Monday, May 18, 2009

Families and Grammar

Epistle XXII: Not another Family Emergency!

[Affixed onto the front of the epistle]

Puey you listen to me! Don’t you DARE start coddling Éfhelìnye and calling her your precious and love and all that rot! She busted my lip open today! Yeah, you read that right! Don’t you DARE try to excuse her! Khmaryáta had to carry me away and my lips were just streaming blood. Ixhúja was the only one with presence of mind enough to stitch my lips up, although Siêthiyal kept making jokes about how this would be a good time just to stich my lips shut so that I won’t talk anymore. NOT FUNNY, PUEY! I AM NOT IN A GOOD MOOD RIGHT NOW!
Puey, don’t you dare ignore this message! I didn’t do anything wrong at all! Your future wife got herself into a passel of trouble, and Siêthiyal and I were just trying to help her, and your Princess dear broke my lips! I was bleeding all o'er the place! This is just horrible!
You know, I look at myself in the mirror every dawntide when I awaken and get dressed and comb my long and beautiful golden hair, do you know how long my hair has gotten? It’s just as long as Éfhelìnye’s right now. And at nighttime I look at myself in the mirror too, and do you know what? I know you still think of me as a little child, and you’re always treating me as if I’m going to tumble down and break like glass, but I’m growing up now. I think in just a few years I’m going to be as pretty as my Mamà Khmaryáta was, and she’s just gorgeousified if I do say so myself. Puey, I think you may want to reconsider some of our plans for the future. I love Éfhelìnye too, she truly is my best friend, when she’s not breaking my lips wide open, and I know you love her with all your pure Puey heart, and that’s fine with me. But think about the days to come. Is she even going to be able to bare you children? And what type of children will these little princes and princesses be? Are they going to be little winged grammarian warrior vocabularians? But Puey, according to the sylvan priests, the betrothal and marriage contract for us is still valid if you e'er desire it. I know I’d be a good junior wife or concubine for you, and I can bare you children, lots of normal healthy Jaràqtu children. Plus, my hair is really long and shiny. Did I mention that Éfhelìnye busted my lips open.
The only good thing is at least I don’t have to copy her grammatical tables anymore. Maybe having my lips broken is a small price to have to pay.
Your potential concubine and mother of your twenty children,
Karuláta Khniêma Akhlísa the best the superior and everyone loves her and she has really long golden hair that you should see

[Also affixed unto the note]

You should have seen them today. Éfhelìnye was getting into another fight with her Mother! It’s the funniest thing e'er! Éfhelìnye just flitters and flutters and tends to do her own silly thing, but when her Mother dares to criticize her, you’d think that a war was starting! Plus thrice honored Khnoqwísi can be so calm and indifferent, it’s like she’s made out of crystal glass, but Éfhelìnye, at the slightest hint that someone is criticizing you, will get angrier than I’ve e'er seen her. I could not stop laughing, I was rolling on the carpet. You should have seen it.
Oh and Karuláta’s such a baby, she broke her lip open.
Any word on the pirates getting me my treasure?

[The papyrus is living silver, it is almost an amœba, and sparkling upon it are wavering hieroglyphs of gold and purest light]

