I love that languages are so complex and wonder how people manage to master a second, third and sometimes more, to add to their native home tongue ( especially English!) It is one thing to learn as a child when your brain will assimilate new knowledge like a sponge, but a different kettle of fish once older when your brain will suddenly develop road blocks to hinder progress. A toddler will not question why French and German nouns have genders, they will simply accept that “it is what it is”.
An older child begins to question why the word window would be feminine, leading to a myriad of confusion as they try to apply logic to their learning!
I love too, that when trying to learn two languages, you will often encounter strange things.; just look at the last sentence when the word to has been used and spelt 3 different ways although phonetically it is the same!
Translation between languages will often trip you when word meanings change. Whenever we travel we always attempt to master the basics of the language where we are. So it was in Kenya when we learnt some Swahili words. My husband then loves to try his new found vocabulary on unsuspecting native people, at times leading to much confusion and hilarity!
Such was the case when we were at a restaurant and he proceeded to tell the waiter clearing our plates away, that the meal had been mkubwa ( which he understood to mean great) briskly patting his belly at the same time! The waiter looked blank, causing my husband to say it louder and thump his belly harder! ( interesting fact that when people don’t understand you, you will increase your speech volume as if deafness and not comprehension is the problem!)
Moments later we saw the waiter conversing rapidly with his colleagues, gesturing at our table, followed by hysterical laughter from all! When he returned we questioned him and reluctantly ( not wanting to embarrass my poor husband) he explained that mkubwa actually translated to massive, great in size not fabulously great! This was all the more comical when you picture my husband pounding his belly after devouring a huge meal, loudly proclaiming mkubwa!
As you can imagine Mkubwa became our catch phrase for the rest of our trip, and to this day is still a well loved family joke! ….
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