To Know Sumthin’
From Proto-Indo-European, Tenu Tendana inherits *ǵn̥h₃-sḱé- (“know”) in the form acnocerei. Like all regular verbs, acnocerei may be inflected in the usual ways, i.e. eio acnocu (“I know”), keia acnoceth (“She knows”), acnocensei esth (“[it] is [a] knowing”).
However, Tenu Tendana has a common slang expression in acnoc, which irregularly and illegally just chops the verb stem off and throws it away.
A speaker uses acnoc in several similar cases:
- Simply exclaiming Acnoc! is equivalent to “I get it!”
- Tagging acnoc? on the end of a statement is like adding on “you got it?”, “follow?”, “right?”, or “savvy?”
A New Law of Historical Linguistics
…that People Everywhere Will Use Language to Be Ironic Asshats.
I speculate that the word form originates in belittling sarcasm. An analogue in our culture might be to acknowledge a new piece of information with “Grokk get it,” belittling the interlocutor, pointing out, perhaps, a condescending insult to your intelligence implicit in the presentation of his information by ironically comparing yourself to a caveman so thick as to fail basic English grammar. While the Tendaneans would have no concept of a caveman, they do have that of a barbarian, and the term may originate in imitating a foreign, uneducated man’s failure to mark declension, managing only to bark out a two-syllable, consonant-heavy root.
Acnoc originally, and still frequently, connotes a hint of “duh, man,” though the insult of it has dulled after a few generations of use.
Whatever the origin, the form caught on in informal speech, encroaching on casual sentences almost as universally as the English “like.”
ha verthi awra keltha tawesu esth, krian–acnoc?
“That deadly cold wind is torture, Krian, you know?”
The use of verthi, “deadly,” as a slang intensifier will have to be treated in a future post.
Next time we will look at Krian, the aristocratic self-designation, and its use in casual speech similar to tossing in “dude” or “man” in English.