Hávamál 77 in Wendoth

Lately I’ve been working on a conlang called Wendoth, and I’ve translated Stanza 77 of the Hávamál into it. The original poem goes like this:

Deyja fé, (‘Cattle die,’)
deyja frændr, (‘kinsmen die,’)
deyr sjálfr et sama; (‘you yourself die,’)
ek veit einn, (‘I know one thing’)
at aldri deyr: (‘which never dies:’)
dómr um dauðan hvern. (‘the judgement of a dead man’s life.’)

Like the original stanza, the translated stanza has six lines, with every third line having three feet and the other lines having two feet; also, each foot is an anapest, and it has an AACBBC rhyme scheme. It goes like this:

Kejazang ouųt-thash; (‘Cattle die,’)
kashewoq ouyehąsh; (‘kinsmen die;’)
ndaidh shuųzh thash ouųt aųpnin sum; (‘at some time, everyone dies,’)
cai mangedh qe, asfą, (‘but one thing, however,’)
xaidh shuųzh ouyehą: (‘never dies:’)
gaxaihi seb andresh įwanum. (‘the respect that we give to the virtuous.’)

This is written in the language’s idosyncratic orthography. An IPA transcription is given below, showing the syllable breaks with dots (.) and the foot breaks with bars (|).

kʲə.ɣʲaˈzˠaŋ |aṳ.ṵt̪.ˈθasʲ
kʲa.sʲə.ˈwoq |aṳ.lʲə.ˈʁa̰sʲ
n̪d̪ai̤ð sʲṳː.ˈṵzʲ |θasʲ aṳ.ˈṵt̪ |aṵp.ni̤n ˈsˠṳm
xʲai̤ ma.ˈŋəð |qə asˠ.ˈfa̰
χai̤ð sʲṳː.ˈṵzʲ |aṳ.lʲəˈʁa̰
gʲa.χai̤.ˈʁi̤ |sˠəb an̪d̪.ˈrəsʲ |ḭː.lˠa.ˈnṳm

Glosses of each line are given below.

Kejazang auųt-thash;
kejazang hau -Į  -ta tha      -sha 
cattle   INCH-ACC-to come.NPST-GEN 
'Cattle die,'

The word kejazang is a shortening of earlier *kejazohang < Pre-Wendoth kiɣe-za ran ‘domestic aurochs’ (literally ‘aurochs that are kept’). auųt-thash, literally ‘come to a finish’, is an idiomatic expression meaning ‘die’. The more usual way of expressing ‘die’ in Wendoth is with the word auyehą, literally ‘start to be dead’, which is used in the next line. Also, the more usual word order here would be to put the adverbial expression auųt after the verb thash, but it has been put before the verb here so that the final -ash rhymes with the -yąsh of the second line (a and ą are not the same phoneme, but they differ only in phonation, and differences in phonation are ignored for rhyming purposes).

kashewoq ouyehąsh;
kashewoko hou -yehą   -sha
kinsman   INCH-be_dead-GEN
'kinsmen die;'

The word kashewoq is a compound noun: kashe- ‘blood’ + woko- ‘friend’. The -k- of woko- alternates between its light realisation, -k-, and its heavy realisation, -q-; as no suffix has been added, it is realised as -q.

ndaidh shuųzh thash ouųt aųpnin sum;
ndai-edha    shu -Į  -zha  tha      -sha hou -Į  -ta
some-ABS.NOM time-ACC-from come.NPST-GEN INCH-ACC-to
paųn-ina     sum
all -NOM.HUM person
'at some time, everyone dies;'

The noun shu refers to a period of time. In this sentence, it appears in the accusative case as the object of the postposition -zha. -zha is used for various purposes, but when its object is in the accusative case it can be glossed as ‘from’. It is used here because the period of time referred to is in the future; if the period of time was in the past -ta ‘to’ would be used.

As there is no rhyming requirement here, the usual word order is used for the phrase thash auųt. Auyehą could just as well be used here, but using thash auųt avoids repetition.

cai mangedh qe, asfą,
cai mang-edha    qe    safą
but one -ABS.NOM thing however
'but one thing, however,'

The most usual place to put asfą would be immediately after cai, but as it is an adverb, it can be placed in many different positions. Here, it has been placed at the end to allow for a rhyme of with the next line.

xaidh shuųzh ouyehą:
xai-edha    shu -ų  -zha  hou  -yehą
no -ABS.NOM time-ACC-from INCH-be_dead
'never dies:'

The determiner xaI- ‘no’ is considered the antonym of maI- ‘some’, and therefore has probably acquired the same vowel by analogy. It probably originates from the negative particle xe ‘not’.

gaxaihi seb andresh įwanum.
gaxaihi seb        FEL-rem -sha įwan   -nu -ma
respect 1p.INCL.PL ndo-give-GEN be_good-NOM-DAT
'the respect that we give to the virtuous.'

There are two first-person plural pronouns in Wendoth: seb and eq. seb is used to include the addressee, and is therefore most appropriate here, while eq is used to exclude the addressee. The ndo- prefix on the verb rem- ‘give’ here is an argument reference marker used to refer to things like thoughts, feelings and opinions. It is used here to indicate that the verb is relativised. Usually, a relativised verb comes immediately after its head noun, so that seb here should come after andresh rather than before it. But the order can vary, and it has been varied here in order to fit the meter.

The suffix -nu is a nominaliser that turns a veb meaning ‘to X’ into a noun meaning ‘a person who Xes’. Thus įwanu means ‘good person’, or, to be more precise, ‘virtuous person’.


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