The Year of the Snake

In the Chinese calendar, 2013 is the Year of the Snake (蛇). This black Snake year will bring people unexpected changes, instability, and changeability. The year of the snake is also meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for people to achieve what they set out to create this year, according to Chinese legend.

Joining the snake in the 12 year cycle of animals is the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the horse, the sheep/goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. The snake is said to be the most enigmatic, intuitive, introspective, refined and collected of all the zodiac animals.

A person born during the year of the snake may possess a sixth sense but will be very practical and rational and not very verbal. They are also very attractive, mysterious and have quite the fashion sense, according to legend. The Chinese believe that finding a snake in one’s house is very lucky.

The Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 10, 2013 as the date is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. It is the biggest holiday celebrated among Chinese people. It originally lasted for four weeks but now it usually lasts about 3-4 days.

Houses will be cleaned, windows will be painted red, dumplings will be eaten, flowers will be placed as a decoration, symbols of the snake will be everywhere and red envelopes with money will be given out to children for luck and prosperity in the new year.

新年快乐!

The passing of the Cromarty Fisherfolk dialect

In mid-October of last year, it was reported that the last noted speaker of the English dialect called “Cromarty Fisherfolk” had passed away. This rare dialect was spoken in a tiny fishing town on Scotland’s Black Isle called Cromarty (with around 700 inhabitants).

Bobby Hogg, identified as the last known speaker of this language, was 92 when he died in the town located 175 miles north of Edinburgh. The Cromarty Fisherfolk Dialect is a lexicon of phrases that were used in the past by the fishing community.

Linguists feel that this dialect may have been influenced by Norse and Dutch, and survived because of “the close-knit community and relative geographical isolation of Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands”. This rare dialect is believed to have arrived in the area with fishing families that moved north from the Firth of Forth in 15th and 16th centuries.

Before he died, Bobby Hogg reflected on this language and remembered that it was a patois and mostly communicated about fishing, as if it was a “secret fisherman’s dialect”. He remembered that it was a different language than the one he spoke in town as a child.

Here is some of the vocabulary:

  • ablach: odd-looking, awkward
  • belwar: layers of tangles
  • bronyach: poor creature
  • cosfeet, cosfit, cossetor cossits: starfish
  • carcle: to count, calculate
  • crockums or crockuns: refuse of fish livers after oil is extracted
  • droog-droogle: be engaged in wet, heavy work
  • foodge or fooge: to play truant
  • greenga or greengaw: slimy grass left after the tide has receded
  • lyeerin: green slime
  • tumblers: dolphins & harbour porpoise
The death of the Cromarty Fisherfolk dialect is just another example of endangered languages which die every two weeks. Unfortunately, it has been predicted, that half of the globe’s 6,000-plus languages to die off by the end of the century.

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