Learn Northern Sami with Steve the vagabond Part 3

viehkat – to run
Mun viegan – I run
Don viegat – You (s) run
Son viehká – He/she runs
Moai vihke – We (two) run
Doai viehkabeahtti – You (two) run
Soai viehkaba – They (two) run
Mii viehkat – We run
Dii viehkabehtet – You (plural) run
Sii vihket – They run

čiehkat – to hide
Mun čiegan – I hide
Don čiegat – You (s) hide
Son čiehká – He/she hides
Moai čihke – We (two) hide
Doai čiehkabeahtti – You (two) hide
Soai čiehkaba – They (two) hide
Mii čiehkat – We hide
Dii čiehkabehtet – You (plural) hide
Sii čihket – They hide

váldit – to take
Mun válddán – I take
Don válddát – You (s) take
Son váldá – He/she takes
Moai válde – We (two) take
Doai váldibeahtti – You (two) take
Soai váldiba – They (two) take
Mii váldit – We take
Dii váldibehtet – You (plural) take
Sii váldet – They take

rundit – to work, toil
Mun runddán – I work
Don runddát – You (s) work
Son rundá – He/she works
Moai runde – We (two) work
Doai rundibeahtti – You (two) work
Soai rundiba – They (two) work
Mii rundit – We work
Dii rundibehtet – You (plural) work
Sii rundet – They work

Get complete lessons for Northern Sami at Steve the vagabond on Patreon

Learn Northern Sami with Steve the vagabond Part 2

The letter as used in Northern Sami followed by the IPA
letter for that sound. After this is an English description
of the sound.
A a – /ɑ/ “au” in British English “laugh”
Á á – /a/ “ah”
B b – /b/ “b” in “bed”
C c – /ts/ “ts” in “cats”
Č č – /tʃ/ “ch” in “check”
D d – /d/ “d” in “dog”
Đ đ – /ð/ “th” in “this”
E e – /e/ “e” in “weigh”
F f – /f/ “f” in “fish”
G g – /g/ “g” in “good”
H h – /h/ “h” in “hot”
I i – /i/ “e” in “me”, /j/ after a vowel, “y” in “yes”
J j – /j/ “y” in “yes”
K k – /k/ “c” in “cat”
L l – /l/ “l” in “lake”
M m – /m/ “m” in “man”
N n – /n/ “n” in “nut”
Ŋ ŋ – /ŋ/ “ng” in “sing”
O o – /o/ “o” in “or”
P p – /p/ “p” in “pet”
S s – /s/ “s” in “sit”
Š š – /ʃ/ “sh” in “ship”
T t – /t/ “t” in “tall”
Ŧ ŧ – /θ/ “th” in “thatch”
U u – /u/ “o” in “do”
V v – /v/ “v” in “van”
Z z – /dz/ “ds” in “raids”
Ž ž – /dʒ/ “j” in “joy”

The following are called dipthongs because they contain two vowel sounds pronounced in the same time as a single vowel sound
ie – /ie/ “ee” followed by “eh”
oa – /oɑ/ “oh” followed by “au” in British English “laugh”
uo – /uo/ “oo” followed by the “o” in “or”
When the letter “h” comes between a vowel and consonant, it does not represent the sound /h/ (as in “hat”) but rather represent a very breathy sound, like someone just breathing out and not completing the “h” sound. In IPA this is represented as /ʰ/, for instance in eahket /æʰket/

Get complete lessons for Northern Sami at Steve the vagabond on Patreon

Learn Northern Sami with Steve the vagabond Part 1

Phrases in Northern Sami
The IPA transcription appears after the phrase

Buorre iđit /buorːe iðit/ – Good morning
Buorre eahket /buorːe æʰːket/ – Good evening
Bures /bures/ – Hello
Mo dat manná? /mo dɑt mɑnːa/ – How are you?
Dat manná bures, giitu /dɑt mɑnːa bures giːtu/ – Fine, thank you
Mii du namma lea? /miː du nɑmːɑ læ/ – What is your name?
Mu namma lea ___ /mu nɑmːɑ læ/ – My name is ___
Juo /juə/ – Yes
A-a /ɑʔɑ/, Ii /iː/ – No
Mun in huma davvisámegiela /mun in humɑ dɑvːisaːmegielɑ/ – I can’t speak Northern Sami
Mun in ádde /mun in adːə/ – I don’t understand
Hupmago oktage dáppe eaŋgalsgiela? /hupmɑgo oktɑge dapːe æŋgɑlsgielɑ/ – Is there someone here who speaks English?
Gos don leat eret? /gos don læt eret/ – Where are you from?
Mun lean ___ eret /mun læn eret/ – I am from ___

