Monday, October 22, 2018

Speaking in Tongues

We’re living in our fourth country and on our third language, if you don’t count Kiwi English as a different language which may or may not be the case, and once again I’m tackling the memorization of a new vocabulary.
If you count my high school French I’m up to four languages. Some of which I speak better than others. I took Japanese in college but at least at the time, it was beyond my abilities.

In Indonesia I never got beyond common courtesy phrases and what I called taxi cab Indonesian. Though one of my favorite words will always  be ”bagus” , Indonesian for “excellent”. Said with gusto it rolls off the tongue with fervor.

I tackled Arabic with more effort and brought myself up to the level of a three year old. This meant I could order food or say I was looking for yellow lemons at the market but not really have a conversation of any kinds. Of course I also generally butchered the whole issue of masculine and feminine conjugation.

Now as I sit in class practicing telling the taxi driver to “stop at the pedestrian bridge” or ask “where is the bathroom” all of my old languages come back to haunt me.  I’ve heard that when you are learning a new language and your brain can’t immediately come up with the new word it happily plucks one that is not your native language out of your brain files. So as my teacher was asking for the words for “go straight” of course I could only come up with “dogrii” in Arabic. For hospital my brain locked on to ”ruma sakit” in Indonesian. And it’s happy to throw in French for beautiful or red.

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have to press me too hard to make an entire sentence out of all four languages.

Maybe I’ll even throw in some Kiwi as well.

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