when I last wrote I was on my way to Mauritania, and I did in fact make it there, via Qatar to Morrocco and overland down to Nouakchott. On the always interesting stretch through the Western Sahara, I got to chat with some Hassaniya-speaking young men who were all too eager to share some poetry sha'bi with me, including not just givan but tulha, which are more like full sonnets where the gaf is simply a quatrain:
اصبر يا عقلي لا بعاد
وكر المدقوق بلا عنان
واصبر محدّاك بين زاد
اقلاب الدوقج ساكن
واصبر تشواشك لا نزاد
ولى حرك من ساكن
هذا ما كُن يغير بعد
أل؟ فخلاقي ما كُن
ماهو ما كُن فخلاق حد
احزيمُ ماهو ماكُن
سبحان الله الاشوي
عاد إلزم كفسارة
هذا ميجك؟ ما زال حي
from the Tiris ( تيرس ) region...
I wish I could translate this accurately for you, but I have forgotten their explanation at the time, and too manz of the words are unfamiliar for me to spin it off right now... but on to more hassaniya poetry... this is one of my favorite tongue/twister givan:
سالكة من ورقتها تيات
وسلامة لهذاها الهاها
الهاها الين الهاها
نسات الناس لهذاها
Salecka from her leaves made tea
and Salama from over here [went] over there
that one there if over there
she forgot the ones over here
interpretation: Salecka was making atai (Mauritanian foamy espresso green tea with mint) and she spotted her buddy Salama (who in more suggestive versions of the poem is a man not a woman) over yonder. She was so preoccupied with her over there that she got the people nearby who she was making tea for. I'll have to confess I don't totally understand all the grammar and whatnot, but it always draws lots of exclamations of uskiin from the beydhan.
... carrying right along, I ended up losing my passport, getting stuck in Morocco, and ultimately denied entrance into the Sudan because of my emergency passport, and their unwillingness to accept my former residency and work permit and everything else. They even had the gall to write on my deportation papers "questionable or forged documents."
After finding out it would take a while to get a real passport with an acceptable visa, I figured I should take the opportunity to visit a friend who happened to be in Spain, my favorite phonologist and Finn, in Zaragoza, i.e. Tharagotha (homeland of Zarathustra, as one friend claimed). This city is a great example of mudejarismo, but I didn't really get a great opportunity to check that out... though I did get a bit of a start on Finnish language, which some say is magical...
I was particularly interested in the reality of diglossia among Finnish speakers - the written language is quite different from the spoken language, even to the extent that if you are learning Finnish from a book, the greeting they will teach will be "hei," when in reality people would only say "moi." As I travelled on through Barcelona, and then Switzerland, I realized that there is a surprising amount of diglossia going on around Europe. Catalan is now being written more, but it seems as though most all books and longer writing is Spanish, while in Switzerland there is quite a difference between the swizzedeutsch and spoken altedeutsch. Sure, everybody has to use a slightly different register between writing and speech, but I would have thought, there would be a tendency towards convergence, except in the cases like Arabic, where the spoken dialects are spread over many different countries. It seems like there is instead a more general move towards convergence in written language norms, and divergence in spoken language... which leads to greater difference for each individual between their speech and their writing.
Well, that is a summary of the last month, which also has seen the momentous return of bulbulovo to the blogosphere, most recently with an interesting post on foreign languages in "Law and Order."