Friulian language series: Gjenesi 11:1-9, torate di Babêl

This post continues your study of the Friulian language as used in the book of Genesis; you will now begin reading the eleventh chapter, where the subject is la torate di Babêl (tower of Babel). In this post, you will examine verses 1-9. The two posts pertaining to chapter 11 can be found here.

If you are arriving on this site for the first time, begin your study of the Friulian language here.

Read Gjenesi 11:1-9

To read the Friulian text of the Bible associated with the notes below or listen to its audio, visit Bibie par un popul and consult Gjenesi 11:1-9. An archived version of the text can be found here.

Verset 1

As you have seen before, the verb fevelâ means to speak. You have also studied the verb fevelâ in the present indicative as a model for verbs ending in â in their infinitive form (see the notes at verse 8 on the linked page).

In the current verse, you find fevelâ used in its masculine, third-person singular form of the imperfet indicatîf, which is al fevelave.

dut il mont al fevelave la stesse lenghe
the whole world spoke (was speaking) the same language; the whole world used to speak the same language

The imperfet indicatîf conveys the ongoing nature of an action in the past. Al fevelave communicates the sense of was speaking, used to speak. That said, English would more typically simply say spoke here, but with the understanding that the speaking was of an ongoing nature. Observe the following:

al fevelave
he was speaking
he used to speak

al fevelà
he spoke

al à fevelât
he has spoken
he spoke

The verb doprâ means to use. In this verse, you also find this verb used in its masculine, third-person singular form of the imperfet indicatîf, which is al doprave.

dut il mont al doprave lis stessis peraulis
the whole world used (was using) the same words; the whole world used to use the same words

The Friulian for word is la peraule.

Observe these pairs, using the Friulian for same:

la stesse lenghe
the same language
lis stessis lenghis
the same languages

il stes risultât
the same result
i stes risultâts
the same results

Take some time now to study the conjugation chart below, showing the verb fevelâ conjugated in the imperfet indicatîf. For this tense, you can use this conjugation as your model for verbs ending in â in their infinitive form.

Imperfet indicatîf
Imperfect indicative

o fevelavi
tu fevelavis
al fevelave

e fevelave

o fevelavin
o fevelavis
a fevelavin

Verset 2

You will perhaps recall the use of soreli jevât (east; literally, risen sun) from Gjenesi 2:8. In the current verse, you find soreli jevât used in the expression plaçâsi a soreli jevât. The reflexive verb plaçâsi means to position oneself, to place oneself. In the context of this verse, you can understand it as meaning to settle.

si plaçarin a soreli jevât
they settled in the east
(literally, they placed themselves in the east)

The Friulian la concje means valley, basin. Rivâ tune concje, then, means to arrive at a valley (literally, to arrive in a valley). You will remember that intune or tune is a contraction of in + une.

In Gjenesi 10, you saw that the Friulian Senaar (placename) is equivalent to the English Shinar.

The reflexive verb fermâsi translates literally as to stop oneself. It can be taken here in the sense of to settle.

si fermarin li
they stopped there
they settled there

Verset 3

This verse begins with the expression dîsi un cul altri, meaning to say to one another, where un cul altri translates literally as one with the other.

si diserin un cul altri
they said to one another

Dai as used in this verse is an interjection meaning come on, go to.

The Friulian il modon means brick. Fâ modons, then, translates as to make bricks.

The reflexive verb metisi translates literally as to put oneself, to set oneself. For example, to put oneself to work can be rendered in Friulian as metisi a lavorâ. Metisi a fâ modons, as found in this verse, translates literally as to put oneself to making bricks. More precisely, you read:

dai, metìnsi a fâ modons
come, let us make bricks
(literally, let us put [set] ourselves to making bricks)

Metìn is the first-person plural imperative form of the verb meti. Metìnsi is its reflexive equivalent.

let us put!

let us put ourselves!

This is not the first time that you are seeing the si ending in the imperative. You have already seen it in multiplicaitsi, from Gjenesi 1:28. Multiplicait is the second-person plural imperative form of the verb multiplicâ. Multiplicaitsi is its reflexive equivalent.


multiply yourselves!

