4 out of 4 stars
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You may ask, “Why would I need to know the twelve months of the year in 850 languages and dialects?” That is a fair question. In this book’s introduction, author Kukisvoomchor gives a couple of whimsical scenarios where this information would come in handy. But his valediction, “Yours for cultural exploration,” reveals the true purpose of The Twelve Months of the Year in 850 Languages and Dialects.
For over ten years, the author compiled information about these mostly non-traditional languages and created a database that is used at CuriousNotions.com and is the source for this book. The website shows, among other interesting things, the current date in any of the 850 languages and dialects. Many of the entries also have links to a YouTube channel where you can hear that language spoken. The Jicarilla dialect of the Apache language intrigued me because the description in the book noted that “a vowel can carry tones.” Following the links on the website, I was able to listen to key phrases spoken in this dialect.
What I liked most about this book was the layout of the information. This feature may seem trivial, but the consistency of the format and the clear communication style made reading about 850 languages and dialects a breeze. The translations of the names of the months provided a glimpse into the culture of the people. Some languages even had specific names for each day of the month. If the native calendar was not oriented to the Gregorian calendar (the case for some extinct languages), the author would align them to fit the 12-month scheme logically.
Reading this book became like playing a game, looking for something about each entry that captured my attention. I would often research geographic areas I was not familiar with, particularly in Africa and Oceania. Trivia lovers and movie buffs would enjoy the treats Kukisvoomchor sprinkles throughout this reference. His 20-year animation design experience in and around Hollywood no doubt provided access to the bits of linguistic lore you will discover. Examples include the language used in the video game Minecraft and the Northeast Bantu language spoken in Return of the Jedi.
As one who loves warm weather, I was astounded by the calendar in Ahtna, the language of residents in Alaska’s Copper River area. The third month of the year translates to “Seventh month of snow,” followed by the fourth month, “Water freezes only in the morning.”
It was sad to note when a language was extinct, especially when the author listed the name of the last native speaker. Contrastingly, there were several cases where communities were reviving endangered languages by including them as part of the curriculum in schools.
While I cannot validate the content of this book (besides Kukisvoomchor, I doubt many can), I respect the author’s effort to compile this information, and I applaud his meticulous references and disclaimers. After the 850 listings, the author includes additional information about the people and regions referenced, a glossary of terms, and an index of all the languages and dialects by language family. There is nothing I dislike about the book, but it would be great to have a cross-reference of the languages and dialects by continent for those of us less geographically savvy.
I rate The Twelve Months of the Year in 850 Languages and Dialects 4 out of 4 stars. This book is a well-organized presentation of current and historical cultures spanning the globe. There is no profanity or erotic content, so it is appropriate for all ages. I recommend this read to anyone with a curious mind. History lovers and linguists would especially appreciate the content.
The Twelve Months of the Year in 850 Languages and Dialects
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