Sokna Text IV: The sultan and the poet

This is the fourth of five texts collected by Sarnelli (1925: 34), concerning a miserly sultan who encounters a poet. It is almost entirely a dialogue, with every phrase introduced by yenn-âs ‘he said to him’. There are only a few new forms in this text, and a number of new Arabic words.

ěllân íǧǧěn n essẹ́lṭān bxîl.

(Once) there was a miserly sultan.

  • ěllân 3pl.m. ‘there were’
  • íǧǧěn n essẹ́lṭān phrasal n. ‘a sultan’ (lit. ‘one of sultan’)
  • bxîl adj. ‘miserly’ from Ar. bxīl

yusâzed íǧǧen në mmār šâ‘ir ṭâma, yenn-âs: sîulax fellá-k amdáḥ.

A poet came to him, and said to him: “I spoke praise about you.”

  • yusâzed pf.3sg.m. + 3sg. indirect object pronoun –ās– + ventive particle –d, with assimilation [āsed] > [āzed]
  • íǧǧen në mmār šâ‘ir phr. n. ‘a poet’ (lit. ‘one of man poet’), with the second noun ‘poet’ from Ar. šā‘ir ‘poet’.
  • ṭâma adj. ‘greedy’ from Ar. ṭāmi‘. Sarnelli does not transcribe the final ‘ayn of this word–noting that it was not pronounced (though it is written in the Arabic text, of course, which has no long vowel). I’ve emended his transcription to reflect short final vowel (maybe schwa), since compensatory lengthening would be hard to demonstrate.
  • sîulax pf.1sg. ‘I spoke, talked’
  • fellá-k prep. ‘about’ + 2sg.m. object pronoun ‘you’
  • amdáḥ n. ‘praise’ from Ar. amdaḥ

yẹ̌nn-âs: bā tā tenn-îd?

(The sultan) said: “What did you say to me?”

  • tenn-îd pf.2sg.m. ‘to say’ + 1sg. indir.obj. pronoun

yẹ̌nn-âs ẹllî yennî-t dg-īs.

(The poet) said what he said about him.

  • yẹ̌nn-âs pf.3sg.m. ‘to say’ + 3sg. indir.obj. pronoun
  • ẹllî relative pronoun from Ar. illī
  • yennî-t pf.3sg.m. ‘to say’ + -t dir. object suffix referring back to the relative pronoun
  • dg-īs particle marking the 3sg. direct object

yěnn-âs essélṭān: ḥatta nîš ẹssîulāx fěll-ák amdáḥ.

The sultan said: “I, too, spoke praise about you.”

  • ḥatta nîš phrase calqued from dialectal Ar. ḥattā nā ‘me too’
  • ẹssîulāx pf.1sg. ‘I spoke, talked’, though I’m not sure why the final vowel is long ā and not short as previously; the initial ẹ- is probably epenthetic

wu yenn-âs ellî yennît dg-īs.

And he said what he said about him.

yennâ mār iyi-ssélṭān udînak: usíġt s aglad-énnüen.

The man said to this sultan: “I came by your street.”

  • yennâ pf.3sg.m. ‘he said’
  • iyi-ssélṭān ‘to the sultan’
  • udînak ‘this’
  • usíġt pf.1sg. (Auj. ušíġd) of root s(d) ‘to come’ (same root as yusâzed above).
  • s prep. ‘by, through’
  • aglad-énnüen n. ‘street (of a city)’ + 2pl.m. possessive suffix

yěnn-âs: tbarût-ēnnek fëll-âs.

(The sultan) said to him: “Your road is on it.”

  • tbarût-ēnnek n.m. ‘road (of countryside)’ + 2sg.m. possessive suffix
  • fëll-âs prep. ‘on’ + 3sg.m. indirect obj. pronoun

yennâ: slīx ezzěġârio̱ṭ et-tasqá-nnüen.

(The poet) said: “I heard the ululation from your house.”

  • slīx pf.1sg. ‘to hear’
  • ez-zěġârio̱ṭ n. ‘ululation’ probably from a form of Ar. zaġraṭ
  • et-tasqá-nnüen n.f. ‘house’ + 2pl.m. possessive suffix; the initial et- could represent an assimilation of the prep. d: *de-tasqá > *et-tasqá, the only problem is that d means ‘with’, usually s or sāl is ‘from’.

yěnnâs: farḥân. děluqō*t eddînak winâzed i-issẹ́lṭān amekl-ínnes.

(The sultan) said: “I was celebrating.” At that moment they brought to the sultan his lunch.

  • farḥân from Ar. farḥān ‘happy’
  • děluqōt n. ‘moment, time’(?), some kind of reanalysis of Ar. waqt preceded by the prep. d/de ‘at, from’
  • eddînak
  • winâzed wi- ‘to bring’, -n- 3pl.m marker, -âz- 3sg. indirect obj. suffix, -ed petrifed ventive particle ‘they brought him’
  • amekl-ínnes n. ‘lunch’ + 3sg.m. possessive suffix

iṣâr itéčč dg-îs wu íngî yěnn-âs i-mâr udînak: éčč.

He began to eat it, and no one said to the man: “eat.”

