A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

Z is for … Zapotec

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Zapotec

Zapotec is the name not of a single language, but of a group of 58 languages that, together with related Chatino group, belongs to the Otomanguean linguistic stock. Zapotec is one of the largest families in the Oto-Manguean stock in terms of the number of speakers since the Zapotecs are the third largest indigenous ethnic group in Mexico, after the Nahua and the Mayan people. Zapotec has more varieties than any other member of the Otomanguean linguistic stock with almost as many varieties as there are pueblos in which it is spoken.

There are approximately 450,000 speakers of Zapotec most of whom live in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Veracruz. While most are proficient in Spanish, there are also many who speak only one or more varieties of their native Zapotec.

Of the 58 varieties of Zapotech listed by Ethnologue, 49 have fewer than 10,000 speakers. Most have only from several hundred to several thousand speakers. Several are on the brink of extinction.

A funerary urn in the shape of a “Bat God”

Fascinating facts about the Zapotec

The Zapotec worshipped their ancestors and, believing in a paradisiacal underworld, stressed the cult of the dead.

They had a great religious centre at Mitla and a magnificent city at Monte Albán, where a highly developed civilisation flourished possibly more than 2,000 years ago.

The name Zapotec comes from Nahuatl tzapotēcah (singular tzapotēcatl). This word means “inhabitants of the place of sapote”. The Zapotec referred to themselves as Be’ena’a, which means “The People.”

The Zapotec developed a calendar and a special system of writing. This system has a separate glyph for each of the syllables of the language. It is one of several candidates thought to have been the first writings system of Mesoamerica. It is the predecessor of the writing systems developed by the Maya, Mixtec, and Aztec civilisations.

The Zapotecs believe their ancestors emerged from the earth, from caves, or that they turned from trees or jaguars into people, while the elite that governed them believed that they descended from supernatural beings that lived among the clouds, and that upon death they would return to such status. In fact, the name by which Zapotecs are known today resulted from this belief. In Central Valley Zapotec “The Cloud People’ is “Be’ena’ Za’a.”

Thanks for reading 🙂

On a side note:

It’s over!  I survived the A to Z Challenge. If you’ve read, like and commented … Thank you! I hope you learned something new, I know I did.

For sticking with me, this month, I invite you to celebrate … virtually, of course.

CHEERS!

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

Y is for … Yorùbá

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Yorùbá

Yorùbá (èdè Yorùbá) is a member of the Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family. It is spoken by some 28 million people, most of whom live in Nigeria. It is also spoken in Benin, Siera Leon, Togo, United Kingdom, USA.

Even though the official language of Nigeria is English, Yorùbá together with Igbo and Hausa are quazi-official languages that serve as lingua francas for speakers of the 400 odd languages spoken in Nigeria. In southwest Nigeria where most of Yorùbá speakers are concentrated, Yorùbá, although not an official language, is used in government administration, print and electronic media, at all levels of education, in literature and in film.

Code-switching between Yorùbá and English is a way of life for educated Yorùbá-English bilinguals. They use Yorùbá mainly in the family setting and in formal situations such as village or tribal meetings. They use standard English in formal or official situations. In informal situations they use a creolised form of English dubbed Yoruglish. The latter represents a blend of both English and Yorùbá grammar and vocabulary.

Yoruba boat – Model in the Vatican Museum

Fascinating facts about Yorùbá

Yorubas are very Expressive People. This is particularly seen in the way they speak and converse with one another. It is also seen in their colourful festivals and celebrations. From wedding ceremonies, naming ceremonies, housewarming parties and even burials, you cannot deny the rich and ostentatious style and ceremonial nature of the people of the culture.

When a baby is born, water is sprinkled on the baby, till he/she cries. When they fail to cry, no word will be spoken until they do.  After eight days, a naming ceremony is held and relatives are invited.

The Yorubas like spicy and oily food. Almost all their food is prepared with either oil, pepper or both. Their food are mostly made from starchy tubers,plantains and grains. Yams and rice are eaten on important occasions.

Due to the effect of slave migration in the colonial era, some of the Yoruba tradition has been inculcated into the culture and tradition of the Brazilians to this very day.

According to Yoruba mythology, all Yoruba people are descendants of Oduduwa.

They started sculpture making as early as the 12th century. These days they make sculptures to honour their ancestors, deities and gods, using brass, wood, and terracotta.

