ONE of Mark Twain's most amusing whims was to take a story of his own, turn it into French, and then translate it literally back to English. The result of transferring these strange idioms bodily was very grotesque, and a remarkable object-lesson as to the difference in "habits," so to speak, between two languages. This is one of the first things one notices in learning Latin--an inversion of the order of words in a sentence, which seems very awkward to us.
The Indian languages have not so many characteristic idioms; but the order of the sentence, and the fashion of compounding words, make an absolutely literal translation almost unintelligible. It ma interest you to see exactly how one of these folk-stories is told--original Indian and all; so here is an interlined translation of such a story, each Indian word having printed under it the English word (or words) for which it stands. 1
Nah-t'hú-ai kah-men-chú Tú-ai-f(n)ú-ni-hlú-hli
In a house, | they say, | Cane-Black-Old-Man
an I-eh-bú-reh-kún-hli-o I-eh-ch'ú-ri-ch'ah
and | Ear-of-Corn-with-Husks-Woman, | Corn-Yellow-Girl, 1 (and)
Na-chur-ú-chu iḿ-u-u-f'hir i-i-tú-ai. Tu-ai-
Blue-Dawn (proper name) | (and) their little son, lived they. Cane-
f(n)ú-ni-hlú-hli hlé-eh-chí-deh t'ah-rá-da-kí-eh
Black-Old-Man | rain | worked for (to call).
I-eh-bú-reh-kún-hli-o é-eh-wé pú-nyu-páh.
Corn-Old-Woman | was | without eyes (blind).
Hú-bak Na-chur-ú-chu tum-da-kín huib quí-eh-
Then | (proper name) | came at dawn | whib-stick | used
huí-mi-k'yé. Hú-bak I-eh-ch'ú-ri-ch'ah ú-tir-
to run. | Then | Corn-Yellow-Girl | she used
k'yé. Hú-bak I-eh-bú-reh-kún-hli-o be-ná
to grind. | Then | Ear-of-Corn-Old-Woman | she used
ú-u-nah-pi-en-nú-k'ye. Nah-quai-yaí ah-shi-
to the child take care of. | On the belt | she used
yé-k'ye. Jü-on-aí ah-mí-bak hu-e Eh-beh-
to tie. | Far | when gone far, | thought | she
ah' bak nah-quái huü-shi-k'yé. Hú-bak shi-
thought, | the belt | she pulled back. | Then (the)
hui-deh-báh ah-ú-u pú(n)-peh-cheh-a-bán.
eagle | the child | had eyed.
Hú-bak t'á huím-t'hu t'a shi-huí-deh i-bán.
Then | | one day | | the eagle | came.
Hú-bak ú-u hlí-em-beh-bá. Hú-bak náh-quai-
Then | child | he stole. | Then | belt
huí-shi-ban. Hú-bak t'á éh-u-u shé-pah. Hú-bak
she pulled. | Then | no child | tied. | Then to
I-eh-ch'ú-ri-ch'ah tu(n)-am-bán ma-pé quú-huü-ri
Corn-Yellow-Girl | she spoke: | "Hurry, | come out;
jé-chu-ow-áh-chu ín-u-u-mí. Hú-bak shim-ba
I don't know where | my little child." | Then | all
ki-eh-báht u-shi-a-bán. Hú-bak p'ai-bá-na eh
everywhere | asked they. | Then | nobody | had
shim-bé-bah. Hú-bak ki(n)-tú-aht i-na-cá-cha
seen. | Then | pueblo | notice
hui-eh-bán. Hú-bak yú-a-huin-na hué em-mu-
given. | Then | nowhere | was | seen.
chéh-ba. Hú-bak hú-nak. T'á i-pí-eh-hue bi-u-
| Then | it was so on. | | (Then) sorry | they
ban. T'á Tú-ai-f(n)ú-ni-hlú-hli weh-eh weh-hlé
were. | Then | Cane-Black-Old-Man | didn't | rain
chi-t'a-rá-wa ta-kípa. Hú-bak t'á wéh-eh hlu-a-báh.
work for | (by "medicine"). | Then | didn't | rain.
T'á hú-bak shim-ba eé-eh-ee eh-teh-bán.
Then | all | corn | got dry.
Hú-bak t'á shim-ba t'ai-nín ee-hú-pi-o-bán.
Then | all | the people | hungry were.
Hú-bak t'á hú-wée-nu wée-wai Na-chur-ú-chu
Then, | at last | again | (proper name)
wée-wai t'hum-dak-kín whib kui-eh-wee mee-wéh.
again | in the morning | (whib) | to run | went he.
