11.10.2006

French meets Persian and I meet...

…Wolof, but not until later.

 

Addressing a few things here. First, is the fact that I’ve deviated from my original intentions here… language stuff. There are a few things I’ll be implementing soon that will be fun (if not for you to read, then at least for me to write. Back off.) Also is the fact that I feel it necessary to mention I commented (somewhat cryptically) on a friend-of-a-friend’s (read: of-a-cousin’s) blog, and that if they decide to amble in this direction, that I was forwarded there by my cousin, who is married to a Korean brother in the southeastern United States. Whatever. (I’m trying to stick to that policy that H’n’B initiated of not using real names, which is good.) She’ll tell him.

 

Anyway, I wanted to do a little research on some African linguistics because I’m not very familiar with a lot of that stuff. Swahili: easy as pie. It’s the simplest of the Bantu languages, it’s not tonal, TONS of Arabic loanwords (which means I’m actually noticing a lot of similarities with it and Turkish), pronunciation is a snap, and it’s (ostensibly) agglutinative, with prefixes instead of suffixes. That works. All the West African countries speak French, and most of northern ones, Arabic. Moroccans, for example, (at least the ones I’ve met) speak French far more comfortably than they do Arabic, but can get by with it. It’s all that Muslim influence, and it also has greatly affected languages like Swahili and Turkish, and by extension of Turkish, even languages like Azerbaijani, Kirghiz, Khazak, and even Mongolian (which is technically a Turkic language, but is, as some linguists believe (read: I believe), the bridge between Turkish and Korean, because they also say Korean is an Altaic language, and that Mongolian has enough Asian influence to bridge the gap between the two).  Most of these languages are written in a modified Cyrillic alphabet, which makes it easier (for me) to read than an Arabic (or modified Arabic) alphabet. (I’m losing some direction here, so new paragraph…)

My point in that last paragraph is (at least) two fold:

  1. I have this Persian call (I have a few that I’ve been turned over because no one else in our area handles the S-43 “turnover” forms) at a grocery store in our area. I spoke to her again yesterday for the second time, and showed her the page in the “Good News,” brochure. She got very emotional and read it, etc. She said thank you in what I thought was French… Seemed strange to me. What she said was مارصا, (which is actually in Arabic, and as best as I can spell it), or in our alphabet, merci. I asked her if thank you wasn’t Teşekkür, (because it’s the same in Turkish) and she said yes, but that they use Merci as well. SO the question is, at what point did Persian borrow from French (or vice versa) to share that word? I don’t believe it’s mere coincidence, but the fact that it’s a ‘basic conversational’ and therefore ‘international’ word, it could have crossed some borders somewhere. But where? The north Africans speak Arabic, not Persian, and the other conquests in south Asia or Canada aren’t much help… I must be missing something and seem horribly ignorant to some reader somewhere.
  2. French brings us back to Africa, which brings us to languages like Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, Zulu, etc, and although a great many of those are Bantu languages, and therefore tonal, there are some that aren’t. For example, in South Africa, there’s a great Germanic influence, (overlooking the obvious fact that they speak ENGLISH) because Afrikaans is so closely related to Dutch. However, I know very little about those languages, and although I have some friends that speak languages like Edo, Yoruba, Twi, and Fon, even they say it’s not an incredibly wise expenditure of your time to pour your heart and soul into a language like Xhoza or Zulu (which, by the way, are highly mutually intelligible). That having been said, number two could be condensed down to this: “I want to learn a little more about the linguistics of African languages.”

In my Turkish studies lately, I have been looking at, and understanding at that, languages that have their bases in Turkish, and by extension, the Semitic or Indo-Aryan/Iranian (i.e. Persian and Arabic) languages that Turkish gets a great deal of its vocabulary from.

For example: I think a few months ago, Azerbaijani was on my bottom ten list. It’s still not a language I am particularly fond of, nor one I care to learn. However, instead of it being a strange language with upside-down e’s and weird words, I can actually read and understand a great portion of it because of the glaring similarities to Turkish. Azerbaijani has been largely adulterated in the homeland by Russian (which is TOTALLY a linguistic promotion) and even the older generation Azerbaijanis I’ve met can’t read their language in its own Roman script. Those that live in other parts of the world (and don’t speak Russian) have pretty much defaulted to Persian, another good choice. My point is, though, that I am beginning to have a grasp of some other pretty oddball languages, and the rule of six degrees of separation is thus true in linguistics, and it may even be smaller than that with powerhouses like Arabic, Russian, French, and (obviously) English in the mix.

Also, I like to hear myself type.

 

Hamba kahle…

4 comments:

Affable Olive said...

I couldn't read all of that. But read up on how a Russian might know amharic as well.

Anonymous said...

So, "Polyglot"...I did indeed amble onto your blog...trying to figure out WHO you are, hehe...
I think I know the contact who is our 'go-between,' but I'm not sure...Give me a clue, eh? On my blog if you like, or you could e-mail me (available on my blog)...Have we met?

The Polyglot said...

Affie... do you mean a Russian to speak Amharic or Armenian?

Book Reader said...

Poly, once again you blow my mind with all of this language information. How does your brain not get heavy from holding all this information?