R: "Our tongue", "we", "mother tongue", "The Language" &c.

Paolo Ramat paoram at UNIPV.IT
Tue Dec 17 16:16:13 UTC 2002

"Die Dorfgemeinschaften in Mazedonien nennen ihre eigene Sprache *nashenski*
[<sh> for palatal /s/: P.R], d.i. 'auf unsere Weise', alle anderen, die
sprachlich [...] abweichen, sprechen  *vashenski*, d.i. 'auf eure Weise'",
N.Reiter, Eurolinguistik, in 'Forschungen zur osteurop. Geschichte',
Osteuropa Inst. an der Freie Univ. Berlin, 48/1993: 170f.
I don't know whether this is really fitting for the original question asked
by B.Werner, but it is in any case an interesting proof of the importance of
language for the self-identification of a human community ('ethnocentrism':
Cp. Alban. *shqiptàr* !)

Best regards,
Paolo Ramat

----- Original Message -----
From: Gideon Goldenberg <msgidgol at MSCC.HUJI.AC.IL>
Sent: Tuesday, December 17, 2002 12:03 PM
Subject: "Our tongue", "we", "mother tongue", "The Language" &c.

> Dear Colleagues,
> "Our tongue" is the term commonly used by speakers of the various
> Neo-Aramaic Jewish dialects referring to their own special speech
> variety, viz. 'lishana deni', 'lishan didan', 'lishana didan', 'lishana
> noshan', or simply 'lishanan' (as it is in one's own dialect). This
> term marks the language of the speaker's own community as distinct
> from neibouring dialects of the Christian Assyrians or from the
> dialects of other Jewish communities. Other languages or speech
> varieties have names. Hebrew is 'lishan-qodesh' or the like ("Sacred
> Language"), as in European Jewish communities.
> The city of Harar in Ethiopia is called 'ge' ("The City") by the people
> of the originally Harari community that inhabit the Old City, the
> members of the comminity are referred to as 'ge usu'' ("City-men"),
> and the Harari minority-tongue which is surrounded by other languages
> is referred to by its speakers as 'ge sinan' ("Language of The City");
> "of The City" refers exclusively Harar.
> All these appellations refer to communities and community speech-forms
> of minorities, but the distinction from the surrounding dominant world
> should not necessarily mark the local as less prestigious; it may rather
> express intimacy and nostalgia.
> Some other appellations of minority languages, like 'mame-loshn' ("mother
> tongue") or 'jargon' for Yiddish, do not refer to a special speech-form,
> but (in this case) to Yiddish in general. So is also 'al-lugha' ("the
> language") which Arabic speakers would use for general reference to
> Arabic outside the Arabic-speaking countries.
> Speakers of the Soddo-Gurage dialect in Ethiopia call themselves
> Kïstane ("Christians") and their language Kïstanïñña (as distinct
> from neighbouring communities of Pagans and Moslems), but the
> independent personal pronoun 'ïñña' ("we" [not related to the language-
> marking suffix -ïñña]) will exclusively refer to members of that
> community, excluding foreigners (for including others they would use "I
> and you, we and you" or the like). Cf. the possessive suffix '-enij'
> in some forms of Neo-Aramaic, which exclues foreigners, as against the
> non-marked '-an' (all-inclusive "we").
>                                         Best regards,
>                                                        Gideon Goldenberg
> ==========================
> Prof. Gideon Goldenberg
> Department of Linguistics
> The Hebrew University
> Mount Scopus
> IL-91905  Jerusalem
> I s r a e l
> Telephone (972-2-)5665135
> Fax (972-2-)5634891
> msgidgol at mscc.huji.ac.il
> ==========================

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