Xpanī – Moorish Spanish

I’ve finally decided to implement the ‘Spanish‘ language of the alternative world I introduced in the previous post. History has been a bit different in that conworld; Spain was not united under the rule of the Kingdom of Castille but the Muslim kingdom of Al-Andalus and the main language of the peninsula is not based in old Castillian but the Mozarabic language (a Romance language with lots of Arabic loanwords).

Naturally, the language came to be known in that world simply as ‘Spanish‘ (despite being different from our world’s Spanish) but it’s native name is much stranger: Xpanī (pronounced /ʃpaˈniː/, shpah-nee), which also means Spanish (in fact, it comes from Xpan, which descends from actual Mozarabic Span ‘Spain’).

What follows is a Xpanī text:

رُمَنط سُنَمبول
برد هد كرُتْ برد
برد بنتُ ، برد فَرحَش
ال فِلوُغ سور ال رمار
يال كَبالّ نال مونتَنَّ
كونال ديِل نال طينتورَ
ييَ سُنَّ ان سو بَرَندَ
برد كَرن ، برد بال
كون عُلِّ د روق جلَتَ
برد هد كرُتْ برد
سُبال لوُنَ رُمَنَّ
طَثِ سونلا مِرَندُ
هِ ييَ نُ قُت مِرَرلَش
برد هد كرُتْ برد
غْرَند سْتلِّ د رُسَدَ
بنن كونال قش د ديِل
هد فَتَ ال سِرات د البَ
ال فِغَير حَكَ سو بنتُ
كونال لِشَ د سوش فَرحَش
يال بُش هد اِ ون غَتُ مورِ
اِسِتَ سوش قِتَش اغرَش
مَ كن بنْرا؟ ي دعُب؟
ييَ دامَ ان سو بَرَندَ
برد كَرن ، برد بال
سُنَّندُ نال مار امَرَ

As you can see, Xpanī is generally written with the Arabic alphabet (or Arabic abjad). But that doesn’t mean that Xpanī is any more similar to Arabic than to Spanish! In fact, it’s much closer to real world Romance languages (in spite of the large number of Arabic words). This is easier to see if we read the romanized text:

Romance sonambul

Berde hid kerot berde
Berde bento, berde farħax.
Al felūg sur al mār
Yal kabāł nal muntaña.
Kunal dīl nal cintura
Iya soña an su baranda,
Berde karne, berde bāl,
Kun ołi da rup gelata.
Berde hid kerot berde.
Sobal lūna romaña,
Cati sunla mirando
Hi iya no pote mirarlax.

Berde hid kerot berde
Grande stełi da rosada,
Benen kunal pex da dīl
Hid fata al sirāt d’alba.
Al figair ħaka su bento
Kunal lixa da sux farħax,
Yal bosh hid e un gato muri
Esita sux pitax agrax.
Ma ken benrā? I dob?
Iya dâma an su baranda,
Berde karne, berde bāl,
Soñando nal mâr amara.

The text is actually an excerpt (the first two stanzas) of Federico García Lorca’s Romance Sonámbulo (Sleepwalker Romance), a poem about gypsies (which is appropriate for being translated to a language with an important Romani influence) which imitates the style of old romances, a kind of poem which was very popular in Middle Age Spain, when Mozarabic was still spoken in the real world.  You can find the (actual) Spanish text and its English translation here.

As usual, there’s also the analysis which follow the following pattern:

Text in Xpanī
/IPA pronunciation/
Literal translation
Smooth Translation
Notes (for some verses)

Romance sonambul
/ro’man.t͡ʃe so’nam.bul/
Romance sleepwalker
Sleepwalker (Somnambulistic) Romance
The poem’s tittle. Romance should not be interpreted as ‘romance’ (romantic) but as a kind of Spanish poetry. Xpanī’s C’s are always pronounced as the CH in English church.

Berde hid kerot berde
/’beʁ.ðe hɪd ‘ke.ʁo.tə ‘beʁ.ðe/
Green that I-want-you green
Green, I want you green
Just like real world Spanish, Xpanī has lost Latin’s distinction between B and V; that why the word for ‘green’ is berde despite being ultimately derived from Latin viridis. Verbs are conjugated for tense, mood and the person of its subject (kero= I want). In additionally, some clitic can are added to indicate the object: kerot = I want you. The t clitic can be pronounced either as /’ke.ʁot/ or as /’ke.ʁo.tə/ (the last one favors the poem’s syllable count).

Berde bento, berde farħax.
‘beʁ.ðe ‘ben.to ‘beʁ.de ‘faχːaʃ/
Green wind, green branches
Green wind, green branches
Unlike those of other Romance languages, Xpanī adjectives don’t agree in number with their nouns.

Al felūg sur al mār
/əl fe’luːg suʁ əl maːʁ/
The ship over the sea
The ship in the sea
Xpanī vowels can be either short or long (marked with macrons: ā).

