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Vanishing Languages

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Vanishing Languages

Postby scw1217 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 7:50 pm

I thought some might find this article interesting. It is a bit long, so I will just post the link.

The link to the article
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.
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Postby Perry » Mon Nov 26, 2007 3:13 pm

Thanks. That was a very interesting article!
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Postby Stargzer » Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:54 pm

Yes, a very interesting article!

From the article:

From the Pomo language of California, with fewer than 10 speakers. The Pomo excelled at basket weaving, hunting and fur trading, and count with sticks. Dr. Harrison quoted an anthropologist early in the 20th century who admired the Pomo ability to calculate large sums: “Their arithmetical faculties must have been highly developed.” Below 20, the Pomo had unique names for numbers:

k’áli one

For 20 and above, the Pomo combine number names with “stick” or “big stick.” For 61, the Pomo would say xómk’a-xày k’áli, combining xómk’a, meaning three, with xày, meaning stick, and k’áli. Some Pomo numbers:

20 one stick

61 three sticks and one

100 five sticks

400 one big stick

500 one big stick and five sticks

4,000 10 big sticks


I thought I recognized that! It's the Mayan number system. They used a base 20 number system; the assumption is that since they didn't wear shoes, they could count up to twenty using with their fingers and toes.

It was a place-value system like the decimal and hexadecimal systems, but arranged vertically instead of horizontally.

Decimal: 2008 (2 x 1000 + 0 x 100 + 0 x 10 + 8 x 1)


Maya (0 in the chart below is the Shell Glyph):

Image

Place value ( running vertically from bottom to top):

400
20
1

and using 0 for the Shell Glyph

▬▬▬

0

●●●
▬▬▬

5 x 400 = 2000
0 x 20 = 0
8 x 1 = 8

2000 + 0 + 8 = 2008

A slightly different system was used for the Long Count Calendar. In Western literature it is represented in a horizontal fashion for convienience as five coefficients setarated by periods.

The Mayan name for a day was k'in. Twenty of these k'ins are known as a winal or uinal. Eighteen winals make one tun. Twenty tuns are known as a k'atun. Twenty k'atuns make a b'ak'tun.

The Long Count calendar identifies a date by counting the number of days from August 11, 3114 BCE. But instead of using a base-10 (decimal) scheme like Western numbering, the Long Count days were tallied in a modified base-20 scheme. Thus 0.0.0.1.5 is equal to 25, and 0.0.0.2.0 is equal to 40. As the winal unit resets after only counting to 18, the Long Count consistently uses base-20 only if the tun is considered the primary unit of measurement, not the k'in; with the k'in and winal units being the number of days within the tun. The Long Count 0.0.1.0.0 represents 360 days, rather than the 400 in a purely base-20 (vigesimal) count.

Table of Long Count units Days Long Count period Long Count period Approx solar years
1 = 1 K'in
20 = 20 K'in = 1 Winal 1/18th
360 = 18 Winal = 1 Tun 1
7,200 = 20 Tun = 1 K'atun 20
144,000 = 20 K'atun = 1 B'ak'tun 395


And where have we heard something analagous to the "three sticks and one" (three twenties and one) for 61? In French, of course (and archaic English)!

French Numerals:

Numerals

The French counting system is partially vigesimal: twenty (vingt) is used as a base number in the names of numbers from 80–99. The French word for eighty, for example, is quatre-vingts, which literally means "four twenties", and soixante-quinze (literally "sixty-fifteen") indicating 75. This reform arose after the French Revolution to unify the different counting system (mostly vigesimal near the coast, due to Celtic [via Basque] and Viking influence). This system is comparable to the archaic English use of score, as in "fourscore and seven" (87), or "threescore and ten" (70).

Belgian French and Swiss French are different in this respect. In Belgium and Switzerland 70 and 90 are septante and nonante. In Switzerland, depending on the local dialect, 80 can be quatre-vingts (Geneva, Neuchâtel, Jura) or huitante (Vaud, Valais, Fribourg). Octante had been used in Switzerland in the past, but is now considered archaic.[19] In Belgium, however, quatre-vingts is universally used.


Also note in French:

17 dix-sept
18 dix-huit
19 dix-neuf

i. e., ten-seven, ten-eight, ten-nine.



Also from the article:

From Tofa, in Siberia, with fewer than 30 speakers. Tofa uses a 13-month lunar calendar with months named for hunter-gatherer activities:

teshkileer ay Roughly February, or hunting animals on skis month

ytalaar ay March, hunting with dogs month

eki tozaar ay April, good birch-bark-collecting month

aynaar ay August, digging edible lily bulbs month

chary eter ay October, rounding up castrated male reindeer month


Now this one reminds me of the names for various full moons from folklore, as in this list from Wikipedia:

Other names
The Harvest Moon is also known as the Wine Moon, the Singing Moon and the Elk Call Moon. In myth and folklore the full moon of each month is given a name. There are many variations but the following list gives the most widely known names:

January - Wolf moon
February - Ice moon
March - Storm moon
April - Growing moon
May - Hare moon
June - Mead moon
July - Hay moon
August - Corn moon
September - Harvest moon
October - Hunter's moon
November - Snow moon
December - Winter moon
Regards//Larry

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Postby gailr » Fri Jan 04, 2008 2:12 am

Thanks for the follow-up research, gzer!

This caught my eye:
teshkileer ay Roughly February, or hunting animals on skis month

I say, if the animals are fleeing on skis, let them go.
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Postby Perry » Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:28 am

gailr wrote:Thanks for the follow-up research, gzer!

This caught my eye:
teshkileer ay Roughly February, or hunting animals on skis month

I say, if the animals are fleeing on skis, let them go.


Any difference if they are on cross-country or Alpine skis? :wink:
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Postby gailr » Fri Jan 04, 2008 7:44 pm

Perry wrote:
gailr wrote:Thanks for the follow-up research, gzer!

This caught my eye:
teshkileer ay Roughly February, or hunting animals on skis month

I say, if the animals are fleeing on skis, let them go.


Any difference if they are on cross-country or Alpine skis? :wink:

I found a link to a jstor article: "walyuyaak = 'snowshoe' " so maybe the skis are a silver herring. How about, any animal traveling by means other than the norm for its species, let it go.



The clip doesn't say if you can cut down mightiest tree in the forest with this one.
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Postby Stargzer » Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:36 pm

And this caught mine:

gailr wrote:Thanks for the follow-up research, gzer!

This caught my eye:
teshkileer ay Roughly February, or hunting animals on skis month

I say, if the animals are fleeing on skis, let them go.


teshkileer? What could they possibly have against New Age Music?
Regards//Larry

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Postby gailr » Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:32 pm

Stargzer wrote:teshkileer? What could they possibly have against New Age Music?

Ah, Gzer. You know very well that the (wildly generalized) types who grow beards for huntin' season(s) in Wiscaaahhhnsin would happily shoot and field dress anyone perpetrating teshkileer music.
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Postby brianamorgan » Tue May 19, 2009 3:35 am

Wow... That was great.. Thanks for sharing.
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Postby Stargzer » Wed May 20, 2009 12:19 am

That's what we're here for!

Welcome!
Regards//Larry

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