Get complete lessons for Northern Sami at Steve the vagabond on Patreon

Your language is part of who you are

I hope that one day people will treat the language someone speaks like they do characteristics like eye colour or height. The more I learn  about languages the more I realise that language is fundamentally human. The language someone speaks natively says something about who they  are. Language is brought to a place by those who speak it. You only speak the language you speak because someone brought the language to  your area and those around you spoke it while you were growing up.

Because language is such an ever present part of our lives, things can get very messy. People look down on those who speak certain languages  because of associations they have with the group that speaks that language. The only way around this is to make people aware of what is  actually happening out in the world and to correct any misinformation or lack of knowledge people have. I can’t fix what people don’t know about history or politics or mathematics. But I can teach people about language.

One thing I know for sure. You should never be ashamed of the language you speak. Your language is the result of centuries and centuries of  evolution and change performed by ordinary people. Your language is an organism. It is like the fauna and flora of the world. It developed naturally. It is something to be proud of. Your language is part of who you are.

Each language carries in it the thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams of its people. Each time we lose a language, we lose an expression of what it means to be human. I always liked language before, but I see even more clearly now how marvellous and special language is.

Language is an inextricable part of culture. People know the language they know because of the culture they live in. A part of the reason languages die is because they stop being spoken by native speakers and thus don’t get passed on to future generations. Because language is a part of culture, cultural forces affect languages. If a culture decides that their language is no longer worth learning, it will probably disappear.

Maybe in a small way I can change that just by saying: Your language matters. Never be ashamed of your language. Your language is beautiful, messy, chaotic and wonderful. It is part of who you are and it is worth preserving.

“tch” in English

A lot (but not all) words in English that end on “tch” come from the ancestor of English which linguists call Proto Germanic. All Germanic languages come from Proto Germanic. Cognate means that the word shares an origin with a word in another Germanic language

ċ in Old English was pronounced like Modern English “ch”

fetch from Old English feċċan, cognate with Dutch vatten and German fassen
ditch from Old English dīċ, cognate with Dutch dijk and German Teich
watch from Old English wæċċan, cognate with Dutch waken and German wachen
stretch from Old English streċċan, cognate with Dutch strekken and German strecken
stitch from Old English stiċe, cognate with Dutch steek and German Stich
thatch from Old English þæċ, cognate with Dutch dak and German Dach

There are many more. This is just to give you an idea of what kind of words are out there. If they end on “tch”, they might be Germanic 🙂

Join the Steve the vagabond Patreon :)

Each part is easy to follow and will build on the parts before. No matter how good or bad you think you are at languages, you will be able to follow this series and fulfill your dream of learning languages.

The first part introduces the language and gives and overview of its place in the world and some fun facts about it. The first part ends with some sample phrases in the language. The second part explores the verbs of the language in an easy to follow format.

Steve the vagabond brings languages to you in an easy to read format and offers new lessons every week. You can download one or all of the currently available lessons. It’s completely up to you. Discover a new way to learn languages with Steve the vagabond.

Help define the style of Silly Linguistics and Steve the vagabond

I am planning a graphical overhaul of Silly Linguistics and Steve the vagabond and silly linguist. I would like to expand the brand and bring comics and all sorts of other language fun to people all over the world. I have previously done a call out for illustrators but I wanted to do it again because I want the results to be perfect. I have already had lots of submissions and they are awesome.

But I want to see what is out there. Maybe there is yet a style that will be even better for the page.

My goal is to have a bunch of illustrations of Steve the vagabond (the character in the profile picture of this page) that I can use to add a bit of character to posts I make for the page. I want people to associate the character with language, learning and fun.

I got the idea from this set of pictures


I would like a set of Steve the vagabond drawings which I can use to build up the character of Steve the vagabond a bit. I want angry, happy, sad, joyful and energetic pictures of him in cartoony style which I can use on my posts.

Send submissions as messages to the page or email me at stev@sillylinguistics.com

The world’s first language

What did the world’s first language sound like?

The simple answer is that we just don’t know for sure. There could also have been multiple first languages.

