Hand-book of Volapük/33

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MODEL OF TRANSLATION AND GRAMMATICAL ANALYSIS[edit]

I give an analysis of the above parable, taking it sentence by sentence, and showing how a person, ignorant of the words, would go to work and ascertain the meaning by the aid of the vocabulary. Persons familiar with other languages, and hence accustomed to translation, may obtain a general idea of the structure of Volapük by following this analysis even before they have at all studied the grammar. Beginning with the first sentence, we look for the verb. When we come to äsiedom, we know it to be a verb because it has a tense-vowel ä as a prefix (of the series a, ä. e, i, o, u'), and a person-ending om (of the series -ob, -ol, -om, -of, -os, -on). As om means he, we know that the verb is in the third <a NAME="p050"></a>person singular ; as ä means "imperfect tense" we know that "he" did something. What he did is to be found out by removing the prefix and the ending which leaves the root sied. Looking in the vocabulary we find that sied, as a noun, means a seat, and the verb siedön, to sit. Therefore äsiedom must express of someone, "he sat." --- Who sat ? As ,,Abraham" precedes the verb and is in the kimfal, it answers the question, ,,Kim äsiedom?" "Who sat ?" Äsiedom alone would have meant "he sat," but we omit the "he" in English when the subject is expressed ; therefore,

Abraham äsiedom == Abraham sat.

When the kimfal and the verb are known, the rest of the sentence must fall into place to modify these. Vöno is, judging by the ending o, an adverb, and as it follows äsiedom it probably is used to modify that verb. Looking in the vocabulary we find it means, "once, formerly." "Once," that is, not as distinguished from "twice," but "once upon a time. " We now, have, in the English order,

Abraham äsiedom vöno == Abraham once sat.

As len does not show by its form what part of speech it is we must look it up and we find it to be a preposition meaning "at." The word following it, yan, we find to be a noun ; as it is in the kimfal (not ending in a vowel) and follows the preposition, it is evident that len yan meant either "at a door" or "at the door ; " which or these it will be cannot yet be determined. .

Immediately after
yan is a word teneda. From its ending in a we know that it is in the kimafal. and answers the question "whose ?" "whose door ?" As tened means tent, ,,yan teneda" must mean "tent's door," or rather "door of tent," for we seldom use s
in English except in speaking of living things.

Len yan teneda == at door of tent.

In English we should conventionally expand this into one or the following forms :

  • at the door of the tent ;
  • at the door of a tent ;
  • at a door of the tent ;
  • at a door of a tent.

But these articles do not add anything whatever to the meaning. If an artist were to paint four pictures of Abraham,

  1. sitting at the door of the tent,
  2. sitting at the door of a tent,
  3. sitting at a door of the tent,
  4. sitting at a door of a tent,

all four views would be alike, and each would be precisely the same as if he had received the briefer description, "at door of tent, " or "at tent door." ,,Oma" is another kimafal, and as it immediately follows teneda it must answer the question "whose tent ?" Its root, om, we recognise as meaning he ; therefore oma means "his" and refers to teneda. So that we now have the full meaning of the first clause: "Abraham once sat at the door of his tent." The next word valadöl must be a participle as it ends in -öl, which is like our "-ing." Valad we find in the vocabulary to mean awaiting ; valadön, to wait for, to await, to attend. Therefore valadöl must mean either "waiting for," "awaiting," or "attending." Now he who awaits or attends must await something or some one ; that is, valadön is the kind or verb which is called transitiv ; it may have an object. This object must be in the kimifal ; that is, must end in i or is. Looking further along we find such a word, foginelis. The s tells us it is plural. The i that it is in the objectiv or kimifal. This leaves us foginel. The ending el refers to a person, and often corresponds to er in English. We find fogin to mean "a foreign country," for which there is no one word in English. Foginel means a foreigner, stranger, one from a distant country.

The words ,,valadöl foginelis" mean "awaiting strangers." The three words segun kösöm omik, as they come just after valadöl, must modify or explain its meaning. Segun is found to be a preposition meaning "according to," and kösöm, a noun in the kimfal, "custom," ,,segun kösöm" must be "according to custom." The ending -ik tells us that omik is an adjectiv ; as adjectivs always follow the words they qualify it must describe kösöm. We know that ,,om" is "he," and that ,,-ik" is "pertaining to ; " <a NAME="p052"></a>,,omik" is "his." This is another form, equivalent to oma ; when the possessor is one of the pronouns ob, ol, om, of, os, on, it may be put in either the adjectiv form or the kimafal ; may end either in ik or in a.

Segun kösöm omik == according to his custom

Valadöl, segun kösöm omik, foginelis == awaiting strangers, according to his custom.

We cannot in English place the phrase "according to his custom," where it naturally belongs. The reason for this is that we have no separate form for the objectiv, and therefore feel a necessity for placing it as close as possible to the verb so that it may be felt as the object. "Awaiting, according to his custom, strangers," would sound awkward.

