Melfem Texts

Introduction | Why People Today Die Their Own Death | The Tower of Babel

Introduction

This is a collection of several short texts in Melfem. All are translations from English texts, unless otherwise noted. The Melfem translation and the English source are shown side-by-side, and a morpheme-by-morpheme gloss of the Melfem follows. The English version of each line in the latter section is a more literal rendering of the Melfem. The following symbols and abbreviations are used in the glosses.

- Morpheme boundary
= Clitic boundary
. Boundary between multiple elements that correspond to one
1, 2, 3 Person
Abl Ablative
Abs Absentative
All Allative
Ant Antithetical
Def Definite
DS Different Subject
F Feminine
Fu Future tense
Im Imperative
In Inanimate
Ind Indefinite
Inf Infinitive
Int Intransitive
Loc Locative
M Masculine
N Negative
Neu Neuter
NR Non-referential
P Plural
Per Perlative
Pot Potential
Pst Past tense
Rel Relativizer
S Subject
Sg Singular
Sen Sentential
Tr Transitive

Why People Today Die Their Own Death

Translation of a folktale “retold from various Eastern European sources.”

Wthuedh Wnto Po’choech Wnant Sciwt

Sanyman’choech scom iellwnto wnant sciwt. Iegcsheshia shȏȃt dhe scwr ‘roam chesalpw memetw scom aichȗas iapte suifoalpw scom echebia sachpe cfa-nwn wdh’marmwadhia tagconoc oel.

Mydhw̑ oel ‘pam suȏ iechȏalimesfi padhiw sciwt iaicholpia nelfie sciwt choel-sh pluȃ oc wdh’selpo pwsiw cam noarpia twf’twmant nepam iegcmemetw cam aichȗas sachpe wnant.

Tanpluȃ oc catedh puȏch aibes selpiab iachel tanleiem ‘roam capeflia ifalpo noapletuȃsh aibes, siec ‘pam sifi memeto shocȃsh rom poam’noaia poam’syntan noachw̑m.

Nelfiec, cam poam’siab choal pwsuant twf’twmant, cam merotw mydhw̑ cam tefolȏlfi syntan samel nȏall poan’tandhesh shwnopan dher nȏall noeltan noachw̑m shocȃsh ‘coi poam’iepaluo foch egco. Llwsmoth cam nepam cania noelto noachw̑m dhascant poam’mire llin.

Nepam shwnopia ecania llwsmoth cam choel-sh oscw noach-am noeltedh sheshia pluȃ oc iecnoscȏlpia nomws ‘ioam silpo noachw̑m noatia piania setoetuas petw loent pesh-chant.

Idhec cam noeltw somfen nomws oc sarmedhiȏlfi onoan ioam focuȏlpo rifw myth-ch ‘pam somperchȏfi iegcaniw shȏȃt dhe scwr llwrnes nelfie choel-sh. Idhec maremw iny myth-ch dhe sasob cam choel-sh dhoashw esh’calech focuas cam sheshȏlpia cam romuo shȏȃt marȏlfi esia pluȃ oc scoi choel-sh focuan chȏalalia uampia wnant wnant sciwt.

Why People Today Die Their Own Death

In ancient days people did not die their own death. Instead, law and tradition required that they be taken into the mountains and pushed over a sacred cliff when they reached a certain age.

One family could not bring themselves to depart from their old grandfather, and so when his time came, they hid him in their cellar instead of taking him to the cliff of death.

At this time there was a great famine in the land. The crops had failed, the food stores were exhausted, and indeed, no one even had grain left for seed.

The grandfather, from his hiding place in the cellar, told his kin to remove the thatched roofs from their houses and rethresh the straw for any kernels of grain that may have been missed the first time. They did as he suggested, and harvested a good measure of forgotten grain.

Acting again on the old man’s advice, they sowed the newfound grain that very day. Miraculously their crop sprouted, matured, and was ready for harvest the next morning.

The king, who quickly learned of this miracle, demanded an explanation. Thus the family was forced to admit how they had violated law and tradition by sparing their old grandfather. The king, impressed by the family’s courage and by the old man’s wisdom, decreed that from that day forth old people would be allowed to live until they died their own death.

Wthuedhwthuedhreason
Wntown-(t)odie-3.Tr:3:Ind
Po’choechpo’choechnowadays
Wnantwnantdeath
Sciwtsciwtown

‘Why People Today Die Their Own Death’

Sanyman’choechsanyman’choechancient.times
scomscom3.NR.P.Abs.Pst
iellwntoiell-wn-(t)oN-die-3.Tr:3:Ind
wnantwnantdeath
sciwtsciwtself

‘In ancient days, people did not die their own death.’

