Friday, February 15, 2008


My studies in the Amharic language are progressing—though not fast enough for me. Tomorrow will be the fourth session I have with my teacher in Toronto. We have been finding a quiet table at the Reference Library is a good central spot to meet. Just don’t tell Abe that I use my time on the train to Toronto, cramming…

I have this little fantasy of arriving at the Addis airport in November for the 10 km race and speaking fluent Amharic with the customs officials, etc. Hey, a girl has gotta have her dreams!

My teacher, Abebe Worku, is very tolerant of my enthusiasms. He thinks that even after all these years, there is some residual memory of the language somewhere deep in my bones and it will surprise me when it resurfaces. Wouldn’t it be nice if it resurfaced to give me some wonderful proficiency??

It’s silly, but I enjoy the recorded conversations on the cd’s that come with my text. I listen to them just to surround myself with the language and it gives me the same contented feeling I had lying in bed early that Saturday morning so long ago, sleepily listening to Elli-täti and Martta-täti jabbering away as they started baking karjalan piirakkoita and sounding so like Mom that I thought I was at home in Canada, not on a break from school visiting my relatives in Finland. The music of the Ethiopian language is powerfully evocative for me without my even being able to actually understand much of it at all.

43 things: learn to speak Amharic



Blogger kate smudges said...

I love when a language can do this ... Amharic is beautiful to listen to. I used to work with two Ethiopians. It was fun to listen to them and the joy you could see in speaking their own language amid a sea of English and French.

It's hard work learning another language as an adult ... I admire you for doing this. And also, I admire you for your running!

8:54 p.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

Language is such an interesting phenomenon, isn't it? Even English as it's spoken in all the many places around the world, reveals so much about the culture in which it's spoken. It doesn't matter at all whether the English is the speaker's first or second (or third) language. I just love the many ways it is spoken!

Thanks for the props for my efforts. However, it's the curiosity with which I've been afflicted that keeps me going. I'm never bored!

3:48 p.m.  

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