Friulian language series: Gjenesi 24, matrimoni di Isac

The subject matter of chapter 24 of the book of Genesis is il matrimoni di Isac (marriage of Isaac). With its 67 verses and just over 1800 words in Friulian, this is the longest chapter of the book of Genesis. In these notes, you will notice that you are able to take on larger amounts of text with less help; by this point, you have made considerable progress in Friulian and a fair deal of the grammar no longer presents surprises. That said, there is still much new vocabulary to be learnt, as well as a need for reinforcing and deepening your understanding of certain usages and grammar points that you have already encountered but still not had sufficient exposure to.

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

Read Gjenesi 24

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 An archived version of the text can be found here.

Versets 1-5

Vocabulary: vieli (old), in là cui agns (advanced in years, on in years), il famei plui vieli (the oldest servant), messedâ (to operate, to have control of), la cuesse (thigh), la parintât (kin, relatives), sielzi (to choose), là vie (there, down there, over there), salacor (suppose that, perhaps), vignî daûrmi (to follow me; literally, to come behind me), menâ (to take, to lead).

Of the servant, you read the following: al messedave dut (he had control of everything). You first saw the verb messedâ in Gjenesi 18:6, but in the sense of to blend. You also read that this servant was the oldest of Abraham’s house: il famei plui vieli de sô cjase. Here are more examples of using plui in this way: la femine plui biele (the prettiest woman), la cjase plui grande (the biggest house), l’om plui gras (the fattest man).

Abraham tells his servant to put his hand under Abraham’s thigh: met la man sot de mê cuesse (put your hand under my thigh). Taken literally, the Friulian reads put the hand under my thigh; it is understood that the hand is the servant’s. Abraham tells his servant: tu âs di zurâmi (you must swear to me) […] che no tu cjolarâs par gno fi (that you will not take for my son) une femine framieç des fiis di Canaan (a wife from amongst the daughters of Canaan).

You will recall the meaning of the expression vê voe di (also spelt vê voie di) which you have seen a number of times now: to have the desire to, to feel like, to want, etc. The servant says to Abraham: salacor la femine (perhaps the woman) no varà voe di vignî daûrmi (will not want to follow me) fint in chest paîs (into this land). He then asks: àio alore di menâ to fi (must I then take your son) tal paîs che tu sês saltât fûr tu (into the land from which you came; into the land that you came from)?

Versets 6-8

Vocabulary: puar mai te (woe to you), gjavâ (to take out), un agnul (angel), vignî daûrti (to follow you; literally, to come behind you), libar (free), jessi libar di (to be free of, to be free from), il zurament (oath).

You find an example of the condizionâl passât in the following: Diu […] mi à dit e zurât (God said and swore to me) che al varès dade dute cheste tiere (that he would have given all this land) a la mê gjernazie (to my offspring).

Take note of the following wording: no vuei che tu menis gno fi là vie (I do not want you to take my son there). The literal translation of this is I do not want that you take my son there. After vuei che (I want that), no vuei che (I do not want that), etc., the subjunctive is used.

Can you say the following in Friulian?

  1. I do not want you to speak with him
  2. I do not want you to see me
  3. I want him to be happy
  4. I want him to be scared

Possible answers

  1. no vuei che tu fevelis cun lui
  2. no vuei che tu mi viodis
  3. o vuei che al sedi feliç
  4. o vuei che al vedi pôre

In the last above, al vedi is the masculine, third-person singular of the coniuntîf presint of the verb vê. (You will remember that to be scared is expressed in Friulian as vê pôre, which literally means to have fear). Below, you will find in chart form the present subjunctive and imperfect subjunctive conjugations of the verb vê.

Coniuntîf presint — coniuntîf imperfet
Present subjunctive — imperfect subjunctive

present subjunctive
imperfect subjunctive
o vedi
o ves
tu vedis
tu vessis
al vedi
al ves

e vedi
e ves

o vedin
o vessin
o vedis
o vessis
a vedin
a vessin

Versets 9-11

Vocabulary: in merit (regarding the matter, in relation to the matter), il camêl (camel), cjariâ (to load), metisi in viaç (to head off, to set out), ingenoglâsi (to kneel down; also spelt inzenoglâsi), il poç (well), sore sere (in the evening), urî (to draw [water]; also expressed as aurî).