The verb cuei means to cook; cueiju, then, means to cook them.

metìnsi […] a cueiju tal fûc
let us cook them in the fire

The Friulian il fûc means fire.

You will perhaps recall that impen di means in place of.

a dopravin il modon impen dal clap
they used (were using) brick in place of stone

a dopravin il catram impen de malte
they used (were using) pitch in place of mortar

In the above, il clap means stone; il catram is tar, pitch; and la malte is mortar.

You will have recognised a dopravin as being the third-person plural of the imperfet indicatîf of the verb doprâ.


al fevelave
he was speaking; used to speak
al doprave
he was using; used to use

a fevelavin
they were speaking; used to speak
a dopravin
they were using; used to use

Verset 4

Fasìno is the interrogative form of o fasìn, which is the second-person plural of the presint indicatîf of the verb fâ. Consult the present indicative of the verb here (in the notes at verse 9).

o fasìn
we make
do we make?

no fasìn
we do not make
parcè no fasìno?
why do we not make?

The Friulian word for tower is la torate. La torate di Babêl, then, means tower of Babel. The top of the tower is referred to in this verse as la spice; you encountered this noun before in lis spicis des monts (Gjenesi 8:5).

The expression rivâ fint in cîl can be understood as meaning to reach the heaven, or more literally to arrive as far as the heaven.

rivâ cu la spice fint in cîl
to arrive with the top as far as the heaven
(that is, to reach the heaven with its top)

More precisely, in the text you read: une torate ch’e rivi cu la spice fint in cîl. E rivi is the feminine, third-person singular of the coniuntîf presint of the verb rivâ. The present subjunctive e rivi is used here rather than the present indicative e rive because the tower has not yet been created; the construction of it is still a proposition.


la torate e rive cu la spice fint in cîl
the tower reaches the heaven with its top
(the tower already exists)

parcè no fasìno une torate ch’e rivi cu la spice fint in cîl?
why do we not make a tower that reaches (may reach) the heaven with its top?
(the tower does not yet exist)

The expression fâsi un non means to make a name for oneself. Fasìn is its second-person plural imperative form; its reflexive equivalent is fasìnsi.

let us make!

let us make (for) ourselves!

fasìnsi un non
let us make ourselves a name
let us make a name for ourselves

In the negative, the Friulian imperative works as follows:

no sta fevelâ (second-person singular)
do not speak

no stait a fevelâ (second-person plural)
do not speak

no stin a fevelâ (first-person plural)
let us not speak

In the text, you find:

no stin a dividisi
let us not divide ourselves

ator pal mont
around the world

You will recall that pal is a contraction of par + il; that is, ator par + il mont. Ator par means around.

Say the following in Friulian, using the expression pierdi timp (to waste time; literally, to lose time):

  1. do not waste time (second-person singular)
  2. do not waste time (second-person plural)
  3. let us not waste time (first-person plural)


  1. no sta pierdi timp
  2. no stait a pierdi timp
  3. no stin a pierdi timp

Verset 5

The expression vignî jù means to come down. As for the expression dâ une cjalade, this translates as to take a look (literally, to give a look).

il Signôr al vignì jù
the Lord came down

a dâi une cjalade a la citât
to take a look at the city

In this verse, you also find: butâ sù (to build, to erect).

la torate che i oms a stavin butant sù
the tower that the men were building


al rive
he arrives

al sta rivant
he is arriving (now)

The second example of the pair above conveys the in-process nature of the action.

The wording from the text la torate che i oms a stavin butant sù conveys the sense of the tower that the men were (in the process of) building (at that moment).

In al sta rivant from the example above, al sta is the masculine, third-person singular of the presint indicatîf of the verb stâ; it is followed by rivant, which is the present participle of the verb rivâ.

In a stavin butant sù from the text, a stavin is the third-person plural of the imperfet indicatîf of the verb stâ; it is followed by butant, which is the present participle of the verb butâ.

More examples:

al sta cjalant; tornant; doprant
he is (in the process of) looking; returning; using (at this moment)

a stan cjalant; tornant; doprant
they are (in the process of) looking; returning; using (at this moment)

al stave cjalant; tornant; doprant
he was (in the process of) looking; returning; using (at that moment)

a stavin cjalant; tornant; doprant
they were (in the process of) looking; returning; using (at that moment)

Verset 6

You will remember that ve means behold; in this verse, you find ju (them) attached to it.

