—either the speaker is at the party or she is elsewhere, respectively. Which English verb should be used in translating “bel” can (but need not necessarily) be made clear (linguist-speak: the deixis can be disambiguated) by the context in which it occurs.

The prefix “dó–” added to a “stative verb” (a verb that, in English, would be an adjective—that discusses a state of being), turns that verb into an “active verb” (one that, in English, would be a verb—that discusses an action). For instance, “míi” means “to be amazed;” “dómíi” means “to cause to be amazed” or, in more colloquial English, “to amaze.” The other effect of this transformation is that the Subject of “míi” (the one who is amazed) becomes the Object of “dómíi” (the one whom someone or something else causes to be amazed) and the one doing the amazing is the new Subject.

Object Case

[Verb (Neg) CP–S CP–Object]

To mark a Case Phrase as an Object, add “–th;” if the word ends in a consonant and we added “–th,” that would result in a forbidden consonant cluster (two or more consonants in a row together, which is forbidden in Láadan). In that case, we insert “e” between the final consonant of the noun phrase and the “–th.” Notice that there is no ending for the Case Phrase that is a Subject.

You may not be used to talking about the “case” of noun phrases. Case is the term that refers to the role the noun phrase has in a sentence—that is, whether it is something that acts, something acted upon, something used to act, etc. The two cases we have used so far are Subject and Object. The Subject is the one that acts; the Object is that one that is acted upon. (A Case Phrase is just a noun phrase plus its case-marker ending; a noun phrase is any sequence that can fill a case role, such as a noun or a pronoun.)

Examples

Bíi om with shoneth wáa.listen to this sentence pronounced

The woman teaches peace (I’m told).

Báa om with shoneth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Does the woman teach peace?

Báa om bebáa shoneth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Who teaches peace?

Báa om with bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

What does the woman teach?

 

Bíi néde ra rul edeth wo.listen to this sentence pronounced

The cat doesn’t want the grain (hypothetically).

Báa néde ra rul edeth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Doesn’t the cat want the grain?

Báa néde ra bebáa edeth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Who/what doesn’t want the grain?

Báa néde ra rul bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

What doesn’t the cat want?

Note the “e” added between “shon” and “–th” to separate the consonants; also note that it’s unnecessary between “ede” and “–th” or between “bebáa” and “–th” or between “le” and “–th” below because “ede,” “bebáa” and “le” all end in vowels.

Bíi meden thul leth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

The parents help me.

Báa meden thul leth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Do the parents help me?

Báa meden bebáa leth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Who (plural) help me?

Báa meden thul bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

Whom do the parents help?

 

Bíi míi le wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

I am amazed.

Bíi dómíi with leth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

The woman causes me to be amazed (The woman amazes me.)

Bíi medómíi with leth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

The women amaze me.

 

Báa dómíi with leth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Does the woman amaze me?

Báa medómíi with leth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Do the women amaze me?

Báa dómíi bebáa leth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Who amazes me?

Báa dómíi with bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

Whom does the woman amaze?

Báa medómíi with bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

Whom do the women amaze?

Note that the plural prefix is added subsequent to any other affix, so it appears first in the word, no matter how many prefixes there are.

Bíi den Mázhareth leth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

Margaret helps me.

Bíi den le beth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

I help her.

Bíi den le Mázhareth beth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

I help Margaret.

Báa den Mázhareth bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

Whom does Margaret help?

Báa den bebáa Mázhareth beth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Who helps Margaret?

Note that personal names do not receive Case endings. When the name of a person or animal fulfills the rôle of a Case that would take a suffix, the name is followed by “be” which accepts the Case ending instead. This rule applies to the names of living and once-living persons and creatures but not to the names of places or times.

Exercises

Translate the following into English

1  

Bíi néde withid dim wáa.listen to this sentence pronounced

2  

Bíi mebel bezh ruleth wáa.listen to this sentence pronounced

3  

Báa doth muda leth?listen to this sentence pronounced

4  

Báa mehan nezh bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

5  

Bíi yod ra omid yuth wo.listen to this sentence pronounced

6  

Bíi dómime omá thuleth wáa.listen to this sentence pronounced

Note that there is no Object suffix on “dim” in #1 above. This is because there can be no ambiguity. Because a container cannot “want” anything, in Láadan its Object suffix is optional; you may use the suffix or not, at your discretion—so long as the meaning is not ambiguous. The same applies to #8 below: Láadan cannot “speak the grandparents,” so no Object suffix is required. And to #9 below. And also to #2 and #6 above and #13 below, although in these examples I have chosen to use the Object suffix; it is grammatically correct even when it is not required.

