Mozambique

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Beep beep, Mozambique rain frog [Breviceps mossambictus] passing on your left. Like many rain frogs, these frogs have gradually lost the ability to hop, choosing instead to speed-walk wherever they need to go.

Color and Language

Many people are surprised to learn that different languages do not consider the basic colors to be the same. Some New Guinea Highland languages, for example, still have terms only for black and white (perhaps better translated as “dark” and “light”). Hanuno'o language, spoken in the Philippines, has only four basic color words: black, white, red and green. Pirahã language, spoken by an Amazonian tribe, is said to have no fixed words for colors. According to linguist Dan Everett, if you show them a red cup, they’re likely to say, “This looks like blood”. Some languages have color distinctions which are, well, foreign to native English speakers:

  • Latin originally lacked a generic color word for “gray” and “brown” and had to borrow its words from Germanic language sources.
  • Biblical Hebrew had no word for blue.
  • Navajo has one word for both grey and brown and one for blue and green. It has two for black, however, distinguishing the color of “coal” from that of “darkness”.
  • Russian, Italian, and Greek  have different basic words for darker and lighter shades of blue. 
  • Hungarian has two different basic red words – bordó (darker reds) and piros (lighter reds.)
  • Shona language (a Bantu language from Southern Africa) has no one word for our “green” concept; they have one word for yellowish-green, and a different word for bluish-green.
  • Hindi has no standard word for the color “gray”. However, lists for child or foreigner Hindi language learning include “saffron” [केसर] as a basic color.
  • In Gaelic glas can mean both “grey” and “green”– glasbheinn is “green mountain”; glais-fheur is “green grass.”

“The Emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, a guarantee of its continuity and a precondition for its victory.” Speech delivered in 1973 by Samora Machel, revolutionary leader of FRELIMO and first Head of State of Mozambique. He was killed 29 years ago today in a plane crash arranged by the apartheid South African government. A Luta Continua!