Friulian language series: Gjenesi 34, stragjo di Sichem

Chapter 34 of the book of Genesis tells of the rape of Dinah and the revenge of her brothers in the stragjo di Sichem (Shechem massacre).

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Read Gjenesi 34

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 An archived version of the text can be found here.

Versets 1-5

Vocabulary: jessî (to exit, to go out), la fantate (girl; this is the feminine form of il fantat, meaning boy), un eveu (Hivite), il princip (prince), puartâ vie (to take away), durmî cun (to sleep with), disonorâ (to dishonour, to defile), il cûr (heart), sintîsi puartât par (to be taken with, to feel attached to), mat (mad, crazy), deventâ mat par (to go mad for, to be smitten with), confuartâ (to console, to comfort), fâ cjoli (to cause to take, to make to take, to get to take), vignî a savê che (to come to know that, to find out that), il cjamp (field), jessi a passon (to be in the fields [feeding the animals]; literally, to be at pasture), tasê (to keep quiet, to not speak), tornâ dongje (to come back). Names: Dine (Dinah).

In these initial verses of chapter 34, you read about Shechem’s raping of Jacob’s daughter Dinah. This is described specifically in verse 2, where you read: le puartà vie (he took her away) e al durmì cun jê (and slept with her) e le disonorà (and defiled her). In verse 3, you read that Shechem had in fact become very attached to Dinah: il so cûr si sintì puartât par Dine (his heart felt taken with Dinah); al deventave mat par jê (he was smitten with her; literally, he became mad for her, he went crazy for her).

The adjective mat is an important one to learn. Here are supplementary examples of it: sêstu mat a pensâ une robe tâl? (are you crazy to think something like that?), une pensade mate (a crazy thought, a crazy idea), a vierte il timp al è mat, no si sa mai ce che al fasarà (the weather is crazy in the spring, you never know what it will be; literally, what it will do).

As a noun, un mat means madman, crazy person, lunatic, etc. Example: a vevin sierât ducj i mats in manicomi (they had locked up all the crazy people in the mental institution; il manicomi, mental institution, insane asylum), no sta cori come un mat, fermiti (do not run like a madman, stop), chel mat di gno cusin al tire simpri fûr une gnove (that crazy cousin of mine always comes out with something else).

In one of the supplementary examples above, you came across the Friulian for spring: la vierte; the spring season is also called la primevere. Take a moment to learn the names of the other three seasons: l’istât (summer), la sierade (autumn), l’invier (winter).

In verse 4, Shechem says to his father: fasimi cjoli cheste fantate (get me this girl to marry; literally, get me to take this girl). In verse 5, you read that Jacob finds out about the rape of his daughter Dinah; he has not yet told his sons of the matter because they are feeding the animals in the fields. You then read: Jacop al tasè fin che no tornarin dongje (Jacob did not speak [of it] until they came back). You will recall that the verb tasê means to not speak, to keep quiet. Example: i cjans a taserin dome viodût il paron (the dogs quietened down as soon as they had seen their master).

Versets 6-12

Vocabulary: sintî (to hear), sucedi (to happen, to occur), displasê (to displease), un mont (greatly, very much), inrabiâsi (to get angry, to become enraged), a muart (greatly, very much; literally, to death), orent (horrible, terrible; its feminine form is orende), une azion (act, gesture), lâ vie di cjâf (to take leave of one’s senses; literally, to go out of [away from] one’s head), dâ par femine (to cause to take as wife), metisi adun (to unite oneself, to ally oneself), restâ culì (to stay here), la disposizion (disposition), a disposizion di (at the disposition of), lâ a stâ (to go live), girâ (to roam, to wander; also written zirâ), sistemâsi (to settle), sperâ (to hope), vê a grât (to have in one’s favour), domandâ (to ask), sproposetât (excessive), il presit (price), il regâl (gift), paiâ (to pay), lassâ cjoli (to let take, to allow to take).

When Jacob’s sons discover what had happened to their sister Dinah, they become enraged. In verse 7, you read: ur displasè un mont (this displeased them greatly) e s’inrabiarin a muart (and they became enraged). Like plasê, the verb displasê is used with the preposition a: ur plasè (it pleased them), ur displasè (it displeased them), i plasè (it pleased him), i displasè un mont (it displeased him greatly), etc. You have seen a number of different usages now that mean very much, greatly, including une vore, un grum, tant, cetant, etc., and now un mont. Also meaning very much, greatly in this verse is a muart (literally, to death). This idiomatic intensifier is also encountered in English: to laugh oneself to death, to love someone to death, etc.

