Saturday, November 9, 2013

I Would Like to Buy a Hamburger

Recently I began taking Setswana lessons.  Thankfully these are going significantly better than my driving lessons did.  Every Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm I go to Mma Moeketsi’s house on Zebra Way across from the Gaborone Sun for about an hour.  We sit at her dining room table and she instructs me on proper pronunciation, intonation and basic Setswana phrases.  I have no real desire or expectation to become fluent, but I am doing this to enhance my ability to communicate with my students, and locals.

I find Setswana to be more challenging than other languages I’ve learned.  It uses the same Roman alphabet as English, Spanish and French, so I would have thought it would be easier than Russian.  But the number of different sounds for each letter is what gets me.  There are four different sounds for “e” and no real logic behind which one to use when.

During the relatively limited interactions I’ve had with deaf individuals, I notice they look very intently at speakers’ lips.  I’ve found myself doing the same thing in hopes of being able to replicate how Mma Moeketsi speaks.  I’m not sure it’s helping though. 

Here is Mma Moeketsi making me repeat a phrase over and over again.  Somehow I can’t quite understand what I’m doing wrong.  But I am very determined, “We don’t quit! We do not quit! Again! Again!”:

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