Saturday, April 23, 2011

Who knew (St.) Augustine was a Berber?

Language Log has a post focusing on the Berber language as spoken in Libya.  Apparently, there is a sizable (suppressed) Berber minority there.  I think I first heard about Berber in the context of an article I read as a child about the Tuareg (Tuareg is a Berber language), notable because "In Tuareg society women do not traditionally wear the veil, whereas men do."

Apparently, Berber is an Afro-Asiatic language, like Arab, Hebrew, and ancient Egyptian (which survives in daily use only among Egyptian Christians (Copts) who use it in their services like Catholics used to use Greek and Latin).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Quote from Dave Barry, in Language Log:

"The Hawaiian language is quite unusual because when the original Polynesians came in their canoes, most of their consonants were washed overboard in a storm, and they arrived here with almost nothing but vowels. All the streets have names like Kal'ia'iou'amaa'aaa'eiou, and many street signs spontaneously generate new syllables during the night."

My own explanation for this was the Hawaiians were once united with the Czechs, divorced, and in the settlement one got the vowels and the other the consonants.