Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Guarani Craziness

Hi all. Here´s an embarrassingly disorganized little something from our first day learning Guarani. I was feeling overwhelmed and crazy. I feel better now, just realizing that the learning part is going to be the whole two years.
We find out our sites this Friday! The next day we hop on a bus and go to where we´ll be living for two years.
And I have a confession...I hacky sacked (sp?). The first time other people hackied, I stood back and made fun and called them `90s stoners. But then I gave in. And it´s fun. I´m a hippie.
Other than that, I had a great birthday in the capital. We all danced in a club that played sweet 80`s hits from America.

July 22_We got our first Guarani lesson today.

Learning three languages is showing me how arbitrary language is. It breaks that agreement you once had with life, that an apple was an apple, the sun is the sun. Turns out those are just a grouping of sounds the people around you agreed upon saying when referring to something real.

You think at first that learning a language is just about memorizing vocabulary. Turns out it’s more like understanding how different people are.

I had to twist my mind to understand that in Spanish they say, “I to them brought the orange to them.”

Well, in Guarani, some words are just endings.

One of the things that will help is that you can use Spanish verbs, for example, practicar, to practice. You take off the r, then you add -se to the end to say you want to do that. “Che” is I, for which you add “a” to the beginning to the verb. So if I wanted to practice, I’d say, “Che apracticse.”

For plural, you don’t add an “s”, instead add “-kuera.” There aren’t any question marks, instead you add “-pa” to the questioning word. To make a verb negative, you add “nd-” to the beginning and “-i” to the end.

Words can grow pretty quickly:

japo - to do

ajapo - I do

ajapose - I want to do

ndajaposei - I don’t want to do

Got it, now I’ve just got to learn to pronounce it.

And, oh yeah, there’s still learning Spanish. Our classes are moving forward so fast that I feel my foundation is so rocky. I’m going to have to review and review like crazy, and even then I’ll probably have it wrong, or it won’t make sense when I’m back in the states, trying to speak to people from Central America.

Also, we get warnings from our teachers about speaking “chuchi,” or too correctly. This would be like going around using “whom” with your buddies. This is not the accepted way to speak.

So yes, it is correct to use the pronouns “lo” and “la” in Spanish, but it’s too chuchi here. So my challenge will be to learn the wrong way and the right way, so I can be accepted here and use my Spanish back in the states.

And of course, people speak differently in different parts of Paraguay, so anything I have learned up until now may or may not be correct.

That word - correct. Does that even apply? Right and wrong have lost their meaning. The question is does it work to communicate.

This is started to feel like a mountain I started to climb, and now that I’ve gone a little ways, I look back and I look up and I realize how hard it really is going to be to get to the top. Though that way to not climb it is by just looking at it.

With my head swirling in these thoughts after class, I let out a sigh and sat on our mini playground. Eric came out, I looked up at him and said, “This is going to be the hardest thing I ever do.”

And he looked at me and said, “No shit.”


Anonymous said...

Paulette, Guinta again. I try to read every entry to your blog. The things I notice most is your openness to new experiences, sense of humor even in a tough environment and excellent writing.
I mean it, your blog is instantly publishable...interesting, colorful, informative and clear.
Save it somehow.
Lynn and I took Henry to the vet today and first thing Henry bit him on the hand. He remembers that the vet tried to cut his nuts off five years ago, but failed. Henry holds grudges, and I can't blame him.
Be safe.

Ken, Christie, Camille, Caroline said...

I so completely identify with your confusion. I've been here a month and am more confused than when I arrived. I took notes on your explanations, though. Hope you're settled in and speaking fluently by now! :)