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How Were Languages Formed?

I was looking at the slide show on my blog and observed the picture of the old Farmers Market with the huge ‘Market’ letters on the main entrance. It took me back and reminded me how languages were formed. Recently there has not been invention of any new languages; we have schools to learn any language of our choice. But before we had formal schools people used to travel and had to find a way to communicate with the communities they came across. Adopting new words from different languages to ease communication was one of the major ways; at least I know that is how Kiswahili was formed. There are Portuguese, English, Indian and Arabic words in Kiswahili language.

The farmers market was build during British colonization. The locals
did not know English at all because the British did not like to mingle with the locals (except for the missionaries). As a result the local people had to read the letters in their native language. They pronounced it ‘mariketi’.

In Kiswahili, words are spoken and read exactly the way they are written and most of the time there is a vowel between consonants. The word market was Swahilirised. Of course there is a Swahili word for market but because no one could tell the Swahilis the meaning of the word they had no idea what it meant. Later on the whole neighbourhood near this ‘market’ area became to be known as ‘mariketi’ and still is up to now.

Same thing is with the creole/kriol language in Central America. If you listen to kriol for the first time – which was my case when I arrived here in Belize – it sounded mostly like broken English . English without the English rules, it sounded like a child trying to learn to speak English. Don’t be fooled by thinking that because it’s broken English you’ll understand it; you still have to learn it like any language. The words him or her do not exist in kriol and most of the words are shortened, spoken halfway like ‘what’ is ‘wah’. Most of the  Africans brought here during slavery came from West Africa and did not speak one language. They had to communicate with each other and their European ‘masters’ and it is clear no one taught them any language. They had to figure it out themselves and create a new language. They used the same principle like the Swahilis and kriol is now the second most popular language in Central America after English.

In fact here in Belize English is the national language but kriol is widely spoken than English. The only time someone will speak English to you is when they realize you are not a Belizean.


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