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Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 06 May 2020 13:39
by Salmoneus
Dormouse559 wrote:
06 May 2020 04:02
Salmoneus wrote:
06 May 2020 01:34
"Than" actually started as an adverb, back in Old English. But I suspect it very quickly merged with "tha", which was used in comparisons exactly as "than" is now, and perhaps with "thone", the accusative form of 'the', which came to be used as a relative pronoun.
I left this out, but as I understand it, "than" comes from Old English þonne, which is the etymon of both "than" and "then". "Þonne" had both adverb and conjunction meanings, and the two senses were eventually split off onto different variants.
Yes, but the adverbial meaning is older, hence the adverbial form of the word (the -ne ending).

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 08 May 2020 12:37
by Omzinesý
I have heard that in Chinese clause like: [man] [eat] [fish] can be interpreted either 'The man ate a fish.' or 'The man was eaten by a fish.'
Is it so?

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 08 May 2020 19:50
by Ser
Omzinesý wrote:
08 May 2020 12:37
I have heard that in Chinese clause like: [man] [eat] [fish] can be interpreted either 'The man ate a fish.' or 'The man was eaten by a fish.'
Is it so?
No. "Man eat fish" can only mean "the man/men eat fish" (or "are eating", "were eating"... could also be either multiple fish or one fish).

What you were told is a badly mangled form of a classic example in Chinese linguistics of the topic-comment construction, and how it creates ambiguities in interpretation, namely:

魚還沒吃啊。
yú hái méi chī a
fish still not.PAST eat SFP
'The fish haven't eaten yet.'
'The fish haven't been eaten yet.'

In the first interpretation, 魚 yú is syntactically either a topic or subject, and either way it is also the subject of 吃 chī 'to eat', so the fish haven't eaten any of their food. Meanwhile, in the second interpretation, 魚 yú is a topic, and also the object of 吃 chī, so it says that the unstated subject of the verb (Mandarin is a pro-drop language) has not eaten the fish yet.

(SFP here is "sentence final particle". 啊 can add many kinds of meanings depending on context, softening the statement, or expressing agreement with a similar previous statement, or adding a good mood to the statement, or a surprised tone, or depending on how it is said maybe a lazy tone... You see why I simply gloss it as "SFP"?)

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 09 May 2020 14:33
by Vlürch
sangi39 wrote:
04 May 2020 19:15
That's about the best I've managed, but I'm really not sure about any of it.
qwed117 wrote:
04 May 2020 21:21
This wordreference thread appears to indicate that it came from an Middle Eastern wanderwort that came into Arabic and was borrowed into Persian
Thanks, good to know that it's actually uncertain haha! It's always interesting to learn when words have uncertain etymologies with more than one possibility.

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 12 May 2020 13:22
by Omzinesý
Ser wrote:
08 May 2020 19:50
Omzinesý wrote:
08 May 2020 12:37
I have heard that in Chinese clause like: [man] [eat] [fish] can be interpreted either 'The man ate a fish.' or 'The man was eaten by a fish.'
Is it so?
No. "Man eat fish" can only mean "the man/men eat fish" (or "are eating", "were eating"... could also be either multiple fish or one fish).

What you were told is a badly mangled form of a classic example in Chinese linguistics of the topic-comment construction, and how it creates ambiguities in interpretation, namely:

魚還沒吃啊。
yú hái méi chī a
fish still not.PAST eat SFP
'The fish haven't eaten yet.'
'The fish haven't been eaten yet.'

In the first interpretation, 魚 yú is syntactically either a topic or subject, and either way it is also the subject of 吃 chī 'to eat', so the fish haven't eaten any of their food. Meanwhile, in the second interpretation, 魚 yú is a topic, and also the object of 吃 chī, so it says that the unstated subject of the verb (Mandarin is a pro-drop language) has not eaten the fish yet.

(SFP here is "sentence final particle". 啊 can add many kinds of meanings depending on context, softening the statement, or expressing agreement with a similar previous statement, or adding a good mood to the statement, or a surprised tone, or depending on how it is said maybe a lazy tone... You see why I simply gloss it as "SFP"?)
Thank you!

