Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Present is a foreign country...........(with apologies to L P Hartley

So, we're learning Arabic.  Right, who's idea was this?  Is it really a good idea to explode your brain?  Well, yes...apparently.

Five times a fortnight (two days one week, three the next) we hop into the lovely sonata, with the comfy seats, the superb airconditioning and the zoom,  and hurtle down the Muscat Expressway for about 50kms and spend two hours turning our brains inside out, pulling them out through our ears, bashing them on the desk and pushing them back in up our noses.  At least that's what I'm doing.  It's a really fascinating language, and does make a lot of sense (apart from being written backwards, that's just weird) and seems to be much more sensible than English - except that I have been communicating with myself and the world in English for nearly 55 years. But it makes me realise a few things.

1. It's very humiliating to not be able to count to ten.  It's also amazingly awkward, frustrating and quite bewildering.  I don't know about you, but I don't remember not being able to count to ten.  Oh, I can read them all right, that's not a problem, but saying them?  It doesn't help that the rest of the class (except David of course) can all count to ten (and beyond) already.  There are all sorts of levels of knowledge in this beginner class and we are the only two with absolutely no Arabic to begin with.  Not great for morale.

2.  No one actually greets me in Arabic.  I am very obviously European, so wherever I go people speak English to me before I get a chance to try Arabic.  Once they speak to me in English I am, it seems, completely incapable of speaking in Arabic. Of course it doesn't help that many of the people I deal with are Indian or Pakistani or some other flavour.  I have had a couple of nice moments though.  When someone indicated that they wanted my parking spot I answered Laa (no).  Small step I know, but at least I did it.

******Newsflash******** While I was writing this my computer decided to start some updates.  It never came back.  Hopefully something good will happen tomorrow.  Meanwhile I shall continue on David's computer when I can.

1 comment:

  1. I am confident in your ability to learn to count to ten (and beyond) - after all, you did it at least once before in English! Its hugely challenging kicking off new neural pathways as we learn something new, but also exciting, frustrating and worth every single second of effort you put into it. As even though people may persist in talking to you in English, you are still surrounded by the language, and immersion always helps. And yay you for the little things like being able to respond no in Arabic - which when you come down to it, aren't necessarily quite so little, but are actually a massive step forward on this learning journey.