17.6.19

Language

Let's talk about something that I don't think I've ever brought up here on the blog: language.  I've probably never talked about it here, because it's never been a thing.  I've lived for 8+ years here getting by perfectly well with English, at least in the part of Malaysia we live in.  When you have a native-language speaking husband who can make those phone calls for you, there just isn't much of a motivation to learn!  So why I chose this season of my life to choose to start taking language classes, I don't really know, other than we are trying to make a more definitive effort to teach a second language to the kids.  That, and I needed a good excuse to have some child-free mornings.  


I surprised myself by enjoying it more that I thought I would.  I relished the grown-up conversation, even if we were learning nursery rhymes and counting from one to ten.  Bahasa (that is what the national language, Melayu or Malay, is most commonly called here) is said to be one of the easiest languages in the world to learn, and it really is.  There is no masculine or feminine, it uses the same alphabet as ours, it's not a tonal language like Chinese, and there isn't any equivalent of the is/are/was/were that we have in English.  I know from my days as an English teacher what a nightmare those are.  The language also borrows a lot of words in English.  Here's how to translate "chocolate ice cream" into Bahasa: ais krim coklat.  Anyone can see that on a menu!  At the same time, Ellis and I have shared lots of laughs about some of the creative names they give animals: an owl, or "burung hantu", literally translates as "ghost bird", and an ostrich, or "burung unta", literally means "camel bird".  The animals that don't have these interesting names have silly sounding ones like biri-biri (sheep), ubur-ubur (jellyfish), and rama-rama (butterfly).        

Ellis and I have been working through some Highlights search-and-find books in English/Malay, which Ellis likes to color while I practice stringing sentences together and build up my vocabulary.  I also have been flexing the language side of my brain by translating some of my favorite children's books into Bahasa.  There are very few classic books in the language!  So here you have it, a sneak peek at possibly the first-ever edition of the Very Hungry Caterpillar in Bahasa Melayu, brought to you by Google Translate and Post-It notes: 


Jumpa Lagi!
 (see you later!) 


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