Incorporate the second noun as an Object; translate into English before and after.

7  

Bíi den Elízhabeth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

mid

8  

Bíi ndi hothul wáa.listen to this sentence pronounced

Láadan

9  

Báa mehéeya babí?listen to this sentence pronounced

ábedá

10  

Bíi mehom ud wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

wam

11  

Bíi meyod len wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

thili

12  

Báa ma omá?listen to this sentence pronounced

bebáa

Note the variant plural prefix “n–” in #8. The verb, “di,” begins with “d,” so we may use the “syllabic n” (like the final syllable in the English word “button”) instead of the usual “me–;” the variant pluralized form, “ndi,” is still a two-syllable word.

Translate the following into Láadan

13  

We (several) close the door.

14  

What do you cause?

15  

Are you (many) taking the drink?

16  

Bethany causes the parent to laugh (obviously).

17  

Does age cause the needleworker to be weary?

18  

A mountain does not fear a song.

The verb “close” in #13 might be a bit of a challenge. We know the verb “rahu” (to be closed); “to close” can also be termed “to cause to be closed.” “Dórahu” [from “dó–” (cause to VERB) + “rahu” (to be closed)] means just that.

A similar approach should be taken in #16 and #17, but here it is more straightforward because the syntax “cause to VERB” is clearly present. Don’t be confused by the English tendency to put the Object between “cause” and “to VERB;” Láadan uses the prefix “dó–” (cause to VERB) with the verb, then the Subject (the one doing the causing), then the Object (the one being caused to VERB).

Note the word “dóhada” (cause to laugh) as seen in #16. It has another meaning: “to be comical” or “to be funny.” When used in this way, it will take no Object—that is, the Subject is “funny” or “comical” in general; there is no specific person being “caused to laugh."

Did the word “age” in #17 give you pause? A verb can be used as a noun, so long as the result is not nonsense. For “stative verbs” (verbs that, in English, would be adjectives), the translation of the nominal form is perhaps most easily formed by adding “–ness” to the English adjective. In #17, “age” could be termed “old-ness;” that sounds like the nominal form of “balin” (to be old).

By now we’ve seen enough “one who...” formations to recognize how to make them. In #17, “needleworker” would be “dathimá” from “dathim” (to needlework) + “–á” (doer; one who).

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Answers

1  

The man wants the container.

2  

They (few) take the cat.

3  

Is the pig following me?

4  

Whom do you (few) know?

5  

The horse doesn’t eat the fruit (I guess).

6  

The teacher causes the parent(s) to ask.

 

7  

Elizabeth helps.

Bíi den Elízhabeth mideth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

Elizabeth helps the animal.

8  

The grandparents speak.

Bíi ndi hothul Láadan wáa.listen to this sentence pronounced

The grandparents speak Láadan.

9  

Do the birds fear (are the birds afraid)?

Báa mehéeya babí ábedáth?listen to this sentence pronounced

Do the birds fear the farmer (are the birds afraid of the farmer)?

10  

Stones teach.

Bíi mehom ud wameth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

Stones teach stillness.

11  

We (many) eat.

Bíi meyod len thilith wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

We (many) eat fish.

12  

Does the teacher listen?

Báa ma omá bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

To what/whom does the teacher listen?

 

13  

Bíi medórahu lezh áatheth wa.listen to this sentence pronounced

14  

Báa nin ne bebáath?listen to this sentence pronounced

15  

Báa mebel nen ranath?listen to this sentence pronounced

16  

Bíi dóhada Bétheni thuleth wi.listen to this sentence pronounced

17  

Báa dóhóoha balin dathimáth?listen to this sentence pronounced

18  

Bíi héeya ra bo lometh wi.listen to this sentence pronounced

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