Everyone Is Jumping Off the Brooklyn Bridge

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Words to Your Mother: Souma yergon

"Souma yergon" means "if we had known".  As in, "Souma yergon what language this was in, this post might feel complete".  You see, I'm not quite sure what language this phrase is originally from.

The phrase is perhaps best known in the Youssou N'Dour/Peter Gabriel song "Shaking the Tree", which contains the lines:

Souma Yergon (If we had known)
Sou Nou Yergon (If we had only known)
We are shakin' the tree

The first two lines above are sung by Youssou N'Dour.  N'Dour normally sings in Wolof, but I'm not certain that the above phrases are in Wolof.  Consulting a Wolof dictionary didn't really help much.  "If" is listed as "su", which seems to be a step in the right direction, but I wasn't able to spot any of the other words.

Despite some claims that these lines are in "Senegalese", Senegalese is not a real language.  Again, Wolof (which is a primary langauge of Senegal) seems the most likely candidate.  If anyone has a more definitive answer, feel free to post a comment.

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