Ring N/X: 7/11: Tokana

Matt Pearson
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[ Tokana | Smooth English | Interlinear | Orthography | Grammar | Remarks ]

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Tokana

Amahtle henkanen maka homa. Sofo's là alu's ksas kele milhmota, elh nà atelha tiuhem. Mylla kasoi eteuna. Nà ipaimanen maka kihelhtaim taka, kitse's hikue ipalà's ksasu kit sepyi kele milhmota. Mylla moliam etlumota totsinu atoihem uosoi euosta. Tsip keife uosoi sikà etluta. Uosu eiontsoi makau sipe atelhat, uosu hetl hein etefahat sonana esukat aihnei sikà.

(Conlang version 2005-02-15)


Smooth Translation

Delicious meat bread. Mix [lit. turn] together flour and vegetable oil and salt, and also put water in if necessary. Set the dough aside. Cut up boiled meat into little strips, and mix together onions and savoury herbs and a few grains of salt. Knead [lit. press together] the dough with the hands, and shape into balls [lit. round stones] the size of large seeds. Press until [it forms] somewhat raised balls. Put a bit of meat into the centre of the ball(s), fold the balls in half [lit. into two parts] and bake [lit. make] in the oven until golden brown.


Interlinear

Amahtle henkanen maka homa.
amahtle henka-nen maka homa
taste enjoyable-CR.NZR meat bread
Delicious meat bread.

Sofo's alu's ksas kele milhmota,
sofo-'s alu-'s ksas kele milh-mota
flour-and plant oil-and salt together turning-come.together
Mix [lit. turn] together flour and vegetable oil and salt,

elh atelha tiuhem.
elh a-telha tiuh-e-e-m
and water 3iDAT-put.in necessary-SUB-NZR-INST
and also put water in if necessary.

Mylla kasoi eteuna.
mylla kaso-i e-teuna
dough side-DAT 3iABS-put
Set the dough aside.

ipaimanen maka kihelhtaim taka,
ipaima-nen maka ki-helhtaim taka
water prepare.PRF-CR.NZR meat little-strip.DAT cut
Cut up boiled meat into little strips,

kitse's hikue ipalà's ksasu kit sepyi kele milhmota.
kitse-'s hiku-e ipalà-'s ksas-u kit sepyi kele milh-mota
onion-and savoury-TH.NZR herb-and salt-ABL speck a.few together turning-come.together
and mix together onions and savoury herbs and a few grains of salt.

Mylla moliam etlumota
mylla molia-m e-tlu-mota
dough pair.of.hands-INST 3iABS-pressing-come.together
Knead [lit. press together] the dough with the hands,

totsinu atoihem uosoi euosta.
to-tsinu atoihe-m uoso-i e-uosta
big-seed size-INST round.stone-DAT 3iABS-shape
and shape into balls [lit. round stones] the size of large seeds.

Tsip keife uosoi sikà etluta.
tsip keif-e uoso-i sikà e-tlu-ta
somewhat rise.PRF-TH.NZR round.stone-DAT as.far.as 3iABS-pressing-go
Press until [it forms] somewhat raised balls.

Uosu eiontsoi makau sipe atelhat,
uosu e-iontso-i maka-u sipe a-telha-t
round.stone 3iABS-centre-DAT meat-ABL a.bit 3iDAT-put.in-PL
Put a bit of meat into the centre of the ball(s),

uosu hetl hein etefahat
uosu hetl hein e-tefaha-t
round.stone part two.DAT 3iABS-fold.over-PL
fold the balls in half [lit. into two parts]

sonana esukat aihnei sikà.
sona-na e-suka-t aihne-i sikà
oven-LOC 3iABS-make-PL golden.one-DAT as.far.as
and bake [lit. make] in the oven until golden brown.

Orthography

Symbols have their standard phonetic (IPA) values, except that <lh> = voiceless palato-lateral fricative/glide, and <y> = non-low back/central unrounded vowel. <ts> and <tl> represent affricates. The symbols <i> and <u> represent high vowels except when adjacent to another vowel, in which case they are pronounced as glides (/j/ and /w/). As in English and French, apostrophes are used to indicate contractions.


Grammar

Tokana is an SOV language, where grammatical relations are expressed by a combination of case marking and agreement. As in most verb-final languages, modifiers precede the words that they modify--the one exception being numerals and quantifiers, which follow the noun. Compounding is extremely common. Tokana distinguishes between nouns and verbs, but does not have a separate class of adjectives: states and properties are instead expressed by stative verbs (e.g., "be happy") or stative nouns ("happy one"), where the former function as predicates and the latter as arguments or noun modifiers (hence "happy child" is literally a compound: "happy-one child"). Stative nouns are formed productively from stative verbs through nominalization, discussed below.

