Dialogue on the Threshold

Диалог на пороге

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Vogouls (6) Modern poetry (2)

Youwan Shestalow (Юван Николаевич Шесталов) (1937-2011)

ērγəŋ mākemn, mōjtəŋ mākemn
ōsta, ōsta joχtŭmākem.
wojkan χāľkwet rāmγantēγət,
ūjriśakwet lujγantēγət.
χotta χallew mowalāli,
māńśi ērįγ sujŭmlāli...
at tōlįγpas, at χarįγlas,
māńśi ērįγ ōs sujŭmlas!
mirŭm, simeke rātχati,
ērγe sujtuŋkw' akwtoχ pati!

To my song-rich land, to my story-rich land once more, once more I have come. The white birch trees are whispering, the birds are twittering. Where the seamew laughs, there Vogul song rings forth... It has not faded away, it has not died out, Vogul song yet rings forth! While the heart of my people still beats, their song will ever ring forth!

l. 2 joχti, cf. Hungarian jut
l. 3 χāľ, cf. Finnish koivu
l. 5 χallew, Samoyed word
l. 6 mowalāli, cf. Hungarian nevet (dialect and obsolete mövet)
l. 7 sujŭmlāli, from sujmi "to begin to ring" with frequentative suffix -lāl
l. 8 χariγli, cf. Hungarian hervad
l. 9 mir, Russian word; sim, cf. Hungarian szív, Finnish sydän 

Vogul text from: Béla Kálmán, Vogul Chrestomathy. Developmental Work on Material in West Siberian Uralic Languages. Indiana University Publications. Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol. 46. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Mouton & Co., The Hague, 1965.

The Vogouls (5) Modern poetry

Youwan Shestalow (Юван Николаевич Шесталов) (1937-2011)

χōtal śarmat χuriŋ āγi
kit saγaγe saγijāγe.
āŋkwatike - simkem tōli,
wōrkem jiki, mākem ērγi.
tūjtχatike - kāskem χōli,
witkem tisti, simkem śarγi.

The sun is like a beautiful girl braiding two plaits of her hair. When the sun shines, my heart melts, my forest dances, my land sings. When the sun hides, my gladness dies, my water grieves, my heart aches.

l. 2 kit, cf. Hungarian két, Finnish kaksi
l. 3 āŋkwatike, precative mood; tōli, cf. Hungarian olvad, Finnish sula
l. 5 tūjtχatike, precative mood; χōli, cf. Hungarian hal-, Finnish kuole-
l. 6 wit, cf. Hungarian víz, Finnish vesi

Vogul text from: Béla Kálmán, Vogul Chrestomathy. Developmental Work on Material in West Siberian Uralic Languages. Indiana University Publications. Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol. 46. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Mouton & Co., The Hague, 1965.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Universality of the belief in hell (6)

According to Jochelson (1), among the Koryak there exist two conceptions of the abode of the departed. One soul of the deceased may rise to the Supreme Being, this idea being very indefinite, but another one goes to the underground world, that of ‘people of the ancient times’, peninelau, and the description of the future life of the departed is based on their life in this world. The peninelau live in the underground world in similar villages and in a similar way to their manner of life on earth, and the new-comer at once finds his place among his relatives. At the entrance to this underworld are found dogs as guardians, and a person who used to beat his dog during his life on earth will be stopped by them, though, in order to propitiate the guardians, he can carry in his mittens the fins of fishes, of which they are very fond.

M. A. Czaplicka, Aboriginal Siberia: A Study in Social Anthropology, Oxford, 1914.

(1) Memoir of the Jessup North Pacific Expedition

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Vogouls (4) Sacred poetry

A Vogul of the northern Ural. (Collection of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography). M. A. Czaplicka, Aboriginal Siberia: A Study in Social Anthropology, Oxford, 1914.

from The Heroic Song of the Elder of the Middle Section of the Ob, Ajäs-god

[...]
My water on one side: the wide-watered, wide Ob [vitä χarä, χarä Ās]; -
Numi-Sorńi [Upper golden Sky] my royal father
called me, Ajäs-god elder, here.
My water on the other side, sacred lake flowing with sacred water;
Numi-Sorńi my royal father
charmed me, Ajäs-god elder, here.
These stretched-out [settling], far flung seven regions,
they all exist through my power;
my many shabby-coated poor people [sawiñ sāχip saw kuńärėm]
they all exist through my power.
[...]
I inhabit the wide water of the nourishing Ob,
I inhabit the wide water of the fish-abounding Ob.
In this dwelling-place of mine
my many shabby-coated men [sawiñ sāχip saw γumin],
my many shabby-coated women [sawiñ sāχip sāw nēm],
when they are touched by disease of diseased flesh,
when they are touched by sickness of sick bone,
they come to me to pray.
[...]

Translated (from Bernát Munkácsi's Hungarian translation of the Vogul original) by Bálint Sebestyén. Vogul Folklore. Collected by Bernát Munkácsi. Selected and edited by Otto J. Sadovszky and Mihály Hoppál. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, and International Society for Trans-Oceanic Research, Los Angeles, 1995.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The language(s) of the dead

De Lingua etiam et sermone Mortuorum oriuntur quaestiunculae. Mortuorum Dialogos finxere multi, sed qua lingua colloquuntur mortui, nescio. Materna, inquies, seu vernacula, qua usi sunt in terris: ut Graeci loquantur Graece: Latini Latine, et sic de caeteris gentibus. Sed tempora mutantur, et populi, et linguae, de saeculo in saeculum. Hodierni Romani Veterum Latinorum non callent linguam: nec quamcunque Latinitatem, vulgus Italorum: Qui confabulabuntur hi populi cum suo Romulo, aut Numa? Celtarum et Scytharum linguas non retinent hodie, qui easdem sedes per occidentem et septentrionem incolunt. Denique quid fiet a nobis, incolis hujusce Insulae, qui tot habuimus origines et linguas? Britannice loquemur in corporibus aëriis: vel Saxonice, vel Normanice, vel ut hodie fit mixte et composite? Alteram fore suspicor Linguarum confusionem, Babelis illa graviorem, si in hunc modum vita futura ordinanda esset. 

 Thomas Burnet, De Statu Mortuorum et Resurgentium Tractatus, London, 1727, p. 89, recte 93


The minor questions of the language and speech of the dead now arise.* Many have invented Dialogues of the Dead, but in which tongue the dead converse with each other I know not. In the mother tongue or the vernacular they used in their own countries, you will say, and thus Greeks would speak Greek, Latins Latin, and so on for every other nation. But the times, as well as peoples and languages, are forever changing. Today's Romans, the Italian rabble, would be ignorant of the language of the ancient Latins and any Latinity whatever: by what means will such people talk to their Romulus or their Numa? The languages of the Celts and the Scythians, who inhabit the same homelands in the West and North, no longer survive. What then of us, the inhabitants of this Island, who have had so many different origins and languages? Will we speak British in our aerial bodies, or Saxon, or Norman, or the present-day composite tongue? I suspect that there would be another Confusion of Tongues, worse than that of Babel, if the future life were arranged in this way.

* Burnet has been discussing whether there be a polity of the dead in their aerial state during the interval between death and the resurrection. Will the dead form a promiscuous republic, or will they be separated according to their various nations, e.g. French, Spanish, German, British, etc.?