Al lotadön omis. The ending -ön indicates the infinitiv, and we have seen that al before the infinitiv gives it the meaning "in order to ; " altho' "in order" need not be expressed. If we look up lotad we find that it means hospitality ; but we have in English no verb "to hospitate." We are obliged to use some such phrase as "to give hospitality to," "to receive hospitably." Omis is the same word ,,om" which we have already met several times. This time it is in the kimifal, plural, like foginelis, which, in fact, it replaces.

Al lotadön omis == to offer them hospitality.

This completes the first sentence. We begin the second by searching as before for a verb, which we may expect to find marked by its tense-vowel at the beginning and its person-ending. We have not far to seek, as ädalogom has the marks. We see at once that (as in äsiedom) the framework is he did something. Dalogön is to perceive, hence ädalogom is he perceived. The subject not being expressed the he must stand in its stead. Dalog-ön is not a simple word. Da is a prefix, and log is the real root. Log, as a noun. means eye ; log-ön, the verb, is to see. Da, as a prefix, denotes the completion of an action or the attainment of the object sought.

<a NAME="p053"></a>ädalogom, being a transitiv verb, should have an object, in the kimifal, of course. We readily find this object in the next word bäledani. This we find to mean an "old-man ," but even if bäledan were omitted from the vocabulary we could discover its meaning from the root bäled, age, and the ending an (an echo of man), which is applied to persons.

‰dalogom b‰ledani == he perceived an old man.

Blegˆl is recognised as a participle qualifying b‰ledani, which it follows. Blegˆn is found to mean to bend. Oki is the reflexiv pronoun ok, -self in the kimifal. Therefore blegˆl oki is bending himself. It might be expressed in one word, blegˆlok. Su staf is readily found to mean on a staff. Taking the phrase together we may translate it "leaning on a staff." E, and. Kˆmˆl is another participle, from kˆmˆn, to come. Al omi, to him; omi is in the kimifal because al denotes motion toward him. This is not indispensable, for al om would express the same idea. Al, of itself, conveys the idea of direction; so that there is not the same useful distinction as between in and into.

In the next sentence, seeking first the verb, we recognise it in ifenoms by the personal ending oms, they and the tense prefix i. I we find in the series a, ‰, e, i, o, u (present, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect, future, future perfect); its English equivalent is "had;" oms is third person, plural, they; therefore we have only to look for the meaning of fen to know what "they had" done. Fen being to weary, ifenoms must be they had wearied. We now look back for the subject which must be plural. Tˆbs has the plural-sign and is in the kimfal.

Tˆbs ifenoms == troubles had wearied.

But we cannot positivly decide upon this until we examin the words which precede tˆbs, for according to the rules of position the subject must be at the beginning of the sentence. Much depends upon the particle e, for if this is a preposition, töbs, tho' in the kimfal, cannot be the subject. E proves, however, to be the conjunction and, and bäled, the noun, age. Bäled e töbs, age and troubles, form a compound subject to ifenoms. The object omi is at once recognised by its ending.

Bäled e töbs ifenoms omi. == age and troubles had wearied him.

<a NAME="p054"></a>The ending oms is masculine, but is used here where in English we should expect the neuter. It, as well as he, is represented by om. The next sentence presents nothing of difficulty; subject, verb (in the third person, singular, imperfect), object, adverb.

Fleno in a friendly manner, requires four words in English because we do not say friendli-ly. Fleniko would have about the same meaning; the adverb may be formed from the adjectiv or directly from the noun.

Abraham älasumom omi fleno. == Abraham received him in friendly manner.

äbegom omi is familiar. Siadönok: ok is the reflexiv ending, meaning myself, yourself, himself, etc., as the case may be; -ön is the infinitiv-ending already mentioned; siadön is to seat. Siedön, to sit, is intransitiv; siadön, to seat, is transitiv. Siadönok is here translated to seat himself, on account of omi.

äbegom omi siadönok == requested him to seat himself.

And the next clause presents nothing new :

ävatükom futis oma = washed his feet.

Ed is the same as e, used before a vowel. If e were used here there would be no misunderstanding; and some writers refuse to change e into ed on the ground that there should be no variation of form where there is no difference in sense, Flifik is an adjectiv since it ends in ik; it qualifies vati, for it immediately follows that word. In English we say "fresh water," in Volapük the order is "water fresh."

Ed äblinom flukis e vati flifik == and brought fruits and fresh water.

The first verbal form which we find in next sentence is logöl, which we already know to mean "seeing." Das we find to be the conjunction that, therefore the following words, ,,bäledan," etc., must be a subordinate sentence, which we may take up first and translate as if it were standing alone.

<a NAME="p055"></a>Bäledan äfidom ed ädlinom nes sagön pleki.

