Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dumelang Borra Le Bomma

Every day that I teach I always start my class off the same way, “Dumelang borra le bomma.”  This means “Good day gentlemen and ladies.” And every day after I say this the entire class claps and cheers. :)  I’m beginning to wonder when it will get old to them and they will stop doing that.  But I’m certainly not complaining.  I think I’ve decided that when I return to the U.S. I will require all of my classes to clap and cheer for me after I say “Good morning.”

I have to say I am definitely enjoying teaching here.  The students are very attentive and ask a lot of questions.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  They humor my attempts to speak Setswana and say their names.  And from time to time they teach me short, useful phrases. This afternoon I learned, “Ke a lwala” which means “I am not well.” I have a cold, thus this was quite appropriate today.

Speaking of names, I learned very quickly that my last name is particularly difficult for the Batswana to pronounce.  Most people won’t even make an attempt.  When they do it goes something along the lines of, “Paaa-ha-la-n.” And the “n” is said like the letter N, not the sound.

My Associate Dean actually told me when we first met, “Your surname is particularly difficult to pronounce. Your first name is also strange, but easier.”  Anyone want to take a venture at his name?  Tlongogokli Ketshabilego.  Yes, compared to the 23 letters in his name, the six letters in mine can be tricky.  Here a G sounds like a Ha, when you pronounce a K you must “click” and Rs must be rolled.

Suffice to say, my attempts at Setswana have made me realize how much easier French, Spanish, and even Russian were for me to learn.  And in an effort to accommodate my colleagues’ and students’ needs we have found a much easier form of address.  I am known on campus as Dr. Kelly.

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