- (v.) to be swollen
- (adj.) swollen
- (n.) swelling
O’e epi o ei.
“My ankle is swollen.”
Notes: Rather badly. Take a look:
Yeah, human ankles ain’t supposed to look like that.
The story is I was at my birthday party on Sunday, and me, a few of my friends and my little sister decided to play basketball. I was in jeans and semi-dress shoes; one of my friends was in flip-flops; we were using a tiny ball playing on an 8 foot rim (at night [while I was sick])—suffice it to say that these were not ideal conditions. Nevertheless, we decided to play.
Things were going pretty well (my team was up 9-8) when I drove to my left, and apparently planted on the side of my foot (that must have been what happened), and totally messed up my ankle. It swelled up to the size of a tennis ball. Currently it’s the size of a lopsided tennis ball, so that’s improvement. But, yeah, not one of my best ideas.
Regarding Kamakawi, awhile back I talked about modern conlangers having a different experiential basis from the culture their conlang is attached to. The word “swell” is one of those that brought that point home to me.
Most of my languages, for awhile, didn’t have a word for “to swell” (in fact, the concept itself seems kind of strange to me). A word for “to swell” (or “swelling”), though, is often one of the oldest words that exists in any given natlang.
Just like everyone else, I’ve experienced plenty of swelling in my life, but I never would have thought of “swelling” as a basic concept if I hadn’t learned that it was. To be honest, television seems more central to my personal human experience than swelling. That, of course, isn’t so for folks that don’t have television (or electricity).
And the problem is all languages come from somewhere. Unless one has decided on a fantasy setting where a group of beings with 20th/21st century human technology start the seed of all the languages which follow, one has to account for a very old, very ancient state of the language upon which the modern language is built.
So, something to think about: Check your conlangs for a lexeme dealing with “swelling”. One of the dilemmas I always have in coining new words is if (a) the culture should have a word for it, and then (b) if it should, should it be a basic term or derived in some way. It appears that, with greater than chance frequency, natural human (or human-like) societies will all have a word for swelling, and it will be a basic term. That should make coining a word for it pretty simple!
(Oh, note on the iku: That’s an iconic representation of swelling. Why is the limb there not swollen? Because it’s the violent action [i.e. those four short little lines] that’s happening to it that’s going to cause the swelling!)