Friulian language series: Gjenesi 20, Sare e Abimelec

Continue now to explore the Friulian language by examining the totality of the twentieth chapter of the book of Genesis, where the subject is Sare e Abimelec (Sarah and Abimelech). This chapter is shorter than the previous two, and less demanding.

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

Read Gjenesi 20

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 20. An archived version of the text can be found here.

Verset 1

Abraham leaves and goes into the Negev: al partì di li (he left from there) pe tiere dal Negheb (for the land of the Negev). The Negev is a mountainous desert region in the south of modern-day Israel. You will remember that pe is a contraction of par + la.

He settled between Kadesh and Shur: si fermà fra Kades e Sur (he stopped [himself] between Kadesh and Shur), and he sojourned in Gerar: al lè a stâ a Gjerar (he went to stay in Gerar).

Verset 2

You now read: Abram al disè de sô femine (Abraham said of his wife) che e jere sô sûr (that she was his sister). In English, this might also be expressed as Abraham said that his wife was his sister.

You read that Abimelech was the king of Gerar: il re di Gjerar. (Related: the Friulian for queen is la regjine.) He sent for Sarah: al mandà a cjoli Sare, so as to take her as wife. Mandâ a cjoli translates literally as to send to take; the sense of it is to send (someone) to get.

Verset 3

In a dream, God speaks to Abimelech: Diu i vignì in sium a Abimelec (God came to Abimelech in a dream) vie pe gnot (during the night). The Friulian for dream is il sium; the expression vignî in sium means to come in a dream.

The expression vie pe gnot is an important one to learn; it means during the night. Supplementary examples using vie par (during): vie pal mês (during the month); vie pal istât (during the summer); vie pal invier (during the winter); vie pe vierte (during the spring); vie pe sierade (during the autumn); vie pe setemane dai 10 ai 17 di setembar (during the week of 10 to 17 September); vie pe buinore di domenie (during Sunday morning); vie pal an scolastic (during the school year).

God tells Abimelech in a dream that he will die: tu murarâs (you will die) par colpe de femine (because of the woman) che tu âs cjolte (whom you have taken). He tells Abimelech that Sarah is a married woman: e je za maridade (she is already married). The Friulian for married is maridât: un om maridât (married man); une femine maridade (married woman). Recall that maridâsi is the Friulian for to get married: ca di dôs setemanis si maridaran (in two weeks they will get married).

Verset 4

Abimelech tells God that he is innocent. The Friulian adjective for innocent is nocent (or inocent); in the text, you find nocent used as a noun, meaning innocent man. You read: no tu fasarâs mo murî un nocent (surely you will not kill an innocent man); by this, Abimelech pleads with the Lord not to be killed. Remember that fâ murî (literally, to make die) means to kill.

Abimelech had not touched Sarah: no le veve tocjade (he had not touched her).

Verset 5

As you have seen before, esal is a variant of isal. You read: no esal stât lui (was it not him [Abraham]) a dîmi (who said to me): e je mê sûr (she is my sister).

Two new expressions appear: fâ in buine fede (to do in good faith) and vê lis mans netis (to have clean hands; that is, to be innocent). La fede is the Friulian for faith; the adjective for clean is net. You also encounter the verb confermâ in this verse, meaning to confirm.

Par chel cont can be understood as for that reason.

Verset 6

God tells Abimelech that he knows that he acted in good faith. He also says: o soi stât jo (it was me) che no ti ai lassât (who did not let you) fâ un pecjât cuintri di me (commit a sin against me).

This is the first time that you are encountering the form tu tu lessis, but you will perhaps have been able to guess that it is a coniuntîf imperfet form. First, recall that lâ dongje means to go with; that is, to have sexual intercourse. After volê che (to want that), the subjunctive is used. Observe the following:

tu tu vâs
you go
tu tu levis
you were going

no vuei che tu i ledis dongje
I do not want you to go with her
(literally, I do not want that you go with her)

no ai volût che tu i lessis dongje
I did not want you to go with her
(literally, I did not want that you were going with her)

For your reference, the following conjugations of the verb are presented below: imperfet indicatîf, coniuntîf presint and coniuntîf imperfet. Other conjugations of can be found on the Friulian verb conjugations page.

Imperfet indicatîf
Imperfect indicative

o levi
tu levis
al leve

e leve

o levin
o levis
a levin

Coniuntîf presint — coniuntîf imperfet
Present subjunctive — imperfect subjunctive

present subjunctive
imperfect subjunctive
o ledi
o les
tu ledis
tu lessis
al ledi
al les

e ledi
e les

o ledin
o lessin
o ledis
o lessis
a ledin
a lessin

Verset 7

God gives Abimelech a stern warning: you are innocent, but return the woman or die (and all your people with you). He says: cumò tornii la femine a di chest om (now return the woman to this man; that is, to Abraham). The verb here is tornâ, whose second-person singular imperative form is torne; when i (unto him) is added, the final e changes to i, to become tornii. A di chest om means to this man.

God continues by telling Abimelech that Abraham is a prophet: un profete, and that he will pray for him: al prearà par te (he will pray for you). You will remember that the verb preâ means to pray. Par che tu vivis means so that you may live.

