Thursday, March 20, 2008

Arabic Huis Clos

Language classes set their own tone, and ours is undeniably one of extreme goofiness. This is quite a blessing when you're sitting with the same 3 people 5 hours a day for 44 weeks with no break: if you're not feeling entertained, then you're basically participating in a Jean-Paul Sartre play. Comic relief is the best defense against existential language despair.

I like our teacher. She's the only person I've ever met whose cheeks move independently of one another when she talks. I find myself getting distracted by her face even as my notebook fills up with random Arabic words I'll never review. Today I dutifully copied down the words for 'red', 'black', 'white'... Some brave soul (not me) ventured "How do you say 'blue'?" The teacher's eyes narrowed. "Oh, so now you want to know 'blue'. Next you'll want to know 'purple' and then 'yellow' and then 'orange' and then you'll want to know ALL the meanings of ALL the words." The four of us exchanged conspiritorial glances. She was on to us. The teacher held firm. "You take 'red'; you're not ready for 'blue'."


Sharon said...

Perhaps if you know all the colors, then you would know how to say "rainbow"!

Glad you are back blogging. Hope your move went well.

Geraldine said...

Let me know when you find out 'rust' so I can know what to ask for when I'm shopping! 8^)

DS said...

Thanks for the laugh! This made me remember my days in Turkish language training. Although your teacher and her movable cheeks may be in a league of her own :-)

I have added you to my blogroll at
I hope that's all right.

Ellen said...

hey at least it's not "waiting for godot" amirite??

thanks for the blog can i pretend it was just for me?? ^__~

Dakota said...

I honestly have re-read this story like six hundred times. I've been through State language training twice now -- Urdu and Mandarin -- but never have I had a teacher who was openly hostile to my learning vocabulary. And yet simultaneously, I feel like in only two paragraphs, you managed to sum up the intrinsic ridiculousness that is languages training. Well done.

Katie said...

Thanks. I'm not sure that she was hostile so much as very keen to avoid overwhelming us. That's likely not a bad thing.

Harvey said...

From Japan to Arabic training?

Curious, did you chose to go to Arabic training?

I'm curious because you would think that after all that time in Japan drowning in Kanji, they would take advantage of that and send you to Chinese training, or Korean... at least the grammar is similar.

anyway, ganbare!

Katie said...

There were some Korean and Chinese language jobs on the list of open positions, but none of them fit my timing. Plus I had wanted to experience something outside of Asia.