But we can make some guesses based on what we know about how languages work. Creoles are often described as languages starting over. They lack complex conjugation, irregular verbs or difficult conjugation. They tend to be isolating. Creoles are languages that came about when a pidgin evolves into a full language. The first language would probably have looked a lot like a creole.

What do we know about the humans that spoke the first language? Linguists estimate that language emerged between 100 000 to 50 000 years ago. The first human speakers would have been extremely similar to us biologically, since 100 000 years is not a long time in the evolutionary time scale.

Continue reading The world’s first language

Crimean Tatar Introduction

Crimean Tatar Introduction
By Naoki Watanabe

Crimean Tatars are a Sunni Muslim and Turkic ethnicity indigenous to Crimea and actively trying to reassert their culture there. The people are often called “Tatar” and this leads to confusion with the actual ethnic group known as the Tatars (or Volga Tatars), who live in Tatarstan, and while related to Crimean Tatars (as they’re both Sunni Muslim and Turkic), are different as Tatars speak a language from the Uralo-Caspian branch of the Kypchak group of Turkic languages while Crimean Tatars speak a language from the Ponto-Caspian group and because Crimean Tatars have had more influences from Turks and Ukrainians while Tatars have had more interactions with the peoples of the Volga—such as the Udmurts, Mari, Erzyans, and Mokshans (the term “Tatar” or “Tartar” has also been used to denote several other ethnic groups incorrectly such as the Kalmyks and Manchus; Crimean Tatars and their language have also been erroneously referred to as “Crimean Turkish”).

Although Crimea has been controlled by numerous powers throughout its long history, the Crimean Tatars were the ones who succeeded in giving the region its current common name (“Crimea” comes from the word Qırım) and have influenced many topographic names (e.g. the name of Crimea’s most famous city, Yalta, is taken directly from Crimean). Their culture and language has been influenced by several groups in different ways which has led to variations in both which can be seen in the three sub-ethnicities: the Tats, (who make up 55% of Crimeans and whose dialect is the language’s standard), the Yalıboyu (who make up 30% of the population and speak a heavily Turkish-influenced dialect), and the Noğay (who make up 15% of the population and speak a more explicitly Kypchak language). The Crimean Tatar language has about 450,000 speakers and is considered endangered.

Crimean Tatar is unique amongst the Turkic languages because it’s been seen as both a member of the Kypchak group of Turkic languages (which includes Kazakh, Tatar, and Bashkir), and the Oghuz group (which includes Turkish, Gagauz, and Turkmen). Although Crimean Tatar is nowadays usually seen as a Kypchak language, it has had heavy influences from Oghuz languages (especially Turkish), which are most prominent in the Yalıboyu dialect. An example of this is in the words for “goodbye” which are “Sağlıqnen qalıñız” (said by person leaving) and “Sağlıqnen barıñız” (said by person staying) in the Tat dialect, but are “Oşçakal” (said by the person leaving) and “Küle küle” (said by the person staying) in the Yalıboyu dialect (in Turkish, the words for “goodbye” are “Hoşçakal” and “Güle güle”).

There are three alphabets for the language: an Arabic one that is no longer in use, a Latin one almost identical to that of Turkish (with the addition of the letters “Qq” and “Ññ”), and a Cyrillic one preferred by the Russian government currently controlling Crimea. The language’s grammar is almost identical to that of Turkish and shares features like a flexible word order (an example being in the sentence “Menim vaqtım yoq”—“I don’t have time” which can also be rendered as “Yoq vaqtım”, although this is slightly rude) and using the word “bar” (equivalent to Turkish “var”) to indicate possession. This can be seen in the sentences “Deñizde dalar bar.” (Crimean Tatar) and “Denizde adalar var.” (Turkish) which mean “There are islands in the sea.” (“Deñizde” means “at sea” and “adalar” means “islands or archipelago”).

Naoki Watanabe also writes poetry which you can find here: https://www.fictionpress.com/u/929458/PoetOfSaiMiHunManKal
Naoki Watanabe on VK: https://vk.com/poetofsaimihunmankal
Naoki Watanabe on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naoki.watanabe.566

This post was written by a reader of my Facebook page. If you have cool language articles that you have written and would like some exposure, send a message to the my facebook page, write a comment below, or email me at steve@sillylinguistics.com

Come live on the silly side of life