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Languages of the World

Astrology Sun Dial

Location:

At the entrance of the harbor of the Mediterranean island of Rhodes in Greece.

Description:

In AD 654, the Arabs invaded Rhodes. They disassembled the remains of the broken Colossus and sold them to a Jew from Syria. It is said that the fragments had to be transported to Syria on the backs of 900 camels

Languages Of Australia

Australia's 250 or so native languages have been tentatively classified into over 23 families. The north of the continent has the most variety with 22 families like Bunaban, Ngaran and Yiwaidjan. These complex languages have a large number of suffixes and prefixes changing the shade of meaning in subtle ways. Kunwinyku has prefixes for masculine, feminine, plant and other types.

The Pama-Nyungan languages of central and southern Australia are the most studied. They often have multiple pronouns. For example, there are four forms of the pronoun we: YUNMI (we two, you and I), MINTUPALA (we two, he and I), MIPALA (we all including you), MELABAT (we all excluding you). Jiwarli has three words for carrying depending on whether an object is carried in the hand, on the head or on the back.

One interesting feature is the use of different vocabulary for communicating with different kin members. Adnyamathanha has ten sets of pronouns for use with various relatives. Panyjima speaking men use a different respectful vocabulary when talking to men who have initiated them into adulthood. In Dyirbal, there are two forms and virtually every word is different. This language also has four gender-like classes for its nouns. One of these classes includes nouns involving women, fire and dangerous items.

Murrinh-Patha has four numbers: singular, dual, paucal (for 3 to about 15) and plural (more than 15). The pronoun you has 7 forms; verbs have 35 classes. Body parts have different names depending on whether thay are used with or without a verb, for example, nose is THIMU or YI. Tiwi has Polysynthetic Verbs which include the action, its time, its agent and its object. There are many words that distinguish the exact time of day, including ARAWUNGA (early morning before dawn), TOKWAMPARI (early morning when birds sing), WUJAKARI (first light before sunrise).

Most languages have no counting words apart from one, two and many.
These languages have a long oral tradition that goes back 10,000 years. They tell stories of the period when land joined Australia to nearby islands, of extinct animals, and of contact with Europeans (including the massacres of their ancestors).

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