Speaking the language of one’s childhood seems to conjure up a host of social and cultural attitudes, beliefs, memories, and emotions, as though returning to the Casbah or to Avenue L and East 19th Street and conversing with the natives opens a window back into some prior state of one’s nature. But do such states of mind arise because one is literally thinking in some new representational format by speaking in a different language? After all, many people experience the same or related changes in sociocultural orientation and sense of self when they are, say, wearing their battered old jeans versus some required business suit or military uniform; or even more poignantly when they re-experience a smell or color or sound associated with dimly recalled events. Many such experiences evoke other times, other places.
But according to many anthropological linguists, sociologists, and cognitive psychologists, speaking a particular language exerts vastly stronger and more pervasive influences than an old shoe or the smell of boiling cabbage. The idea of “linguistic relativity” is that having language, or having a particular language, crucially shapes mental life. Indeed, it may not be only that a specific language exerts its idiosyncratic effects as we speak or listen to it – that language might come to “be” our thought; we may have no way to think many thoughts, conceptualize many of our ideas, without this language, or outside of and independent of this language.
The Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning, Leila Gleitman and Anna Papafragou
Okay so I’ve seen a bunch of things come up tonight from mainly white people talking about how “ghetto” Lupita Nyong’o’s surname sounds apparently and its usually focused on “why is that apostrophe there”
So here’s the thing: in Swahili, <ng> represents the consonant cluster [ŋg] while <ng’> is used for the singular consonant [ŋ]
And even if that weren’t the case, what business is it of yours?
Small correction: Lupita is Luo, and her surname is a Luo name, not Swahili.
Unnecessary side note: Barack Obama’s father is Luo as well.
But yes, the same orthographic practices are applicable here in Luo as in Swahili. <ng> represents the consonant cluster [ŋg] while <ng’> is used for the singular consonant [ŋ].
Her first name is a diminutive of “Guadalupe”, a Spanish name. She was born in Mexico City and her family moved back to Kenya shortly after.
A shitton of “ghetto” names go back to the many, many languages native to Africa (and some are from Arabic, because of Arab Conquests in Northern Africa).
Apostrophes (and also the letter h) are basically like accent marks for consonants: they fairly consistently do something to the consonant, but what they do varies widely from language to language, depending on what type of squeezing and stretching it needs to fit into the latin alphabet. (Some languages have actual consonant accent marks, like ç and ñ, as well.)
Here’s Lupita Nyong’o on her own Instagram showing how to pronounce her name. You can hear her flap the intervocalic /t/ in “Lupita” and add a bit of offglide to the /o/ for the Americanized pronunciation.