Friday, June 28, 2013

Wagon Wheels and Literacy Classes

I woke this morning with Wagon Wheel stuck firmly in my head.  It is still here, wandering idly through my skull and strumming occasional neurons.  For some reason whenever it makes an appearance my Arabic freezes and I end up doing a particularly lovely impression of a goldfish if someone should happen to ask me a question.

Yesterday half of the program attended women's literacy and cooking classes hosted by the American Legation Museum.  I sat next to a very exuberant purple-clad woman who, after I introduced myself as a Spanish major, decided to begin speaking to me in Spanish.  Though I understood every word I could not for the life of me form a syllable, let alone an entire sentence, in Spanish.  What ensued was a rather muddled conversation conducted almost entirely in FuSHa on my part, and in a slapdash mix of Darija and Spanish on hers. 

I find a similar thing happening with other members of the program.  Thoughts are almost always formed in FuSHa, but snippets of English, Spanish, French, and Darija creep in.  Any given sentence might make use of three or four distinct languages and, surprisingly, will almost always be perfectly understood.

Language is such a strange thing.

About a week ago in a fit of insanity I bought a short novel written by an Amazigh Moroccan.  I am nowhere near the level of fluency needed to sit down and just read it, but I made it through the first page today.  It only took me about half an hour.  On the upside, I learned quite a few words, including the delightful "to roll or tumble" (4-letter root - what is this witchcraft?!) and the even more lovely "rebellious or stubborn."

Despite my shortcomings when faced with certain things, I do feel that I have improved enormously.  I had a brief oral presentation today (no notes or reminders of any sort) and managed to discuss the Slow Foods Movement in what I believe was at least a semi-intelligible manner - I even managed to work in the word "to penetrate deeply into." 

I have tickets for a concert here in Tangier this evening - traditional Moroccan music and, for some reason, Iranian as well.  Tomorrow will see us on our way to Asilah, which I am also quite excited about.  I promise pictures this time.  Lots and lots of pictures of white houses and street art and the afternoon sea.

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