Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"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



Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:

$34674

Still Needed:

$40326

Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington


Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.


Summary Details


Query:   Sum: 8.797 Language identification
Author:  Mark Mandel
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Genetic Classification

Summary:   In LINGUIST #8.797 I asked:

> An acquaintance of my daughter's writes:
>
> ===================================
>
> Identify this language please?
>
> "Idolem urodo iatu a wi rot
> Ukufu kush onuoy nehawuoch
> Etia di ukoik ura nakurah
> Enadu yoimi nnesar urugem
> Eteako ich atak
> Ureatu tso oodah
> Amia wibo koro yonneie"
>
> I think I have a pretty good idea of what languages this is *not* (not
> a Romance language, not Germanic, not Slavic, not Chinese, Japanese,
> Vietnamese...). Also, if it translates to something really corny,
> lemme know so I can stop embarrassing myself every time I sing it.

I received replies from five people, four of whom offered
information.

Gregory F. Roberts <robertsg@gusun.georgetown.ed> and
Douglas Dee <Douglas.Dee@us.coopers.com> pointed me to a Web site
maintained by Nora E. Stevens,
www-personal.umich.edu/~nstevens/harukanaru.html ,
that shows the text and explains it as the reverse of

> Tori wa utai odoru melodi,
> Chouwa hen no shukufuku.
> Harukanaru kioku idaite,
> Meguru rasen ni mioyudane.
> Katachi o kaete--
> Hadoo o tsutaeru.
> Eien no yorokobi wa ima

Roberts adds:

> They are lyrics from a role playing game called the Final
> Fantasy by Squaresoft.

[And indeed, that is what the Web site is dedicated to. The main
page of the site
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~nstevens/fflyrics.html
is titled

> Welcome to the Opera House
> Featuring the lyrics to the sweet melodies
> of the Final Fantasy series

and it gives lyrics in English, Japanese (Romaji), Portuguese,
Italian, French, and Saami, as well as many audio files of music
(without words).]

Leon A Serafim <serafim@hawaii.edu> also recognized it as
"Japanese written in mirror image."

The fullest response came from Tomoyuki Kubo
<kubo@fukuoka-edu.ac.jp>, who kindly gave me permission to quote
this response:

> It is the Esenapaj language,
> which is the mirror image of Japanese,
> with different word boundaries.
>
> The mirror image of this language is;
>
> Tori wa utai odoru melodii *
> Chou wa hen'you no shukufuku *
> Harukanaru kioku idaite
> Meguru rasen ni mi o yudane *
> Katachi o kaete
> Hadoo o tsutaeru
> Eien no yorokobi wa ima


(Asterisks added.) Apart from punctuation, Kubo's reversal differs
from Stevens's (which Kubo did not appear to be aware of) in the
starred lines. I am inclined to prefer Kubo's analysis, which I
infer is native while Stevens credits several other people for
help with her translations.

[* Damn and blast Indo-European obligatory pronoun gender! Just
because I don't know whether Kubo is male or female, I have to
contort my syntax to avoid specifying it.]

None of the respondents attempted to translate the text. I took
Kubo's version to a Japanese co-worker, who shook her head over
it and chuckled. "It isn't really coherent sentences," she said
[approximately], "and in some places it's ambiguous. It could be a
joke on someone trying to be pompous, but it sounds about as
stupid as a lot of Japanese lyrics." Here is my transcription of
her translations:

The bird sings and dances to the melody.
Butterfly blesses the metamorphosis
hoarding far memory
entrusting the body to a spiraling helix
changing shape
transmit the wave [or "undulation"]
eternal happiness is here

Thanks to all who replied!

Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark@dragonsys.com
Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA : http://www.dragonsys.com/
Personal home page: http://world.std.com/~mam/

LL Issue: 8.931
Date Posted: 26-Jun-1997
Original Query: Read original query


Back

Sums main page