Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feliz Día de Amistad y Amor

Sunday, 2-14-10

Another lovely day here in El Salvador. I think I ate my weight in food during breakfast this morning: plantains, eggs, beans, and a tamale. Not tired of the food yet. Kathy and I headed off for church this morning at 9am. They were handing out bulletins today at church for 15 cents which was something new. It was nice being able to follow along with the service. I took communion today even though it was a Catholic church. The priests here and the Church have a different view of communion than Catholic churches in the states. Everyone is welcome to take communion regardless of their denomination.

After church Kathy and I went to the market to get some gifts for the women at the house and their mothers. Instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day here they celebrate Día de amistad y amor (day of friendship and love). I like the idea much more than Valentine’s Day. I think it’s more inclusive and I like the concept of having a day when we recognize the good friends we have.

Fish, beans, and a salad was lunch today. I also tried some tea made from the leaves of apple trees. And just as I was thinking about going to the Nieveria to get ice cream, Cecelia’s sister popped in with homemade ice cream. I think it was vanilla with a kind of thick syrup in the middle. Kathy said she thought it was tamarind syrup. I am again amazed because, like horchata, I have never liked tamarind in the US.

After polishing off my ice cream I learned to wash my clothes Salvadoran style. Washing clothes is done on the right side of the pila (the wash basin area). You start by putting some detergent into a bucket, adding water, and swishing it around to dissolve the detergent. You let the clothes soak for about 10 minutes. Then you take out one piece at a time and scrub it with some soap. The soap it turquoise, kind of round, and I think it’s made of lye. Then you kind of rub your article of clothing together to make some suds and get the dirt out. Next you rinse well several times until no more soap comes out of the clothes. You hang them out in the sun on a line to dry. It sure makes me appreciate the washing machines we have in the states.

I spent some time in the hammock this afternoon and helped get some limes down from the tree. Kathy and Chon tried with a grabber stick and a rake but to no avail. So I stepped in and whacked down to limes for them. Maybe I can get a job as a profession fruit picker.

Chilling in the hammock. One of my favorite places.

Kathy attempting to get a lime from the tree

Now Chon has grabbed a rake to help Kathy get the lime down

I grabbed the rake and whacked the lime out of the tree

A great picture of me with my bounty

Aside from the fun, most of my afternoon was spent doing lesson planning for teaching. I did learn today that I won’t be able to start until Tuesday because the person I was going with, Idalia, has to go to a funeral. When things like this happen and you have to learn to roll with it, especially in El Salvador.

I’ve been working quite a bit on how my I want my first classes will go. I’m going to start with pronunciation of letters and vowels in English since most of the kids will know little to no English. We’ll talk about how there’s no ñ or accents in English, nor are double l’s and double r’s pronounced the same way. I spent a lot of time trying to find a helpful way to explain the pronunciation of vowels and consonants in English.

It took a long time and a lot of looking through material to figure out how to teach pronunciation. After doing that, looking at x-rays of people mouths while they make certain sounds, and reading about how to correctly pronounce words in English using nasalization, phonation, tongue root retraction, and rhotic vowels, I’ve come to the conclusion that learning pronunciation that way is much complicated and whoever made all this stuff up had way too much time of their hands. I mean, I’m 25 and I don’t understand what secondary narrowings in the vocal tract are. I’m certainly not going to go to class and talk to 2nd – 7th graders about how to constrict their pharynx.

Of course, I’m a person who learns better by experience and trying to make certain sounds rather than deciphering articles that teach me how to make a triphthong sound. I guess this experience has just reiterated hard difficult English can be to learn that and we need to remember this when we meet people in the US who speak little English.

Spanish makes much more sense in some areas of learning. For example, words in Spanish are phonetic. Each vowel and consonant sound the same regardless of what word you’re saying. Not even the word “phonetic” is phonetic in English. Before I left for El Salvador I met with Sue Burns from my church who’d taught in El Salvador a few years ago. She gave me a bunch of material to look through which is where I found this:

Why English is Hard to Learn!
1. The bandage was wound around the wound.
2. The farm was used to produce produce.
3. The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4. We must polish the Polish furniture.
5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8. A bass was painted on the head of a bass drum
9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes
10. I did not object to the object
11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid
12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row
13. They were too close to the door to close it
14. The buck does funny things when does are present
15. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line
16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow
17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail
18. After a number of injections my jaw got a number
19. Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear
20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests
21. The accountant at the music store records records of the records

Let’s Face it – English is a crazy language
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or french fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce, and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend, that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

“There are some days when no matter what I say it feels like I'm far away in another country and whoever is doing the translating has had far too much to drink”
-Brian Andreas, Lost in Translation

1 comment:

Matt said...

Ha, this is great. I love all the funny phrases (another non-phonetic word) that demonstrate the idiocy of English. I wish you the best of luck as your teaching begins. I know you will do great.