Monday, November 9, 2009

Language barriers

Sure we all know English, what are you reading right now? As Americans, we pride ourselves on being able to write, read, speak, and also describe boobs in the language. I decided to look around and expand my audience base. Sadly, I hit a few roadblocks. Chinese and German translators are easy to come by, the roadblocks were some of the other languages. How am I to reach out to over 6 billion people at once? (Nowadays everyone has a computer)

Warlpiri - What? First of all, only about 3,000 people in the world can actually understand it. To give you a little idea of what that's like, there are over 6,000,000,000 people on the planet, that's around one person for every two million on the planet. And 99% of those people live in Australia. No one is sure how long the language has been around, the Warlpiri people were only discovered during the late 19th century, so it's anyone's guess. The craziest part of it all, is the actual language, not the amount of people who speak it, but the amount of people who can.

So what makes it so difficult?

First of all, there are no separate words for "He", "She", "It", so basically everyone has to know what you are talking about all the fucking time. There are also only 15 letters in the alphabet. That's right, we couldn't even finish this sentence in the tongue. To give you an idea why, here is a list of extremely commonly used letters not in the Warlpiri alphabet;

B, C, E, F, H, O, Q, S, V, X, Z

That's right, Sesame Street cringes at the thought of this strange tongue.

Here's an example of a sentence that you would say on a daily basis, in Australia anyway;

Ngarrkangku ka wawirri pantirni - 'The/A man is spearing the/a kangaroo"

Ngurru karnangkurla ngarni - "My mouth is just watering over what you are eating." (That would get you smacked here in the states)

It may seem confusing to read, only because it is nearly impossible to say. Picture you as Charlie Brown sitting in class, and your teacher is talking, that's how it feels to listen to it by any regular person. They do have basic punctuation, although a hyphen joining two words can completely change the meaning. Simply put, half the time you are having a conversation with someone you have to guess what they are talking about is doing what, to what, with what. And all without any O's.

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