Proceeding in the usual manner to look for the verb, we find äfidom; but we also find the verb ädlinom and the conjunction e or ed connecting them. E (or ed) like and in English, connects two similar words or phrases as two subjects (bäled e töbs for example), two predicates, as in this instance, two objects (for example flukis e vati flifik), two adverbs, two subordinate sentences. Looking for the roots, fid and dlin, we find that äfidom ed ädlinom means, by itself, he ate and drank. The subject bäledan is a word with which we are familiar. On its former occurrence we translated it "an old man," but now, as he has been previously mentioned, we use the article "the" -- "the old man ate and drank."

The following clause ,,nes sagön pleki," we may presume to modify the verbs as it follows them. We confirm this by finding that nes is a preposition, meaning , "without." Nen also means without, but nes is used before infinitivs. Nen, however, would be perfectly understood, and may be used without confusion. After a preposition we use in English the form in -ing; nes sagön -- without saying. The ending -i shows that pleki is the object of the verb sagön. Nes sagön pleki == without saying a prayer.  

Ab logöl das bäledan äfidom ed ädlinom nes sagön pleki --  ==   But seeing that the old man ate and drank without saying a prayer -- 

This participial clause is placed at the beginning of the sentence because it qualifies the subject, which is the -om in äsäkom, he asked. Ome is another form of om; the kimefal or indirect object. In English the person of whom anything is asked is put in the objectiv, but in Volapük the thing asked is considered as the direct object; "he asked [to] him." This is indicated in the vocabulary, by [bosi eke]; säkön [bosi eke], to ask any one anything ; that is, the thing asked is in the kimifal, and the person asked in the kimefal.

The words following this constitute the question which was asked, in the exact words Abraham would use, except that Abraham would have changed one letter.

<a NAME="p056"></a>Kikod no äleplekol Godi süla ?

äsäkom ome, kikod no äleplekom Godi süla.

Kikod is found to be an interrogativ adverb, "why ?" derived from kod, cause; -- "what cause ?" In the same way are formed, kiplad ? "what place ?" for where ? and kitim ? "what time ?" for when ? This being the connecting word, we next take up the sentence in the usual order, beginning with the verb äleplekom, which is the same form as äsiedom and several other verbs given. Leplekön is to worship, being derived from plekön, to pray, with the intensiv prefix le. No is the negativ particle not; it is so closely connected with the verb which it modifies, or rather reverses, that it is placed before like a prefix rather than after as a modifier. No äleplekom, he did not worship. What is the object in this sentence ? Godi, because it ends in i. No äleplekom Godi == he did not worship God. What is süla ? A noun in the kimafal or "whose" case, answering the question whose ? of whom ? or of what ? God of what ? God of heaven. Here we insert in English a "the" before "God," though it would seem more reasonable to say "God of the heaven" than "the God of heaven."

äsäkom ome, kikod no äleplekom Godi süla. == He asked him why he did not worship the God of heaven.

In the next sentence, it is at once seen that Bäledan is the subject and ägepükom the verb ; that the old man did something denoted by gepük, which is found to mean reply. The old man replied -- what ? There are two subordinate sentences, each beginning with das, that; these two sentences are connected by e, and. We may analyse them separately. 1. äleplekom te Fili.

What is the verb ? äleplekom, he worshiped. What is its subject ? He, expressed by om in the termination. What is its object ? Fili because it ends in i. äleplekom Fili == he worshiped Fire. Te, like all words of two letters, is a particle of some kind. It is found to be the adverb only. It precedes the word to which it refers.

‰leplekom te Fili == he worshiped only Fire (Fire alone).

<a NAME="p057"></a>2. No ‰sevom godi votik. What is the verb ? ‰sevom, he did -- something; he knew ; no äsevom, he did not know. Votik must be an adjectiv from its ending; other, another.

No äsevom godi votik == he did know another god ; or, he knew no other god.

The two replies of the old man can now be translated. We have now had all the cases exemplified in the forms of om. Om, he ; oma, his (or him); ome, to him; omi, him ; and we can complete the plural : Oms, they; omas, their (of them); omes, to them ; omis, them. The next sentence will now be easily understood upon ascertaining the meanings of the separate words.

The phrase ,,Ven at igolom," although it comes first, really modifies ävokom. The reason for placing it out of the usual order is to place it in the order of time, as will be seen. Ven is a conjunction, "when." What is the verb ? Igolom, and it is in the pluperfect tense, third person, singular, masculin ; "he had ----," is the English formula. Golön, to go ; therefore igolom = he had gone. What is the subject ? At means this, and refers to bäledan, understood. In English it is not customary to use this without its noun (when masculin), hence we say "the latter."

Ven at igolom == when the latter had gone or was gone.