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · Reading for Fun

Reading for Fun: An Interlude in Berlin

An Interlude in Berlin

by Jefferson Flanders

Berlin, January 1959. Dillon Randolph, a young Foreign Service officer, arrives at the U.S. Mission in Berlin hoping for a fresh start after a messy scandal at his last embassy posting.

A Soviet ultimatum designed to force the Allies from the city and stop the flow of East Germans to the West has put Berliners on edge.

When Dillon meets Christa Schiller, an actress from the famed Berliner Ensemble, their romance entangles him in a KGB plot designed to intensify the crisis.

Dillon and Christa are plunged into the shadowy struggle between competing spy agencies where the innocent become bargaining chips in a game with life-and-death consequences.

My Review: 4/5 stars

Beginning in 1959 in Berlin, at a time of high tension and double-crossing, this story mixes just enough realism to the plot to maintain credibility, while weaving a most believable plot of spies, conspiracy and double-agents to keep the reader enthralled and needing to know more.

For Dillon Randolph, Berlin is a chance to escape wagging tongues at home and start afresh as a diplomat for the US Mission. Romance was to be avoided at all costs.
Enter Christa, an actress from East Berlin, with a desperate desire to see her brother freed from the clutches of the Stasi.
An East German plot to damage upcoming talks in Geneva is born: Christa is to seduce the American and ‘deliver’ him to the authorities on the East German side of the city, in return for her brother’s freedom.

When British ‘spy catcher’, Hawes, learns of the plan, he intercepts in a bid to unmask the leak in British security following the recent treacheries involving Philby & Maclean. Determined to root out another potential defector, Hawes concocts a new conspiracy and draws upon the support of his contacts of old to make it happen.
Of course, as in any good spy story, things don’t always go to plan, which is what keeps the reader invested in the story.
A thoroughly good read, with several interesting subplots running alongside the main story.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book, which I reviewed voluntarily.

Thank you for reading 🙂

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

X is for … Xhosa

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Xhosa

Xhosa (isiXhosa) is the southernmost member of the Bantoid group of the Niger-Congo language family in Africa. It is closely related to Zulu, Swati, and Ndebele. Although mutually intelligible, they are considered to be separate languages for political and cultural reasons.

The Xhosa, formerly called Kaffir or Kafir (Arabic for ‘infidel’), are a cluster of related peoples who have inhabited Eastern Cape Province and Transkei, South Africa, since before the 16th century. They are thought to have migrated to this region along the east coast of Africa and through central Africa. In southern Africa, they came into contact with Khoisan-speaking people. As a result of this contact, the Xhosa people borrowed some Khoisan words along with their pronunciation, for instance, the click sounds of the Khoisan languages.

Xhosa is spoken as a first language by 8.2 million people and by 11 million as a second language in South Africa, mostly in Eastern Cape Province and Transkei. It is also spoken in Botswana and Lesotho. It is one of the eleven official languages of the Republic of South Africa, although the status of Xhosa, like all other African languages in the Republic of South Africa, is complex.

Xhosa Rondavel – Photo by Renette LouwLouw

Fascinating facts about Xhosa

It’s also one of the most recognisable Bantu languages, mainly due to the prominence of its click consonants and its intense use of the letter “x,” used to denote some of the clicks.

Xhosa has its origins in the tribal group descended from the Bantu, who originated in present-day Cameroon and Nigeria and migrated south between 2000 B.C. and 1000 A.D.

The use of Xhosa in education was previously governed by apartheid-era legislation. The role of African language in South African education has since improved, but remains complex and ambiguous.

Grammy Award-winning South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba, helped introduce Xhosa to an international audience with her 1957 hit single, “Pata Pata.” It was one of the first mainstream moments for Xhosa. In an interview she gave in 1979, Makeba discussed the experience of sharing her language with the rest of the world. “Everywhere we go, people often ask me, ‘How do you make that noise?’” she said. “It used to offend me because it isn’t a noise. It’s my language.”

Thanks for reading 🙂

army of authors · art · blog tour · book launch · mystery

Army of Authors Blog Tour – Virginia Winters

Painting of Sorrow

by Virginia Winters

Available to preorder now.

Launches May 15th.

Sarah Downing, an art conservator hiding in witness protection, identifies a lost masterpiece by Caravaggio.

History says it burned in WWII Berlin but here it is, on her easel.

Soon she is fighting to save the painting and her own life.