Iegcsheshiaie-cn-shesh-iaN-Ant-do-3.Int
shȏȃtshȏȃtlaw
dhedheand
scwrscwrtradition
‘roam=roam3.In.P.Abs.Pst
chesalfichesa-lp-fistand-DS-3.Sen
memetwmemet-(t)whave-Tr:3:Def
scomscom3.NR.P.Abs.Pst
aichȗasaicho-asgo-3.All
iapteiaptemountain

‘This was not done, rather, law and tradition were such that they were taken to the mountains’

suifoalpwsuifoa-lp-(t)wpush-DS-3.Tr:3:Def
scomscom3.NR.P.Abs.Pst
echebiae-cheb-iaAbl-fall-3.Abl
sachpesachpecliff
cfa-nwncfa-nwnsacred
wdh’marwadhiawdh=marmwadh-iawhen=last-3.Loc
tagconoctag-conocP-year
oel.oelcertain

‘and pushed over a sacred cliff when they reached a certain age.’

Mydhw̑mydhw̑family
oeloelcertain
‘pam=pam3.Neu.S.Abs.Pst
suȏsu-(t)obe.3-Int
iechȏalimesfiie-chȏa-limes-fiN-Pot-manage-Sen
padhiwpadhi-(t)wseparate-3.Tr:3:Def
sciwtsciwtself
iaicholpiai-aicho-lp-iaAbl-go-DS-3.Abl
nelfienelfiegrandfather
choel-shchoel-shold
sciwtsciwtself

‘One family could not bring themselves to depart from their old grandfather,’

pluȃpluȃday
ococthat
wdh’silpowdh=si-lp-owhen=be-DS.Int
pwsiwpwsu-(t)whide-3.Tr:3:Def
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
noarpianoar-lp-iastay-DS-3.Loc
twf’twmanttwf’twmantcellar
nepamnepam3.Neu.Abs.Pst
iegcmemetwie-cn-memet-(t)wN-Ant-have-3.Tr:3:Def
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
aichȗasaicho-asgo-3.All
sachpesachpecliff
wnantwnantdeath

‘When that day came, they hid him in their cellar rather than take him to the cliff of death.’

Tanpluȃtan-pluȃP-day
ococthat
catedhcatedhlack
puȏchpuȏchgreat
aibesaibesfood
selpiabse-lp-iabbe-DS-3.Loc
iacheliachelland
tanleiemtan-leiemP-crop
‘roam=roam3.In.P.Abs.Pst
capefliacapef-lp-iafail-DS-3.Loc
ifalpoifa-lp-(t)oexhaust-DS-3.Tr:3:Ind
noapletuȃshnoa-pletuȃshP-store
aibes,aibesfood

‘In those days, a great famine was in the land, the crops had failed, the food stores were exhausted,’

siecsiecnobody
‘pam=pam3.Neu.S.Abs.Pst
sifisi-fibe-3.Sen
memetomemet-(t)ohave-3.Tr:3:Ind
shocȃshshocȃshgrain
romrom3.In.S.Pst
poam’noaiapoam=noar-iaRel=remain-3.Int
poam’syntanpoam=synt-anREL=remove-Inf
noachw̑m.noachw̑mseeds

‘and there was nobody who had remaining grain to take seed from.’

Nelfiec,nelfie-cgrandfather-Def
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
poam’siabpoam=s-iabRel=be-3.Loc
choalchoa-lplace-Def
pwsuantpwsuanthiding
twf’twmant,twf’twmantcellar
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
merotwmero-(t)wtell-3.Tr:3.Def
mydhw̑mydhw̑family
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
tefololfitefolo-lp-fiinstruct-DS-3.Sen

‘The grandfather, who was in his hiding place in the cellar, spoke to his family, instructing them ’

syntansynt-anremove-Inf
samelsamelroof
nȏallnȏallstraw
poan’tandheshpoam=tan-dheshRel=P-house
shwnopanshwnop-anreturn-Inf
dherdherthresh.Inf
nȏallnȏallstraw
noeltannoelt-anfind-Inf
noachw̑mnoachw̑mseeds
shocȃshshocȃshgrain
‘coi‘coiNR
poam’iepaluopoam=ie-palu-(t)oRel=N-see-3.Tr:3:Ind
fochfochtime
egco.egcofirst

‘to remove the straw roofs from their houses and rethresh the straw and find any seeds of grain that hadn’t been seen the first time.’

Llwsmothllwsmothsuggestion
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
nepamnepam3.Neu.S.Abs.Pst
caniacani-iado-3.Int
noeltonoelt-(t)ofind-3.Tr:3.Ind
noachw̑mnoachw̑mseeds
dhascantdhascantforgetting
poam’mirepoam=mireRel=amount
llin.llingood

‘They did as he suggested, and harvested a good measure of forgotten grain.’

Nepamnepam3.Neu.S.Abs.Pst
shwnopiashwnop-iareturn-3.Int
ecaniae-cani-iaAbl-obey-3.Abl
llwsmothllwsmothsuggestion
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
choel-shchoel-shold
oscwosc-(t)wsow-3.Tr:3.Def
noach-amnoach--a-mseeds1-Def-seeds2
noeltedhnoeltedhfinding
sheshiashesh-iado-3.Int
pluȃpluȃday
ococthat

‘They again followed the old man’s suggestion, and sowed the seed that had been found, and did it on that day.’

iecnoscȏlpiaie-cn-osc-lp-iaN-Ant-sow-DS-3.Int
nomwsnomwsmiracle
‘ioam=ioam3.In.S.Abs.Pst
silposi-lp-obe-DS-Int
noachw̑mnoachw̑mseed
noatianoati-iasprout-3.Int
pianiapian-iamature-3.Int
setoetuassetoetu-asbe.ready-3.All
petwpetwmorning
loentloentnext
pesh-chant.pesh-chantharvesting

‘Although they had just sown it, there was a miracle, and the seed sprouted, matured, and was ready the next morning for harvesting.’

