Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

avair num

German “heißen” is translated in Romansh as “avair num”, literally, “to have name”.

The basic meaning of “heißen” is “to be called”, so the Romansh equivalent makes sense: “Co avais Vus num? Jau hai num Chatrina.” (How have You name? I have name Chatrina = What are you called? I’m called Catherine.)

However, I’ve also seen “avair num” used in at least two ways corresponding to figurative senses of “heißen”:

First, in situations such as “ussa hai num lavurar”, literally “now has-it name work”, which seems to mean “now it’s time to work; now is the time to work; what needs to be done now is work”, parallel to German “jetzt heißt es arbeiten”.

And second, in situations such as “en ses cudesh hai num che…”, literally “in his book has-it name that…”, for “in his book it says that…”, parallel to German “in seinem Buch heißt es, dass”.

When I first saw such constructions, I thought they were maybe something an L2 learner had produced under the influence of their L1, but having seen that a few times, I wonder whether L1 speakers actually say that these days. Interesting, if so, where the meaning is broadened under the influence of the range of meaning of the translation in another language.

(Another, vaguely similar thing I saw today: “‘Bla bla bla,’ uschia X Y” for “‘Bla bla bla,’ according to X Y/said X Y”, parallel to the German construction “‘Bla bla bla,’ so X Y”. Which seems perfectly normal to me in German, but the Romansh construction looked odd at first glance. Funny how I kind of expect different languages to “feel” different.)

Tags: romansh
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