Spent the last few days visiting S. to see what good old fashioned 'roughing it' fieldwork is like. Hiked two days through the Himalayan foothills, to a field site that is at altitude and is a short walk from a lovely view of Everest. Ate a lot of apple pie and instant noodles and didn't shower much. Also got a chance to try and speak some Nepali, which reminded me of something that I really wanted to blog about earlier.
Each language has difficulties for the beginner. K. - as I've complained about ad nauseam - has it's tonal system, French et. al. has it's gender system, Eskimo has few words for snow, but lots of ways to modify them. Native speakers have no problem with these things, and it's these differences that, although trying at times, are what make languages so interesting.
Nepali is interesting to the English speaker in that it has no direct equivalents for 'yes' and 'no'. Instead, you use the conjugated form of the verb. So if someone asks "do you feel hungry" (tapaai bok lagio) your reply is "I feel hungry/not hungry" (malaai bok lagio/lagdaina). "Is he here?" (u yaaha cha) is replied to with "is/ is not" (cha/chaina).
Like most languages, there is a bit of a way around this. If you want to say yes, you can say "hajur", which kind of means 'sir' but can be said to anyone.
Still, as a speaker of a language that has a rather easy out when it comes to answering yes/no questions, it's been, and still is, a huge processing load to make sure I understand the right question, remember the verb and re-conjugate it just to answer straight-forward questions.
I've been told Welsh is similar, anyone else learnt or heard about a language without yes and no?