Wednesday, January 19, 2005

My latest Tribune language column:
On the religious rhetoric of presidential inaugural addresses.
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• Here's a brain-burner for you: is this participle apt?

Sign on telephone pole: "Found: Lost Cat"

LL on twat.

• From an American friend in Kenya:

I had a few interesting language notes from Kenya I thought you might enjoy. First, most educated Kenyans speak excellent English but they can be rather lazy about it, for example they tend to conjugate all past tense verbs with the -ed ending. So something was not 'brought' to you, it was "bringed" to you. There have also been some unique…word shifts. When you ask what they had (have-ed) for breakfast they might respond “A slice of loaf.” At the end of a student chapel the speaker had everyone give a high five and say, “keep the loose.” And my favorite is one from the ‘native’ Kiswahili language, mostly because this one pulls at some cultural strings: when you ask someone how they are doing there are only two responses, and both mean good. You MUST respond in the affirmative. You often hear people complain about how Americans just say “I’m fine,” and don’t tell the truth when they may be having a rather bad day. But here, you MUST say you’re fine…so how are you doing today? I’m good, my Grandma died, I failed my test, and my goats ran away.

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