How a Takelma House was Built
Edward Sapir, The Takelma Language of Southwestern Oregon, 1912
The whole volume is here:
might be easier to read if you use the Internet archive viewer.
I think this text is interesting for several reasons:
- It’s from Sapir’s first book.
- It’s a good example of the “phrasal” style of glossing used in the early 20th century.
- The footnotes are… well, a little bonkers.
|Interlinear pages (first section)
||Takelma prose transcription
|Interlinear page upper section
|Interlinear page lower section
||Footnotes with grammatical categories, cross-references, etc
||English prose translation
Texts like this must have been real nightmares for typesetters back in the day, because you had to find the precise balance between the interlinearization and the length of the corresponding footnotes. Also, the footnotes are highly repetitive
This particular text is in an old style, sometimes referred to as “word-by-word” glossing. This style is actually quasi-readable, and you can still get at least a vague feeling for how the language works just by reading through it. If we extract all the glosses from this example it reads like a kind of quasi-English:
People house they make it. Post they set it down, and here again they
set it down, yonder again they set it down, in four places they set it
down, in four places they set them down. Then also they place (beams)
across on top thereof in four places, and on top thereof just once
they place (beam) across. Then and just house its wall they make it;
then and on top thereof they put them house boards. Sugar-pine those
boards they make them.
This syntax is largely grammatical as English. But even from this literal and rather weird translation,
you can get some feel for “where things go” in Talkema. For instance, there is clearly a similarity in structure between People house they make it and Sugar-pine those boards they make them. We can start to build up a little intuition about how clauses hang together.
Yikes, look at all these footnotes!
All the grammatical categories are spelled out in full, and they’re quite “far” from the content they’re describing in the text itself. (I can’t help but wonder if the difficulty of using footnotes like this might have led to modern glossing practices like Leipzig glossing, where abbreviations are opaque but adjacent to their referents.) Just a little excerpt here.
- Third personal subject, third personal object aorist of verb k!emēᵋn Type 3 I MAKE IT; §§ 63; 65.
p!a-i- DOWN § 37, 13; dīⁱ- § 36, 10. lōʹᵘkᵉ third personal subject, third personal object aorist of verb lōʹᵘgwᵋn Type 6 I SET IT; §§ 63; 40, 6.
- han- ACROSS § 37, 1. -gili`p’ third personal subject, third personal object aorist of verb -gilibaᵉn
- Third personal subject, third personal object aorist of verb mats!aga’ʹᵋn Type 3 1 put it; §§ 63; 40, 3.
da- § 36, 2 end; -t!aba`kᵉ third personal subject, third personal object aorist of verb -t!abagaʹᵋn Type 3
By way of comparison, this very text also appears in Sapir’s Takelma Texts, in a much simpler format akin to the previous example:
No word-level analysis here whatsoever, as is the case with the rest of that volume.