Idhecidhe-cking-Def
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
noeltwnoelt-(t)wfind-3.Tr:3:Def
somfensomfensoon
nomwsnomwsmiracle
ococthis
sarmedhiolfisarmedhi-lp-fidemand-DS-3.Sen
onoanonoa-nexplain-Inf
ioamioam3.In.Abs.S.Pst

‘The king soon learned of this miracle and demanded it be explained,’

focuȏlpofocu-lp-(t)ogive-DS-3.Tr:3:Ind
rifwrifwforce
myth-chmydhw̑--chfamily-Def
‘pam=pam3.Neu.S.Abs.Pst
somperchȏfisomperch-fiadmit-3.Sen
iegcaniwie-cn-cani-(t)wN-Ant-obey-3.Tr:3.Def
shȏȃtshȏȃtlaw
dhedheand
scwrscwrtradition
llwrnesllwrn-esspare-3.All
nelfienelfiegrandfather
choel-shchoel-shold
nepamnepam3.Neu.S.Abs.Pst

‘and the family was forced to admit that they had not followed law and tradition, and had rather spared their old grandfather.’

Idhecidhe-cking-Def
maremwmaremwlasting
inyinystrength
myth-chmydhw̑--chfamily-Def
dhedheand
sasobsasobwisdom
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
choel-shchoel-shold
dhoashwdhoash-(t)wput-3.Tr:3:Def
esh’calechesh’calechimpression
focuasfocu-asgive-3.All
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst

‘The king - the family’s courage and the old man’s wisdom impressed him,’

sheshȏlpiashesh-lp-iado-DS-3.Int
camcam3.M.S.Abs.Pst
romuoromu-(t)ocall-3.Tr:3:Def
shȏȃtshȏȃtlaw
marȏlfimar-lp-fisay-DS-3.Sen
esiae-s-iaAbl-be-3.Abl
pluȃpluȃday
ococthat
scoiscoi3.NR
choel-shchoel-shold
focuanfocu-angive-Inf
chȏalaliachȏa-lal-iaPot-live-3.Int
uampiauamp-iafinish-3.Loc
wnantwnantdying
wnantwnantdeath
sciwt.sciwtself

‘and he decreed a law that from that day old people would be allowed to live until they died their own death.’

The Tower of Babel

The story of the tower of Babel, from Genesis 11:1-9. Both the Melfem and English are my translations from the original Hebrew.

Dhoacoel Babel

Tafiach-al llif ‘om memeto nuȏt-c egc ar tanmaruedh egc. T-nim wdh’iasnofia sielot noelto intel-t poam’iachel Shinar ar w felfoȃ. Scom cuemarfi “T-llwsh edhiȃs llemelȏet somacnofw.” Sciefto llemelȏet poam’chemant cfon ar niaran poam’chemant dhoabebwr. Scom cuemarfi “T-llwsh edhiȃs carmys sciwt ar dhoacwl poan’tansh choanofia nwnȏȃmp, t-llwsh edhiȃs dhoelw̑ sciwt, ar iegcsheshw tanllw thy oscant choanofnuo̾at tafiach-al llif.” Idhoab ‘am thy aichȃs lwro paluan carm-asc ar dhoacoel poan’scom edhiȃs, ar cuemarfi “Scom wdh’tanmel egc dhe nuȏt-c egc poan’scoi llif ar scom wdh’iesheshw sheshant oc lloashe sheshant llif poam’etfyw sheshan ioallw iesiab thy uashelwrent. T-llwsh thy aichuȃs lwra raret ininynt nuȏt-c, ar scoi wdh’soamo scoi iepasaitw nuȏt-c.” ... Idhoab‘am oscolpw t-ni w iasia aichȃs tafiach-al llif, ar ifalw edhent carm-asc. Scelt oc dhoelw̑ ro suȏ Babel, .... w idhoab dhoan t-ni raret ininynt nuȏt-c, ar idhoab‘am oscolpw t-ni w iasia aichȃs tafiach-al llif.

The Tower of Babel

The whole world had one language and the same words. As they traveled from the east, they found a valley in the land of Shinar, and settled there. They said to each other, “Let’s make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” They had bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. And they said, “Let’s build a city for ourselves, and let’s build a tower with its top in the sky, and let’s make a name for ourselves, lest we become scattered all over the world.” God came done to see the city and the tower that the people had built, and God said, “Here’s one people with one language for all, and this is what they’ve begun to do, and now should nothing they propose to do be beyond them? Let’s go down and confuse their language, so one will not understand the language of the other.” And God scattered them from there all over the world, and they stopped building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there God confused the whole world’s language, and from there God scattered them all over the world.

vavelBabel
gelyat.PN
mastolo-l=sh-ytower-Cns=3-s

‘The Tower of Babel’