Hanleni halsen (introduction)

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Kristian Jensen

ngye.llal3 Twiyh 3e.mnaw3
ngnge.l3u33 3e.hke.hka33 pe.lh3h Twiyh 3e.lkuyh
ngse.lpi3h 3Ne.pliy3 3Ne.pngungh Twiyh 3e.ylal3
ke.ngke.llelh 3e.ylal3 Ne.knengh

"if" a bird of a greatness be a singer,
"if" a bird of a river be a ruffler of its feathers at a mist,
"if" a bird of a song be a glorifier of the star of the night,
"might" every ruler be a hearer of a song.

ng> 0>     y<l>lal3  0>     Twiyh 3:U>  mnaw3
IR  COR:U> <AGT>sing COR:U> bird  GEN   greatness

ng> 0>     N<l>3u33    3>     hke.hka33           p>
IR> COR:U> <AGT>ruffle GEN:U> "feather":COLL:3inh OBL:U>

Lhi3h  0>     Twiyh 3>    Lkuyh
mist   COR:U> bird  GEN:U river

ng> 0>     s<l>pi3h     3N>   pliy3 3N>
IR> COR:U> <AGT>glorify GEN:B star  GEN:B>

pngungh 0>     Twiyh  3>     ylal3
night   COR:U> bird   GEN:U> song

k>  ng> 0>     k<l>lelh  3>     ylal3 N>     knenghnengh
INF IR> COR:U> <AGT>hear GEN:U> song  COR:B> ruler:DIST

Grammar notes

Below are notes to help interpret the Boreanesian translation. I have divided it up into what notes apply to what line in the poem. I'll start first with notes that apply to all lines. Then I'll move on to notes that apply to specific lines.

All lines:

Phase: All nouns and predicates are marked for phase in Boreanesian. For nouns, the bound phase denotes a specific reference, while for predicates it denotes perfective aspect. On the other hand, the unbound phase denotes a non-specific reference in nouns, and an imperfective aspect in predicates.

Modal and Evidential Particles:

You will notice that each line starts with one of these particles. In the poem, the irrealis and the inferential particles are used. These are explained below:

The irrealis mode makes no assertion whatsoever that an event or state actually holds true. This is not the same as the negative where in an event did not or will not take place, it simply makes no claims with respect to the actuality of the event or situation described. In most cases, an irrealis mode can best be translated as an "if" mode. But it can be translated into different meanings depending on the situation, e.g., conditional, imperative, optative, hypothetical, potential, etc.

The inferential particle in Line 4 is a subcategory of the irrealis and as such (you will notice) must be attached to the irrealis particle itself. It indicates the speaker's certainty of truth. Here, it best translates as "might", (as in something might occur).

Role Marking:

There are three argument markings: Core, Oblique, and Genitive. Refer to word order (below) for the explanation of the core argument marking. The oblique is simply an all purpose preposition applying to all spatio-temporal frames. The genitive is roughly equivalent to the English preposition "of".

Agent Nominalization:

Since Boreanesian has only predicate nominal (non-transitive) clauses and only one core case, the roles played by various constituents are express by nominalizing the verb. In the poem, all the verbs have been nominalized as an agent. For instance, in the first line, the verb for "sing" has been nominalized as an agent: "singer". The other predicates should therefore be easy for you to figure out.

Word Order:

You will notice that each line has two phrases marked as core arguments. The first of these is actually the predicate, the second is the argument in focus. Boreanesian does not have transitive statements, only statements of the nominal predicate type. That is, the predicate asserts something about the focus. Take the first line for instance, (ignoring the irrealis mode) it asserts that the focus "bird" is an agent that sings (i.e., "a singer").

Line 1


Boreanesian does not have adjectives. Here the idea of a "great bird" is expressed as "bird of greatness".

Line 2

Collective Plural:

This is one of the categories of plurality that Boreanesian expresses. The collective plural refers to a collection of objects which can be grouped together, implying some kind of internal structure or coherence to the group. Here, it is applied to feathers giving that subtle meaning that the predicate of ruffling is applied to the feathers as a group rather than to each individual feather.

Inherently Possessed:

Some words in Boreanesian are inherently possessed. This includes body parts like hair (or in this case feathers). In this line, the feathers is inherently possessed by a third person (the bird).

Line 3


Compounding is not a very productive feature in Boreanesian. The idea of the night star is expressed with the genitive.

Line 4

Inferential Particle:

Refer to Modal and Evidential Particles under notes in the section of 'All Lines'.

Distributive Plural:

This is another category of plurality in Boreanesian. Unlike its collective counterpart, it is conceived as a group of individuals rather than a collection. The predicate is therefore applied to each object individually rather than a collection as a whole.

In the fourth line, it is applied to rulers that are bound in phase (or specific). Together with the distributive plural, it means "every ruler".

I have chosen to use the distributive plural here to demonstrate Boreanesian's flexibility in expressing plurality. I could have easily just use the collective plural. If I did, it would together with the bound phase translate as as "all rulers". There was nothing in the previous (Eloshtan) translation about this distinction, but this distinction is meticulously distinguished in formal Boreanesian contexts - especially in poetry.

Transcription note

I have not yet figured out how to represent Boreanesian satisfactorily in a ascii-Roman transcription. So I will represent Boreanesian in a transcription that roughly imitates how it sounds in normal speech (with clusters created from vowel reduction). Very broadly, the graphemes to take note of are:

<e> schwa
<h> voiceless velar approximant (that is, a fricative [x] when the first element of a cluster, otherwise close to a glottal fricative [h])
<L> apical lateral fricative
<N> laminal denti-alveolar nasal
<ng> velar nasal
<T> laminal denti-alveolar stop
<y> palatal approximant
<3> velar approximant (which is normally creaky in syllable-initial position, approaching a glottal stop [?])

Note that syllable final <h> marks a slack phonation (slack register tone), while syllable final <3> marks a stiff phonation (stiff register tone).

Note also that I will place syllable breaks <.> where appropriate. So when two syllable-initial consonants appear together, they are pronounced as clusters.

Primary stress is regularly on the final syllable.


"" - encloses my best translation (refer to glossary)
- follows a prefix or proclitic
<> - encloses an infix
0 - represents a zero morpheme
3inh - inherent third-person possessor
AGT - agent nominalization
B - bound phase
COLL - collective plural
COR - core or predicate
DIST - distributive plural
GEN - genitive
INF - inferential
IR - irrealis
OBL - oblique
U - unbound phase


hka33 - his/her/its hair - but used in this poem to refer to it aviary equivalent "its feather".
klelh - hear
knengh - ruler
mnaw3 - greatness
nengh - when
N3u33 - ruffle
Lhi3h - mist
Lkuyh - river
pliy3 - star
pngungh - night
spi3h - glorify
Twijh - bird
ylal3 - sing, song

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© Irina Rempt, Kristian Jensen 23-06-1999