Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rich and Poor Languages

"War doesn't determine who's right, but who's left." This is a truism in English that plays on the fact that both "right" and "left" have two different meanings. So I thought I'd present a few of the words in Serbian/Montenegrin which have multiple meanings.

For example vreme means both time and weather, sat is both hour and watch/clock. The only way you can have a simile is with kao since it is like and as.  They use the same verb igrati for to dance and to play (a game or with a toy). The verb slušati is to listen and also to obey. Nositi means to carry and also to wear. Brinuti se is to both worry about and to take care of. Računar is a computer and a calculator. The word for world is svet but that is also the word for holy and saint. Milost is both grace and mercy.

But they also have some words we don't. They have two words for garden: bašta grows edible produce while vrt is floral. There are three different words for aunt (and uncle) depending on how you are related. Tetka is your mother or father's sister (her husband is tetak). Your mother's brother is ujak and his wife is ujna. Your father's brother is stric and his wife is strina. Another word they have that I know of no English equivalent is krmelj -those little crusty things that build around your eyes when you're sleeping.

And just for fun, I'll include a cute picture of Ruth and Esther in a "tent" they built in our living room.


Melissa Hunter-Kilmer said...

Do they have different words for paternal and maternal grandparents?

Tents like that are so much fun! And that kind of thing builds a child's imagination, too. :-)

Steve, Laura, Ruth and Esther said...

They don't have different words for grandparents, but there are different words for mother-in-law and father-in-law. A man calls his wife's parents tast (FIL) and tašta (MIL). A woman calls her husband's parents svekar and svekrva. There are also different words for niece and nephew depending on if they are your brother's children or sister's children or you married their aunt or uncle.

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer said...

Are cousins differentiated, too?

Steve, Laura, Ruth and Esther said...

Sort of. They are called your brother or sister by your uncle, and then you use tetak or ujak or stric.