Saturday, March 20, 2010


Barking Up the Wrong Tree cites a firewalled Economist article on difficult languages. I like this feature of Tuyuca, the language spoken by the 500-1000 Tuyuca people who reside in the Colombian and Brazilian Amazonas.
Most fascinating is a feature that would make any journalist tremble. Tuyuca requires verb-endings on statements to show how the speaker knows something. Diga ape-wi means that “the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)”, while diga ape-hiyi means “the boy played soccer (I assume)”. English can provide such information, but for Tuyuca that is an obligatory ending on the verb. Evidential languages force speakers to think hard about how they learned what they say they know.
I wonder what would have resulted if Socrates had spoken Tuyuca.... More here.

1 comment:

MT said...

Too cool! (because I just know)