Who has betrayed Sarah—an agent, a friend? Whoever it was, her ex-husband Jimmy is standing on her street, outside her house, waiting.

What Sarah does next sends her from Kingston to Italy to rural Ontario in her desperate attempt to survive, save the Caravaggio and rebuild her life with a new love.

This one is heading straight for my TBR pile!

Here, Virginia tells us how she came to write this story:

I began Painting of Sorrow because I was interested in lost and destroyed paintings of WWII. Searching for paintings that could have been saved but were said not to be, brought me to the Flakturm Friedrichshain in Berlin, an anti-aircraft tower used to house a bomb shelter and a hospital as well as the paintings of the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum. More than four hundred paintings and three hundred sculptures were burned, stolen, or destroyed by bombs in the waning days of WWII. Did the Soviets loot the building before it burned? Or were some of the paintings stolen when the Soviet guards were inexplicably removed?

One such painting was called variously Portrait of Fillide or Portrait of a Courtesan, a work by Caravaggio. Client Simon Wolf brings a copy of the painting to be conserved by the firm where Sarah Downing works.

Is it a copy or an original? It’s Sarah job to conserve it but she wants to know the truth about the painting.

Sarah is a painter as well as an art conservator. Her mind reacts to situations, landscapes, and people by seeing paintings in her memory that describe them. Throughout the book, images of paintings also reflect her emotional state and her fears.

Early in the book, the director of the Art Gallery that is housed in the building where she works, frightens Sarah. Her mind brings up a picture of St. Jerome, an almost cadaveric man pictured in a desert, by Da Vinci. The taut skin of his face reveals the skull beneath.

Sarah escapes a killer with her friend Peg. On the way, they stop at a lookout over Mazinaw Lake. Casson painted the iconic Bon Echo Rock there.

Later, approaching the security of a remote cabin in rural Ontario, she sees the building as a painting by A. Y. Jackson, Settler’s Home and somehow felt safer, for the moment.

Her visions become darker and when she finds her new love Simon, beaten by her ex-husband, The Death of Marat by David, a nightmare of a painting intrudes on her thoughts. At the hospital, the controlled chaos of Emergency Room, by Fiona Rae reflects the roiling state of her emotions.

Much later, arriving to Simon’s home, afraid that all chance of a relationship with him has gone, she sees not his house, but Carl Schaefer’s Ontario Farmhouse, dark clouds looming over it, perhaps an omen for her future

I hope interested readers will search out the paintings mentioned in the book to gain a fuller understanding of Sarah and the events that changed her life.

You can find out more about Virginia here.

Find the Painting of Sorrow here.

If you decide to grab a copy, be sure to leave a review for Virginia.

Reviews keep authors writing! 

Thanks for reading.

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

W is for … Warlpiri

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Warlpiri

Warlpiri belongs to the South-West Ngarga branch of the Pama-Nyungan language family, the largest of the Indigenous Australian language families. It is spoken by about 2,500 Warlpiri people in Australia’s Northern Territory. It is one of the largest Northern Territory languages in Australia in terms of number of speakers.

Warlpiri has no official status in Australia. The language is endangered in spite of efforts to teach it to children in Warlpiri settlements. In some Warlpiri communities, children and young adults use “Light Warlpiri”, a variety of speech that combines elements of Warlpiri, Australian Aboriginal Kriol (an English-based creole) and Australian English.

Welcome

Fascinating facts about Warlpiri

Warlpiri country is located in the Tanami Desert, east of the NT-WA border, west of the Stuart Highway and Tennant Creek, and northwest of Alice Springs.

The main communities in Warlpiri country are: Yuendumu, Lajamanu, Nyirrpi, and Willowra. Many Warlpiri live in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, and the smaller towns of Central Australia.

Warlpiri traditional territory was resource-poor to white eyes, and lay a considerable distance away from the main telegraph routes and highway infrastructure built by Europeans, a fact which meant they conserved unlike many tribes affected by these intrusive developments, relatively intact and flourishing.

Warlpiri are famous for their tribal dances.

Warlpiris divide their relatives, and by extension the entire population, into eight named groups or subsections. These subsections are related to kinship, and determine one’s family rights and obligations. It follows from these rules that one must choose one’s spouse from a particular subsection, and traditional Warlpiri disapprove of marriages that break this constraint. The correct subsection to marry from is that of one’s maternal grandfather (though of course one seeks a spouse closer to one’s own age).

