Four of the 40 singers from Forty Words for Yes: Nancy Suuban (Estonian), Marcelo Porto Goncalves (Portuguese), Yeseo Lim (Korean), and Doug Jamieson (English). Photo: Elizabeth Cunningham

Four of the 40 singers from Forty Words for Yes: Nancy Suuban (Estonian), Marcelo Porto Goncalves (Portuguese), Yeseo Lim (Korean), and Doug Jamieson (English). Photo: Elizabeth Cunningham

No English please: Nelson production seeking singers who speak different languages

Forty Words for Yes will run next year

The word for yes in languages around the world has many sounds. If you want to say ‘yes’ in Sesotho, a South African language, Nelson resident Puleng Pratt would tell you to say ‘ay-a’. From others you may hear: kul-laeh, eh-vet, poe, or han-ji. (Those are the sounds of yes in Finnish, Turkish, Albanian and Hindi.) Surprisingly – to English-speakers – the Korean and Greek words meaning yes sound like “neh.”

Words that translate into yes are at the heart of a new choral composition called Forty Words for Yes by Nelson composer Doug Jamieson. Although much of the text for the composition is in English, several sections are solely based upon words meaning yes from 40 different languages from around the world.

Kootenay Musical Theatre Society is seeking singers whose mother tongue is one of the 40 languages to make a recording of Forty Words for Yes. As an indication of just how ethnically diverse Nelson is, 19 of the first 25 confirmed singers are local!

Thus far the project has singers who speak: Albanian, Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Maori, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Sesotho, Spanish, Sri Lankan, Tagalog, and Turkish. In addition, Sinixt, Ktunaxa, and Haida Elders are helping to connect to singers from these Nations.

If you are a singer and your first language is not on the above list, email doug@kootenaymusicaltheatre.com. Singers in Nelson will record their parts in the Kootenay Musical Theatre Society studio while international singers will upload their recordings.

To hear a sketch of Forty Words for Yes, go to YouTube and search “Forty Words for Yes and Doug Jamieson.”

Wondering how Forty Words for Yes will be presented? Stay tuned. Kootenay Musical Theatre Society will unveil the project next spring.