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Page history last edited by Jens Wilkinson 10 years, 7 months ago


Introduction by Tarquin Anwar Wilkinson


Though my family’s castle in Vernonshire, a rural town near the border of England and Scotland, was destroyed in the well-remembered meteor strike in 1984, one of the liberties the disaster afforded me was to become a world traveler, spending my remaining years and family fortune lodging in small hotels around the world, and voyaging on the rail and ship lines. It also gave me the opportunity to become somewhat of an armchair linguist, jotting down interesting phrases that I heard around the world. I have always had a particularly fondness for Cairo, the birthplace of my maternal grandfather, the celebrated Sufi Hasan Anwar, and often went back to visit the alleys of the old city.

Sometime in the first years of the twenty-first century, during my wandering, I discovered the existence of a quaint new language, that seems in vogue among the young denizens of cafes in the cosmopolitan streets of the world; place like Shanghai, Malacca, Dubai, Damascus and Venice. If I recall correctly, the first time I encountered it in fact was in Cairo, where I came across a pair of young people, clearly not native Egyptians, pulling a small cart that appeared loaded with what seemed to be five or more tons of flax or some other material. The words passing between them were striking: it almost seems as if the sailor’s jargon of the 19th century has come back from the dead, resurrected by young world nomads. I really cannot begin to fathom why this jargon would be shared among youngsters around the world. Maybe it is through the mediation of that strange type of music (I use the term very loosely) they call “rap,” or perhaps just because the nomads travel from one city to another, and spread their words as they go.

In any case, the following is a brief description of the words of this fascinating language, that I originally labeled Neo, though my cousin imposed upon it his own label, Neo Patwa, when he tried to claim it as his own invention. Well, we’ve gotten over that, and are on the best of terms now, but I’ll prefer to just use Neo myself. Where necessary, I have added explanations on the origins of the words, along with my speculations on how they came to be chosen. Though the work is primarily intended to introduce this global patois, I also hope it can be of some service in shedding light on the etymologies of some worldwide words.

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