Sunday, August 21, 2011

Songe the moon

I am reading Information by James Gleick. I am learning fascinating things. Such as various forms of African drum-languages were used in communication between tribes long before Europeans invented telegraph.

Drum-communication -why not coin a new term- drumcom was an elaborate form. Most tribal languages were tonal, i.e. subtle tonal variations implied drastic variations in meaning (a bit like Cantonise). Drums exploited tonal variance.

However inevitable loss of consonants (made of high pitch sound) had to be replaced by something for error correction. So drummers introduced phrases. Songe, the moon, is rendered as "songe li range la manga" -"the moon looks down the earth." Redundancy compensated for loss in translation. It is also amazing how beautifully constructed these phrases were.

Theirs was an oral culture. Our African ancestors.

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