lemÌc. Lemizh grammar and dictionary


For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copstone to posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything.

(Herman Melville. Moby Dick)

Babel Text: Genesis 11:1–9

As I, unfortunately, don’t know Hebrew, the Lemizh text is mainly translated from the revised Elberfelder Bibel, a German translation which, to my knowledge, is pretty faithful to the original. The literal translation contains selected links to the appropriate places in the tutorial.

The English text is from the public domain World English Bible, for want of a convincing translation into the English language. The Tetragrammaton is translated into English as ‘the Lord’ and into Lemizh as igcèd. (which seems fitting as Lemizh monotheism is distantly related to Judaism).

1 dìl wùnxy ryú krijwrÌnty ryý jnÌi xnÌyn.

give-cons1 speak-partins-acc2 one-acc-ins3 ensemble-dat-word-partacc-acc2 one-acc-acc3 1/1-acc-dat2 earth-acc-partacc3.

One language (= means of speaking) and one lexicon (= ensemble of words) had been given to all of the earthly ones.

The whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

2 là jàxaR prexnyÓr ràdja pxlÌjy gmilkÌar hinarè, RèRjg fìar.

do-fact1 move-fact-temp2 front-nom-earth-acc-abl3 discover-fact-fact2 plain-acc-acc3 outside-cons-opposition-acc-loc4 Shinar-loc-nom5 live-ing1 PIIn−1-dat-loc2.

It happened, as they moved away from the east (= the front in Earth’s coordinate system), that they discovered a plain in Shinar; and they started to live there.

It happened, as they travelled east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they lived there.

The rules do not exclude the possibility of a first-level word in mid-sentence; and this seems an appropriate place for such a construction.

There is some dispute whether they travelled to the east or from the east.

3 wáx weì weRyneì <làxty dmankÌ jexàny styjgÌ fÌi>. mà màna dmynkù zmynjúm màna qlynpù dniÌnum.

speak-fact1 PIn−1-nom-dat2a PIn−1-nom-each-acc-not-nom-dat2 ‘want-fact-acc2 brick-partfact-acc3 bake-partfact-acc3 hard-acc-acc4 PIIn−1-acc-dat4’. make-fact1 make-partfact-fact2 brick-partacc-ins3 stone-partacc-qualins3 make-partfact-fact2 tar-partacc-ins3 mortar-partacc-qualins3.

They said to each other, ‘We want to make bricks and bake them hard’. They built with brick as if with stone, and they built with tar as if with mortar.

They said one to another, ‘Come, let’s make bricks, and burn them thoroughly’. They had brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.

4 wàx <làxty tànjy veÚ pràngy gmilkÌir fplÌxe, jùty veí làul vyà jaxnàUl wyÒr xnàrir jnÌar>.

speak-fact1 ‘want-fact-acc2 city-partfact-acc3 PIn−2-nom-ben4 tower-partfact-acc3 outside-cons-opposition-acc-ill4 sky-acc-nom5 name-ins-acc3 PIn−2-nom-dat4 do-fact-mot3 PIn−2-acc-fact4 move-fact-not-fact-fin4 PIn−1-acc-abl5 earth-loc-ill5 1/1-acc-loc6’.

They said, ‘We want to make a city for ourselves and make a tower ending in the sky, [which is / shall be] the means for making a name for ourselves; so that we won’t scatter (move away from each other) to the whole surface of the earth’.

They said, ‘Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top reaches to the sky, and let’s make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth.’

‘in the sky’ is translated with an ‘inside’ construction because the sky is seen as a discrete entity (the place of God), and the agent-centered case (all) would not imply that the sky is reached.

Most Indo-European readers would interpret the idiom ‘let’s make ourselves a name’ as ‘let’s become well-known, let’s become famous’. Everlasting name meaning everlasting fame is already a Proto-Indo-European concept, and was probably their idea of immortality. I’d like to know what the idiom means in Hebrew. Taken literally, it might simply have been an act of constituting themselves as a nation.

5 jáx igcedÌ yfèr dmàtUl mÌe tynjÌ pryngÌ psrebcOÌce.

move-fact1 Lord-nom-acc2a up-acc-ela2 see-fact-fin2 make-acc-nom3 city-partacc-acc4 tower-partacc-acc4 father-nom-human-acc-nom4.

The Lord moved from above to see the things [being] made – city and tower – by the children of humans.

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.

6 wàx <dmatRàksy rìlne xpyfý dìlne rÌy wùxyn, tàne lèRa. là vaèR gwìlta gwày lòan.

speak-fact1 ‘see-fact-should-fact-acc2 one-partcons-nom3 people-acc-acc4 give-partcons-nom3 one-acc-acc4 speak-ins-partacc5 this-partfact-nom3 do-ing-fact4. do-fact1 PIn−2-fact-ing2 teach-cons-fact2 any-fact-acc3 do-ten-partfact4.

