Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Hausa pendants are done. I'm very pleased with how these turned out.

'tell'; 'listen'

That little backward curl on the 'd' is no mere calligrapher's whimsy, by the way-- it indicates that the 'd' is implosive, pronounced with the air sucked inward rather than just flowing outward the way that most English consonants do. And the marks above the vowels indicate tone-- think of it as voice pitch. Many African languages use tone not only to change the meanings of words (like Chinese does), but also to mark grammatical stuff, like tense. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, and I agree. That is supercool!

Doing the translations for these has proven to be quite the challenge. Hausa is pretty well documented, so wasn't so bad-- other languages, I'm learning, have grammars but no dictionaries, or dictionaries but no grammar (by 'grammar' here I mean a written description of the language's structure-- of course, all languages have grammar in the 'internal structure' sense). Sometimes I have to browse through an entire book's example sentences just to find the words for 'listen' and 'tell'. Then I still have to figure out what appropriate grammatical forms are to make the words say what I want them to. I've found it can take several hours for each language.

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