As we start a new month, I thought we would focus for a few weeks on the marvels of the languages we speak, which fill our daily lives with meaningful communications and connections - and yes, which also sometimes cause us problems because what we say has been misunderstood.
Language and culture are so tightly woven together, let’s not even try to look at one without the other - together, they form the tapestries of our global communities...and both enrich and challenge us in so many ways! One cross-cultural impact of all this which I often observe and reflect on is how language bits and pieces are borrowed from one culture to another, sometimes used in similar ways and sometimes taking on a whole new function or meaning - but retaining also shades of how it was used and what it meant originally.
For example, the Jola language of southern Senegal is heavily impacted by over a century of French influences since Senegal was the center of French West Africa. In Jola, there is a verb “daccor”, borrowed directly from the French stative form “d’accord” meaning “in agreement”. Since Jola uses reduplication in some verbal tenses (repeating a form), to express agreement - you would use “dacor dacor” as in “Ni dacor dacor” meaning literally I agree agree”
Another example of this kind of borrowing is from English used in the Wolof language also spoken in Senegal. They have taken the word ”nice” and incorporated it into their lexicon adding the usual Wolof suffix for an adjective which is ‘-na’. So in response to the question, “How was it?” one would respond positively in Wolof, “Nice-na”!
How about you ~ can you think of one example of language borrowing you have heard lately?
Share about that with a friend or note it here.
And check out Global SKILLs LINKs below for more on language borrowing...
Until next week!
Global SKILLs LINKs
English is, some say, up to 80% borrowed words: https://www.dictionary.com/e/borrowed-words/
A dense but really quite interesting (take it a section at a time!) study of the science behind linguistic borrowing: https://web.uri.edu/iaics/files/01-Bates-L.-Hoffer.pdf
An exchange of ideas about the pros and cons of using borrowed words:
2021 ~ Celebrating 40 years of working in
intercultural communications and global community building
Connecting, Collaborating, Cultivating Community