Case

There are a total of seven cases in Tokana, but only five of them are attested in this text: absolutive (the unmarked case, not indicated in the interlinear), dative (glossed DAT), locative (LOC), instrumental (INST), and ablative (ABL). Case markers are suffixes, which go on the rightmost element in the noun phrase (hence, if the noun phrase consists of a noun-noun compound, only the head noun will be marked for case while any preceding noun modifiers will be unmarked). A partial exception to the rule that case markers are suffixes comes from the dative: When the rightmost element in the noun phrase ends in a consonant preceded by a non-glide vowel, <-i-> is infixed before the final consonant (e.g., <hen> "two" becomes dative <hein>); in other cases, <-i> is suffixed.

Case marking of subjects and objects in Tokana follows a typologically unusual 'active' pattern, where the choice of case marker is influenced by semantic factors such as aspect. Noun phrases denoting agents (of which there are none in this text) appear in the ergative case, while noun phrases denoting the patient of a telic change-of-state event or the endpoint/goal of a motion event appear in the dative case. All other subjects/objects appear in the absolutive case.

(N.B.: "telic" means having a natural endpoint. For example, "Mary ate the apple" is telic because the event necessarily ends when the apple is completely consumed, while "Mary pushed the stone" is atelic because there is no natural endpoint. On the other hand, "Mary ate apples" is atelic because the event can go on indefinitely, while "Mary pushed the stone into the ditch" is telic because the event ends once the stone is in the ditch. In the Tokana equivalents of these sentences, "the apple" and "into the ditch" would appear in the dative case, while "apples" and "the stone" would be in the absolutive case.)

Concerning the other cases found in this text: The instrumental case is used to mark instruments (among many other things), and forms "if" clauses and adverbial clauses when attached to a nominalized verb. The locative case marks locations (among many other things). The ablative case marks the source, or the measured thing in a measure relation (among many other things): hence in the Tokana equivalent of "many of the apples" or "a bushel of apples", "apples" would be in the ablative case.

Agreement

Verbs can agree with their absolutive, dative, and ergative subjects and objects in person, number, and animacy. Person and animacy agreement are marked by prefixes, while number agreement is marked by suffixes. Definite noun phrases trigger agreement, while indefinites do not. Tokana is a 'pro-drop' language, meaning that agreement markers can appear without any overt definite noun phrase for them to agree with, in which case they function essentially like pronouns.

Agreement in Tokana can be exceedingly complex, but luckily for you there happens to be very little agreement in this text. The prefix <a-> marks agreement with a third person inanimate dative noun phrase, while the prefix <e-> marks agreement with a third person inanimate absolutive noun phrase. The suffix <-t> marks plural agreement for intransitive verbs (e.g., <e-teuna> = "it is put", <e-teuna-t> = "they are put"). Number agreement on verbs is crucial for the interpretation of definite arguments, since noun phrases are not themselves marked for number (e.g., <tsinu> can mean "seed" or "seeds", hence <tsinu e-teuna> = "the seed is put" and <tsinu e-teuna-t> = "the seeds are put").

Argument Structure

Arguments (subjects, objects) may be freely omitted in Tokana if their referents are unknown or recoverable from the context. There is no passive construction in Tokana. To form the equivalent of a passive, simply omit the (ergative case-marked) agent noun phrase. By the same token, an intransitive verb (e.g., "go") taking an absolutive or dative argument can be made transitive (e.g., "put" = "cause to go") simply by adding an ergative argument.

Verb Morphology

Verbs in Tokana inflect for tense, aspect, and negation, among other things. All of the verbs in this text are in the non-past (default) tense, and none of them are negated. A couple of verbs are in the perfect aspect (glossed PRF), which is formed by a kind of ablaut. When an action verb is inflected in the perfect, it expresses the state resulting from the action (e.g., <lima> = "open, be opened" becomes perfect <leima> = "be open, be in a state of having been opened").

Nominalization is quite common in Tokana: To form a relative clause or other embedded clause, the verb is nominalized. Since Tokana lacks a separate class of adjectives, the functional equivalent of a modifying adjective is a relative clause formed by nominalizing a stative verb (e.g., forming "happy one" from "happy"). There are three kinds of nominalization attested in this text: subjunctive nominalization (marked by a pair of suffixes glossed SUB-NZR), theme nominalization (marked by a suffix glossed TH.NZR), and circumstantial nominalization (marked by a suffix glossed CR.NZR). Their functions are a bit hard to explain. Roughly, subjunctive nominals are similar to English infinitival clauses, and correspond to "if" clauses when inflected in the instrumental case. Theme nominals are formed from verbs (mostly stative verbs) which take absolutive subjects, and indicate an individual bearing the property denoted by the verb (e.g., "happy one"). Circumstantial nominals are used to modify nouns, where the noun bears an oblique relation to the event denoted by the verb from which the nominal was formed (e.g., "cut-CR.NZR knife" would mean something like "the knife with which [something] was cut"). For reasons which it is too complicated to go into here, verbs in the perfect aspect are nominalized using the circumstantial nominal form rather than the theme nominal form.


Remarks

2005-06-19: I recently made some small changes to Tokana, one of which affects my translation--namely, I changed the instrumental suffix from -m to -me. The following words in the text change:
tiuhem -> tiuheme
moliam -> moliame
atoihem -> atoiheme

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June 14th, 2005
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