This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Nuts and Bolts Anadalam.

I've been looking for the perfect opportunity to write about the extraordinary Sumatran language Anadalam, and here it is.

The Anadalam language is a fantastic piece of human ingenuity (as are of course all languages), a fabulously efficient language where a few sounds do service in a myriad ways.


When the researcher Marcel Appenzzell visited the Anadalam people (also known as the Orang-Kubus, or just the Kubus) he discovered a language consisting of so remarkably few sounds that he suspected that words were deliberately deleted from its vocabulary as each member of the community died.

File:COLLECTIE TROPENMUSEUM Fruitverkoper te Medan Sumatra TMnr 10002440.jpg

For instance, the word pekee can mean hunt, walk, carry, spear, gazelle, antelope, peccary, my'am (a hot spice) forest, tomorrow, or dawn.

Sinuya means to eat, a meal, soup, gourd, spatula, plait, evening, house, pot, fire, fibula, comb, hair, and hoja (a cocnut-oil based hair-dye).

Appenzzell said it seemed to work in practice rather in the same way as when a carpenter, surrounded by specialist tools, says to his assistant 'give me the thingummy.'

As I said before, Anadalam is a fabulous pearl of the human mind... 

...and one that's to be found in many corners of the internet, too.

Word To Use Today: hoax. This word probably comes from hocus, as in hocus pocus. 

The Anadalam language appears in Georges Perec's book Life A User's Manual (La Vie mode d'emploi) and is in practice, of course, entirely non-existent.


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