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Purple Cow

Posted: 03 Jan 2019 17:02
by Tuyono
I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

How do different natlangs and conlangs handle the use of "one" here?

In Hebrew you could easily leave out the first "one":

,אף-פעם לא ראיתי פרה סגולה
(אני לא מקווה לראות (אחת

ʔaf ˈpaʔam lo ʁaˈʔiti paˈʁa sguˈla
ʔaˈni lo mekaˈve lirˈʔot (aˈχat)

not.even once NEG see.PST;1SG cow purple.SG.F
1SG NEG hope.PRES.SG.M INF\see (one.F)

But you can't really use "be" without an object the same way; and while you could add the word for "one" again, it feels very unnatural to me - Hebrew doesn't use it as a placeholder the same way English does. I ended up using "such", which sounds better.
I made more changes in order to keep a similar meter in my translation (so I changed the cow into a bull because it's a shorter word).

,עוד לא ראיתי פר סגול
;אני גם לא כל-כך רוצה
אבל עדיף אחרי הכל
!לראות ולא להיות כזה

/ʔod lo ʁaˈʔiti paʁ saˈgol
ʔani gam lo kol-kaχ rot͡se
aˈval aˈdif aχˈʁej haˈkol
liʁˈʔot veˈlo liˈjot kaˈze/

still NEG see.PST;1SG bull prurple[SG.M]
1.SG also NEG so_much want.PRES.SG.M
but preferrable[SG.M] after all
INF\see and=NEG INF\be like=this.M

I still haven't seen a purple bull,
I don't really want to, either;
But it's better, after all,
To see and not to be such (a thing)!

Re: Purple Cow

Posted: 03 Jan 2019 21:05
by Salmoneus
Bah humbug - I was just about to recite the sequel poem, and you went and linked it...

Re: Purple Cow

Posted: 03 Jan 2019 23:20
by Reyzadren
:con: griuskant (without the conscript)

aesk uvzaei shur skuya jiska.
/'esk 'uvzˤei 'ʃur 'skuja 'dʒiska/
1SG also NEG want-V see-V
I never hope to see one;

aesk il koena jiska zhur daega.
/'esk 'il 'kɯna 'dʒiska ʒur 'dega/
1SG more shall-V see-V than become-V
I'd rather see than be one.

Re: Purple Cow

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 03:55
by Imralu
:con: Ngolu / Iliaqu

To be completely literal and unpoetic:

Ti kaua xevas eni u eluamumu moigabo.
Kaua boka xeva u eni.
Mie mue zoi eui nu lo ga
Toi hue mulas eni zuo xeva u eni lo nia zuo gu nu.

PRF never be.seen DAT.1S.ICS NOM.3S.NSPC.ANIM bovine purple
never be.hoped be.seen NOM.3S.NSPC.ANIM DAT.1S.ICS

I've never seen a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see one than be one.

Re: Purple Cow

Posted: 06 Jan 2019 12:27
by Iyionaku
:chn: Mandarin

Obviously, I'm completely literal and unpoetic. I'm glad if it's correct and natural at least.


Wŏ cónglái méi jiànguò yītóu zĭsè de niú,
xīwàng jiānglái bù kànjiàn yītóu,
dànshì wŏ gàosù nĭ, wúlùn fāshēng,
yě yŭqí shì yītóu, wŏ nìngkě kàn yītóu.

1SG never NEG.PST see-EXP one-CL purple GEN cow,
hope in_the_future NEG see-COMPL one-CL
but 1SG tell 2SG, no_matter_what happen
also before COP one-CL, 1SG rather see one-CL

I have never seen a purple cow,
I hope I will never see one,
but I tell you, no matter what happens,
before I am one, I'd rather see one.


I added 发生 (to happen) in the third line because I couldn't figure out how to let a word like "anyhow" stand on its own in Chinese, so I returned to a structure I'm familiar with. I'm not sure about all the 一头, propably they could be dropped.