I cannot question the understanding of the one who said that. Maybe I just remember wrong. Or maybe they spoke about some "dialect".

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 12 May 2020 17:00
by Ser
Omzinesý wrote:
12 May 2020 13:22
I cannot question the understanding of the one who said that. Maybe I just remember wrong. Or maybe they spoke about some "dialect".
By "classic example" I meant that it's a common example when the topic of topicalization comes up. Like how in English linguistics "the man that I saw yesterday's (hat)" is a common example about 's scope, or in French linguistics, "une tasse de/à thé" for purpose à, or in Arabic linguistics "Muhammad's house" when talking about the various strategies for possession... I don't think there's any Chinese dialect that allows OVS sentences so I think someone here is misremembering something. Image

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 18 May 2020 04:55
by Ser
Salmoneus wrote:
28 Apr 2020 21:31
All4Ɇn wrote:
28 Apr 2020 19:33
KaiTheHomoSapien wrote:
28 Apr 2020 18:44
There are a lot of instances of reduplication in English where the first element contains /ɪ/ and the second contains some other vowel (often /æ/ or /ɑ/), so-called "ablaut reduplication".

For example: wishy-washy, mish-mash, bric-a-brac, pitter-patter, flip-flop, chit-chat, hip-hop, etc.

Is there any "explanation" for why the pattern is high vowel first/low vowel second?
Not only does this distinction involve high vowel/low vowel but also front-central-back. There are several terms in English where instead of it being 2 words with the pattern /ɪ~i æ~ɑ/, it's 3 words with the pattern /ɪ~i æ~ɑ u~ʌ~o/ such as tic-tac-toe or Big Bad Wolf (which even goes against the typical English rules for adjective order).
I don't see the relevance of the second one - 'big bad wolf' is just some ordinary words in a story. If you pick any three words from a fairy time, eventually you'll get the pattern you want. ("Once upon a time" and "happily ever after" don't follow any obvious pattern!). And how does it go against the typical rules? Size adjectives typically precede other adjectives - hence the opening song of Reservoir Dogs has someone singing about a "little green bag", not a "green little bag". Cf little red riding hood. It's true that adjectives of estimation can come first ("nice little place you have here!"), but often not ("There's a small bad apple in the barrel", not *bad small apple). And 'big bad' has the same order as similar phrases like 'big horrible...', 'big scary...', 'big ugly...', etc Come to think of it, is it just 'little' that can violate this rule?
Well, the way this rule is usually taught to learners, "opinion/evaluative" adjectives like "bad" go first. See this page from dictionary.cambridge.org, for example. So that makes "big bad wolf" slightly surprising, although I agree that size often sounds alright in first place anyway, including before an opinion adjective.

Regardless of the validity of that ESL rule, I think ee-ah-oh is a real phonaesthetic pattern though. I think the metaphor is a high/strident beginning (ee), crescendo (ah) and conclusion (oh/oo). There may be some childish connotation to it too. Further examples beyond Big Bad Wolf and Tic-Tac-Toe would be:

Eeeny-meeny miny moe.

I am the Great Mighty Poo,
And I'm going to throw my sh*t at you.
(From the song of a silly boss battle in the Nintendo 64 videogame Conker's Bad Fur Day, by Rareware)

Somewhere out there,
If love can see us through,
Then we'll be together
Somewhere out there,
Out where dreams come true.
(Somewhere Out There, from the soundtrack of the Universal children's animated movie An American Tail)

You may reasonably argue I've just looked for examples here, and that tons of other songs may much more easily found that don't have this, but subjectively, psychologically the pattern feels so right and sensical to me...

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 18 May 2020 06:30
by Pabappa
"Bad apple" is not an opinionative adjective..... it means the apple is spoiled, something everyone will agree on. Other than that I agree with your post .... in fact I was looking for this thread earlier. Those rules may explain why brave new world sounded so wrong to me when I was a kid, but now I wouldn't say it any other way.

