Linguistics: about truth and frustration

There are people in Suriname who need to know if a particular statement is true. And public expectations are embodied in the linguistic form and translate tagalog to english.

Eitne Karlin, a linguist at Leiden University, had a hard time comprehending this. The grammar of the trio, one of the languages ​​of Suriname, forces its speakers to tell the truth, according to print media and radio news. What is this – a language lie detector, a linguistic serum of truth, which from the very childhood is “injected” to the Indians of the tribe of the trio, living on the border with Brazil, so that they lead a proper way of life? Sensational, right! If it were really so. In fact, these messages are more of a fantastic interpretation of Carlin’s linguistic work on the Trio tribe.

False reporting and avoiding lies is indeed an important aspect of the scholar’s description of the grammar of the trio. So, the native speaker of this language necessarily indicates in the speech whether he himself was a direct eyewitness to the event. Therefore, the answer to the question: “Did he come to the city?” sounds like kïntëmï ([yes], he came) if the speaker saw it personally, and tïtëe if he only heard about it. True, this is also found in German: sometimes in indirect speech, a conjunctiva, a subjunctive mood is used to emphasize the relativity of the reliability of the quoted statement. However, in German there is no special verb form that emphasizes that the speaker was an eyewitness to the event he was describing. “Moreover, due to their tendency towards direct evidence, the trio prefer direct statements,” says Karlin. At first she experienced some difficulties: “In Europe, it is customary to say:“ I would eat something ”instead of“ I want meat! ”; or “I’ll go to the toilet for a while” instead of “I need p …” ”. Since 1997, she began to spend several months a year in the tribe of the trio, people sometimes note her linguistic “wildness”.

Explicit desires, intentions and attitudes, according to Carlin’s assumptions, reduce the potential for conflict in the society of the trio tribe. The Chief Commissioner of Police of Rotterdam, who attended Carlin’s charity talk about the trio at the Rotary Club in Breda, perceived the described circumstances as a “police paradise,” even though the tribe of the trio of police, of course, does not. This tribe is of particular interest to philosophers: for example, it is always necessary to indicate whether the object “really” has the described properties or is only a kind of reflection.

Something like a shaman who represents himself in the place of a jaguar is exclusively a pseudo-yaguar (kaikui-me), not a real jaguar (kaikui). Moreover, the representative of the trio in his speech must truthfully indicate whether the desired result has been achieved. In the case of a negative answer, the verb in the sentence requires the so-called frustrating ending -re. To deliberately “forget” about this ending — for example, when describing a not very successful hunt — would be a daring deception.

A frustrating or frustrating ending can also acquire nouns if a certain person or object does not meet generally accepted expectations: for example, wëri-re is a childless woman (wëri), and a man – kïrï – turns into kïrï-re if he is unfit for hunting … “Harsh morals, but everyone knows what they can count on,” says Karlin.