Kom Language - Your Language is the most precious element in life …
Subject: [AFOaKOM] Thought of the Day
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Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 3:30 PM

The following quote culled from the SIL website generated the postings that follow. Read on...
"Your Language is the most precious element in life that still includes all major values of your ancestors. What does that mean for your children, and your grandchildren and their future?" http://www.silcam.org/folder010100/page.php

From Nico Tosah
8/24/2010 8:49 PM

Zii yisi mena jungha?

“Your Language is the most precious element in life that still includes all major values of your ancestors”.

True. If there wasn't Language nothing that is abstract (i.e. cannot be seen or touched) from our ancestors could have been handed down to us. Though this sounds absurd, stop here and think about it for one minute. These abstractions are our values or our philosophies which are in-built into our culture. Needless to say that these values were put together by our ancestors to mirror everything they held dear, believed in and practiced.

In the light of the topic under consideration, Itanghikom becomes the key-word here because it is the carrier of our culture; our values. It (Itanghikom) is 100% static, whereas our culture is dynamic, in other words our Language does not change, but our culture does. If Language does not change, it therefore represents the minds of our ancestors.

For example, they, our ancestors had gvii, they trusted it, they used it and they believed in its effectiveness.

It was a value for them, a precious element and therefore part of the Kom culture at the time. The production and administration of gvii was prohibited. Today the word gvii still exists in Itanghikom and will be there for eternity. Therefore, practical cultural changes in Kom culture do not lead to theoretical adjustments or eliminations in Itanghikom. Hence, Itanghikom, will continue to be the most precious element in our lives that will continue to reflect and include all major values of our ancestors; even those that were long eliminated by the generations before us, long before we were born.More to this, when Kwifoyn placed a ban all over Kom on that very big nkuo ,that was used in ndo ikfi it did not eliminate the name of this nkuo from Itanghikom. Kwifoyn does not koh ngang anymore, but we still have this expression.

Most recently Foyn Yuh, for medical reasons, placed a ban on the traditional practice of chuu muluh but this expression was not and cannot be eliminated or banned from Itanghikom for whatever reason. Futre generations will get to know the expression but will not see the practice. This will be thanks to Language.

These (and maybe, many more) are examples to prove that in addition to being a tool used to convey ideas, Language, Itanghikom, is also a store of values: the values of our ancestors as were conceived by them and stored in Itanghikom words and expressions.

“What does that mean for your children, and your grandchildren and their future?" What it will mean to our children, our grandchildren and their future will be exactly what it means to us today.

In one of his postings Wanaku did mention how one generation definitely dropped the relay baton on some of our cultural aspects. I am afraid our generation will hand over fewer relay batons to the future generation than the ones we received. This situation is obviously going to be progressive down the line of time. One out of the many reasons (I think) is that we have many more Kom people today estranged from our culture/Itanghikom than was the case 100 years ago.

If you grow in Kom or at least visit Kom regularly, you will always find yourself suddenly learning something in Itanghikom/culture which you did not set out to learn.

However, the future is not all bleak, thanks to fora like afoakom, boyo, kompeople.org et cetera. Though I do not see how people can learn how to verbally express themselves in Itanghikom through any of these groups, they can at least bring our values/culture into themselves by being part of these groups. Thanks to those who post related topics for discussion. Kom ghili kfa’ti na gha?

Nico tosah.

From Mike boh
8/25/2010 3:20 AM

Woynàghem/Bobe Tosah,
From my perspective, yours is an exhaustive write up on this issue. Our Masquerades, food, birth/death celebrations among other tribes in the North West Region do not give us the unique Kom identity as Itanghikom does. Needless to elaborate on this.

As a way forward, kompeople.org can host an audio/video online course in Basic Itanghikom. This should give Komrades who are out of touch with daily communication in Itanghikom a chance to improve on it. Besides, if we make an effort to use Itanghikom as a primary language of communication in our out-of-Kom Kom Meetings, we will not only improve our verbal skills but also inspire the new generation of Komrades born out of Kom.

