The title of my post is the translation for the local greeting for good morning. Isn't that pretty?
Eric and I have finally begun our language training! When we arrived, many folks here at St Augustine's were on holiday so it was slow work hunting down somebody capable of teaching us the local dialect (Lamnso', which means language of Nso') and pidgin. Finally somebody suggested we ask at the Bible translation center in Bamkika'ay, the next neighborhood over from us. That turned out to be the magic suggestion and we have employed a Mister Emmanuel, linguist extraordinaire, to teach us Lamnso'.
I am so happy to be learning this language though I have forgotten how difficult languages are for me and how much discipline they require! It's so worth it though. Every single person who learns of our desire to speak their native language is so delighted. And people truly light up and chuckle encouragingly if we even try to speak a simple greeting in the dialect. I know that pidgin is supposed to be helpful since everyone speaks it but I really am much happier to learn some Lamnso' first since it is so close to people's hearts here.
Did I mention though how crazy it is!? It's tonal! There are whacked out consonant combinations AND glottal stops galore. Try to say Nga, nge, ngi, ngo, ngu, each as one syllable, nine times fast. I am sad though, no clicks. :(
The other thing that is really crazy about this adventure is our classroom--we were told to meet at a local government primary school. This has been the most shocking thing for me so far. (well almost... but that's a story for another post.) The classroom, though, it is unbelievably dilapidated. I mean we've seen some shabby buildings, definitely some shacks, but this is a public building and I feel I'm sitting in place that has been condemned. There are gaping holes in the walls and the ceilings are caving in, it's covered in filth, and rows and rows of hard benches are crammed together. The only light comes through wood slats covering the holes in the walls, I mean windows. I just can't believe little children come to school in that sad, sad building every day. The first day when we met our teacher there I thought we must have come to the wrong place. No such luck.
Yet how funny we can still learn wherever we are. We sit on a hard bench and the surroundings fade away as we concentrate on new sounds and words. Our minds broaden. Knowledge is such a very funny gift. It's good to feel appreciative and to remember-- this gift. Who can give, who has not first received?