Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Suburban English

Dear all,

My French is getting infintely better here, thanks to talkative taxis and relentless market vendors (I track my progress by the nationalities guessed...I've gone from American to Canadian or Belgian now, and will hopefully become French one day); and I realize now that I should not have worried so much abut overusing English in my overwhelmingly, unintentionally Anglophone environment. It's true that I am not speaking that much French at home or at work - but nor am I speaking English. I dey talk Pidgin with the worst possible accent ever, eh. My bush English is so bad that I don't think it even deserves that title - it's more of a freak hybrid vehicle of communication, totaled somewhere on the roadside between the French/English bilingual officialdom of the capital city, and the local village bush tongue - my own suburban English.

This morning, I caught myself having the following very intelligent and engrossing conversation with Augustine the taximan...
me: "Look, the clouds are dark! It is going to rain today, no?"
him: "Ah, yes. Rain. It is going to rain, yah."
me: "The air is cold and full of water, so you know it will rain soon."
him: "Yes, cold. The air is cold today."
(a little bit later, on a new stretch of evenly paved road)
me: "Ahhhh! The road here is niiiice."
him: "Yes, it is nice. Very nice."
me: seeing giant puddles, 3 feet deep, to be forged "Oh, I should not have talked! The road is bad."
him: "Yes, this is a terrible road. It is not nice. We do not like to come here, it is so bad."
I suppose Augustine is not the best conversationalist (he repeats whatever I say, slightly modified, and doesn't ever argue with me but constantly contradicts himself); but my home vocabulary is no better. With Habiba, my Fulani-fluent, English- and French-okay homestay mom, the grammar is just terrific...
"This cat I see here three times tonight already!"
"You will climb the mountain with me? We make sports together one day soon, okay!"
"Ahhh, I am TOO tired! Let me bath first, then we go to the market, eh."
"Ai-ya! I like Cameroon TOO much! This is my BEST country, you know."

Luckily for tongue-tied me, the most rewarding experiences are not spoken or listened to - but watched, smelled, explored, haggled, played, run, cooked, tasted, danced, and (soon to be) traveled.

Ahhh, ai-ya, I love you all TOO much! You are my BEST people in the world, eh!!!



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