When we talk about language, we often use different words to describe it. We say “indigenous language”, “vernacular language”, “official language”, “national language”, “first language”, “mother language”… That’s a lot of languages, don’t you agree? We are all familiar with these names, but do we know what they really mean? Are they one and the same thing? … More INDIGENOUS, VERNACULAR, OFFICIAL, NATIONAL
You know the drill – new year, new start. And I’m not talking about all those resolutions we usually make and then give up on after a few days or weeks. I’m talking about changing the things you know you have to change; the things that didn’t work out the way you had expected. In my case, it is rearranging my study plan. … More MARSHALLESE 10.0: NEW YEAR, NEW BEGINNING
Whenever you learn a foreign language, there comes a time when you should finally put your knowledge to use. It’s never easy and always stressful, because you are painfully aware that you are most certainly going to make mistakes. Despite this, you know – you just know – you have to try. So today, I am trying. … More MARSHALLESE 9.0: FIRST ATTEMPT AT KAJIN M̗AJEL̗
It has been almost a year since I officially began my Marshallese adventure. Twelve fun and productive months, during which I have learnt a lot not only about Kajin M̗ajeļ but also about myself. And as we are nearing the end of the year, I thought it would be the perfect time to sum up my linguistic journey. … More MARSHALLESE 8.0: YEAR ONE SUMMARY
According to the United Nations, every two weeks one spoken tongue dies out. Fourteen days… Poof! Fourteen days… Poof! Fourteen days… Poof! They vanish; one after another. But this doesn’t happen just like that. Before a language disappears from the face of the earth, it usually shows signs of endangerment; it “makes the list”, so to speak. … More MAKING THE ENDANGERED LIST
I have a question for you: what’s the difference between a boy and a girl? And no, I’m not talking about the “obvious” things here. (We all are well aware of the fact that men are from Mars and women from Venus.) Any ideas? No? Let me give you an answer then. It may surprise you. Even shock you… There is almost no difference. At least in Marshallese. … More MARSHALLESE 7.0: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BOY AND A GIRL
Any language you don’t know sounds like a continuous stream of indistinct babble. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t understand the meaning of sentences you hear. But the minute you start learning a foreign tongue, everything changes. Or rather, everything should change. Because it’s not always as easy as you wish it were. … More MARSHALLESE 6.0: COULD YOU REPEAT, PLEASE?
Admit it, you’ve just thought: “Yep! She got bored with Marshallese. I knew that would happen!” or “That’s what you call a short-lived enthusiasm!” or “Quitter!” Well, I hate to disappoint you, but I have neither quit nor got bored with the language. And my enthusiasm has definitely not lessened! So what kind of a break am I taking? … More MARSHALLESE 5.0: TAKING A BREAK
You already know that the native tongues of Oceania, and let me remind you that there are over 1100 of them, belong to two big language families. Add to this the creoles spoken in Melanesia and Hawaii, and…well…you have a pretty sizeable brood. But have you ever tried to ascertain the exact degree of relatedness between those languages? Which of them are siblings or cousins, and which are just distant relatives? It’s time to find out. … More SIBLINGS, COUSINS, OR DISTANT RELATIVES: HOW SIMILAR ARE PACIFIC LANGUAGES?
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And they are probably right. Anything with colours, lines, dots, or arrows just stays in our heads better. Now, I would love to explain to you the relationships between Pacific languages using a nicely created tree diagram, but – truthfully – I suck at this. So instead of drawing a graph here, I’ll tell you a story about two big linguistic families. … More THE DESCENDANTS