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Lesson 37: Focus Marker

Vocabulary

bad

mineral

badazh

metal ?[bad (mineral) + dazh (pliant)]?

bosh

wood

hibo

hill [híya (small) + bo (mountain)]

–hóo

Suffix (any): Focus Marker

mari

island

rabo

plain [ra– (non–) + bo (mountain)]

sheshi

sand

sheshihoth

beach [sheshi (sand) + hoth (place)]

yed

valley

The question-marks around the etymology of “badazh” indicate that no official etymology has been supplied; I’m guessing at the thought process of the person who coined this word.

Focus Marker

In English we use a combination word order and stress to emphasize a certain word in a sentence—to move the “focus” of the sentence onto that word. For example, in a simple declarative sentence like “The book is red,” if we need to emphasize that it’s the book (and not some other thing) that’s red, we can say “The BOOK is red,” or “It’s the BOOK that’s red,” or a number of other things. Similar processes would be employed to emphasize that RED (rather than some other color) is the color of the book, or that the book IS (rather than “was” or “will be” or “ought to be”) red.

Láadan word order is fairly inflexible, and emphatic stress is not employed. So we must find some other mechanism to emphasize one part of a sentence over another. The Focus Marker, “–hóo,” is that mechanism.

It is added to a word to mean “this particular specific one” or for emphatic stress—the context will indicate which.

When I questioned Dr. Elgin about the “this particular specific one” use of “–hóo,” I got the following very informative response:

English has several kinds of emphatic stress. The one that’s used in “It wasn’t Tuesday morning, it was WEDNESday morning” is called “contrastive stress.” Another is what I call “announcement stress,” as in “That was the PRESIdent on the phone!” And then there’s the emphatic stress a speaker gives to a word or a part of a word simply to indicate that that element is the part of the language sequence that matters most to him or her and is being foregrounded, with stress as the foregrounding mechanism.

Láadan uses “–hóo” for all three of those kinds of emphasis.

Examples

Bíi laya áabe wa.listen to this pronounced

The book is red.

Bíi layahóo áabe wa.listen to this pronounced

The book is RED.

Bíi layahóo áabe, léli ra wa.listen to this pronounced

The book is RED, not yellow.

Bíi laya áabehóo wa.listen to this pronounced

The BOOK is red.

Bíi laya áabehóo, ra thodi wa.listen to this pronounced

The BOOK is red, not the writing implement.

Bíi erilehóo laya áabe; ril léli be wa.listen to this pronounced

The book WAS red; now it’s yellow.

The above illustrates focusing for the purpose of foregrounding as well as contrastive focusing.

Bíi eril eb Mázhareth nemeth ledi wa.listen to this pronounced

Margaret sold me a pearl.

Bíi eril eb Mázharethehóo nemeth ledi wa.listen to this pronounced

MARGaret sold me a pearl!

Bíi eril eb Mázhareth nemethehóo ledi wa.listen to this pronounced

Margaret sold me a PEARL!

Bíi eril eb Mázhareth nemeth lehóodi wa.listen to this pronounced

Margaret sold ME a pearl!

Bíi eril eb Mázhareth nemeth ledihóo wa.listen to this pronounced

Margaret sold a pearl TO me!
Margaret sold a pearl TO ME!

This is meant to be announcement focusing. The final two examples also illustrate another note I received from Suzette Haden Elgin when I inquired whether the focus marker would always be placed at the end of the word, or if it might be placed immediately following the morpheme (meaningful word-part) that the speaker wants to emphasize:

Like placing emphatic stress in spoken English, the focus marker gets placed where it will genuinely indicate what is most important to the speaker of the utterance. Some placements are going to be far more likely than others, certainly, and it may sometimes be a struggle to place it properly, but it’s at the discretion of the user.

That means that we can place the Focus Marker directly after any part of the word we want to emphasize. In the middle of a word that’s perfectly clear. But when the part that needs emphasis is at the end of the word, the result is ambiguous as to whether it’s the last part or the whole word that we wanted to emphasize.

Báa ril bel Ána losh lethoth wehedi?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna taking/bringing my money to the store?

Báa rilehóo bel Ána losh lethoth wehedi?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna, RIGHT NOW, taking my money to the store?

Báa ril belehóo Ána losh lethoth wehedi?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna TAKing/BRINGing my money to the store?

Báa ril bel Ánahóo losh lethoth wehedi?listen to this pronounced

Is ANNA taking/bringing my money to the store?

Báa ril bel Ána loshehóo lethoth wehedi?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna taking/bringing my MONEY to the store?

Báa ril bel Ána losh lehóothoth wehedi?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna taking/bringing the money belonging to ME to the store?

Báa ril bel Ána losh lethohóoth wehedi?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna taking/bringing the money BELONGING TO me to the store?

Báa ril bel Ána losh lethothehóo wehedi?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna taking/bringing MY money to the store?
Is Anna taking/bringing MY MONEY to the store?

Báa ril bel Ána losh lethoth wehehóodi?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna taking/bringing my money to the STORE?

Báa ril bel Ána losh lethoth wehedihóo?listen to this pronounced

Is Anna taking/bringing my money TO the store?
Is Anna taking/bringing my money TO the STORE?

The ambiguity in the eighth example above is whether the emphasis is on the Object status of “my money” or on the whole word saying that whatever-it-is (the money, in this case) belongs to me and is the Object of the sentence—or, arguably, since this is a Possessive structure and can be perceived as a single unit, the emphasis is on the entire phrase “losh lethoth” (my money as an Object).