You will remember that the Friulian for ten is dîs. You read: il famei al cjolè dîs camêi (the servant took ten camels). You also read: cjariât sù dut ce che il so paron al veve di bon. You can understand this as meaning (having) loaded up all his master’s goods; more literally, it means (having) loaded up everything good that his master had.

Aram Naaraim (Aram-Naharaim) is the region between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates; that is, Mesopotamia. You read that the servant headed towards this area: al lè de bande di Aram Naaraim (he went towards Aram-Naharaim; he headed for Aram-Naharaim).

The Friulian for knee is il zenoli. The related reflexive verb inzenoglâsi means to kneel down. Examples: inzenoglâsi par preâ (to kneel down to pray), i camêi si inzenoglin par bevi (the camels kneel down to drink). In the text, you find: al fasè ingenoglâsi i camêi fûr de citât (he made the camels kneel down outside the city). Fâ inzenoglâsi (or fâ ingenoglâsi, as you find in the text) means to make kneel down.

Now that you know la cuesse (thigh) and il zenoli (knee), you may also wish to learn la gjambe (leg) and la cjavile (ankle).

Versets 12-14

Vocabulary: la furtune (fortune, good luck; also spelt fortune), il boncûr (mercy, grace), jessî fûr (to come out, to exit), urî l’aghe (to draw water), la fantate (girl), sbassâ (to lower), un cimi (a little bit), la pile (basin), bevi (to drink), imbeverâ (to give water to [of animals]), distinâ (to designate; also spelt destinâ), il spieli (sign, indication), vê remission di (to have compassion for).

These three verses are a little more challenging than the previous ones. In them, the servant prays to God that he will find a good, serviceable wife for Isaac at the water well. He asks God for a favourable outcome: dami furtune vuê (give me fortune today) and for his mercy: mostrimi il boncûr (show me the grace) che tu âs cul gno paron Abram (that you have for my master Abraham).

The servant continues: jo o stoi dongje dal poç (I am at the well) e lis fiis dai oms de citât (and the daughters of the men of the city) a jessin fûr a urî l’aghe (come out to draw water).

The servant says that he will know which girl God has destined to be Isaac’s wife by her behaviour. In the text, you find: la fantate che i disarai (the girl to whom I shall say). Note that the English to whom is expressed as che in Friulian. The servant will say to her: sbasse un cimi la tô pile (lower your basin a little), che o puedi bevi (so that I may drink). O puedi is the first-person singular of the coniuntîf presint of the verb bevi.

The girl will respond: bêf (drink) e jo o imbeverarai ancje i tiei camêi (and I shall also give water to your camels). Bêf is the second-person singular imperative form of the verb bevi (to drink). Jo o imbeverarai, on the other hand, is the first-person singular of the futûr sempliç of the verb imbeverâ (to give water to). Imbeverâ un camêl means to make a camel drink, to give water to a camel, to provide water to a camel, etc.

The servant says that such a girl will be the one chosen by God: chê e sarà la femine (she will be the woman) che tu âs distinât pal to famei Isac (that you have designated for your servant Isaac). Isaac is referred to as a servant, for all men are servants of God.

The servant concludes by saying: jo o varai un spieli che tu âs vude remission dal gno paron (I shall have the sign that you have had compassion for my master). The servant’s finding of such an industrious girl will serve as a sign of God’s graciousness towards Abraham.

Versets 15-16

In these verses, you read that the servant finds Rebekah; her lineage is provided and you see that she is related to Abraham. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Milcah, who was the wife of Nahor, who was the brother of Abraham: fie di Betuel, fi di Milche, femine di Nacor, fradi di Abram.

Vocabulary: su pe spale (on her shoulder; literally, on the shoulder), une stele di zovine (very pretty young girl; literally, star of a young girl), la vergjine (virgin), cognossi (to know; used here in the sense of to have carnal knowledge), dismontâ jù (to go down), jemplâ la pile (to fill the basin), il crep (clay; terracotta), tornâ sù (to come back up).

At the beginning of verse 15, you read: nol veve nancje finît di fevelâ, che e saltà fûr Rebeche. You can understand this as meaning no sooner had he finished speaking than Rebekah appeared; more literally; he had not even finished speaking that Rebekah came out. You read that Rebekah had the following qualities: e jere une stele di zovine (she was a very pretty young girl), e jere vergjine (she was a virgin), no veve nancjemò no cognossût om (she had not even known man).

Dismontâ jù means to go down; tornâ sù means to come up. You saw the expression dismontâ jù once before, in Gjenesi 11:7 (tower of Babel episode), when you read: dismontìn jù e confusionìnju tal lôr lengaç.

Versets 17-21

Vocabulary: cori (to run), par plasê (please), un flât di (a little bit of), il braç (arm), dâ di bevi (to give drink, to make drink), la sêt (thirst), distudâ la sêt (to quench one’s thirst), disvuedâ (to empty), svelt (quick), il laip (trough), il nemâl (animal, beast), lâ di corse (to run off, to go off quickly), li dal poç (at the well; used here in the sense of to the well as part of lâ di corse li dal poç), cjalâ (to look at, to watch), cence dî peraule (without saying a word), domandâsi (to wonder), rivâ al so intent (to succeed in one’s undertaking; more literally, to arrive at one’s intention).

The servant says to Rebekah: par plasê (please), lassimi bevî un flât di aghe de tô pile (let me drink a bit of water from your basin).

A little father along, you also read: cuant che e veve finît di dâi di bevi (when she had finished giving him to drink). From this, learn finî di, meaning to finish (doing something).

Rebekah says to the servant: o voi a urî ancje pai tiei camêi (I am going to draw [water] also for your camels). O voi is to be understood here in the sense of off I go, I am going off, I am walking off. It is not an equivalent of English future time (as in, for example, I am going to quit my job next week). Rebekah continues: fin che a varan distudade la sêt (until they have quenched their thirst; literally, until they will have quenched the thirst).

The verb disvuedâ (to empty) is related the adjective vueit (empty), which you will perhaps remember from the beginning of your study in Gjenesi 1:2, when you read that the earth was empty: la tiere e jere vueide.

Verse 21 ends with the following text: domandantsi se il Signôr (wondering if the Lord) lu veve fat rivâ al so intent (had made him succeed in his undertaking). The reflexive domandâsi means to wonder (literally, to ask oneself). In the text, you find domandantsi (wondering), which is the present participle.

Versets 22-25

Vocabulary: un anel d’aur (golden ring), pesâ (to weigh), il siclo (shekel), mieç siclo (half a shekel), la narile (nostril), tor di (around, about), il braçalet (bracelet), la place (space, room), passâ la gnot (to spend the night), il stranc (straw), il fen (hay), il sotet (shelter, refuge).

The servant takes a golden ring weighing a half shekel and puts it on Rebekah’s nose: jal metè tes narilis (literally, he put it in her nostrils). You have seen a number of times now that jal is a contraction of i + lu. Here, lu stands in for the masculine anel. He also puts two bracelets on her arms: tor dai braçs.

The servant asks Rebekah: fie di cui sêstu tu? (whose daughter are you?; literally, daughter of whom are you?). He continues: dimal, par plasê (please tell me). The mal part of dimal is a contraction of mi + lu; dimal then translates literally as say it to me. This it is not usually expressed in English; it simply refers back to the piece of information being requested.

The servant asks if there is space to stay at her father’s place: in cjase di to pari (in your father’s house) ese place (is there room)? Rebekah responds: al è stranc e fen tant che tu vuelis (there is as much straw and hay as you want) e ancje place (and also room) par dâus un sotet (to give you shelter). You will have recognised daûs as being the combination of (to give) and the plural us (to you).

Versets 26-30

Vocabulary: preâ (to pray), benedet seial (blessed be), molâ (to let go, to give up), la misericordie (mercy, grace), direzi (to direct, to steer), il pas (step, stride), contâ (to tell, to relate), sucedi (to happen), cori incuintri (to run up to, to run towards), a pene che (as soon as), lâ incuintri (to go up to, to go towards), in pîts (standing), dongje di (next to).

The verb molâ is an important one to learn; it means to let go, to abandon, to drop. Here are supplementary examples of it: mole chê cuarde (let go of that rope; la cuarde, rope); e à molât il morôs che al è pôc (she broke up with her boyfriend not long ago; il morôs, boyfriend; al è pôc, recently, not long ago); dai mo, no stâ molâ (come on then, do not give up); cuant che al telefone nol mole mai (when he calls [on the phone], he never stops talking; telefonâ, to ring, to call, to telephone). In the text of the Bible, you read: Diu […] nol à mai molade la sô misericordie e il so boncûr pal gno paron (God has never stopped showing [never let go of] his mercy and grace towards my master).

