Grammar Notes to the Story

Please note that many points of grammar are dealt with at more length in the grammar section. The story is given simply as a short example of how Vabungula works.

Numbers correspond to the footnote numbers in the text.

1. galasê = there is, there are.  Mala galasê = there was, there were.  Mala marks the past tense.

2. zafên = rabbit, zafêne = rabbits. Plural indicated by ending -e

3. Su del = of them, i.e., their (possessive).

4. sikaktogo = compound word from sikak + togo, sand + bank.

5. nu = well, an interjection.

6. larêm = day; mislarêm = morning; omislarêm = one morning.

7. jakrûdwa = field; jakrûdwan = fields. Plural indicated by ending -n.

8. fwil lomafe = don't enter. Negative imperative.

9. džula = put (active); mulun džulake = be put (passive); mala mulun džulake = was put (past passive).

10. la fla = into.

11. onudž = lit. "by means of". Used in tandem with passive verb forms to show instrument by which the action was performed. "mala mulun džulake ... onudž ..." = "was put ... by ...".

12. kira ke = after that, then.

13. su de = her (possessive). Always placed after noun possessed.

14. la fre = through (motion).

15. mêkacfu = bake; sum = man, person; mêkacfusum = baker, a person who bakes.

16. mala darpa ske = squeezed himself

17. nagûvas = feel naseous; nagûvaste = feeling naseous. Adverbial participle marked by -te.

18. džudotêkam = a rack.  Džudot = hang, hang up (transitive verb).  Kamo = thing.  Hence, džudotêkam is a thing for hanging things up.

19. de = he; co = namely, that is to say, that. In this context "co" serves to emphasize the action performed by the subject "de". "He indeed, after all, did actually meet Mr. McGregor", contrary to his expectations up to this point. The word "co" is often impossible to translate directly.  More examples will follow.

20. mazarmat = stand on hands and knees; malaš mazarmat = was standing on his hands and knees. Malaš + verb forms the past continuous.

21. dadžumi = (malaš) dadžumi. The "malaš" before the first verb of the sentence also governs the following verb.

22. džûgežate, and rêmgulate = both adverbial participles: "waving" and "shouting".

23. fwa = stop! (imperative).

24. Peter co ... Here "co" merely serves to emphasize the fact that Peter was frightened.

25. Žapê = lose; žapête = losing; malžapête = having lost. Using the ending -te rather than -se for this participle puts the focus on the action of having lost his shoes, rather than on the factual succession of events of losing (žapê) and running (mazarmafu).

26. Tukanudž = this is how...; vi = so that. Not a very intuitive combination of words, but such combinations are common in Vabungula. A literal translation could be: "by (running) in this manner, it led to a result such that...".

27. cu = would. A verb particle which indicates the subjunctive. De dal damas = he can escape; de cu dal damas = he could escape, may escape, would be able to escape (subjunctive); de cu mala dal damas = he could escape, or could have been able to escape (past subjunctive).

28. bufi = unless, if not.

29. mala fwadža. Also governed by the subjunctive particle "cu".

30. pênyk = sob; pênykan = sobbing, the act of sobbing.  The suffix -(a)n makes a gerund out of a verb.

31. mala mulun ageleke onudž = was heard by

32. sa = have; sate = having; mala lale sate = came having, i.e., came with (something in his possession).

33. la va = onto.

34. friparmas = crawl; damas = escape; friparmas damas = escape by crawling. Combining verbs in this manner is common in Vabungula.

35. doledo pro cade fla = wonderful to hide in, wonderful for hiding in. Here the syntax is nearly identical to English.

36. ke jansa rap = so much water.

37. = know...that.

38. galamê = be located in a certain place, be found. The English translation for mala galamê alalam is "was somewhere". Vabungula is more strict with the use of the verb "to be", depending on whether the meaning is "to exist" (jêla), "to be located somewhere" (galamê), or "to be equivalent to" ().

39. afênko sukalam = tool shed; di maoka = flower container (flower pot). Note how these nouns are combined, the first noun modifying the following one, as is often done in English. Vabungula is rather ambivalent when it comes to the choice of leaving such combinations as separate nouns, or creating compound nouns (afênkosukalam, dimaoka). Both can occur.

40. cade = hide; cadeke = hidden, be hidden.

41. šalg su ke = each of them. Here ke is used in the sense of a plural pronoun.

42. ha-cyff = achoo.

43. gro su = out of (motion)

44. la lam de mfa masa = where (whither) he should go.

45. ži da = because of, due to. (Literally: because about).

46. mêta = sit; mêtan = sitting, the act of sitting. Gerunds can be formed from nearly any verb by suffixing an -n or -an.

47. lypi - "hop"

48. ke de = like him

49. pro darpa ske fre natnêl = to squeeze himself under (and through to the other side). Note the combination of the prepositions fre and natnêl.

50. ke jana kiro = such a large pea.

51. tudže = such that.., with the result that...

52. onudž masa = by running, by means of running.

53. de mala lese figeza = she was very still, i.e., did not move. Figeza = "to be motionless", is a verb which is missing in English. Note that lese ("very") can be used to modify verbs directly to indicate an amplification of the action of the verb. Therefore, in Vabungula it is possible to say, for instance, De mala lese nifa da ke, lit., "He very thought about it," meaning "He thought about it very hard."

54. kebu ke = as if it. Ke here is a pronoun, referring to tip of the cat's tail.

55. nimûd ke cuš dosa = thought (that) it would be better. Ke here means "that". Cuš = (it) would be.

56. haj = "chop!". Haj is a verb meaning to chop at weeds or tall grass.

57. Lono kamo okam de mala alega co malaš... = "The first thing that he saw was...". Again, co is not translated in this context. It brings attention to the object of the verb alega.

58. lagro ne = outside of. Note how ne, which actually means "compared to", "than", can be used in this context.

59. tê sikili kavotas = the small coat. Vabungula, like many other languages that have no definite article, occasionally finds itself having to find a word which can substitute for a definite article. is actually a demonstrative adjective meaning "that".

60. De malaš ke gêmlaš tudže de... = "He was so tired that he...". Again, note the use of the word tudže, which in English is usually translated "that".

61. sikake = "sands". Vabungula used the plural, whereas English uses the singular in a collective sense.

62. zafênzûmba = rabbit-hole. Another example of a compound noun.

63. mala ego da okam Peter mala falê... = lit. "wonder about what Peter did...". The verb ego is nearly always followed by the preposition da (about).

64. Ke co malaš = "That was", but with emphasis, because of the particle co.

65. lagnu bêlê slorêmlare = in two weeks, within the time span of two weeks.

66. larla = during. tê hamilarêm = literally, "during that evening". The word larla can be omitted, as in English, but is usually not when used in this context.

67. jasi su ke = a little of it.

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Page last modified on December 9, 2000
Vabungula is an artificial language invented by Bill Price in 1965.
Vabungula co nûsk mugola famêlêtke onudž Bill Price larla alara idekuzorekol.
Copyright © 1999 by Bill Price
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