Author Topic: The use of "vos"  (Read 3605 times)

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pyrehn

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The use of "vos"
« on: February 22, 2014, 06:48:47 pm »
hi everyone,

New here and just learning dothraki and writing a paper for a morphology class!

I am curious about the use of "vo(s)" in sentences. I found the appearance of vos quite interesting!

I can see that in negative sentence "vos" is placed before the verb. But, because the verb is in negative form as well, is vos redundant? Can it be dropped? Can it appear after the verb (as vosecchi does)?

Vo(s) lekhos jin mawizze -> lekhos jin mawizze. To both mean "Do not eat the rabbit"?
Or is the meaning slightly different between the two version?

Does "vos" just perhaps act as a word that clarifies the negative in the sentence with regard to verbs? It just seems redundant, but I could be wrong.

But it seems different with Adjectives.... (from what I have read so far)
With something like
arakh osamvae "The sword is unbroken"
arakh vos samvao "The sword is not broken"

meaning "The sword is unbroken/not broken" could you even do:
arakh vos osamvae
would this mean
"the sword is unbroken" (just with with the double negative with verbs) OR the "sword is NOT unbroken?" (meaning that it is broken, perhaps with more emphasis?)

Also, can you use "vos" with nouns?

like in english you can say "I am a fighter" and "I am not a fighter"
Anha lajak -> I am a fighter
Anha vos lajak -> I am not a fighter
vos Anha lajak -> not I am a fighter (?)

Me oge oqet oskikh. He slaughtered a sheep yesterday.
Me oge vos oqet oskikh. He slaughtered not a sheep yesterday (meaning he slaughtered something, just not a sheep?)

Or would you get the same effect as with vosecchi where vos in that circumstance would still apply to the verb "He did not slaughter a sheep, yesterday"

Thank you so much!
Any commentary is appreciated! Or even direction to other threads about vos!

Qvaak

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Re: The use of "vos"
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2014, 01:39:55 pm »
First, the Dothraki inflections usually and the negative grade especially are sort of weak and "unreserved".

You might say Dothraki words like to go with the flow of the sentence and the meaning it tries to deliver, but often don't dependably mark the extra stuff. You might notice that negative grade is lost here and there. If the verb stem ends in a consonant, the /-i/ suffixes don't mark the negative grade, if the verb stem ends in o, only a few of the conjugations mark the negative grade - and funny enough, some that would lose the explicit negative grade with consonant ending, keep it with o vowel ending:

Anha emak. - "I smile." -> Anha vos emok. - "I don't smile."
explicit negative grade

Anha hajok. - "I grow strong." -> Anha vos hajok. - "I don't grow strong"
no explicit negative grade

Yer emi. - "You smile." -> Yer vos emi. - "You don't smile."
no explicit negative grade

Yer hajoe. - "You grow strong." -> Yer vos hajoo. - "You don't grow strong"
explicit negative grade

That's the "weakness" of negative grade: it's not important enough to be dependably explicit. Then there's the "unreservedness". Dothraki has practically no rules that would restrict some vowel or consonant just to a specific use - not with affixes, and definitely not with how stems start or end. We know a couple of verbs that almost certainly just happen to have o-ending stem: oqolat and holat [of the latter we don't seem to know the stem, but I'm fairly convinced it's ho-lat] both sound like they might come from an onomatopoetic origin. Even crazier than that, Dothraki has an extremely common and productive derivational pattern for verbs that has no connotation to negative: /-(s)o/ is a multifunctional derivational verb suffix that usually is used to center the focus on the start of an action and, if used with statives, to simply make a verb to be about state change. As this is a derivational pattern, in some cases there might be a shift in meaning and in some cases the derivation is not established, but it's pretty much guaranteed that if it makes sense easily, it's legit.

So we have: hajat - "to be strong" -> hajolat "to grow/become strong"; nesat - "to know" -> nesolat - "to learn"; thirat - "to live" -> thirolat - "to survive" etc. Not only is the negative grade lost in some declensions, it's often identical to the positive grade of a word so closely related that we might waive the difference in translating to English. For example emat, "to smile" is by it's core meaning stative: "to have a smile" or "to be smiling". If you want to emphasize that someone began to smile, that their "face lit up", you might use emolat (a word which we have not met but is almost certainly legit). But both Anha em. and Anha emo. would probably be usually best translated as "I smiled."

Knowing all this you'd think that there's no way Dothraki would allow dropping vos. Negative grade looks the kind of verb agreement that needs the vos to agree on, and it sounds like dropping vos would be hard to become established as it can't be used systematically. It sounds like the derivational suffix /-o/ would bring an unsurmountable crap ton of bizarre ambiguities (if vos could be dropped, Anha emo could mean either "I smiled" or "I didn't smile"). Dothraki uses a lot of word-heavy redundant expressions and isn't even generally dropping-type language - it does not drop pronouns even when verb conjugation makes them redundant.

