NYT: More on Dying Languages

The Times ran another interesting piece on dying languages this weekend, this one full of examples from various near-dead languages. My favorite illustrated how the same construct can be used for different purposes in different languages. For example, in Rotokas, a language used in Papua New Guinea, doubling a word is used to indicate repetition:

tapa = to hit
= to hit repeatedly

kopi = a dot
= spotted

kavau = to bear a child
= to bear many children

But in Eleme, a Nigerian language, a similar doubling pattern is used for negation:

moro = he saw you
= he did not see you

rekaju = we are coming
= we are not coming

You’ll also learn a variety of useful words for describing castrated reindeer. Worth a read.