Azukania Wahawafe

© Nikhil Sinha, 2003-2020

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Wahawafe

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Introduction

Wahawafe is the name of my multilingual translation project. It was begun on 18 June 2011. The website was launched on 09 July 2011. "Wahawafe" is an acronym of "We are humans and we are from Earth.". The aim of this project is to collect translations of this sentence in as many languages as possible. It celebrates the linguistic diversity of the Earth and can be used to the see the similarities and differences between languages. Translations in all languages are welcome!

I currently have translations in 122 natural languages (belonging to 22 language families) and 323 constructed languages (created by 112 individuals and groups). These languages are written in 104 scripts. The translations have been contributed by 185 people (including me).

Reasons for choosing this particular sentence

I had wanted to do this project for several years, but I was never able to think of a suitable sentence. I wanted a sentence that was both grammatically simple and culturally neutral, to ensure that it could be translated into all or most languages without much trouble. Finally, I came up with "We are humans and we are from Earth.". This statement is true for each and every one, and the sentence does not make use of complex grammatical forms. Other texts used for comparing languages are either not universally acceptable (like the Tower of Babel, which is a religious text), or are quite technical and complex (like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).

I could have chosen a shorter sentence, like "We are humans.", or "We are humans from Earth.". I, however, chose to repeat "we are" twice because this repetition can help you understand at least something about the translations in unrelated or distantly related languages. For example, "me oleme" is repeated twice in Estonian. Therefore, it must mean "we are"! Choosing to keep a proper name in the sentence is also useful. In many languages, the word for "Earth" is written with a capital letter. Therefore, you can easily recognise it.

Because of the words "from Earth" in the sentence, some people have thought that this project is for aliens. However, I have chosen my sentence for purely linguistic reasons. They have all been explained above.

Suggestions for translations in case of problems

I am fully aware of how diverse languages are! Even translating this simple sentence could present a few problems in some languages. In case of problems, here are some suggestions for translations:

  1. If there is a distinction between inclusive and exclusive forms of "we", please use the inclusive form. As I said above, this project is meant for humans, not aliens!
  2. If there is no word for "humans", you could use "men", "people" or even "men and women".
  3. If there is no word for "Earth" (the planet, not soil), you could use the word "world", or even "home" as a last resort.
  4. The words "from Earth" do not indicate that humans have moved away from Earth. They simply imply that humans belong to Earth.
  5. If it is not possible to say the whole thing in one sentence, you could break it into two simple sentences.
  6. I do not have a problem if you choose to use a different sentence structure, as long as it is required by your language's grammar. You should, however, try to stick to the structure of the original sentence as closely as possible (without violating the rules of your language's grammar).

For many constructed languages, problems in translation will occur! This is because not all of them are meant to be spoken in the real world, like natural languages. Some constructed languages are meant to be spoken by non-humans (either on Earth, or on other planets). Some constructed languages are spoken on the Earth by humans, but they are set in another time, that is, either the past or the future. If your language does not or cannot have words for "humans" and "Earth", you can either create or derive new words or borrow them from English or any other language.

Contents

The following pages are on Wahawafe.

  1. Natural Languages
  2. Natural Languages (Part A)
  3. Natural Languages (Part B)
  4. Constructed Languages
  5. Constructed Languages (A-F)
  6. Constructed Languages (G-M)
  7. Constructed Languages (N-S)
  8. Constructed Languages (T-Z)
  9. Lists - Natural Languages | Constructed Languages | Language Families | Language Creators | Scripts | Contributors

Feedback

I would love to hear from you regarding anything on Azukania Wahawafe! Corrections and new translations for Wahawafe are also very welcome! Please email me at nik [dot] azn [at] gmail [dot] com, or get in touch with me through Facebook or Twitter.

This website was last updated on 07 June 2020.

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