Verse 7 continues: Sichem al veve fate une robe orende in Israel (Shechem had done a terrible thing in Israel) lant a durmî cu la fie di Jacop ([by] going to sleep with Jacob’s daughter). Lant is, of course, the present participle of the verb lâ. You then read that what Shechem had done was une azion che nol varès mai vût di fâur (a gesture that he should have never done to them). In this, you will recognise the expression vê di, meaning to have to. Al varès vût, which you have already come across in your readings, means he would have had; al varès vût di fâ, then, means he would have had to. In the text, you find the negated nol varès vût di fâ, which translates as he would not have had to do, but takes on the sense here of he should not have done.

In verse 8, Hamor (Shechem’s father) says to Jacob and his sons: gno fi Sichem al va vie di cjâf par vuestre fie (my son Shechem has taken leave of his senses for your daughter; that is, he is enamoured of her): parcè mo no je daiso par femine (why then do you not give her to him as wife)? You will recognise daiso as being the interrogative form of the second-person plural o dais (you give). Je is a contraction of i + le.

In the remainder of these verses, you find several second-person plural presint indicatîf forms: o dais (you give), o restais (you stay), o podês (you can), o volês (you want), o domandais (you ask). You also find two second-person plural imperatives: domandait (ask) and lassait (let, allow). In verse 12, Shechem says to Jacob and his sons: domandait ancje une robe sproposetade (ask even for something excessive) come presit o come regâl (as a price or gift); jo o paiarai dut ce che o domandais (I shall pay whatever you ask for), ma lassaitmi cjoli la fantate (but let me take the girl).

In verse 11, you encounter the verb sperâ, meaning to hope. Note that o speri che, meaning I hope that, is followed by the subjunctive in the text: o speri che mi vedis a grât (I hope that you have me in your favour). O vedis is the second-person plural of the coniuntîf presint.

mi vês a grât
o speri che mi vedis a grât
you have me in your favour
I hope that you [may] have me in your favour

Versets 13-17

Vocabulary: la baronade (mischief, craftiness), fevelâ cun baronade (to speak deceitfully), fâ chel tant (to do such a thing), circuncidi (to circumcise), circuncidût (circumcised), il disonôr (dishonour), dî di sì (to say yes), la cundizion (condition), a cheste cundizion (on the following condition), il mascjo (male), fâsi circuncidi (to get oneself circumcised), stâ chi (to stay here, to live here), sôl (single), jessi un popul sôl (to be a single people, to be a single nation), scoltâ (to listen), a rivuart di (regarding, with reference to), la circuncision (circumcision), cjapâ sù (to gather), lâsint (to leave, to go away).

You find a number of first-person plural futûr sempliç forms in these verses: o disarìn (we shall say), o darìn (we shall give), o cjolarìn (we shall take), o starìn (we shall live), o sarìn (we shall be), o cjaparìn sù (we shall gather), si’nt larìn (we shall leave).

Because Sichem had defiled their sister, Jacob and his sons speak dishonestly with him and his father: a fevelarin cun baronade (they spoke deceitfully; literally, they spoke with mischief). The feminine noun baronade is an interesting one to learn; in fact, in addition to the Bible, Antoni Beline also translated Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinocchio into Friulian; the title he gave it was Lis baronadis di Pinochio, meaning The Mischief of Pinocchio, The Pranks of Pinocchio.

You will recall the language related to circumcision from Gjenesi 17, where you first encountered it. Jacob’s sons say to Shechem and his father: no podìn fâ chel tant (we cannot do such a thing), di dâ nestre sûr a di un om (that of giving our sister to a man) che nol è stât ancjemò circuncidût (who has not yet been circumcised). The reason: al sarès un disonôr (it would be a dishonour).

They continue: nô us disarìn di sì dome a cheste cundizion (we shall say yes to you only on the following condition). The condition stipulated is: che o deventais come nô (that you become like us) e che ducj i mascjos si fasin circuncidi (and that all the males get circumcised).