Hú-bak yú-o-wáh mir-p'yén-ahp weh-náh-té-a-kem
Then | somewhere | mesa in the middle day, | inaccessible
nah-pán-ahp shú(n)-mik t'-rá-weh u-ú-deh
it was, | passing by, | he heard | the child
"Chéh-e-máh-weh, máh-weh 1
Hú-bak hún ta-rá-bak bé-eh-win-ee-bán
Then | when | this he heard, | he stopped
bé-eh-ta-wín-ee him-ai. Hú-bak weé-wai hú-
to listen | for. | Then again | the
daht t'a-rá-ban. Hú-bak ta tú(n)-weh pai-í-nah
same | heard he. | Then | | said he: | No other:
wi'm-ah wé-eh-wéh nyú-deh in-chún-un-o-wé-i
| isn't | this | my nephew?
Hú-bak ta-mí-eh-weh wée-wai mah-kwi-wéh.
Then | went he | again | back.
Hú-bak tü-ai wám-bak. T(n)-wéh men shi hui-deh-
Then | pueblo | arrived he. | He said: | "By | the | eagle
báh in-chún-o-wé-i wé-eh-cheh-báhn. Hú-a-yú hún
| my nephew | was carried. | That 's | why so
té-aht'-ah-ra-báhn yu-áh wen-náht-t'hén-aht p'a-
I heard | where | he cannot, | and | no-
yín-a wéh-a-wan-hin-áht áh-na-pún. Hú-bak-táh
body | can reach, | noise-making." | Then
u-béh-weh tum-dák wée-wai ah-mée-hee káh-bah
they told him: | "To-morrow | again | you go, | see
k'énd-ha hú-daht ah-t'áh-ra-hée. Hú-bak tü-bek
if | the same | you will hear." | Then | next day
wée-wai mee-báhn. Nwe-bai-ee hú-daht wée-wai
again | he went. | True it was, | the same | again
t'á-ra-báhn. Hú-bak tú(n)-wéh him-meh-én-chu
he heard. | Then | he said: | "It is so;
yeh-deh eé-ku-wem. Hú-bak ta ki(n)tú-aht
that | is he." | Then | | the pueblo-in
u-wan ee-chái-beh-eh-báhn ee-mee-héem-ai
the lads | were ordered | to go
ee-hlé-eh-wee-hím-ai bi-chu ee--méh-nah-t'héh-
to bring him down, | but | they couldn't.
Hú-bak hí-yo-kú-ak-kwó-a-bén ee-chee-em-
Then | Stone-Layers 1 | flying
Hú-bak ee-bée-u-mée-way. Hí-yo-kú-ak-kwó-a-
Then | they | told them: | "Bird-masons,
bén hée-ri-yú mah-whéh-mi bé-a-wa wai-kyé
| what | payment | want you | up there
u-ú-deh kú-ai-eé-ee ben-hlú--a-- wée-hée-mai?
child | lying there | to bring him | down?"
Hú-bak yen-náh pee-eh-wée-am-bah. Chee chee
Then | they didn't | care. | (Their cry)
Hú-ni tu-mik kée-yeh-pu(n)ú-a-pu eé-hleu-
So | cried they | up and down | coming
mik ee-wér-ím-mik ée-t'ah-meé-ay. Hú-bak
down, going up, they were doing. Then
wée-wai ee-beé-u- meé-way. T'a hu-wée nu
again, | again they spoke. | At last | one
weém-ah tó(n)-wéh Ah, hée-a-men náh-pú(n).
(bird) | he said: | "Yes, | there is some one | talking."
Ta-hú-bak ee-béh-t'a-win-nee-báhn. Hú-bak
Then | listened | they. | Then
ee-u-béh-weh heér-ri-a ma-whéh-am-ee béh-a-
they told them: | "What | payment | want
wah bén-u-u hlú-a-wi him-ai. Hú-bak eé-to'(n)-
you | our child | down | to bring?" | Then | they
weh t'a-úm. Hú-bak tai-ee-weé-rí-báhn bi-chu
said: | "Piñones." | Then | up went | they, | but
eé-mén-naht-héh-wah. Hú-bak ee-hlée-u-báhn,
they couldn't. | Then | down came they,
eé-i-tú-meé-ay eé-meh-náh-teh-báhn. Hú-bak
said they | then couldn't. | Then
ta ee-béh-eh whém-beh-báhn. Ta hú-bak ah-
| they | were paid piñones. | Then | them-
wán-dah ee-tún-weh ah-chée-ee p'a-ü-ah-
selves | they said: | "To Grandmother-Spider-Old-
hlée-u ee-mée-heen. Hú-bak ee-mee-báhn.
