The Princess and the Eremite

“They cry out for their Garlander:
The Princess. She hopes to ably aid their need.
She knows she must with heavy heart depart what she has always known,
moreover fleeing through the Wood through which her people fled, rescue
her subjects afore they are devouréd.
Might great challenges await her?”

— The Princess and the Eremite IV:i  Duluth translation (1889)

From Tumblr:

“Ugh! Why are you using the fucking Duluth translation? That racist Victorian (redundant!) transcentendalist was wring about everything. A Haampii isn’t a princess!”

Well, we might have to agree to disagree here because although some of Duluth’s choices were certainly bizarre –  xaampmun as “hair” and tilintl as “Totem Larva” spring to mind – some of his work is legitimately beautiful. Aside from the passage I quoted above (the prologue of “The Song of Eternal Endurance”), I also love Duluth’s treatment of “The Unsong” and “Make Merry Only Thusly.”

But I’ll set those aside for now. Let’s look at that song prologue to see where Duluth was wrong, and also where he was right.

1. Iumpa gulut nuk-swumpa.

“I give hope to myself a lot for the potential to give something (i.e. to do something).”

The interesting word here is gulut, the Gi’impii pronunciation of Brg-gng gld-dl’, meaning “big size.” Nowadays, the word means something like “really,” but at at the time the Dulunks Haampii Burgurtcx was transcribed, gulut was very informal – a totally different register from the next lines. Maybe a better translation would be “I, like, totally hope I can do this” or something.

2. Wumpin tulumpsun haampii.

“They give their great hope to (me) the Haampii.”

Note the repetition of the roots “give” (WUMP) and “hope” (HUMP) from the previous line. This is a Gi’impii poetic convention called “root coupleting,” which Duluth attempted to replicate in English with rhyming and alliteration. It’s also complicated by the fact that WUMP and HUMP actually rhyme, which early trollists like Duluth discounted as coincidence.

Also, because you seem to have a bee in your bonnet about Duluth’s translation of “Haampii,” you’re right, the title does not mean “princess.” Haampii comes from same root (HAMP) as haamps (fine clothing, jewelry), iaamps (a flower), and shaamp (to decorate). Today, “Haampii” is part of the governmental titles translated in English as “the Minster of Culture” and “Chief Justice” (which were one position before World War II). In pre-modern times, however, the Haampii was responsible for the wardrobe of the Iompompm (“king”, “chief”, “high priest”) and, by extension, the staging of the ecstatic rituals (ki’inksum) that held Gi’impii society together.

The Haampii of the Dulunks Haampii Burgurtcx (a.k.a “The Princess and the Eremite”) complicates matters by being (or at least claiming to be) the literal daughter of the reigning Iompompm. There’s even a line of interpretation that the Dulunks Haampii Burgurtcx is itself a propagandistic revision of the Haampii’s usurpation of the Iompompm’s reign – an attempt to legitimize the Haampii/Burgurtcx regime…but that’s beside the point.

In any case, Duluth usually refers to the Haampii as “the Garlander,” which is probably about as good an English translation as you can get.

3. Iskanka oinks-no- iskanks -ilumpa 

“I know the necessity of uninviting myself from (what is) known”

Now we get really lyrical. There’s the root-coupleting around KANK, “to ask someone a question and get an answer” (iskank = to answer your own questions about something =  to know), which functions as a kenning for “home” or “community” (iskanks = known (things)).

Then there’s the no-ilumpa construction, which rhymes with words in the previous lines, but is disdesiderative. That is, it indicates an undesired outcome: not simply absence from home (ililumpa), but exile (no-ililumpa) and violent death (no-wililump). I personally think Duluth did an excellent job with this line.

4. kinkink iunka nowunkunksun

“moreover (of) my hurrying myself (through) the wilderness”

Trollists and world-travelers will recognize here the origin of the name of the Mount Wungksun National Park. Nowunkunksun was a far more foreboding word, however, from the root XUNK (“to make someone hurry,” coupleting with iunka, “I make myself hurry” or “I run”), whose disdesiderative (no-wunk) means “to make someone escape” or “to endanger.” Both meanings are relevant here, since the Gi’impii both escaped from the Caged Tree through this wilderness and were endangered by its wildlife.

