Okay, so it’s time for the second installment of the series. The previous one (Cyrillic letters which look and sound roughly the same as Latin ones) was trivial. This time we’ll focus on something more difficult – those Lezgi Cyrillic letters which look like Latin ones while not sounding like them. Be careful with them and don’t mix them up!
Here’s the list for today:
Cc Yy Пп Рр Хх Нн Вв
Cc has a kind of a special place here. It’s pronounced like [s], so not exactly different from English “c” (which either sounds like [s] or like [k]).
New words (here and there I’ll transliterate to make sure you’re not confused):
cа [sa] - one, a (that is an indefinite article: cа кек – one fingernail/a fingernail)
сам – straw
сас [sas] – tooth (especially one of the front teeth)
сес – voice, sound, call, vote
кас [kas] – person, human being
мас [mas] – price
маса – other, another, different; са маса кас – a different person
месела – for example
The above should not be too difficult to digest, the next chunk:
Yy is pronounced more or less like ‘u’ in English ‘pull’
Пп (ok, maybe including it here is a stretch, but it does look a bit like ‘n’) is pronounced like English ‘p’ in ‘part’ or like ‘p’ in ‘spit’ – that is either with, or without the aspiration (puff of air following the release).
мус? [mus] – when?
пак [pak] – pure, clean, impeccable, saint
пака – tomorrow
пакама – morning, dawn, daybreak
пас - rust, corrosion, mold
тум [tum - aspirated t] – seed
тум [tum - unaspirated t] – tail, handle (as you can see, the difference in pronunciation is not reflected in writing!)
туп – ball; gun
уму – thaw
уста [usta] – master, anyone skillful
Нн – looks like an ‘h’ but sounds like an ‘n’. However, there’s a hook – when н comes after a vowel and is followed by a consonant or a pause, it sometimes (that is, in some varieties of spoken Lezgi) adds a nasal quality to it, and dissapears. That is, for instance, the word ун (meaning ‘yes’) is often pronounced not as [un] but [ũ] (that squiggly up there, called tilda, marks nasalization). But relax, it’s not that important to nasalize the vowel, you can just pronounce the н and still be understood.
Рр – This is Lezgi [r] sound. Among all the varieties of English you can find a similar sound only in Scottish. So roll your ‘r’s but don’t overdo it.
Хх – Now, pay close attention, as this sound will probably be difficult for you to make. Try to pronounce the ‘ch’ in ‘loch’ the way the Scots do, and then try to place the friction even further back inside your throat (this is to make space for the second Scottish ch-like sound present in Lezgi about which you’ll learn later; it is very important to maintain difference between the two).
кар – work, thing to do
ксун – to fall asleep; falling asleep
ксус! – fall asleep! (imperative; anything strange here?)
ксана – I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they fell asleep
^ yes, indeed, the above means that Lezgi verbs have the same form for all persons
курс – course
намус – honour, dignity
нек – milk
нер – nose
нур – light
мах – legend, traditional tale
рак – door
рахун – to talk; talking
рахух! – talk! (another strange imperative)
рахунар – talks, the act of talking
стха – brother
пер (aspirated) – mood;
пер (unaspirated) – shovel
зи пер хана [zi pher xana] – my mood broke = worsened
зи пер хана [zi per xana] – my shovel broke
хак – stake
хана – 1. broke; 2. bore (brought to life)
хата – error, mistake
хатам – the very last
хер – wound
хтун – to return
Now a little task: what can you learn about Lezgi plurals from the following set:
махар – legends
нерар – noses
нурар – lights
перер – shovels
сарар – front teeth
сесер – sounds, voices, votes
сурар – cemetary
хкар – stakes
хрер – wounds
Вв is all what’s left for today. The first problem with it is that its pronunciation varies from that of an English ‘w’ to that of an English ‘v’. Sometimes it even sounds like a version of ‘v’ made with both lips touching (normal ‘v’ is when lower lip touches the upper teeth, try it). However, as basically it is a ‘w’ you can pronounce it that way all the time. The second problem is that when в follows a consonant it sort of forms one sound with it – the consonant is pronounced with rounded lips (linguists call that labialization).
That lip-rounding in some dialects sort of invades, infects the next vowel (yes, affects is a better word), changes it into ‘o’ (which doesn’t normally occur in Lezgi, as we told earlier), and disappears.
I guess that was confusing, so let’s have an example: the word свас means ‘daughter-in-law’ or ‘bride’. It is normally pronounced [s_was], [s_w] symbolizing the almost-at-the-same-time pronunciation of [s] and [w]. In dialects suffering from ‘lip-rounding infection’ [s_was] turns into [sos] that is [a] is changed into [o] and lip-rounding disappears from [s].
Ok, enough theory, let’s have the new words:
свах [s_wax] – molar tooth; сухвар [sux_war] – molar teeth
(see how the lip-rounding can’t stay in one place?)
сев [sew] – bear; север [sewer] – bears
сувар – holiday
вун – you (one person)
вах – sister
хва [x_wa] – son
ава – there is
ксанва – am/is/are asleep, have/has fallen asleep (from ксана ава)
Now, I’ll leave you with all this. Think about it, digest it, analyse the example words, draw conclusions and ask me if anything is not clear. Hell, tell me even if something is clear but could be improved!
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