Which language has the most beautiful name?

By: | Post date: 2017-02-18 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Other Languages

Oh, what is one’s standard for aesthetics when it comes to beauty? Tolkien’s? Tolkien’s make me want to slap him. “Ooh! Welsh! Ooh! Finnish! Ooh! Cellar door! Ooh! Arabic is so nassssty, my precious!! I’ll make the orcs speak it.” Pfft.

I work on a more meta level.

When I was lecturing, my coverall term for “exotic language” was Boingo Boingo. “So if a form like X shows up in Boingo Boingo, that does not necessarily imply…” Clearly somehow the band name Oingo Boingo had worked its way into my subconscious.

So wouldn’t it be cool if some exotic language actually was called Boingo Boingo?

None is to my knowledge. But Kaugel language – Wikipedia is spoken by 77,000 people in Papua New Guinea. (Which, for Papua New Guinea, is huge.)

Now, I did not find out about Kaugel from Wikipedia. I found out about it, while working as a research assistant on a PNG phonological survey, from Ethnologue. Ethnologue is a splitter not a lumper, so it lists the dialects of Kaugel as separate languages.

Those dialects are Aua and Gawil.

Gawil is listed as a language in Ethnologue under its alternate name:

I rejoiced when I saw that listing. I had found my Boingo Boingo at long last.

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