Friulian language series: Gjenesi 39, Josef in Egjit

You will now study the Friulian language as used in the thirty-ninth chapter of the book of Genesis. The subjects of Gjenesi 39 are Josef in Egjit (Joseph in Egypt) and Josef e la sô parone (Joseph and his master’s wife; literally, Joseph and his mistress, where mistress means female master).

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Read Gjenesi 39

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 An archived version of the text can be found here.

Versets 1-6

Vocabulary: il cjastrât (eunuch), il faraon (pharaoh), il sorestant (chief), la vuaite (guard), un egjizian (Egyptian), un ismaelit (Ishmeelite), ventijù (down there; also venti jù), vê furtune (to be fortunate, prosperous; also vê fortune), lâ in puart (to come to fruition), vê di buine bande (to have in one’s favour, to have on one’s good side), nomenâ (to name, to appoint), il servidôr (servant), personâl (personal), de dì che (from the day that), in gracie di (because of, thanks to), la benedizion (blessing), slargjâsi sun dut (to extend oneself over all), la campagne (field), domandâ cont (to require a reckoning, account, explanation), la bocjade (daily bread), ben corporât (robust, well built [body]), biel di muse (handsome, attractive).

In verse 1, Josef intant lu vevin menât in Egjit is to be understood as in the meantime, they had brought Joseph down to Egypt. The subject here is not Josef, despite being at the head of the sentence; Josef is the direct object, which is repeated as lu. This sentence can be understood more literally as: Joseph, in the meantime, they had taken him down to Egypt. Ventijù, also in verse 1, translates as down there; in this context, ventijù can be understood as meaning down there (in Egypt).

In verse 2, you read: Josef al veve il Signôr cun sè (Joseph had the Lord with himself; that is, the Lord was with Joseph). Then, in verse 3, you read: il so paron, viodint che il Signôr al jere cun lui (his master, upon seeing that the Lord was with him [with Joseph]). In these, you find cun sè (with himself) and cun lui (with him). In the first, cun sè refers back to the subject of the sentence, which is Joseph. In the second, cun lui does not refer back to the subject of the sentence (il so paron), but again to Joseph.

Compare cun sè and cun lui in the following: al viodè che al veve il Signôr cun sè (he [person 1] saw that he [person 1] had the Lord with himself [person 1]; it is the subject of the sentence whom the Lord was with); al viodè che al veve il Signôr cun lui (he [person 1] saw that he [person 2] had the Lord with him [person 2]; it is not the subject of the sentence whom the Lord was with, but someone else).

In verse 4, you read that Joseph’s Egyptian master Potiphar looked favourably upon him: al veve Josef di buine bande (he had Joseph in his favour; literally, he had Joseph on his good side). The expression vê di buine bande conveys the same idea as the previously encountered vê a grât.

Verse 6: no domandâ cont di nuie (to not ask to account for anything; to require no explanations; to leave to one’s one devices). In this verse, you find the following description of Joseph: Josef al jere ben corporât e biel di muse (Joseph was well built and attractive). Ben corporât describes Joseph as being attractive for his body; biel di muse describes him as handsome for his facial features. Compare this now to the description encountered of Rachel, in Gjenesi 29:17, when she was compared to her sister Leah: Rachêl e jere plui ben fate e biele di muse (Rachel was more beautiful in form and face). Ben fate describes Rachel as beautiful for her body; biele di muse describes her as beautiful for her facial features.