  • iṣâr must reflect the Arabic iṣār which is pf.3sg; not only is this an anomalous (at least so far) to make an inchoative in Sokni (usually with yiqqím), but it is an interesting case of loan verb + native verb.
  • itéčč impf.3sg.m. (together with the preceding verb forms an inchoative phrase)
  • dg-îs the particle dg- again marks the direct object
  • wu ‘and’ from Arabic wa
  • íngî yěnn-âs ‘did not say to him’ (usual double marking of indirect object)
  • i-mâr udînak ‘to that man’, directional part. i- with n. ‘man’, followed by the
  • éčč impv.2sg.m. ‘eat!’

yěnn-âs mār iyi-ssẹ́lṭān: lahl-ẹ́nnek turû.

The man said to the sultan: “Your wife gave birth.”

  • lahl-ẹ́nnek n.f. ‘wife’ + 2sg.m. possessive suffix (the poet now changes between using the 2pl., perhaps as a sign of respect, to the 2sg.)
  • turû pf.3sg.f. ‘to give birth’

yěnn-âs: eǧǧíx-t taqqál.

He said to him: “I left her pregnant.”

  • eǧǧíx-t pf.1sg. ‘to leave’ (Auj. dǧiḫ) + 3sg.m. direct object suffix
  • taqqál n.f. ‘pregnant’

yěnn-âs: tuwîd sen n immězzûnīn! d essẹ́lṭān qarîb adikkâmel tagílla.

He said: “She brought two little ones!” And the sultan was close to finishing the meal.

  • tuwîd pf.3sg.f. ‘to bring’ (Sokna has -w- where the same Auj. verb has -gg-)
  • sen n immězzûnīn n. phrase ‘two small (ones)’
  • qarîb ‘close’ from Ar. qarīb
  • adikkâmel aor.3sg.m. ‘to finish’ of Ar. verb kammal (?)
  • tagílla n.f. ‘meal’

yěnn-âs essẹ́lṭân ii-mār: lahl-ẹ́nnu lallâ-s tawîd dě-ttuwâma.

The sultan said to the man: “My wife his mother gives birth to twins.”

  • lahl-ẹ́nnu n.f. ‘wife’ + 1sg. possessive suffix
  • lallâ-s n. ‘his mother’
  • tawîd pf.3sg.f. ‘to bring’ (same form as above, with slightly different schwa realizations)
  • dě-ttuwâma part. ‘of’ + n. ‘twins’ from Ar. tǝwām

yěnn-âs mār i-issẹ́lṭān: íǧǧen sāl mězzânīn yummút.

The man said to the sultan: “One of the twins died.”

  • íǧǧen sāl mězzânīn ‘one of the little ones’; this phrase is odd given that ‘one of…’ is routinely expressed in Sokni with the particle n ‘of’ (see the first line of this text, for example), and never sāl ‘from’ – this might be a calque on dialectal Arabic, which would use min ‘from’: *wāḥid min et-tǝwām ‘one of the twins’.
  • yummút pf.3sg.m. ‘to die’

yěnn-âs: lâllā-s lā těnǎžžām atěssẹ́mbi sẹn.

(The sultan) said to him: “His mother could not give milk to the two.”

  • lā těnǎžžām impf.3sg.f. from Arabic lā tenežžem (najjam with the meaning ‘to be able’ is rare in Libya, but is the usual verb in southern and eastern Tunisia)
  • atěssẹ́mbi aor.3sg.f. ‘to give milk, breastfeed’ (causative of ẹ́mbi ‘to suck, nurse, take milk’)
  • sẹn num. ‘two’

yěnn-âs: ḥátta uyéṭ yěmmút!

(The poet) said to him: “The other also died!”

  • ḥátta part. ‘even, too, also’ from Arabic ḥǝttā
  • uyéṭ ‘other’
  • yěmmút (glossed above)

yěnn-âs: iḥzén s úmm-as

(The sultan) said to him: “(Because) he was sad of his brother.”

  • iḥzén pf.3sg.m. (?) ‘to be sad’ from Arabic verb ḥzn
  • úmm-as n.m. ‘brother’ + 3sg. kinship possessive

yěnn-âs: ḥáttā lallá-tsen tẹ́mmūt!

(The poet) said to him: “Their mother also died!”

  • lallá-tsen n.f. ‘mother’ + 3pl. kinship possessive
  • tẹ́mmūt pf.3sg.f. ‘to die’

yěnn-âs: teḥzén sě děná-nnas.

(The sultan) said to him: “(Because) she was sad of her sons.”

  • teḥzén pf.3sg.f. ‘to be sad’
  • děná-nnas ‘sons’ + 3sg. possessive suffix (not kinship)

yěnn-âs: tagill-ánnek ṭāyyéb?

(The poet) said to (the sultan): “Was your lunch good?”

  • tagill-ánnek n.f. ‘lunch’ + 2sg.m. possessive suffix
  • ṭāyyéb adj. ‘good’ from Arabic ṭāyyib

yěnn-âs: w-ẹ́lli úgǐex adẹ́nax iy-úggīd ẹ́čč dîd-i!

(The sulten) said to him: “That is why I did not want to say to anyone ‘eat with me!’ ”

  • w could be interpreted as the demonstrative wā, which is then followed by the relative pronoun ẹlli (Ar. illī), resulting in the contraction *wā-ẹlli > wẹ́lli.
  • úgǐex pf.1sg. ‘to want’
  • adẹ́nax aor.1sg. ‘to say’ (aorist following the verb ‘to want’)
  • iy-úggīd ‘to’ followed by n. ‘someone’
  • ẹ́čč impv.2sg.m. ‘to eat’
  • dîd-i prep. ‘with’ + 1sg. suffix

– A. Benkato


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