Archive for April, 2013

The Language of the Week: Malagasy

I literally had no idea about Madagascar- except for the animation movie. 🙂

So last week, I’ve heard a lot in a conversation about Madagascar so I decided to search about the country and the languages spoken. Let’s see what I’ve found interesting about Malagasy!

 

Malagasy  is an Austronesian language and the national language of Madagascar.

According to Roger Blench (2010), the earliest form of language spoken on Madagascar could have had some non-Austronesian substrata. Malagasy shares much of its basic vocabulary with the Ma’anyan language, a language from the region of the Barito River in southern Borneo. This indicates that Madagascar was first settled by Austronesian people from Maritime Southeast Asia who had passed through Borneo.

There are two principal dialects of Malagasy, eastern, including Merina, and western, including Sakalava, with the isogloss running down the spine of the island, the south being western, and the central plateau and much of the north (apart from the very tip) being eastern.

Malagasy has been written using the Latin script since 1823, before which the Arabic Ajami script, or Sorabe (“large writings”) as it is known in Madagascar, was used for astrological and magical texts.

The alphabet consists of 21 letters: a, b, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, v, y, z.

Diacritics are not obligatory in standard Malagasy.

Malagasy has a verb–object–subject word order:

Mamaky ny boky ny mpianatra
(reads book the student)
“The student is reading the book”

Malagasy has no grammatical gender, and nouns do not inflect for number.

Now let’s learn some words in Malagasy!

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New French Words Borrowed from English

translation4It is amazing to see that we are getting globalized day by day. When something happens at the other end of the world, we hear it immediately through social media. While we have such a high level of communication, it is inevitable for languages to evolve.

One of my friends from France shared an interesting post last week. The post says, French borrowed many words from English. The interesting part is that French does not take them as they are, but in French. I know it sounds confusing but when you see the examples, you will get what I’m talking about:

Subway salmon
« I am late. There were subway salmons » : Je suis en retard et il y avait des « saumons de métro ».

Whale tail
« Look at this great whale tail » : Regarde cette superbe queue de baleine

Sofalize
« Why socialise when you can just stay home and sofalize ? » : Pourquoi socialiser quand vous pouvez rester à la maison et communiquer de votre sofa ?

Parade Maker
« Could the parade maker go faster ? » : Est-ce que l’organisateur de la parade pourrait aller plus vite ?

Hiberdating
« Hiberdating has its benefits in the short run, but it should not last more than one month » : Hiberner en couple a des avantages à court terme mais ne devrait pas durer plus d’un moins.

Mall feet
« Honey, let’s go home, I have had mall feet since two hours » : Chérie, rentrons, j’ai des pieds de supermarché depuis deux heures.

A bromance
« Jake has spoken publicly about his bromance with Paul » : Jake a parlé publiquement de son amitié très forte avec Paul.

Defriend
« I don’t know this guy. I’m defriending him » : Je ne connais pas ce gars. Je le supprime de ma liste d’amis.

Lego hair
« Look at that ugly guy with the Lego hair » : Regarde ce mec moche avec sa coupe Lego.

For more details and the source, please visit the website itself. (It is French though 🙂 ) http://www.topito.com/top-mots-anglais-seraient-utiles

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The Language of The Week: Igbo

To be honest, I had never heard of that language before- even in my linguistic courses! 🙂 Well, that means, we will discover it together!

Let’s find out what kind of language Igbo is! 🙂

– Igbo is a native language of the Igbo people, an ethnic group primarily located in southeastern Nigeria. There are approximately 20 million speakers that are mostly in Nigeria and are primarily of Igbo descent.

– Igbo, like many other West African languages, has borrowed words from European languages, mainly English. Example loanwords include the Igbo word for blue [blu] and operator [opareto].

– Igbo has an extremely limited number of adjectives—just eight: ukwu ‘big’, nta ‘small’; oji ‘dark’, ọcha ‘light’; ọhụrụ ‘new’, ochie‘old’; ọma ‘good’; ọjọọ ‘bad’.

– Words may also take on multiple meanings. Take for example the word akwụkwọAkwụkwọ originally means “leaf” (as on a tree), but during and after the colonization period, akwụkwọ also came to be linked to “paper,” “book,” “school,” and “education”, to become respectively akwụkwọ édémédéakwụkwọ ọgụgụụlọ akwụkwọmmụta akwụkwọ. This is because printed paper can be first linked to an organic leaf, and then the paper to a book, the book to a school, and so on.

-Proverbs and idiomatic (ilu in Igbo) expressions are highly valued by the Igbo people and proficiency in the language means knowing how to intersperse speech with a good dose of proverbs.

