Liebster eight – the tongue

Liebster eight - the tongue

New Zealand
15 Apr 2009

Josie of Josie Wanders asked me to answer ten questions as part of the nomination process for the 2017 Liebster Award.

8. Do you speak a second language? If you don’t, would you like to? Which one?

I did six years of French in high school and a refresher course on the ship. We got to Paris, and I’d speak in French, and about as soon as I paused for breath, the locals would say, “Please, M’sieur, do not speak French!”

And that’s my best shot. But I have a smattering of several languages. French, German, Netherlands, Sanskrit. I can puzzle street signs out in Japanese, given enough unhurried time.

Yes, Sanskrit. Not a common tongue, even in India, where it is an official language. But in many ways, it is an Indo-European mother tongue, unchanged for millennia. A great many common English words flow back to Sanskrit: “stand”, “three”, “dental” (and thus “trident”, a perfectly good Latin word), “jungle”, “plum”…

Of limited practical use, though my small understanding of the Devanagari script is likely to be a help, should I ever return to India.

I can usually say just enough to order a beer and get myself into trouble in several lands. My Netherlands runs out after I order the “menu, please.” (That phrase came right at the start of the learning tape.) After that, I’m down to point and shoot, like any other mug tourist.

I’d like to have more Japanese – I plan on seeing a lot more of that delightful country.

And let it be said that I’ve given up on New Zealandish. I try to pronounce the vowels proper and they mock me, the villains!


The Liebster Award: