Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Maybe it was the Basques

My friend Nancy called my attention to the fact that a jewelry store in Provo was robbed on Monday. In fact, it's the very same jewelry store where Jeremy and I got our engagement/wedding rings.

I read through the article and one part really caught my attention. It's the part where the men were "described as being about 5 feet 10 inches tall with olive complexions, and they spoke in a language the clerks didn't recognize." Now, I understand that the only witnesses were tied up and gagged at the time, but how obscure does a language have to be for you to not recognize it? I am honestly wondering. I am not poking fun here. I remember a few weeks ago at IKEA there was a lady in front of me in line speaking a language that I could not have placed on the globe to save my life. I could not have told you if it was a Romance language, or Germanic, or Slavic, or anything. I finally decided it was Basque so I wouldn't have to think about it anymore (Basque is famously a language isolate, meaning it doesn't seem to be related to any other language now extant on earth).

So maybe the robbers were Basque, too. Who knows? The bigger issue here is (as Jeremy pointed out) that the article ends with a police officer's assessment that the crime "does not sound random. This sounds like they planned it." Well, yeah.


Liz Johnson said...

You know, I think that learning another language makes you more attuned to the differences in another language being spoken. Rather than just hearing noise/something foreign, if you speak another language, you're more likely to listen to the intricacies of the language being spoken to see if aspects of it are familiar to you. I know that before I learned Spanish, all foreign languages pretty much sounded the same to me. But now having learned Spanish (and a good chunk of Romanian), I can pinpoint the origin of a language with decent success. I wonder if the people just don't speak another language, and thus wouldn't have any idea what to listen for?

Susanne said...

Could it be a Native American language? Maybe the Navajo have come to Provo.

I don't speak any other languages, but I can usually tell some differences in languages. They don't ALL sound Spanish or Chinese to me. :)

Melody said...

It doesn't surprise me too much. I have some friends that knew nothing about foreign languages and mistook Russian for Spanish. I think the more you are exposed to languages the more you can tell the difference, and we in America just aren't exposed to very many languages.

Melody said...

P.S. Unless we want to be.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Perhaps it could have been a Southern European language--Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian??

I'm always on the look out for Basque names as they are so richly unique. As in my friend, Ruth Arrizabalaga.

Liz Johnson said...

Hey, I need your opinion/expertise on something!



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