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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Nuts and Bolts: the many-tongued Kuna.

The writing of the Kuna people is ancient, unlike any other writing anywhere else in the world, and is used for magic.

The Kuna have a special spoken language for magic, too: in fact the Kuna people have different languages for all sorts of things.

Sakla kaya, which means chief's language (which is also called konkreso kaya, or congress language) is used for meetings of the community. This language is different from coloquial Kuna or tule kaya, which means people's language, and from suar mummi kaya, used in curing people, and from the language used by the ceremonial leader of girls' rites, kanture kaya.

And that's not all the languages of the Kuna: there are other languages for telling jokes, for lullabies, and for riddles.

Here's an example of how different the languages are:

In Panama, the Kuna people call Baird's tapir:

 moli in their colloquial language (tule kaya); oloalikinyalilele, oloswikinyaliler, or oloalikinyappi in their political language (sakla kaya); and ekwirmakka or ekwilamakkatola in their spiritual language (suar mimmi kaya).

I am full of envy and curiosity and admiration.

Oh, and I do wish the English had a special magical language of our own!

Word To Use Today: colloquial. This word comes from the Latin colloquium, which means conversation.

The Kuna people live in Panama, the San Blas islands, and North Western Columbia.

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