My wellbeloved Son Puey,
I think I understand a little the tribulations that my Father Thiêfhilos underwent in rearing me alone in the cottage beside the forest. The main difference is that I did not start pining after a young man until I was a couple years older than mine Éfhelìnye, at her age I was still content to clean the cabin and dance in the garden. Plus it seems that I was docile enough to be reared by a single ancient man, for I can assure you that even one hundred million cycles ago, your Grandfather Pátifhar exceeding old was, even I can barely remember a time when he was young, but with Éfhelìnye the entire nation of Jaràqtu cannot seem to take care of her. Granted, almost all of the men are gone, just a few priests and monks and swordsmen have stayed for to protect us, but one would think that the Grandmothers and Khwofheîlya and Qtìmine and the other Matrons and I would be able to keep track of a single Princess. Sometimes, though, we are just unequal to the task. Also, and I write this in complete confidence to you, although she is usually quite pious to her elders and obedient to her Mother, I think the only authority she e'er has respected and e'er will is yours. She can be so exasperating sometimes. I was never this disobedient to your Grandfather Pátifhar, I was his little darling child.
Let me explain why Éfhelìnye shall not be sending you an epistle this evening.
Your future wife disobeyed me. In the first hour of the day, even in the darkness before the dawn, she snuck out ofher room and ran down into the fields, unto where the barley and wheat have been planted, for she wished to find a large and long expanse of even land. She thought she would be very clever and practice hovering, away from her Mother, against mine orders. She probably only managed to arise a few cubits, but she was convinced that she was soaring. Alas, she had not thought far ahead to realize that her wings are not strong enough to fight the winds, plus, your future wife is extremely light, she weighs no more than a few drops of milk, so it does not take too much of a breeze for her to topple o'er from side to side. From her scratches I realized that she must have crashed against the wheat and perhaps even in the outer fields where the ears of corn lie. At least to her credit she did not give up, and she dusted her wings off and tried to fly.
When the atsáya rooster raptors awoke the rest of the household, Fhermáta was the one to give the cry that your future wife was missing. I was busy refracting some light through crystals and prisms, but at once I arose and tried to find her. Your Ssters though, who truly are clever, at once divided up the plantation and ran out in differing directions. Your youngest foster sibling Karuláta found your wife, the Princess was caught upside down in a tree perhaps an hundred cubits from the ground. She was caught like an insect in the web, her wings were bleeding, and she was struggling from side to side and screaming all the while. Karuláta ran to get your Sisters for help. Siêthiyal ran out to find me, while Ixhúja and Karuláta began climbing the tree to get Éfhelìnye down. I do wish that Éfhelìnye would obey me. I have not forbidden flight from her out of any malice, I just realize that now is not yet her time. I shall mention here, my Son, that I do admire the devotion that Karuláta and Ixhúja have for you. I shall not be offended in the least if you take both of these maidens to be concubines or slave girls in your household, in fact it may be very wise of you to do so. Karuláta truly looks up to you, plus she is already loyal to my daughter. I know that Éfhelìnye can be quite a little storm from time to time, she seems to have taken unto herself all of the less than admirable traits from both me and her illustrious Father, and my Daughter may never be wellsuited to running an household of herself.
By the time I flew up to the tree, and Siêthiyal insisted that I carry her, because it’s fun that way, she chanted, already everything was confusion. Éfhelìnye was panicking. Both Karuláta and Ixhúja were hanging off of her wings in an effort to untangle her. Éfhelìnye cannot control herself yet. The wings were changing shape, they were knives and fire and wind. Her wings became thorns and smacked Karuláta across the face. It is not Éfhelìnye’s fault, I can assure you, she is an infant in mine eyen, and she is just learning how to wriggle her toes, to my sight it is as if she had no control o'er her legs but was insisting that she can run. I had to carry your Sisters down, and then I brought down the Princess myself. At this point the wings became, what is the word for it, they were like volcanos. Yes, they were sparkling lava. Éfhelìnye’s lava wings were tearing from side to side as I pulled her from the tree, she was screaming in panick all the while because your Sisters had touched her wings. As I carried her, I turned to the tree to heal it, I did not wish for it to suffer, and as the tree was transforming itself, branches springing up, leaves sparkling outwards, the Princess was struggling against me, her lava wings slicing through me. When she tried to pull herself away from me, I had to hold her tighter. By now Fhermáta and your Mother were here, perhaps they had come earlier I’m not sure. Éfhelìnye’s lava wings ripped my face off and for a few moments mine entire head and shoulders reverted unto pure energy. I think this disturbed your Sisters, they were a little incoherent. At once I created an entirely new body for myself, my old form fading away, and I became the very dream of silver light. At this point, before Éfhelìnye could frighten anyone else, I touched her brow and sent her into a deep sleep. Her wings continued to strike back and forth even as she slept, her wings sometimes blizzard and knife and māccuahuitl. I carried her down. Karuláta was screaming, I think she had been cut. One of the Princess’ wings ripped my ear off, and sighing I had to set it back in its place. Khwofheîlya waited until all eyen were on her before fainting.
So I’m keeping a close watch on Éfhelìnye this day. She’s sitting on the couch beside me and pouting. However, sulking does not affect me. She can sulk for a thousand generations. I have half a page she has written which I shall copy out for you, but she will not be working on grammar this day. She is with me. Mine. For ever.
Thine atinantúwa, the mother of the bride

Explain to Puey, The Features of Language
In Babel the definiteness or indefinateness of a participle must be supplied from context. For instance the sentence:

Usyórim tsenastélàrejikh qúra.
May be rendered:
The king likes the princess.
A king likes the princess.
The king likes a princess.
A king likes a princess.
The king likes a single princess.
A single king likes a single princess.
Some king likes the princess.
Some king likes a princess.
The king likes some princess.

Babel can, imply definiteness and indefinateness. The singular affixes tsena- and –ing and -ùpwar as well as the fhìtsi marked singular form of the semantically non-restrictive sùkhpat participle often have the connotations of definiteness.

Khniêr stélarèjikhing tsenaqúra.
Þe viceroy king kißes Þe princess.
Jaê sqánamen xhroe pú.
I see Þe rock.

The passive voice makes the agent indefinate.

Xhnípe khniêr stélaring qúrayètwur.
Þe princess wæs kißed by some viceroy king.
Xhnípe qyekhènejikh twailíla jakhtaqtayètwur.
Þe bird wæs killed by a warrior.

The antipassive voice makes the patient indefinate.

Jáxe khniêrejikh stélar kae xing qúra.
Þe viceroy king kißed some princess.
Jáxe qyekhènejikh twailíla pfho jakhtàqta.
Þe warrior killed a bird.

Babel has many ways of equating a two ideas. I shall show you how we are able to place a predicate and subject together and have a complete thought, but in other constructions one has to have a predicate object and subject to have a complete thought:

Wtsátt tneûfhta Fhermáta.
Fhermáta’s eyen are green.
Sopaingata wtsát xhroe tneûfhta Fhermáta.
Fhermáta’s eyen become green.
Popaingata wtsát xhroe tneûfhta Fhermáta.
Fhermáta’s eyen seem green.

