A Tale of One Toubob: Freudian Slips

Language is hard. I, for one, have never been someone who just “picks something up” easily unless it were art related or having to do with cooking maybe. Everything else? You can bet I have to train the hardest, study the most, and utilize alllll of the tutoring facilities.

I’m also not a quitter, however. So, although I may have to try a lot, I can usually muster enough self motivation to get to where I need to be and do a decent job of it. With this all being said, I will refer back to the first line…language is hard.

Now, I like to tell myself that if I were learning a written language with some kind of solid grammatical rule, it would be 100% easier. However, I am starting to think it would be hard for me regardless. Never did I ever think that I would be speaking Sarahule. Or a better way of saying that would be trying Sarahule. Quite honestly, I amaze myself sometimes. Those interactions where I formulate and deliver a full conversation about something that matters is a truly incredible feeling. Something that I didn’t imagine being able to do.

Peace corps positive plug (one of the only ones I got for ya right now). If you want to surprise yourself with abilities that you never knew you had, join peace corps. End plug.

Anyway, I digress. As always. So here it is. A throwback Toubob story for you.

It was the first month that I lived with my new host family. Language was rough, fitting is was (and still is) rough, everything was hard. Home didn’t feel like home yet. You can bet your butt I was trying, though.

Every morning, I would wake up and give myself a “you got this Stephanie…er I mean Isatou” pep talk and do a little language study session just to say the right morning script and not make a total fool out of myself at 8:00 am.

This was the ritual for a while. Pep talk, prep, study, speak. I still carry my little weatherproof note pad around to ferociously scribble down anything and everything I don’t understand and/or things I must remember. It’s served me well, and I am happy to say that these days, I have to use it a lot less.

Well, that fateful night, I didn’t have my little notepad out. I was feeling confident. It was around 5 pm. This is the time when I usually do a workout and take a shower followed by a nice lay out with the family, reading a book as the sun sets. My favorite time of day.

I stood up and, as customary to do, told the group where I was going and what I was about to do. “N payi telli yanki ken pale n karra.”

My mom just looked at me.

Then she laughed.

Then they all laughed.

The thing about Sarahule is that some words just sound the same or literally are the same, just used in different context. For example: Kiae (sun) and kiae (watermelon), jabba (onion) and jabbe (henna), kombo (boobs) and kombe (teeth)…yes I have said that I was going to go wash my boobs before. Oh…and karra (dead) and xarra (study/read). So, if you refer back to what I said: “N payi telli yanki ken pale n karra.” I basically announced that “I am going to take a bath and then die.”

This is only one example of this type of thing happening, of course, but one of my favorites.

Poor Toubob.

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