Mbessa: The Cameroonian language that refused to be swallowed by Kom

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Mbessa (Mbesa) is a kingdom of over 25,000 people in the Anglophone Northwest Region of Cameroon. Mbessa, like the hundreds of other kingdoms in the grassfields of the Northwest Region, is actually called a Fondom and it is headed by a powerful traditional authority called the Fon, and specifically called Foyn in the Mbessa language. It should therefore be understood that Fondom equals kingdom while Fon or Foyn equals king.

The kingdom of Mbessa was founded in the 18th century (circa 1772) by an exiled Nkar man called Tfukenu and a self-exiled Oku prince called Nsuung Nyiete (Mala 2013). Geographically, Mbessa is located between Akeh, Din, Kom and Oku, all of which are neighbouring Fondoms.

Mbessa is found in a

Around the world on International Mother Language Day

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International Mother Language Day was celebrated for the first time in 2000 following the 1999 UNESCO initiative. The aim is to preserve cultural and linguistic diversity as well as multilingualism.

According to UNESCO, differences in language and culture must be maintained in order to promote tolerance and respect. Every mother tongue contains unique ways of thinking and expressing itself and provides access to the special culture and traditions of a language community. Every two weeks, a language and its cultural and intellectual heritage disappear, leaving at least 43% of the approx. 6-7000 languages ​​spoken in the world threatened. A similar proportion of people’s known possibilities for structuring their thoughts and their world are thus in danger, and if they disappear, …

Lang Belta: the Belter language from SYFY/Amazon’s The Expanse

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The Belter language, which in the TV show is referred to as Lang Belta, is a Creole language spoken by the Belter people in the The Expanse universe. A creole language can be characterized as a new language, based on the vocabulary of an existing language, but with an innovated grammatical system.

The Expanse takes place 200 years from now, in a future in which Earth has colonized the solar system. In this world, people emigrated to the Asteroid Belt from Earth looking for work, and now survive by scavenging materials in the Belt. In this contribution I will outline the construction and general characteristics of this very complex and interesting Creole and discuss some of its grammatical characteristics.

A language without a nation

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”Now that I am dating an Italian, I will have to start learning Italian”… “I am going to Portugal during my summer vacation, can I borrow your dictionary?” … In Europe we are used to countries having each their language – Denmark has Danish, Sweden has Swedish, Germany has German and so on. But this is a truth with modifications. First of all, countries can contain more than one language, either minority languages such as German in Southern Jutland and Danish in the Flensburg area, or like entire language areas such as Greenlandic and Faroese in Denmark or Sorbian in Germany. Not to mention countries like India or China, which each contain hundreds of languages. Second, several countries can “share” …

Languages in and around Armenia

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As of November 2020, the territories where native Armenian speakers live have become smaller. Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, launched a war against the unrecognized territory of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno Karabakh), inhabited by ethnic Armenians. As a result, a large part of Artsakh was given to Azerbaijan, and ethnic Armenians had to leave their homes. Many of those displaced families had roots in the area reaching back centuries.

Being displaced from ancestral homelands is no news to Armenians. Within the past two hundred years Armenians have been through a genocide, various massacres and pogroms by Turkey and Azerbaijan. There is even a word for “eviction of Armenians” in Armenian  – հայաթափում (“hayatapum”), where հայ (“hay”) means “Armenian” and թափում …

When Rihanna ‘mumbles’ in her native language

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You probably noticed that you can’t understand what Rihanna is singing in the chorus of her song “Work”. What most people don’t know, is that she isn’t singing in English. The language she is singing in is the creole language ‘Bajan’.

A creole language is a type of language that can arise under certain circumstances, where people who don’t have any language in common need to communicate. Bajan arose several hundred years ago among West African slaves who were transported to the Caribbean island of Barbados and bought by plantation owners. The slaves needed to communicate with each other, but since they came from many different places in Africa, they didn’t have one language in common. However, when people need …

Did Denmark get a new dialect?

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When the Danish news agency Ritzau sent out the announcement: “Researcher: Denmark has a new dialect” on the morning of February 4th, my phone started ringing non-stop from 6:20 am. Several Danish news outlets, radio stations etc., including TV2 News, P1, P2, P3, P4, Radio Nova, Radio 4 and about 50 other media agencies, couldn’t find anything else to cover but the exact same story that everyone else wanted to cover. The news about this “new” dialect even reached Iceland.

The reason for all of this was a short interview in the Danish paper Kristeligt Dagblad where I explained that despite Danish dialects being used less and less, new dialects are simultaneously coming into existence. And that I …