One other pair I thought of .... great big idea vs big great idea ... as in, "Okaaaaay.... so what's this big GREAT IDEA of yours that's going to solve our wiring problems? " but I'm not satisfied, because great big is a tightly bound phrase and is not usually used as a sum of parts.

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 20 May 2020 14:47
by Omzinesý
Are Greek compounds head final or head initial?

It seems to me that δημοκρατία (demokratía) is head final (people's power) while φιλοσοφία (philosophía) is head initial (love of knowledge).

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 20 May 2020 16:07
by Pabappa
Yeah, Ive never understood that myself. Head-final is clearly the dominant pattern, as with most of IE, but those philo- words defy the trend. The same pattern exists with miso-, "hater of", though its possible a lot of the coinages with that prefix are modern. Its possible that the Greek -o- is just more flexible than other IE languages' compound joiners .... I remember reading that at least in Modern Greek, there are Japanese-style compounds like "man and wife" using -o-, for which the proper term is apparently "dvandva", suggesting Sanskrit also had them.

https://lisatravis2012.wordpress.com/20 ... ern-greek/

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 23 May 2020 19:02
by Pabappa
Looking over it again, the Cambridge site really only is helpful for inanimates. It doesnt tell us, for example, how to order the adjectives if you wanted to say something like "a short happy boy". Which led me to realize it doesnt always work for inanimates either, because we personify things, and because adjectives can also be attributive. Which is proper, "a sad short story" or "a short sad story"? I say both, with slightly different connotations. And since "short story" can be parsed as an atomic unit, i could also swap in "a sad short movie" ~ "a short sad movie". I'd lean towards the second here, but the first wouldnt be wrong if I wanted to emphasize that the movie made me feel sad.

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 24 May 2020 20:01
by Omzinesý
How does resources thread work nowadays.

Anyways, does anybody know interesting materials on linguistic history of Iranian languages?
Preferably from PIE to modern languages, because my understanding of Proto-Indo-Iranian is very scattered too.

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 28 May 2020 10:45
by Vlürch
Not sure whether to post this question in this thread or the conlang one, but considering it's about reconstruction and not for the purposes of conlanging but rather just general interest, I think it kinda fits better here?

If Finnish had a native word for shame, what would it be? I mean, obviously at least back in Proto-Finnic there must've been one before it was replaced by the Germanic loanword häpeä, but considering how long ago it was replaced, the pre-Germanic word is obviously not attested.

It seems like it'd end up being *vatsa, which is identical to the word for stomach... but is that actually what it would be? The bits and pieces of the sound changes seem to correspond leading to that, but I have to question it especially since, even if the two were originally not homophones, I don't think it could have avoided becoming homophonous with *waća ("stomach") for long. That is if *waća ever even existed to begin with, considering the etymology of Finnic *vacca is apparently uncertain; there is a possible cognate in Udmurt according to Starostin's site, but it's not mentioned in any of the online Udmurt dictionaries I can find (the closest I got is васям apparently meaning "hungry").

The words being homophones could explain why the Finnic languages borrowed the Germanic word for shame, but I mean, tons of core vocabulary was also replaced for seemingly no reason, so...

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 28 May 2020 13:37
by Salmoneus
Vlürch wrote:
28 May 2020 10:45
If Finnish had a native word for shame, what would it be? I mean, obviously at least back in Proto-Finnic there must've been one
How is that obvious? "Shame" is a classic example of a thick moral concept - it's a complicated concept that only exists within a particular culture and is extremely difficult to translate. Indeed, I'd say it's only just hanging on to existence in modern Western culture (philosophers have a concept of shame, and psychologists, and those concerned with history and historical literature, but I think most people at least in the UK have no real conscious shame-concept anymore, as distinct from other related concepts).

Every language will of course have words addressing social concerns and emotional experiences within broad areas, but the division of those areas into specific concepts is culture-dependent (just as, for example, all languages have a word to describe a blue colour, but how many words, and which hues exactly are included, and whether for example 'blue' is also the word for green, vary with the language).

