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Language Log

Sunday, Mar. 26, 2006 - 8:29 a.m.

I managed to stop thinking about it, so I'm only mildly mopey. If only not thinking about it would actually resolve the situation. How come that never works?

Most of that mopeyness (mopiness?) is from the fact that I'm trying to design an experiment to use on my friend for my L2 project next week, and I can't figure out how to do it. It was an experment I thought should be easy. Everything is harder than it looks.

I didn't leave the house yesterday. I watched an anime movie on TV last night-- Princess Mononoke, or something like that. I have to say, I kept siding with the animals. The protagonist's desire to help the humans may have been misplaced. That Iron town lady was evil, whether she helped lepers or not. Killing the forest spirit! It doesn't get eviller than that!

Okay, nobody will get this but I'm going to put it here anyway so I have it. It is an example of some stunning use of tense in Swahili that I found yesterday. The article it's from is all about how these arguments that come up over women refusing to heat up their husband's bathwater is leading to the breakup of families. The men say the women refuse, and that just ain't right; the women say that they do it, but then their husbands take so damn long to get around to washing that by the time they get there, the water is cold again. And then they blame the women. Some men say that they haven't had a hot bath in years because of this irresponsibility of their wives. All I have to say about that is, thank goodness for water heaters. Anyway, the part I find impressive is this string: "alikuwa anakuwa hayuko tayari". That's the aux 'be' in the past tense followed by 'be' in the present progressive tense followed by a negative locative copula, all as a run-up to 'ready'.

Akafafanua kwamba mama Rose alidaiwa kuwa alikuwa anakuwa hayuko tayari na yeye alidai kwamba akiwa tayari mzee anachelewa na kumkuta mama kapoa au humlazimisha kabla hajawa tayari.

There are probably more complicated tense combos out there, but this one speaks to me.

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