Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 110
Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.

Page 110
complete words. If, therefore, I wish to say “the small fires in the house”—and I can do this in one word—I must form the word “fire-in-the-house,” to which elements corresponding to “small,” our plural, and “the” are appended. The element indicating the definiteness of reference that is implied in our “the” comes at the very end of the word. So far, so good. “Fire-in-the-house-the” is an intelligible correlate of our “the house-fire.” 15 But is the Nootka correlate of “the small fires in the house” the true equivalent of an English “the house-firelets”? 16 By no means. First of all, the plural element precedes the diminutive in Nootka: “fire-in-the-house-plural-small-the,” in other words “the house-fires-let,” which at once reveals the important fact that the plural concept is not as abstractly, as relationally, felt as in English. A more adequate rendering would be “the house-fire-several-let,” in which, however, “several” is too gross a word, “-let” too choice an element (“small” again is too gross). In truth we cannot carry over into English the inherent feeling of the Nootka word, which seems to hover somewhere between “the house-firelets” and “the house-fire-several-small.” But what more than anything else cuts off all possibility of comparison between the English-s of “house-firelets” and the “-several-small” of the Nootka word is this, that in Nootka neither the plural nor the diminutive affix corresponds or refers to anything else in the sentence. In English “the house-firelets burn” (not “burns”), in Nootka neither verb, nor adjective, nor
Note 15.  Suffixed articles occur also in Danish and Swedish and in numerous other languages. The Nootka element for “in the house” differs from our “house” in that it is suffixed and cannot occur as an independent word; nor is it related to the Nootka word for “house.” [back]
Note 16.  Assuming the existence of a word “firelet.” [back]

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