Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grand Canyon

These last few days have been fun in regards to language. Pretty much everything that I've learned how to say in Arabic so far has had an English equivalent. Basically, "this is how you say _______ in Arabic." It's been a lot of memorization, but not really all that bad.

But a few days ago we started to learn a new verb tense. It's called ism il'faAil. Well, that's the rough transliteration at least. I've been asking lots of questions about it, and still can't figure out what exactly it means. My teacher told me that it's a tense that doesn't exist in English, so most foreigners have a really hard time figuring out what it means and how to use it.

It's pretty strange. It's always conjugated the same way, but sometimes it means past tense, sometimes it means present tense, and other times it means future tense. It changes based on both the context and on the verb you use it with. When you put any verb into that tense it could mean two of the three other tenses (past, present, future). But each verb can only be two of the three. For example, the verb to travel can be either present or future tense in ism il'faAil, but never past tense. But the verb to feel can be either past or present tense in ism il'faAil. Strange, huh?

I've learned how to make the tense just fine, but just don't know what it means when I say it or hear it. I think today was one of the first time when I realized just how difficult learning another language is. It's more than just learning another set of vocabulary words. In some cases it entails learning how to think another way. I don't think I really understood that until today.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dave, boy can I associate with your difficulty in learning a new language. There are over 500 signs in sign language and even a slight movement of the hand or fingers can make a difference in what the word is. The deaf sentence structure is also different with many words not used as we do in English. Then there is the biggest problem for me. I can sign enough to communicate with signs and fingerspelling but when the deaf sign back to me at "100 miles an hour" I have no clue what they are saying. Some will slow way down and fingerspell signs I don't know yet, others just smile and walk away. Butch and I are having some fun practicing signing to each other. I hate the stares though. People either think you are a freak or are really interested the this beautiful language.
    Your Mom finally has me Skyping. I love it. I saw all my Grandkids yesterday as they sang Happy Birthday to me. I just love your Mom.
    Press in there brother "YOU CAN DO IT!."
    Susan T (the latest recipient of Social Security...