You can understand the expression direzi i miei pas as meaning to lead me (literally, to steer my steps, to direct my strides, etc.). You read: il Signôr al à direzût i miei pas (the Lord has led me) fint inte cjase (right into the house) dal fradi dal gno paron (of the brother of my master). The plural of il pas is i pas; the past participle of direzi is direzût.

In the text, you find al sintì sô sûr a dî, which you can understand as meaning he heard his sister say. What he heard his sister say was: ve cemût che mi à fevelât chel om (this is how that man spoke to me).

Versets 31-33

Vocabulary: restâ di fûr (to remain outside), a la cuâl che (whereas), preparâ (to prepare), displaçâ (to make room; cognate with the English displace), tirâ vie (to remove, to take away), il bast (load, burden), compagnâ (to accompany), lavâsi i pîts (to wash one’s feet), presentâ di mangjâ (to present with food), cerçâ (to taste), la bocjade (mouthful, bite), prime (beforehand).

Laban says to Abraham’s servant: ven (come), benedet dal Signôr (blessed [one] of the Lord). Ven is the second-person singular imperative form of the verb vignî. He then asks the servant why he does not come inside: parcè mo restistu di fûr (why then do you remain outside), a la cuâl che jo o ai za preparade la cjase (whereas I have already prepared the house) e displaçât pai tiei camêi (and made room for your camels)?

Note the use of the preposition a in the following: Laban ur tirà vie il bast ai camêi (Laban removed the load from the camels). You will recall the meaning of the nouns il stranc and il fen, which you encountered above in the notes for verse 25.

The servant says that he must speak before eating: no cerçarai bocjade (I shall not take a bite) se prime (if beforehand) no us ai dit (I have not told you) ce che o ai di dîus (what I have to tell you). You will have recognised dîus as being the combination of (to say) and the plural us (to you). The verb cerçâ means to taste, but it can often be taken in the sense of to eat.

Versets 34-40

Vocabulary: il sioron (very wealthy man), il mus (donkey), jessi sù di etât (to be old aged), za (already), ereditâ (to inherit), la robe (goods, stock), zurâ (to swear), il cananeu (Canaanite), jessi a stâ (to dwell, to reside, to live), puar mai te (woe to you), la famee (family), sielzi (to choose), mandâ (to send), un agnul (angel), rivâ a bon fin (to reach a good outcome, to be successful).

In verse 39, salacor cheste femine no volarà savênt di vignî daûrmi means perhaps this woman will not want to follow me; the sense of no volarà savênt di is she will not want anything to do with, she will not want any part in.

Versets 41-49

Vocabulary: liberâ (to free), jessi liberât di (to be freed from), la maludizion (curse; also expressed as maledizion), jessi disponût (to be disposed, to agree, to be willing), puartâ a bon fin (to bring to a successful conclusion, to bring to fruition), il viaç (journey, trip, voyage), intant che (whilst, while), pe strade drete (on the right path, the right way), la bontât (kindness), il bonvolê (goodwill), senò (if not, otherwise), distes (all the same, nonetheless), in mût che (so that), voltâsi a gjestre (to turn to the right; this is also expressed as voltâsi a diestre), voltâsi a çampe (to turn to the left).

In verse 41, you read: se no vessin chê di dâte (should they not have her to give to you), tu saressis liberât de mê maludizion (you will be freed from my curse; literally; you would be freed from my curse). A vessin is the third-person plural of the coniuntîf imperfet of the verb (see the conjugation chart provided in the notes for verses 6-8 above). Tu saressis is the second-person singular of the condizionâl presint of the verb jessi. This sentence presents a hypothetical situation, which explains the use of these two tenses.

In verse 42, the servant asks God for a sign: fasimi (give me; literally, make me), ti prei (please; literally, I pray you), un spieli par savê se (a sign to know if) tu sês disponût a puartâ a bon fin il viaç (you are willing to bring to fruition my journey).

In verse 45, you read: no vevi nancje finît di dî dentri di me (no sooner had I finished saying [this] to myself), che Rebeche e rivà cu la pile di crep su pe spale (than Rebekah arrived with the clay basin on her shoulders). This sentence translates literally as I had not even finished saying within myself, that Rebekah arrived with the clay basin on her shoulders.

