Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Some notions of the Bats' language

As previously mentioned, the Bats people rightly consider themselves to be Tush (and therefore Georgians), but their language - "batsbur mott" - has almost nothing in common with Georgian.

Put simply, it is not a Kartvelian language, despite a significant proportion of loan-words from that family: It is a close relation of the Chechen and Ingush ("vainakh", "our people") languages, and is classified as a separate branch of the Nakho-Daghestanian or "Northeastern" group of Caucasian languages. It is not known to ever have had an alphabet - a modified Georgian alphabet is used instead. (When it is written down at all, that is!)

It is frighteningly-complicated; this is mostly because of the language's bewildering number of verbal genres. I have no clear idea of what exactly a verbal genre is, but I can provide an illustration of why Bats is such a special case:

Take, for instance, the imperative "come" (as in "come here, x"):

When spoken to one man ("stak"): "volal stak";
To several men ("vaser"): "bolet vaser";
To one woman ("pstwin") or one girl ("yeuh"): "yolal pstwin" or "yolal yeuh", respectively;

To several women ("psti") or several girls ("makhar"): "dolet psti" or "dolet makhar";

To one child ("bader"): "dol bader"

To several children ("badri"): "dolat badri"

Consequently, "Hello", "Peace be with you" (perhaps descended from the Arabic, Muslim "Salaam aleikum"?) varies according to whom one is wishing it to:

To a man, "marshikhValo" [my emphasis];

To a woman, "marshikYalo";

To several men, "marshikhBalueshe";

To several women, "marshikhDalueshe".

As you may have noticed, plurals are anything but straightforward...

"Man"/"men" - "stak"/"vaser";

"Woman"/"women" - "pstwin"/"psti";

"Girl"/"girls" - "yeuh"/"makhar".

"One cow" is "tsa yett" - "ten cows" is "itt jabu";

"A sheep", "tsa jelre" - "ten sheep", "itt je";

"Dog", "peu" - "dogs", "pertcheu".

The following is a brief comparison between the numerals 1-20 in Chechen and in Bats:

1 - "tsa" [identical or near-identical in both languages]

2 - "shi"

3 - "kho"

4 - "di"

5 - "pkhi"

6 - "ialkh" in Chechen, "yetr" in Bats

7 - "vorkh"

8 - "barkh"

9 - "is"

10 - "it"

11 - "tsait" ["one-ten"]

12 - "shit"

13 - "khoit"

14 - "dit" in Chechen, "devait" in Bats

15 - "pkhit"

16 - "yalkhit" in Chechen, "yetkhit" in Bats

17 - "vorkhit"

18 - "barkhit"

19 - "tkhest"

20 - "tkho"

The words for "water", "father" and "mother", "I" and "you", "guest" etc. are identical, but - rather confusingly - equally-ancient words such as "bread", "the Earth", "flower", "star", "knife", and "wolf" are completely different (the order is [English] - [Chechen] - [Bats]):

water - khi - khi

father - dad - dad

mother - nan - nan

I - so - so

you - ho - ho

guest - hash - hash

bread - bepig - mekk

the Earth - laita - metkhenmak

flower - zezag - bubuk

star - seda - terelch

knife - urs - nekk

wolf - borz - akk

For you real amateurs, here are some useful sentences:

"I love you" (man to woman) sounds like "son ho iets" (woman to man, "so ho viets");

"Happy birthday" (man to man) is "so vien de";

"No problem", "tsa tsom tsoda";

"We are drunk" (men, obviously), "wakhini";

"How are you?" is "mohvah" to a man, "mohyah" to a woman or a girl;

"Let's go" (men and women), "dakhentve";

"Thank you", "dakinda" ("thank you very much", "zoresh dakinda");

"Delicious", "tchamli";

"Cheers" (when making a toast) is "marshmakesh khilotwe";

"To the health of all children" (toast) is "badrikhilal marshmakesh";

"Good morning" is "urden marshrolia";

"Pretty girl" is "razen yeuh";

"Good-bye" is "gazishril" when said to one person, "gazishrilat" to several;

"What is it?" is "vukh da?";

"I would like", "I need", is "son dets";

"It is raining" is "kariatr";
"Blood feud" is "tsig etsar", "blood taken";
"A Georgian" is "kuikh", and "Georgia" is "kuikhta";
"My name is x" is "sokh tse x";
"Come here, guest" is "hash deuh" ("guests", "hash dahu");
"Do you like this song?" is "tsonala ho e mokk?";
"Yes, I do" is "ha, son tsonala";
"I understand" is "so dakvahen vas" (man), "son dakvahen ias" (woman) (or "khatse son");
"I miss you" is "hotsulob hohias" (?).

And, finally, a few more curiosities:

"A scratch" (or perhaps the verb "to scratch") is the same as "a shot"/"to shoot": "kebsar";

"Snow" sounds like the English "Love", but "it is snowing" is "datkhr";

"My darling", "hoch lavalos", also means "I am ready to die for you";

"Wine" is "ven" or "matchar", loan-words from Georgian. (The Georgian word "ghvino" is thought by many to be the term which gave us our word "wine".)

Bats seems to be extraordinarily precise (and concise!, as the example given below demonstrates) when it comes to indicating time:

(-1) Yesterday - "psare"

(0) Today - "tkha"

(1) Tomorrow - "ka"

(2) The day after tomorrow - "lamu"

(3) The day after the day after tomorrow - "ul"

(4) The day after the day after the day after tomorrow - "kalu"

(5) The day after the day after the day after the day after tomorrow - "palu"

(6) The day after the day after the day after the day after the day after tomorrow - "tchalu"

Love - "detsar-vetsra";

Revenge - "mastkho nanietrier" (?).
"Here" - "ese";
"There" - "isi";
"Over there" - "osi";
"This" - "e";
"That" - "o".
Some thunderstorm-related terms are:

"Lightning" is "taplekh";
"Thunder" is "gurgur";
"Thunderstorm" is "mossi" (the same word as "bad");
"Wind" is "moss" ("it is windy" - "mosba");
"Rain" is "kari".
The seasons of the year:

Summer - "khko"
Autumn - "stabo"

Winter - "ah"

Spring - "doha"
Some useful verbs:

I am - "so vas";
You are - "ho vakh";

He/She/It is - "o va";

We are - "ve batkhr";

You are - "shu desh";

They are - "obi da".

I see - "songu";

You see - "hongu";

He/She/It sees - "okvengu";

We see - "vengu";

You see - "shungu";

They see - "okarngu".

I have - "sogo";

You have - "hogo";

He/She/It has - "okgo";

We have - "vego"
You have - "shugo"
They have - "okargo".
The months of the year are:









"ghviob", "the month of wine"

"giorgob", "the month of St George"

"krishob", "the month of Christ"
(For anyone familiar with the names of the months in Georgian, it will have immediately become apparent that the Bats words are mostly loan-words from Georgian.)
Some popular toasts:
"To children" is "katsketchokhilal" (preferably the more correct "badrikhilal");
"To the [host] family" is "hekurekhilal";
"To women" is "pstiankhilal".