– Igbo is a tonal language with two distinctive tones, high and low.

– The language features vowel harmony with two sets of oral vowels.

– The Igbo people have long used Nsibidi ideograms, invented by the neighboring Ekoi people, for basic written communication.

–  The current Önwu (/oŋwu/) alphabet, a compromise between the older Lepsius alphabet and a newer alphabet advocated by the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures (IIALC), was agreed to in 1962.

Igbo had a written script known Nsibidi:

Nsibidi Sheet 1

 

If we have natives here, please share more information with us! 🙂

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New Words to Oxford Dictionary

oxford_english_dictionaryThe gap between written English and spoken English is getting bigger. There are tons of phrases or words that you cannot find in any dictionary. Since the process of this change is slow, it is ok for native speakers; however, when it comes to English learners, sometimes it is a disaster.

To keep up with the latest English, one should not only watch movies and TV series, also study them. I guess they are the best source for those who do not have the chance to visit England or US.

I’m sure each and every language is evolving and changing over time… Now, let’s look at some words that have recently been added to Oxford Dictionary:

 

chillax

verb

calm down and relax:

you can dance to your favourite tune, chillax, or have friends over

 

sext
verb

[with object] (usually as noun sexting)
send (someone) sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone:
older teens are more likely to engage in sexting than their younger counterparts
one in nine Brits sext their partner every day, a new survey has found
the primary reason teenagers sext is to look cool and sexy to someone they find attractive

whatevs

exclamation , adverb , & pronoun
whatever
[as exclamation]:
I’m sure someone will disagree with my summary, but whatevs

 

Whovian
noun

informal
a fan of the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who:
as a fan from way back, Barrowman is well aware of just how passionate Whovians are about everything ‘Who’

 

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The Language of the Week: Fula

Maybe, most of the people is just interested in major languages which are English, French, German, Chinese etc. However, a translator is interested in ALL the languages no matter how many people speak it- or no matter if it is already dead or not. 🙂

Here comes another language in which you will be interested. I hope there are native speakers of this language among us and I hope they can give more information about it. 🙂  

The Fula or Fulani language is a language of West Africa. It belongs to the Senegambian branch of the Niger–Congo language family. It is spoken as a first language by the Fula or Fulani people from Senegambia and Guinea to Cameroonand Sudan.

Fulani is an official language in Senegal (Pulaar) and Nigeria (Fulfulde), an official regional language in Guinea (Pular), where many speakers are monolingual, and a national language of Mali (Maasina) and Niger (Fulfulde).

There are several names applied to the language, just as there are to the Fula people. They call their language Pulaar or Pular in the western dialects and Fulfulde in the central and eastern dialects.

It uses suffixes (sometimes inaccurately called infixes, as they come between the root and the inflectional ending) to modify meaning.

There are about 25 noun classes (the number may vary slightly in different dialects). Each noun class has a singular and plural form, and each form has a corresponding article, nominative pronoun, accusative/dative pronoun, demonstrative adjective and adjective agreement pattern.

661

 

This is written in Fula language. It means:

One evening a judge found in a book that everyone who had a little head and a long beard was a fool. Now the judge had a little head and a long beard, so he said to himself, “I cannot increase the size of my head, but I will shorten my beard.” He hunted for the scissors, but could not find them. Without further ado he took half of his beard in his hand and put the other half into the candle and burnt it. When the flame reached his hand he let go, and all the beard was burned. Thus the judge felt ashamed, for he had proved the truth of what was written in the book.

P.S. Most of the information is taken from Wikipedia. I’ve just summarize the certain parts and have not included all the information there.

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Duolingo

While the internet has become a vital part of our lives, it just goes beyond the computers or laptops… With tablet and smart phones, we carry the internet wherever we go and we really need it when we are mobile. So, the famous internet websites find enjoyable applications to promote their brand in mobile as well.

Thanks to one of my friends, I come across with a perfect mobile application for language lovers: Duolingo!

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Its web site is quite colorful and funny. It makes you practice a language and it turns this process into a game…

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You have your own skill tree and you can compete with your friends as you complete new missions! 🙂

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 19.10.51

It also has its iPhone application. Wherever you go, you can continue gaining new skills and beat your friends out.

Do you want to try? You can visit the website here: http://duolingo.com/

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Rearrange Letters, Form New Words!

Sometimes, you can generate tens of new words using the same letters of a certain word. What you find is generally quite amazing!

Here below, you can see a funny example of rearranging the letters and forming new words out of them! I’m sure you can add many more to this list. If anything comes to your mind, please do not hesitate to leave a comment! 🙂

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