Various articles on language topics
There are over 70 languages in the world with just whistled sounds. They are spread around the world, from The French Pyrenees, the Canary Islands, Turkey, the foothills of the Himalayas, and the Amazon Basin.
They are usually used in areas where there are hills and valleys, or forests, where the normal human speech does not spread readily.
The following articles explore more this fascinating topic:
Having worked with many people from India and Pakistan in the 1990s, I was often fascinated by words that sounded Arabic in origin. When asking about the meaning, they were indeed Arabic. And I could detect more words in the few Hindi Bollywood movies that I have seen as well.
Arabic influence on Hindi may have been via several avenues. One was via Farsi (Persian) as an intermediate, having been the language of the court for the Mughal emperors. Another was through Muslim scholars using these words from Arabic texts and they made their way into the vernacular.
In a previous article, I attempted a translation of the oldest know literary work in Maltese, Il-Cantilena, without looking up any translations, and relying only on my knowledge of Arabic as a native speaker of both classical and a North African dialect (Egyptian). I was largely successful.
The Biblical Archeology Review has an article on how the alphabet was born from Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The article focuses on the Serabit El Khadem site in Sinai, and the inscriptions found in the temple of Hathor there.
My friend Ralph Janke who is from Germany and lives here in Waterloo, pointed me to a very interesting project that he worked on.
The project is funded by the European Union, and therefore uses open source and open data formats.
This is a poem by a contemporary Maltese poet, Ġakbu (James).
He posted the poem in a previous article on the oldest Maltese literary work, Il-Cantilena. I translated the Cantilena into English using only my knowledge of Arabic and trying to decipher the old orthography and the modern orthography of Maltese.This was a nice mental challenge, and an experiment in culture, history and of course, linguistics.
Also known as Il-Kantilena ...
In a previous article on Arab heritage in Malta, I touched upon how the Maltese language (Ilsan Malti) is definitely derived from Arabic, and more specifically, from the North African dialect of Arabic.
A visitor to the site raised a nice challenge which was very interesting to me: He started on the off note and having his comment titled "Maltest are not arab", and by saying:
When I visited Hungary in the summer, the language was totally alien to any other language I am remotely familiar with. Being from the Finno-Ugric group, it is remotely related to Finnish, and little else.
From the signs in the airplane, I learned that the word "dohány" means "smoke", i.e. tobacco. This was confirmed from shops, and even the name of a street in the Jewish section of the city.
Some time ago, I wrote about why Egypt speaks Arabic and not Egyptian. In it, I touched on why Arabic replaced other Semitic languages in West Asia and North America.
The reason is that Syriac, Amazigh, Coptic and other Semitic languages were similar enough to Arabic to assimilate or be supplanted by it.
It seems that some Arabic words are being used subconsciously for open source software projects.
Here are some recent examples.
Sofa Bed NZ