Let’s make a language, part 23b: Food and drink (Isian)

There aren’t too many new words this time around, but that’s because (as I said in the intro post for this part) many “meal” terms are largely untranslatable. In addition, a lot of foods simply use the terms for the plant or animal they are derived from, so choch “chicken” can refer to both the bird and its meat, and an Isian speaker can eat puri “apples” just as easily (grammatically speaking) as he can grow them.

So let’s take a look at a few words that are specific to the preparation and consumption of food and drink. First, we’ll start with the basic terms for those two concepts: tema and jasan. Isian speakers used to only have two basic meals (aydis) during a day, but modern times have imported the three-meals-a-day standard. Two or three, the most important is dele, “dinner”, meant to be eaten with one’s family after a long day.

It’s usually the Isian woman who cooks (piri). Some men do, but this is the exception rather than the rule. One popular type of cooking is baking (atri, “to bake”), in which food is placed into an oven (otal). There are, of course, other methods, however.

As with many societies, the most important ingredient for most foods is flour, or cha, which is most often used to make pinda, a kind of bread. Dinner usually includes a kind of meat (shek) somewhere, sometimes in a dab “soup”, and often prepared with hac “salt” and various jagir “spices”; the old days, when seasonings were restricted to the wealthy, are long gone.

Dairy products are common, with mel “milk” often being turned into such products as kem “cheese”. For sweetening, Isian speakers have sugar (sije), but some recipes instead call for simya “honey”. As for drinks, water (shos) is the simplest, but many adults are not opposed to a glass of uni “wine”.

Word list

General terms
  • beverage/drink: jasan
  • dinner: dele
  • food: tema
  • meal: aydi(s)
  • oven: otal
  • to bake: atri
  • to cook: piri
  • to drink: jesa
  • to eat: hama
Generic foodstuffs
  • bread: pinda(r)
  • cheese: kem
  • flour: cha
  • honey: simya
  • meat: shek
  • milk: mel
  • oil: gul
  • salt: hac
  • soup: dab
  • spice: jagi(r)
  • sugar: sije
  • water: shos
  • wine: uni

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