In the case of shame, it lives in a crowded area. Every culture will have words to describe feeling bad about things that have happened, and yet at least partially responsible for them. But whether there is a word for "shame", as distinct from "guilt", "regret", "embarrassment", "dishonour", "self-loathing", "ambition" (to do better), "sadness", "vulnerability", "immodesty" and so on is much more questionable.
It seems like it'd end up being *vatsa, which is identical to the word for stomach... but is that actually what it would be? The bits and pieces of the sound changes seem to correspond leading to that, but I have to question it especially since, even if the two were originally not homophones, I don't think it could have avoided becoming homophonous with *waća ("stomach") for long. That is if *waća ever even existed to begin with, considering the etymology of Finnic *vacca is apparently uncertain; there is a possible cognate in Udmurt according to Starostin's site, but it's not mentioned in any of the online Udmurt dictionaries I can find (the closest I got is васям apparently meaning "hungry").
I don't understand. You sound as though you already know what the Proto-Finnish for 'shame' was and how it would evolve? So what's the question here?

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 28 May 2020 14:52
by Vlürch
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 13:37
How is that obvious? "Shame" is a classic example of a thick moral concept - it's a complicated concept that only exists within a particular culture and is extremely difficult to translate. Indeed, I'd say it's only just hanging on to existence in modern Western culture (philosophers have a concept of shame, and psychologists, and those concerned with history and historical literature, but I think most people at least in the UK have no real conscious shame-concept anymore, as distinct from other related concepts).
Wait, are you saying people in the UK don't feel shame for things they've done or for historical wrongdoing? [:O] I mean, most Finns don't want to acknowledge the dark stuff in our country's past either so I get that, but those that do acknowledge it are ashamed of it (or at least I am, more and more as I learn more about history). I won't argue the politics of that, it's just that shame is what's felt for that kind of stuff even without a sense of collective guilt.
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 13:37
In the case of shame, it lives in a crowded area. Every culture will have words to describe feeling bad about things that have happened, and yet at least partially responsible for them. But whether there is a word for "shame", as distinct from "guilt", "regret", "embarrassment", "dishonour", "self-loathing", "ambition" (to do better), "sadness", "vulnerability", "immodesty" and so on is much more questionable.
Well, I don't necessarily mean a word that corresponds perfectly to the English word "shame" because like you said, these concepts won't map 100% clearly between any two languages, but generally a word for anything within the wider concept that includes most of what you just listed.
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 13:37
I don't understand. You sound as though you already know what the Proto-Finnish for 'shame' was and how it would evolve? So what's the question here?
That was just speculation based on the Proto-Uralic *waćV with sound changes applied to how it could be in modern Finnish... but I'm not sure about the sound changes either, so that's a big part of the question. It's also possible that there might be some obscure archaic word in Finnish that's simply no longer used, or in Estonian, etc. I tried to look for one but couldn't find any, which is why I looked at other Uralic languages and Proto-Uralic.

Anything relating to reconstruction is speculation to some degree, but there are different degrees of certanity and professionalism to it. It could totally be that, had the Proto-Uralic word not been replaced in Finnic, the sound changes leading to modern Finnish would be different from my attempt. There could be some detailed rules to how some specific sound changes affect each other that I'm not aware of; I just compared the correspondences to piece together a hypothetical descendant of the Proto-Uralic word, but it could well be that some wider sound change would invalidate that. If I'm sucking at explaining what I mean, I just mean there are correspondences that would point to a hypothetical *vatsa but it could also be *vatse, or maybe something else if the sound changes go differently.

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 28 May 2020 20:24
by Salmoneus
Vlürch wrote:
28 May 2020 14:52
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 13:37
How is that obvious? "Shame" is a classic example of a thick moral concept - it's a complicated concept that only exists within a particular culture and is extremely difficult to translate. Indeed, I'd say it's only just hanging on to existence in modern Western culture (philosophers have a concept of shame, and psychologists, and those concerned with history and historical literature, but I think most people at least in the UK have no real conscious shame-concept anymore, as distinct from other related concepts).
Wait, are you saying people in the UK don't feel shame for things they've done or for historical wrongdoing? [:O]
No, I'm saying that 'shame' is a classic example of a thick moral concept that only exists within a particular culture and is extremely difficult to translate; furthermore, I'd say it's only just hanging on to existence in modern Western culture, outside of specialist subjects.