He said, ‘One should see that they have been made one people, and that have been given one language, and that doing this [is only] the beginning of their deeds. From now on they can (= have been taught to) do whatever they intend to do.

The Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do.

Two modern German translations, both claiming to adhere strictly to the original text as it is reconstructed today, (the Einheitsübersetzung and the revised Elberfelder Bibel) say ‘… and this is [only] the beginning of their deeds’. The English version seems to be a translation from the Vulgate (‘… coeperuntque hoc facere’).
But what a promise is contained in the last sentence …

7 làxt jànxy ilfkyír qnadkàny wuxìn firàr gwiltnànil smáy viè viRyniè wànxu.>

want-fact1 move-partfact-acc2 up-cons-opposition-acc-ill3 order-fact-opposition-partfact-acc2 speak-ins-partdat3 PIIn−1-ill-loc3 teach-cons-not-partfact-cons3 mean-fact-acc4 PIn−2-dat-nom5a PIn−2-dat-each-acc-not-dat-nom5 speak-partfact-ins5.’

I want to move to below and there confuse their language, so that they cannot (= so that they are ‘untaught’ to) convey meaning to each other by speaking.’

Come, let’s go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’

… and what a challenge in this verse!

8 jáx igcedèl tyèr wyÒr xnàrir jnyár tìRnjil.

move-fact1 Lord-nom-caus2a this-acc-ela2 PIn−1-acc-abl2 earth-loc-ill2 1/1-acc-loc3 city-partegr-cons2.

The Lord scattered them from there to the whole surface of the earth, so that they stopped making the city.

So the Lord scattered them abroad from there on the surface of all the earth. They stopped building the city.

9 jàt bablarÌ tyÒl qnadkánOl igcedè viàr wúxin jnÌe xnýyn, jànxOl vièr wyÒr xnàrir jnÌar.

name-fact1 Babel-loc-acc2 this-acc-psu2 order-fact-opposition-partfact-psu2 Lord-nom-nom3a PIn−2-dat-loc3 speak-ins-partdat3 1/1-acc-nom4a earth-acc-partacc5 move-partfact-psu2 PIn−2-dat-ela3 PIn−1-acc-abl3 earth-loc-ill3 1/1-acc-loc4.

It was named Babel for this reason, because there the Lord confused the language of all of the earthly ones, and because he scattered them from there to the whole surface of the earth.

Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. From there, the Lord scattered them abroad on the surface of all the earth.

stedrÌc wàxy qìRfy xtrÌjy. The Legend of the Seventh Planet

Under construction
This is a native Lemizh legend and a typical example of traditional Lemizh storytelling. The English translation is my own. The text is still under construction.
Please have patience!

1 krÌj djnireì prilxpiljkÌaR. danìl sranbÌn lynjÌn Ìnhwyn.

ensemble-acc1 nomad-nom-dat2 front-cons-7/8-cons-opposition-acc-temp2. give-fact-not-cons1 write-partfact-partacc2 house-partacc-partacc2 horse-partacc-partacc2.

There existed an ensemble of nomads a very long time ago. They had not been given writing or houses or horses.

A long time ago there was a tribe of nomads, who possessed neither writing nor houses nor horses.

This is a common temporal object in introductory sentences of legends and fairy tales. Other weighting numerals also occur in such formulas, e.g. jnÌ. ‘all’ for creation myths.

2 cOacjnìl tmÌil. jnàgc smìa prÌal jnyé vàbvy lunuÌ ùnyl mÌnu fplyxár tÌaR.

human-fact-1/1-cons1 but-acc-cons2. curious-fact1 mean-dat-fact2 front-acc-aff3 1/1-acc-nom4 interest-fact-acc3 do-ins-not-ins-acc4 PIIn-partins-ctx4 make-partacc-ins5 sky-acc-loc6 this-acc-temp5.

But they had been made completely human. They were curious, which means, (a fact) in front of all, that they were interested in the useless; which [i.e. useless] the things in the sky were [to them] at the time.

But they were truly human. They were curious; this means, above all, that they took interest in the useless, for the celestial objects were of no use to them yet.

3 dmát feì sxnenzè ihkène. jìlt krijmynqxì xtrÌnji swyhÌ jÌxy fplyxòr cOycÌm xnÌorm.

see-fact1 PIIn−1-nom-dat2a sun-partnom-nom2 moon-partnom-nom2. name-cons1 ensemble-dat-star-partacc-dat2 planet-partacc-dat2 six-acc-acc3 move-acc-acc3 sky-acc-sce4 human-acc-qualacc4 earth-acc-qualsce4.

They looked at the sun and the moon. They had named the ensembles of stars and the six planets that moved in the sky like the humans on the earth.

They looked at the sun and the moon. They had named the constellations and the six planets moving across the sky like the humans across the earth.

The relative pronoun referring to the main predicate of the previous sentence (i.e. ‘the curious ones’) has the function of making our nomads agentive in this sentence.

