Monday, December 31, 2007

Dorky Linguistic Addendum:

Malinke is an ancient language spoken throughout areas of West Africa that once made up their 13th century empire, including eastern Guinea. Free from outside influence, there is a remarkable harmony to it; that is, words for related concepts sound alike. If they don’t seem related, but sound the same, that sheds some light on the culture (what malinke culture sees as related):
o baara is work, and office is baaradiya, the work place.
o Fin is charcoal. It also means black. Farafin is black person or literally “skin of charcoal”
o Sanji is rain. San is year. Malinkes, mostly farmers, mark the year by when the rains come. Caro means both moon and month, just as teleh means both day and sun by similar logic.
o Human body parts account for a lot of other related words, especially location-prepositions. Kun is head. Kunti is the head of the village.
o Kono is belly. It also means inside. Mobili-kono means inside the car.
o Some words that relate to religion and writing are Arabic, since the Muslim conquerors brought both of these to the Malinke. Allah is God. Ka makaran means to learn and has the word “koran” in it. Karandiya is school, or the place of study, place of koran.
o The only other foreign words I know in Guinean Malinke are inventions the French brought: car (mobili), spoon (cuyeri), window, (fineteri), Saturday (simiti-lon) and Sunday (dimanshi-lon).

Creole on the other hand is so worldly, that despite being based mostly on Portuguese, it contains vocab that comes from many European languages. At the crossroads between Europe, Latin America and Africa, slave traders, pirates, merchants, colonists and sailors from all over passed through, leaving their mark on the language.
o Badja, Creole for dancing, comes from bailar, the Spanish word for dance.
o Boite, Creole for nightclub, comes from the French.
o Grogu, the word for Cape Verde’s national moonshine, comes from early contact with English Pirates (include Sir Drake).
o A lot of words relating to “cool” come from American English, because of large Cape Verdean immigrant communities there, especially in the Boston area. Tug Life (thug life) and tuggi (thug) are used among youth to refer to da glamourized gangsta life. “Fishi”, which allegedly comes from the English word “fish” means “cool.” I have no idea.
o A lot of imported goods take brand names: razors are “gileti” and minivans are called Hiaces and trucks Hiluxes after their Toyota model names. Oh yes, and “daipis”—diapers.


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