Saturday, August 22, 2009

Language Confusion

"To get the door to open," Rachel told us, "You have to say arba!"

That's a common line in Dora, only arba means four in Arabic so that's not going to open many doors. What she means to say, I'm sure, is abre, since that's what they actually say on the show.

Lately she's been purposefully learning more Arabic. She likes being able to talk to people.

We went shopping for some pregnancy dresses at the Dar es-Salam suq a few days ago. After buying that one dress we found in Alex a few weeks ago I told Andrew that I could live in a muumuu forever. Besides being infinitely cooler than pants, I don't have to bend over to put it on.

Unfortunately our search through Dar es-Salam didn't turn up anything workable, but we did talk with a lot of people.

First Rachel would just say shukran before we left, because we always did. Our conversations would go something like this:

Andrew: We're looking for a dress.
Store person: Because you're pregnant?
Me: Yes.

Then they'd show me some dresses and I might try one on, but nothing ever fit--I'm a little too bulbous in certain areas right now, it seems and no one had anything maternity-worthy--so I'd give them my excuse: it's too small, I don't like it, I don't want it.

And then we'd thank them and leave.

Pretty basic, I know, but I don't speak a lot of Arabic and Andrew didn't want to be too involved in the dress-buying process. Towards the end of the trip he coached me on how to say dress so that he wouldn't have to say anything at all.

Eventually Rachel realized that we would also say ma'salama before leaving. So she started to, too.

"Masawama!" she'd call over Andrew's shoulder, waving at the store workers, each time we left a store/stall/hole-in-the-wall, "Shutran!"

Everyone thought she was a crack up.

"Masawama means bye-bye--Arabic," she told us.

She also started saying suq instead of market. It's kind of strange that she knows the word market, anyway. I don't think I knew the word market when I was her age because mostly I think we did our shopping at actual stores. Here, though, we shop at markets frequently.

"I saw two donkeys at the suq! Two white donkeys! At the suq!" she told us on the metro ride home, and then, feeling the need to translate, added, "Suq means market--Arabic."

She also learned the word for owie when we ran into our friend Hasan. She has a scab on her knee where she banged it up a bit and Hasan noticed this when we stopped to talk to him (because we can't walk by his guardhouse without talking to him; it's impossible). Rachel still pretends to be shy of him, even though she looks forward to seeing him and secretly thinks he's hilarious. I know this because she talks about him all the time.

Naturally, Rachel wouldn't talk to him the whole time he was buzzing around her, asking her questions, kissing her hands, and handing her flowers. The minute we were past him, however, she started recapping the whole conversation for us.

"Hasan said this," she pointed to her owie, "Wawa. Wawa means owie--Arabic. I has a wawa on my knee!"

I think it's funny that she translates everything; she's like a walking dictionary.

1 comment:

  1. Again with the genius baby. Maybe she'll tutor me? :)