Writen Itanghikom (in poetry, story books, drama, etc) which for now does not seem to be very popular can also enhance a proper understanding of our values as a people. You would agree with me that the humour and message carried by some of "our" stories writen in another language becomes distorted. The writen and spoken Kom are both indispensible for the socio-cultural identity of our children, our grandchildren and their future. Mho.

BOH Mike

Excellent thoughts there bobe Nico. Except for one thing, I agree with everything else you have said in your and I particularly like how clearly you have expressed them. You wrote: "It (Itanghikom) is 100% static, whereas our culture is dynamic, in other words our Language does not change, but our culture does. If Language does not change, it therefore represents the minds of our ancestors."

I think on the contrary that both culture and language (which is part of culture) are dynamic. They both change and even though they change, they still represent the creativity of our ancestors as you mentioned. Language may change much more slowly (as you have very well demonstrated with examples) than other aspects of culture but it does change. Language is like an elastic container that contains everything in the culture. When a culture creates new things or behaviors, language expands to be able to express or accommodate them. It expands by adopting new words form other languages or by creating new words and expressions. The Kom language now has words adopted from English like wundu or window. When HIV/AIDS came calling, the language created a new word to express it--famas?. Everyday speakers of a language create new expressions to describe new events, behaviours, phenomena, things and ideas etc. If a language or culture for that matter were not dynamic, it would die.

A language may shed off or discard words and expressions that are no longer used in the culture but it maintains those that are in use that the people and the culture still find functional or useful. A language adopts and maintains expressions that the culture considers useful. To use one of your examples, the Kwifoyn may have banned the use of the big nkwo at ndo ikf? but the word nkwo will live on because it is being used in other contexts; because Kom people still use nkwo in many other social and economic contexts.

In other words, nkwo is still useful/functional in other contexts in the culture.

So cultural practices may die but the words that describe or express those practices may or may not die, and when they eventually die, they do so rather slowly. Kom people used to catch beetles called 'm?singe' (singular- f?singe). The practice is long gone but the word 'm?singe' lives on. However, the culture and a lot of the expressions that went along with that practice are gone. Similarly, the culture surrounding hunting, traditional house construction, traditional bridge construction and many other tradtional/cultural practices that we used to do as a people have been abandoned or replaced by modern ones.

Also abandoned, unfortunately are the words and expressions that used to go with it. Those words and expressions may linger around for as long as the generations that are aware of these practices are around but once that generation disappears, so too will those words and expressions.

Now we have ways to slow down the disappearance of our language. We can put our thoughts in writing or use today’s technology to record our history, culture and literature. We can teach the reading and writing of the language. That way, even if the language dies, the written form will be there to say what our culture was--as is the case with dead languages.

George Mbeh

From Nico Tos
8/26/2010 3.01AM

Bobe George ni Bobe Mike,

Utuh vzi ni meyn jii a jungha? Thanks for the compliments and for the additives. They helped not only to straighten up the points I was putting across but also to pave a possible way forward as seen in Bobe Mike's posting.

Bobe George, it is true, sometimes general statements do turn and bite the makers. This was the case with mine as you quoted and illustrated. This happens a lot in my case whenever a topic calls for abstract reasoning.          

To further buttress your point, when succeeding generations will come to know famasi as a Kom word they will wonder why AIDS sounds like EIGHTS and famasi in Itanghikom is actually the meaning of the latter. They will wonder whether this word was like this in Itanghikom before English Language was brought to Kom or their ancestors (us) did some borrowing/interpretation form English before coining it. They may end only guessing the answer.

This can be the case with us today if we look at the following. If they tell somebody to sit, lie and stand he will di-i, nyinghi and timi in that order. When these words become prepositional verbs in both Languages they will read as follows:

ENGLISH               KOM

  Sit down                Di-i a sei

  Lie down               Nyingi a sei

  Stand up               Timi iyvi

1) Given that sei means down iyvi means up, can somebody make an educated guess as to whether or not our ancestors did some borrowing/interpretation from The English Language before coining the above prepositional verbs in Itanghikom?

2) Does anybody know any words with close or similar relations in English and Itanghikom? 

Nico Tos

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