Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by jjdmk, Apr 6, 2007.
I was told by someone that Swahili has clicks in it. Does anyone know if this is true?
Welcome to the forums
Check this link out
Excellent. Thanks for the warm welcome!
Glad to have you here in the forums! I'm doing a little bit of research on the other threads you created here in Other Languages, so I will post once I gather enough info.
I think this is a misunderstanding; Swahili is not a click language, but there are two small ethnic groups in Tanzania which use click sounds in their languages, a fact which has triggered some genetic research to find out whether they belong to the “real click speakers” in southern Africa, not only in [the country of] South Africa, but also in South-West-Africa, f.ex. the Kalahari region.
The result of this research seems to be a possible discovery of one of the oldest known divisions in the human species (or the “human family tree”, as anthropologists like to call it). The implication is that unless click sounds (which are extrememly rare in world languages) were invented independently in Eastern Africa - not to mention in Australia! - they must have been much more common during the time when Homo sapiens sapiens started to emigrate from Africa.
The Australian connection is Damin - unfortunately an extinct language - in which there were click sounds. The million dollar question is of course: ‘How did these click sounds reach Australia?’ Some linguists guess that click sounds were much more common earlier, but for various reasons they were eliminated from the phonemic inventory during the tens of thousands of years that we are talking about.
I’d say that when you get out of the African bush and start using language in more sophisticated ways than communicating over large distances, you’d expell these sounds because you can’t whisper when producing clicks. Admittingly a rather impressionistic explanation, but if you have heard Miriam Makeba singing in her native tongue Xhosa, you would understand my point. And isn't precisely bush defined as “a large uncleared or sparsely settled area (as in Australia) usually scrub-covered or forested”? -cf. Webster.
Click sounds are quite fascinating. They are divided into five or six categories, and they can be learned without any greater effort. In fact, there are click sounds in English (not phonemes, of course). When you disapprove of something, you’d say tsk (or something like that) The same sound you’ll find in Greek and Turkish where it, together with a small nod upwards with your head, and accompanied by a certain movement of your eyebrows, it means “no”.
Fascinating read, but here it's written "tut" - (not said like tut tut, but it represents the clicking sound) I didn't realise that would be considered a "language click"
Oh and welcome jjdmk!
Indeed! If I may continue my use of Webster:
I never thought it would be registered!
By the way, the smacking sound of a kiss should also be well-known in most languages. It is a bilabial click in Xhosa. Some other clicks – like the one in Xhosa - are more difficult to produce.
This is very cool: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_l7ty_MH_Y
I didn't realise it was actually like that, how do people make those clicking sounds?
To me, the amazing thing is that the clicking sounds are made while talking with 'more common' sounds - I can make one of those clicks, but definitely not mixed up with speaking!!
More hard facts on click languages: http://www.phonetics.ucla.edu/vowels/chapter14/_xoo.html provides the sound of nine men saying their names in !Xóõ, a language primarily spoken in Botswana. The ! indicates a click.
This click language has some extra features linked to the click sounds like pharyngealized, epiglottalized and breathy clicks. Especially the latter will make you listen to this short clip over and over again in complete astonishment of what sort of sounds humans have actually included in their phonetic repertoire.
The suggested site also has several chapters on click sounds – theoretically described with IPA.
No, Swahili does not have clicks.
Separate names with a comma.