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Jáhkarrá: Politeness
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Polite expressions in Jáhkarrá
This public article was written by Hastrica on 5 Jan 2019, 10:30.

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 Jáhkarrá has several methods of indicating politeness, and all of them involve some sort of indirection.

- Present tentative imperative
- Future tentative imperative
- Future indicative question
- Present indicative tentative question
- Permissive question
- Antipassive constructions

The language makes very little use of titles or honorifics, and grammatical person plays no role whatsoever in expressing politeness. There is one general purpose honorific suffix, -iss, that is only used when making formal announcements or when speaking about a person of high status while they are present. There are no other forms of honorific reference to third persons.

Using a tentative imperative is the most basic level of politeness. This can be done either with the present or future imperative. The present tentative imperative ("please do") is common among friends, siblings and in relationships, while the future imperative ("you will probably do") is slightly more distant and would be used with colleagues or people of the same rank one knows well.

An alternative are speaker-centered questions in the future indicative, present indicative tentative or permissive. These often involve a different verb or a rephrasing of the sentence to change the point of reference to the speaker, for example hoaid, monaid, huoŋŋaid "have, receive, grasp". Another possibility is to use the illative on the desired object, together with heaid "be" in the appropriate verb form, yielding the slightly Polandballish construction "be into X". Of these, the present indicative tentative is the least polite, roughly on par with the present tentative imperative, while the other two are the default way to phrase requests to people one does not know. With addressees of higher rank, such as your boss, a police officer or old people, the permissive is much more common than the indicative.

Speaker-centric questions that ask for an action to be performed (and thus have a sentence as their desired object) make use of an infinite construction with the verb in the infinitive, which is the usual way Jáhkarrá handles complement clauses.

Another level of politeness involves the antipassive in addition to the abovementioned speaker-centric questions. The antipassive demotes the object of a transitive verb to a local complement. A polite antipassive reintroduces the desired object in the allative or comitative. These forms are heard most often together with future indicative; in the permissive they express the maximum level of politeness, rare except in very formal circumstances such as addressing the High Chieftess, a foreign ambassador or in prayers to the spirits.

Let's illustrate the various levels with the pass-the-salt examples:

(1) Hoastanano gicceharru. (plain imperative)
hoa-st-a-na-n-o gicceha-rru
have-CAUSCausative (valency/mood)
cause an action to occur, force another argument to act
-TRANSTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.OBJObject (argument)-2SSecond person singular (person)
addressee (you)
.SUBSubject (argument)-IMPImperative (mood)
command
salt-COMComitative (case)
'together with'
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity

"Give me the salt."

This sentence could be said to your best friend or sister, without any politeness.

(2) Hoastananejo gicceharru. (present tentative imperative)
hoa-st-a-na-n-e-jo gicceha-rru
have-CAUSCausative (valency/mood)
cause an action to occur, force another argument to act
-TRANSTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.OBJObject (argument)-2SSecond person singular (person)
addressee (you)
.SUBSubject (argument)-TNTTentative
weakens modality (e.g. must → should)
-IMPImperative (mood)
command
salt-COMComitative (case)
'together with'
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity

"Please give me the salt."

Also possible in the situation above, but also acceptable when eating out with friends or to your spouse, as a basic way of being nice.

(3) Hoastadananejo gicceharru. (future tentative imperative)
hoa-st-a-da-na-n-e-jo gicceha-rru
have-CAUSCausative (valency/mood)
cause an action to occur, force another argument to act
-TRANSTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-FUTFuture (tense)
action occurring after the moment of speech
-1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.OBJObject (argument)-2SSecond person singular (person)
addressee (you)
.SUBSubject (argument)-TNTTentative
weakens modality (e.g. must → should)
-IMPImperative (mood)
command
salt-COMComitative (case)
'together with'
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity

"Could you give me the salt, please?"

This would be said to someone you work with, or someone you meet occasionally but know only superficially.

(4) Giccehea monaiveci? (future indicative tentative question)
gicceh-ea mon-a-i-ve-ci
salt-ACCAccusative (case)
TRANS direct object; patient
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
receive-TRANSTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.OBJObject (argument).1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.SUBSubject (argument)-TNTTentative
weakens modality (e.g. must → should)
-QInterrogative
question

"Please give me the salt."

Works in the same situations as (2).

(5) Giccehea monadaici? (present indicative tentative question)
gicceh-ea mon-a-da-i-ci
salt-ACCAccusative (case)
TRANS direct object; patient
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
receive-TRANSTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-FUTFuture (tense)
action occurring after the moment of speech
-3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.OBJObject (argument).1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.SUBSubject (argument)-QInterrogative
question

"Could you give me the salt, please?"

Can replace (3), but is also applicable when talking to complete strangers.

(6) Giccehea monaŧaici? (permissive question)
gicceh-ea mon-a-ŧa-i-ci
salt-ACCAccusative (case)
TRANS direct object; patient
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
receive-TRANSTransitive (valency)
has two arguments
-PERMPermissive (mood)
the action is permitted
-3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.OBJObject (argument).1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.SUBSubject (argument)-QInterrogative
question

"May I please have the salt?"

Quite polite, this would be said to your boss you're having dinner with.

(7) Moneiveci giccehará? (future indicative tentative question, allative antipassive)
mon-e-i-ve-ci gicceha-rá
receive-ANTIPAntipassive voice (valency)
valency is decreased by one
-3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.OBJObject (argument).1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.SUBSubject (argument)-QInterrogative
question
salt-ALLAllative (case)
'to, onto'
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity

"Could you maybe give me the salt, if it's not too much to ask?"

Very polite. Said to a noble by a servant, for example.

(8) Moneŧaiveci giccehará? (permissive question, allative antipassive)
mon-e-ŧa-i-ve-ci gicceha-rá
receive-ANTIPAntipassive voice (valency)
valency is decreased by one
-PERMPermissive (mood)
the action is permitted
-3SThird person singular (person)
neither speaker nor addressee
.OBJObject (argument).1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
.SUBSubject (argument)-QInterrogative
question
salt-ALLAllative (case)
'to, onto'
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity

"Could you maybe give me the salt, if it's not too much to ask, please?"

Hard to distinguish from (7) and practically never heard today, this is as polite as it gets.

Also:

(9) Gicceharahajo.
gicceha-ra-h-aj-o
salt-ALLAllative (case)
'to, onto'
.SGSingular (number)
one countable entity
-be-1SFirst person singular (person)
speaker, signer, etc.; I
-IMPImperative (mood)
command

"Give me the salt."

Literally "let me be into the salt". This is an alternative to (1), but since it includes the verb "to be" as a postbase, it can be inflected for any of the politeness levels above,
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