Saturday, June 29, 2013

Spelling bee in Dinka

Aren't you glad you aren't taking part?

Dinka is a Nilotic language with about two million speakers, mostly in southern Sudan. It's a tone language, and, in addition to tonemes and two varieties of breathing--all of which intersect--it has, of course, vowel length. In phonemic transcription, leaving out suprasegmentals, we have, e.g., the following, all valid, all different (contrasting):
(For more, see the current number of Language, where I learned this.)

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Old-fashioned excuse: "The dog ate my homework."

Modern excuse: "Dual-factor authentication ate my ability to do my homework."