Hanleni halsen (introduction)

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Christophe Grandsire

Linsin kufan lezu,
Jemnon sejfibo-lag nesaj izu|lebi ge,
Lezulinan Dodapa djolaj,
Lezedun plisesif ezve|si ige.

When the little bird sings with greatness,
When the "artist of the river" clears its feathers in the mist,
When the songbird glorifies the Even Star,
Maybe the "reigners" can hear their song.

Linsin kufan    lezu,
NomS   pref-Rad Rad

Jemnon sejfibo-lag nesaj izu|lebi ge,
NomS   Rad-Rad     NomPe Inf-Nom  Rad of vaux

Lezulinan Dodapa djolaj,
NomS      NomS   pref-Inf-Nom

Lezedun plisesif ezve|si ige.
AccSe   NomPe    Par-Gen pres-vaux

"Artist of the river" (jemnon) is a metaphor for some kinds of birds with long legs that live near rivers and lakes. "Reigners" (plisif) is another metaphor that applies to gods or celestial beings. Jemnon is an everyday metaphor (it's really the way you name most big waterbirds in Moten). Plisif has been created for the poem. In fact, there are no simple ways to name gods or God in Moten, it just lacks the words. So many metaphors are used, depending on which nuance you want to give.

Just some comments about Moten (if you read my translation of the Babel text, I think you don't need much help):

- the word order is consistently SOV, but OSV is not unfrequent.

- verb conjugation is periphrastic, with the use of two auxiliaries (agem: to have, and atom: to be).

- declination consists of three cases: nominative, accusative and genitive, which are used also with impersonal forms of verbs to make the conjugation.

- Moten is written with the roman alphabet, with only four new letters: |s and |z, which are the affricate counterparts of s and z, and |l and |n which are the palatalised counterparts of l and n. The other letters have their IPA values.

Don't forget it's a poem, and poetic licence is strong in Moten (for instance, using nominative instead of accusative for the object of a sentence, if the subject is already put before it, or lack of atom as an auxiliary, or concatenation of a substantive and its postposition - always showed by the presence of a hyphen - , or personification - when a word becomes a proper noun, the definite article disappears -).


Nom: nominative
Acc: accusative
Gen: genitive
S: singular
P: plural
e: definite infixed article
Inf: infinitive
Par: participle
Rad: radical of a word
pref: prefix
vaux: auxiliary verb
pres: present tense


apa: star
di-: temporal prefix (moment with the nominative, duration with the accusative, frequency with the genitive)
dod: evening, night
ezet: to hear, to listen
ge: to have (auxiliary verb)
ibo: air
jem: brook, river
ko-: means prefix ("with", "by means of")
lezu: to sing, song, to chant, chant
linan: bird
melag: inner part ('in' as a postposition)
naj: feather
-non: artist suffix (example: esesi: poetry -> esesinon: poet)
ola: to glorify
plis: to reign, reign
sejf: to confuse, confuse
-sif: actor suffix (roughly equivalent to the -er suffix in English)
-sin: diminutive and affective suffix ("little", "dear little")
zu|leb: to clear up, clearing

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© Irina Rempt, Christophe Grandsire 23-06-1999