Woman | we will go." | Then | went they.
Hú-bak yú-o-áh ah-chée-ee p'a-ü-ah-hlée-u
Then | where | Grandmother-|Spider-Old-Woman
tü-pán-aht ee-wam-bán. Hú-bak ta eé-oo-
lived she | they arrived. | Then | | said
mee-báhn hée-yah eé-nah-béhu-min-áp. Hú-bak
she: | "What | want you?" | Then
eé-u-béh-weh. Hú-in-kwee-nám. Ah-bu u-ú-deh
they told her. | "So it is? | My poor | child
áh-nah-púm-nin. Háh-ru máh-ku bé-y-kée téh
makes noise. | Wait, | grandsons, | wait me, | let
kar-chéh. Ta-hú-bak ú-nah-kar-seh-wéh kü
us eat." | Then | her food she put up in | acorn-
téh-u- ahu sa-chú-un kwée-a-ree-án. Hú-bak
shells: | | mush, | atole-and. | Then
Hí-yo-kú-ak-kwó-a-bén hee-tú-weh Bah! áh-bu
the birds | said they: | "Bah! | Poor (us)!
pá(n)-yu h(n)-a-wáh- hee nú-din ow. Hú-nin máh
Who is it | will fill-in | these shells?" | "That-way-so, | grand-
ku, ay-éh pee-eh wéh-ki manhu-kár. Hú-bak to
sons, | don't | think. | Eat, | yourselves." | Then
ee-tú(n) weh há-wu ah-chée-ee Him-eh-én
said | they: | "Thanks, | Grandmother. | Is that
chu heh-reé pán-yu hua-wáh-him-aí kim.
so, | and | who is it | will be filled?" | "You.
Hú-bak ee-mée-weh nah-hú-wah. Tú-kway-ee
Then | you go, | and you are filled." | "Let us go
ka-báhn ee-mée-eh-chéh. Ta hú-bak eé-t'ú-a
to see | to go away." | Then | big
bú-ru kúr-ban. Hú-bak ta ee-mée-báhn yu-o
basket | she took. | Then | they went | somewhere
áh meér-ahb ú-wun in-nah- keé eé-pan-aht.
on the mesa. | The lads | waiting | were.
Hú-bak u-ah-béh-wéh in-chée-ee-wáy-ee tahb
Then they told her: "Our Grandmother, will you
kéh-beh-yá-weh-weh wai-keé-ay u-ú-deh kú-a-
dare | way up | child | ly-
yeé-ee ben-hléhw-hée-ee. A-áh bi-chu u-kém
ing bring me down?" | "Yes, | but | take care
kée-ep mah-wéh-eh-mu-hee. Ta wée-eh-ree-
up | not to look." | Then | she went
báhn. Ta, hee-táh Ee-tü-ah-bú- ru chu-
up. | Then, | "Here he is! | The basket | she
mee-báhn. Hú-bak wai-mow-mú-ee wai-keé-ee
hung down. | Then | look up there | way up
ah-che'e-ee, p'áh-nah-hlée-u mah-mú-ee.
to Grandmother-Spider-Old-Woman | look up--they.
Hú-bak ee-et'-ú-a-bú-ru pú-ee-yéh-de-báhn.
Then | the basket | blew away.
In-dah hún-ma'a-t'á-chi. Éhr-eh. In-dah-a in-
"Do not | do that." | She suffered. | "No, | my
chee-ee-way-ee t'a yan kee-way-a- mu-hee.
Grandmother, | now | we will not look up."
Wee-wai t'ú-a-bú-ru chu-mée-bahn t'áú-a-hlú
Again | basket | she hung. | The baby brought
ee-báhn. Hú-bak bi-chu shée-u-ú-deh tin wéh-ai.
she down. | Then | but | eagle-young | only | he was.
Ta hú-bak ee-wháy-bahn tú-ai t'a-eé wám-
| Then | they carried to the pueblo | and | ar-
bahn. Ta in-náh-keen-wee-báhn hée-bah-kú
rived. | Then tried they | which way
eé-t'ai-peh- him ai wée-wai. Hú-bak sú-ah-
"people" | could they make him again. | Then | the men
nin ee-ú-nah pee-in-ai. Hú-bak ta wee-énd-t'hu
the fathers of wisdom. | Then | for four days
ee-béhu-wa-yu-bún. Hú-bak wee-énd-t'hu-wáy-i
hungry went. | Then | in four days' end
nu-wid-deh-aí ee-t'ah-ra-tá-ban. Hun húyú-ai
in the night | worked wisdom. | So | then
shée-u-ú-deh hláh-keh-báhn. Hú-bak ee-cháh-
eagle-child | they set down. | Then | they
ta-báhn. Chú-pi nah-káh-wai A-mák-k'hür
sang. | At the first | words | the Ma-koor hoop
dü-reh-báhn. Hú-bak kö-a-u ai-chin t'ai peh-
they rolled. | Then | to the neck down, | "people" | he
cheh-báhn. Wée-choo-wáy-ee máh-dür ai-kén ta.
became. | The second | to the waist down.