The ambiguity in the 10th example above is more straightforward. Does the speaker/writer intend to emphasize the direction the money is being taken/brought (just the Goal Case suffix, “–di”) or the whole word, “wehedi” (to the store)?

Exercises

Translate the following into English.

1  

Báa thi Araneshahóo sheshihoth?listen to this pronounced

2  

Bíi eril beth letho boshethuhóo, ra udethu wa.listen to this pronounced

3  

Bíi eril di ábedá wa, “Bóo damahóo ra ne ábabí.”listen to this pronounced

4  

Báa methel halá bebáath hiboha nedebenil; badehóo nedaba?listen to this pronounced

5  

Bíi ril eduthahá thóo ebaláthohóo yedeha, ra belidátho wa.listen to this pronounced

6  

Bíi eril ulanin Shuzéth edanethehóo, ra elamitheth wáa.listen to this pronounced

The new word we see in #5, “belidá” is not so intuitively obvious as many “–á” formations, though it becomes clearer when we consider that “–á” means not only “one who does” but also “one who makes or creates.” From “belid” (house) + “–á” (doer), it means “carpenter.”

Move the focus to the supplied word; translate into English before and after.

7  

Bíi aril shumáadehóo hosherídan Ána betha maridi wáa.listen to this pronounced

island

8  

Bíi ra bash ub; be uhudehóo hath menedebe wa.listen to this pronounced

balm

9  

Bíi eril wem Méri nemehóo imeya we.listen to this pronounced

lost

10  

Bíi Máyel zha lehóotho wa.listen to this pronounced

name

11  

Bíi delishe Bétheni olob rawáan izh sholanewáanehóo wáa.listen to this pronounced

weeping

12  

Báa rilrili shihóo bini lede Elízhabeth beth?listen to this pronounced

me

Notice, in #8, the phrase “hath menedebe” (literally, “many times”). This is the idiom (a phrase in one language that may not have the same meaning—or, indeed, any meaning at all—when translated word-for-word into another language) for the English word “often.” There is a related idiom for “seldom:” “hath nedebe” (literally, “few/several times”).

In #11, did you notice the phrase “olob rawáan?” The structure “ra + Case ending,” when used in place of a noun, means “nothing + Case” (in this instance it would mean “having no cause”), but when it follows a noun (as it does in this exercise), it reverses the meaning of the Case itself (in this instance “not because of” an injury). This same mechanism also can be used with other Cases; for example, we could say “lan raden” to mean “without (not accompanied by) friend(s), or “with rada” meaning “against the interests of a/the woman.”

Translate the following into Láadan.

13  

My family will go NORTH, not east, and meet you (many) at the plain.

14  

COURTESY, not being right, causes harmony (a lesson).

15  

There’s a GARDEN in the meadow! (celebratory)

16  

The pregnant woman SIGNED, rather than said, “Hello,” to her sibling.

17  

Matthew was ABLE to color the picture of a fish with a writing implement.

18  

Will Marsha ARRIVE at the farm during the evening?

Regarding #18: in English, we say that someone “arrives at” their destination; this seems like it would translate into a straightforward Place Case formation. In Láadan, however, “to arrive” is “nosháad” [no– (finish) + sháad (come/go)]. Sháad takes “the place one is coming/going to” as a Goal Case rather than a Place Case element. There is no reason why that case assignment would change by dint of the simple addition of the “finish” prefix. Therefore the phrase “at the farm” in #18 must be translated as “ábededi” rather than “√°bedeha.”

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Answers

1  

Does ARKANSAS have beach(es)?

2  

My house was of WOOD, not of stone.

3  

The farmer said, “Prithee don’t TOUCH the baby bird.”

4  

What MINERAL did the workers get among the (several) hills?

5  

The physician is the BAKER’s guest in the valley, not the carpenter’s.

6  

Suzette studied LINGUISTICS, not mathematics.

 

7  

Anna’s grand-niece is going to FLY to the island.

Bíi aril shumáad hosherídan Ána betha maridihóo wáa.listen to this pronounced

Anna’s grand-niece is going to fly to the ISLAND.

8  

Common sense is no balm; it is often a NUISANCE.

Bíi ra bash ubehóo; be uhud hath menedebe wa.listen to this pronounced

Common sense is no BALM; it is often a nuisance.

9  

Mary lost a PEARL while traveling (I dreamt).

Bíi eril wemehóo Méri nemeth imeya we.listen to this pronounced

Mary LOST a pearl while traveling (I dreamt).

10  

Michael is MY name (the name belonging to ME).

Bíi Máyel zhahóo letho wa.listen to this pronounced

Michael is my NAME.

11  

Bethany is weeping not from an injury but from ALONENESS.

Bíi delishehóo Bétheni olob rawáan izh sholanewáan wáa.listen to this pronounced

Bethany is WEEPing not because of an injury but because of aloneness.

12  

Might a gift from me PLEASE Elizabeth?

Báa rilrili shi bini lehóode Elízhabeth beth?listen to this pronounced

Might a gift from ME please Elizabeth?

 

13  

Bíi aril sháad onida letha hunedihóo, hene radi, i bithim neneth raboha wa.listen to this pronounced

14  

Bíidi nin shalehóo, ra dóon, shath wa.listen to this pronounced

15  

Bíilan ham déelahóo duneha wa.listen to this pronounced

16  

Bíi eril lishidehóo, di ra, wolawida wowith “Wil sha,” hena bethadi wáa.listen to this pronounced

17  

Bíi eril thadehóo dóliri Máthu dadem thilithuth thodinan wa.listen to this pronounced

18  

Báa aril nosháadehóo Másha ábededi háanáaleya obée?listen to this pronounced

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