Two Poems in the Kash Language

Two Poems in the Kash Language
Author: Roger F. Mills
MS Date: 07-10-2010
FL Date: 07-01-2013
FL Number: FL-000016-00!
Citation: Mills, Roger F. 2010.»Two Poems in the Kash

Language.” FL-000016-00, Fiat Lingua,
. Web. 01 Jul. 2013.!

Copyright: © 2013 Roger F. Mills. This work is licensed

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Two poems in the Kash language.
Roger F. Mills

ayoci sinut-luma

kotani kaçinde:
sila pehan hat lato, hafosi roçeñi–
i mam muçak ileleç. na, tanju halumbak
cayi manahan…i anjiç nulami cakande–
a sisami,
na, kandri filati– kanaçu feliyoç?

kotani kaçama:
yu, enjiki celika– endakni ta fengop–
pun lunda cis endak haciki – hanimbukra?
kiati, uku i çeyak sot lero treloni…
a sisami,
pun rumbo manuwakpo, veveka taya—kariyi?
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The Battle of the Sexes

The wife says:
Three years you roamed, sailing the seas–
me, I plowed the fields. So now you’re home.
I had to eat…my gold earrings got pawned.
O my love,
so what’s this you’ve brought– some damn Gwr thing?

The husband says:
That’s an electric skillet– the meat won’t stick–
if you ever fry meat again– remember how?
y’know, uku and pickle seven days a week….
O my love,
if I may ask, just whose baby is this?

A popular form called «sisami»—quatrains in mostly anapest metre («a sisami», though
set apart, is actually part of the fourth line); rhyme, when used, is assonantal. The subject,
of course, is love, usually dealt with seriously, but these two are the sort that might be
improvised during a party after a certain amount of wine has flowed.

The scansion is as follows: sila péhan hat láto, hafósi roçéñi– / i mam múçak iléleç. na,
tánju halúmbak / cayi1 manáhan…i ánjiç nulámi cakánde– / a sisámi, na, kándri filáti–

1 Pronounced as a monosyllable, [tʃaj] and unstressed.


kanáçu felíoç? And the second quatrain: yu, enjíki celíka– endákni ta féngop– / pun
lúnda cis éndak hacíki – hanímbukra? / kiati2, úku i çéyak sot léro treléni… / a sisámi,
pun rúmbo manúwakpo, véveka táya—karíyi?


kota/ni kaçinde
word/3POSS wife

1. sila pehan hat lato, ha/fosi roçe/n/ni
3 year you(emph.) roam, 2s/sail sea/ACC/DEF

2. i mam muçak ilele/ç, na, tanju ha/lumbak
and I(emph) plow field/PL HES now 2s/come.home

3. cayi ma/nahan…i anji/ç nula/mi cak/ande 1s/eat and earring/pl gold/1sPOSS ACCID/pawn

4. a sisa/mi, na kandri fila/ti— kana/çu feliyoç?
oh love/my HES what bring/2sPOSS thing/PEJ Gwr

kota/ni kaçama
word/3sPOSS husband

5. yu, enjiki celika– endak/ni ta fengop—
that skillet electric— meat/DEF not stick

6. pun lunda cis endak ha/ciki – ha/nimbur/ka?
if ever again meat 2s/fry— 2s/remember/Q

7. kiati, uku i çeyak sot lero treloni…
y’know (grain) and pickle 7 day week/3sPOSS

8. a sisa/mi, pun rumbo ma/nuwak/po, veve/ka taya—kari/i?
oh love/my if may 1s/ask/just baby/Q this—who/GEN

Commentary, by line:
In the titles, ayoci ‘battle’ is ayok ´war’ + diminutive –ci; sinut-luma are the words for
‘male-female’. Kota/ni ‘say/word+his, her’ is a very common way of expressing ‘(what)
he/she says’. The words kaç/inde, kaçama ‘wife, husband’ are compounds of kaç ‘person’
+ inde, ama ‘mother, father’.

2 Pronounced [kj’ati], with its stress ignored.


Line 1. Ordinarily the emphatic (full) pronoun form would be stressed, but here and in
line 2, for the meter, it is not. Its use eliminates the need for a person-prefix on the verb
form, as we see in ha/fosi. Roçeñi /roçe+n+ni/ harks back to a very old practice of using
the accusative case for the object of verbs of motion; curiously, however, while roçe is an
inaminate noun, -n is now the animate accusative marker. The possessive/definite suffix
–ni coalesces with word-final n to become –ñi, a case of irregular sandhi.

Line 2. The hesitation particle (HES) na is widely used in speech, and can be translated in
a variety of ways, as we see elsewhere in the poems. While not especially «poetic», it can
be inserted to keep the meter correct.

Line 3. The form cak/ande uses the Accidental (ACCID) prefix to indicate that the action
was unwanted, undesirable, and/or out of the speaker’s control.

Line 4. Fila/ti is another case of verb+possessive prefix. Feliyoç (lit., the inanimate plural
of feliyo ‘fool, foolish’) is an old term for the Gwr people, no longer politically correct,
whom the Kash dislike and distrust. While they are clever and technologically ahead of
the Kash, nevertheless their often fancy products are viewed with disdain—hence the
pejorative (PEJ) suffix on kana ‘thing, whatsit’

Line 5. Self-explanatory. Suffice to say, most Kash would view an electric skillet as an
unncessary frippery.

Line 6. The question (Q) particle –ka suffixed to nimbur triggers regular sandhi,
metathesis of the r-k sequence.

Line 7. Kiati ~ [kjati] is a colloquial form derived from kaya+ti ‘you know’, and is about
as popular with purists as the equivalent English phrase. Uku is the most common food
grain, similar to rice but if anything less tasty; uku and pickled vegatables/fruits (and very
rarely meat) are considered the food of the poor, of country folk.

Line 8. The genitive (GEN) (-i) of kari ‘who?’ has the written form kariyi and is usually
pronounced with a stressed long vowel, [kar’i:], but here, because a line should not end
with a stressed vowel, the unstressed second i would be pronounced, with or without the
intervening glide [kar’i.(j)i].

3Two Poems in the Kash Language image

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