You guessed it: it's a normal grammatical thing in Dothraki to drop vos/vo entirely, if the verb exhibits an explicit negative grade and there's no real risk of a mixup with /-o/ ending positive-grade verbs. That's the kind of nasty unexpected pattern you mother warned you about.



Dothraki also do indeed use double negation as an emphasized negation. They may also move vos to after the verb for a slight emphasis, and use vosecchi (always after the verb) for a big emphasis. And of course vos is usually elided to vo if the following word starts with a consonant, so using full vos when not needed is also a slight emphasis. So we have a stupendous collection of more or less emphasized negations:
Anha nesok. - "Dunno." (should not really work because nesolat is a well established word, but I think might pass in a right context)
Anha vo nesok. - "I don't know."
Anha vos nesok. - "I do not know."
Anha nesok vos. - "I do not know" (maybe "I know not." would be a good translation? - I think this is fairly unusual)
Anha nesok vosecchi. - "I have no idea."
Anha vos nesok vosecchi. - "I have absolutely no idea."

How far does this go? I think pretty far, as far as in colloquial English at least. So vos avvos would be "never ever" the same as the English "not never" often is. My intuition would say it would not go as far as to the negatives of adjectives (or to the verb forms of those adjectives, because true adjectives IMO probably don't really take vos any more than English adjectives modifying nouns take no/not).

In one sense the negatives are part of adjectives' negative comparison system. I'd find it odd, if Dothraki version of the syntax "He was not less handsome." would mean "He was so much less handsome," and if that works the same as in English, I'd also expect the syntax "He was not unhandsome." (or perhaps "He was not lacking in handsomeness.") to parse in the standard English fashion. These English versions are however circumlocutions, and not terribly necessary. Even if Dothraki can't really say "He was not less handsome." as easy as English, because the emphatic double negative would apply, that would not be a big loss.

In another sense, often the negatives of adjectives feel a lot like semi-independent words derived from the original. We have eg. ojil - " incorrect," "wrong". Now, clearly this is nothing more than a negative of jil, and should probably be inflected appropriately, so "more wrong" AFAIK would be ojilan not *asojilan (I've never really thought about this - needs to be addressed on the wiki). So would Me vos ojilo. be "It's not wrong." or "It's so wrong"? I'd kinda think the not of ojil is so deep in the word that it would be treated just a word, much like the engligh /un-/ words are.

... I don't have no idea about the adjectives. Could go either way.



Vos does indeed work with non-copula sentences, so Anha vos lajak. - "I am not a fighter." is absolutely correct, and also generally modifying nouns works fine, as evidenced in Rakharo's line from season 1: Vo mawizzi vekho jinne. - "There are no rabbits."
Your line Me oge vos oqet oskikh. should IMO translate to "He slaughtered no sheep yesterday."

Vos works as an interjection too, AFAIK, so "Vos." is a normal response and "Voooooos!" is a normal exclamation :D
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Hrakkar

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Re: The use of "vos"
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2014, 10:17:29 pm »
Athdavrazar!

A concise version of this explanation almost needs to be in the wiki!

Great job, as usual zhey Qvaak!
Don't tell Khal Drogo I am here ;)

pyrehn

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Re: The use of "vos"
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2014, 12:56:16 am »
First of all THANK YOU so much! it is greatly appreciated.

Quote

First, the Dothraki inflections usually and the negative grade especially are sort of weak and "unreserved".

You might say Dothraki words like to go with the flow of the sentence and the meaning it tries to deliver, but often don't dependably mark the extra stuff. You might notice that negative grade is lost here and there. If the verb stem ends in a consonant, the /-i/ suffixes don't mark the negative grade, if the verb stem ends in o, only a few of the conjugations mark the negative grade - and funny enough, some that would lose the explicit negative grade with consonant ending, keep it with o vowel ending:

Anha emak. - "I smile." -> Anha vos emok. - "I don't smile."
explicit negative grade

Anha hajok. - "I grow strong." -> Anha vos hajok. - "I don't grow strong"
no explicit negative grade

Yer emi. - "You smile." -> Yer vos emi. - "You don't smile."
no explicit negative grade

Yer hajoe. - "You grow strong." -> Yer vos hajoo. - "You don't grow strong"
explicit negative grade

That's the "weakness" of negative grade: it's not important enough to be dependably explicit. Then there's the "unreservedness". Dothraki has practically no rules that would restrict some vowel or consonant just to a specific use - not with affixes, and definitely not with how stems start or end. We know a couple of verbs that almost certainly just happen to have o-ending stem: oqolat and holat [of the latter we don't seem to know the stem, but I'm fairly convinced it's ho-lat] both sound like they might come from an onomatopoetic origin. Even crazier than that, Dothraki has an extremely common and productive derivational pattern for verbs that has no connotation to negative: /-(s)o/ is a multifunctional derivational verb suffix that usually is used to center the focus on the start of an action and, if used with statives, to simply make a verb to be about state change. As this is a derivational pattern, in some cases there might be a shift in meaning and in some cases the derivation is not established, but it's pretty much guaranteed that if it makes sense easily, it's legit.

