1. an auxiliary language that has come into existence through the attempts by the speakers of two different languages to communicate and that is primarily a simplified form of one of the languages, with a reduced vocabulary and grammatical structure and considerable variation in pronunciation.
2. (loosely) any simplified or broken form of a language, especially when used for communication between speakers of different languages.
a simplified speech used for communication between people with different languages
In the 19th century a form of pidgin, known as Chinese Pidgin English, developed between European and Chinese merchants in China. Pidgin was the way the Chinese pronounced business, and referred to this form of language. Later it was used to refer to all such contact languages. It was first used in writing in 1807 [source].
a language that has evolved from a pidgin but serves as the native language of a speech community
The word creole was first used in the 17th century, and comes from the Portuguese crioulo (a slave born in one’s household, person of European ancestry born in the colonies), probably from criar (to bring up), from the Latin creāre (to create) [source].
In this episode I bring you news from the 2019 Polyglot Gathering, an annual get-together of polyglots and language lovers from all over the world. This year the Polyglot Gathering took place in Bratislava, Slovakia for the third time – it started in 2015 in Berlin, and was there for three years, then moved to Bratislava. The next Gathering will be in Teresin, near Warsaw in Poland from 26-30 May 2020.
I was planning to interview people at the Gathering, and to keep an audio diary, but was enjoying myself too much and decided to give you a flavour of the event after I got home. So this is the story of my Adventures in Polyglotland.
My badge from the Polyglot Gathering showing the languages I speak fluently, or at least fairly well:
N = native language, C = advanced level, B = intermediate level, A = basic / elementary level, en = English, cy = Cymraeg (Welsh), zh = 中文 [zhōngwén] – (Mandarin Chinese), ga = Gaeilge (Irish), es = español (Spanish), de = Deutsch (German), eo = Esperanto, gd = Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic), ja = Japanese, gv = Gaelg Vanninagh (Manx Gaelic), ru = Русский [Russkij] (Russian), cs = český (Czech), sv = Svenska (Swedish), da = Dansk (Danish).
A kind of language occurring chiefly in casual and playful speech, made up typically of coinages and figures of speech that are deliberately used in place of standard terms for added raciness, humor, irreverence, or other effect.
Language peculiar to a group; argot or jargon.
Source: wordnik (from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition)
colloquial words and phrases which have originated in the cant or rude speech of the vagabond or unlettered classes, or, belonging in form to standard speech, have acquired or have had given them restricted, capricious, or extravagantly metaphorical meanings, and are regarded as vulgar or inelegant.
language (words, phrases, and usages) of an informal register that members of particular in-groups favor (over the common vocabulary of a standard language) in order to establish group identity, exclude outsiders, or both.
The origins of the word slang are not known. It was first used in writing in 1756 to refer to the language of “low” or “disreputable” people, or the “special vocabulary of tramps or thieves”. It possibly comes from the same root as sling, from the Old Norse slyngva (to hurl) [source]
Most people know, or at least have some idea what an alphabet is, but many people might not be so familiar with abjads, abugidas, syllabaries and other writing systems. In this episode I explain what these words mean, and how these writing systems work. I also talk a bit about the history of writing.
Here are some definitions:
Alphabet – a set of letters or other signs, usually arranged in a fixed order, used to represent the phonemes (sounds) of a language [source].
Abjad – a type of writing system where each symbol stands for a consonant, leaving the reader to supply the appropriate vowel [source]. Also known as a consonant alphabet. Long vowels can be indicated by consonants, and short vowels can be indicated by lines, dots and other squiggles added to the consonants letters. When written with the short vowel symbols, they are said to be ‘vocalised’. Normally they are written ‘unvocalised’.
Abugida – a segmental writing system in which consonant–vowel sequences are written as a unit: each unit is based on a consonant letter, and vowel notation is secondary [source]. Also known as a syllabic alphabet or alphasyllabary.
Syllabary – a set of written symbols that represent the syllables or (more frequently) moras which make up words [source].
Logograph – a single written symbol that represents an entire word or phrase without indicating its pronunciation [source].
Ideograph – a graphic character that indicates the meaning of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it [source].
Pictograph – a picture representing a word, phrase, or idea, especially one used in early writing systems. A picture or symbol standing for a word or group of words [source].
The development of the Chinese character for horse
the words, their pronunciation, and the methods of combining them used and understood by a community
a systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures, or marks having understood meanings
There are also different definitions of dialect. The Free Dictionary define it as:
A regional or social variety of a language distinguished by pronunciation, grammar, or vocabulary, especially a variety of speech differing from the standard literary language or speech pattern of the culture in which it exists.
