Almost Forgotten Language Links – From Worlds Apart

We know that a lot of languages have similarities, for instances, Spanish and Italian came from Latin. English evolved from Old German, Serbian and Russian share their Slavic roots etc. Much of this is common knowledge, but what about those linguistic relationships that are less commonly known even to those who speak such languages on a daily basis.

In Jamaican Patois there’s a word known as “mumu” which is used to refer to somebody as being foolish. Here’s the interesting part, this same word is used with the same meaning all the way on the other side of the Atlantic, in Nigeria!

In Canarian Spanish there are a rake of words that many locals believe are unique to their Islands, which is not always the case! Again, go across the Atlantic, to Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico and many of these same words are heard. For example, “la guagua” meaning “bus”, “fajarse “meaning “to fight” and “una guataca” for “a spade”.

The Irish language may have even had an impact on the African American lexicon. Take the phrase: “I’m diggin it”, meaning “I like/get it” which has a very strong similarity to the Irish “diggim” for “I understand” or “An dtiginn tú?” – “Do you dig it?”

Both Swiss German and Alemanic German are spoken by Amish communities in the U.S where “work” is referred to as “schaffe” and if you’ve lived in Switzerland then maybe it won’t surprise you that the Swiss Amish have held on pretty tight to that word! 😉

Some other fascinating connections that are often unknown to many of its speakers.

  • Russians say “chay” which is the Chinese word for tea.
  • The Japanese “chotto chotto” means a “tiny little bit” and in Russians its “choot choot”
  • Irish speakers say “shkeen” for knife which in Arabic is “Sikin”

So, here’s the main point, if language goes beyond just words then these words may represent something far greater in terms of shared cultural identities that still exist today. Which would make you think that some of these long lost communities have culturally a lot more in common then is realized….