So we have: hajat - "to be strong" -> hajolat "to grow/become strong"; nesat - "to know" -> nesolat - "to learn"; thirat - "to live" -> thirolat - "to survive" etc. Not only is the negative grade lost in some declensions, it's often identical to the positive grade of a word so closely related that we might waive the difference in translating to English. For example emat, "to smile" is by it's core meaning stative: "to have a smile" or "to be smiling". If you want to emphasize that someone began to smile, that their "face lit up", you might use emolat (a word which we have not met but is almost certainly legit). But both Anha em. and Anha emo. would probably be usually best translated as "I smiled."

Knowing all this you'd think that there's no way Dothraki would allow dropping vos. Negative grade looks the kind of verb agreement that needs the vos to agree on, and it sounds like dropping vos would be hard to become established as it can't be used systematically. It sounds like the derivational suffix /-o/ would bring an unsurmountable crap ton of bizarre ambiguities (if vos could be dropped, Anha emo could mean either "I smiled" or "I didn't smile"). Dothraki uses a lot of word-heavy redundant expressions and isn't even generally dropping-type language - it does not drop pronouns even when verb conjugation makes them redundant.


I can't imagine if one day they all were just like "let's try dropping vos entirely and see what happens". Disaster. Haha. So in summary vos is redundant when negative grade is explicitly expressed on the verb. But, it's likely in everyday speech it's just left there regardless of whether it is redundant or not to maintain clarity, consistency across the language AND possibly even to strengthen the force of the negativeness in the statement. So in those circumstances the keeping of vos would be pragmatic. Just ponderings...

Quote
Anha nesok vos. - "I do not know" (maybe "I know not." would be a good translation? - I think this is fairly unusual)

I think that would be accurate, the "I know not". And I think perhaps the I do NOT know. The "not" portion would carry the stress of the sentence or be used in more formal situations even. So both translations would work.
Anha vos nesok. Might even be closer to "I do not know" with the "I might know but don't really want to bother thinking about it" tone, or even more casual...more ponderings...


For adjectives then, perhaps it depends on the commonality of the adjective and it's frequency of use.
Like in English unkept we don't have a "non-negative" kempt. So we say "not unkempt".
So perhaps in circumstances where the negative adjective was spoken first such with many /un-/ adjectives in English "vos" would be used or if the non-negative grade adjective was out of use or something. But, that may require more information about the actual etymology of the words themselves.

It would be interesting to learn a bit more about adjectives. They actually seem quite complex when looking at them a little closer.

Again!
Thank you!

pyrehn

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Re: The use of "vos"
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 01:21:54 am »
Also,

Sorry... I could be COMPLETELY (and probably am) missing something.

Me vos ojilo

Where does the o-jil-o <-- this /o/ come from?

Qvaak

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Re: The use of "vos"
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2014, 02:18:52 am »
Quote
Where does the o-jil-o <-- this /o/ come from?
Well, the usual way to build a sentence of a form "X is Y" where Y is adjective, is to turn the adjective into a verb (which is why I said true adjectives don't much get vos to modify them - might even be it's not grammatical at all, though there's some stuff where it might come up). So we have a verb ojilat - "to be wrong".
Me ojila. - "It is wrong."
Me vos ojilo. - "It is not wrong."
Yes, it would also be possible (and AFAIK absolutely normal) to say
Me vos jilo. - "It is not right."
And the semantical difference between Me vos jilo. and Me ojila. is a tricky question. I think the difference is similar to the difference between, say, "He is not attractive." and "He is unattractive."
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Hrakkar

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Re: The use of "vos"
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2014, 12:50:32 pm »
That is actually kind of a useful construction, as it is makes it possible to create some 'negation of a negation' type constructions such as vos veno 'not unlike'.  This is something that is hard to do in Na'vi, and may be the reason that language requires double negatives.
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Qvaak

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Re: The use of "vos"
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2014, 01:23:21 pm »
umm..? The word for (approximately) "to be unlike" should be ovenat, if venat were an adjective enough to have the comparative declensions. We mostly meet ven as a conjunction, and the verb looks transitive, so I'm not entirely sure how it works.
Me vos veno hrazhef. is, I'm pretty sure "It is not like a horse." and has no hint of double negative, just the verb agreement.

The hypothetical double negative of the sentence would be Me vos oveno hrazhef. - "It is not unlike a horse." And for that the jury is still out: would it be understood as in English, or would this be interpreted as an emphatic double negative ("It is very much not like a horse"), because Dothraki do use emphatic double negatives.
Game of Thrones is not The Song of Ice and Fire, sweetling. You'll learn that one day to your sorrow.