Ani ani Ani

So I finally got myself off my duff and dug out the Nepali books I brought with me so I could study the language.  If I didn’t know devanagari, the script used to write Nepali (and also Sanskrit which is why I know it), I’d be overwhelmed.    But I got tired of using my only word in Nepali — namaste — while everyone else tried in their haltering English to talk to me.  Plus it seems truly silly not to entertain myself and the guards with idle conversation now and then, since they don’t seem to have that much to do other than stand up whenever I walk by, although the night guard no longer does this, good for him,  wait for me to ask them to buy mw more water or fix the TV,  or wash down the driveway.

So now I know how to say (and write) I am Ani.   How are you?   You are …..   I am fine. How about you?  Yes. Right! That’s it! Good!   and I am a student (in case anyone was in any doubt about this).  I can also say that I am a teacher, but that seems a little presumptuous to say until I learn the word for “English” to attach after it.

I was reassured to see Ani  in the first lesson, and although I know it also means a “nun”, it apparently has the job of joining words together as well.  This ani  that.   I like bananas ani apples, for example, except that I don’t know how to say banana and apple yet.   Ah-ha!!  I DO know how to say “this and that”: yo ani tyo.    The words really lose something when they aren’t written in Devanagari.   And utyo  means like this, as in do it like this in Kinyarwanda.

This means that  you would have to say Ani ani Ani if you wanted to say Ani and the nun in Nepali.    Could be the title of a cute short story,  like “Harry and the Purple Crayon”.  (A children’s book title reference that probably dates me terribly.)  But, for the moment, it seemed like a good title for this post.

It was also great to see ni,  which means is/am/are, in KiSwahili, and is/are (third person only) in Kinyarwanda, also strolling by in the first dialogue in the book to mean “how about….”.    So if I want to say to someone and you? aka how about you?  after I have told them that I am fine, I just say tiimiiharu ni?    With any luck, they will tell me that they are fine sancai  —  because if they say anything else I won’t have a clue.

I am apparently an associative language learner.  I will use any resemblance between any words I already know from any language and new ones I am learning as a way to help me remember the latest addition to my linguistic repertoire.    Since, apparently, all our knowledge of language is stored in some huge mishmash in the brain anyway, which accounts for why people can switch and/or mix language easily when they want to, ……as well as when they don’t want to, which happens to me whenever I try to learn a new language, it makes sense to me that I would want to create all the associations that I can, thus getting more mileage out of old vocabulary by using it to remember new vocabulary.   I wonder if other people do this?

So now the next thing on my agenda is to ask my kind door men what their names are.  We were introduced when I arrived but I have no recollection of what I was told at that time.  Shameful that I have waited this long to find out.   However, earlier this week, I started buying them cakes, cookies and brownies at the minuscule pastry shop that I recently realized was right next door.  It’s at the back of a long driveway, tucked away in the dark so I hadn’t looked in previously.   So our culinary acquaintanceship should certainly be blessed with an understanding of one another’s names.   They probably know mine, since it means and or nun, shouldn’t be difficult for them to remember.

Tiimiiharu hau ko?    (You [polite] are who/what?)   Or maybe it is supposed to be Tiimiiharu ke hau?  (You who are?)  Or ke tiimiiharu hau?   (Who you are?)   It’s difficult to know at this point what the word order is when a question word is used as it  wasn’t covered in Lesson 1.   In Kiswahili and Kinyarwanda, the ke? would come at the end of the sentence.  In English, the beginning.  But there is nothing, in theory, keeping it from being placed in the middle of the sentence in Nepali.  Well, I shall say one and then see what happens.   I never know if I am actually saying what I think I am saying when I start learning a language.  That’s the excitement of it —  I say something and then wait with baited breath to see if the other person’s face lights up and I get a response or just a blank stare.  At this point, I probably won’t understand any response except a single name since my productive capabilities always precede my comprehension ones when I learn a language.   It’s a sad fact (to me) that I can’t  develop listening comprehension without someone talking to me.  And the only way I have found to get anyone to talk to me is if I start first so I must always be willing to make a fool out of myself in order to stand any chance of reaching the prize — having a conversation in a foreign language.

Actually, I’ve just realized that I can say I am student and you are teacher.    I can see if that will get me not only people to talk to but peole to teach me too.  The kids in the park with probably love it.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.    I bet fools learn a new language faster than an angel does.