Xhosas and Effects (South Africa Series 3/10)

Playout date: 12 November 2006
Camera: Fuji Finepix
Post Production: Windows Movie Maker – slight use
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Other people featured: Waitress at Sheraton
Genre: Linguistic
Music used: “This could be heaven for everyone” by Queen – Karaoke version
Languages used: English and Xhosa
Animals featured: None

A very nice lady helps me to get an idea of what the click consonants of Xhosa sound like.
This video managed to get a share of silly comments from people who don’t really get it. Never mind. Tidak apa apa.

12 thoughts on “Xhosas and Effects (South Africa Series 3/10)

  1. I’d like to try learning a click language someday. Probably Xhosa would be most useful, although !Xóõ seems even more interesting and challenging.

    1. It seems to be the ultimate challenge. It puts into the shade dealing with the fact that languages like Arabic, Thai or Korean have different types of K and T that we can’t really hear the difference for. Anyone who can learn Taa after childhood has certainly had their work cut out for them.

      1. I think that given enough exposure, and of course patience from both the native speakers and the learner, it should certainly be possible to learn to distinguish them. It would take time, though, and I think pronunciation would be the biggest obstacle to speaking it well, whereas in most languages I know of, pronunciation is one of the easiest parts. I can’t know for sure if I don’t try it, though. I’m young, healthy, and unmarried, so maybe I should try living among the !Xóõ people. There is at least one dictionary of their language, so it would be possible to build a vocabulary before going, even though the pronunciation might be terrible.

            1. It wasn’t so much death I had in mind. I think that when one goes among a people whose culture is very different it adds to our years, their harsh existence would inevitably present challenges for the health of someone brought up in a sanitised country, and also you’d probably fall in love with one of their women and marry her, as almost always happens when people go to very different people.

              Bearing in mind that the life expectancy of these people is probably less than 50 even without the issue of HIV that plagues Botswana, so you’d be less young than you thought soon after you arrived. By the time you’d learned the phonemes, you’d be middle aged.

              http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=nmn . Missionaries are already on it, if that’s what you’re thinking. There are Christians among them already, and also Botswana generally has a number of Churches of all descriptions. Maybe talk to SIL and see if they think that’s a good use of your potential?

              1. Well, I was thinking of staying for only a few months, at least to begin with. But if there are already missionaries among them, maybe I should go somewhere else. I would like to work with analyzing “unknown” languages, and if it can help with things like Bible translations, then that would be even better. After my not-too-impressive Japanese classes, which included a lot of translating with the focus on transferring all the syntactic components of the Japanese sentences into the Norwegian translation so the teacher can see if the syntax of the original passage has been understood, have kind of put me off of translation.

                But I can imagine that doing real translations would be much more interesting, and I’m learning Greek (and then Hebrew), so maybe I could try working on translating the Bible. I’d need to try it out first, translating portions of it into Norwegian, then with the help of a native speaker, one of my other languages. If it works well, I could work with that. It would certainly be interesting and hopefully useful.

  2. I had four years of Xhosa at Elementary School. I knew the difference between the different click sounds – there are 3 kinds of clicks if I remember correctly – but I could never make the sounds easily! And now that I’m trying to learn Spanish, I agree that it is difficult to learn a language, any one, after childhood!

  3. That’s a good idea and you should ask SIL for guidance as to programs where the need in terms of number of souls unreached divided by missionaries available (which is surely not that many for the Taa people) is the most critical. I think anyway the first thing is to have a ministry in one’s own country to be sure that you have a calling, and then to go to the expense of going across the world. SIL doesn’t provide any funding either, so either you have to self-fund or get a church to do it.

    1. You’re encouraging me a lot! Many people have recommended me to contact Wycliffe Bible Translators, and I see now that SIL is their “primary partner organization”, so I guess they’re more or less the same thing. They really seem to be the right people to ask.

      What exactly do you do when you have a “ministry”? Ist es wie ein Dienst in einer Kirche? Was könnte ich dann tun?

      1. Well there are various sorts of ministries, but in the main they involve taking on some sort of reponsibility for some forms of evangelism, pastoral care or just general upkeep of the church’s fabric.

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