In this episode I talk about Welsh (Cymraeg), a Celtic language spoken mainly in Wales, a part of the UK. I delve into the history of the language, its current status, the language itself, and how I learnt it and use it. I also talk to a Welsh learner from Michigan in the USA who is doing a degree in Welsh at Bangor University.
This podcast is mainly in English, with a few bits in Welsh. The Welsh bits are translated into English, just in case you don’t understand them.
Some tips on learning Welsh
Gwenno Saunders, singer, song-writer and broadcaster, talking about singing in Welsh.
Elin Fflur and Eden singing Harbwr Diogel (Safe Harbour) – I was at this concert.
A lullaby in Old Welsh found in the margins of a 7th century poem.
This epsiode is about polyglottery and was partly recorded at the 2018 Polyglot Conference in Ljubljana in Slovenia.
I talk about what is a polyglot, how many languages you have to speak to call yourself a polyglot, and discuss what polyglots get up to, including the Polyglot Conference and other polyglot events, such as the Polyglot Gathering and LangFest. There are also some sound bites from participants in the conference in a variety of languages.
Definitions of polyglot:
“A polyglot is a person who speaks or understands many languages; a person with a command of many languages” [Collins English Dictionary].
This episode is about accents. What are they? Where do they come from? Does it matter if you have a foreign accent when speaking a foreign language? Can you acquire a native-like accent in another language as an adult? If so, how do you do so?
Some definitions of the word acccent:
“a distinctive way of pronouncing a language, especially one associated with a particular country, area, or social class” [source]
“a way of speaking typical of a particular group of people and especially of the natives or residents of a region” [source]
“the characteristic mode of pronunciation of a person or group, especially one that betrays social or geographical origin” [source]
“a manner of pronunciation peculiar to a particular individual, location, or nation” [source]
In this episode I talk about Solresol, a musical language invented by François Sudre in the early 19th century. It is designed to be a simple language for international communication with just seven basic syllables based on the Western major musical scale (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si).
Solresol was the first constructed language to be taken seriously as an international auxiliary language (IAL), and the only musical language that gained much of a following.
I look at the history of the language, and its structure, and will play with it to see how it works.
Here are the Solresol words and phrases I use during this episode:
Simi re domi dosolfala misol fa lalaresi refafa lasi la lamisolsi solresol lasolfado. Hello and welcome to episode five of the Omniglot podcast.
The appears to be no word for welcome in Solresol so I used domi dosolfala misol (you come well), and for Omniglot podcast I used lamisolsi solresol lasolfado (all language show).
There is no word for radio either, but maybe you could use resolrefa solfasimi fasidola resisido (“send sound far device”). I came up with lasirela sifamire lasi dofadofa (“international network of knowledge”) for internet. So another way of translating Radio Omniglot Podcast might be lamisolsi solresol lasolfado lare la lasirela sifamire lasi dofadofa (“All language show on the international network of knowledge”).
doredomi = body, physical
domilafa = rationality, reason, sense, reasonable
sofamisol = wisdom, wise, sage, wisely
dolasoldo = meat, steak, beef
redoredo = clothes, outfit, effects
remifala = home, house, hut, cottage, hotel
remisolla = room, lounge, dining room
residoso = family, kinship, relative
solremifa = to sing
sôlremifa = song
solrêmifa = singer
solremîfa = songlike
solremifâ = singingly
sôlremifa’ / sôlremifaa = songs
sôlremifa’a = female singer
dolmîfado = man; dolmîfadô = woman
sisol = Mr; sisôl = Mrs
dore = I, me, myself; dorê = we, us, ourselves
misol = well, good
solmi = wrong, evil
fala = good, tasty, delectable, exquisite, delicious
dore mimi domilado = I will speak, I will have spoken
dore fafa domilado = I will speak, I will have spoken
solsol domilado = Speak!
Sire misolredo doredore famido re misolla, re famisol dosila re refasi. Dofa midomido midodosi dofasifa re domilafa, re falado fasolfa miladomi midodosi simisila.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Dore lala domilado solresol re solremisol lasisol. Domi mifare? I am speaking Solresol with vocal punctuation. Do you like it?
Solsi mido dosollado re simi. Thanks for listening and good afternoon.
There appears to be no word for goodbye in Solresol so I used simi, which is a general greeting meaning hello, good morning, good afternoon.