5. ximpa tulumpiim no-‘inkin.

“(and of) my saving (my) fellows (from) their (i.e. the Brg-gng) devouring (of them, i.e. my fellows)”

A lot of meaning to unpack here! Tulumpiim (from TUMP, “to invite someone” coupleting with no-ilumpa from line 3) means literally “invitation people” or “the people to whom you give invitations.” Remember those ecstatic rituals? The people who got invited to them formed the upper crust of Gi’impii society. The word twumbii now means “an aristocrat” (or, sarcastically, “a guy”) but in the time before the Haampii/Burgurtcx Regime, when the Gi’impii population was small enough that everyone could participate in rituals, tulumpii meant “fellow” or even “friend.” What it certainly did not mean was “subject,” and I do think this usage Duluth letting his romanticism get the better of him. :\

Anyway, no-‘inkin means literally “they unfortunately hug someone,” a euphemism with the subject and object left out, but obvious from context (the whole damn story is about Brg-gng eating Gi’impii after all).

6. nu’- gurgun iswumpi?

“The possibility (of being) hard, it gives itself?”

The most poetic line of the lot! And a place where Duluth stumbled badly.

I’ll back up. Remember the first line and the informal Brg-gng loanword in it? Well, here we are at the last line, and here’s a second Brg-gng loan! This one with the augmentative –un appended to Brg-gng ggrg, “a problem.” Gurgun now means “great challenge” as in Yurgan Ki’inksun Gi’imps gurgunum kinkinksum (“The Troll Government faces many great challenges.”), but at the time, gurg was very slangy. The informal “street” Gi’impii that sandwiches this preamble was probably intended to show that the Haampii was both connected with the common Gi’impii and modern in her approach. Certainly that was how the Haampii/Burgurtcx regime styled itself.

The structure of the sentence is also odd. The normal sentence would be iswumpi nu’-gurgun? “It gives itself the possibility of being difficult?” i.e. “Might it be hard?” Phrasing the sentence as nu’- gurgun -iswumpi not only throws into relief the coupleting of iswumpi with the swumpa of line 1 and its rhyme with “Haampii” in line 2, this sentence structure also sounds very much like a disdesiderative: no- gurgun -iswumpi, “it (will) really be damaged.“

What is this “it”? That was in fact the subject of my graduate thesis, where I argued that the Haampii is talking here about her position in Gi’impii society. Remember, she is the one who organized the great ritual (the Ki’inksun) whose failure brought on the curse that allowed the Brg-gng to find her settlement and capture her fellows. At this point in the storythe Haampii is setting out to rescue those fellows and redeem herself. She knows that if she fails, she will lose her title and face exile if she even survives. So her slangy question “Is this gonna be, like, hard?” isn’t a sign of her foolish naivety, it’s a sardonic (or even sarcastic) acknowledgement that this is a suicide mission.

In the otherwise mythical or propagandistic narrative of the Dulunks Haampii Burgurtcx, I think it is in this line that we see a real, historical person.

Sorry for the long post

Iinton!

This entry was posted in Wonderful, Awful Ideas and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Now ask me about my papers: “Mood and Dermal Carotenoid Sequestration in Troll-Quadrupoid Peoples”, “The Evolution of Dermal Carotenoid Sequestration in an Oceanic Climate Zone (the Western Meles),” and “The Role of Dermal Carotenoid Sequestration in the Signalling of Social Class in Troll-Quadrupoid Societies.” See also my colleagues’ work on “Cosmetic Epidermal Dyeing in 21-century Troll-Quadrupoid Societies” and “The Role of Mood-Altering Cannibalism in Traditional Bergen Power Structures.”

  • Pingback: How to make a conlang | The Kingdoms of Evil()