Impreteribil can be understood as surely, inevitably. God says: se però no tu je tornis (if however you do not return her to him), tu murarâs impreteribil (you shall surely die). Je is a contraction of le + i (her + unto him).

tu le tornis
you return her
tu je tornis
you return her to him

se no tu le tornis
if you do not return her
se no tu je tornis
if you do not return her to him

Verset 8

Adore means early; adorone can be understood as very early. You read: Abimelec al jevà adorone (Abimelech arose very early; Abimelech got up very early). Abimelech called his servants and explained the situation: ur contà dute la cuistion (he explained the entire matter to them). La cuistion is to be understood as situation, matter.

Spirtâsi means to become frightened. A muart, although translating literally as to death, is to be understood in the sense of terribly so, very much so. (The Friulian for death is la muart.) You read that the servants became very afraid: i oms si spirtarin a muart (the men became terribly frightened; literally, the men became frightened to death).

Verset 9

Abimelech calls for Abraham and demands answers. He asks: ce mi âstu fat po? (what then have you done to me?) and ce ti àio fat jo a ti? (what did I [ever] do to you?). The verb tirâ translates literally as to pull; it can be understood here in the sense of to bring, to attract: ce ti àio fat jo a ti (what did I [ever] do to you), di tirâ su di me (to bring upon myself) e sul gno ream (and my kingdom) une tristerie di chê sorte? (a wickedness of the sort?).

The Friulian une opare means work or deed. Abimelech continues by saying that Abraham’s actions were incorrect: tu mi âs fate une opare (you have done to me a deed) che no si fâs cussì (which is not done thus). The sense of this is: you have done something to me that is wrong.

Verset 10

Saltâ sù is to be understood as meaning to come upon. You read: ce ti esal saltât sù (what came upon you) di fâmi chê part? (to do that deed to me?).

Verset 11

The verb scrupulâ means to presume, to imagine. Abraham explains how his suppositions led him to say of Sarah that she was his sister. You read: o ai scrupulât (I presumed [the following]): tu viodarâs che in chest paîs (you will see that in this land) no ’nd è timôr di Diu (there is no fear of God). The Friulian il timor means fear. In the same way that you can say vê pore (to be afraid), you can also say vê timor.

In the remainder of this verse, you find the verb copâ, which you will remember means to kill. As for the expression par colpe di, you also saw it in the third verse.

Verset 12

Abraham explains that Sarah, in addition to his wife, also happens to be his sister: par altri (furthermore), jê e je mê sûr pardabon (she really is my sister). He says that she is the daughter of his father, but not of his mother; in other words, she is his half-sister by way of his father. Fie di gno pari ma no par part di mari: daughter of my father but not by way of my mother. The Friulian for half-sister, which is not present in the text, is la surlastre; for half-brother, it is il fradilastri.

Verset 13

The expression lâ par ca e par là translates literally as to go here and there; it can be taken as meaning to wander, to roam. Fâ lâ par ca e par là, then, means to make wander, to cause to roam. Cuant che Diu mi à fat lâ par ca e par là: when God made me wander.

Recall that lontan di means far from. Lontan de mê famee: far from my family; far from home. In this verse, i ai dit is to be understood as I said to her; the i here refers to Sarah.

Un plasê is a favour, or kindness: tu âs di fâmi (you must do for me) chest plasê (this favour; this kindness). Abraham explains to Sarah that, wherever they go, she must always say that he is her brother. Par dut là che o rivarìn: everywhere we shall arrive; that is, everywhere we go.

Verset 14

Review: il besteam (livestock), minût e grant (small and large), il famei (male servant, manservant), la sierve (female servant, handmaid, maidservant), ufrî (to offer), tornâ (to return).

Verset 15

This short verse presents a number of new usages: fâ cont di (to count), jessi a cjase tô (to be at your home), plasê miôr (to most please). You read: culì tu âs di fâ cont di jessi a cjase tô (here you must count [yourself] as being at your home; that is, you must consider this place your home). Abimelech tells Abraham to go dwell where he pleases: va a stâ (go dwell) là che (there where) ti plâs miôr (it most pleases you).

Verset 16

Abimelec continues, addressing Sarah: ve chi mil tocs d’arint par to fradi (here are one thousand pieces of silver for your brother). Recall that the masculine nouns arint and aur mean silver and gold, respectively. Un toc means piece. As for mil, you may wish to review how to count in Friulian.

Of the pieces of silver, Abimelech says: a saran par te (they shall be for you) come un vêl sui vôi (as a veil over the eyes) di dute la tô int (of all your people).

Une cjacare is a piece of gossip, a rumour. You find the present subjunctive following the expression in mut che (in order that). In mût che nissun no ti fasi cjacaris: in order that nobody speak ill words about you.

Below, for your reference, you will find the coniuntîf presint and coniuntîf imperfet conjugations of fâ.

Coniuntîf presint — coniuntîf imperfet
Present subjunctive — imperfect subjunctive

present subjunctive
imperfect subjunctive
o fasi
o fasès
tu fasis
tu fasessis
al fasi
al fasès

e fasi
e fasès

o fasìn
o fasessin
o fasês
o fasessis
a fasin
a fasessin

Versets 17-18

Only one new usage to learn appears in these two final verses: the verb vuarî, meaning to heal. God heals Abimelech, his wife and the maidservants; the women had all been made barren, but they were now able to bear children. Review: podê tornâ a vê fruts (to be able to have children again), fâ deventâ (to cause to become), sterp (barren, infertile), par colpe di (because of, on account of; literally, by fault of).