“I live here” in Jamaican creole is “A ya mi liv“.
In Malay, it’s: “Saya tinggal di sini‘.
On Saturday I went to Flushing, where a group of students from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria and local volunteers were painting a new mural. The artist leading the project is Lady Pink, who has painted a fair share of murals. As a teenager in the early eighties she painted NYC subway cars – one of the only girls in a male-dominated environment – and at the same time started exhibiting in galleries. She hasn’t looked back since then: see this recent interview with her in Huffington Post.
Here are some photos of the mural-painting in Flushing. It’s on the wall of Asia Bank at 135-32 40th Road, facing the walkway to the LIRR Flushing Station so it will be the first thing people see when they come down off the train into the neighborhood.
It is not the first mural in Flushing. In 1982 Eva Cockroft painted “The Flushing Mural” in a pedestrian underpass. By 2001 it was scrawled with graffiti. No mural lives forever.
Local residents watch the proceedings
An illustration showing what the completed mural will look like
Michael told me about the radio station’s World Language Initiative. He collects station IDs from listeners in different languages and plays them on the air – for example, “My name is Elsa, and I always have my radio tuned to 99.5fm, WBAI radio”. You can hear some of them after the song at the start of the show – which, by the way, was a great choice: Morphine’s “You Speak My Language”. I’ve linked to a video of a live performance at the bottom of this post.
If anyone wants to record a radio ID for WBAI please get in touch.
The radio station is now based at City College of New York, in Hamilton Heights. By coincidence on my way there I saw a mural being painted on 138th Street. It’s a beautiful project by CAW4Kids (Creative Arts Workshops for Kids). Some pics:
At Trattoria L’Incontro restaurant in Ditmars, Astoria, I gathered the words for “I live here” in Albanian, Italian and Macedonian. The owner also spoke about four other languages, but for those I had already found out how “I live here” (or its closest equivalent) is said. I’m finding that the further I get into this project, the more I have to hunt for the remaining languages. There are many more to go though. Get in touch if you live in Queens and speak a language other than English – together we will reach 160!
Albanian: “Unë jetoj këtu”
Italian: “io vivo qui”
Macedonian: Jas živejam tuka
No video – yet!
And a reminder that you can follow the progress of the “I live here” mural project on social media too. Join in on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
On a walk around 74th Street in Jackson Heights – sometimes referred to as “Little India” – I asked people how “I live here” would be said in some of the South Asian languages.
First stop was Mannat, a bridal store brimming with sequined saris and embroidered sherwanis (robes for men). The owner wrote down how to say “I live here in Punjabi” – as he remembered it from primary school:
Which phonetically is “Main Ethe Rehnda Ha”. It sounds like this:
I recorded Burmese in a cellphone store:
(Kyadaw Hmar Nay Dae)
At Norling Tibet Kitchen restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue there was much debate on the right way to write the equivalent of “I live here” in Tibetan. Below is the result. The first line is complex script, the second is simplified, the third is the simplified version again just written in bigger font, and the last line is how it sounds phonetically.
Also at the restaurant, I recorded Nepali:
In a music and film store the manager and one of his colleagues provided the words and video for Hindi and Gujarati. Here’s Hindi:
मैं यहाँ रहते हैं
(ignore the horizontal lines, which were just from the paper it was written on)
You may have noticed that all the above videos are men speaking. That’s not for a lack of asking women – the men were more willing to be recorded.
There are many other South Asian languages for which I’ve not yet featured the words for “I live here”, in written and video form. For some, such as Marathi, Tamil and Telugu I have the written words but not video. For others I’m still looking for both. Anyone know how to say “I live here” in Kannada, Malayalam or Sinhalese, for example?