Yal kabāł nal muntaña
/jəl ka’baːɬ nəl mun’ta.ɲa/
And-the horse in-the mountain
And the horse on the mountains
Xpanī uses a single article for ‘the’: al. This article often forms contractions with other particles: i+al→yal (and the)m an+al→nal (in the).

Kunal dīl nal cintura
/’ku.nəl diːl nəl t͡ʃin’tu.ʁa/
With-the shadow in-the waist
With the shadow at the waist

Iya soña an su baranda
/’i,ja ‘so.ɲa an’zu ba’ʁan.da/
She dreams in her balcony
She dreams in her balcony
can mean his, her, its or even their. .

Berde karne, berde bāl
/’beʁ.ðe ‘kaʁ.ne ‘beʁ.ðe baːl/
Green flesh, green hair
Green flesh, green hair
Xpanī adjectives usually come

Kun ołi da rup gelata
/kun’o.ʎi də ʀup d͡ʒe’la.ta/
With eyes of silver frozen
With eyes of frozen silver
The original version reads ‘cold silver, but I had to change it so as to preserve the rhyme. Plurals are formed by adding a x if the word ends with a vowel(farħa→farħax) or an i otherwise: oł→ołi.

Berde hid kerot berde
/’beʁ.ðe hɪd ‘ke.ʁo.tə ‘beʁ.ðe/
Green that I-want-you green
Green, I want you green
As you can see, repetition is common among romances. Much more uncommon is Lorca’s use of the word ‘green’ which he associates with Death.

Sobal lūna romaña
/’so.bəl ‘luː.na ʀo’ma.ɲa/
Under-the  moon Roma
Under the gypsy moon
  is the feminine form of romanī: Roma people, better known as gypsies.

Cati sunla mirando
/’t͡ʃa.ti ‘sun.la mi’ʁan.do/
(The) things are-her looking
Things are looking at her
An article would be usually added before cati in this sentence, but it has been elided for the sake of the syllable count.

Hi iya no pote mirarlax
/’hi.ja no ‘po.te mi’ʁaʁ.laʃ/
And she not can look-them
And she can’t look at them
The Xpanī word for ‘and’ is “i” but it’s changed to hi if the following word starts with I or Y.

Berde hid kerot berde
/’beʁ.ðe hɪd ‘ke.ʁo.tə ‘beʁ.ðe/
Green that I-want-you green
Green, I want you green

Grande stełi da rosada
/’gʀan.des ‘te.ʎi də ro’sa.da/
Large stars of frost
Great stars of frost
“Rosada” is actually a Galician loanword.

Benen kunal pex da dīl
/’be.nen ‘ku.nəl peʃ də diːl/
Come with-the fish of shadow
Come with the shadow-fish

Hid fata al sirāt d’alba
/hɪd ‘fa.ta əl si’ʁaːt ‘dal.ba/
Which opens the way of-dawn
Which opens the way to dawn

Al figair ħaka su bento
/əl fi’gai̯ʁ ‘xa.ka su ‘ben.to/
The fig-tree rubs its wind
The fig rubs the wind

Kunal lixa da sux farħax
/’ku.nəl ‘li.ʃa da suʃ ‘faχːaʃ/
With the sandpaper of its branches
With its rasping branches

Yal bosh hid e un gato muri
/jəl boʃ hɪd e un ‘ga.to ‘mu.ʁi/
And-the forest that is a cat clever
And the forest, as a thieving cat
Here the poem used a rather obscure Spanish word ‘garduño‘. I thought it meant something like ‘clever but it later turned out that it meant ‘thieving’, thus making my translation a bit inaccurate.

Esita sux pitax agrax
/es’si.ta suʃ ‘pi.taʃ ‘a.gʀaʃ/
Bristles its fibers sour
Bristles its sour fibers/chords.

Ma ken benrā? I dob?
/ma ken ben’ʀaː | i dob/
But who will-come? And from-where?
But who will come? And from which place?
Dob was originally a contraction of da-ob (from+where).

Iya dâma an su baranda
/’i.ja ‘da.ma an su ba’ʁan.da/
She carries-on-being in her balcony
She carries on being in her balcony
I used a circumflex accent (â) to mark a vowel which is usually long but it’s to be pronounced as a short one (for the sake of the meter).

Berde karne, berde bāl
/’beʁ.ðe ‘kaʁ.ne ‘beʁ.ðe baːl/
Green flesh, green hair
Green flesh, green hair

Soñando nal mâr amara
/so’ɲan.do nəl ˌma.ʁa’ma.ʁa/
Dreaming in-the sea bitter
Dreaming in the bitter sea

That’s all so far. See you! 🙂


Posted on 2011/10/16, in Al-Andalus Conworld, English. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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