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Imaginary places

Ahua, the Water Language: A Cultural Introduction

“In Ahuan, everything not absolutely essential to the meaning is omitted. That which remains is referred to obliquely, by allusion, again with the minimum of detail. The sentence “One thing is not another” may, according to context, mean almost anything; yet to an Ahuan, the precise meaning in any particular context will always be crystal clear. Those who first studied the Ahuans at first took vagueness and ambiguity to be the central features of their language, and this misconception is still widely accepted. However, it is a misconception. An Ahuan utterance is always precise and clear, to another Ahuan. It is we who lack the necessary context to disambiguate what to us looks like impenetrable fog. But to acquire that context, it is necessary to be an Ahuan. Those early scholars assumed that what they took to be imprecision and vagueness must be resolved by body language. But with the maturing of Ahuan studies it has become clear that it is not so. Their non-verbal communication is as indirect and allusive as the verbal language. Indeed, everything in Ahuan culture partakes of the same quality. Nothing can be understood except in the context of everything else…There are local accents and dialects of Ahua, but, inevitably, these too are subject to constant flux. In fact, only an Ahuan can detect them. No fixed manner of speech can persist among any group of Ahuans, yet the very pattern of their variability clearly indicates to an Ahuan where an Ahuan speaker comes from, their gender, social background, manner of livelihood, and many other things which outsiders can scarcely guess at. Thus it happens that when two Ahuans meet for the first time, they almost instantly have a detailed grasp of the other’s background, and can interpret their speech according to that context.”

Also: An Account of a Journey Into Ahua

via plep

One Comment

  1. Longin wrote:

    Thanks for that interesting post. It makes great reading!

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 12:11 | Permalink