Thursday, July 20, 2006

Molweni Blogger Readers*

This week I've been subjecting myself to all sorts of hell by going back to school.

I'm attending a half-day Xhosa class at UCT's winter school. There are about 18 people in the class and at least half of them are middle aged, which was not something I was expecting. About half the people in the class also originate from somewhere overseas but are now living in Cape Town.

It's been an interesting experience for me because it's been ages since I was in any sort of formal learning situation and I have learnt a lot about how my brain works and stores information, which is very different to how my brain used to work. Long story short, I can no longer remember anything unless I see it written down and can visualise it (and then mentally call up that image later, which then allows me to associate the Xhosa with the English). My brain also does massive amounts of bizarre processing (I won't bore you with the details), which slows me down immensely and makes me look like I'm stupid.

Meanwhile, because the rest of the people in the class are normal, they all catch on very fast to everything, leaving me in the dust. I'd find it funny if it wasn't so sad.

On the plus side, yesterday we came to the end of the curriculum that we were supposed to cover over the entire course - in other words, we've already completed what we were only supposed to learn on the last day (tomorrow). This knowledge comforts me, as it means I'm not that slow, I'm just slow in the context of my class. If I was in another class I'd be superbly proficient.

Perhaps I should just tell everyone that...

Last night, having finally found the nerve - somewhere - to attempt to speak to a Xhosa person in Xhosa (it's called "practising"), I ended up having a fascinating conversation with a petrol attendant. I say "attempt" because I got about two sentences in and then forgot everything I ever, ever knew about Xhosa. So then we switched to English and he told me that (white/English-speaking) people should learn Zulu first because it's easier and then move to Xhosa much like black people learn English before they learn Afrikaans because English is easier.

I was, like: "I did not know that!"

Then he randomly picked a Xhosa sentence and taught it to me. I say "randomly" because it sounded random until he explained what it meant - as I had him break down each bit so that I could understand the construction.

As it turns out, it's quite a useful sentence. I can't write it down because I think I spelt it incorrectly (I don't need more shame here!) when he was teaching it to me, so I have to ask my teacher, but the translation of the sentence is: "I want to go out with you."

I'm not sure if it was a subtle statement or he genuinly just wanted to teach my something I could actually use.


*We haven't covered "Blogger" or "readers" yet so I don't know what that is. I'm only three days in...


Blogger kyknoord said...

Better run that one past the teacher, in case your petrol attendant buddy taught you to say "you smell like the droppings of the bull", or some such.

Thursday, July 20, 2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Mandy J Watson said...

That* did cross my mind. My limited knowledge of Xhosa does tell me, though, that the "I" and the "with you" parts of the sentence were correct.

* Well, something to that effect, anyway.

Thursday, July 20, 2006 11:18:00 AM  

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