Disêtmal, in verse 49, means tell me (literally, say it to me). This is a combination of the second-person plural imperative disêt, from the verb dî; and mal, which is a contraction of mi + lu. Disêtmal is the plural equivalent of dimal, which you saw in verse 23. The servant says: se o sês disponûts a mostrâi al gno paron (if you agree to show to my master) bontât e bonvolê (kindness and goodwill), disêtmal (tell me; literally, say it to me); senò disêtmal distes (if not, tell me nonetheless; literally, if not, say it to me nonetheless).

The servant concludes with: in mût che o puedi voltâmi a gjestre o a çampe (so that I may go left or right). You will have recognised the use of the coniuntîf presint following in mût che.

Versets 50-59

Vocabulary: cjapâ la peraule (to begin to speak; literally, to take the word), dî di sì (to say yes), dî di no (to say no), i vistîts (garments), il regâl (gift), regalâ (to give as a gift), fâ regâl di (to give as a gift), un fin (fine thing, precious thing, delicacy), tal indoman (the following day), jessi jevât (to be up [from one’s sleep]), tornâ di (to return to), un dîs dîs (some ten odd days, about ten days; see notes below), partî (to leave), intardâ (to be delayed, to be late), fâ intardâ (to cause to be delayed, to cause to be late), fâ rivâ al intent (to make succeed in one’s undertaking), la bae (nurse; that is, faithful attendant; also spelt baie).

Dî di sì means to say yes; its opposite, dî di no, means to say no. In verse 50, you read: nô no podìn dî ni di sì ni di no (we can say neither yes nor no). To help you pronounce this correctly, breaks can placed as follows between groups of words: / no podìn dî / ni di sì / ni di no.

In verse 51, you find cjolite (take her unto yourself). The verb here is cjolisi (to take unto oneself). The second-person singular imperative form is cjoliti, which becomes cjolite when le (her) contracts with ti: cjol (take), cjoliti (take unto yourself), cjolite (take her unto yourself).

In verse 55, you read: lassinus la frute ancjemò un dîs dîs cun nô (leave the girl with us another ten days or so), po e podarà partî (then she will be able to leave). Un dîs dîs translates literally as a ten days, which conveys the sense of about ten days. Another example: a un dîs chilometris di Udin (at about ten kilometres from Udine), un cuindis agns dopo (about fifteen years later).

In verse 56, you read: no stait a fâmi intardâ (do not delay me) cumò che il Signôr mi à fat rivâ al intent (now that the Lord has made me succeed in my undertaking). No stait a fâmi intardâ can be understood as meaning, depending on the context, do not slow me down, do not make me late, do not delay me, etc. More examples using intardâ (or the reflexive intardâsi) include: intardâ a paiâ la mesade (to be late in paying the monthly salary; la mesade, monthly salary), no je la prime volte che si intarde a rivâ (it is not the first time that he is arriving late), scusait se mi soi intardât (sorry if I was late; scusâ, to excuse).

You will recall that the second-person singular of the presint indicatîf of the verb volê is tu tu vûs or tu tu vuelis. In verse 58, Rebekah is asked: vûstu lâ cun chest om? (do you want to go with this man?). She responds: o voi (I go).

Versets 60-67

Vocabulary: un miâr ([more or less] one thousand), miârs di miârs (thousands of thousands), butâ jù (to tear down), il nemì (enemy), jevâ in pîts (to stand up), montâ (to mount, to straddle), montâ sul camêl (to mount the camel, to get on the camel), lâ daûr (to follow; literally, to go behind), cjapâ une bocjade di aiar (to take a breath of air; literally, to take a mouthful of air), la campagne (country, field), il lâ a mont dal soreli (setting of the sun), sul lâ a mont dal soreli (at the setting of the sun, at sunset), dismontâ jù dal camêl (to dismount the camel, to get off the camel), là jù (down there, over there), il vêl (veil), taponâsi (to cover oneself), menâ dentri (to take inside), volê un ben di vite (to love dearly, to love very much), consolâsi (to console oneself), la muart (death).

In verse 60, Rebekah’s family says: tu, nestre sûr (you, sister of ours), che tu deventis miârs di miârs (may you become thousands of thousands). This is a wish unto Rebekah that she be fruitful. The Friulian for 1000 is mil. Un miâr, on the other hand, is a looser usage meaning thousand in an approximate sense. For example, a jerin un miâr di lôr means there were a thousand of them; there might have been a few more or a few less, but they numbered about a thousand.

In the last verse, you read the following about Isaac and Rebekah: le cjolè (he took her), e deventà la sô femine (she became his wife) e i volè un ben di vite (and he loved her dearly).