The scenic, being an agent-centered case, indirectly marks the planets as the agents of moving and so foreshadows their personification in the next sentence. It contrasts with verse 2, which has the sky in the locative.

4 dmìlt OnkrÌnty cryÌ rèhy esfàsy sxnyzdmýi, usrÌny xacgèsty jnÌen, frekrÌnfy riljdcÌwby pqèby, djeipysrÌndy psrèby Rècem, djistnÌnty jaxvanÌy djilvfmlÌyR, niftnÌnjy tmyÌ krUltlìy zùen gÌjdu.

see-cons1 Hermes-partacc-acc2 1/4-acc-acc3 like-nom-acc3 hide-fact-acc4 sun-acc-3/4-acc-dat5 Aphrodite-partacc-acc2 light-fact-most-nom-acc3 1/1-acc-partnom4 Ares-partacc-acc2 red-cons-1/8-acc-acc3 angry-nom-acc4 Zeus-partacc-acc2 father-nom-acc3 monarch-nom-qualnom4 Kronos-partacc-acc2 move-fact-PIn−2-fact-not-acc-acc3 week-cons-several-acc-dur4 Poseidon-partacc-acc2 but-acc-acc3 hunt-fin-do-dat-acc3 PIn−3-ins-partnom4 good-acc-ins5.

They had seen the image of little Mercury, who liked to hide in a lot of sunlight; that of Venus, who shone most of all; reddish, angry Mars; monarch-like father Jupiter; Saturn, whom they did not see moving for weeks; and even Uranus, which had been caught by their competent eyes.

They knew dim Mercury, who liked to hide in the glare of the sun; Venus, the brightest of all; reddish and angry Mars; majestic father Jupiter; Saturn, who seemed to stand still for weeks; and even Uranus had been caught by their keen eyes.

The descriptions of the planets/gods are intentionally phrased so that they are separated by commas, nicely structuring the long sentence.

An interesting bit of Lemizh grammar is the two relative pronouns referring to the main predicate ‘see’; one, in a compound, denoting that they didn’t see Saturn moving for weeks (translated as ‘seem’); and the other, referring to the tool of their seeing the planets (i.e. their eyes).

5 xtrÌj swyhý stedrÌc wàxy qìrfy prÌjir.

planet-acc1 six-acc-acc2 legend-acc1 speak-fact-acc2 seven-ill-acc3 beautiful-acc-ill4.

Six planets; and a legend speaking of a beautiful seventh.

Six planets, and the legend of a beautiful seventh.

This sentence contains is a spatial ordinal, while the title of the legend has a temporal ordinal.

6 dnilscrìl xUxtrÌy prilkÌaR Otìlil skmynìln jÌnsiln. dnilscìlwb ráxpy qìlfi. fÒl gwiltnàOl dmàty fOpysryfÌ nÌnu.

certain-cons-1/4-cons1 comet-acc-acc2 front-cons-opposition-acc-temp3 year-cons-cons4 256-partacc-partcons5 4096-partacc-partcons5. certain-cons-1/8-cons1 pull-fact-acc2 seven-cons-dat3a. PIIn−1-psu1 teach-cons-not-fact-psu2 see-fact-acc3 FatherChristmas-acc-acc4 not-partacc-ins4.

Maybe there had been made a comet 256 or 4096 years earlier. Maybe (still more uncertain) it was the pull to the seven-ness [agentive dat]. The reason for saying this is that one has not been taught to see Neptune without a means [in addition to the eye].

Maybe there had been a comet centuries or millennia earlier. Maybe it was the attraction of the number seven. For Neptune in invisible to the naked eye.

7 yxrÌ cryÌR qìzgy gwiltnìly Ràjgy dmatnìe qìrfy.

male-acc-one-acc1 1/4-acc-dur2 think-dat-acc2 teach-cons-not-cons-acc3 live-fact-acc4 see-fact-not-dat-nom5 seven-ill-acc6.

There existed one young man who thought to himself-dat that he had not been taught to live not seeing the image of the seventh [planet].

One young man thought to himself that he could not live without seeing the seventh planet.

8 là xánska matniè ytfÌyR dmyý fplyxór nàna dyxtý màna prilcrynÌr iltÌncdyr.

do-fact1 search-partfact-fact2 sleep-fact-not-dat-nom3a night-acc-dur3 3/4-acc-acc4 sky-acc-sce3 not-partfact-fact2 must-acc-acc3 make-partfact-fact2 front-cons-1/4-partacc-ext3 PIIn-cons-more-partacc-ext3.

He, who did not sleep, searched for many nights in the sky, and did not do what he must, and was made thin and more so.

He lay awake searching the sky for many nights, neglected his duties, and became thinner and thinner.

His lack of sleep is a consequence of his search, so that we would expect a consecutive object, as discussed in the chapter on explanatory relative clauses. However, having an explicit nominative is more elegant in this situation because it allows us to mark it as agentive without the need for a pronoun.