The BG Language Creation Guide
Translation Test Answers
The first thing that must be noted here is that this is not the way a person who is fluent in a language does a translation.
Although it is essential that a translator have mastery of the grammar of both languages, The essence of a good translation is not in the nuts and bolts of grammar. the translator recreates the intended meaning of the utterance in the new language.
Most likely, although you have created your language, you are not a fluent speaker. You probably find yourself looking up your own words and grammar rules. Your translations are most likely not wholely reflexive. that means, to avoid error and inconsistency, you should take a deliberate, technical approach to the work as I have done with the Liqupa sentences below.
Sentence 1: The child goes.
Sentence 2: The bird will swim.
Note the only difference, besides that of different content words, is the addition of the tense marker.
Liqupa: pipa u-na-maqu-sa
Gloss: bird 3-FUT-fish-go
English translation: The bird will swim.
Sentence 3: The little duck caught the fish (PL).
- Looking at your listof words, you find no word for 'duckling'. this need not be a problem. What is the most economical way of constructing the word you need from the morphemes provided?
You have a morpheme for 'small': -ya. the hyphen tells you this is a bound suffix, so it has to be attached to a noun. We will attach it to 'daq', the word for duck.
This yields 'daq-ya' duck'small. the problem with this is that it violates Liqupa syllable structure which is strictly CV CV CV until you reach the final syllable which may be CVC. Thus, in accordance with the rules of the language, the /q/ is deleted and the word becomes 'da-ya'.
- 'fish' is supposed to be plural. Consulting thelist of allomorphs for the plural, you find that if the word ends in /u/, the plural form is -mu. thus, fish plural is maqu-mu.
- Next, place the content morphemes that you have in order. Note that, since the word order is OSV, the object (fish) goes first.
Liqupa: maqu-mu da-ya mama
Gloss: fish-PL duck-small catch
- We will move from left to right. Since Liqupa has no articles, and ,fish, is not modified in any way, we need do nothing to the object. the subject is also finished since we constructed this word first.
- The last constituent to consider is the verb. We have already seen how to mark agreement with a 3rd person subject. We must also add a tense marker to change the verb ,catch, to its past tense ,caught,. The verb is irregular in English, but it is apparently regular in Liqupa. Just because a verb is irregular in one language does not mean it has to be irregular in another. We see that the agreement marker precedes tense. We add the inflectional morphology and amend the gloss to complete the translation:
Liqupa: maqu-mu da-ya u-pa-mama
Gloss: fish-PL duck-small 3-PST-catch
- Add the translation, and you are finished.
Liqupa: maqu-mu da-ya u-pa-mama
Gloss: fish-PL duck-small 3-PST-catch
Translation: The little duck caught the fish.
Sentence 4: You touch the children.
- Begin by finding and placing the content morphemes.
Use a place marker so you don't forget to come back for the pronoun.
Liqupa: mici-ya (you) nini
Gloss: person-small (2) touch
- Once again, we begin at the left-most element. The first thing to do is pluralize child. Consulting the list of
allomorphs for the plural, we see the correct form here is -ma.
Liqupa: mici-ya-ma (you) nini
Gloss: person-little-PL (2) touch
- the next element is the pronoun.
It is clear from the translation that the subject of this sentence is second person, but the English translation does not indicate if this is singular or plural. Since we can't ask the speaker (or writer) of this sentence what s/he meant and there is no context to use to tell which is meant, we just decide. Let's choose a plural pronoun. The form is ama. Remember that pronouns are glossed not by their English translations but rather by person and number. If we wrote ,you, here, we would lose the information that this is a plural subject. Glossing should preserve as much of the original meaning as possible.
We chose the plural form of the second person pronoun, and it's plain that there is a -ma pluralizing suffix here as well. We can insert that morpheme boundary.
Liqupa: mici-ya-ma a-ma nini
Gloss: person-small-PL 2-PL touch
- Finally, the verb needs attention. This is something we have done before. The verb agrees in person with the subject. The number of the subject is irrelevant. Choose and insert the proper agreement prefix, and adjust the gloss. Since the verb is once again in the present tense, no further changes are necessary. Here is the final product:
Liqupa: mici-ya-ma ama a-nini
Gloss: person-little-PL 2-PL 2-touch
English Translation: You touch the children.
Sentence 5: The duck flies.
- The interesting part of this task presents itself immediately: there is no verb for 'fly' in the lexicon provided.
We have, however, a noun 'bird' and a pattern of using the second half of 'go' (-sa) in forms of motion. So why not continue that?
We can use these together to make the verb we need: 'pipa-sa'.
- Place the content words in order.
Liqupa: daq pipa-sa
Gloss: duck bird-go
- Now, move from left to right and add the inflectional morphology. The subject is good as is, but the verb needs both tense and agreement. Tense is no marked in the present, so we are left with:
Liqupa: daq u-pipa-sa
Gloss: duck 3-bird-go
The duck flies.
We warm up the little birds.
- By now, you should be on a roll. Place the content words in order with a marker for the free function words:
pipa (we) mumu
bird (we) warmth
- Left to right. Let's deal with the object. We have to add both little (-ya) and the correct allomorph of the plural -ma in this case to change 'bird' into 'little birds'. while we're at it, we may as well go look up the correct pronoun (first person plural) and add that before moving to the verb. Note again that the pronoun is plural an dyou clearly see the plural marker on the pronoun:
pipa-ya-ma i-mi mumu
bird-little-PL 1-PL warmth
- The verb remains a problem. 'mumu' is a noun according to the word list. We can't use 'sasa' this time since 'warm-go' (although apealing in some ways) doesn't follow the pattern of creature + movement that we established with walk, swim and fly. Somehow, we need to get that noun transformed into a verb.
Luckily, we find a derivational suffix in the language description that changes nouns and adjectives to verbs. It is -hu, a form of the verb 'make'. We add that to the verb. Note that 'up' here does not need to be translated since it adds no real content to the sentence. You can warm your hands or warm your hands up: either is fine.
pipa-ya-ma i-mi mumu-hu
bird-little-PL 1-PL warmth-VERB
- The last step is inflectional morphology. The verb is in present tense so we can leave it alone. We only have to deal with agreement.
pipa-ya-ma i-mi i-mumu-hu
bird-little-PL 1-PL 1-warmth-verb