Babel has three number systems, only one of which is complete.
The Language of Babel cannot be separated from the Real People and the Dreamtime, the culture and the language are one. It would be exceedly difficult for one to try to translate Language into something else, even as I attempt to translate Language into the mews of Qtheûnte for you I realize just how difficult that is, but at least our birds and beasts dwell in the same continuum as the rest of us. How can translate for a shadow person the names of the Father of Stars? How can one speak of the Immortals and try to define Ása, ásaru unto one who has no idea what the heavenly host may be, the Powers, the Blessed Ones whose dreams create the reality of the Dreamtime? Why, I have a difficult enough time understanding mine own Mother and at least I’m living with her now, think of how impossible this would be to
Mother, I’m writing here! I’m just writing Puey a letter! Give it back! Mother! You have no right to

[And affixed to the bottom of the page]

This is has been quite a tumultuous day, and it’s only the third hour! I awoke right at the dawntide and went to the Princess’ room to wake her up, but she had clomb out the window and into the fields. I had no idea why, but at once I knew that I needed help. Of course no one could find honored Khnoqwísi, she could be anywhere or anywhen at all as far as I know, but your Sisters and I were searching in the fields until … well we found Éfhelìnye trapped upside down and in one of the tall patriarchs of the forest beside the corn. She was weeping, I had never seen her so pathetic, but her wings were so beautiful. I think she is probably the most gorgeous, the most ætherial of all creatures I have e'er seen, even when wounded, I think perhaps she may not be as beautiful as the Empress of Yester, but your wife is just so cute. Siêthiyal ran back to the crannog, she chanted she’d find Khnoqwísi. Ixhúja and Karuláta were already leaping up in the branches. I decided to pray and worry, I’m good at that. I cried out to them not to touch Éfhelìnye’s wings, and I know they didn’t want to, but the wings were all tangled and bleeding. Perhaps Ixhúja was pulling too hard, I don’t know. Puey, when Éfhelìnye almost drowned, I’m not sure we really wanted to talk about this, but her wings were weighing her down, and she was thrashing about in such a pathetic manner. She was doing a similar thing in the tree. Perhaps Karuláta yanked her wing too hard. But I do know that Éfhelìnye became very violent, very quickly. The wings were cloaks of swords and knives rolling about each other, and when Kàrula was struck I just started screaming. We are fortunate that Khnoqwísi came swooping upwards. Khwofheîlya was running out but she was about as useless as I was. Éfhelìnye’s wings were becoming fire and light. When the former Empress pulled the Princess out, Éfhelìnye ripped her Mother’s face right off! It was the most terrifying thing I had e'er seen. Of course Khnoqwísi was not hurt in the least. One can no more harm sunlight or moonlight than one can one of her kin, but still, splashes of ichor and energy are terrible to see. And when Khnoqwísi put the Princess to sleep, Éfhelìnye’s body was limp as if dead, but her wings were still fighting, and occasionally an halo forming and spinning around like a shield. And the former Empress just fluttered down and looked at us as if this were all inconsequential and we were insects beneath her slippers, and she asked, What a lovely day this is!
But Puey, you should have seen Éfhelìnye when she woke up. She and her Mother got into such a fight. Éfhelìnye’s wings were a living spume of sunlight, they were just ripping through the jars and curtains in the room. Khnoqwísi did not seem to care. Éfhelìnye is still a little sore about being abandoned for all those years and brought up without a mother’s or a father’s love. Khnoqwísi kept telling her that she forbade her to attempt flight. Éfhelìnye was livid. Okay, so Siêthiyal and I were hiding in the curtains and watching the whole thing. We have to entertain ourselves somehow, Puey! And then Khnoqwísi just flutters froward and without any warning at all, her six wings became a rage of fire, and she smacked her Daughter across the face with fire wings. Éfhelìnye tumbled down unconscious. And then Khnoqwísi turned, and leaving her daughter on the middle of the rug, went back to whatever it was she was doing. I think it had something to do with prisms. I’m not sure. Khnoqwísi looked right in our direction. She can probably see through curtains, I think. She chanted nothing.
Well, I hope you’re having a slightly better day than we are. I’m a little too scared to run after Éfhelìnye, not when her Mother is prowling about with fire wings, but as soon as Khnoqwísi is turned I’ll come to the Princess.
I love you, Puey

[And yet another note]

Puey, I hope you’re giving me extra presents! Ixhúja’s stitched up my lips, and yes I can still talk, she stitched them up separately, but now I keep pronouncing S like Th. So I say Thiêthiyal! Thiêthiyal! Why don’t you stick that in your stupid grammar book! I say Thiêthi! Thiêthi! And Siêthiyal just points and laughs at me.
The Princess makes me so mad!

[The final note]

Cousin Éfha is not feeling very well tonight. She won’t be writing to you, but I’ve gathered up all these notes and papers. One just wants to tell you that everyone is fine here. Éfha and Auntie Khnoqwísi have been bickering. I don’t want to get involved.

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