Not Just for Kids

 Vol. 10, No. 8

February 21 - 27, 2002

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Kifla da-famiem
photo by Mike Brewer
A Language All Your Own
by Eric Smith

Create your own language. Why? The earth will make 27,375 spins around its axis in your lifetime, and each time the sun will “rise” over your horizon. Each time it will be different — splattered with different colored clouds, painted in new hues, showering different dancing colors on the cold waking world.

How can you tell your fellow humans, in a crisp way, what the sunrise was like this morning? In a few words, how was it different from all the other 27,374 suns will rise in your lifetime?

The sun erupted, rippling the sky orange, spilling over the Chesapeake, ripping through the cold blue and flexing gold webs in between.

You could say it like that, in 22 words and in English. Or you could invent a new phrase for the sunrise, one of your own language, a language shorter, crisper, more agile and descriptive than any.

Make a word for light that flickers off the tongue and flares: kifla. Birth —violent, then fresh and breathing —can be nequi. The word for all colors swimming about us: famiem. All warm colors, prickling the arms like yellow and red are da-famiem. This morning you watched the kifla da-famiem nequi.

Creating a language of your own can be useful not only to describe the world’s poetic wonders but to communicate with friends in secret. No matter your motive, there are challenges set before any language-smith:

Will the language sound short and choppy, filled with consonants? Or will it sound bouncy, filled with vowels?

Grammar and spelling rules must be established.

Common roots for similar words can be useful: the words for water, fish, swim and fin can all have a common root word.

Your parents might worry when they overhear you speaking gibberish to your friends on the phone, or when you lock yourself in your room for hours with pen and paper. But when they knock gently at your door and ask what you’re doing, you can say you’re just working on your spelling and grammar, or ib toila al ibi silom ral koloma.

What Do You Call It?

kifla: flickering light

nequi: birth

famiem: colors

da-famiem: warm colors (red, yellow, etc.)

Fun Stuff to Do:

Saturday, February 23
Family Birdhouse Building
Build a cedar birdhouse for bluebirds. Bring cordless drill
(1/8" drill bit) and Philips screwdriver. Other materials provided. 10am @ Kinder Farm Park, Millersville. $12/family; rsvp: 410/222-6115.

Mother’s Helpers
Earn certification at the YWCA’s Babysitting/Mother’s Helper workshop. Learn child development, dealing w/difficult situations, marketing and fun activities. Bring a snack. 10-1:30pm @ YWCA Bldg, Arnold. $30; rsvp: 410/626-7800.

Behind the Scenes
Tour backstage and the catwalk, plus try your hand at a few backstage techniques as you check out what happens behind the scenes of a theater production. Bring a bag lunch; drinks provided. 10am-3pm @ Children’s Theater of Annapolis. $30 w/discounts; rsvp: 410/757-2281.

The Golden Goose
Find out what happens when a golden goose gets loose on stage! Plus lunch on PB&Js and other delectables. Doors open 11:30am; lunch Noon; show 12:30 @ Chesapeake Music Hall, Annapolis. $10 includes lunch; rsvp: 800/406-0306.

Sunday, February 24
Whose Clues?
Discover signs wildlife leave behind during this interactive presentation and short guided walk. Ages 5-7. 1-2pm @ Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel. Free; rsvp: 301/497-5887.

Tuesday, February 26
Scales & Tales
See the good, the bad and the ugly of Maryland’s wildlife during a live animal demonstration. 11am @ Helen Avalynne Tawes Garden, Lobby Conference Room, Annapolis. Free; rsvp: 410/260-8189.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly