Nchechawk

The Nchechawk language, also Picapik (pronounced [piq˙pœ˜pic] but spelt differently to confuse non-speakers attempting to learn the language), is spoken by the approximately ten thousand people of southern and south-eastern Magwane, as well as by the country’s diaspora across the globe (numbering in the tens of millions), in particular in the Wayward Isles, the Caribbean and – curiously – the neighbourhood of Ravenna in Seattle, Washington.

The language is unusual in that it is completely unrelated to any other language, but in particular neither Swahili nor Old Irish. Although its degree of lexical similarity with Urdu is over 98%, the Magwaners insist (occasionally violently) that there is no relationship with this language, either. Speakers of Nchechawk also speak English and Spanish (many even as their first language), although again they vehemently deny this.

Etymology

It is suspected that Nchechawk is only so-called because (later Lord) Pilfringe Loute, captain of HMS Privateer, was deliberately sneezed upon when asking the name of the language (this is considered a grave insult amongst the Magwaners, as well as amongst civilised society in general, but Captain Loute “wiped his face clean,” according to his biographer and lover Corporal James Battersby, “took down the response, and carried on asking polite questions, all the while mentally noting the wealth of mineral resources the nation held.”)


Dialects

There are apparently over eight thousand dialects in Magwane alone, Nchechawk holding the record in this category. It is considered rude (and dangerous to one’s health) to point out that this almost matches one-for-one the number of speakers of the language. The key dialect is Bagras‘h, spoken by most of the elite clans. Jo (sometimes shortened to Ki‘nfikaf‘wuju) is spoken by everyone else. The king and his mistresses speak Yucunchu, a specific dialect that sounds exactly the same as Bagras‘h, but those courtiers, advisors and others within earshot claim not to understand a single word.

MOOC

At present, the Bibliographic Studies Institute at Jesus and Mary Magdalene College, University of West Clare, is generously offering a free online course in Nchechawk, subject to each student making a one-time annual donation of €75,000 to the University’s Endowment Fund (further details available on request).

 

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