29 January 2007

Hoyohoyo Tijondzweni ta Xichangani!

I just came back from my first Changaan class. It was pretty intense. Tatana Mukhavele is not going to cut us any slack. There are many new sounds and lots of verb prefixes and suffixes.

Some of the new sounds include a whistle (svi), a click (q), and another sound that gets made at the back and roof of your mouth (hlw). I knew there was a reason that I annoyed my mom making all those weird mouth noises as a kid. (Did you ever notice though that boys make more strange mouth noises than girls? What is up with that?)

Here are a few things I learned so that if you ever find yourself in a Changaan speaking area you can have a very simple conversation. You never know when this will come in handy - traveling in Kruger NP, dinner at the Mozambican embassy in DC, downtown Atlanta, the final round of Jeopardy.

Lixile (lee-she-lay) - Good day.
Lipelile (lee-pay-lee-lay) - Good evening.
Khanimambu (ka-nee-mam-boo) - Thank you.
Himina... (hee-mee-na) - My name is...
Wena ke? (way-na key) - And you?
Wahanya? (wah-han-nya) - How are you?
Nahanya. (nah-han-nya) - I'm fine.
Tatana (tah-tah-nah) - Mr.
Mamana (mah-mah-nah) - Ms.
Se yichahile! (say yee-cha-hee-lay) - See you later!
Fambani khwatsi. (fam-bah-nee kwat-see) - Go well.

I should point out that for many words, the penultimate syllable is stretched out. So Lixile sounds like lee - sheeee - lay. The way that words get said reminds me of summer days when it is too hot to do anything or scuffing my flip-flops along a sidewalk. Synesthesia?

Also, this won't get you very far. Mozambique uses Portuguese as its official language because over 43 indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country. Changaan, and similar languages like Ronga, are spoken in the south of Mozambique to as far north as the Rio Save. You might also hear a little Changaan spoken near the border in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga (South Africa) and Zimbabwe.

Changaan verbs, with all their prefixes indicating numbers of actors and suffixes telling whether it is a command or the sentence continues, make learning verbs in Romance languages look easy.

Hoyohoyo Tijondzweni ta Xichangani!
(hoy-oh-hoy-oh tee-zhon-dz-we-nee tah she-chon-gah-nee)
Welcome to Changaan class!

No comments:

Post a Comment