07 October 2010

any plans for 10-10-10?

The date 10/10/10 is rapidly approaching. Some people believe it's good luck to start a new project on a date that has an interesting pattern in its numbers. (Even if it's not especially lucky, at least the start-date will be easy to remember.)

So, dear readers, do you have any language-related plans for the date? Are you planning to begin or re-start the study or creation of any languages?

‘sun’ and ‘moon’ conflated in one word

Languages map their concepts in different ways. In English we just have the word “brother” for a male sibling, but many languages require the speaker to choose either a word for ‘older male sibling’ or ‘younger male sibling.’

English requires its speakers to distinguish between ‘the sun’ and ‘the moon’ but apparently this is not universal. From Handbook of the Seneca Language by Wallace L. Chafe comes the following quotation:

Both the sun and the moon are referred to with the one word kä:hkwa:ʔ, literally ‘the sun or moon is in it’ (that is, in the sky). Which of the two is meant can be specified by preceding the above word with ʔɛte:kha:ʔ ‘diurnal’ or sɔekha:ʔ ‘nocturnal.’ An eclipse is called ʔɛkä:hkwáhtɔʔt ‘the sun or moon will disappear.’