Warlpiris often address each other by subsection name rather than by personal name, and incorporate their subsection name into their English one, usually as a middle name.

Thanks for reading 🙂

army of authors · blog tour · dystopian

Army of Authors Blog Tour – Phil Featherstone

Paradise Girl

by Phil Featherstone

A few words from the author:

Readers often ask me where I got the idea for my novel Paradise Girl. The answer is, it came from a bug. Or, to be more precise, a virus.

Nobody knows how many viruses exist, but scientists agree that they outnumber all other living things put together (actually there’s some debate about whether viruses can actually be considered alive, but for now we’ll assume they can). Only a tiny number of them affect humans, and most of those that do are easily dealt with by the body’s immune system. However, there are a few that the immune system can’t cope with, and these can cause serious illness and, in extreme cases, death. An example is Ebola, which is spread through the transfer of body fluids. It’s also transmitted by fruit bats, which can carry the virus without being affected by it.

A few years ago a volcano in Iceland erupted, throwing smoke and ash several kilometres into the sky. A result of this was the grounding of commercial aircraft for several days. I live in a remote farmhouse high on the Pennine hills in the north of England. Usually the only signs of human life outside my home are the vapour trails of planes as they approach or depart from Manchester, or traverse the country to and from other places. At the time of the Icelandic eruption, they stopped. The skies were empty, a beautiful, clear blue. For that short time I could have been the only person alive. This started me thinking: suppose that really was the case, where might everyone else have gone? What might have happened to them? Destroyed by radiation? Abducted by aliens? Wiped out by a plague? Ebola was in the news at the time, and so the latter seemed the most likely.

I began to work on the idea. Somebody in such a situation would be subject to unbearable pressures. They would be desperately lonely and terribly afraid, alternating between relief at surviving and the daunting prospect of a future without hope. It would add poignancy if the central character was young, maybe still in their teens with their life before them. Think about an almost endless series of days stretching ahead, with nothing to relieve them or distinguish between them. What dark places might a mind go when faced with that? What terrible dreams might occur?

They would try to cope by writing a diary, which would describe what they saw, heard and thought, and through which they could reflect on their predicament. It seemed to me that this would work best if such a character was female. Kerryl Shaw introduced herself, and I began to write her story. You can read it in Paradise Girl.

Find the Paradise Girl here: https://amzn.to/2ETah9P

If you decide to grab a copy, be sure to leave a review for Phil.

Reviews keep authors writing! 

Thanks for reading.

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

V is for … Vietnamese

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Vietnamese

Vietnamese (tiếng Việt), formerly known as Annamese, is a member of the Mon-Khmer branch of the Austro-Asiatic language family. With 76 million speakers, it is the 16th largest language of the world. It is spoken by 75 million people in Vietnam . It is also spoken in Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Finland, France, Germany, Laos, Martinique, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Norway, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, United Kingdom, USA, and Vanuatu.

It is thought that the ancestor of Vietnamese originated in the area of the Red River in what is now northern Vietnam and that it eventually spread into central and southern portions of the area.
After the revolution that ended the French colonial rule, Vietnamese became the national and official language of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam where it is spoken by the majority of the country’s population. It is used in Vietnam throughout all levels of the educational system, including higher education, for all official and non-official communication, in the media, and in publishing.

Merry Christmas In Vietnamese

Fascinating facts about Vietnam

Vietnamese cuisine is considered amongst the healthiest in the world. Featuring fresh herbs, a lot of vegetables and seafood combined with traditional cooking techniques that avoids frying and oils in their food, this cuisine is considered amongst some of the healthiest in the world.

They have half-hatched eggs for breakfast. Balut, a developed bird embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell, is a common Vietnamese breakfast.

Vietnam is the world’s leading exporter of cashew nuts and black pepper, exporting 348,000 tons of cashew nuts and 180,000 tons of black peppers in 2016.

Giving handkerchiefs, anything black, yellow flowers, or chrysanthemum is considered unlucky.

Ruou ran, also known as snake wine is a pickled snake in rice wine that is commonly drunk for health, vitality and restorative purposes.

They are the second largest producer of coffee in the world and own approximately 20% of the coffee market share.

Bargaining is considered a way of life in Vietnam. Merchants frequently put an additional markup on their products in order to give buyers the opportunity to bargain for a better price.

