Episode 19 – Pidgins and Creoles

In this episode I talk about pidgins and creoles – what are they, how they develop, what they sound like, how they are structed, and so on.

Here’s how a pidgin or pidgin language is defined on Dictionary.com:

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.

The definition of pidgin in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is even simpler:

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].

Dictionary.com defines a creole language:

a creolized language; a pidgin that has become the native language of a speech community

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a creole language as:

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].

Examples of Creoles being spoken

Bislama

Tok Pisin

Haitian Creole

More information about Pidgin and Creole Languages

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pidgin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creole_language
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/langfam.htm#creoles

Costa Pacifica

Details of the Polyglot Cruise 2020 – remember to use the code OMNIGLOT to get US$50 off!

Tunes featured in this episode

Time To Play / Amser i Chwarae

The Frog’s Excuse / Esgus y Llyffant

Episode 18 – Adventures in Polyglotland

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:

My badge from the 2019 Polyglot Gathering

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).

Information about polyglot events: http://www.omniglot.com/events/

Music featured in this episode

Bear With Me / Aros am yr Arth

See the score for this tune

Echoes on the Tongue / Atseiniau ar y Tafod

See the score for this tune

Episode 17 – Slang

Slang argot jargon patter cant patois lingo

In this episode we have a little natter about slang – what it is, where it comes from, and how it’s used.

Here are a few definitions of slang:

  1. language peculiar to a particular group: such as argot or jargon.
  2. an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech.

Source: Merriam-Webster

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Source: wordnik (from The Century Dictionary)

  1. very informal usage in vocabulary and idiom that is characteristically more metaphorical, playful, elliptical, vivid, and ephemeral than ordinary language, as Hit the road.
  2. speech and writing characterized by the use of vulgar and socially taboo vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.
  3. the jargon of a particular class, profession, etc.
  4. the special vocabulary of thieves, vagabonds, etc.; argot.

Source: Dictionary.com

  • 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.

Source: Wikipedia

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]

Links

Information about slang
https://www.britannica.com/topic/slang
https://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/what_is_slang.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_slang
https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-back-slang-1689156M
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verlan

Details of specific words: natter, chat, gob (English), gob (Irish), mush, fika

Slang dictionaries
Green’s Dictionary of Slang
A Dictionary of Slang (British English)
Cockney Rhyming Slang
The Online Slang Dictionary (American, English, and Urban slang)

Music featured in this episode

The Scampering Squirrels / Y Gwiwerod sy’n Prancio

See the score for this tune

The Unexpected Badger / Y Mochyn Daear Annisgwyl

See the score for this tune

Episode 15 – Esperanto

In this episode I talk about the international language, or la lingva internacia, otherwise known as Esperanto. I look into it’s history and development, and discuss the language itself.

Here are some native speakers of Esperanto (they do exist) talking in Esperanto:

How Esperanto can help you to learn other languages:

This is an original song in Esperanto:

Music featured in this episode

The Esperanto anthem, La Espero, written by L.L. Zamenhof:

Mwmpwy Porthaethwy / Menai Bridge Fancy

More information about Esperanto:
http://esperanto.net/en/
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/esperanto.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto
https://lernu.net/en/esperanto
http://mylanguages.org/learn_esperanto.php

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.





Episode 14 – Alphabets and Writing Systems

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].

Some alphabets

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’.

Some abjads

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.

Some abugidas

Syllabary – a set of written symbols that represent the syllables or (more frequently) moras which make up words [source].

Some syllabaries

Logograph – a single written symbol that represents an entire word or phrase without indicating its pronunciation [source].

Some Mayan logograms

Ideograph – a graphic character that indicates the meaning of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it [source].

Ideographs

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

Evolution of the character for horse

The tunes featured in the episode are:

The Blackbird’s Tail / Cynffon yr Aderyn Du

The Dragon’s Fancy / Mwmpwy y Ddraig

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.





Episode 10 – Languages & Dialects

In this episode I look into the differences between languages and dialects, and talk a bit about where they come from and how they develop.

Max Weinreich (1894-1969), a Russian linguist who specialised in sociolinguistics and Yiddish, popularised the saying,

אַ שפּראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמיי און פֿלאָט
(a shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot)
A language is a dialect with an army and navy

Apparently he wasn’t the first person to say this, but heard it from an audience member at one of his lectures, and liked it [source] and used it in an article published in 1945 [source].

There are various definitions of language. This is one from the Free Dictionary:

  • Communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
  • Such a system including its rules for combining its components, such as words.
  • Such a system as used by a nation, people, or other distinct community; often contrasted with dialect.

Merriam-Webster defines language as:

  • 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.

Merriam-Webster defines dialect as:

  • a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language

Tunes featured in this episode hear

More details of German and Latin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_dialects
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Latin

There is more discussion about this topic on: Quora, The Atlantic, Aeon, and in these videos:

Episode 9 – Welsh (Cymraeg)

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.

Statistics about Welsh speakers come mainly from the National Survey for Wales, 2013-14: Welsh Language Use Survey (PDF)

Tunes featured in this episode

More details of Si Hei Lwli Mabi, the song featured at the end of this epsiode.

More information about Welsh

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/welsh.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Welsh_language
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Welsh
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Welsh
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_medium_education

Myths and misconceptions about Welsh

https://dreamsanddialects.weebly.com/dreams–dialects/4-welsh-language-myths-that-need-busting
https://www.businesslanguageservices.co.uk/general/language-news/8-myths-about-the-welsh-language/

Online Welsh lessons

http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/learning/learnwelsh/
https://www.saysomethingin.com/welsh
https://www.learn-welsh.net/
https://learnwelsh.cymru/

Episode 8 – Polyglottery

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:

Definitions of polyglottery:

Other takes on polyglottery

Websites of some of the people who took part in the episode

If you took part in this podcast and have a website, blog, YouTube channel, etc that you’d like to see included here, let me know in the comments.

Videos from Polylgot events

More videos from the Polyglot Conference

More videos from the Polyglot Gathering

My photos and videos from polyglot events

Polyglottery

Tunes featured in this episode

Episode 6 – Accents

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]

Information about accents
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accent_(sociolinguistics)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_accents_of_English

Information about Multicultural London English
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multicultural_London_English
http://dialectblog.com/2011/11/03/multicultural-london-oo/

Here are some examples of people who speak languages with native-like accents, and some advice on how to acquire such an accent.

The song I play and sing at the end of the podcast is called La Plume de ma Tante, and can also be heard here:

Episode 5 – Solresol – The Musical Language

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
  • lafa= bad
  • solla = always, perpetuate, perpetuately, constantly
  • lasol = never
  • simi = good morning/afternon, hello
  • misi = good evening/night
  • dore = I, me, myself
  • redo = my, mine
  • dofa = you, yourself
  • fado = your, yours
  • dore domilado = I speak
  • dore lala domilado = I am speaking
  • dore sisi domilado = I was speaking
  • dore dodo domilado = I have spoken
  • dore rere domilado = I spoke
  • 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.

Information about Solresol

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/solresol.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solresol
https://www.sidosi.org/
https://i.sidosi.org/resources/grammar-of-solresol/grammar-of-solresol.html
https://www.sidosi.org/translator

About muscial constructed languages

Other musical languages
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_language
http://www.kunstsprachen.de/s21/
http://eaiea.com/
http://brackenwood.wikia.com/wiki/Sarus
http://www.thelanguageofmoss.com/

You can hear a longer version of The Clockwork Octopus / Yr Wythdroed Clocwaith at:

If you would like to support this podcast, you can make a donation, or contribute to Omniglot in other ways.