Versets 7-15

Vocabulary: butâ il voli su (to take a look at, to set one’s eyes upon), rifudâ (to refuse; also refudâ), il fastidi (bother, trouble), inibî (to prohibit), la cussience (conscience), fâ une porcarie (to commit a despicable act), dal gjenar (of the sort), lâ cuintri di Diu (to go against God), seben (although), stâ sot di (to go after, to pursue), butâsi tai siei braçs (to throw oneself into one’s arms), la vore (work, task), fâ lis sôs voris (to do one’s tasks), di numar (of [the] number, numbered; that is, from amongst them), tirâ pe tonie (to pull by one’s tunic), il jet (bed), scjampâ fûr (to flee, to take off), di buride (quickly), fuî vie (to flee, to take off), di dute corse (quickly), un ebreu (Hebrew), mateâ cun (to toy with, to play around with), vignî daprûf di (to come unto; here, to lie with, to sleep with), petâ un berli (to let out a yell), berlâ (to yell, to cry out), clamâ int (to call for help; literally, to call people), molâ (to abandon, to leave behind), come il fum (like smoke; that is, quickly).

With the aid of the usages listed above, you should be able to make out the sense of these nine verses. I shall nonetheless include the following notes, in case of doubt:

The wife of Joseph’s master tells Joseph twice to lie with her; in verses 7 and 12, she says: anìn a durmî cun me (come sleep with me) and anìn tal jet cun me (come to bed with me). Joseph refuses, however; in verse 8, he tells her: il gno paron cun me nol à nissun fastidi (my master has no trouble with me) and, in verse 9, also says: cun ce cussience puedio jo fâ une porcarie dal gjenar (with what conscience can I commit a despicable act of the sort) e lâ cuintri di Diu (and go against God)?

Despite the efforts of the master’s wife, Joseph refused to lie with her. In verse 10, you read: seben che jê i stave sot a Josef ogni dì (although she pursued Joseph every day), lui nol volè mai savêdint di lâ a durmî cun jê (he never wanted any part of going to sleep with her). The master’s wife then sets out to incriminate Joseph.

In verse 11, you read: une dì, Josef al jentrà in cjase par fâ lis sôs voris (one day, Joseph entered the house to do his tasks) e, in cjase (and, in the house), no ’nd jere un famei di numar (there was not a servant from amongst them). In other words, of all the (number of) servants, there were none of them there.

Versets 16-23

Vocabulary: fintremai che (until), la solfe (solfa, solfeggio; tune), ripeti la stesse solfe (to repeat the same [old] story), il sclâf (slave), tacâ a berlâ (to start to yell), sintî a dî (to hear word), pierdi la lum de reson (to lose one’s temper, to go out of one’s mind; literally, to lose one’s light of reason), la preson (prison), meti in preson (to put in prison), il presonîr (prisoner), il re (king), slargjâ sore di (to extend upon), il boncûr (mercy, grace), in mût che (so as to, in such as way that), cjapâ di buine viste (to take favourably to; literally, to take in one’s good sight), decidi (to decide), il lavôr (work, affair), lâ a bon fin (to come to fruition, to turn out well).

In verse 16, you find dongje di sè. As you saw above with cun sè, di sè refers back to the subject. You read: e metè la tonie dongje di sè (she put the tunic next to herself) fintremai che nol tornà a cjase il paron (until the master returned home).

La solfe is used figuratively in the expression ripeti la stesse solfe, which, in colloquial language, means to repeat the same old story, to harp on about the same old thing. In the context of these verses, Joseph’s wife repeated the same fabricated story to her husband as she had done to the men of her house.

In verse 17, you encounter il sclâf for the first time; it means slave. Its feminine form is la sclave.

The expression meti in preson means to put in prison; however, in verse 20, you read: il paron di Josef lu fasè cjapà (Joseph’s master had him caught) e meti in preson (and put in prison), là che a jerin i presonîrs dal re (where the prisoners of the king were [kept]). The use of here with both cjapâ and meti in preson expresses the notion that it was not the master himself who caught and put Joseph in prison, but other men on his behalf. Compare: lu metè in preson (he put him in prison), lu fasè meti in preson (he had him put in prison).

Verse 21: il sorestant de preson (chief jailer; literally, chief of the prison).

In verse 22, dut ce che si faseve li dentri is to be understood as all that was done in there (that is, in the prison). In verse 23, the i of dut ce che al faseve i leve a bon fin can be understood as meaning on him, as in: everything that he did came to fruition on him, all that he did turned out well on him.