LANGUAGE STORIES.

From Deutschlandradio, a story (in German) about a young student of Indo-European who likes learning languages, sometimes three or four in a year: “Pashto ist seine Lieblingssprache: Und das will wirklich was heißen, denn alles in allem spricht Sebastian Heine etwa 35 Sprachen: Altpersisch, Sogdisch, Sakisch, Aramäisch – die Liste ließe sich noch lange fortsetzen” (‘Pashto is his favorite language, and that really means something, since all in all Sebastian Heine speaks some 35 languages: Old Persian, Sogdian, Saka, Aramaic—the list can be lengthened still further’). It’s typical journalistic silliness to think you can “speak” Old Persian or Sogdian, but he’s clearly a man after my own heart. (Thanks, Franz!)
From the Telegraph, a story about “a campaign to preserve a unique hybrid language spoken by the descendants of the Bounty mutineers”:

Norfolk Island’s blend of 18th-century English and Tahitian, known as Norf’k or Norfuk, will be featured by Unesco in the next edition of its Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing.
The language, one of the world’s rarest, is under threat because Norfolk Islanders are increasingly marrying outsiders and because of the influence of television and radio from neighbouring Australia and New Zealand…
Its broad burr evokes West Country English, but it is peppered with Tahitian and other Polynesian words incomprehensible to English speakers.

They give a list of phrases (All yorlye gwen? ‘How are you all?’; Car do far dorg et ‘Not good enough even for a dog’s meal’). Thanks, Trevor!
And the always interesting Mary Beard discusses Esperanto, Welsh and the language wars: “It was through my Dad that I ventured into Esperanto a little. He, in the spirit of his times, saw Esperanto as a weapon in Moral Rearmament – as well as a blow to Welsh…”

Comments

  1. Speaking of Esperanto, the Los Angeles Times has a long article today about conlangs. No real news hook, though of course they have to peg it as a pseudo-trend: “Once the private arena of J.R.R. Tolkien, Esperanto speakers and grunting Klingon fanatics, invented languages have flourished on the Internet and begun creeping into the public domain.” I wonder where this “public domain” is exactly…

  2. Not particularly relevant to this post, but I thought you would get a kick out of an anecdote I read today about Colt Brennan, the quarterback for the University of Hawai’i football team. Evidently this young man, who has had brushes with the law involving unseemly behavior in the past, transferred to UH for a fresh start, and one of the first things he did was to take three semesters of Samoan so he could bond more closely with his offensive linemen. Now from time to time he’ll call audibles from the line of scrimmage in Samoan, which must well and truly fuck with the heads of opposing defenses….

  3. Great story, and relevance is never a concern here at the Languagehat House of Random!

  4. It’s nice to see Norfuk being showcased, but what about Pitkern? It’s a very similar language but has far fewer speakers. There are only 48 people on Pitcairn Island, and I sincerely doubt there are many outsiders who are familiar with the tongue.

  5. Norfuk and Pitkern have long been fascinating to me.

  6. I sincerely doubt there are many outsiders who are familiar with the tongue.
    With such romantic origins, as endangered languages go, it is relatively well documented. For instance, there is a whole book on various aspects of it.
    Efforts to preserve it as a living language are another matter, of course.

  7. David Marjanović says:

    Klingon? Grunting? Come on.

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