Wordy Wednesday – Moro

I hope you had fun with the audio and text of Moro! As you can see from the text, even though Moro is intended for elementary school kids, there’s a lot of complicated grammar and vocabulary. Poetry makes everything more complicated, but I hope that you were able to hear some of the rhythm and how the different sounds worked, like the macrons. We had a lot of fun with it, so we’ll be doing some different audio posts in the future too. (For one, audio will let me write about ēst!)

I thought I’d write about some of the vocabulary used in Moro for this week’s Wordy Wednesday.

  • godāt : to honor, respect or revere [slider title=”conjugate me”]godāt, 2. konj.
    tag. godāju, godā, godā, godājam, godājat
    pag. godāju, godāji, godāja, godājām, godājāt
    nak. godāšu, godāsi, godās, godāsim, godāsiet / godāsit
    pav. godā, godājiet [/slider]

    This is probably one of the more challenging parts of Moro (at least for beginners) and it shows up in the first two lines! Godā can look like either a verb or a noun! It’s hardly fair. In Moro’s case, the verb is on line 1 and the noun is on line 2.

  • gods : honor [slider title=”decline me”]gods, m, 1. dekl.
    vsk.: gods, goda, godam, godu, ar godu, godā
    dsk.: godi, godu, godiem, godus, ar godiem, godos [/slider]

    This is an extremely flexible word, easily as flexible as honor is in English with all sorts of little phrases and idiomatic expressions used with it.

  • cinis : mound, hillock or knoll [slider title=”decline me”]cinis, m, 2. dekl.
    vsk.: cinis, ciņa, cinim, cini, ar cini, cinī
    dsk.: ciņi, ciņu, ciņiem, ciņus, ar ciņiem, ciņos [/slider]

    This word is a bit archaic, both in Latvian and in English. However, if you study Latvian folktales or stories at all, you’ll come across this one pretty frequently.

    There is a little proverb with the diminutive form of this word too: “Mazs cinītis gāž lielu vezumu.” This means roughly: “A tiny mound fells the great cartload.” However, my dictionary translates it as a different proverb: “Little strokes fell great oaks” which doesn’t quite have the same feel as the original. Ahhh, translation.

  • valsts : country [slider title=”decline me”]valsts, f, 6. dekl.
    vsk.: valsts, valsts, valstij, valsti, ar valsti, valstī
    dsk.: valstis, valstu, valstīm, valstis, ar valstīm, valstīs [/slider]

    This is a bit confusing. Even though valsts looks like a 1st declension masculine noun, it is actually a feminine 6th declension noun. All countries are considered feminine, just like all rivers are feminine and all lakes are masculine. It simply is. This also applies to names of countries – Latvija, with its -a ending, is obviously feminine, as is Nīderlande.

    Also note that the plural genitive here does not get palatalized. If you palatalized the -t, you would then get a -š next to a -s and that would be very, very strange! Not to mention difficult to pronounce. So, it doesn’t change.

  • pavalstnieks : subject, citizen [slider title=”decline me”]pavalstnieks, m, 1. dekl.
    vsk.: pavalstnieks, pavalstnieka, pavalstniekam, pavalstnieku, ar pavalstnieku, pavalstniekā
    dsk.: pavalstnieki, pavalstnieku, pavalstniekiem, pavalstniekus, ar pavalstniekiem, pavalstniekos [/slider]

    To create this word, we combine three different things together: the prefix pa- for “sub” + valsts for “country” + the suffix -nieks for “person” to create a “subject” under a ruler, in this case, a prince.

    Pa- can be used for “sub” or “under”, which is kinda different from the “under” given by zem-. There’s a few words that deal with being figuratively “under” someone else in a hierarchy and they all start with pa-, like padotais (an underling) or pavaldonis (a regent).

    As shown in previous Wordy Wednesdays, the suffix -nieks changes to -niece for women, so a female citizen is a pavalstniece.

  • apkrākāt : to crow, to caw [slider title=”conjugate me”]apkrākāt, 2. konj.
    tag. apkrākāju, apkrākā, apkrākā, apkrākājam, apkrākājat
    pag. apkrākāju, apkrākāji, apkrākāja, apkrākājām, apkrākājāt
    nak. apkrākāšu, apkrākāsi, apkrākās, apkrākāsim, apkrākāsiet / apkrākāsit
    pav. apkrākā, apkrākājiet [/slider]

    This is fun. This is not a real word! (At least, it isn’t a word given in ANY of my dictionaries, online or offline.) It’s a created word for the passage and is onomatopoeic of a crow’s caw. As with English, Latvian allows you to play around and create words — provided you play by the rules and conjugate (or decline) it properly. Now, which set of rules?

    It’s pretty clear that apkrākāt has to be either 2nd or 3rd (long or mixed) and cannot be 1st which would require it to be one syllable after the ap-. Artis looked at it and said that obviously it is long. Why? Because it sounds better. It just doesn’t sound good in mixed, doesn’t work and probably because it doesn’t sound like a crow as much in the mixed, he says. If it were in mixed, you’d lose the final -ā-, and you’d lose a lot of the sound of a crow.

    Me, I clearly have a ways to go on training my “ear” for what sounds “right” in the language but I have to agree that it sounds more like a crow in the long than the mixed.

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