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9/15/09 Word of the Day: Abrid

Abrid translates best as path, and works both literally and metaphorically (as path does in English). Most newbie Tam speakers are taught that it means road, which it does, but it means so much more than that.

If someone asks, “Is tsnt l-abrid?” – Do you know the path? – they mean, do you know how to get to/from here?

“Ida abrid-ns” – He went his path – means he left his wife. “Tda abrid-ns” is the equivalent – she left her husband.

The plural - “Ida ibrdan-ns” – He went his paths – means he hit the road. Left. Done gone. It can also be used as a command: “Du ibrdansh!” – Go your own roads – Get out of here!

The last week or two, I’ve heard the word most commonly in the phrase, “Ibbi l-abrid.” The path is cut. In American English, we’d say, “The road is closed.” Interestingly, though they don’t use closed when the road is impassable, they do use openanf – when the obstacle/flood/landslide/meters of snow are removed and the road is again available to use.

Lately, the roads have been closed – cut – due to flooding. As discussed before, the heavy rains have raised the rivers, and since the roads generally follow the rivers – in mountains as steep as these, river-cut valley floors are really the only places you could put a road – the roads are frequently buried under flooding water.

Places where the river twists but the road goes straight, or vice versa, are the most easily flooded. The bridges are never built very high, so rising water pours across them with little provocation.

The lowest of these bridges is only half an hour outside of Souqtown, which means that my road home gets cut off pretty regularly in inclement weather. I intended to come into Souqtown yesterday, but couldn’t, because the road had been cut (ibbi) early in the day, so no Souqtown transits drove up to Berberville, which meant that I had no way to go down from Berberville back (on their return loop). Then the rain stopped, the floodwaters receded, and the road reopened, but too late for me to have a ride down. So I came down on the earliest transit today, leaving at 4:30am (just after the dawn call to prayer). We made it through, but the driver slowed many, many times, cautiously inching the oversized van across slurries of mud, rubble, and larger stones. Once, we scraped the undercarriage of the transit on some flood-deposited boulders. The shallow bridge, right outside Souqtown, was underwater. Floodwaters poured across it, rushing and splashing, but we pushed over the 3-4 inches of water safely, and made it into town, lhumdullah.

It rained again today, though, so imkin l-abrid ad-ibbi eska – the road might be closed tomorrow. Tomorrow is the first day of our Project Design and Management Workshop; I hope our workshop attendees will be able to make it down the mountain…

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