Contentives, or concepts…

I was recently asked how Kala words can have “an array of meanings”. This is based on the idea that all nouns and verbs can be grouped together as contentives (content words) or concepts. So I decided to explain this as best I can. Keep in mind I’ve never had a single linguistics class, this is just my understanding based on very nonacademic research. These concepts often correlate to Chinese ideograms, or Semitic triconsonantal roots.

* anya – eye; to see; to look (at); to watch | This concept obviously has to do with sight, so if one says na anya it means I see because it is only the pronoun na and is followed by anya, rather than a construction like anya nayo which would be my eye because anya is followed by the modified/modifying pronoun nayo. The concept can be extended with other modifiers like -mpo, meaning “bad”, or “unfavorable”, so anyampo can mean “bad vision”, or something like “evil eye”. Much of how the phrase or construction is interpreted/translated has to do with context and prosody.

* suha – mouth; taste; tongue | This concept is related to the mouth in general, whereas kipa is related to the inner mouth, and tsila the outer mouth. So a phrase like suha tayo (your mouth) could be interpreted as “your tongue” or “your taste”. It should be noted that this “taste” is strictly related to flavor, and yeua has to do with trying or sampling something. So, with suha, a phrase like ke suha nayo umua “My mouth/tongue hurts” obviously does not mean “taste (flavor)”, but ta’etla suhapa ka “Can you taste it?” is a verbal use of suha rather than nominal.

* yala – to go; to walk; travel | This is a very commonly used idea in every language; “Where are you going?”, “I went home.” “I’m going to school.” As a verb, the use of yala is evident, but as a noun, it might appear in a construction like to ke yala tayo ka “How is your travel?” or more idiomatic, “How’s your trip going?”

I’ll post more about these in the coming weeks.

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