Up the Mind’s Nose; With the Mind’s Finger—An Anthropological Linguistic Study of the Pιčkιt--Claude Searsplainpockets SpecGram Vol CXLIX, No 4 Contents Los Eres y el Erre--Trey Jones

Are Turkish and Amharic Related? Are They Ever!

April May June, Freshman in Elementary Education
Indiana University at Bloomington

It is

"Because everyone uses language to talk, everyone thinks they can talk about language."
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

well-known from my L103 class that Turkish and Amharic supposedly aren't related, though it is no longer clear which languages they are related to. However, I have found lots of words in the two languages which sound alike and mean the same thing in only two months of hearing them spoken in two local restaurants. The similarities first caught my attention during an argument at the Turkish restaurant in which the owner kept saying "sought." The next day I heard it at the Ethiopian restaurant I always eat at, so I asked the waitress what it meant. The next time I ate at the Turkish restaurant, I asked the waitress what it meant, and would you believe it, it meant the same thing! The next day I realized I should write it down so I wouldn't forget it, and after that I made notes of all the similar words I learned from the waitresses at the two restaurants.

The informant sessions took place three times a week for each restaurant around meal times. Whenever the waitress came near my table, I asked her how she would say two or three really simple

"Language is a poor thing. You fill your lungs with wind and shake a little slit in your throat, and make mouths, and that shakes the air; and the air shakes a pair of little drums in my head--a very complicated arrangement, with lots of bones behind--and my brain seizes your meaning in the rough. What a roundabout way, and what a waste of time."
--George du Maurier

words, like the ones we were taught how to teach second-graders how to spell. (They had a fancy name in L103 class, but I don't remember it.) The Turkish waitress would even write them down for me when the owner wasn't looking, because he would yell at her that he was running a restaurant, not a school. However, when I asked the Ethiopian waitress to write down the words she had told me, all she did was doodle. After that I wrote down what they sounded like and took them to my sour old AI, Mr. Thompson, who refused at first to transcribe them for me. "Do your own damn work! I swear, the reason they don't have an honor code here is so the students can turn in their homework." I then asked him when he switched from coffee to whiskey in the mornings before office hours, and did the administration know. He then agreed to transcribe the Amharic words for me. I must have done a good job because he was smiling by the time he finished and urged me to publish my results in your journal. "Publish and perish, I always say," he told me, and I said, "At least I'll get published," which for some reason made him really mad, but he always was a jerk in class.

The words are listed in the table I made below, with the English

"Language was conceived in sin, and science is its redemption."
--W. V. Quine

meaning on the right like we were taught in L103. As you can see, all of them are really simple words any second-grader would know, which is what makes two languages related. In case you're not familiar with Amharic, the dot under the t means it's a sympathetic consonant, which is really funny because when I first heard it I thought the waitress was irritated with me. In conclusion, I hoped to have more words to share, but my research ended when my funding was cut, though Daddy promises to restore it if my grades improve.

 Amharic       Turkish      English     
 säat  sa'at look
 sämmi  şimdi hear
 əne  ayn eye
 qiṭ  göt but
 səga  sıǧıreti meet
 sälam  selam high
 nəfas  nefes wind
 tarik  tarih tail
 wəraš  vâris air
 hisab  hesap bill
 hakim  hekim doctor
 äzziya  oraya their
 wädä  dahi two
 šäṭ  satiş sail
 waqt  vaqit time
 bärät  broş pen
 maryam  mirim marry
 zämän  zaman period

Up the Mind’s Nose; With the Mind’s FingerAn Anthropological Linguistic Study of the Pιčkιt--Claude Searsplainpockets
Los Eres y el Erre--Trey Jones
SpecGram Vol CXLIX, No 4 Contents