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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Language Identification from Number Words

Date Submitted: 18-Jan-2011
From: Stephanie Gelderloos
Subject: Language Identification from Number Words
Contact Email: click here to access email

Notice: Hello,

I have been working on family geneaology and I don't know anything about my mother's mother's ethnic heritage. My grandmother says her grandmother taught how to count to 5 in her language, but she cant remember what language it is. My mother's ancestors are from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama, so the language could be Native American, but it could also be African or European. I just don't know. Here they are, as best as she remembers, phonetically spelled out:

shim'. ba. lai =one

shu'. ba. lo =two

shawn'. ti =three

(?)u.stat =four

sla:'. bee =five

She also remembers her grandmother shooing the dog away by saying, shah. o'. pee.

I would appreciate any thoughts or ideas. Thanks for your time