15. The Binh Chau Hot Natural Springs get so hot, reaching temperatures of up to 82°C which is hot enough to boil eggs!

Thanks for reading 🙂

blog tour · book launch · dystopian · futuristic

Army of Authors Blog Tour – Eliade Moldovan

THE WORLD ENDS TOMORROW

by Eliade Moldovan

Where is humankind heading?

First question: Did human consciousness change along centuries and millennia?

Disrespect for our environment, religious intolerance, greed, selfishness… I did my reading, history and religious texts and books.

My conclusion? Not much. Add to all this the unstoppable population growth, the overpopulation and the insane resource consumption.

Second question: Did our life standards improve along centuries?

My take? A lot. For some of us. I would dare say that the average individual in western world lives better than kings few hundred years back. I remember a chronicle about the life during king Louis XIV, the Sun King; the cold and ugly smelling palaces (no toilets), sticks to scratch under the wigs for head lice, health problems…

So, we do better today. All this done because of human technology advances: internet, cars, airplanes, medical assistance, you name it…

So, what is wrong?

Technologies advanced much faster that human consciousness; and technology out of control generates disasters.

Discoveries and innovation based on research in chemistry, biology, quantum physics, information technology, transportation… make our life better, but could be used for destruction in the worse imaginable ways.

Third question: Can our society fix itself, and avoid self-destruction?

Answer: NO.

Why? There are mathematical theories that a system cannot fix itself from inside. The mechanisms to fix the system will alter it, and so, it is different than when the project started, it is catch 22 situation.  

Fourth question: What can be done?

If humankind deserved being saved, it will happen, help from above. Aliens? or gods?

But does indeed human society deserve saving?

My book The World Ends Tomorrow describes such a scenario.

Fracony, a supercivilization that visited Earth periodically, built models forecasting that an apocalypse generated by humans themselves is inevitable.

They discovered a baby girl, Clara, with very special qualities, a research accident from a lab that tried to match man and women for best offspring. Clara was raised and trained all her life to take over the world leadership and prevent or diminish the consequences of an apocalypse.

And the disaster came as a biological apocalypse from a virus escaping from a research lab.

Clara can communicate with Fracony, but her training could not foresee everything, and Fracony might have their plans about what really means saving humanity, or the price to pay.

What is good and bad have different definitions in normal times versus crisis situations, and when human race was at stake that line between right or wrong was blurry and shifting until became non-existent.  Principles transformed into self preservation, fear in divine punishment transformed into anger. Who could rule such a world?

The action is four hundred years into the future, and only two countries sharing the planet, Gaia and Esperanto. Clara was ruling Esperanto as its Secretary. She had to navigate among centrifuge interests and ideas and take bold and heartbreaking decisions. Will she succeed or collapse before reaching the end of the tunnel?

The World Ends Tomorrow

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BXK259K

If you decide to grab a copy, be sure to leave a review for Eliade

Reviews keep authors writing! 

Thanks for reading.

A to Z challenge · Bloggers · languages

U is for … Urdu

Blogging from A to Z

Theme: Languages of the World

Urdu

Urdū belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken as a first language by 64 million people in Pakistan and India, and by 94 million people as a second language in Pakistan.

It is also spoken in urban Afghanistan, in the major urban centers of the Persian Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia. There is a large Urdū-speaking diaspora in the United Kingdom, the United States,Canada, Norway and Australia.

Fascinating facts about Urdu

Urdu is distinguished slightly from Hindi in terms of its script and vocabulary and is thus one of the official languages of India.

Urdu has a way of saying things that mark the courteous from the unlearned and the noble from the ordinary. It is known to touch the soul the way it imparts hidden meanings in a prose or poetry like no other language can.

 

English is said to have been derived from a lot of languages. Here are some English words of Urdu origin:

Cummerbund- “waist binding”,

Khaki- dusty, grey,

Pashmina,

Pyjamas- trouser,

Typhoon- Toofan or storm and some others.
source: Wikipedia

 

The Punjabi language is very similar to Urdu. Written Punjabi can be understood by speakers of Urdu, with a little difficulty, but spoken Punjabi has a different phonology and cannot be easily understood by Urdu speakers.

The closest linked language to Urdu is Hindi. Linguists think of Hindi and Urdu as the same language, the difference being that Hindi is written in Devanagari and draws vocabulary from Sanskrit, while Urdu is written in Arabic script and draws on Persian.

Thanks for reading 🙂