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Lesson 22
"beh" and Quantifiers

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As a standard preposition, be means to, generally in the sense of motion or impulse towards.


.marentema relena bretalEo
Follow the journey to the surface!

.rebaro KenEt ram be yESa
The bahro are good to Yeesha.

.DoKazEet b'erTpax
We are detouring to the city.

The sense of motion towards is clear in the first and third examples; in the second, the bahro direct their goodness towards Yeesha. We can also recognize that the prepositional phrase in the first sentence is adjectival (it modifies lena) while in the others it is adverbial (be yESa answers the question, "how are the bahro good?", and b'repax answers the question, "where are we detouring?").

b' should look familiar to us, since we met it very early on — as how we identify infinitive verbs. This follows English practice, where the infinitive — to write — is also identified by the presence of the preposition to.

be has one final use that is idiomatic to D'ni, and a very important feature of the language. Rather than using adverbs like very or minimally to express intensity, D'ni uses the construction b' + number word to precisely express that degree of intensity on a scale of one to twenty-five; as the number increases, so does the intensity of the modified word. Called quantifiers (or sometimes adverbs of degree), these phrases always play an adverbial function and are most commonly applied to other modifiers and to verbs.


poant bonUex b'rigasen
very (to-twenty-three) acidic saliva

.sel D'nE b'hEbor
I write D'ni passably well. (to-fifteen)

.rem'la DoKroen b'vat
The lizard is moving just a little. (to-five)

Translating quantifiers requires a bit of creativity which often depends on context, since there are no set English words for each degree of intensity. Note how the quantifier in the first example modifies the adjective bonUex, while in the other two it modifies the verb. Notice, too, how the rules for word order are still observed: the quantifier comes after the single-word adjective or after the verb's direct object as we would expect.

Sometimes, if we wish to exaggerate the degree of intensity, we can use number words greater than twenty-five.


.Kenen Kera b'fasEvat
She is extremely brave.

When a quantifier sits at either extreme of the number scale, either b'fa (meaning least) or b'fasE (meaning most), care must be taken to translate correctly. When a word is modified with b'fa, this indicates that that word's intensity is very low, present to only the smallest degree — not that it is not present, or that it is an opposite word. That is,  erTtelrov ram b'fa does not mean an evil or bad guildsman, but simply a guildsman who is good to the least degree, just a little good; he might be very pragmatic and withdrawn, only exhibiting his good side very rarely, but this does not make him evil or bad, just remote.

A different kind of difficulty may be encountered with b'fasE. To consider a slightly modified recording of Keta's speech:


.xan tAgan gen b'fasE

This sentence could be translated as I always love Gehn the most, which suggest a comparison not in the original D'ni. A better way to translate might be I always most dearly love Gehn; again, some contextual liberty in translation is often required to accurately render these D'ni quantifiers in English.

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