Language

Orality

Nagaland is home to nearly two million people consisting of 16 constituent major tribes that speak over 89 dialects (mostly mutually unintelligible between two tribes) and are without a common language and script.

According to the most famous legend regarding the Naga script, it was given to the people on animal skin which, when nobody was looking, was eaten by a dog leading to the script being lost forever. Certain variations to the legend also claim that the Assamese script was given on stone for which it endured as against the Naga script on animal hide which perished.

The History of Tea Leaf

Image depicts a statue erected on Mt. Loi Saing (Paddamyar Taung in Burmese), near Taung Pė Village, situated within Namsam Township, northern Shan State. The statue goes that when the Burmese king Alaungsithu travelled across his new kingdom around the 5th -6th century, he found Palaung people at Loi San Mountain in Southern Shan State. When he found them to be poor and struggling, he gave them laphet seeds believing it would help them find money for their family.

Unusual terms used to refer rice under BSPP

There existed unusual terms used to refer certain types of rice during the BSPP government. Here are three examples. U Myo Win Than is a 55 years old Burmese man who used to live in Myittha, Kyaukse district, Mandalay.

He explained that “Yar Kyaw Sa Par” refers to the variety which exceeds a hundred tinns (Burmese unit of volume measurement that equals to 40.9148 L) per acre when harvested.

Songhay Cowhide Patterns (2)

The terminology for cowhide patterns remedies this imprecision. One can say that it is a photographic – chromatic thumbnail – index to the expanded spectrum of combinations.  The best way to gauge its efficiency is to compare standard patterns. Our main informant, an experienced herdsman, estimates that he can recognize up to 120 patterns, but the full count may come close to 150. For the most part, these names are originally borrowed from Fulfulde, the language of the traditionally herding Fulbe (Fula).

Songhay Cowhide Patterns (1)

In Gao and vicinity, it is common to hear announcements of lost cattle on local radio. To be useful, the message must contain fairly precise descriptions. For example, let’s take a red cow – in Songhay, haw (cow), ciray (red). To be sure, the phrase haw ciray is correct, as it literally means “red cow”. Then, why does such a description amuse some villagers just a few kilometres away from town?

The Prayers of the Talibés (2)

yalna laa baay laate, dugal la ci poosam yobu la aldiana !

yalna nga àjji màkka 

yalna nga giseek seriñ tuuba yoomalxiyaam 

yalna la borom bi bindal tuyaaba

yalna nga amm ay seex 

yalna nga tabbi ci teenu xaalis ñu lay gene ngay bañ 

 

May God make Baye Lahat put you in his pocket and enter with you into Heaven.

May God give you the grace to perform Hajj in Makkah

May God make you meet Serigne Touba in the afterlife

May God record this good deed for you...

Independence and Freedoms

The whole Naga struggle, it is purely because of the invasion by India...this here is our land, this is ours. The coming of the English language too has given us new terms to describe us, including the word “indigenous” which itself is a way of saying that we are under India and it distorted our definition of who we are. After the British invasion, India too thought of us as a weak people and that it has a sense of ownership over us that led to the making of the state. It was an opportunity for Nehru to show a backup plan by giving us statehood which we didn’t ask for.

Samen Alleen/We are Together

One of the most useful Dutch words for all foreigners to learn the language has to be “gezellig”.  It seems, sounds and means cozy, close, comfort, accompanied, warm, etc. This “gezellig” is embedded deeply in the Dutch culture, so you can hear it often on many occasions.  For example, if you ask someone to join you for coffee, he or she will reply “gezellig”!

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