In honor of September being the official start of fall* and the seventh month of the pre-Julian Roman calendar, let’s jumpstart this months’ Words on Wednesdays by talking about seven non-English words for “autumn.” To make this list interesting, I’ve tried to pick tongues that are easily-recognized but globally and linguistically distant from each other. For languages using a non-Roman alphabet, I have included both native and romanized versions.
In addition to Germany and Austria, German is one of the official languages of Switzerland, and is also spoken in parts of France and Italy.
Hindi: शरद šarad
One of India’s official languages, Hindi has roughly 500 million native speakers worldwide, who may be found in Fiji, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Korean: 가을 gaeul
Although the Korean language is not widely spoken outside of North and South Korea, some groups have attempted to teach hangeul, the Korean alphabet, to speakers of unwritten languages.
Much like Native American languages, Maori—a language spoken mostly by native peoples in New Zealand and the Cook Islands—was largely destroyed in the 19th century by cruel and insensitive attempts at White assimilation. Since the late-20th century, it has seen somewhat of a revival, and now has between one and two hundred thousand speakers.
Persian: پاييز payîz
A language whose modern form is over 1000 years old, Persian is mainly spoken in Iran and Afghanistan, but there are native Persian speakers spread across much of the Middle East. It is also known as Farsi or Parsi.
Quechua: wayra pacha
The language of the Incas, Quechua is today spoken in many South American countries, such as Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru. Quipu, the original method of “writing” Quechua, involved the use of knotted strings, most likely as mnemonic devices to help messengers remember the information they were meant to deliver; the exact details of quipu have been lost.
With around 5 million native speakers, Swahili is a common language in East African countries, such as Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is a Bantu language, but was highly influenced by its contact with Arabic via trading.
* We’re still experiencing 90-degree weather right now in South Carolina, but I’m hoping for a nice—if short—autumn this year.
What word do you use for fall? Do you have an idea for a Words on Wednesdays post? Let me know in the comments!