In other words, the question of whether Bob feels shame over something clearly isn't a question that has an objective answer. Bob feels something, but there is no objective truth of whether what he feels is 'shame' (or equivalent to 'shame') or not. Different languages will describe it differently.
Obviously, people feel bad about things they've done. But I don't think most people really distinguish shame as a coherent category of bad sentiment.

Shame is arguably having a bit of a comeback, due to the increasing popularity of 'shaming'. But although the word is used, at least as a verb, I'm not sure it's really a coherent concept here (I think most people use it just as a nicer way of saying 'publically guilt-trip'). For instance, if you ask people "can you describe an occasion when it would be right to publically shame a person for something they did but that they should not feel guilty about?", I suspect most people could not give an example. But of course, if you asked the same question of people throughout most of European history, they'd have no trouble answering it, because for them, shame and guilt were two different feelings.

And as for historical wrongdoing by others - sure, the word 'shame' is found now and then, but actually no, I don't think it's talked about much. I think both sides of the debate are more likely to use concepts like guilt, regret and debt, rather than shame. Indeed, the idea of feeling shame over the actions of other people is strange to me - I can easily be embarassed by a parent's actions, for example, but I don't think I could be ashamed of them. I agree, of course, that shame for the actions of others is a prototypical element of the shame concept... but that just means, I think, that my instinctive shame concept is, like most people's, rather limited and largely in the process of merging with guilt.
I mean, most Finns don't want to acknowledge the dark stuff in our country's past either so I get that, but those that do acknowledge it are ashamed of it (or at least I am, more and more as I learn more about history). I won't argue the politics of that, it's just that shame is what's felt for that kind of stuff even without a sense of collective guilt.
Oh, well, if you have italics on your side, I can't see how I can rebut that!
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 13:37
In the case of shame, it lives in a crowded area. Every culture will have words to describe feeling bad about things that have happened, and yet at least partially responsible for them. But whether there is a word for "shame", as distinct from "guilt", "regret", "embarrassment", "dishonour", "self-loathing", "ambition" (to do better), "sadness", "vulnerability", "immodesty" and so on is much more questionable.
Well, I don't necessarily mean a word that corresponds perfectly to the English word "shame" because like you said, these concepts won't map 100% clearly between any two languages, but generally a word for anything within the wider concept that includes most of what you just listed.
Well, "the wider concept" there is just "feeling bad", so you've gone from one end of the specificity scale to the other!

Anything relating to reconstruction is speculation to some degree, but there are different degrees of certanity and professionalism to it. It could totally be that, had the Proto-Uralic word not been replaced in Finnic, the sound changes leading to modern Finnish would be different from my attempt. There could be some detailed rules to how some specific sound changes affect each other that I'm not aware of; I just compared the correspondences to piece together a hypothetical descendant of the Proto-Uralic word, but it could well be that some wider sound change would invalidate that. If I'm sucking at explaining what I mean, I just mean there are correspondences that would point to a hypothetical *vatsa but it could also be *vatse, or maybe something else if the sound changes go differently.
So your real question is "what are the sound-changes from Proto-Uralic to Finnish?", then?

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 29 May 2020 00:48
by Ser
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 20:24
Shame is arguably having a bit of a comeback, due to the increasing popularity of 'shaming'. But although the word is used, at least as a verb, I'm not sure it's really a coherent concept here (I think most people use it just as a nicer way of saying 'publically guilt-trip'). For instance, if you ask people "can you describe an occasion when it would be right to publically shame a person for something they did but that they should not feel guilty about?", I suspect most people could not give an example. But of course, if you asked the same question of people throughout most of European history, they'd have no trouble answering it, because for them, shame and guilt were two different feelings.

