It’s kinda funny that for my whole TCK childhood I never learned more than about 5 words of another language apart from some school French, and then within three years I had learned two new languages and was at least partly understanding a third (Norwegian). I always thought of understanding another language as somewhat like a magic gift or a superpower and I have to say I still think its actually pretty cool! The question of fluency though is more complicated. I feel like my Danish and my Spanish are about on an equal level in terms of how much of the language I know, but I can talk Danish for quite a while and maybe only make a few little mistakes, whereas with Spanish while I can understand most of what I read and hear and while I can make myself understood, I am painfully aware that I hardly get through a sentence without making at least one error.
Spanish is just a big old complicated language. First there’s the gender (I remember this from French also) – everything in the universe is either male or female and either plural or singular, and so not only do you have to remember which gender the noun is but you also have to make everything connected to it also either plural or singular, male or female. Then there are allllll the tenses – there’s two past tenses, and also two ways of saying ‘to be’ – so in English “I am a woman” and “I am in the kitchen” both use ‘to be.’ However in Spanish the first would use the ‘to be’ form ‘ser’ which refers to identity things, like being a woman or a lawyer or whatever, while the second would use ‘estar’ which refers to location, emotions, and other impermanent things. Then there is the dreaded subjunctivo, the curse of all Spanish language students. The subjunctivo is like a tense but it is used to refer to things that may not be real or about which you are not sure. If that sounds confusing, welcome to my world….
The one easy thing about Spanish is the pronunciation. Danish pronunciation is difficult because they have unusual sounds. I struggled at the beginning and English pronunciation is difficult because it is largely predictable. If you have never thought about this before, just think about how you pronounce the syllable ‘ough.’ Now think of the words tough, through, cough, bough, and thorough. See my point? However with Spanish once you’ve figured out the hang of the pronunciation you can basically pronounce any word.
In the the next post I will discuss important words which Spanish and Danish are unaccountably missing, and discuss the strange indirect vagueness embedded within Danish.
“No, you may not snip holes in the pillowcase.”
“Why is there a book in the microwave?”
“Where have you put the cumin? Oh, in the watering can.”
“Yes, I will put more raisins between your toes.” (I was trying to entertain her on a long car drive)
“Yes, its a ceiling! Very nice ceiling!” (she points at the ceiling a lot)
Life is continuing mostly as normal over here – we are keeping on teaching at the Bible School but have a holiday this week as they are on a trip around different parts of the country partly to do evangelistic-y things and also to visit different churches. We practiced two songs in the choir for them to perform but we didn’t get them as perfected as I would have liked.
The current slow cooker has been such a success that we have bought another one – I often use it for making yoghurt and bone broth/stock which need to be in there for a while, which takes it up when I want to make a meal in it. A really good recipe I would recommend to any non-American readers who may not have heard of it is apple butter. Basically you make stewed apples and then just keep on cooking them for ages more (this is where the slow cooker comes in handy, but you could just do it on the stovetop. It goes all thick and concentrated and slightly caramelised and ends up being this nice thick apple-y stuff you can use as a spread on break, or to fill cakes or top cheesecakes or whatever. I highly recommend it. Some recipes (in typical American fashion :P) call for cups of sugar but someone on the internet said it really didn’t need it which was what I found myself. You could always add a bit near the end if it really needed it.
Elisabeth continues to be super-cute. She has just gone through a growth spurt and has started to look more little-girl-ish and not quite so toddler. Her favourite things at the moment (apart from raisins) are being wrapped up in quilts and blankets with only her head showing, and singing to herself. She also really likes listening to music and often dances to it. She still doesn’t say many recognisable words though the other morning when I wasn’t in the right position for her to feed she said “Mummy” very clearly, in a reproachful tone and with a British accent. This made me realise that I am the only English speaker she will regularly hear, which means she will surely pick up my accent. Poor thing….00
Its been somewhat of an unhealthy month here at Casa Kofoed-Nielsen. No sooner had we completely recovered from last month’s collective family stomach issues than we started suffering from a collective family cold. We are just getting over that now and hoping we can stay healthy for a while. Fortunately Elisabeth has been the least affected by both of these illnesses though she has been somewhat extra fussy. This led to a rather difficult incident on Sunday morning where the ONLY thing that would calm her down was me (feverish and exhausted and only wanting to be in bed) having to get dressed and sit outside in the (hot) car with her. That was pretty tough.
Overall Elisabeth keeps getting bigger and more fun! She had a kind of unfriendliness phase lasting a couple of weeks where if anyone approached her she would say ‘No! No!’ loudly and turn her head away which was a bit awkward when sweet little girls wanted to say hi to her. Fortunately she is over that phase now and is back to her normal smiley self who waves at random strangers. They generally wave back if they notice her, but sometimes they don’t and I always feel so sorry for her! Her latest obsessions are keys (trying to put them in the keyhole) and trying to work out where on the computer USB cables and headphones should be plugged in. She’s also finally started to eat more significant amounts of actual food (as opposed to just breastmilk).
We’re now on Week 4 of the Bible School – its all been a bit disrupted because we started off with eight students, then another five came, and another I think three more are supposed to arrive later. I have to say it makes everything a bit more confused, but choir-wise the five new students (all from Ecuador) are a great boon as they are very energetic and two of them have been in choirs before! This is quite a big deal as Peru is not a very singing-y culture – they have no singing or any kind of music lessons as standard in schools and choirs aren’t a big part of the culture, so its really good to have some more backup. I don’t meant there is no musical tradition at all here because there certainly is – one hears some really cool-sounding Andean music often in busses etc, but it seems really sad to me that its not a part of the schools. Anyway, one of the good things about having more energetic people is that the others will tend to follow them and feel more confident themselves. I’m a firm believer in just about everyone having natural musical ability in them somewhere, so I feel most of what I’m trying to do with the choir is developing that and bringing that out, and having other people in the choir to follow along with (rather than just me singing from the front) is great.
Saturday before last we also randomly got involved in the great SETELA Potato Harvest, so look out for pics of that next post!