Observe that "was gone" is not a passiv, altho' it looks like one. The auxilliary "am" does not always denote the passiv voice, and the meaning must be followed, not the sound. ,,God ävokom Abrahami" will be understood upon finding the meaning of vokön, to call; ed äsäkom ome, this is all familiar. Kiöp is the connecting word, an interrogativ adverb, where ?

ägesagom, he answered ; this is a synonym of ägepükom. Both are formed by prefixing the syllable ge-, which means <a NAME="p058"></a>back, re-; to re-say , to re-speak. The exact words of Abraham's reply are given, in quotation marks. What is the verb ? ejokob; it is in the perfect tense and first person, singular; "I have" done something. "I have thrust." What is the subject ? Ob, I; in the termination or the verb. What is the object ? Omi, him; ending in i. Mof¸ is a preposition; any word ending in ¸ is a preposition. Mof¸ tened, outside-of the-tent. Bi, because, is a conjunction introducing the subordinate sentence ,,no leplekom oli," which should now be analysed. What is its verb ? Leplekom, present tense, third person, singular, masculin; tells what he does or with no what he does not. No leplekom, he does not worship. What is the object? Oli (ob-ol-om-of-os-on), thee.  

‰gesagom: ,,ejokob omi mof¸ tened, bi no leplekom oli."  ==  He answered: "I have thrust him outside the tent because he does not worship thee."

God äsagom täno ome, God said then to him; or, God then said to him. Esufob omi du yels tum.

What is the verb ? Esufob, perfect tense, first person, singular; tells what I have done. --- I have endured. What is the object ? Omi, him. Du, is a preposition, during. Yels is the plural of yel, a year. The numeral tum is placed after its noun.

Esufob omi du yels tum == I have endured him for a hundred years.

Do is a conjunction, connecting the clause änestimom obi with the main sentence, as above.

Do änestimom obi == Though he contemned me.

In the clause beginning with ,,ed ol" the particle -li, as well as the interrogation point, shows that a question is asked. First translate the clause as if an assertion, disregarding -li, then change it to a question. What is the verb ? äkanol, imperfect, second person, singular. Thou couldst. What is the subject ? Ol, expressed separately as well as in the termination, making it more emphatic. <a NAME="p059"></a>

Ed ol no-li äkanol sufön omi and couldst not thou endure him, 
du neit bal during one night, 
ven no ätupom oli ?  when he did not trouble thee ? 

In the next sentence, Na is the conjunction, and the clause introduced by it is placed, at the first of the sentence for the same reason as the clause, Ven at igolom.--- Vödis at, these words; at is here an adjectiv pronoun.--- There are, in this sentence not two, but three, clauses connected by ed; they begin with the verbs ägevokom, älinkipom and ägivom. The last of these clauses ,,ägivom ome tidamis sapik" has two objects : tidamis, the direct object or kimifal, and ome, the indirect object or kimefal. The order would be more strictly logical and regular if ome were placed last. This, however, creates no difficulty in understanding.

Dunolöd id also.

What is the verb ? Dunolöd. It is imperativ because it ends in öd; it is second person, singular, shown by ol; the absence of prefix shows it to be present tense. The root dun means to do; therefore its translation is, do thou ! or simply, do ! The other words are merely adverbs.

Dunolöd id also ! == do thou also thus !

Pomesedol fa God Abrahama.

The verb is pomesedol. P shows it to be passiv ; o shows it to be future; po == shall be -----ed; ol, shows it to be second person, singular, thou shalt be -----ed. Mesed, is reward; pomesedol, thou shalt be rewarded.


These sentences have introduced all the cases, both numbers. all the persons. all the tenses, except the future-perfect, both voices, and the reflexiv, interrogativ, imperativ, infinitiv, and participial forms. Almost all the rules of inflexion and construction have been exemplified. <a NAME="p060"></a>The following, then, is an outline of the usual course to be followed in translating a sentence : l. What is the VERB, or predicate ? It is recognised by its having a person-ending, which will be one of the syllables ob, ol, om, of, os, on. If there be more than one verb found disregard all subordinate clauses, connected by conjunctions, and seek the principal verb. 2. What is the tense ? What is the person, the number, the gender ? These are determined by the syllables at the beginning and end, and from them may be formed a skeleton or framework, which is completed by finding and inserting the meaning of the radical. 3. What is the SUBJECT ? Perhaps it is implied in the person-ending and not otherwise expressed. If it be expressed it must be in the kimfal. Then read these two words together as the foundation of the sentence : subject, verb, 4. Is there an OBJECT ? If so it must be in the kimifal; and you now have : kimfal, verb, kimifal. 5. Is there a more remote or INDIRECT OBJECT ? If so it is in the kimefal, and completes the four principal parts :

Kimfal......VERB......kimifal......kimefal......

Each of these four principal words may be followed by determinants, words of phrases limiting or modifying its meaning, and these are last taken up and translated.