Krepildockerschpe Meets the Fulfulde

Birds of a feather, those two. Difficult to pronounce. Unfamiliar to most tongues. Meaningful to the inventors but puzzling to everyone else.

Let's start with the Fulfulde, a nomadic pastoral group living across West Africa and along the Red Sea. They cover as many as 20 countries and number perhaps 50 to 60 million folk. Their language was oral, without a written script. Sometimes they used Latin characters, sometimes Arabic, improvising in both.

One day, a pair of brothers decided to create a written language to match the spoken words. Eventually they came up with 28 letters and 10 numbers, written right to left. Soon they had to add 6 more letters. They called the script ADLaM. They created a group named Winden Jangen. One brother was arrested, without charges, so they moved to Portland, Oregon, while others were teaching the script in Guinea, Senegal, Gambia and Sierra Leone. They hired a company to build a keyboard and font for ADLaM, and thus invented a new writing system.(1)

I did not invent a new writing system, but I have been inventing words for decades. Many existing words don't work for me. What they mean to others is not what they mean to me. So I make up words. No one can challenge them, challenge me, because I'm the only one who knows what they mean.

Sometimes I don't know what they mean either. But that's okay. The unknown is where I thrive



At infinity

At Krepildockerschpe.(4)

According to the United Nations, every 2 weeks a language disappears.(1)

Ten of the most rare include Dumi (a language in Nepal), Ongota Birale (spoken in Ethiopia), and Liki, used in Indonesia.(2) There are rare Chinese characters as well, like biang(3).

And in Peru, a language called Chamicuro is spoken by only 8 people.(3)

How many people speak Krepildockerschpe? I don't know, but I know at least a dozen who have already giggled when they first heard it spoken.

Many years ago a tiny 2-year-old granddaughter greeted me with these words: "I love you Chickamunga." That's a Krepildockerschpe moment.

The human mind is extraordinary, its capacity to invent and communicate exceptional. You may never know exactly what Krepildockerschpe means. But we both know how it feels: it invokes smiles, memories of childhood, happy discussions of language games. Maybe it will start a new method of communication; maybe not. Maybe it will make a dent in the world. Maybe not.

But it might bring a smile to your world - and yours - and yours. It might even bring you a Krepildockerschpe moment of your own. Or you might gift it to a loved one.

That's dent enough for me.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2019

Note: (1)stories

(2) toptenz

(3) bian

(4) krepildockerschpe

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