Linguists make extraordinary discovery in SE Turkey

Jean-Pierre Desmarais, head of LARG: 'This is an unbelievable linguistic find.'

A team of linguists from France, Poland, and the US, has announced from Turkey the discovery of an unknown language. Jean-Pierre Desmarais, head of the international organisation ‘Linguistic Analysis Research Group’ (LARG), said he and his team heard that trials were taking place in Turkey in which the defendants spoke an unknown language. LARG, based in Strasbourg, France, was founded in 2001.

‘When I heard about this we put together a team and headed to the area to analyze this unknown language,’ said Desmarais.

The unusual coincidence says Desmarais is that another team of linguistics just discovered a previously unknown language in India last month. Researchers came across the new language—dubbed Koro—along the western ridges of Arunachal Pradesh, India’s northeastern-most state.

However, here in Turkey, said Desmarais, we never expected to discover an unknown language. ‘Koro is only spoken by 800 or so people and is in a very remote area. Diyarbakır is a thriving metropolis. I still can’t believe it. It is extraordinaire!’ he exclaimed.

The team has requested recordings from this trial and other trials in which defendants have made statements such as ‘Ez dixwazim bi Kurdî biaxivim’ or ‘Ez li vir im,’ all of which have been labelled an ‘unknown language’ by the Turkish courts. Courts in Istanbul and Diyarbakır however have been reluctant to hand over the recordings.

Cathy Greaney, the US participant in the team, was impressed at the sheer number of speakers of this ‘unknown language’ she has encountered. ‘There seem to be thousands, if not millions, of people who speak this language. I just don’t understand how it can be unknown. It’s a remarkable discovery.’

Bogumil Mroz, the lead Polish investigator, said the team attempted to determine what language it was by typing a phrase into the online ‘Unknown Language Detector’ tool. ‘It could not identify it,’ said Mroz.  ‘It said it is Turkish.’

He says he believes, however, it is of Indo-European origin and not related to Turkish. ‘We have come to the conclusion, based on a thorough analysis of letters in this unknown language’s alphabet, that it cannot be Turkish. There are three letters used quite frequently, W, Q, and X, that simply do not exist in Turkish.’

Desmarais, Mroz, and Greaney will be heading back to Strasbourg at the end of November to continue their investigations. Says Desmarais, ‘We hope to learn what language this is by early spring. Then we can report our findings to the judges in these cases.’


Vuvuzela Law; not Martial Law


I was sitting at my desk at the office yesterday morning, listening to a few tracks from Ciwan Haco and reading an article entitled ‘The 10 Laws of Vuvuzela Etiquette.’ I should have been busy with an important report, but the article was far more intriguing. After seeing and hearing these trumpet-like instruments in action (on TV), I was surprised to learn that there was ‘etiquette’ to be had.

Here are two of the 10 vuvuzela etiquette laws (VELs) that caught my attention.

Numbers 6 & 9:

6. Don’t eat and blow
The vuvu is used for sound projection, not to convert the contents of your mouth into some semi-digested shrapnel-blasting weapon of mass destruction. So swallow first, then blow, lest a bit of that half-chewed hot dog launches itself onto the cheek of an unsuspecting punter.

9. Don’t blow on the go
The vuvuzela is a stationary instrument, like the timpani or the stand-up bass, and should never be used on a mode of transport. Except maybe when walking but only if all the other etiquette guidelines are followed. This rule also covers airports. Like the durian fruit, the vuvu should never ever be brought out in the departure or arrival halls or anything else in between. It is akin to terrorism.

Akin to terrorism? WMD? Well, there I was enjoying my morning thinking that by reading about these high-decibel plastic trumpets at the World Cup I would be safe from the trials and tribulations of the Middle East. But in these two VELs they just had to go and reference ‘shrapnel-blasting weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘terrorism’ and put an end to my ethereal laziness.

So I guess this means that sending vuvuzelas to the PKK would now be a gross violation of the recently upheld ‘material support’ law by the US Supreme Court. If we can’t teach them how to play the harmonica, vuvuzelas would definitely be verboten.

Instead let’s imagine for a minute that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) equipped itself with these Chinese-manufactured vuvus instead of Israeli-produced drones. Not the mini-vuvuzelas that some have been seen using at the World Cup. Those are girls’ vuvuzelas, according to VEL #7 (Size Matters). What self-respecting member of the TSK would want to be parading around with a mini vuvu?!? No, these proud men need the real thing.

Manly vuvus are almost a metre in length and when blown en masse, the sound is like a deafening swarm of locusts (listen). According to one study, the sound is louder than a rock concert, but shy of the human threshold for pain. So it would be a humane weapon. Effective, but shy of the human threshold for pain.

Başbuğ gives his troops instructions on proper vuvu technique

Imagine the TSK running through the Qandil mountains blowing vuvuzelas. What a sight that would be. Never mind; that would violate the VEL above, ‘don’t blow on the go’.

So now that Chief of Staff General Başbuğ has rejected calls for Martial Law, I think they need Vuvu Law. I would love to see him place an order for a few thousand of the manly vuvus for his troops. I can picture him now leading a training session on how to use the vuvu. And being a ‘humane weapon’ the future headlines might read instead… ‘TSK vuvu ambush against Kurdish PKK leaves 9 deaf and 25 hearing-impaired.’