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Lesson 68
Comparisons, Pt 3


The title of this lesson is something of a misnomer. This is not a lesson about comparisons, per se, but rather an advanced lesson on Degree Markers (which can be used in implicit comparisons).

The degree-markers we’ve seen up ‘til now are all Neutral Degree Markers. They state a degree—without any judgment; they don’t indicate an emotional response to that degree. There are also Degree Markers that convey, along with the degree, an emotional response (either “in favor of” or “opposed to”). There is a set that conveys a positive response (“in favor of”) and another set that conveys a negative response (“opposed to”).

Vocabulary

Neutral Degree Markers

We’ve seen these already. They’re presented here for the sake of completeness.

–hel

to a trivial degree; slightly

–hil

to a minor degree; rather; somewhat

–Ø

no lexicalized information about degree

–hal

to an unusual degree; quite

–hul

to an extreme degree

also negative: to a violent degree

–háalish

to an extraordinary degree

Interrogative Degree Marker

–hába

“to what degree”; “how VERB” {AB}

Positive Degree Markers

–théle

to a pleasing degree; fine

–thíle

to a more-than-pleasing degree; excellent

–thúul

to an extraordinarily pleasing degree; magnificent

–thúle

to the furthest degree of pleasingness possible; perfect

Negative Degree Markers

–shéle

to a troublesome degree

also neutral or positive: much

–hele

–shíle

to a severe degree

also neutral or positive: great

–hile

–shúul

to an intolerable degree

–hule

–shúle

special emergency form: unbearable to a degree that would cause catastrophic events such as suicide; a signal for immediate help

–shule


Among the Negative Degree Markers above, the right-hand column presents Suzette Haden Elgin’s unpublished versions of these markers. They were clearly a work-in-progress since, with the addition of any suffix, most of them would be indistinguishable from Neutral Degree Markers. The second generation undertook to make the Negative Degree Markers more distinctive by modelling them on the Positive markers.


Another aspect of these unpublished forms is the crossover where some Negative Degree Markers can be used in a neutral or positive sense, and some Neutral markers can be used in a negative sense. While it is possible to interpret an utterance in Láadan as positive or negative based upon Mood Suffixes or First- or Second-Declension emotion words, these are more impressions than clear markers. For this reason, these usages will not be put forward in these lessons.

Examples

Neutral

Bíi íthihel yáanin wa.

The tree is trivially tall.

Bíi íthihil yáanin wa.

The tree is tall to a minor degree.

Bíi íthi yáanin wa.

The tree is tall (to unspecified degree).

Bíi íthihal yáanin wa.

The tree is unusually tall.

Bíi íthihul yáanin wa.

The tree is extremely tall.

Bíi íthiháalish yáanin wa.

The tree is extraordinarily tall.

Interrogative

Báa ralóolo memazh?

Is the train fast?

Báa ralóolohába memazh?

How fast is the train?


Note that, with the presence of the interrogative degree marker, the Type-of-Sentence word “Báa” becomes redundant. It is still grammatically correct, but is not required.

Positive

Bíi áya math wa.

The building is beautiful (to unspecified degree).

Bíi áyathéle math wa.

The building is beautiful to a pleasing degree.

Bíi áyathíle math wa.

The building is beautiful to an excellent degree.

Bíi áyathúul math wa.

The building is beautiful to a magnificent degree.

Bíi áyathúle math wa.

The building is beautiful to a perfect degree.

Negative

Bíi éeya le wa.

I’m sick (to an unspecified degree).

Bíi éeyashéle le wa.

I’m troublesomely sick (sniffles and a low-grade fever, but I’m gonna be okay).

Bíi éeyashíle le wa.

I’m severely sick (muscle aches, fever, and a nasty cough; nevertheless, I expect to recover fully).

Bíi éeyashúul le wa.

I’m intolerably sick (can’t get out of bed amid the coughing, sneezing, fever, muscle aches, and exhaustion; I do expect to recover, but it may be a while).

Bíi éeyashúle le wa.

I’m sick unto death (I don’t know where I picked up this virus, but my lungs feel like they’re full of goo; I just hope the hospital has enough ventilators….).

Note that any Negative Degree Marker when applied to a stative verb (in English, an adjective) can be translated into English as being too… in some degree.

Exercises

Translate the following into English

1

Bíi aril shóo shun wodidethíle woháasháaleya aril wáa.

2

Bíi eril shudeshíle onida letha wa; mehabelid lan wohíyashéle woshodesha shin neda.

3

Bée loláad eduthahá zharashúleth beróo eril shebasheb áwith radóon bethowáan wáa.

4

Báa owahába Anib wohan woHalishónisha? Owathéle e owashúul be?

5

Bíi eríli dibó i hudi worawoth wohuhid mehel with lhebetho wohóyathúul wodéelath lhebedáahé wáa.

6

Bíi mezhedi yodá abathúle bal i abathúul thulanahé wa.

7

Bíi eril búshéle dadem mudathu eshesha nil wa.

8

Bíide eril shumáad áalaá íthiháalishenal, id shumáad be heb; medibithim háawith beth úyahú rahíthithélenal be wa.

9

Bíi rahíyashíle woliyen woháabe wi; báa shoshúul be íi?

10

Bíi eril redeb ewithá eríli mehel wíitham mewohéedahul wothodehóo menedebe hathóolethameya thobeboó erileháa wáa.

In #3, of course you recognize “radóon” (be incorrect; error) [ra– (NON) + dóon (be correct)].

In #5, did you note “hudi” (decree) [hu (ruler; boss) + di (speak)]? This is also one of the Láadan words that translate the English word “law”. “Hudi” refers to laws put in force by civic rulers; there’s also “thamedi” for laws put in force by religious authority. The third, “nalabesh” [nal (MANN) + abesh (all-that-is)], refers to “laws” such as gravity that are simply features of the physical universe rather than laws imposed by human agency.

Also in #5, of course you recognized “rawoth” (foolishness; be foolish) [ra– (NON) + woth (wisdom; be wise)].

In #7, did you note that the Láadan is ambiguous (just as is the English translation) as to whether there’s a pig in a boat in a picture or a pig in a picture in a boat? Can you craft a Láadan sentence that resolves this ambiguity? Try “Bíi eril búshéle dadem ham muda eshesha nileháathu wa,” (The picture of the pig that was in a boat was troublesomely odd) or “Bíi eril búshéle ham dadem mudathuhé eshesha nil wa,” (It was troublesomely odd that there was a picture of a pig in the boat).

Of course you had no trouble, in #8, with “rahíthi” (be low/short) [ra– (NON) + íthi (be high/tall)].

Translate the following into Láadan

11

This cake is severely (too) sweet; the pie is sweet to an excellent degree.

12

Aunt Margaret enjoys needleworking to a fine degree.

13

How sour are the berries?

14

My pillow is downy to an excellent degree, but it’s slightly too (troublesomely) firm.

15

The sky yesterday was perfectly blue and fleecy-clouded to a fine degree.

16

Mary’s beautiful sibling was intolerably tired; she severely needed to sleep.

17

Your cat is perfectly well; she jumps magnificently and plays unusually vigorously.

18

The dentist hurt me troublesomely, but I wasn’t troublesomely afraid.

19

The nurse felt shame-beyond-what-she-could-live-with at the death of a baby; the baby’s parents and grandparents all showed her compassion (despite), and they think she’ll survive.

20

This classroom (magnificently) is much more wonderfully clean than my home (excellently).

In #12, you may have noticed we haven’t got a verb “to enjoy.” In Láadan we convey this meaning by saying, as in this example, “needleworking pleases Aunt Margaret.” In the answer, the Object suffix for the name “Mázhareth”—applied to the title “Berídan” (Aunt)—is in parentheses because it’s optional; it would be nonsense to say “Aunt Margaret greatly pleases needleworking.”

In #18, did you have any difficulty with the verb “to hurt” used in a transitive sense? Beyond “olob” (blow/trauma; to strike/injure)—a connotative difference not found in the English—we don’t have one, but we can say “cause to feel pain.”

In #19, did you find a way to form the concept of “to survive”? Try “to continue to be alive.”

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Answers

1

The ceremony will take place in the excellently early (positive: early to an excellent degree) morning tomorrow.

2

My family was severely poor; we (many, beloved) lived in only two troublesomely small rooms.

3

[Warning] The physician feels such regret (Ext,+,–) because a baby died due to her error that she’s liable to [commit suicide/murder/etc.].

4

How warm is August in Southern California? Is it warm to a fine degree or intolerably warm?

5

Long ago a foolish king commanded and decreed that his (he is despised) people build a magnificently beautiful garden as their duty to him.

6

The diners agree-in-word that the bread is perfectly fragrant and the soup is magnificently fragrant —or— The diners agree-in-word that the bread is even more delightfully fragrant than the soup.

7

The picture of a pig in a boat was troublesomely odd.

8

[Narrative] The butterfly flew extraordinarily high, and then she flew down; the children greeted her when she was low to fine degree.

9

The green book is clearly severely large; is it also intolerably heavy?

10

An anthropologist found many extremely sacred writings (that were) made by priests three thousand years ago.

 

11

Bíi meénaneshíle thuzh hi; meénanethíle thizh wa.

12

Bíi shithéle dathim Mázhareth Berídan(eth) wa.

13

Báa meyemehába dalatham?

14

Bíi shanethíle thom letho, izh radazheshéle be.

15

Bíi eril leyithúle i bolethéle thosh sháal(eya) eril wáa.

16

Bíi eril óohashúul woháya wohena Méri betha; themeshíle áana be wa.

17

Bíi tháathíle rul netho; oóbethúul i elashehal be wa.

18

Bíi eril dóhúuyashéle edashá leth, izh héeyashéle ra le wa.

19

Bíi eril loláad onin lhohotheshúle shebasheb áwithehéwáan wáa; medam thul i hothul áwithetha mehenath bedim, i ril melith ben aril náwíi behé.

20

Bíi éthethúul bedishod hi i éthethíle beth letho wa.

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