In verse 17, they say: ma se vualtris no nus scoltais (but if you do not listen to us) a rivuart de circuncision (regarding the circumcision), nô o cjaparìn sù nestre fie (we shall gather our daughter) e si’nt larìn di chi (and we shall leave from here). Recall that lâsint can be translated a number of different ways in English: to leave, to go away, to go off, to depart, etc. Here is the futûr sempliç of lâsint:

m’int larai, I shall leave
tu t’int larâs, you will leave
s’int larà, he/she will leave
s’int larìn, we shall leave
s’int larês,
you will leave
s’int laran,
they will leave

Of course, you have seen that the preferred usage in this Bible is to contract the i of int instead: mi’nt larai, tu ti’nt larâs, si’nt larà, si’nt larìn, si’nt larês, si’nt laran.

Here also is the presint indicatîf of lâsint:

m’int voi, I leave
tu t’int vâs, you leave
s’int va, he/she leaves
s’int lin, we leave
s’int lais,
you leave
s’int van,
they leave

Using the contractions typical of the Bible, you have: mi’nt voi, tu ti’nt vâs, si’nt va, si’nt lin, si’nt lais, si’nt van.

Versets 18-24

Vocabulary: la peraule (word), plasê (to please), il zovin (young man), fâ la robe (to do the thing; to be understood in this context as to get circumcised), dal moment (straightaway, immediately), volê ben (to love), scoltât (heeded; literally, listened to), la famee (family), la puarte (door, gate), lâ su la puarte (to go unto the gate), jessi buine int (to be good people), ma però (but, however), acetâ (to accept), il pat (pact, agreement), a un pat (on one condition), compagn di lôr (like them, the same as them), contentâ (to appease, to satisfy).

You will recall that int (people) is a singular noun in Friulian. Observe the following from verse 21: chescj oms a son buine int (these men are good people). The verb is in third-person plural form (a son) to agree with the third-person plural subject chescj oms, but the adjective is in feminine singular form (buine) to agree with the feminine noun int.

In verse 21, you find the third-person singular of the presint indicatîf of the verb plasê, which is al plâs. You read: che a ledin là che ur plâs (may they go where they please, let them go where they like).

In verse 22, Shechem and his father explain to their people the condition that has been stipulated to them: ducj i mascjos (all the males) a àn di jessi circuncidûts (have to be circumcised) compagn di lôr (like them). In verse 23, they say: contentinju (let us appease them), che a restin cun nô (that they may stay with us).

Versets 25-31

Vocabulary: tre dîs dopo (three days later), stâ ancjemò mâl (to still be ill), la spade (sword), plombâ cuintri di (to attack, to lay siege to), rivâ a fermâ (to manage to stop), copâ (to kill), passâ a fîl di spade (to slay by sword), scjampâ (to flee, to escape), butâsi su (to come across), il muart (dead person), cjatâ (to find), il mus (ass, donkey), rafâ (to plunder, to spoil), la cjase (house), il gjespâr (wasps’ nest), meti intun gjespâr (to put in a bind, to put into a difficult situation), odeâ (to hate), un cananeu (Canaanite), un perissit (Perizzite), pôs (variant spelling of the plural pôcs, meaning little, few), metisi cuintri di (to come together against), vinci (to beat, to defeat), di sigûr (certainly), fruçâ (to strike down), tratâ come (to treat as), la sdrondine (harlot, whore).

Following cence che, the subjunctive is used; in verse 25, you find: cence che nissun nol rivàs a fermâju (without anybody being able to stop them). Al rivàs is the third-person singular of the coniuntîf imperfet of the verb rivâ.

In verse 30, Jacob says to his sons: mi vês metût intun biel gjespâr (you have caused me a great deal of trouble [you have put me in an utter wasps’ nest]), cumò mi odearan dute la int di cheste tiere (now all the people of this land will hate me). Taken literally, the masculine gjespâr is the Friulian for wasps’ nest; figuratively, it aligns with hornet’s nest (that is, trouble, difficult situation). Still in verse 30, ancjemò o ai pôs oms means I still have few men. Pôs is a phonetic spelling of pôcs; the c of the masculine plural pôcs is not pronounced.

In the final verse of this chapter, you read: vevial di tratâ nestre sûr come une sdrondine? (had he [was he having] to treat our sister as a harlot?). The sense of this is was he expecting our sister to be treated as a whore? You will recognise the use of the expression vê di in the Friulian, in interrogative form.