Pá-chu áh-way-eé kú-pee-a-khin. Wée-en-ai
Third | time | to the knees. | Fourth
to ankles | down. | Fifth | perfectly (all over).
Hun hu-yú-ai. Ta ee p'áh klu-eh-mee-
So | it finished. | Then | water | they
báhn. Hú-bak p'ah-sú-a-beh-báhn to ehw-
warmed. | Then | water made him drink. | He | vom-
báhn shim-ba peé-run, tú-whé-un, pee-u-nín,
ited up | all the | snakes, | coyotes, | rabbits,
shee-chún bai-ay-tee shée-eh-wim-bah hee-ree-áh
mice, | and vermin, | all | what
hée-ree-áh náh-mee-kéh-wa-eh shée-wid-deh-báh.
all | was fed him | the eagle by.
Hun hu-yu- ai ta im-mah pee-wee-eh-cheh
So then about that time | he was | given over (to his
báhn. Hú-bak tá eé-wheh-báhn ún-tü-nai.
parents). | Then | they carried him | to their home.
Hú-bak wée-wai Tú-ai-f(n)ú-ni-hlú-hli hlay-chid
Then | again | Cane-Black-Old-Man | rain
t'á-ra-ta-báhn. Ta wée-wai hlu-rid-deh wéh-eh-
worked. | Again | rain | they
teh-báhn. Ta náh-péh-ahw ú-ee-eh-shám-bahn.
had. | On the fields | corn came up.
Ta ú-káhp-páhn. Hú-bak u-kö-wéh-wun.
It blossomed. Then it ripened.
Hún hú-yu- ai ta t'ai kah-bay-deh áh-nah-
so | about | that | time | people | commander | (Cacique) | they
kah-cháh wée-eh-cheh-báhn eé-u eé-eh-tu- a
told | (to give leave), | corn | they were going
hím. Hú-bak ta nah-tú(n)-kwin pú-an ee-u-
to pick. | Then | calling | they proclaimed | corn
eé-eh-tu-a. Ta t'ai-nin eé-eh-tú-mee-báhn.
to pick. | Then |the people |corn |went |to pick.
Hú-bak eé-u kör-bahn hee-táh t'ai-kah-báy-deh-
Then | corn | they brought | into the | Cacique's
ai. Hú-bak u-púm-- pee-ay-báhn. Hai-ku
house. | Then | it they filled | and more was left. | Go
nyú-din whay-eh-b'ai-kweer tü-u tu-wáh-weh-
these | to the east, | to the north; | in the
eé-ahk mahw-whéh-wi. Hú-bak nyú-din wheh-
(street) | take it. | Then | this | north-
u-weéw-kweer tú-now tu-wáh-weh-eé-uk mahu-
to-west, | west | the street | take up
whéhw-wi. Hú-bak nyú-din whéh-en-ai-kweer
this. | Then | this | from west
tu-k'hu- tu-wáh-weh-eé-uk mahw-whéh-wi. Bá(n)
to south | in the street | take it. | And
yú-deh whéh-a-kwée-kweer, tú-wáh-weh-eé-uk
this | from south to east | in the street
Hú-bak hún ee-béh-a-wak kee-tú-ai tah-báhn.
Then | so | very glad | in the pueblo they lived.
You have a tail on.
240:1 In pronouncing the Tigua, A is like ah, and U like oo in "boo"; I and ee sound like ee in "deed"; E like ay in "day"; Eh like e in "bed"; Ü as in the German; Hui like "wee"--as which it is often spelled here; Hue like we in "wed"--also spelled here weh; (n) indicates that the vowel is to be pronounced "through the nose." The other letters have their ordinary English sounds. The apostrophe means a little holding of the breath after the consonant, before making the vowel sounds at all.
241:1 N.'s sister.
243:1 Not Isleta words. Perhaps Chimayó. Many of the ceremonial songs are in other Indian languages--perhaps to add to the mystery with which the medicine-men surround their profession.
245:1 A kind of swallow. "Masons."