Wenja Language: ku

Su shayar, sakush! Pra chashka warshtas u” warhamas.  Inglishu, “sentence starter” kalhamas. Shaja alya “sentence starter” hawchamas : ku.

“Good morning, friends! Earlier we spoke about the command word “u”.  In English, we call it a “sentence starter”. Today we’ll be learning another “sentence starter” : ku.

Ku is a word only found in Wenja – there is no direct translation for ku in Izila.  Speakers of Wenja can — but don’t have to — use ku when asking a question.

Think back to one of the first scenes with Sayla, where she leads you back to her cave and offers you food (U hada).  She asks you Ku chlawata?  “Do you hear (them)?”, a question which baffles Takkar as it refers to the screams of the Wenja dead. Later, Sayla asks Takkar, Ku barata? “Did you bring (the ears)?”

In short, whenever you ask a yes/no question in Wenja, you will normally begin the sentence with the word ku. Note, too, that because ku marks the sentence as a question, you don’t have to indicate that what you’re saying is a question through a change in pitch (like English).

Like the sentence starter u ‘command’, ku ‘?’ does not have a direct source in PIE, rather our reconstructed Proto-PIE.  How did we arrive at ku?  If you look at a number of question words in English, you’ll see that they all begin in wh- : who, what, when, where, why, whither, whence, etc.  This wh- derives from PIE *kw- (technically *kʷ-), which was pronounced very similar to the qu- in English quick.  As the sounds w and u are nearly identical in articulation, it seems very likely that this *kw- once was pronounced as ku, a word that marked questions.  For *kʷ- elsewhere in Indo-European, we can easily see it in Latin quid “what?” and Hittite kwid “what”.

Tu sakwan prasti!