Un popul sôl means a single people, one people. The masculine sôl (single, one) becomes sole in feminine form.

veju, che a son un popul sôl
here they are, who are a single people

e a fevelin ducj la stesse lenghe
and they all speak the same language

The Friulian il cjaveç refers to one of the two extremities of a thing; it is related to the noun il cjâf (head). For example, di un cjaveç al altri dal mont means from one end of the world to the other. In the context of this verse, il cjaveç can be understood as meaning beginning, starting point.

chest al è dome il cjaveç
this is only the beginning

di ce che a àn voe di fâ
of that which they are keen to do

The Friulian la voe (or la voie) means longing, will, desire. The expression vê voe di fâ (or vê voie di fâ) can be understood as meaning to want to do, to feel like doing, to long to do, to be keen on doing. Another example:

o ai voie di lâ vie
I want to leave
I want to go away
I feel like leaving

The text continues:

se a van indenant cussì
if they continue like this

a rivaran a fâ
they will succeed in doing

dut ce che a volaran
all that which they will want
everything that they will want
(that is, anything that they want)

The expression lâ indenant translates literally as to go forwards, to go ahead. It is used here in the sense of to continue.

You will recall that the expression rivâ a fâ means to manage to do, to succeed in doing.

A rivaran and a volaran are the third-person plural futûr sempliç forms of the verbs rivâ and volê.

Verset 7

Like dai seen above, anìn is an interjection meaning come on, go to.

The verb dismontâ as used in this verse means to descend, to go down. It is used here in combination with (down). Dismontìn is its first-person plural imperative form.

dismontìn jù
let us go down
let us descend

The verb confusionâ means to confuse.

confusionìnju tal lôr lengaç
let us confuse them in their speech

In the above, you will recognise confusionìn as the first-person plural imperative, to which ju (them) has been attached.

In these verses, you have encountered two related words: la lenghe and il lengaç. La lenghe refers to a specific tongue spoken by a group of people (Friulian language, Polish language, Italian language, etc.), whereas il lengaç refers to speech, for example: la facoltât dal lengaç (faculty of speech). Lengaç can also be taken as jargon, for example: il lengaç dai miedis (jargon of physicians; medical jargon).

In Friulian, the names of the languages mentioned in the preceding paragraph are: la lenghe furlane (Friulian language), la lenghe polache (Polish language), la lenghe taliane (Italian language). The name of a language can also be identified without lenghe attached to it; in this case, the name of the language is a masculine noun: il furlan (Friulian), il polac (Polish), il talian (Italian).

The verb capî means to understand. You find this verb used here in reflexive form, along with un cul altri (one another).

par che no rivin a capîsi un cul altri
so that they cannot (do not manage to) understand one another

Verset 8

The verb sparniçâ means to scatter.

il Signôr ju sparniçà par dut il mont
the Lord scattered them all over the world

In the sixth verse, you encountered the expression lâ indenant, in the sense of to continue. In the current verse, you find it expressed as lâ indevant, with the same meaning. Both indenant and indevant mean ahead.

no lerin plui indevant
they continued no more
they no longer went ahead

cu la lôr citât
with their city

A lerin, which you have seen before, is the third-person plural of the passât sempliç of the verb lâ.

Verset 9

You will remember that the expression meti non means to name.

i meterin non Babêl
they named it Babel

In the above, the indirect i (literally, unto it) is used because Friulian says to put name unto something. The above translates literally as unto it they put name Babel.

Alì means there.

al è stât alì che
it was there that

il Signôr al à confusionât il lengaç di ducj i oms
the Lord confused the speech of all men

In this verse, you find the verb sparniçâ used reflexively: sparniçâsi (to scatter oneself).

si son sparniçâts
they scattered themselves

par dut il mont
all over the world

Si son sparnicâts is the third-person plural of the passât prossim of the reflexive verb sparniçâsi.

Continue your study of chapter 11 of the book of Genesis. There are two parts in total.