And as for historical wrongdoing by others - sure, the word 'shame' is found now and then, but actually no, I don't think it's talked about much. I think both sides of the debate are more likely to use concepts like guilt, regret and debt, rather than shame. Indeed, the idea of feeling shame over the actions of other people is strange to me - I can easily be embarassed by a parent's actions, for example, but I don't think I could be ashamed of them. I agree, of course, that shame for the actions of others is a prototypical element of the shame concept... but that just means, I think, that my instinctive shame concept is, like most people's, rather limited and largely in the process of merging with guilt.
This is a fascinating discussion, and it reminds me of the common observation among learners of Spanish of how hard it is to translate verguenza ajena into English. The difficulty largely lies on that concept being a type of actual shame, as English lacks an adequate equivalent of it. Interestingly, the fallacy that it can be translated as simply "shame" doesn't show up here, as verguenza by itself is equivalent to the guilt-like concept of the contemporary English word "shame", and learners do notice verguenza ajena refers to a different concept.

This also makes me wonder whether the typical Japanese attitude towards the rape and pillage of Nanjing during WWII is more often than not misunderstood as denial or revisionism or believing it did not happen as opposed to a matter of shame in the philosophical/psychological sense (although I'm sure there are some of them who deny it). That is, guilt over the immoralities of that terrible event, combined with shame to be reminded of it or be portrayed with it.

Re: (L&N) Q&A Thread - Quick questions go here

Posted: 29 May 2020 01:47
by Xonen
Vlürch wrote:
28 May 2020 14:52
Salmoneus wrote:
28 May 2020 13:37
How is that obvious? "Shame" is a classic example of a thick moral concept - it's a complicated concept that only exists within a particular culture and is extremely difficult to translate. Indeed, I'd say it's only just hanging on to existence in modern Western culture (philosophers have a concept of shame, and psychologists, and those concerned with history and historical literature, but I think most people at least in the UK have no real conscious shame-concept anymore, as distinct from other related concepts).
Wait, are you saying people in the UK don't feel shame for things they've done or for historical wrongdoing? [:O] I mean, most Finns don't want to acknowledge the dark stuff in our country's past either so I get that, but those that do acknowledge it are ashamed of it (or at least I am, more and more as I learn more about history). I won't argue the politics of that, it's just that shame is what's felt for that kind of stuff even without a sense of collective guilt.
Well, I'm not ashamed, and the whole notion strikes me as rather weird. Why should I be ashamed for the actions of a some of the people who lived in this country long before I was even born? It's not like I chose to be born into it or anything. So, this form of shame certainly strikes me as culturally or even ideologically specific.

That being said, I do suspect tribalism is pretty much universal among humans, so collective feelings concerning the accomplishments of one's tribe might to an extent be that as well. Still, this kind of collective shame might take different forms in different cultures – and it's certainly different from individual shame, even if modern-day Finnish and English happen to use the same word for both.

In any case, as Sal points out, there are several words even just in modern English for closely related concepts, and it's entirely reasonable to assume that, while most human cultures might have concepts that broadly correspond to these, the exact number of words used and the division of semantic fields between them might have been wildly different for a tribe of stone-age hunter-gatherers. That is, Proto-Uralic might very well have had a word, or several words, that you could broadly translate as "shame", "guilt", "regret", "embarrassment", "dishonour" etc. – but almost certainly not a different exactly corresponding word for each of these.

The concept of shaming actually brings up an interesting possible parallel: I've seen people adapt it into Finnish as "sheimaus". Sure, you could use "häpäisy" or whatever, but such existing words have existing connotations which don't correspond exactly to the modern phenomenon. And since the modern phenomenon (like a lot of other modern phenomena) has been introduced to Finns through English, it's the English term that gets used. It's difficult to know exactly what the situation was between speakers of Proto-Germanic and (pre-)Proto-Finnic, but something similar could very well have happened here.

As for Proto-Uralic *waćV... I don't have my books at my current residence, but apparently, the very existence of the phoneme /ć/ is highly uncertain. Unless it's an alternate reconstruction for /ś/? In any case, Finnish /ts/ usually corresponds to earlier */čč/; single affricates and sibilants yield either /t/, /s/ or /h/. So as far as I can tell, the expected form should be something like **"vata", **"vasa", **"vasi" or whatever.